British Press on Lincoln's Message.
The subjoined extracts were prepared for yesterday's paper, but omitted in consequence of the heavy demand upon our columns;
[from the London Times]
The absurdity of maintaining that the instrument of confederation contained provisions for annulling itself, has been amply demonstrated; but what follows?
Certainly not that it must be enforced at all hazards — at the rick of ruining those interests which it was designed to secure, of estranging forever those States which it was designed to unite, of bringing into discredit those principles of which it was the earnest embodiment.
We cannot think that Mr. Lincoln
rises to the height of this practical, but not less lofty argument.
He clings to the shadow of consistency by reverting again and again to the legal merits of the question, and animadverts with commendable smartness on the pecuniary malversation of the seceding States, and on the arts of the agitators who, "sugar-coated," have been drugging the minds of their section for more than thirty years; preaches the duty of demonstrating to the world, and that, too, by rushing into war, that "ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors of bullets;" and makes several very effective retorts upon Mr. Jefferson Davis
He even persists in dealing with a movement which has given birth to a Constitution, a commercial system, a vast army, and unbounded aspirations, as a half-hearted demonstration forced on the good people of the South
against their will, and doubts ‘"whether there is to-day a majority of the legally qualified voters of any State, except, perhaps, South Carolina
, in favor of disunion."’ We will not say this is mere trifling, but we do say that it goes some to show that Mr. Lincoln
and his advisers do not feel the full force of those considerations which have long absorbed all others in the minds of European
[from the London Star.]
It is mere folly in Mr. Lincoln
to talk of the people of the Confederate States
‘"as a few discontented men."’ His call for an army of 400,000 men, and a Treasury of $400,000,000 to conquer them, gives the lie to that phrase; for, as is known, those Confederate States
are united and powerful enough to oppose military resistance to a great army.
As little can any one believe that they had not sufficient reason for taking the step they have done — whether the real reason was the one put forth matters not. Three millions of men do not deliberately change their Government and embark on an arduous, dangerous, and exhausting enterprise from caprice.--Whatever their reasons, on the broad principle of popular sovereignty, they had a right to do what they did;
and to hear Mr. Lincoln
quoting the Constitution of the United States
made eighty years since, and elaborately reasoning as to the intentions of its founders, against the right of secession, reminds one of the high tory doctrines among ourselves, under which the sentiment made by one generation, in its own interest, is held to bind all future generations, whether for their interest or not. We make no reference to the question of slavery here, because not a syllable is whispered upon that subject in the message, nor has Mr. Lincoln
, nor any member of his Cabinet, made the remotest allusion to it since their accession to office.
The grounds assumed by the Federal Executive
in suppressing the secession, assume that slavery is to be uninterred with, and is still to be surrounded by constitutional guarantees.
It is treated, in fact, as entirely outside the matter in conflict.
We have not returned railing for railing, for we respected the sensitiveness of patriotism in the presence of an overwhelming danger.
We comment upon the acts of American statesmen as we should upon those of our own, though with a greater caution and reserve; and when we prefer a frank recognition of Southern independence by the North to the policy avowed in the President's Message, it is solely because we foresee, as bystanders, that this is the issue in which, after infinite loss and humiliation, the contest must result.
Perhaps no great battles may be fought; but the war will not be the less disastrous on that account, and the continuous blockade of the Southern
ports will inflict a blow on the commerce of the world, the effects of which may be felt for many years to come.
The main question which presses for our immediate consideration is — how long can that blockade be enforced?
This, to us in Lancashire
, is a most momentous question, and it would afford us not a little satisfaction, if we saw our way clear, to say that the blockade could not possibly be enforced beyond the close of the present year.
Since the commencement of this American difficulty, our editorial trumpet has given no uncertain sound.
Our sources of information have supplied us with early and reliable intelligence of what was passing on the other side of the Atlantic
, and we therefore fitter ourselves that our words will have some little weight with the commercial community, and especially with those who are most deeply interested in the prosperity of the cotton trade, when we warn them that a dearth of cotton, such as was never experienced in this country in any previous period of its history, may overtake us in the course of the next six months, unless our Government awaken to a sense of the awful consequences which would flow from such an event, and institute more active measures than any which it has hitherto employed to induce the United States Government to yield to fate and acknowledge the independence of the Confederate States
It must come at last to this.
We can see no other solution of the difficulty.
The Northern States have the power to prolong the war indefinitely.
The Southern, if defeated in the field, cannot be finally subdued.
The folly of the contest thus waged is consequently as apparent to us in England
as the folly of that contest which we waged with our American brethren towards the close of the last century was to some of our then wisest statesmen.
Nations, however, are not wiser now; the passions of men, when once lashed into fury, are not more easily calmed.
Now, as then, notwithstanding the rapid progress of civilization, notwithstanding the visions of universal peace indulged in by some harmless enthusiasts; despite the uplifted voice of reason and religion; despite, too, the generally resistless pleadings of self-interest — now, as then, there are periods of national excitement, and one of these is at this moment passing over the North American
continent, when the pruning hook is transformed into the spear, and the plow-share beaten into the sword.
At such a moment it is vain to hope that "the still small voice" of reason can hush the storm of passion, or that even religion can rein in the fiery steeds of war.