Table of Contents:
British interest in the war.Never was there a war in which the people of this country took a greater interest. We watch with the utmost solicitude all proceedings of the belligerents, and observe not only the operations of their armies, but the manifestation of popular feeling, with sentiments which no other struggle could excite. We can say more. Though it is impossible to avoid reflecting that the division of the Union into two great States may relieve as from many of the troubles with which we were menaced by the overbearing policy of the old Federal Government, we can safety assert that Englishmen desire nothing more than to see the quarrel terminated and the strife appeased. We wish no harm to either party, and would far rather see America strong, united and prosperous than speculate on the advantages which its premature disruption might possibly bring to its neighbors. But when we have said this we have said all that the Americans are likely to hear with much satisfaction. For the rest, our conclusions are certainly not favorable to those institutions under which this great catastrophe has been matured. What the Americans call freedom, but what we call democracy, does not show to advantage at this critical time. The theories attributing immeasurable superiority to republican forms of government, have all been falsified in the plainest and most striking manner, and the last six months has proved beyond all question that the preponderance of popular will without check or limit is at least as likely to hurry a nation into war and debt as the caprice of the most absolute despot or the intrigues of the most selfish of aristocracies. We are not finding fault with the Northern States for going to war. We have repeatedly admitted that the Federal party could not be expected to view the dismemberment of the Union without an effort to avert the loss. But, though civil war is the most frightful of all wars, the Americans plunged into it with less concern than would have been shown by any European State in adopting a diplomatic quarrel. Though the people of the South were of the same flesh and blood with the people of the North, and connected with them by a thousand links of interest and feeling, the Northerners instantly heaped every conceivable opprobrium on the heads of the Southerners. If the reader will refer to any speech of any Manchester orator he will find the Government of the United States extravagantly eulogized for the very qualities of which it is now proved to be utterly destitute, and the Americans exalted beyond all other people on account of gifts which it is plain they never possessed. It is this, if the Americans wish to know the truth, which points the remarks of Englishmen on their civil war and its incidents. It is not that they are any worse or more foolish or more intemperate than was to be expected under the trials to which they have been exposed, but that they have been held up to our admiration by a certain party among us as a people in whose counsels no intemperance or folly would ever be likely to prevail. When we see that unlimited democracy conveys not the slightest security against the worst of wars and the most reckless extravagance, we may apply the moral at home, and congratulate ourselves that the old British Constitution has not been precipitately remodeled after a Manchester design.
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.