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The New York Herald's comments on Seward's letter — Apprehensions of a War with England.
[from the New York Herald of the 1861.]

From all quarters we have received intelligence of the sensation and excitement produced by Mr. Seward's circular letter to the Governors of the loyal States on the seaboard and lakes. [For letter, see our Northern news column.--Eds. Dis. ] It was prepared on Monday, and on Wednesday it was telegraphed simultaneously to the loyal press of the North. On its appearance here yesterday, Wall street was thrown into a terrible commotion. Federal stocks went down two and a half to three per cent, the bears were in high glee, and the bulls uttered curses deep, if not loud, against the author.--It was urged, in condemnation of the policy of the letter, first, that there was no necessity for the fortifications recommended; and, secondly, if there was, that the best way to accomplish the object was by means of private letters to the Governors, which would not create alarm.

What weight there is in these objections we shall shortly see. Meantime let us inquire how is it that this letter has produced such remarkable effects. It is because the public mind was in a feverish state, susceptible of excitement. The news comes to us upon the very heels of the announcement that the steamer Nashville has effected her escape through the blockading fleet at Charleston, and was on her way to Europe, having on board Ex-Senator Slidell, as Minister to France, and Ex-Senator Mason, as Minister to England, from the Confederate Government--two wily diplomatists, well adapted for the mission on which they have been sent.

The moral effect, indeed, of a rebel vessel of war conveying these plenipotentiaries to Europe, in the teeth of a blockading squadron, will necessarily be very great, furnishing as it does powerful evidence to demonstrate the inefficiency and consequent invalidity of the blockade. To enhance that effort, she is probably the bearer of the news of the defeat of the Federal squadron in the Mississippi; for the action took place on Friday. The Nashville sailed the same night and could have had the news by telegraph.--But in order to make assurance doubly sure, and that the intelligence might be transmitted at the same time by the regular mails to Europe, so as to reach there about the same time as the Nashville, the military authorities at Norfolk made some excuse for sending a flag of truce to Fortress Monroe, in order to have a local paper containing the dispatch of Capt. Hollins forwarded to Baltimore, whence it found its way to New York.

It is worthy of remark that on the occasion of the Federal victory at Chicamacomico the Norfolk rebels searched all passengers, and would not permit a newspaper to come North. But whether founded in truth or not, the report of the naval engagement at New Orleans has produced a temporary effect here and is likely to do the same in Europe. Connected in the public mind with this news is the announcement that, just before the sailing of the Nashville, two members of the British Parliament were in diplomatic communication with Jefferson Davis. One of these gentlemen denies the charge, but admits that he carried open letters, which only serves to strengthen on the first impression in regard to his visit to the rebel capital.

The recent declarations of British journals and statesmen in favor of a permanent division of the United States into two Confederacies, corroborate this view of the mission of Sir James Ferguson. And in the news by the Glasgow, which we published yesterday, it was stated that Mr. Lindsay, M. P. at a public meeting in Sunderland, said that in consequence of the impossibility of procuring a present supply of cotton elsewhere than in the Southern States, "he considered it the duty of the British Cabinet to endeavor to induce the Federal Government, in the cause of humanity, to remove the blockade. Considering the bold stand made by the Confederates, and the strength of the South, he thought it almost time that the Governments of England and France thought of recognizing the independence of so numerous a body of people"

It is in consequence of these facts, and the warlike preparations of England in sending a large naval force to our seaboard, and continual reinforcements to Canada, at the same time that our arms have as yet done little or nothing to redeem the defeat of Manassas, but, on the contrary, have suffered further reverses in Missouri, that the public mind became affected, and was just in a condition to be excited by the letter of Mr. Seward; it is under these circumstances that Mr. Seward calls upon the Governors of the loyal States to take measures to fortify the Northern frontier, and every vulnerable point on our coast.

Now, we think this is sound advice, and that the State Governments cannot set about it a moment too soon. In the language of Mr. Seward, ‘"One of the most obvious precautions is that our ports and harbors should be put in a condition of complete defence; for any nation may be said to voluntarily incur danger in tempestuous seasons when it fails to show that it has sheltered itself on every side from which the storm might possibly come."’

Now, it matters not whether the advice is given in public or private. The only question is is it wise? As to the effect upon stocks, that is only temporary. The effect of carrying out Mr. Seward's idea will be permanent; and when it is accomplished it will give confidence and a sense of security. It is precisely the advice which we since gave, and for which we were called an alarmist. But events now justify our foresight; and when men like Bulwer talk complacently of the permanent division of the Union into North and South as a fortunate event for England and for Europe, it is high time for us to look to our defences and prepare for any emergency. Let every fort be put on a War footing, and let the works be manned by the local militia;--The better are we prepared, the loss likely will be the powers of Europe to attack us, and it will be far easier for us to settle our quarrel with the South. But if we continue to leave our frontiers and seaports exposed, in the face of their immense naval preparations, we only court danger and invite its appearance.

The following are the comments of the Washington correspondent of the New York Herald on Secretary Seward's circular, which we take from that paper of the 18th:

‘ "The letter of Secretary Seward to Governor Morgan points, with great significance, to a contemplated war with England, if it was not for the fact that it has been sent to the Governors of all other States having seaboard to protect. Our defences on the lakes are only against England. There can be no harm in stating what is the fact, the letter is called forth by the late menacing position of England, France, and Stain, towards this country in its present trying hour, when the Government is struggling with foes within. Instead of receiving the sympathy, if not the active support, of the great Powers of Europe, to put down rebellion against legitimate government in this country, we have witnessed nothing but what seems to be a desire to take advantage of our calamity, sympathize with rebels, and indirectly to give aid and comfort to traitors who are in arms against law and good order. Our Government is not blind to these facts, and is boldly preparing to meet the issue.

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William H. Seward (8)
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