Atlantic Monthly Volume 7, No. 40, February, 1861

Part 4 out of 5

more dangerous to herself and others. Women's love is fierce enough, if
it once gets the mastery of them, always; but this poor girl does not
know what to do with a passion."

Mr. Bernard had never told Helen the story of the flower in his Virgil,
or that other adventure which he would have felt awkwardly to refer to;
but it had been perfectly understood between them that Elsie showed in
her own singular way a well-marked partiality for the young master.

"Why don't they take her away from the school, if she is in such a
strange, excitable state?" said Mr. Bernard.

"I believe they are afraid of her," Helen answered. "It is just one of
those cases that are ten thousand thousand times worse than insanity. I
don't think, from what I hear, that her father has ever given up hoping
that she will outgrow her peculiarities. Oh, these peculiar children for
whom parents go on hoping every morning and despairing every night! If I
could tell you half that mothers have told me, you would feel that the
worst of all diseases of the moral sense and the will are those which
all the Bedlams turn away from their doors as not being the subjects of

"Do you think her father has treated her judiciously?" said Mr. Bernard.

"I think," said Helen, with a little hesitation, which Mr. Bernard did
not happen to notice,--"I think he has been very kind and indulgent, and
I do not know that he could have treated her otherwise with a better
chance of success."

"He must of course be fond of her," Mr. Bernard said; "there is nothing
else in the world for him to love."

Helen dropped a book she held in her hand, and, stooping to pick it up,
the blood rushed into her cheeks.

"It is getting late," she said; "you must not stay any longer in
this close school-room. Pray, go and get a little fresh air before



The events told in the last two chapters had taken place toward the
close of the week. On Saturday evening the Reverend Chauncy Fairweather
received a note which was left at his door by an unknown person who
departed without saying a word. Its words were these:--

"One who is in distress of mind requests the prayers of this
congregation that God would be pleased to look in mercy upon the soul
that he has afflicted."

There was nothing to show from whom the note came, or the sex or age or
special source of spiritual discomfort or anxiety of the writer. The
handwriting was delicate and might well be a woman's. The clergyman was
not aware of any particular affliction among his parishioners which was
likely to be made the subject of a request of this kind. Surely neither
of the Venners would advertise the attempted crime of their relative in
this way. But who else was there? The more he thought about it, the more
it puzzled him; and as he did not like to pray in the dark, without
knowing for whom he was praying, he could think of nothing better than
to step into old Doctor Kittredge's and see what he had to say about it.

The old Doctor was sitting alone in his study when the Reverend Mr.
Fairweather was ushered in. He received his visitor very pleasantly,
expecting, as a matter of course, that he would begin with some new
grievance, dyspeptic, neuralgic, bronchitic, or other. The minister,
however, began with questioning the old Doctor about the sequel of the
other night's adventure; for he was already getting a little Jesuitical,
and kept back the object of his visit until it should come up as if
accidentally in the course of conversation.

"It was a pretty bold thing to go off alone with that reprobate, as you
did," said the minister.

"I don't know what there was bold about it," the Doctor answered. "All
he wanted was to get away. He was not quite a reprobate, you see; he
didn't like the thought of disgracing his family or facing his uncle. I
think he was ashamed to see his cousin, too, after what he had done."

"Did he talk with you on the way?"

"Not much. For half an hour or so he didn't speak a word. Then he asked
where I was driving him. I told him, and he seemed to be surprised into
a sort of grateful feeling. Bad enough, no doubt,--but might be worse.
Has some humanity left in him yet. Let him go. God can judge him,--I

"You are too charitable, Doctor," the minister said. "I condemn him just
as if he had carried out his project, which, they say, was to make it
appear as if the schoolmaster had committed suicide. That's what people
think the rope found by him was for. He has saved his neck,--but his
soul is a lost one, I am afraid, beyond question."

"I can't judge men's souls," the Doctor said. "I can judge their acts,
and hold them responsible for those,--but I don't know much about their
souls. If you or I had found our soul in a half-breed body, and been
turned loose to run among the Indians, we might have been playing
just such tricks as this fellow has been trying. What if you or I had
inherited all the tendencies that were born with his cousin Elsie?"

"Oh, that reminds me,"--the minister said, in a sudden way,--"I have
received a note, which I am requested to read from the pulpit to-morrow.
I wish you would just have the kindness to look at it and see where you
think it came from."

The Doctor examined it carefully. It was a woman's or girl's note, he
thought. Might come from one of the school-girls who was anxious about
her spiritual condition. Handwriting was disguised; looked a little like
Elsie Venner's, but not characteristic enough to make it certain. It
would be a new thing, if she had asked public prayers for herself, and a
very favorable indication of a change in her singular moral nature. It
was just possible Elsie might have sent that note. Nobody could foretell
her actions. It would be well to see the girl and find out whether
any unusual impression had been produced on her mind by the recent
occurrence or by any other cause.

The Reverend Mr. Fairweather folded the note and put it into his pocket.

"I have been a good deal exercised in mind lately, myself," he said.

The old Doctor looked at him through his spectacles, and said, in his
usual professional tone,--

"Put out your tongue."

The minister obeyed him in that feeble way common with persons of weak
character,--for people differ as much in their mode of performing this
trifling act as Gideon's soldiers in their way of drinking at the brook.
The Doctor took his hand and placed a finger mechanically on his wrist.

"It is more spiritual, I think, than bodily," said the Reverend Mr.

"Is your appetite as good as usual?" the Doctor asked.

"Pretty good," the minister answered; "but my sleep, my sleep,
Doctor,--I am greatly troubled at night with lying awake and thinking of
my future,--I am not at ease in mind."

He looked round at all the doors, to be sure they were shut, and moved
his chair up close to the Doctor's.

"You do not know the mental trials I have been going through for the
last few months."

"I think I do," the old Doctor said. "You want to get out of the new
church into the old one, don't you?"

The minister blushed deeply; he thought he had been going on in a very
quiet way, and that nobody suspected his secret. As the old Doctor was
his counsellor in sickness, and almost everybody's confidant in trouble,
he had intended to impart cautiously to him some hints of the change of
sentiments through which he had been passing. He was too late with his
information, it appeared; and there was nothing to be done but to throw
himself on the Doctor's good sense and kindness, which everybody knew,
and get what hints he could from him as to the practical course he
should pursue. He began, after an awkward pause,--

"You would not have me stay in a communion which I feel to be alien to
the true church, would you?"

"Have you stay, my friend?" said the Doctor, with a pleasant, friendly
look,--"have you stay? Not a month, nor a week, nor a day, if I could
help it. You have got into the wrong pulpit, and I have known it from
the first. The sooner you go where you belong, the better. And I'm very
glad you don't mean to stop half-way. Don't you know you've always come
to me when you've been dyspeptic or sick anyhow, and wanted to put
yourself wholly into my hands, so that I might order you like a child
just what to do and what to take? That's exactly what you want in
religion. I don't blame you for it. You never liked to take the
responsibility of your own body; I don't see why you should want to have
the charge of your own soul. But I'm glad you're going to the Old Mother
of all. You wouldn't have been contented short of that."

The Reverend Mr. Fairweather breathed with more freedom. The Doctor saw
into his soul through those awful spectacles of his,--into it and
beyond it, as one sees through a thin fog. But it was with a real human
kindness, after all. He felt like a child before a strong man; but the
strong man looked on him with a father's indulgence. Many and many a
time, when he had come desponding and bemoaning himself on account of
some contemptible bodily infirmity, the old Doctor had looked at him
through his spectacles, listened patiently while he told his ailments,
and then, in his large parental way, given him a few words of wholesome
advice, and cheered him up so that he went off with a light heart,
thinking that the heaven he was so much afraid of was not so very near,
after all. It was the same thing now. He felt, as feeble natures always
do in the presence of strong ones, overmastered, circumscribed, shut in,
humbled; but yet it seemed as if the old Doctor did not despise him any
more for what he considered weakness of mind than he used to despise him
when he complained of his nerves or his digestion.

Men who see _into_ their neighbors are very apt to be contemptuous; but
men who see _through_ them find something lying behind every human soul
which it is not for them to sit in judgment on, or to attempt to sneer
out of the order of God's manifold universe.

Little as the Doctor had said out of which comfort could be extracted,
his genial manner had something grateful in it. A film of gratitude
came over the poor man's cloudy, uncertain eye, and a look of tremulous
relief and satisfaction played about his weak mouth. He was gravitating
to the majority, where he hoped to find "rest"; but he was dreadfully
sensitive to the opinions of the minority he was on the point of

The old Doctor saw plainly enough what was going on in his mind.

"I sha'n't quarrel with you," he said,--"you know that very well; but
you mustn't quarrel with me, if I talk honestly with you; it isn't
everybody that will take the trouble. You flatter yourself that you will
make a good many enemies by leaving your old communion. Not so many as
you think. This is the way the common sort of people will talk:--'You
have got your ticket to the feast of life, as much as any other man that
ever lived. Protestantism says,--'Help yourself; here's a clean plate,
and a knife and fork of your own, and plenty of fresh dishes to choose
from.' The Old Mother says,--'Give me your ticket, my dear, and I'll
feed you with my gold spoon off these beautiful old wooden trenchers.
Such nice bits as those good old gentlemen have left for you!' There is
no quarrelling with a man who prefers broken victuals.' That's what the
rougher sort will say; and then, where one scolds, ten will laugh. But,
mind you, I don't either scold or laugh. I don't feel sure that you
could very well have helped doing what you will soon do. You know you
were never easy without some medicine to take when you felt ill in body.
I'm afraid I've given you trashy stuff sometimes, just to keep you
quiet. Now, let me tell you, there is just the same difference in
spiritual patients that there is in bodily ones. One set believes
in wholesome ways of living, and another must have a great list of
specifics for all the soul's complaints. You belong with the last, and
got accidentally shuffled in with the others."

The minister smiled faintly, but did not reply. Of course, he considered
that way of talking as the result of the Doctor's professional training.
It would not have been worth while to take offence at his plain speech,
if he had been so disposed; for he might wish to consult him the next
day as to "what he should take" for his dyspepsia or his neuralgia.

He left the Doctor with a hollow feeling at the bottom of his soul, as
if a good piece of his manhood had been scooped out of him. His hollow
aching did not explain itself in words, but it grumbled and worried down
among the unshaped thoughts which lie beneath them. He knew that he had
been trying to reason himself out of his birthright of reason. He knew
that the inspiration which gave him understanding was losing its throne
in his intelligence, and the almighty Majority-Vote was proclaiming
itself in its stead. He knew that the great primal truths, which each
successive revelation only confirmed, were fast becoming hidden beneath
the mechanical forms of thought, which, as with all new converts,
engrossed so large a share of his attention. The "peace," the "rest,"
which he had purchased, were dearly bought to one who had been trained
to the arms of thought, and whose noble privilege it might have been
to live in perpetual warfare for the advancing truth which the next
generation will claim as the legacy of the present.

The Reverend Mr. Fairweather was getting careless about his sermons. He
must wait the fitting moment to declare himself; and in the mean time
he was preaching to heretics. It did not matter much what he preached,
under such circumstances. He pulled out two old yellow sermons from a
heap of such, and began looking over that for the forenoon. Naturally
enough, he fell asleep over it, and, sleeping, he began to dream.

He dreamed that he was under the high arches of an old cathedral amidst
a throng of worshippers. The light streamed in through vast windows,
dark with the purple robes of royal saints, or blazing with yellow
glories around the heads of earthly martyrs and heavenly messengers. The
billows of the great organ roared among the clustered columns, as the
sea breaks amidst the basaltic pillars which crowd the great cavern of
the Hebrides. The voice of the alternate choirs of singing boys swung
back and forward, as the silver censer swung in the hands of the
white-robed children. The sweet cloud of incense rose in soft, fleecy
mists, full of penetrating suggestions of the East and its perfumed
altars. The knees of twenty generations had worn the pavement; their
feet had hollowed the steps; their shoulders had smoothed the columns.
Dead bishops and abbots lay under the marble of the floor in their
crumbled vestments; dead warriors, in their rusted armor, were stretched
beneath their sculptured effigies. And all at once all the buried
multitudes who had ever worshipped there came thronging in through the
aisles. They choked every space, they swarmed into all the chapels, they
hung in clusters over the parapets of the galleries, they clung to
the images in every niche, and still the vast throng kept flowing and
flowing in, until the living were lost in the rush of the returning dead
who had reclaimed their own. Then, as his dream became more fantastic,
the huge cathedral itself seemed to change into the wreck of some mighty
antediluvian vertebrate; its flying-buttresses arched round like ribs,
its piers shaped themselves into limbs, and the sound of the organ-blast
changed to the wind whistling through its thousand-jointed skeleton.

