The London times on the war.
We publish below the leading editorial from the last issue of the London Times
that has reached this country.
The editors of the Times,
among the ablest journalists in the world, and occupying a position of observation unobscured by the local questions and prejudices that blind us at home, see things as the Federal
leaders do not look upon them.
The article is an unusually able one, and will be read with no ordinary interest:
The American revolution.
at this moment to announce to the world its intention to make the speediest possible conquest of France
, or were France
to make the same declaration as to England
, the world would laugh at the egregious folly that had inspired the design and prompted the boast.
The world would grant that, supposing either people to be infatuated enough, and obstinate enough, it could inflict enormous and irreparable injuries on the other, but only at the cost of equal injuries to itself.
The ball once started, Fortune might befriend this side or that; it might give to either great victories or periods of advantage; it might even place one eventually over the head of the other; but still only at a cost utterly out of proportion to the value of the miserable result.
Now, that is the case of the two Confederacies across the Atlantic
, where the surviving half of an effete Federal Union
has undertaken to reduce the other half to its Federal duties.
We say that this is the case; but before we proceed a step further, it is necessary to observe that the case of the Northern Americans
is in some important respects more difficult than ours would be. They are not so united as we have always found ourselves in war. Their border States feel a divided allegiance.
They have to protect more than a thousand miles of land frontier, including one closely beleaguered position surrounded by foes or ill-affected adherents.
Speaking the same language as their foe, they have no means of excluding spies from their lines, or even traitors from their ranks.
They have to make a standing army and a fleet.
They have to learn the first elements of tactics, and even military discipline.
They are without soldiers, or officers to command and to train them.
Their revenue, at its best, before the war, was only just sufficient to meet the interest of the debt likely to be incurred by two years of the war on its present scale.
That revenue, however, is, to begin with, maimed by the loss of the seceders and by the stoppage of traffic, so that it is questionable whether it will be possible to do more than repair that loss by the new taxes now imposed.
American credit is not so good as British, nor is the credit of a Federal Union in process of dissolution likely to be equal to that of a united people.
Lastly, war, which changes its character according to circumstances, establishes special rules of probability for different localities.
The one rule established by all American warfare is that the advantage is on the side of defence.
Our offensive operations always failed against fortified positions; against breastworks thrown up in a night; against forests full of an invisible foe; against heat, hunger, and thirst; against the ever imminent flank attack; against the certainty that every step diminished the number, the strength, and the munitions of our men, and increased those of the enemy.
The present war might, for its incidents, be a chapter in our own disastrous wars on that soil.
The Northerners have advanced upon a fortified position, but a day's march from Washington
They have arrived at the point with a force already melting away, far short of the list on paper, beaten with heat, hunger, thirst, and a long march, and surprised on both flanks by the sudden outpourings of railways.
While this has occurred in Virginia
, almost within sight of Washington
, a column of 3,000 Federalists, advancing against a foe thrice their number, has met the same fate, no doubt for much the same reasons, at Springfield
, four or five hundred miles to the west — as if in order to warn the Northern States
that what has happened is no accident, no: result of peculiar circumstances or personal failure, but by inevitable rule.
There is but one enterprise which can be compared to this, and that is the First Napoleon
's gigantic, but infatuated, attempt upon Russia
That was a case of a great political alliance, as grand as a Federal Union, comprising the best, the wealthiest, and the most populous part, and the best soldiers on the continent of Europe
, advancing into a territory, the sparse and poor population of which scarcely surpassed that of the invading best.
Winter might be the immediate cause, but it was also the analogy of the tremendous rout that ensued.
If any one will attempt to compare the means of the Federalists with those of Napoleon
, he will find them far inferior in every respect; while there is no doubt that the Southern States
are far more able to defend every point, every position, every line in their territory, than the Russians were in theirs.
They have mountainous ranges instead of steppes; they have a population accustomed to carry arms, and only too glad to use them; they have railways, and abundance of food and other necessaries of war. They are evidently superior in generalship, and in the social organization best adapted for war.
The result is, that thus far they have shown they can dispute every inch, and keep the invader always under the apprehension of being either outflanked or driven back upon his own capital.
Against all this it can only be said that the Northern States
have the preponderance in white men, in money and in credit.
These, indeed, would be important considerations if the Southern States
were invading the Northern
, and seriously preparing to drive every armed Northerner into the St. Lawrence
They would be important if this were the ordinary case of two countries at war with one another.
But it is not. The Northerners are engaged in the reduction of the Southerners.
They are acting on the offensive against a foe which, on its own land, is content to act on the defensive, excepting only that, should the opportunity occur, it would advance its line of defence to include the capital.
Experience shows that under ordinary circumstances a comparative small population, with little money and means of war, is sufficient for a very good defence.
We are in a condition to offer advice.
We can advise the Northern States
, as we can advise the legitimate princes and the despotic courts of Europe
Let the statesmen at Washington
only do what England
has done before a hundred times, and what all Europe
has done, is doing, and will still do. It is not "Old World" advice.
It is not of the leaven that Washington
felt it their mission to extirpate.
It is the very latest and newest lesson of human affairs; much newer than steam, the electric telegraph, or rifled cannon.
Do the Northern States
really belong to the New World, or are they only a bit of the Old World, with all its pride, its bigotry, and its tyranny, stranded on the Western
shore of the Atlantic
The advice we give them is what they have taught us before, and we only say to them, as many a son may say to his father, ‘"Practice what you teach."’ Let the Northern States
‘"accept the situation,"’ as we did eighty years ago upon their own soil; as Austria
did two years ago at Villafranca
Let them count the cost before they march forth to drive half a million armed men a thousand miles across their own country into the Gulf of Mexico
Let them consider whether they can do what Napoleon
could not do in the plentitude of his power, with many times their number, their stores, their credit, and, above all, their military skill and experience, his school of Generals
, and his supply of veterans.
What they purpose to do and be, is not only to be as good as the Southerners, or a little the better; but overwhelmingly superior.
Is not this an overweening opinion of themselves?
Can they drive the Southerners like a flock of sheep, smoke them out of their own crests like wasps, ferret them like rabbits, and bag them like game?
Let them just look forward a little, and consider the probable state of things next year, and the year after, and twenty years hence.
Even we who sang such songs of triumph in 1814 and 1815, felt that we and all Europe
would have done much better to think what we were about in 1798.
If a clear foresight shows, and must show, that there must be two Federations, and that on no other footing will peace ever be made, it will be much better that it should come to pass after one year's war than after ten or twenty.
It is not as if the Union
or two Unions were the only alternative.
As the war proceeds, no man can tell what new powers and combinations may arise, and particularly how far the Western States
will endure the taxes and financial obligations necessary for the war. The advice we offer is only what the Americans
have given to all the world.
It is a hank of their own cotton — a pipe of their own tobacco.
Let them consider what they can do, and what neither they nor all the world can do. At present, they are only giving a triumph to many a foe, for there is not circle of old absolutist statesmen and diplomats who do not read the story of their difficulties and reverses with a bitter smile.
They will hear with at least respect, perhaps with disappointment, that the North and South have agreed to part friends.