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England's opportunity.

--Now is England's opportunity. It may never again occur. Seized; and Great Britain remains for all time the leading power among the nations. Until the last ten years her supremacy was undisputed. Since the conquest of California and the discovery of its gold, a new power has spring suddenly into the advance, and dared to contest with her the precedence in resources and power. For a while, this formidable rival bid fair to make its claim good. Suddenly civil disruption has paralyzed the young empire; and one of the chief elements of its strength and wealth has seceded from the Union.

The alliance of this seceding political power is as desirable to England as its association was valuable to the North. The present opportunity offers Great Britain an ally more valuable than that of the whole European continent, ensuring her predominance in the family of nations, and effectually humbling the pretensions and curbing the aspirations of her Yankee rival.

England was obliged about this time, by some expedient or other, by means either fair or foul, to open the Southern ports for the exportation of cotton. Cotton was a necessity to her and to France so urgent as to override all calculations of loss and damage from war. If a sufficient cause of war had not been vouchsafed to her, she would have had to find one by the exercise of diplomatic ingenuity, or manufacture, it to hand. A quarrel was necessary, even if there had been no apple of discord providentially dropped down in the path. The Yankees themselves have furnished the desired grievance; and England loses not one moment in making it the ground of demands as righteous as they are impossible of concession.

The exigencies of the cotton question rendered a collision between Great Britain and the North inevitable with single reference to that special subject. But deeper causes and more general considerations conspire to insure collision at this time. However assured the South may feel of her ability to maintain her present movement for independence, that assurance is not felt to the same extent across the water. For England to stand still and witness the success of the North in establishing the integrity of its dominion on this Continent would have been virtually to consent to step down herself to a secondary rank among the leading powers of the earth. With cotton and gold, and iron and coal, in unrivaled quantities and excellence, all at command, and its authority unquestioned within the vast boundaries which marked the domain of the American Union on this Continent, five years more of additional growth and multiplication would have given the Yankee power undisputed ascendency in the family of nations. Its very struggle with the South, if resulting in success, would have placed its power and prestige on an indisputable basis.

It is plain to all the world, it is palpable to England herself, that the vital words for her are ‘"strike now, or strike never."’ It is the universal belief of mankind that England has long been plotting the separation that has now taken place in the United States; and that the present opportunity is one for which she has been toiling with anxious care and industrious energy for half a century. If this be true, it would be a piece of self-stultification to lose the golden opportunity that at last presents itself. If, however, this charge against the far-reaching and all embracing statesmanship of that country be false, still the imperative impulse of self-preservation would drive her into war against the North at the present conjuncture. That the North and England are rivals in every single one of their interests, is known to every man of reflection in both countries; and not to expect a collision when so fair an opportunity and so palpable an excuse presents itself as the present, would be to expect human nature to have changed. However indisposed Ministers might be to rush into hostilities, they cannot avoid it under propelling influences so potential. With nations as with men,

‘"There is a destiny which shapes our ends Rough hew them how we may."’

In all the career of Great Britain, so checkered over with crises and eventful periods, there never was a moment so pregnant as the present with her future fortunes.

"There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life,
Is bound in shallows, and in misery."

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