And presently the sound lulled, and softened and softened, until it was
as the murmur of a distant swarm of bees. A procession of monks wound
along through an old street, chanting, as they walked, In his dream he
glided in among them and bore his part in the burden of their song.
He entered with the long train under a low arch, and presently he was
kneeling in a narrow cell before an image of the Blessed Maiden holding
the Divine Child in her arms, and his lips seemed to whisper,--

_Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis!_

He turned to the crucifix, and, prostrating himself before the spare,
agonizing shape of the Holy Sufferer, fell into a long passion of tears
and broken prayers. He rose and flung himself, worn-out, upon his hard
pallet, and, seeming to slumber, dreamed again within his dream. Once
more in the vast cathedral, with throngs of the living choking its
aisles, amidst jubilant peals from the cavernous depths of the great
organ, and choral melodies ringing from the fluty throats of the singing
boys. A day of great rejoicings,--for a prelate was to be consecrated,
and the bones of the mighty skeleton-minster were shaking with anthems,
as if there were life of its own within its buttressed ribs. He looked
down at his feet; the folds of the sacred robe were flowing about them:
he put his hand to his head; it was crowned with the holy mitre. A long
sigh, as of perfect content in the consummation of all his earthly
hopes, breathed through the dreamer's lips, and shaped itself, as it
escaped, into the blissful murmur--

_Ego sum Episcopus!_

One grinning gargoyle looked in from beneath the roof through an opening
in a stained window. It was the face of a mocking fiend, such as the old
builders loved to place under the eaves to spout the rain through their
open mouths. It looked at him, as he sat in his mitred chair, with its
hideous grin growing broader and broader, until it laughed out aloud,--
such a hard, stony, mocking laugh, that he awoke out of his second dream
through his first into his common consciousness, and shivered, as he
turned to the two yellow sermons which he was to pick over and weed of
the little thought they might contain, for the next day's service.

The Reverend Chauncy Fairweather was too much taken up with his own
bodily and spiritual condition to be deeply mindful of others. He
carried the note requesting the prayers of the congregation in his
pocket all day; and the soul in distress, which a single tender petition
might have soothed, and perhaps have saved from despair or fatal error,
found no voice in the temple to plead for it before the Throne of Mercy!

* * * * *


If, as is believed by many statisticians, the census of 1860 should
show that the centre of population and power in these United States is
steadily advancing westward, and that by the year 1880 it will be
at some point on the Great Lakes, then, certainly, the history and
resources of those inland seas cannot fail to be interesting to the
general reader.

It happens that the Indian traditions of this region possess more of the
coherence of history than those of other parts of the country; and, as
preserved by Schoolcraft and embalmed in the poetry of Longfellow, they
show well enough by the side of the early traditions of other primitive
peoples. The conquest of the Lake-shore region by San-ge-man and his
Ojibwas may be as trustworthy a tale as the exploits of Romulus and
Remus; and when we emerge into the light of European record, we find the
Jesuit missionaries preaching the gospel at St. Ignace and the Sault St.
Mary almost as early as the so-called Cavaliers were planting tobacco at
Jamestown, or the Pilgrims smiting the heathen at Plymouth.

The first white persons who penetrated into the Upper Lake region were
two young fur-traders who left Montreal for that purpose in 1654, and
remained two years among the Indian tribes on those shores. We are
not informed of the details of this journey; but it appears that they
returned with information relative to Lake Superior, and perhaps Lake
Michigan and Green Bay; for in 1659 the fur-traders are known to have
extended their traffic to that bay. The first settlement of Wisconsin
may be dated in 1665, when Claude Allouez established a mission at La
Pointe on Lake Superior. This was before Philadelphia was founded by
William Penn.

The first account we have of a voyage on Lake Michigan was by Nicholas
Perrot, who, accompanied by some Pottawattomies, passed from Green Bay
to Chicago, in 1670. Two years afterwards the same voyage was undertaken
by Allouez and Dablon. They stopped at the mouth of the Milwaukie River,
then occupied by Kickapoo Indians. In 1673, Fathers Marquette and Joliet
went from Green Bay to the Neenah or Fox River, and, descending the
Wisconsin, discovered the Mississippi on the 17th of June.

In 1679, La Salle made his voyage up the Lakes in the Griffin, the first
vessel built above the Falls of Niagara. This vessel, the pioneer of the
great fleet which now whitens those waters, was about sixty tons burden,
and carried five guns and thirty-four men. La Salle loaded her at Green
Bay with a cargo of furs and skins, and she sailed on the 18th of
September for Niagara, where she never arrived, nor was any news of her
ever received. The Griffin, with her cargo, was valued at sixty thousand
livres. Thus the want of harbors on Lake Michigan began to be felt
nearly two hundred years ago; and the fate of the Griffin was only a
precursor of many similar calamities since.

About 1760 was the end of what may be called the religious epoch in
the history of the Northwest, when the dominion passed from French to
English hands, and the military period commenced. This lasted about
fifty years, during which time the combatants were French, English,
Indians, and Americans. Much blood was shed in desultory warfare.
Detroit, Mackinac, and other posts were taken and retaken; in fact,
there never was peace in that land till after the naval victory of Perry
in 1813, when the command of the Lakes passed to the Americans.

Our military and naval expeditions in the Northwest were, however,
remarkably unfortunate in that war. For want of a naval force on the
Lakes,--a necessity which had been pointed out to the Government by
William Hull, then Governor of the Northwest Territory, before the
declaration of war,--the posts of Chicago, Mackinac, and Detroit were
taken by the British and their Indian allies in 1812, and kept by them
till the next year, when the energy and perseverance of Perry and his
Rhode-Islanders created a fleet upon Lake Erie, and swept the British
vessels from that quarter.

In 1814, an American squadron of six brigs and schooners sailed from
Lake Erie to retake the post of Mackinac. Colonel Croghan commanded the
troops, which were landed under cover of the guns of the squadron. They
were attacked in the woods on the back of the island by the British and
Indians. Major Holmes, who led the Americans, was killed, and his men
retreated in confusion to the ships, which took them on board and sailed
away. The attack having failed, Captain Sinclair, who commanded the
squadron, returned to Lake Erie with the brigs Niagara and Saint
Lawrence and the schooners Caledonia and Ariel, leaving the Scorpion and
Tigress to operate against the enemy on Lake Huron. The British schooner
Nancy, being at Nattawasaga, under the protection of a block-house
mounting two twenty-four pounders, the American schooners proceeded to
attack her, and, after a short action, destroyed the vessel and the
block-house, the British escaping in their boats. Soon, after, the
American schooners returned to the neighborhood of St. Joseph, where
they were seen by some Indians, who reported at Mackinac that they were
about five leagues apart. An expedition was directly fitted out to
capture them; and Major Dickson, commander of the post, and Lieutenant
Worsley, who had retreated from the block-house above-mentioned, started
with one hundred men in four boats.

On the third of September, at six o'clock, P.M., they found the Tigress
at anchor, and came within one hundred yards unobserved, when a smart
fire of grape and musketry was opened upon them. They advanced, and, two
boats hoarding her on each side, she was carried, after a short contest,
in which the British lost seven men, killed and wounded, and the
Americans, out of a crew of twenty-eight, had three killed and two
wounded. The prisoners having been sent to Mackinac, the Tigress was got
under way the next day, still keeping the American colors flying, and
proceeded in search of the Scorpion. On the fifth, they came in sight
of her, and, as those on board knew nothing of what had happened to the
Tigress, were suffered to approach within two miles. At daylight the
next morning, the Tigress was again got under way, and running alongside
her late consort, the British carried her by boarding, after a short
scuffle, in which four of the Scorpion's crew were killed and wounded,
and one of the British wounded. The schooners were fine new vessels, of
one hundred tons burden each, and had on board large quantities of arms
and ammunition.

This account of the earliest naval action on the Upper Lakes is taken
from a British source; for, as may well be imagined, it has never found
its way into any American Naval History or Fourth of July Oration.

It appears as if the American Government, during the War of 1812, either
from ignorance of the value of the Northwest, or, as some think, from
a fear lest it might, if conquered, become free territory, were very
inefficient in their efforts in that direction. As, however, the same
imbecility was displayed in other quarters, for example, at Washington,
where they allowed the capital to be taken by a handful of British
troops, and as the Yankee who was in the fight said, "They didn't seem
to take no interest," we must acquit the administration of Mr. Madison
of anything worse than going to war without adequate preparation.

After the War of 1812 was over, the Northwestern Territory was held by
our Government by a kind of military occupation for some twenty years,
when, the Indian title having been extinguished, white settlers began
to occupy Northern Illinois and Wisconsin. The Sacs and Foxes, having
repented of their surrender of this fair country, reentered it in 1832,
but after a short contest were expelled and driven westward, and the
working period commenced. Large cities have sprung up on the Lake
shores, and the broad expanse of Lake Michigan is now whitened by a
thousand sails; and even the rocky cliffs of Superior echo the whistle
of the propeller, instead of the scream of the bald eagle.

Perhaps the ship-owners of the Atlantic cities are hardly aware of the
growth of this Lake commerce within the last twenty years, and that it
is now nearly equal in amount to the whole foreign trade of the country.
Before entering on the statistics of this trade, however, we will give a
brief description of the Lakes themselves.[A]

[Footnote A: We are indebted for our facts and details to Lapham's
_Wisconsin_, Foster and Whitney's _Report_, Agassiz's _Lake Superior_,
and works of similar character.]

Lake Superior, the largest expanse of fresh water on the globe, is 355
miles in length, 160 in breadth, with a depth of 900 feet. It contains
32,000 square miles of surface, which is elevated 627 feet above the
surface of the ocean, while portions of its bed are several hundred
feet below it. Its coast is 1500 miles in extent, with irregular, rocky
shores, bold headlands, and deep bays. It contains numerous islands, one
of which, Isle Royale, has an area of 230 square miles. The shores
of this lake are rock-bound, sometimes rising into lofty cliffs and
pinnacles, twelve or thirteen hundred feet high. Where the igneous rocks
prevail, the coast is finely indented; where the sandstones abound, it
is gently curved. Lake Superior occupies an immense depression, for
the most part excavated out of the soft and yielding sandstone. Its
configuration on the east and north has been determined by an irregular
belt of granite, which forms a rim, effectually resisting the further
action of its waters. The temperature of the water in summer is about
40 deg.

Lake Huron connects with Superior by the St. Mary's River, and is 260
miles long and 160 broad; its circumference is 1100 miles, its area
20,400. Georgian Bay, 170 miles long and 70 broad, forms the northeast
portion, and lies within British jurisdiction. Saginaw, a deep and
wide-mouthed bay, is the principal indentation on the western coast. The
rim of this lake is composed mostly of detrital rocks, which are rarely
exposed. In the northern portion of the lake, the trap-rocks on the
Canada side intersect the coast. The waters are as deep as those of
Superior, and possess great transparency. They rarely attain a higher
temperature than 50 deg., and, like those of Superior, have the deep-blue
tint of the ocean. The northern coast of Lake Huron abounds in clusters
of islands; Captain Bayfield is said to have landed on 10,000 of them,
and to have estimated their number at 30,000.

Lake Michigan, called by the early voyagers Lac des Illinois, is next in
size to Superior, being 320 miles in length and 100 in breadth, with a
circumference, including Green Bay, of 1300 miles. It contains 22,000
miles of surface, with a depth of 900 feet in the deeper parts, though
near the shore it grows gradually shoal. The rocks which compose its rim
are of a sedimentary nature, and afford few indentations for harbors.
The shores are low, and lined in many places with immense sand-banks.
Green Bay, or Bale des Puans of the Jesuits, on the west coast, is 100
miles long and 20 broad. Great and Little Traverse Bays occur on the
eastern coast, and Great and Little Bays des Noquets on the northern.
One cluster of islands is found at the outlet of the main lake, and
another at that of Green Bay. Lake Michigan is the only one of the Great
Lakes which lies wholly within American jurisdiction.

