previous next

A Manchester-view of Mr. Clay's letter to the London Times.

[From the Manchester Guardian (Cotton Spinners'organ,) 24th.]

Mr. C. M. Clay has taken advantage of his temporary sojourn in London, on his way to the scene of his official duties, to enlighten the British nation respecting the true complexion and prospects of the struggle which he has left behind him, and which he is of opinion that we very imperfectly understand. For some reason or other, however, he has not been able to confine himself to the tone of calm elevation which would best befit his superior knowledge and greater impartiality, but has felt constrained to administer to us a severe scolding; in which expressions of undisguised contempt for our judgment are blended with threats of the consequences to which we shall expose ourselves by ‘"offending"’ the writer's party. Mr. Clay may know enough of the character of his fellow-countrymen to have reason to suppose that the assumption of this attitude will be considered rather a fine thing, bearing in mind the circumstances in which the Union is placed, and that the appropriateness of the language employed will be thought to be heightened by the high diplomatic position of our self- appointed censor. We have a somewhat different standard, both for the morals and manners of public men on this side of the Atlantic, so that little agreement is to be expected from discussing the question.

Mr. Clay impresses on us with the aid of italics, on which he evidently places great reliance, that the North are fighting for ‘"nationality"’ and the ‘"principles of liberty."’--As for nationality, we have always had a difficulty in knowing exactly what it meant, which certainly will not be diminished by hearing that it can be pleaded on behalf of a central Government, endeavoring to prevent heterogeneous masses of the population from flying off in different directions. That President Lincoln is fighting for liberty is true in the same sense that there can be no real liberty without respect for law; but as the same play may be advanced, more or less truly, for what the Emperor of Russia is doing in Poland; it would be as well at once to rest the justification of the course taken by the United States on the ground that constituted authority must be maintained. This is a case which does not require to be sweetened with fine phrases to make it palatable in this country. Next, however, to the principles which animate the Northern men in the contest, comes the consideration of the specific objects which they set before them and their chances of success. We are told by Mr. Clay that ‘"of course"’ they can subdue the revolted States, and reconstruct the Union without the change of a single letter in the Constitution. We are glad to hear it, and should be more glad to believe it. Unfortunately, Mr. Clay, who knows how it is to be done so much apparently than his friends at Washington, is on his way to St. Petersburg, where he cannot be held personally responsible for any failure to realize the prospect of early and easy success in which he revels.

Where did this strange Minister Plenipotentiary learn that there was any reason to suppose that the English, of all nations on the earth, might be induced to interfere for the purpose of increasing the difficulties of the United States? What is it we have done, or are thought to be going to do, which would cause us to be addressed in this tone of rebuke and warning? A more unprovoked imputation than that which runs through the whole of Mr. Clay's epistle it has rarely been our fortune to meet with. In the solemn address of the Queen on opening Parliament, in the speeches not only of our Ministers, but of the promment men of all parties; in the discussion of the subject by the press, and in society, there has been a most unchequered evidence of a feeling of sympathy and respect for the Union, combined as often as the expression of such a sentiment was at all becoming with strong reprobation of its lawless and unscrupulous assailants.

Yet it seems we require to be told by a diplomatist in transitu --taking a bird's-eye view of the country as he flies across it on the way to the Russian capital — on which side our ‘"honor"’ ought to place us, on which side our present interest, and, lastly, on which side we shall range ourselves if we prudently consult our fears! As to our honor, we imagine most Englishmen will be content to answer that, with many thanks to Mr. Clay, we prefer to take care of it ourselves. It may be well for the North that we have a sufficiently strong sense of the side on which it lies to prevent us from endeavoring to profit, according to a plan well known to the Government of Washington, by the dangers and distractions of a powerful rival.

For, with respect to ‘"interest,"’ which is Mr. Clay's second point, we really do not see that it furnishes us with an overpowering motive for desiring the subjugation of the cotton growing States to capitalists and manufacturers of the North. ‘"No tariff," ’ says Mr. Clay, ‘"will materially affect the fact that the Northern States are the best consumers of English commerce."’ We think our great exporting houses to America will tell Mr. Clay a different tale, if he will interrupt his fight for another day or two, in order to consult them. At any rate, if our trade cannot be, and is not in course of being, totally destroyed by hostile tariffs, it is not for the want of meritorious trying on the part of the political class which is putting forth all its powers to restore the Union.

But if neither our sense of moral obligation, nor our gratitude for such trade as is allowed us, suffices to bind us to Mr. Lincoln, we are to beware of the vengeance which any wavering will infalliby bring down upon us hereafter at the hands of the great State which we shall have offended Even the depth of difficulty and humiliation to which the American republic has fallen cannot prevent her sons from vaunting the stupendous resources which she wields in a paulo post future sense, for the destruction of her enemies and the punishment of all who fail to do her homage. Alas for such boasts. We have sufficiently little fear of suffering by their realization to be able to witness with sincere regret the ridicule which is cast on them by the occurrences of the hour.

The American mail adds few facts of importance relative to the progress of the civil struggle. Such as it is, the intelligence goes to show a tendency on the part of the Southern States to recover the resolute spirit which has appeared by two or three previous arrivals to have been paralyzed by the unexpected eagerness of the North for the fray.

The Legislature of Tennessee has passed the Ordinance of Secession, and it was reported that Arkansas had done the same.--The Governor of North Carolina has sent a warlike message to the Legislature, and the Governor of Virginia has issued a proclamation stimulating his fellow- citizens of that State to resist ‘"invasion,"’ and granting authority for the levy of as many volunteers as may be thought necessary.

Those who have been ready to think that Mr. Lincoln's easy triumph was assured by the alacrity with which the wealthy and populous communities of the North came to his assistance, will be induced by these facts to revise their conclusion and think that the end is not yet visible.

Perhaps it will be satisfactory to the friends of the Union to know that these apprehensions have no place in the mind of the intrepid statesman whom President Lincoln has sent to represent his Government at St. Petersburg.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
C. M. Clay (10)
Lincoln (4)
Cassius M. Clay (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: