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[265]

Hedging.

there is a clever play which in spite of its wickedness is still read for its wit, and the coarse comedy of which is concluded as follows:

Flippanta.
Then all's peace again; but we have been more lucky than wise.

Araminta.
And I suppose, for us, Clarissa, we are to go on with our dears, as we used to do.

Clarissa.
Just in the same track.

So in the popular song of the “Cork leg” we are told that long after the portly proportions of the Rotterdam burgher were reduced to a skeleton,

The Leg kept on the same as before.

Slavery is the leg of the Southern Rebellion; and we are not surprised to hear, therefore, through General Butler, of a “Southern Independence Association,” which, when the Confederacy has gone to its diabolical father, is to “labor for the reconstruction of the Democratic party, or any other political organization by which the South can regain its political ascendency,” nor should we be electrified to learn that the virtuous Mr. Benjamin Wood has become an Honorary Brother of this shrewd league.

“ If we must go back,” no doubt argue these precautious patriarchs, “let us see to it that we go back with Slavery strengthened, and with our chattels still more strongly confirmed to us! The dear Democrats are doubtless still our friends and will help us to make this detestable Union tolerable.” We must admit that this shows not only good pluck but reasonable [266] common sense. Slaveholders have found out that, Slavery preserved, they can at any time frighten the whole country — at any time bankrupt the Federal Treasury — at any time embarrass and distract the Free States--at any time, by judicious wickedness, regain lost ground — at any time sustain themselves by the might of swagger. They will be charmed if we will but forgive them. They have no objection to any number of infernal quadrilles, provided only we, of the North with our soft hearts and our long purses will pay the piper.

“The Union” will still be a good word to conjure withal, while we remain forgiving and forgetful. Should Congress prove at any the intractable, or morbidly philanthropic, the Man-Owners will again take up their muskets and shoot them a few thousand Yankee Volunteers, which will afford them a sweet opening for another treaty and another kiss of reconciliation, More battles — more sieges — more hair-breadth'scapes,--more waste of wealth; and, “we are to go on with our dears, as we used to do, just in the same track!”

So then, we are to have a truce, after all, and not a peace. Rebellion is to be like the yellow fever — it may come or it may not come, but it will be well always to be prepared for it. For our own part, after such a pacification, we are not, we confess, sharp-sighted enough to see how the slaveholding interest can upon any occasion, pending any question, fail to have its own way. Voting in Congress will be the emptiest of farces' Honorable Members for the Plantations [267] will have little need to discuss the merits of measures. Their speeches may well be brief and somewhat after this fashion: “Do n't pass the bill! If you do, we shall revolt, you know, and really, by this time, we think that you must have had enough of that.”

We do n't know what Honorable Members for New York or Massachusetts would have to say to this. They might indeed in a passion retort: “Revolt and be hanged!” but after the old emollient arrangements, Honorable Members for the Plantations would laugh at hangmen as love laughs at locksmiths. This, we take it, would be sufficient to flutter the doves from the Free States into the most amiable compliance. If not, Slavery, the cause of unnumbered crimes and of all our woes, under the operation of the three-fifths clause of the Constitution, by the aid of its resuscitated Democratic henchmen, would still vote always in its own behalf; and we should only escape civil wars by submitting to the old dictatorship.

Who can think of a return to this condition without a qualm? Not he surely whose children's bones are bleaching upon some Southern battle-field! Not he whose fortune may have been dissipated in desperate attempts to reconcile Northern enterprise with Southern sluggishness! Not he who has felt in his heart the exceeding great villainy of this war against the Union! For we believe that all persons of ordinary intelligence will look with fear and trembling, and an unspeakable grief, upon any arrangement of public affairs which shall leave us at the mercy of those miserable and unreasoning passions which Slavery [268] engenders. Distrust is the fatal bane of all political stability.

The people of the Free States have lost for ever that confidence in the honor of Slaveholders which once permitted them to hope for peace however stormy might be the portents. The possibility of a sanguinary revolt is settled and the probability is settled too; and hereafter with Slavery remaining a political power in the land, there will always be a fearful looking — for of violence. The volcano will ever threaten. The brightest skies will be no security against a whirlwind. The craziest slaveholding traitor can have no objection to such a truce, which by leaving him without punishment, leaves him without warning against a repetition of his crime. The hour he will reason, may be lost but not the day. The quarrel may be for a little while adjusted, he will say to his fellows, but we have always at hand the means of its renewal at pleasure. He will fervently thank his stars for an enemy who, when victorious over him, left all his resources unimpaired, and pretending to make a peace, was content with an armistice. “Southern Independence associations” will flourish under the sacred noses of the Federal Courts, and men who have forfeited fifty lives will stalk and strut, bully and brag, as of old, in Washington. It is not a pleasant picture to contemplate, but we had better know the chances now, than blunder into a Century of Anarchy.

June 24, 1862.

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