Lake Erie is 240 miles in length, 60 in breadth, and contains an area
of 9,600 square miles. It lies 565 feet above the sea-level, and is
the shallowest of all the Lakes, being only 84 feet in mean depth. Its
waters, in consequence, have the green color of the sea in shallow bays
and harbors. It is connected with Lake Huron by the St. Clair River and
Lake, a shallow expanse of water, twenty miles wide, and by Detroit

Lake Ontario is 180 miles in length and 55 in breadth, containing 6,300
square miles. It is connected with Lake Erie by the Niagara River, and
also by the Welland Canal, which admits the passage of vessels of large
burden. This lake lies at a lower level than the others, being only 230
feet above the sea. It is, however, about 500 feet in depth.

The whole area of these lakes is over 90,000 miles, and the area of land
drained by them, 335,515 miles.

The presence of this great body of water modifies the range of the
thermometer, lessening the intensity of the cold in winter and of the
heat in summer, and gives a temperature more uniform on the Lake coasts
than is found in a corresponding latitude on the Mississippi.

The difference between the temperature of the air and that of the
Lakes gives rise to a variety of optical illusions, known as _mirage._
Mountains are seen with inverted cones; headlands project from the shore
where none exist; islands clothed with verdure, or girt with cliffs,
rise up from the bosom of the lake, remain awhile, and disappear.
Hardly a day passes, during the summer, without a more or less striking
exhibition of this kind. The same phenomena of rapidly varying
refraction may often be witnessed at sunset, when the sun, sinking into
the lake, undergoes a most striking series of changes. At one moment it
is drawn out into a pear-like shape; the next it takes an elliptical
form; and just as it disappears, the upper part of its disk becomes
elongated into a ribbon of light, which seems to float for a moment upon
the surface of the water.

Thunder-storms of great violence are not unusual, and sudden gusts of
wind spring up on the Lakes, and those who navigate them pass sometimes
instantaneously from a current of air blowing briskly in one direction
into one blowing with equal force from the opposite quarter. The lower
sails of a vessel are sometimes becalmed, while a smart breeze fills the

The storms which agitate the Lakes, though less violent than the
typhoons of the Indian Ocean or the hurricanes of the Atlantic, are
still very dangerous to mariners; and, owing to the want of sea-room,
and the scarcity of good harbors, shipwrecks are but too common, and
frequently attended with much loss of life. A short, ugly sea gets up
very quickly after the wind begins to blow hard, and subsides with equal
celerity when the wind goes down.

The fluctuations in the level of the waters of these lakes have
attracted much attention among scientific observers; and as early as
1670, Father Dablon, in his "Relations," says,--"As to the tides, it is
difficult to lay down any correct rule. At one time we have found the
motion of the waters to be regular, and at others extremely fluctuating.
We have noticed, however, that at full moon and new moon the tides
change once a day for eight or ten days, while during the remainder of
the time there is hardly any change perceptible.... Three things
are remarkable: 1st. That the currents set almost constantly in one
direction, namely, towards the Lake of the Illinois, [Michigan,] which
does not prevent their ordinary rise and fall; 2d. That they almost
invariably set _against_ the wind,--sometimes with as much force as the
tides at Quebec,--and we have seen ice moving against the wind as
fast as boats under full sail; 3d. That among these currents we have
discovered the emission of a quantity of water which seems to spring up
from the bottom."

Father Dablon is of opinion that the waters of Lake Superior enter
into the Straits by a subterranean passage. This theory, he says, is
necessary to explain two things, namely: 1st. Without such a passage, it
is impossible to say what becomes of the waters of Lake Superior. This
vast lake has but one visible outlet, namely, the River of St. Mary;
while it receives the waters of a large number of rivers, some of which
are of greater dimensions than the St. Mary. What, then, becomes of the
surplus water? 2d. The difficulty of explaining whence come the waters
of Huron and Michigan. Very few rivers flow into these lakes, and
their volume of water is such as to fortify the belief that it must be
supplied through the subterranean river entering the Straits.

A large number of facts have been collected by Messrs. Foster and
Whitney on the subject of these oscillations of the Lake level; and,
in fact, these phenomena have been for a long time familiar to the
residents on the Lake shores. They are generally attributed by
scientific men to atmospheric disturbances, which, by increasing or
diminishing the atmospheric pressure, produce a corresponding rise
or fall in the water-level. These are the sudden and irregular

The gradual fluctuations are probably caused by the variable amount of
rain which falls in the vast area of country drained by the Lakes. Thus,
at Fort Brady, where the mean of five years' observations is 29.68
inches, the extremes are 36.92 and 22.44.

An idea has been long prevalent among the old residents, derived from
the Indians, that there is a variation of the Lake surface which extends
over a period of fourteen years,--that is, the Lakes rise for seven
years, and fall for seven years. The records kept by accurate observers
at various points on the Lakes for the last ten years do not seem to
confirm this theory; but it has been well established by the recent
observations of Colonel Graham, at both ends of Lake Michigan, that
there is a semi-diurnal lunar tide on that lake of at least one third of
a foot.

The evaporation from this great water-surface must be immense. It has
been estimated at 11,800,000,000,000 cubic feet per annum; and in this
way alone can we account for the difference between the volume of water
which enters the Lakes and that which leaves them at the Falls of
Niagara. Immense as is the quantity of water which pours over the Falls,
it is small in comparison with the floods which combine to make up the
Upper Lakes.

In the year 1832, about the close of the Black Hawk War, the tonnage of
the Lakes was only 7,000 tons. In 1845 it had increased to 132,000 tons,
and in 1858 it was 404,301 tons. Or, if we take Chicago, the chief city
of the Lakes, we find that her imports and exports were,--

Imports. Exports.
In 1836, $ 325,203 $ 1,000
" 1851, 24,410,400 5,395,471
" 1859, estimated 60,000,000 24,280,890

In the year 1858, there were on the Lakes,--

American vessels, 1,194. Tonnage, 399,443
Canadian " 321. " 59,580

Value of American tonnage on the
Lakes, $16,000,000

Value of Lake commerce, import
and exports, $600,000,000

Number of seamen employed, 13,000

Taking the island of Mackinac as the geographical centre of this
navigation, we find the distances as follows:--

From Mackinac to head of Lake Superior 550
" " " Chicago 350
" " " East end of Georgian
Bay 300
" " " Buffalo 700
" " " Gulf of St. Lawrence 1,600

Or ninety thousand miles of lakes and rivers, extending half across the

The following table shows the amount of tonnage belonging to different
cities in 1857:--

Tons. Tons.
New York, 1,377,424 Charleston, 56,430
Boston, 447,966 Detroit, 57,707
Bath, 189,932 New Bedford, 152,799
Baltimore, 191,618 New Orleans, 173,167
Providence, 15,152 Cleveland, 63,361
Philadelphia, 211,380 Chicago, 67,316
Buffalo, 100,226 Milwaukie, 22,339

This shows that Chicago had in 1857, being then twenty-five years old, a
larger tonnage than Charleston, the capital of the Palmetto Kingdom; and
Milwaukie, still younger than Chicago, owned a larger amount of tonnage
than the old and wealthy city of Providence.

In 1857, the export of grain from the Lake ports was sixty-five million
bushels; in 1860, it was estimated at one hundred millions.

The coal-trade of Cleveland, in 1858, was 129,000 tons. A large amount
was also shipped from Erie.

In 1858, the salt-trade of the Lakes amounted to more than six hundred
thousand barrels, most of which was shipped from the port of Oswego on
Lake Ontario.

The lumber received at Chicago in 1858 amounted to: Boards, 273,000,000
feet; shingles, 254,000,000; lath, 45,000,000: worth $2,442,500.

The present navigable outlets to this great commerce are three in
number. First, the Erie Canal, from Buffalo to Albany, which, in its
enlarged form, takes probably two-thirds of the productions of the Lake
regions. Second, the River St. Lawrence, which, by means of the Welland
Canal, secures a good share of the trade. Third, the Illinois and
Michigan Canal, which conveys large quantities of lumber, salt, and
other heavy goods to the Illinois River and the Mississippi. Of course,
more or less produce is taken to the seaboard by the railroads; but,
even if they could compete in price with water-carriage, it is evident
that they are incapable of moving the surplus grain of the Northwest,
as it now is. Another great navigable outlet to the Lakes is needed, so
that vessels of the largest class may sail from the elevators of Chicago
to the Liverpool docks without breaking bulk; and in reference to this,
a survey has recently been made by Thomas C. Clarke, under the direction
of the Canadian Government, for a ship-navigation between Montreal and
Lake Huron, by way of the Ottawa River, Lake Nipissing, and French
River. The Report shows that the cost of the work for vessels of one
thousand tons burden would be twelve million dollars,--and that it would
cut off a distance nearly equal to the whole length of Lakes Erie and
Ontario, thus saving from three hundred and fifty to four hundred miles
of navigation. In view of the fact that the navigation of St. Clair and
Erie is the most troublesome and dangerous part of the voyage, this plan
certainly deserves attention.

It is easy to see what a prolific nursery of seamen this Lake commerce
must be, and how valuable a resource in a war with any great naval
power. It is a resource which was wholly wanting to us in the War of
1812, when Commodore Perry had to bring his sailors from the seaboard
with great difficulty and expense. In any future war with England,
supposing such an unhappy event to take place, our great numerical
superiority upon the Lakes in both vessels and sailors would not only
insure our supremacy there, but also afford a large surplus of men for
our ocean marine.

But it may be said that these men are only fresh-water sailors, after
all, and are not to be relied upon for ocean-navigation. We know there
used to be a notion prevailing, that neither Lake vessels nor Lake men
would do for salt water; but in 1856, the schooner Dean Richmond took a
cargo of wheat from Chicago to Liverpool, beating a large fleet of ocean
craft from Quebec across the Atlantic, and otherwise behaving so well
as to cause the sale of the vessel in England. This voyage encouraged
others to try the experiment, and in 1859 from thirty to forty Lake
vessels loaded for ocean ports.

That this trade will be very much increased there is no doubt, since
it affords occupation for the Lake marine in the winter, when the Lake
ports are closed by ice.

On the western shore of Lake Michigan there are large settlements of
Norwegians and Swedes, many of whom follow the Lakes as fishermen and
sailors. Descendants of the old Northern sea-kings, they are as hardy
and adventurous here as in their Scandinavian homes, and run their
vessels earlier and later in the season than other men are willing to

Science might have anticipated, however, that vessels built for
fresh-water navigation, and loaded at Lake ports, would have an
advantage on the ocean over those loaded on salt water. As is the
density of the water of any sea, so is the displacement, or the sinking
of the vessel therein. Therefore a vessel can carry a larger cargo in
salt water than she can in fresh; and so, a Lake craft, loading at
Chicago as deep as she can swim, will find herself, when she reaches
the ocean, much more buoyant and lively. So, also, as, the more sail a
vessel carries, the deeper she penetrates the water, it follows, that,
the more dense the water, the more sail she can carry.

In proof of these statements, the "Merchants' Magazine" tells us, that
English vessels bound up the Black Sea take smaller cargoes than those
going to the Mediterranean, because, the former being much less salt
than the latter, vessels are less buoyant thereon, and can carry less.
This difference in buoyancy will probably be enough to offset the higher
seas and rougher weather of the Atlantic.

Thus it appears that this great basin extends through so many degrees of
latitude that its lakes and streams connect with the mineral regions and
pine forests of the North, the wheat- and corn-lands and cattle-ranges
of the Middle States, and the cotton-and sugar-plantations of the

The pine forests of Maine, it is well known, have been for some time
failing, under the great demand upon them; and the only resource will
soon be in those of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan, from which many
cargoes have been already sent to the Atlantic ports. The amount of
lumber made in these pineries in 1860 is estimated at twelve hundred
million feet, worth between eight and nine millions of dollars. Most of
this goes to the country west of the Lakes,--to Chicago, to St. Louis,
and even down the river to New Orleans. Since railroads have penetrated
the great prairies and made them habitable, the demand for pine lumber
has greatly increased both for building and fencing; and it has been
estimated, that, if every quarter-section of land in Iowa and Illinois
were surrounded with a "three-board" fence, it would consume every foot
of pine-timber in Michigan.

