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[343]

Such is the man who now, having just landed in England on his way to Russia, is evidently struck with surprise at the ignorance he meets with, or is led to infer from the tone of some of the newspapers on the great American question. The impulse was to write to The Times, to set the case clearly before us, and rectify some current mistakes. He has met with rather hard measure in return; but a few more days in England would have shown him that a somewhat closer and clearer statement of his case would have answered better with an audiance which he addresses on the very ground that it is critical instead of sympathetic.

It is certain, however, that The Times misapprehends Mr. Clay when it dismisses as mere rhetorical amplification his notice of trial by jury, liberty of the press, and representative government as objects of conflict between North and South. Mr. C. M. Clay has but too much reason to know what the systematic perversion of justice is, under the influence of the Southern oligarchy; and we ourselves need look no further than the condition of the Supreme Court, under Southern management, to be aware what the North has to do in upholding justice. Fair jury trial is not to be had in half the States: the coercion of the press is as bad as any thing Mr. C. M. Clay will find in Russia: and as for representative government, we need only point to the three-fifths suffrage of the slave States, and the virtual exclusion from the polls there of all “mean whites” whose opinions might be supposed likely to be inconvenient. Mr. Clay is certainly justified in saying that the free States are fighting for liberty under these and other forms, as the liberty and the forms have always and everywhere been crushed by Southern rule. But he must allow for Englishmen being unable to imagine, without due explanation, that such fundamental liberties as these are really to be fought for now in the great Republic. The successive Southern Governments of recent years have encroached more and more on these common rights, so that they are now actually in question; but Mr. Clay must remember that, while he has been contending for them at the risk of his life, and to the loss of his fortune, most of us have been supposing them the birthright of every white American, as of ourselves.

The paragraph of Mr. Clay's letter which cites the demands of the Southern Confederacy is certainly accurate. Every point of it may be proved by facts within the memory of most of us; and the one truth, that in every instance the Confederate authorities “have refused to refer their new usurpations to the votes of the people,” should be well considered by any Englishman whose mind is open to evidence in the case. The demands are essentially barbaric in such a country at such a date; and Mr. Clay is indisputably justified in saying that the great question of the war is whether this barbarism is or is not to be allowed to swamp the whole Republic. To smile at such a statement as a rhetorical feat is to manifest the ignorance which Mr. Clay proposes to rebuke and correct.

As for whether the North can repress the rebellion, everybody can judge whether Mr. Clay's confidence is rational or not. This may be decided by the facts of population and the comparative resources of food, stores, money, &c. We are not aware that anybody pretends that there is an approach to equality in the resources of the two sections — even if the Border States joined the South, and notwithstanding the enormous embezzlements by which the Federal treasury has been emptied. Mr. Clay's letter, however, confirms the largest estimates yet made of the strength of the loyal Federal element throughout the country. Perhaps the most valuable part of his letter is that which he occupies with a statement, not new to our readers, but too much needed generally, of the relation which the people individually bear to the Government, and with which the States have nothing to do. The real question is, who and how many the rebels are. A little time will show whether there are most Union men or Secessionists in the States over which Mr. Jefferson Davis professes to bear sway. If Mr. Clay is right in believing that any thing like half the citizens are loyal to the Union, they will soon have the means of declaring themselves, and the contest will be at an end. It is certainly true, as Mr. Clay points out, that the political party at the North which is answerable for the long domination of the Pro-Slavery faction at Washington, has become the most loyal of all parties since its Southern comrades took to rebellion.

Another valuable statement of Mr. Clay's is that there is no question of the “subjugation” of any State. Our contemporaries have been raising the difficulty, one after another, of what is to be done with a subjugated territory; and Mr. Davis, the leader of the aggressive party, who met with long-suffering to the last moment, now invites his followers to declare against “subjugation.” It is no question of territory or conquest at all. Rebels must return to their allegiance, or obtain terms which do not involve trouble to their loyal neighbors. They will probably have the choice of going away or living in peace and order under the laws. We believe Mr. Clay to be mistaken if he thinks the Constitution may remain precisely what it is. There must be amendments, by which the free States will be released from all implication with Slavery; and there are other points which will not be again sanctioned. But his general statement that the Constitution exists still for the whole country, and that there is no political adversary to subjugate, will be of great use to those who wish to understand the case.

The ignorant complaints of Mr. Lincoln's supposed indecision or apathy must come to an end, now that people are beginning to remember that he proclaimed a term of grace, during which the Secessionists might return to their

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