No Question before the House.
we live in an age of extraordinary political exhibitions; and he whose appetite for novelty is the nearest insatiate, will have no cause to complain of the variety of the entertainment.
As human nature forbids a perpetual torture and tension of anxiety, we must sometimes laugh though matters may be at the worst; $and the satirists of England
have already taught us to laugh at the British
House of Commons--a body with wonderful talent for impaling itself upon the horns of a dilemma, and for wriggling it-self out of the difficulty with no marked regard either for dignity or decent consistency.
There is a farce called “The two Gregories ;” but we do not believe that off the stage there were ever two Gregories so absolutely Gregorian as the Gregory
of the Imperial Parliament--the honorable member for Galway
Gregory of Galway
fell an early victim to the charms of the Southern Confederacy, and loving, however well, not in the least wisely, he was for its instant recognition and admission into the community of in-dependent powers.
He put his passion into a motion, and he put his motion.
before the House
; but when
the time came for putting the unhappy motion to
, Mir. Gregory
discovered that the House
desired to have nothing to do with the motion aforesaid.
The demand for its withdrawal though civil was peremptory.
made an affecting speech, complaining that the Southern Confederacy was “accused of unwarrantable secession, and its members were called traitors and perjurers.”
cried the House
. “I will,” said Mr. Gregory
. “Sine die
cried the House
. “I will,” said Mr. Gregory
And the subject dropped.
Now, for our own part, although the manipulation of this red-hot resolution might have been a delicate and difficult business, we are sorry that it was not kept in hand just a little while longer.
should have made another speech.
He should have informed the House
and the world what, in his opinion, treason is. He should have given his private notion of perjury.
He should have shown what there is in the great American roguery which elevates it to virtue — what there is in the forswearing of States which differs from the perjury of individuals — in what way our Government has provoked a civil war; or, if he failed to show that, how the Southern
secession is to be taken out of the category of wicked and noisome revolt.
But the House
was too wise to permit debate.
If it had done so, we should doubtless have found some champion ready to utter disagreeable truths, and to chop the invincible logic of the facts.
Then nothing but the want of clear statement could have saved the make-shift management of a
few shop-keeping men from the contempt which it deserved, and from the indignation of the British
It would have been shown how many sacrifices — some of them, indeed, inconsistent with political probity — have been made by the Northern
people, that, if possible, this conflict might be averted.
Tersely, but triumphantly, Congressional history might have been adduced — Gag-Resolutions, Compromise Tariffs, Fugitive Slave Laws, Kansas
bills and all!
It might have been shown, for the truth is of record, that the Republican Party, though exasperated as never political party was before, by gratuitous calumnies and unprecedented wrongs, protested with its whole force against the apprehension of slaveholders, as the excess of injustice and of idle fear.
An untried Administration could do but little, except protest; yet, by all fair laws of political warfare, it was entitled to the benefit of its protest, and to an opportunity of proving its ability to carry on the government, and of its desire to carry it on in a just and wise spirit.
Certainly a slow and cautious House of Commons would have rated at its proper value the precipitancy of this spasmodic uprising — would have weighed and found wanting in all elements of integrity and honor, men who commenced debate on civil affairs by drawing the sword.
After such an exposition, however bald and defective, Mr. Gregory
would hardly have talked again of the cruelty and injustice of branding the Confederate Catilines
as perjurers and traitors.
They are both.
No amount,7 no ingenuity of special pleading,
can alter the patent and indelible fact, When the history of these distracted times shall be written, as it will be by those who are already gathering materials for the labor, the petty contemporary interests which now becloud men's judgments, will have passed away.
Should that history disclose the Confederate Slave States
as proper objects of Anglo-Saxon
esteem and sympathy, and our own Government as inhuman and unchristian, then the whole world is all wrong as to right, and public morality is the most pitiable of mistakes.
If it shall be decided that a civil war waged in the name of Freedom for the extension of Slavery was holy, necessary and just, we hope for consistency's sake, when civilized Europe
no longer calls itself Christian
, and when the Anglican Church has embraced the faith of Mohammed, that such a decision will be made, and not before.
Then, indeed, should a House of Commons yet remain in Great Britain
, it will be perfectly proper if any member is old-fashioned enough to speak of international honor, for the Speaker
to call him peremptorily to order, and to remind him that there is “no question before the House
But now when we consider the historical, the commercial, the literary, and even the political ties which bind the best part of the British
with the best part of the American
people; when we remember too, that the English Government
has not thus far kept silence upon American affairs, and has announced a policy, or the puzzling similitude of a policy; when we reflect that
all the diplomacy of Downing Street cannot in this contest keep England
in an affected posture of cold and unsympathizing neutrality forever; we confess that this shrinking from a sore subject assumes in our eyes an unpleasantly craven aspect, and argues a very un-English faith in hand-to-mouth expedients.
But while we feel thus, we feel, too, that if the American Republic
cannot maintain itself without the encouragement, and we may say the patronage of foreign nations, the sooner it falls into final and hopeless and undistinguished ruin, the better.
God is said to help those who help themselves; and most nations are respected in proportion to their ability to sustain themselves without external leagues and amities.
If we can fight this battle at all, we can fight it alone.
Subsidies, arms, armies; the offerings of foreign States, we have not asked for, and have neither wish nor right to ask for; but that moral countenance, the best gift that one great nation can bestow upon another, we have a right to expect from England
; nor do we think it will be refused us by that portion of the nation the good will of which is best worth having.
June 24, 1861.