As to the copper and iron mines of Lake Superior, many dabblers in fancy
stocks are but too well acquainted with them, and many burned fingers
testify against those investments of capital. Still, the amount of
mineral is immense, and the quality of the purest; and these mines will
no doubt pay well, if worked with skill and capital.

Since 1845, one hundred and sixteen copper-mining companies have been
organized in Michigan, under the general law of the State; and the
amount of capital invested in them is estimated at six millions of
dollars. Most of this is lost. On the other hand, the "Cliff" and
"Minnesota" mines have returned over two millions of dollars in
dividends. The latter is said to have paid, in 1858, a dividend of
$300,000 on a paid-up capital of $66,000. Mining is a lottery, and this
brilliant prize cannot conceal the fact that blanks fall to the lot of
by far the more numerous part of the ticket-holders.

The opening of the Sault Canal has very much aided in developing the
resources of the Upper Peninsula. In 1845, the Lake Superior fleet
consisted of three schooners. In 1860, one hundred vessels passed
through the canal, loaded with supplies for the mining country, and
returned with cargoes of copper and iron ore and fish. The copper is
smelted in Detroit, Cleveland, and Boston. In 1859, 3,000 tons were
landed in Detroit, producing from 60 to 70 per cent of ingot copper,
being among the purest ores in the world.

The iron ore of this region is also of extraordinary purity; and for
all purposes where great strength and tenacity are required, it is
unrivalled, as the following table, showing the relative strength, per
square inch, as compared with other kinds of iron, will prove:--

Best Swedish ...... 58.184
English cable...... 59.105
Essex Co., N.Y..... 59.962
Lancaster, Pa...... 58.661
Common English .... 30.000
Best Russia ....... 76.069
Lake Superior ..... 89.582

With such iron to be had of American manufacture, why should we use
a rotten English article for car-wheels and boiler-plates, and so
sacrifice the lives of thousands every year? Because, by an unwise
legislation, the foreign article is made a little cheaper to the
American consumer.

There are ten large forges in operation in Michigan, with a capital of
over two millions of dollars; and the shipments of ore from Marquette
in 1859 were over 75,000 tons. The country back of Marquette is full
of mountains of iron ore, yielding 60 or 70 per cent, of pure metal,
sufficient to supply the world for ages.

Traces have been found, through the whole of this copper-region, of a
rude species of mining practised here long before it became known to the
whites. The existing races of Indians had not even a tradition by whom
it was done; and the excavations were unknown to them, until pointed out
by the white man. Messrs. Foster and Whitney, in their survey of the
copper-lands, found a pine-stump ten feet in circumference, which must
have grown, flourished, and died since the mound of earth upon which it
stood was thrown out. Mr. Knapp discovered, in 1848, a deserted mine or
excavation, in which, under eighteen feet of rubbish, he found a mass
of native copper weighing over six tons, resting on billets of oak
supported by sleepers of the same material. The ancient miners had
evidently raised the mass about five feet, and then abandoned it. Around
it, among the accumulation of rubbish, were found a large number of
stone hammers, and some copper chisels, but no utensils of iron. In some
instances, explorers have been led to select valuable mining-sites by
the abundance of these stone hammers found about the ground. Traces
of tumuli have also been found in these regions, which would seem
to indicate some connection between these ancient miners and the
mound-builders of the Mississippi Valley,--especially as in those
western mounds copper rings have frequently been found.

The economical value of the Lake fisheries is considerable. The total
catch of white-fish, trout, and pickerel, the only kinds which are
packed, to any extent, was estimated for 1859 at 110,000 barrels,
worth about $880,000. These find a market through the States of Ohio,
Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois; besides a large quantity which are
consumed in a fresh state, in the Lake cities and towns.

The White-Fish, (_Coregonus Albus,_) which is the most valuable of all,
somewhat resembles the shad in appearance and taste. It is taken in
seines and other nets,--never with the hook. The white-fish of Lake
Superior are larger, fatter, and of finer flavor than any others. In
this lake they have sometimes been taken weighing fifteen pounds. At the
Sault they are taken in the rapids with dip-nets, by the Chippewas who
live in that vicinity, and are of very fine flavor; those of Detroit
River and the Straits of Mackinac are also very good; but when you go
south, into Lake Erie or Michigan, the quality of the fish deteriorates.
Few travellers ever taste a white-fish in perfection. As eaten upon
hotel-tables at Buffalo or Chicago, it is a poor and tasteless fish.
But, as found at the old French boarding-houses at Mackinac or the
Sault, or, better still, cooked fresh from the icy waters on the
rocky shores of Superior, it is, to our thinking, the best fish that
swims,--better than the true salmon or brook-trout. The famous fish once
so plenty in Otsego Lake, but now nearly extinct, was a _Coregonus_, and
first cousin to this one of the Great Lakes.

So Sebago Lake, near Portland, some fifty years ago, boasted of a
delicious red-fleshed trout, of large size, which has in these latter
times, from netting or some other improper fishing, nearly or quite
disappeared from those waters, leaving upon the palates of old anglers
the remembrance of a flavor higher and richer than anything now

The Lake Trout, or Mackinac Salmon, is the largest of the family of
_Salmonidoe_, growing, it is said, sometimes to the weight of one
hundred pounds. From twenty to thirty pounds is not uncommon, which is
much larger than the average of _Salmo Salar_, the true salmon. Truth
compels us to add, however, that our salmon of the Lakes is inferior to
his kinsman of the salt water; though, as in the case of the
white-fish, he has been slandered by ignorant people, such as newspaper
letter-writers, and the like. When taken from the clear, cold waters of
Lake Huron or the Straits, and boiled as nearly alive as humanity will
permit, _Salmo Namaycush_ is nearly equal to the true salmon; but after
two or three days in ice, "how stale, flat, and unprofitable!"

The Muskelunge (_Esox Estor_) is peculiar to this basin, and is the
largest of the pickerels, weighing from ten to eighty pounds. It is a
very handsome and game fish, and is the king, or tyrant, of the water,
devouring without mercy everything smaller than itself; though its
favorite food is the white-fish, which, perhaps, accounts for the
superior flavor of this huge pike, which is one of the very best of
fresh-water fishes.

Another excellent fish for the table is the Pike-Perch, (_Lucio-Perca_)
or Glass-Eyed Pike, from his large, brilliant eyes. In Ohio, it is
called the salmon, and by the Canadians the pickerel, while, with
singular perversity, they persist in calling our pickerel a pike. It is
a very firm, well-flavored fish, weighing from two to ten pounds, and is
found in all the Great Lakes.

Professor Agassiz was the first to describe a large and valuable species
of pike, which he found in Lake Superior,--the Northern Pike (_Esox
Boreus_). This is the most common species of pike in the St. Lawrence
basin, though usually confounded with the common pickerel (_Esox
Reticulatus_). It grows to the size of fifteen or twenty pounds, and is
a better table-fish than _Esox Reticulatus_. It may be distinguished by
the rows of spots sides, of a lighter color than the ground upon which
they are arranged. It differs from the Muskelunge in having the lower
jaw full of teeth; whereas in the Muskelunge the anterior half of the
lower jaw is toothless.

All the streams which empty into Lake Superior, those of the north shore
of Lake Huron, the west shore of Lake Michigan as far as Lake Winnebago,
and all the streams of Lake Ontario, contain the Speckled Trout (_Salmo
Fontinalis_); while they are not found in the streams on the southern
coasts of Lake Michigan, or (so far as we know) in the streams of Lake
Erie. What can determine this limitation of the range of the species? It
cannot be latitude, since trout are found in Pennsylvania and Virginia.
It is not longitude, since they occur in the head-waters of the Iowa
rivers. So Professor Agassiz found that Lake Superior contained species
which were not to be found in the other lakes, and that the other lakes,
again, contained species which did not occur in Lake Superior. He says,
in his work on Lake Superior,

"It is the great question of the unity or plurality of creations; it is
not less the question of the origin of animals from single pairs or in
large numbers; and, strange to say, a thorough examination of the fishes
of Lake Superior, compared with those of the adjacent waters, is likely
to throw more light upon such questions, than all traditions, however
ancient, however near in point of time to the epoch of Creation itself."

In Lake Superior is likewise found that remarkable salmon, the
Siscowet,--which is so fat and luscious as to be uneatable in a fresh
state, and requires to be salted to render it fit for food. It commands
a much higher price by the barrel than the lake-trout or white-fish, and
is rarely to be met with out of the Lake cities.

In this basin is also found the Gar-Pike, (_Lepidosteus,_) a singular
animal, which is the only living representative of the fishes that
existed in the early ages of the earth's history,--and which, by its
formidable array of teeth, its impenetrable armor, and its swiftness and
voracity, gives us some idea of the terrible creatures which peopled the
waters of that period.

We have thus hastily sketched the character and indicated the resources
of that great Northwest, which, little more than fifty years ago a
wilderness, is now a cluster of republics holding more than the balance
of power in the Union. Idle speculatists, terrified by the violence of
South Carolina, and believing that on her withdrawal the sky is to fall,
are already predicting the dismemberment of East and West. But we think
the chance of it is growing less, year by year. The two are now bound
indissolubly together by lines of railroad, which, during a part of the
year, are the most convenient outlet of the West toward the sea. Those
States, just as they are arriving at a controlling influence in the
affairs of a great and powerful nation, are hardly likely to seclude
themselves from the rest of the world in what would, from its position,
be at best an insignificant republic.

* * * * *


We do not believe that any government--no, not the Rump Parliament on
its last legs--ever showed such pitiful inadequacy as our own during the
past two months. Helpless beyond measure in all the duties of practical
statesmanship, its members or their dependants have given proof of
remarkable energy in the single department of peculation; and there, not
content with the slow methods of the old-fashioned defaulter, who helped
himself only to what there was, they have contrived to steal what there
was going to be, and have peculated in advance by a kind of official
post-obit. So thoroughly has the credit of the most solvent nation in
the world been shaken, that an administration which still talks of
paying a hundred millions for Cuba is unable to raise a loan of five
millions for the current expenses of Government. Nor is this the worst;
the moral bankruptcy at Washington is more complete and disastrous than
the financial, and for the first time in our history the Executive is
suspected of complicity in a treasonable plot against the very life of
the nation.

Our material prosperity for nearly half a century has been so
unparalleled, that the minds of men have become gradually more and more
absorbed in matters of personal concern; and our institutions have
practically worked so well and so easily, that we have learned to trust
in our luck, and to take the permanence of our government for granted.
The country has been divided on questions of temporary policy, and the
people have been drilled to a wonderful discipline in the manoeuvres
of party-tactics; but no crisis has arisen to force upon them a
consideration of the fundamental principles of our system, or to arouse
in them a sense of national unity, and make them feel that patriotism
was anything more than a pleasing sentiment,--half Fourth of July and
half Eighth of January,--a feeble reminiscence, rather than a living
fact with a direct bearing on the national well-being. We have had long
experience of that unmemorable felicity which consists in having no
history, so far as history is made up of battles, revolutions, and
changes of dynasty; but the present generation has never been called
upon to learn that deepest lesson of politics which is taught by a
common danger, throwing the people back on their national instincts, and
superseding party-leaders, the peddlers of chicane, with men adequate to
great occasions and dealers in destiny. Such a crisis is now upon us;
and if the virtue of the people make up for the imbecility of the
Executive, as we have little doubt that it will, if the public spirit of
the whole country be awakened in time by the common peril, the present
trial will leave the nation stronger than ever, and more alive to its
privileges and the duties they imply. We shall have learned what is
meant by a government of laws, and that allegiance to the sober will
of the majority, concentrated in established forms and distributed by
legitimate channels, is all that renders democracy possible, is its only
conservative principle, the only thing that has made and can keep us a
powerful nation instead of a brawling mob.

