The Folly and shame of our present position.
In the contest inaugurated between the North
and the South
, is Virginia
to throw herself into the ranks of her natural enemies; or is she to stand neutral and silent, a prey to doubt and fear, the scorn of the gallant States whose cause is her own, the pity of the section whom she hesitates to aid, yet dreads to offend?
Her very silence, her very neutrality, is worth a hundred thousand men and millions of money, to the side of the North
It is more hurtful to the South
than many sanguinary campaigns; for it will cost her much of her best blood and treasure.
In these modern times, it is not the preponderance of physical force that decides the quarrel between nations; it is the opinions of mankind.
It is the support of public opinion which incites to assault; it is the frown of public opinion which makes a bad cause hopeless, and the successful indication of a good cause most sanguinary and desperate.
If the quarrel between the great sections of this country is of such a nature as justifies Virginia
in holding an attitude of indifference between them, or of alliance with the North
, then is it such in which all the world beside may be expected to sympathize with that section; for if Virginia
, bound by so many ties to the South
, and repelled by so many antipathies from the North
, feels, nevertheless, bound to lend her countenance to, and maintain her alliance with, the latter section, then the inferences of all the world must be prejudicial to the section which she repudiates.
is justified in holding an attitude of nominal hostility to the South
, then may that section rationally expect the frowns of public opinion upon her cause, and prepare to make good her quarrel, with ten times the physical force which she would otherwise have to bring into requisition.
Is this the judgment which Virginia
has entered up in her heart of hearts upon this quarrel?
for it is the judgment which her Convention, by its action, has pronounced in her name, The formal decree of Virginia
is in favor of alliance for the present with the North
, and against any further change of position in the future than an attitude of indifferent neutrality.
Is this mad and vicious decree in accordance with the sentiment of the young men of Virginia
Is it the suffrage of the patriotic women of our Commonwealth?
An indignant shout of dental comes up from all her wide borders.
Our young men curse and repudiate the counsels that have brought their noble State into such a position of stultification and of treachery to her interests and honor.
Her patriotic women blush that the men who control unworthily the destinies of their mother Common wealth are without the spirit even of women, though they have richly entitled themselves to their bonnets and petticoats.
If the people of all the counties and towns of the State
had been called upon in February last to elect their most patriotic women to a Convention which should decide whether Virginia
should lead the gallant columns of the South
in this great contest; or should follow, a suspected, distrusted liege-servant, in the train of the North
--is there a man in all her limits who dare assert that those noble matrons would have voted 90 to 45 for submission?
If the age of eligibility to the Convention
had been limited to thirty-three, as the maximum, and its members had been as youthful as those who composed the Legislatures of Virginia
from 1770 to 1778, or as Jefferson
, when he wrote the Declaration of Independence
--is it within the range of credibility that such a body of Virginians
, in the bloom of manhood, and in the fresh exuberance of patriotism, would have voted, 90 to 45, for submission?--The fame of Virginia
is in the sear and yellow leaf; for her counsellors have passed the age of generous impulse, and entered the sombre years in which misanthropy and moody stubbornness are apt to predominate over all the better and nobler emotions.
Like the old Bourbons
, they are too opinionative to learn any new thing, or to accept any change in the temper of the times, or in the circumstances of public affairs.
They persist in, treating a great crisis, having no parallel or precedent, involving the issue of life or death to the State
, as if it was an old party contest over the obsolete and dwarfed issues of a Bank, a Tariff, or a National Road.
In all future time the present period will form the subject of the blackest page in Virginia
It will be the page on which Virginia
will be recorded as false to her own principles of public policy; as false to an institution involving her vital interests, and as false to her daughter and sister States of the South
, who risked everything for its protection and vindication.
If it be said, in apology, that she encountered this shame in a patriotic effort to save the Union
, it will be answered, that she betrayed that very cause by treachery to her own; forgetting the noble lesson of Polonius:
This above all — to thine own self be true;
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
If she had not halted and faltered, but had joined her great influence to the Southern
cause, and promptly seceded with the Southern States
, her example would have been promptly followed by all those of the border.
The movement would have been so formidable as to have enforced negotiations for a settlement of the quarrel, secured a reconciliation, and re-established the Union
As it is, the South
presents a divided front, and the enemy is seduced into measures of coercion.--Even now the case would not be hopeless, except for the recent action of her Convention; for the friends of Southern rights at the North
still continue to write--
‘"Tell the Border States
By their secession you at once make a great Southern
party in the whole North
; you transfer the issue of civil war from the Border States
to the Northern States
How can men be so stupidly blind?"’
The appeal is in vain, the Border States
will secede; but not until it shall be ‘"too late."’--The policy of Virginia
is delay, which is the policy of ruin.
She will not secede until compelled to take the step — until she is kicked out of the Yankee Union, and has to sneak
into the Southern
; Than will the memory of her present Convention begin to be redolent with odor.
Then will each man of its majority find himself coffined alive — branded with the most damning of all epitaphs--‘"He was of the majority of the Convention