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[269]

The Trial of Toombs.

it is related of the illustrious author of “Faust” that during one of his youthful depressions — it was, we think, of the amorous variety — he determined upon suicide, and provided himself With the necessary dagger; but upon finding that the operation would be painful, he abandoned the bare bodkin business, and consented to live. Gen. Robert Toombs, of the Secession service, ought, by all the laws which regulate rebellion, to give up cotton-growing; but he finds the temptation to keep on with the cultivation too strong for him, and leaves his blacks at work in Georgia while he militates in Virginia. Randolph County, Ga., instantly lapses into a patriotic perspiration. The Randolph County Committee of Public Safety immediately communicate savagely with Toombs in Richmond. They tell him that he is a very wicked Confederate General. That he has no right to cultivate cotton. That his avarice is greater than his patriotism. That his negroes are wanted for military purposes. What follows? Ferocious reply from Toombs. Calls the Committee of Public Safety “cowardly miscreants.” Also “robbers.” Declines to furnish “niggers” for the Rebel service. Says he may be “robbed,” but he cannot be “intimidated.” Is n't it evident that Toombs's “patriotism” does n't, so to speak, co me up to the?--that, happen what may, he will be the last man to commit suicide?

How the Committee of Public Safety aforesaid received [270] this most disparaging telegram, we are not informed. How they relished the new title of “cowardly miscreants,” ) we may easily surmise. It was n't a relish at all, but a disrelish altogether. “You poor, miserable, rascally, bluffing, domineering, dirty scoundrels,” says Toombs; “you vile, plundering, interloping vagabonds, you cannot intimidate me.” And this to men to whom, at that identical moment, the “public safety” of Randolph County was committed. It is curious. Toombs speaks to these men as if he knew them, and knew them to be, from their heads to their heels, poor specimens of white humanity. We can imagine him talking in precisely the same way to his own private collection of blacks. That lie would, if he could, truss up the august Committee, and give to each member of it a round dozen of stripes, with the accompanying pickle, we do also believe. That, after his soldiering is over, should he get back to Georgia--which is n't probable-he will shoot one or two Committee-men, is very probable. His appetite is for the plecasures of Secession — he has none for the pais--just as a man may never weary of talking of the weariness of life, but may shrink from the alleviating rope or ratsbane. And we have called attention to the precautions and cotton-limited patriotism of this Toombs, because we believe that Secession brag is altogether too successful in its demands upon Northern credulity. When a Southern orator says, with all the coarse finery of unbridled rhetoric, that lie is ready to brave all ruin, wounds and death — for the sake of the cause, those who are [271] not blinded by his lightning language, nor intimidated by his leonine roar, may shake their heads and laugh; but the sagacious will still ask whether, when a man goes into a revolt, avowedly for the sake of negroes, he will continue in revolt when continuance will take all his negroes away from him. To put the matter in another shape, it is urged, even by members of Congress, that meddling with “the institution,” by confiscation or otherwise, will so infuriate the Secessionist that he will keep on forever in his delusion, doing the most dreadful things, long after the motive for doing them has ceased to operate: i. e., he will fight for Slaveholding though Slave-holding has become to him as impossible as flying. We do not believe it. It is grossly unphilosophical so to reason; and those who do reason so, whether at “Conservative” meetings or in the columns of news — papers, show more panic than pluck. Confiscation may appear to some to be as savage a remedy as cautery; but sometimes it is only cautery that will do the business. Selfishness, of which Mr. Toombs gives us such a charming specimen, is the main cause of man-owning, and that is the main cause of all our political mischiefs.

When we hear a planter talk about ethnology and the inferiority of races and so ascending and descending the whole gamut of solemn twaddle, we always laugh, at least inwardly; because we know that he approves of Slavery, out of no sort of respect for Moses or St. Paul, but because it gives him a coat to wear, toddies to drink, tobacco to smoke, a bed to lie [272] upon, and a roof to cover him. When he is cornered, out comes the truth. “Stop raising cotton!” cries Toombs: “lend you my niggers! I will see you hanged first!” What a dear, delightful, outspoken, frank and candid Toombs! What a charming ProSlavery Doctor of Divinity he would make, to be sure! He is n't a man to give up all he is fighting for, merely for the sake of winning the battle. “My niggers! no, I tell you! Am I fighting, and bleeding, and dying, merely that a Committee of Public Safety may carry off my niggers? As well give 'em to Abe Lincoln at once! Let them alone!” Well, dear Toombs, we cannot say that we blame you for your perfectly natural views of matters and things in general. Let us embrace!--we are speaking now as if we were a member of the Conservative Congressional Caucus — let us embrace, dear Toombs!

Come to my arms, my own true-hearted.

Not a negro of the Toombs brand shall be touched! Male and female, house-hands, field-hands, mechanics, old, middle-aged, young, yellow or black, they are all under the palladium of the Constitution-God bless it!--and they shall all be taken care of — only, good old fellow! you'll come back into the Union; that's a dear, amiable, charming Toombs! That is, Toombs is supposed to be such an unmitigated ass that he can be coaxed into the Union again merely by promising him something, which he, VI et armis, declares that the Union is too weak to secure to him. On the other hand, Toombs, having lost all his dear blacks, [273] having discovered that Disunion is just as powerless to keep them, and that Rebellion has depopulated his plantation, will have had sundry arguments in favor of keeping quiet actually knocked into his head, and will certainly see the necessity of making the best of a bad matter; or if lie does not, Toombs Junior, who hopes to live a little longer in this pleasant world, assuredly will. To take any other course with Toombs is to put a premium upon treason, and he knows it, and chuckles over our debates. If you would crush rebellion, hit at its master passion an earnest and annihilating blow. But if you mean only to play with it for the benefit of commissioned officers and contractors — why that is quite another matter, and one which we do not care to discuss.

July 4, 1862.

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