The theory, that the best government is that which governs least, seems
to have been accepted literally by Mr. Buchanan, without considering the
qualifications to which all general propositions are subject. His course
of conduct has shown up its absurdity, in cases where prompt action is
required, as effectually as Buckingham turned into ridicule the famous

"My wound is great, because it is so small,"
by instantly adding,--

"Then it were greater, were it none at all."

Mr. Buchanan seems to have thought, that, if to govern little was to
govern well, then to do nothing was the perfection of policy. But there
is a vast difference between letting well alone and allowing bad to
become worse by a want of firmness at the outset. If Mr. Buchanan,
instead of admitting the right of secession, had declared it to be, as
it plainly is, rebellion, he would not only have received the unanimous
support of the Free States, but would have given confidence to the
loyal, reclaimed the wavering, and disconcerted the plotters of treason
in the South.

Either we have no government at all, or else the very word implies the
right, and therefore the duty, in the governing power, of protecting
itself from destruction and its property from pillage. But for Mr.
Buchanan's acquiescence, the doctrine of the right of secession would
never for a moment have bewildered the popular mind. It is simply
mob-law under a plausible name. Such a claim might have been fairly
enough urged under the old Confederation; though even then it would
have been summarily dealt with, in the case of a Tory colony, if
the necessity had arisen. But the very fact that we have a National
Constitution, and legal methods for testing, preventing, or punishing
any infringement of its provisions, demonstrates the absurdity of any
such assumption of right now. When the States surrendered their power to
make war, did they make the single exception of the United States, and
reserve the privilege of declaring war against them at any moment? If we
are a congeries of mediaeval Italian republics, why should the General
Government have expended immense sums in fortifying points whose
strategic position is of continental rather than local consequence?
Florida, after having cost us nobody knows how many millions of dollars
and thousands of lives to render the holding of slaves possible to her,
coolly proposes to withdraw herself from the Union and take with her one
of the keys of the Mexican Gulf, on the plea that her slave-property is
rendered insecure by the Union. Louisiana, which we bought and paid for
to secure the mouth of the Mississippi, claims the right to make her
soil French or Spanish, and to cork up the river again, whenever the
whim may take her. The United States are not a German Confederation, but
a unitary and indivisible nation, with a national life to protect, a
national power to maintain, and national rights to defend against any
and every assailant, at all hazards. Our national existence is all that
gives value to American citizenship. Without the respect which nothing
but our consolidated character could inspire, we might as well be
citizens of the toy-republic of San Marino, for all the protection
it would afford us. If our claim to a national existence was worth a
seven-years' war to establish, it is worth maintaining at any cost; and
it is daily becoming more apparent, that the people, so soon as they
find that secession means anything serious, will not allow themselves to
be juggled out of their rights, as members of one of the great powers of
the earth, by a mere quibble of Constitutional interpretation.

We have been so much accustomed to the Buncombe style of oratory, to
hearing men offer the pledge of their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor
on the most trivial occasions, that we are apt to allow a great latitude
in such matters, and only smile to think how small an advance any
intelligent pawn-broker would be likely to make on securities of this
description. The sporadic eloquence that breaks out over the country on
the eve of election, and becomes a chronic disease in the two houses of
Congress, has so accustomed us to dissociate words and things, and to
look upon strong language as an evidence of weak purpose, that we attach
no meaning whatever to declamation. Our Southern brethren have been
especially given to these orgies of loquacity, and have so often
solemnly assured us of their own courage, and of the warlike
propensities, power, wealth, and general superiority of that part of the
universe which is so happy as to be represented by them, that, whatever
other useful impression they have made, they insure our never forgetting
the proverb about the woman who talks of her virtue. South Carolina,
in particular, if she has hitherto failed in the application of her
enterprise to manufacturing purposes of a more practical kind, has
always been able to match every yard of printed cotton from the North
with a yard of printed fustian, the product of her own domestic
industry. We have thought no harm of this, so long as no Act of Congress
required the reading of the "Congressional Globe." We submitted to the
general dispensation of long-windedness and short-meaningness as to any
other providential visitation, endeavoring only to hold fast our faith
in the divine government of the world in the midst of so much that was
past understanding. But we lost sight of the metaphysical truth,
that, though men may fail to convince others by a never so incessant
repetition of sonorous nonsense, they nevertheless gradually persuade
themselves, and impregnate their own minds and characters with a belief
in fallacies that have been uncontradicted only because not worth
contradiction. Thus our Southern politicians, by dint of continued
reiteration, have persuaded themselves to accept their own flimsy
assumptions for valid statistics, and at last actually believe
themselves to be the enlightened gentlemen, and the people of the Free
States the peddlers and sneaks they have so long been in the habit of
fancying. They have argued themselves into a kind of vague faith that
the wealth and power of the Republic are south of Mason and Dixon's
line; and the Northern people have been slow in arriving at the
conclusion that treasonable talk would lead to treasonable action,
because they could not conceive that anybody should be so foolish as to
think of rearing an independent frame of government on so visionary
a basis. Moreover, the so often recurring necessity, incident to our
system, of obtaining a favorable verdict from the people, has fostered
in our public men the talents and habits of jury-lawyers at the expense
of statesmanlike qualities; and the people have been so long wonted to
look upon the utterances of popular leaders as intended for immediate
effect and having no reference to principles, that there is scarcely a
prominent man in the country so independent in position and so clear of
any suspicion of personal or party motives, that they can put entire
faith in what he says, and accept him either as the leader or the
exponent of their thoughts and wishes. They have hardly been able to
judge with certainty from the debates in Congress whether secession were
a real danger, or only one of those political feints of which they have
had such frequent experience.

Events have been gradually convincing them that the peril was actual and
near. They begin to see how unwise, if nothing worse, has been the weak
policy of the Executive in allowing men to play at Revolution till they
learn to think the coarse reality as easy and pretty as the vaudeville
they have been acting. They are fast coming to the conclusion that the
list of grievances put forward by the secessionists is a sham and
a pretence, the veil of a long-matured plot against republican
institutions. And it is time the traitors of the South should know that
the Free States are becoming every day more united in sentiment and more
earnest in resolve, and that, so soon as they are thoroughly satisfied
that secession is something more than empty bluster, a public spirit
will be aroused that will be content with no half-measures, and which no
Executive, however unwilling, can resist.

The country is weary of being cheated with plays upon words. The United
States are a nation, and not a mass-meeting; theirs is a government,
and not a caucus,--a government that was meant to be capable, and is
capable, of something more than the helpless _please don't_ of a village
constable; they have executive and administrative officers that are not
mere puppet-figures to go through the motions of an objectless activity,
but arms and hands that become supple to do the will of the people so
soon as that will becomes conscious and defines its purpose. It is time
that we turned up our definitions in some more trustworthy dictionary
than that of avowed disunionists and their more dangerous because more
timid and cunning accomplices. Rebellion smells no sweeter because it
is called Secession, nor does Order lose its divine precedence in human
affairs because a knave may nickname it Coercion. Secession means chaos,
and Coercion the exercise of legitimate authority. You cannot dignify
the one nor degrade the other by any verbal charlatanism. The best
testimony to the virtue of coercion is the fact that no wrongdoer ever
thought well of it. The thief in jail, the mob-leader in the hands of
the police, and the murderer on the drop will be unanimous in favor of
this new heresy of the unconstitutionality of Constitutions, with its
Newgate Calendar of confessors, martyrs, and saints. Falstaff's famous
regiment would have volunteered to a man for its propagation or its
defence. Henceforth let every unsuccessful litigant have the right to
pronounce the verdict of a jury sectional, and to quash all proceedings
and retain the property in controversy by seceding from the court-room.
Let the planting of hemp be made penal, because it squints toward
coercion. Why, the first great Secessionist would doubtless have
preferred to divide Heaven peaceably, would have been willing to send
Commissioners, must have thought Michael's proceedings injudicious, and
could probably even now demonstrate the illegality of hell-fire to any
five-year-old imp of average education and intelligence. What a fine
world we should have, if we could only come quietly together in
convention, and declare by unanimous resolution, or even by a
two-thirds' vote, that edge-tools should hereafter cut everybody's
fingers but his that played with them,--that, when two men ride on one
horse, the hindmost shall always sit in front,--and that, when a man
tries to thrust his partner out of bed and gets kicked out himself, he
shall be deemed to have established his title to an equitable division,
and the bed shall be thenceforth his as of right, without detriment to
the other's privilege in the floor!

If secession be a right, then the moment of its exercise is wholly
optional with those possessing it. Suppose, on the eve of a war with
England, Michigan should vote herself out of the Union and declare
herself annexed to Canada, what kind of a reception would her
Commissioners be likely to meet in Washington, and what scruples should
we feel about coercion? Or, to take a case precisely parallel to that of
South Carolina,--suppose that Utah, after getting herself admitted to
the Union, should resume her sovereignty, as it is pleasantly called,
and block our path to the Pacific, under the pretence that she did not
consider her institutions safe while the other States entertained such
unscriptural prejudices against her special weakness in the patriarchal
line. Is the only result of our admitting a Territory on Monday to be
the giving it a right to steal itself and go out again on Tuesday? Or
do only the original thirteen States possess this precious privilege of
suicide? We shall need something like a Fugitive Slave Law for runaway
republics, and must get a provision inserted in our treaties with
foreign powers, that they shall help us catch any delinquent who may
take refuge with them, as South Carolina has been trying to do with
England and France. It does not matter to the argument, except so far as
the good taste of the proceeding is concerned, at what particular time
a State may make her territory foreign, thus opening one gate of our
national defences and offering a bridge to invasion. The danger of the
thing is in her making her territory foreign under any circumstances;
and it is a danger which the Government must prevent, if only
for self-preservation. Within the limits of the Constitution two
sovereignties cannot coexist; and yet what practical odds does it
make, if a State becomes sovereign by simply declaring herself so?
The legitimate consequence of secession is, not that a State becomes
sovereign, but that, so far as the General Government is concerned, she
has outlawed herself, nullified her own existence as a State, and become
an aggregate of riotous men who resist the execution of the laws.

We are told that coercion will be civil war; and so is a mob civil war,
till it is put down. In the present case, the only coercion called for
is the protection of the public property and the collection of the
federal revenues. If it be necessary to send troops to do this, they
will not be sectional, as it is the fashion nowadays to call people who
insist on their own rights and the maintenance of the laws, but federal
troops, representing the will and power of the whole Confederacy. A
danger is always great so long as we are afraid of it; and mischief like
that now gathering head in South Carolina may soon become a danger, if
not swiftly dealt with. Mr. Buchanan seems altogether too wholesale a
disciple of the _laissez-faire_ doctrine, and has allowed activity in
mischief the same immunity from interference which is true policy only
in regard to enterprise wisely and profitably directed. He has been
naturally reluctant to employ force, but has overlooked the difference
between indecision and moderation, forgetting the lesson of all
experience, that firmness in the beginning saves the need of force in
the end, and that forcible measures applied too late may be made to seem
violent ones, and thus excite a mistaken sympathy with the sufferers by
their own misdoing. The feeling of the country has been unmistakably
expressed in regard to Major Anderson, and that not merely because he
showed prudence and courage, but because he was the first man holding
a position of trust who did his duty to the nation. Public sentiment
unmistakably demands, that, in the case of Anarchy vs. America, the
cause of the defendant shall not be suffered to go by default. The
proceedings in South Carolina, parodying the sublime initiative of
our own Revolution with a Declaration of Independence that hangs the
franchise of human nature on the kink of a hair, and substitutes for
the visionary right of all men to the pursuit of happiness the more
practical privilege of some men to pursue their own negro,--these
proceedings would be merely ludicrous, were it not for the danger that
the men engaged in them may so far commit themselves as to find the
inconsistency of a return to prudence too galling, and to prefer the
safety of their pride to that of their country.

It cannot be too distinctly stated or too often repeated, that the
discontent of South Carolina is not one to be allayed by any concessions
which the Free States can make with dignity or even safety. It is
something more radical and of longer standing than distrust of the
motives or probable policy of the Republican Party. It is neither more
nor less than a disbelief in the very principles on which our government
is founded. So long as they practically retained the government of the
country, and could use its power and patronage to their own advantage,
the plotters were willing to wait; but the moment they lost that
control, by the breaking up of the Democratic Party, and saw that their
chance of ever regaining it was hopeless, they declared openly the
principles on which they have all along been secretly acting. Denying
the constitutionality of special protection to any other species of
property or branch of industry, and in 1832 threatening to break up
the Union unless their theory of the Constitution in this respect were
admitted, they went into the late Presidential contest with a claim for
extraordinary protection to a certain kind of property already the
only one endowed with special privileges and immunities. Defeated
overwhelmingly before the people, they now question the right of the
majority to govern, except on their terms, and threaten violence in the
hope of extorting from the fears of the Free; States what they failed
to obtain from their conscience and settled convictions of duty. Their
quarrel is not with the Republican Party, but with the theory of

The South Carolina politicians have hitherto shown themselves adroit
managers, shrewd in detecting and profiting by the weaknesses of men;
but their experience has not been of a kind to give them practical
wisdom in that vastly more important part of government which depends
for success on common sense and business-habits. The members of the
South Carolina Convention have probably less knowledge of political
economy than any single average Northern merchant whose success depends
on an intimate knowledge of the laws of trade and the world-wide
contingencies of profit and loss. Such a man would tell them, as the
result of invariable experience, that the prosperity of no community was
so precarious as that of one whose very existence was dependent on
a single agricultural product. What divinity hedges cotton, that
competition may not touch it,--that some disease, like that of the
potato and the vine, may not bring it to beggary in a single year, and
cure the overweening conceit of prosperity with the sharp medicine of
Ireland and Madeira? But these South Carolina economists are better at
vaporing than at calculation. They will find to their cost that the
figure's of statistics have little mercy for the figures of speech,
which are so powerful in raising enthusiasm and so helpless in raising
money. The eating of one's own words, as they must do, sooner or later,
is neither agreeable nor nutritious; but it is better to do it before
there is nothing else left to eat. The secessionists are strong in
declamation, but they are weak in the multiplication-table and the
ledger. They have no notion of any sort of logical connection between
treason and taxes. It is all very fine signing Declarations of
Independence, and one may thus become a kind of panic-price hero for a
week or two, even rising to the effigial martyrdom of the illustrated
press; but these gentlemen seem to have forgotten, that, if their
precious document should lead to anything serious, they have been
signing promises to pay for the State of South Carolina to an enormous
amount. It is probably far short of the truth to say that the taxes of
an autonomous palmetto republic would be three times what they are now.
To speak of nothing else, there must be a military force kept constantly
on foot; and the ministers of King Cotton will find that the charge made
by a standing army on the finances of the new empire is likely to be
far more serious and damaging than can be compensated by the glory of a
great many such "spirited charges" as that by which Colonel Pettigrew
and his gallant rifles took Fort Pinckney, with its garrison of one
engineer officer and its armament of no guns. Soldiers are the most
costly of all toys or tools. The outgo for the army of the Pope, never
amounting to ten thousand effective men, in the cheapest country in the
world, has been half a million of dollars a month. Under the present
system, it needs no argument to show that the Non-slaveholding States,
with a free population considerably more than double that of the
Slave-holding States, and with much more generally distributed wealth
and opportunities of spending, pay far more than the proportion
predicable on mere preponderance in numbers of the expenses of a
government supported mainly by a tariff on importations. And it is not
the burden of this difference merely that the new Cotton Republic must
assume. They will need as large, probably a larger, army and navy than
that of the present Union; as numerous a diplomatic establishment; a
postal system whose large yearly deficit they must bear themselves; and
they must assume the main charges of the Indian Bureau. If they adopt
free trade, they will alienate the Border Slave-States, and even
Louisiana; if a system of customs, they have cut themselves off from
the chief consumers of foreign goods. One of the calculations of the
Southern conspirators is to render the Free States tributary to their
new republic, by adopting free trade and smuggling their imported goods
across the border. But this is all moonshine; for, even if smuggling
could not be prevented as easily as it now is from the British
Provinces, how long would it be before the North would adapt its tariff
to the new order of things? And thus thrown back upon direct taxation,
how many years would it take to open the eyes of the poorer classes
of Secessia to the hardship of their position and its causes? Their
ignorance has been trifled with by men who cover treasonable designs
with a pretence of local patriotism. Neither they nor their misleaders
have any true conception of the people of the Free States, of those
"white slaves" who in Massachusetts alone have a deposit in the Savings
Banks whose yearly interest would pay seven times over the four hundred
thousand dollars which South Carolina cannot raise.

But even if we leave other practical difficulties out of sight, what
chance of stability is there for a confederacy whose very foundation
is the principle that any member of it may withdraw at the first
discontent? If they could contrive to establish a free-trade treaty with
their chief customer, England, would she consent to gratify Louisiana
with an exception in favor of sugar? Some of the leaders of the
secession movement have already become aware of this difficulty, and
accordingly propose the abolition of all State lines,--the first step
toward a military despotism; for, if our present system have one
advantage greater than another, it is the neutralization of numberless
individual ambitions by adequate opportunities of provincial
distinction. Even now the merits of the Napoleonic system are put
forward by some of the theorists of Alabama and Mississippi, who
doubtless have as good a stomach to be emperors as ever Bottom had to a
bottle of hay, when his head was temporarily transformed to the likeness
of theirs,--and who, were they subjects of the government that looks so
nice across the Atlantic, would, ere this, have been on their way
to Cayenne, a spot where such red-peppery temperaments would find
themselves at home.

The absurdities with which the telegraphic column of the newspapers has
been daily crowded, since the vagaries of South Carolina finally settled
down into unmistakable insanity, would give us but a poor opinion of the
general intelligence of the country, did we not know that they were due
to the necessities of "Our Own Correspondent." At one time, it is Fort
Sumter that is to be bombarded with floating batteries mounted on rafts
behind a rampart of cotton-bales; at another, it is Mr. Barrett, Mayor
of Washington, announcing his intention that the President-elect shall
be inaugurated, or Mr. Buchanan declaring that he shall cheerfully
assent to it. Indeed! and who gave them any choice in the matter?
Yesterday, it was General Scott who would not abandon the flag which he
had illustrated with the devotion of a lifetime; to-day, it is General
Harney or Commodore Kearney who has concluded to be true to the country
whose livery he has worn and whose bread he has eaten for half a
century; to-morrow, it will be Ensign Stebbins who has been magnanimous
enough not to throw up his commission. What are we to make of the
extraordinary confusion of ideas which such things indicate? In what
other country would it be considered creditable to an officer that he
merely did not turn traitor at the first opportunity? There can be no
doubt of the honor both of the army and navy, and of their loyalty to
their country. They will do their duty, if we do ours in saving them a
country to which they can be loyal.

We have been so long habituated to a kind of local independence in the
management of our affairs, and the Central Government has fortunately
had so little occasion for making itself felt at home and in the
domestic concerns of the States, that the idea of its relation to us as
a power, except for protection from without, has gradually become vague
and alien to our ordinary habits of thought. We have so long heard the
principle admitted, and seen it acted on with advantage to the general
weal, that the people are sovereign in their own affairs, that we
must recover our presence of mind before we see the fallacy of the
assumption, that the people, or a bare majority of them, in a single
State, can exercise their right of sovereignty as against the will of
the nation legitimately expressed. When such a contingency arises, it is
for a moment difficult to get rid of our habitual associations, and to
feel that we are not a mere partnership, dissolvable whether by mutual
consent or on the demand of one or more of its members, but a nation,
which can never abdicate its right, and can never surrender it while
virtue enough is left in the people to make it worth retaining. It
would seem to be the will of God that from time to time the manhood of
nations, like that of individuals, should be tried by great dangers or
by great opportunities. If the manhood be there, it makes the great
opportunity out of the great danger; if it be not there, then the great
danger out of the great opportunity. The occasion is offered us now of
trying whether a conscious nationality and a timely concentration of the
popular will for its maintenance be possible in a democracy, or whether
it is only despotisms that are capable of the sudden and selfish energy
of protecting themselves from destruction.

The Republican Party has thus far borne itself with firmness and
moderation, and the great body of the Democratic Party in the Free
States is gradually being forced into an alliance with it. Let us not be
misled by any sophisms about conciliation and compromise. Discontented
citizens may be conciliated and compromised with, but never open rebels
with arms in their hands. If there be any concessions which justice may
demand on the one hand and honor make on the other, let us try if we can
adjust them with the Border Slave-States; but a government has already
signed its own death-warrant, when it consents to make terms with
law-breakers. First reestablish the supremacy of order, and then it will
be time to discuss terms; but do not call it a compromise, when you
give up your purse with a pistol at your head. This is no time for
sentimentalisms about the empty chair at the national hearth; all the
chairs would be empty soon enough, if one of the children is to amuse
itself with setting the house on fire, whenever it can find a match.
Since the election of Mr. Lincoln, not one of the arguments has lost its
force, not a cipher of the statistics has been proved mistaken, on
which the judgment of the people was made up. Nobody proposes, or
has proposed, to interfere with any existing rights of property;
the majority have not assumed to decide upon any question of the
righteousness or policy of certain social arrangements existing in
any part of the Confederacy; they have not undertaken to constitute
themselves the conscience of their neighbors; they have simply
endeavored to do their duty to their own posterity, and to protect them
from a system which, as ample experience has shown, and that of
our present difficulty were enough to show, fosters a sense of
irresponsibleness to all obligation in the governing class, and in the
governed an ignorance and a prejudice which may be misled at any moment
to the peril of the whole country.

But the present question is one altogether transcending all limits of
party and all theories of party-policy. It is a question of national
existence; it is a question whether Americans shall govern America, or
whether a disappointed clique shall nullify all government now, and
render a stable government difficult hereafter; it is a question, not
whether we shall have civil war under certain contingencies, but whether
we shall prevent it under any. It is idle, and worse than idle, to
talk about Central Republics that can never be formed. We want neither
Central Republics nor Northern Republics, but our own Republic and that
of our fathers, destined one day to gather the whole continent under a
flag that shall be the most august in the world. Having once known what
it was to be members of a grand and peaceful constellation, we shall not
believe, without further proof, that the laws of our gravitation are to
be abolished, and we flung forth into chaos, a hurlyburly of jostling
and splintering stars, whenever Robert Toombs or Robert Rhett, or any
other Bob of the secession kite, may give a flirt of self-importance.
The first and greatest benefit of government is that it keeps the
peace, that it insures every man his right, and not only that, but the
permanence of it. In order to this, its first requisite is stability;
and this once firmly settled, the greater the extent of conterminous
territory that can be subjected to one system and one language and
inspired by one patriotism, the better. That there should be some
diversity of interests is perhaps an advantage, since the necessity of
legislating equitably for all gives legislation its needful safeguards
of caution and largeness of view. A single empire embracing the whole
world, and controlling, without extinguishing, local organizations and
nationalities, has been not only the dream of conquerors, but the ideal
of speculative philanthropists. Our own dominion is of such extent and
power, that it may, so far as this continent is concerned, be looked
upon as something like an approach to the realization of such an ideal.
But for slavery, it might have succeeded in realizing it; and in
spite of slavery, it may. One language, one law, one citizenship over
thousands of miles, and a government on the whole so good that we seem
to have forgotten what government means,--these are things not to be
spoken of with levity, privileges not to be surrendered without a
struggle. And yet while Germany and Italy, taught by the bloody and
bitter and servile experience of centuries, are striving toward unity as
the blessing above all others desirable, we are to allow a Union,
that for almost eighty years has been the source and the safeguard of
incalculable advantages, to be shattered by the caprice of a rabble that
has outrun the intention of its leaders, while we are making up our
minds what coercion means! Ask the first constable, and he will tell
you that it is the force necessary for executing the laws. To avoid
the danger of what men who have seized upon forts, arsenals, and other
property of the United States, and continue to hold them by military
force, may choose to call civil war, we are allowing a state of things
to gather head which will make real civil war the occupation of the
whole country for years to come, and establish it as a permanent
institution. There is no such antipathy between the North and the South
as men ambitious of a consideration in the new republic, which their
talents and character have failed to secure them in the old, would fain
call into existence by asserting that it exists. The misunderstanding
and dislike between them is not so great as they were within living
memory between England and Scotland, as they are now between England and
Ireland. There is no difference of race, language, or religion. Yet,
after a dissatisfaction of near a century, and two rebellions, there is
no part of the British dominion more loyal than Scotland, no British
subjects who would be more loath to part with the substantial advantages
of their imperial connection than the Scotch; and even in Ireland, after
a longer and more deadly feud, there is no sane man who would consent
to see his country irrevocably cut off from power and consideration
to obtain an independence which would be nothing but Donnybrook Fair
multiplied by every city, town, and village in the island. The same
considerations of policy and advantage which render the union of
Scotland and Ireland with England a necessity apply with even more force
to the several States of our Union. To let one, or two, or half a dozen
of them break away in a freak of anger or unjust suspicion, or, still
worse, from mistaken notions of sectional advantage, would be to fail in
our duty to ourselves and our country, would be a fatal blindness to
the lessons which immemorial history has been tracing on the earth's
surface, either with the beneficent furrow of the plough, or, when that
was unheeded, the fruitless gash of the cannon-ball.

