Being righteous Overmuch.
In the article which we copied a few days since from the Dublin Nation,
to which we have before referred, that paper, quoting the infamous and demoniac threats of the Northern
journals against the South
, and especially the New York Tribune
, which declares that the rebels must not only be subjugated, but ‘"not permitted to return to peaceful homes; they must find poverty at their firesides, and see privation in the anxious eyes of mothers and the rags of children,"’ exclaims with emphasis:--‘"Was ever more hellish sentiments uttered?
Where, in the annals of despotism, or the records of its butcheries, shall we seek for a parallel to this?
Where, even against rebels who had not a particle of justification?
If the subjects of the most legitimate sovereign that ever held a sceptre had acted as the Southern States
have done, would these sentiments not be infamous if uttered on his part?
Yet, infamy of infamies are they when uttered by Republicans against brother Republicans--uttered by the descendants of the rebels of 76 against men who, with far greater unanimity, now demand the self-same right those rebels claimed-- self-government."’
We should like to see a collection of all the demoniac sentiments akin to those of the Tribune,
which have been uttered by the approved organs of Northern public sentiment from the beginning of this war. We should be perfectly willing to collect and bind up in the same volume the strongest utterances of the Southern
press, although the South
, being the invaded and menaced section, has an apology which the North
cannot pretend for bitterness of feeling and emphasis of expression.
It would be found upon comparison, that the South
has uttered no such infamous sentiments as those of the North
; that it has never threatened any act not in accordance with the rules of civilized warfare; that it has never held up to its soldiers the appropriation of Northern farms and the desolation of Northern firesides; no such inconceivably villainous motto as ‘"Beauty and Booty"’ ever defiled Southern lips.
On the contrary, the South
has only asked to be let alone, and, in the midst of the enormous provocations which she has received, has leaned to the side of forbearance and mercy, treating prisoners with kindness, and releasing, without parole, officers who had been engaged in the most barbarous acts, and who at once availed themselves of undeserved indulgence to inflict fresh injury and additional wrongs upon their benefactors.
It is as important for the moral as the political leaders of society, to observe and trace to its causes, this extraordinary development in the North
of a degree of cruelty, vindictiveness and brutality, which, as the Dublin Nation
justly observes, has no parallel among the despotisms of Europe
The infernal sentiments of their press, which have made the whole civilized world stand aghast with amazement and horror, are also the sentiments of their people.
Their pulpit has even transcended the wickedness of their press, and their Christian Associations have vied with each other in the exhibition of the most unchristian and even devilish spirit.
Now, bear in mind that this is the same section which has always claimed to be the most enlightened and the most humane of mankind; that it has looked down with sublime complacency upon the barbarism and godlessness of ‘"benighted Europe
;"’ that it has monopolized to itself all the ‘"vital piety"’ of the world, professing that its religion was a ‘"religion of the heart,"’ and all other people's religion only a religion of the surface; that this is the section which exulted in its American Bible, Tract, Missionary, Temperance, Peace, and a hundred other pious and benevolent societies; that this is the section where, when trade became bad and there was nothing to do, people betook themselves to Fulton Street Prayer Meetings, and stood praying every day at the corners of the streets and in the columns of the N. Y. Herald
, and how shall we account for the transformation of this selt of the earth in arsenic and strychnine, of these saints and angels into incarnate fiends?
We submit this question to the moral philosophies but, for ourselves, we believe there has been no change of nature but only an exposure of the real character.
If we are told that allowances must be made for the effects of the war spirit, we beg to ask which has had the most provocation to violent passions and ferocious threats, the North or South?
What has the South
done to the North
that should run it mad in this fashion?
On the other hand, what has not the South
endured from the North
, the wrongs, robberies and insults of thirty years, winding up with this wicked and inhuman invasion?
Yet the South
has not lost its balance; its Christians have not disgraced their name; its clergy have only taught lessons of humanity and forbearance, and have prayed the forgiveness of enemies.
It is idle, then, to offer the plea of provocation as a justification of the abominable spirit which has been manifested in the North
towards the South
The only provocation we have given is a firm and manly vindication of constitutional rights — of rights which we could not surrender without ceasing to be worthy of the name and prerogatives of freemen.
There is an injunction of Scripture which was never considered of much account among the popular religionists of the North
, but which yet was dictated by the same supreme wisdom which inspired the whole of Sacred Writ, and the universal contempt of which may explain in part the Bellow character of much of the boasted ‘"vital piety"’ of the North
It is this. --‘"Be not righteous overmuch."’ And again: ‘"Let your moderation be known unto all men."’ Whenever such counsels as these are commended to fanatics, a pious sarcasm is the only answer they vouchsafe.
Yet, it is precisely by attempting to be better than the Bible
demands, that zealots have inflicted more injury upon their own cause than could ever be accomplished by its enemies.
On various occasions, when the Divine Founder
of christianity was asked what a man must do in order to inherit eternal life, he required the person propounding the inquiry, to repeat the Commandments, and told him to keep them.
This is so very simple a direction, and yet so distasteful and difficult of accomplishment, that mankind have ever since been engaged in being righteous in some other way, and no portion of mankind have been as successful in this respect as the New Englanders.
They have thrown the Ten Commandments completely into the shade as mere morality; makes religion a thing of emotion and passion, instead of principle and obedience; a subject of talk, and anniversaries around street corners, instead of a daily discipline and subjugation of evil tempers and appetites.
What with the open infidelity of the masses, the mysticism and heartlessness of the Unitarians, and the prevalence of the most intolerant bigotry, Pharisaical self-esteem, and frantic fanaticism among other branches of the Puritan
family, scarcely a trace of practical christianity is visible in New England
Wherever it is found — wherever one voice is raised for peace, for forbearance, for mercy, for justice — it comes from men whose moderation of character has been as manifest in religion as in other duties of daily life; who have never delighted in ostentatious professions, nor made broader their phylacteries, nor stood at street corners, that they might be seen of men. In fine, we regard the Puritanic element of New England
character as one great cause of its callousness and demoralization; a prolific source of all our woes.