When we speak of coercion, we do not mean violence, but only the
assertion of constituted and acknowledged authority. Even if seceding
States could be conquered back again, they would not be worth the
conquest. We ask only for the assertion of a principle which shall give
the friends of order in the discontented quarters a hope to rally round,
and the assurance of the support they have a right to expect. There is
probably a majority, and certainly a powerful minority, in the seceding
States, who are loyal to the Union; and these should have that support
which the prestige of the General Government can alone give them. It is
not to the North or to the Republican Party that the malcontents are
called on to submit, but to the laws, and to the benign intentions of
the Constitution, as they were understood by its framers. What the
country wants is a permanent settlement; and it has learned, by repeated
trial, that compromise is not a cement, but a wedge. The Government did
not hesitate to protect the doubtful right of property of a Virginian
in Anthony Burns by the exercise of coercion, and the loyalty of
Massachusetts was such that her own militia could be used to enforce an
obligation abhorrent, and, as there is reason to believe, made purposely
abhorrent, to her dearest convictions and most venerable traditions; and
yet the same Government tampers with armed treason, and lets _I dare
not_ wait upon _I would_, when it is a question of protecting the
acknowledged property of the Union, and of sustaining, nay, preserving
even, a gallant officer whose only fault is that he has been too true
to his flag. While we write, the newspapers bring us the correspondence
between Mr. Buchanan and the South Carolina "Commissioners," and surely
never did a government stoop so low as ours has done, not only in
consenting to receive these ambassadors from Nowhere, but in suggesting
that a soldier deserves court-martial who has done all he could to
maintain himself in a forlorn hope, with rebellion in his front and
treachery in his rear. Our Revolutionary heroes had old-fashioned
notions about rebels, suitable to the straightforward times in which
they lived,--times when blood was as freely shed to secure our national
existence as milk-and-water is now to destroy it. Mr. Buchanan might
have profited by the example of men who knew nothing of the modern
arts of Constitutional interpretation, but saw clearly the distinction
between right and wrong. When a party of the Shays rebels came to
the house of General Pomeroy, in Northampton, and asked if he could
accommodate them,--the old soldier, seeing the green sprigs in their
hats, the badges of their treason, shouted to his son, "Fetch me my
hanger, and I'll _accommodate_ the scoundrels!" General Jackson, we
suspect, would have accommodated rebel commissioners in the same
peremptory style.

While our government, like Giles in the old rhyme, is wondering whether
it is a government or not, emissaries of treason are cunningly working
upon the fears and passions of the Border States, whose true interests
are infinitely more on the side of the Union than of Slavery. They are
luring the ambitious with visionary promises of Southern grandeur
and prosperity, and deceiving the ignorant into the belief that the
principles and practice of the Free States were truly represented by
John Brown. All this might have been prevented, had Mr. Buchanan in his
Message thought of the interests of his country instead of those of his
party. It is not too late to check and neutralize it now. A decisively
national and patriotic policy is all that can prevent excited men from
involving themselves so deeply that they will find "returning as tedious
as go o'er," and be more afraid of cowardice than of consequences.

Slavery is no longer the matter in debate, and we must beware of
being led off upon that side-issue. The matter now in hand is the
reestablishment of order, the reaffirmation of national unity, and the
settling once for all whether there can be such a thing as a government
without the right to use its power in self-defence. The Republican Party
has done all it could lawfully do in limiting slavery once more to the
States in which it exists, and in relieving the Free States from forced
complicity with an odious system. They can be patient, as Providence is
often patient, till natural causes work that conviction which conscience
has been unable to effect. They believe that the violent abolition of
slavery, which would be sure to follow sooner or later the disruption
of our Confederacy, would not compensate for the evil that would be
entailed upon both races by the abolition of our nationality and the
bloody confusion that would follow it. More than this, they believe
that there can be no permanent settlement except in the definite
establishment of the principle, that this government, like all others,
rests upon the everlasting foundations of just Authority,--that that
authority, once delegated by the people, becomes a common stock of Power
to be wielded for the common protection, and from which no minority
or majority of partners can withdraw its contribution under any
conditions,--that this Power is what makes us a nation, and implies
a corresponding duty of submission, or, if that be refused, then a
necessary right of self-vindication. We are citizens, when we make laws;
we become subjects, when we attempt to break them after they are
made. Lynch-law may be better than no law in new and half-organized
communities, but we cannot tolerate its application in the affairs of
government. The necessity of suppressing rebellion by force may be a
terrible one, but its consequences, whatever they may be, do not weigh
a feather in comparison with those that would follow from admitting the
principle that there is no social compact binding on any body of men too
numerous to be arrested by a United States Marshal.

As we are writing these sentences, the news comes to us that South
Carolina has taken the initiative, and chosen the arbitrament of war.
She has done it because her position was desperate, and because she
hoped thereby to unite the Cotton States by a complicity in blood, as
they are already committed by a unanimity in bravado. Major Anderson
deserves more than ever the thanks of his country for his wise
forbearance. The foxes in Charleston, who have already lost their tails
in the trap of Secession, wished to throw upon him the responsibility of
that second blow which begins a quarrel, and the silence of his guns has
balked them. Nothing would have pleased them so much as to have one of
his thirty-two-pound shot give a taste of real war to the boys who are
playing soldier at Morris's Island. But he has shown the discretion of a
brave man. South Carolina will soon learn how much she has undervalued
the people of the Free States. Because they prefer law to bowie-knives
and revolvers, she has too lightly reckoned on their caution and
timidity. She will find, that, though slow to kindle, they are as slow
to yield, and that they are willing to risk their lives for the defence
of law, though not for the breach of it. They are beginning to question
the value of a peace that is forced on them at the point of the bayonet,
and is to be obtained only by an abandonment of rights and duties.

When we speak of the courage and power of the Free States, we do not
wish to be understood as descending to the vulgar level of meeting brag
with brag. We speak of them only as among the elements to be gravely
considered by the fanatics who may render it necessary for those who
value the continued existence of this Confederacy as it deserves to be
valued to kindle a back-fire, and to use the desperate means which God
has put into their hands to be employed in the last extremity of free
institutions. And when we use the term Coercion, nothing is farther from
our thoughts than the carrying of blood and fire among those whom
we still consider our brethren of South Carolina. These civilized
communities of ours have interests too serious to be risked on a
childish wager of courage,--a quality that can always be bought cheaper
than day-labor on a railway-embankment. We wish to see the Government
strong enough for the maintenance of law, and for the protection, if
need be, of the unfortunate Governor Pickens from the anarchy he has
allowed himself to be made a tool of for evoking. Let the power of the
Union be used for any other purpose than that of shutting and barring
the door against the return of misguided men to their allegiance. At the
same time we think legitimate and responsible force prudently exerted
safer than the submission, without a struggle, to unlawful and
irresponsible violence.

Peace is the greatest of blessings, when it is won and kept by manhood
and wisdom; but it is a blessing that will not long be the housemate of
cowardice. It is God alone who is powerful enough to let His authority
slumber; it is only His laws that are strong enough to protect and
avenge themselves. Every human government is bound to make its laws
so far resemble His, that they shall be uniform, certain, and
unquestionable in their operation; and this it can do only by a timely
show of power, and by an appeal to that authority which is of divine
right, inasmuch as its office is to maintain that order which is the
single attribute of the Infinite Reason that we can clearly apprehend
and of which we have hourly example.

* * * * *


Personal History of Lord Bacon, From Unpublished Papers. By WILLIAM
HEPWORTH DIXON, of the Inner Temple. Boston: Ticknor & Fields. 12mo. pp.

The life of Bacon, as it has been ordinarily written, presents contrasts
so strange, that thoughtful readers have been compelled either to doubt
the accuracy of the narrative, or to admit that in his case Nature
departed from her usual processes, and embodied antithesis in a man. The
character suggested by the events of his life has long been in direct
opposition to the character impressed on his writings; and Macaulay, who
gave to the popular opinion its most emphatic and sparkling expression,
increased this difference by exaggerating the opposite elements of the
human epigram, and ended in manufacturing the most brilliant monstrosity
that ever bore the name of a person. Lord Campbell followed with a
biography having all the appearance of conscientious research and
judicial impartiality, but which was really nothing more than a weak
translation of Macaulay's vivid sentences into such English "as it had
pleased God to endow him withal." Bacon, to all inquiring men, still
remained outside of the statements of both; and after the lapse of
nearly two centuries, the slight biographical sketch by his chaplain,
Dr. Rawleigh, conveyed a juster idea of the man than all the
biographies by which it had been succeeded, but not superseded.

Mr. Dixon's "Personal History of Lord Bacon" is the first attempt to
vindicate his fame by original research into unpublished documents. It
is a mortifying reflection to all who speak the English tongue, that
this task should have been deferred so long. There has been no lack
of such research in regard to insignificant individuals who have been
accidentally connected with events which come within the cognizance
of English historians; but the greatest Englishman among all English
politicians and statesmen since the Norman Conquest has heretofore been
honored with no biographer who considered him worthy the labor which has
been lavished on inferior men. The readers of Macaulay's four volumes
of English history have often expressed their amazement at his minute
knowledge of the political mediocrities of the time of James II.
and William III. He spared neither time nor labor in collecting and
investigating facts regarding comparatively unknown persons who happened
to be connected with his subject; but in his judgment of a man who,
considered simply as a statesman, was infinitely greater than Halifax
or Dauby, he depends altogether on hearsay, and gives that hearsay
the worst possible appearance. In his article on Bacon, he not merely
evinces no original research, but he so combines the loose statements he
takes for granted, that, in his presentation of them, they make out
a stronger case against Bacon than is warranted by their fair
interpretation. Indeed, leaving out the facts which Macaulay suppresses
or is ignorant of, and taking into account only those which he includes,
his judgment of Bacon is still erroneous. Long before we read Mr.
Dixon's book, we had reversed Macaulay's opinion merely by scrutinizing,
and restoring to their natural relations, Macaulay's facts.

But Mr. Dixon's volume, while in style and matter it is one of the most
interesting and entertaining books of the season, is especially valuable
for the new light it sheds on the subject by the introduction of
original materials. These materials, to be sure, were within the reach
of any person who desired to write an impartial biography; but Mr. Dixon
no less deserves honor for withstanding the prejudice that Bacon's
moral character was unquestionably settled as base, and for daring to
investigate anew the testimony on which the judgment was founded. And
there can be no doubt that he has dispelled the horrible chimera, that
the same man can be thoroughly malignant or mean in his moral nature and
thoroughly beneficent or exalted in his intellectual nature. While we do
not doubt that depravity and intelligence can make an unholy alliance,
we do doubt that the intelligence thus prompted can exhibit, to an eye
that discerns spirits, all the vital signs of benevolence. If, in the
logic of character, Iago or Jerry Sneak be in the premises, it is
impossible to find Bacon in the conclusion.

The value of Mr. Dixon's book consists in its introduction of new facts
to illustrate every questionable incident in Bacon's career. It is
asserted, for instance, that Bacon, as a member of Parliament, was
impelled solely by interested motives, and opposed the government merely
to force the government to recognize his claims to office. Mr. Dixon
brings forward facts to prove that his opposition is to be justified
on high grounds of statesmanship; that he was both a patriot and a
reformer; that great constituencies were emulous to make him their
representative; that in wit, in learning, in reason, in moderation, in
wisdom, in the power of managing and directing men's minds and passions,
he was the first man in the House of Commons; that the germs of great
improvements are to be found in his speeches; that, when he was
overborne by the almost absolute power of the Court, his apparent
sycophancy was merely the wariness of a wise statesman; that Queen
Elizabeth eventually acknowledged his services to the country, and, far
from neglecting him, repeatedly extended to him most substantial
marks of her favor. This portion of Mr. Dixon's volume, founded on
state-papers, will surprise both the defamers and the eulogists of
Bacon. It contains facts of which both Macaulay and Basil Montagu were

Of Bacon's relations with Essex we never had but one opinion. All the
testimony brought forward to convict Bacon of treachery to Essex seemed
to us inconclusive. The facts, as stated by Macaulay and Lord Campbell,
do not sustain their harsh judgment. A parallel may be found in the
present political condition of our own country. Let us suppose Senator
Toombs so fortunate as to have had a wise counsellor, who for ten years
had borne to him the same relation which Bacon bore to Essex. Let us
suppose that it was understood between them that both were in favor
of the Union and the Constitution, and that nothing was to be done to
forward the triumph of their party which was not strictly legal. Then
let us suppose that Mr. Toombs, from the impulses of caprice and
passion, had secretly established relations with desperate disunionists,
and had thus put in jeopardy not only the interests, but the lives, of
those who were equally his friends and the friends of the Constitution.
Let us further suppose that he had suddenly placed himself at the
head of an armed force to overturn the United States government at
Washington, while he was still a Senator from Georgia, sworn to support
the Constitution of the United States, and that his cheated friend and
counsellor had just left the President of the United States, after a
long conference, in which he had attempted to show, to an incredulous
listener, that Senator Toombs was a devoted friend to the Union, though
dissatisfied with some of the members of the Administration. This is a
very faint illustration of the political relations between Essex
and Bacon, admitting the generally received facts on which Bacon is
execrated as false to his friend. Mr. Dixon adduces new facts which
completely justify Bacon's conduct. If Bacon, like Essex, had been ruled
by his passions, he would have been a far fiercer denouncer of Essex's
treason. He had every reason to be enraged. He was a wise man duped by a
foolish one. He was in danger of being implicated in a treason which he
abhorred, through the perfidy of a man who was generally considered as
his friend and patron, and who was supposed to act from his advice. As
Bacon doubtless knew what we now for the first time know, every candid
reader must be surprised at the moderation of his course. Essex would
not have hesitated to shoot or stab Bacon, had Bacon behaved to him as
he had behaved to Bacon. But we pardon, it seems, the most hateful
and horrible selfishness which springs from the passions; our moral
condemnation is reserved for that faint form of selfishness which may be
suspected to have its source in the intellect.

In regard to the other charges against Bacon, we think that Mr. Dixon
has brought forward evidence which must materially modify the current
opinions of Bacon's personal character. He has proved that Bacon, as a
practical statesman, was in advance of his age, rather than behind it.
He has proved that his philosophy penetrated his politics, and that he
gave wise advice, and recommended large, liberal, and humane measures to
a generation which could not appreciate them. He has proved that he did
everything that a man in his situation could do for the cause of truth
and justice which did not necessitate his retirement from public life.
The abuses by which he may have profited he not only did not defend,
but tried to reform. Among the statesmen of his day he appears not only
intellectually superior, but conventionally respectable,--a fact which
would seem to be established by the bare statement, that he died
wretchedly poor, while most of them died enormously rich.

But Mr. Dixon, in his advocacy of Bacon, overlooks the circumstance,
that no man could hold high office under James I., without complying
with abuses calculated to damage his reputation with posterity. We have
no doubt that Bacon's compliance was connected with considerations which
Mr. Dixon entirely ignores. Far from discriminating between Bacon the
philosopher and Bacon the politician, we have always thought that they
were intimately connected. Bacon's Method, the thing on which, as a
philosopher, he especially prided himself, was defective. It left out
that power by which all discoveries have since his time been made,
namely, scientific genius. Its successful working depended on an immense
collection of facts, which no individual, and no society of individuals,
could possibly make. He himself was never weary of asserting that the
Method could never produce its beneficent effects, unless it were
assisted by the revenues of a nation. Of the course which physical
science really followed he had no prevision. Copernicus, Kepler,
Galileo, Gilbert, he never appreciated. He was an intellectual autocrat,
who had matured his own scheme of interpreting Nature, and thought,
that, if it were systematically carried out, the inmost secrets of
Nature could he mastered. His desire to be Lord Chancellor of England
was subsidiary to his larger desire to be Lord Chancellor of Nature
herself. He hoped, by managing James and Buckingham, to flatter them
into aiding, by the revenues of the State, his grand philosophical
scheme. Combine the facts which Mr. Dixon has disinterred with the facts
which every thoughtful reader of Bacon's philosophical works already
knows, and the vindication of Bacon as a man is complete.

We are inclined to think that he failed in both of the objects of his
highest ambition. His philosophic Method is demonstrably a failure; his
attempt to convert James and Buckingham to his views resulted in his own
unjust disgrace with contemporaries and posterity. The truth is, that,
cool, serene, comprehensive, and unimpassioned as he appears, he was
from his youth actuated by a fanaticism which seems less intense than
the fanaticism of a man like Cromwell only because it was infinitely
more broad. Had he succeeded in the design he proposed to himself,
his intellectual domination would not be confined to England, or the
kingdoms of the civilized world, but would be commensurate with the
whole domain of Nature and man.

We are so grateful to Mr. Dixon for what he has done, that we are not
disposed to quarrel with him for what he has left undone. He has added
such a mass of incontrovertible facts to the materials which must enter
into the future biography of Bacon, that his book cannot fail to exact
cordial praise from the most captious critics. Bacon, in his aspirations
and purposes, was a very much greater man than he appears in Mr. Dixon's
biography; but still to Mr. Dixon belongs the credit of rescuing his
personal reputation from undeserved ignominy. If we add to this his
vivid pictures of the persons and events of the Elizabethan age, and his
bright, sharp, and brief way of flashing his convictions and discoveries
on the mind of the reader, we indicate merits which will make his volume
generally and justly popular. The letters of Lady Ann Bacon, the mother
of the philosopher and statesman-letters for which we are indebted to
Mr. Dixon's exhaustive research--would alone be sufficient to justify
the publication of his interesting book.

_Autobiography of Dr. Alexander Carlyle, Minister of Inveresk_. With
Memorials of the Men and Events of his Time. Boston: Ticknor & Fields.
12mo. pp. 480.

Who was he? and what was he like?--Sir Walter Scott answered these
interrogatories more than thirty years ago, in this wise. He says, in
his "Review of the Life and Works of John Home,"--"Dr. Carlyle was, for
a long period, clergyman of Musselburgh; his character was as excellent
as his conversation was amusing and instructive; his person and
countenance, even at a very advanced age, were so lofty and commanding,
as to strike every artist with his resemblance to the Jupiter Tonans of
the Pantheon."

Sixty years ago, this old Scottish clergyman sat down, one January day,
in Musselburgh, and began to write his "Autobiography." He had lived
seventy-nine years among scenes of great interest, and had known men of
remarkable genius. He wrote and died. The manuscript he left has been
often read and enjoyed by clever men and women, who in their turn have
gone to the churchyard to sleep with the venerable old man the story of
whose life they had perused. Sir Walter himself once caught a glimpse
of the time-stained sheets. All are now dead who could by any chance he
pained by the publication of facts in which their relatives look part
long years ago. So the world has now another volume to add to the store
of biography, and the future historian will have another treasury of
facts from which to illumine his pages.

Himself the son of a clergyman, Alexander Carlyle had a good
school-drilling in Prestonpans, where he was born. One of the stories of
his childhood is very amusing, inasmuch as it pictures a dozen old women
listening to young Alexander, aged six, who reads the Song of Solomon to
them in a graveyard, he all the while perched on a tombstone. My Lord
Grange was the principal man in Prestonpans parish; and Master Carlyle,
with his excellent father, had great reverence for the patron who had
been the cause of the family's transplantation from Annandale. My
Lady was a very lively person, daughter of the man who shot President
Lockhart in the dark because he had infuriated him in an arbitration
case in the court. This great family attracted the boyish wonder of
young Carlyle, and some of the gossiping stories that he heard in
his father's house made his juvenile ears tingle. Poor Lady Grange!
Quarrelling with her husband one day, on his return from London, where
pretty Fanny Lindsay, who kept a coffee-house in the Haymarket, had
bewitched him, she never knew peace again. Her temper, never very
soothing or placable, got entire possession of her life, and she rained
stormy gusts of passion on her guilty lord. He trembled and endured,
till he found a razor concealed under his wife's pillow, and then he
determined to remove his violent helpmeet to a safe seclusion. By main
force, with the aid of accomplices, he seized the lady in his house in
Edinburgh, and bore her through Stirling to the Highlands. Thence she
was taken to St. Kilda's desolate island, far off in the Western Ocean,
and there kept for the remainder of her days, scantily furnished with
only the coarsest fare. Her condition was most wretched to the last.
In those days, licentiousness and religious enthusiasm were not
incompatible associates, and Lord Grange frequently spent his evenings
with the Minister of Prestonpans, praying, and settling high points of
Calvinism with the old pastor. Good Mrs. Carlyle used to complain that
they did not part without wine, and that late hours were consequent upon
the claret they liberally imbibed after their pious discussions.

Dr. Doddridge's famous Colonel Gardiner came to reside in Minister
Carlyle's parish, and told the story of his remarkable conversion, with
his own lips, to the clergyman. The hook which turned him from his
wicked career was Gurnall's "Christian Armor," a volume placed many
years before, by a mother's hand, in his trunk, and until then
neglected. Young Carlyle hoard Gardiner tell the story of his change of
life several times to different sets of people, and he thought Doddridge
had marred the tale by introducing the incident of a blaze of light,
which the Colonel himself never spoke of having seen, when he related
his conversion.

When Alexander was eleven years old, he took a little journey with his
father and another clergyman by the name of Jardine; and the two pious,
elderly gentlemen, having a great turn for fun and buffoonery, made
sport wherever they went. Turning their wigs hind-part foremost, and
making faces, they delighted in diverting the children they encountered
on the way.

Of many of the incidents of the Porteous Mob young Carlyle was a
witness. He was in the Tolbooth Church, at Edinburgh, when Robertson, a
condemned smuggler, who was brought in to listen to the discourse and
prayers before execution, made his escape. The congregation were coming
into church while all the bells were ringing, when the criminal,
watching his opportunity, sprang suddenly over a pew, and was next heard
of in Holland. When, a few weeks afterwards, Wilson, another smuggler,
was executed, Carlyle, with some of his school-fellows, was in a window
on the north side of the Grass-Market, and heard Porteous order his
guard to fire on the people. A young lad, who had been killed by a slug
entering his head, was brought into the house where the boys were on
that occasion.

In the summer of 1737, young Carlyle might have been seen during the
evening hours walking anxiously about the Prestonpans fields. That
season he had lost one of his fellow-pupils and dearest friends, and
they had often agreed together that whichever might die first should
appear there to the other, and reveal the secrets beyond the barrier.
And so the survivor paced the meadows, hoping to meet his old companion,
who never appeared. In November of that year he was at college, and his
acquaintance with Robertson, afterwards the eminent historian, then
began. John Home, celebrated at a later period as the author of
"Douglas," also became an intimate friend. He now decided to choose a
profession, and had wellnigh concluded an agreement with two surgeons
to study theirs, when he became disgusted with the meanness of the
doctors, who had bought for dissection the body of a child of a poor
tailor for six shillings, the price asked being six shillings and
sixpence, from which they made the needy man abate the sixpence. Turning
from the niggardly surgeons, he enrolled his name as a student of
divinity, and was frequently in Edinburgh attending the lectures at
Divinity Hall. Wonderfully cheap was the living in those days, when,
at the Edinburgh ordinaries, a good dinner could be had for fourpence,
small beer included. John Witherspoon, years after a member of the
American Congress, then a frank, generous young fellow, was a companion
of Carlyle at this period, and they often went fishing together in the


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