[From the London Times, April 1st.]
An ancient rhetorician wrote about Xerkes that he turned dry land into sea, and sea into dry land, making a canal through Mount Athos
, and building a bridge across the Hellespont.
The American Republic seems to partake much more of the violence and extravagance of the Persian monarch than of the wise counsel and well combined action of the Federation of Commonwealths which opposed him. Excited by a tremendous war, and all the portents of approaching revolution, the imagination of the American Democracy
seems to have run riot.
Not satisfied with all the destruction which modern science has enabled mankind to wreak upon each other, the North
has called to its aid the mighty agencies of nature, and seeks to ruin and mutilate half a continent to the vain hope to overthrow or intimidate its inhabitants.
In vain has Nature, after a series of tremendous convulsions, settled herself down into something like order and reguissity, indenting the coast with days and harbors, and draining the vast area of a contingent through the agency of enormous rivers.
The sage of men frets against these natural and beneficent ordinances, just as Xerkes flang letter into the sea and lashed the winds that were rebellious to his commands.
By the aid of the "stone fleet" the United States
have blocked up the entrance to several much frequented harbern, and now, with less labor and far greater success, they seek to drown the land which they cannot conquer.
It is calculated that, by the action of the Federals
in cutting the levees, or dams, which keep the Mississippi
in the course as it runs through the level lands towards the sea, a district as large as Scotland
has been drowned in the state of Mississippi
and five thousand square miles in the State of Louisiana
Had some enormous strategical advantage been obtainable by this proceeding, mankind must have deplored the harsh and dreadful necessity which, in a continent so small a portion of which has yet been reclaimed for the use of civilized man, drove the Federal
's to lay waste and devastate so considerable a portion of its surface.
But there is no reason to suppose that any advantage in the least degree commensurate with the amount of wanton and cruel destruction which has been perpetrated could anyhow have been obtained.
Most certainly no such advantage has been gained.
The expedition from Yanco Pass, so far from reaching its destined point near Vicksburg
, has been encountered and defeated by Confederate batteries, and driven to take refuge in another river to avoid further injuries.
The act, therefore, stands cut in all its naked deformity.
Those who have called the mighty Mississippi
to their aid have proved themselves unworthy of their potent ally, and, powerful only for mischief, have been singularly discomfited in the endeavor to profit by their new and singular enterprise.
We have all read how the Dutch
, the mighty presacral of the United States
, a people as conspicuous for doing much with small resources as the American Union for doing little with great once, when they found themselves reduced to the two small States of Holland
and Zealand, with which alone they had to make head against the powerful monarchy of Spain
, in the extremity of their despair and desolation out through the dikes which protected their fields and gardens from the ocean which roared above their heads, choosing rather to give their native land to destruction than to see it in the group of a tyrant or a persecutor.--This courage, prepared for everything except submission — this noble fortitude, which the extreme of ill fortune could not subdue — forms one of the brightest pages of history, and invests the sieges of Harrison
and of Leyden
with an interest second to nothing in the annals of mankind.
But in proportion to our admiration of those who called in the waves of the German Ocean
to protect their faith and their freedom, must be the abhorrence inspired by acts so wanton and so ferocious as that of letting loose the waters of the Mississippi
over the plantations of the South
, and overwhelming under the waves that which it is found impossible to subdue.
At the beginning of the war North
want forth to battle in all the presumption of overweening strength and numbers.
Their notions of success were thoroughly Oriental
They had the largest number of men under arms, and doubted not of the victory, especially as they had the largest resources to ford, arm, and recruit them.
Received in the field by troops far less numerous than their own, they found to their astonishment how little the leaders of the South
had to dread from them in the open field.
From that time the whole aspect of the war has entirely changed.
In proportion as success has become more difficult, the means employed for its attainment have been more odious and cruel.
Every effort has been made to light the torch of a servile insurrection, and, as if this was not dreadful enough, water has been called in to supplement the tardy vengeance of that fire which, kindled by the hands of slaves, would, if the pious and decorous North could have had their will, wrap in one mighty conflagration the labors of a hundred years. Men may wrangle and dispute about the causes, the rights and the wrongs of this great quarrel, but as to these measures posterity will have but one verdict to pronounce — a verdict of horror and execration
And this cruelty and ferocity, surpassing so far all that is recorded of the wickedness and barbarity of man in former wars, has been called into acton, not for the purpose of meeting foreign invasion, but for a war avowedly intended to restore a Federal Union, which unhappy differences have partially interrupted.
The men who are thus letting loose at the same moment fire and water united in an unnatural compact against their adversaries are sick and tired of repeating that they fight for the maintenance of the Union
, and look forward with unshaken confidence to the time when their great Federation shall be restored, and the brethren solong estranged from each other shall once more unite together in harmony and peace.
It is difficult to say what time, what interest may not effect.
Nations have shed each other's blood like water on fields of battle.
They have covered the ocean with the wrecks of their naval engagements and the bodies of their seamen.
These things may be expiated, may be forgiven, may at last be forgotten; but deeds like those by which the Northern States
are making their present war with the South
singular and execrable among the worst and bloodiest sunals of mankind can never be forgiven or forgotten.
The moment any idea of reconciliation is entertained these dreadful memories will rise up like a spectre between the two parties, and forbid every attempt at reconciliation, unless founded on absolute independence on the one side, and complete renunciation of every claim to obedience on the other.
It is curious to remark how utterly paralyzed for the purposes of legitimate war are the very persons who are anxious to wage it with such extremity of ferocity and fury.
The Army of the Potomac remains inactive; day, there is much reason to believe that Washington
owes her safety at the present moment to prudential and political rather than to military, considerations, and that the capital of the Northern Confederacy
, though able to effect the easy and fruitless crime of drowning whole provinces by breaking down the bank of a mighty river, is incapable of defending her archives, her public buildings, and the seat of her Government.
The promised vengeance against Charleston
languishes and evaporates in empty threats.
, taken with so much ease by the British
in the War
of Independence resists firmly and effectually.
has repulsed an attack, and the Mississippi
itself has turned traitor, and, by way of set-off for the inundation of Southern territory, has filled up and rendered useless the canal which was to carry the Federal
gunboats to the other side of Vicksburg
The confederates threaten Fort Donelson
, and a new invasion of Kentucky
is seriously apprehended.
Under these gloomy auspices the mouth of March has closed, and the period will shortly arrive when the summer heats will again land their powerful co-operation to the cause of the South
No one can presume to say what are the reverses and vicissitudes which fortune, not yet satisfied with the sufferings of the American
people, has in store for either party.
But the information which has just reached us makes it abundantly evident, if it were not so before, that the choice henceforth for the South
is between victory and extermination, for the North
between peace and ruin — ruin certain if the war is protracted, as it easily may be, to a point which will leave the President
without a revenue and without an army — ruin still more certain and complete if the wicked aspirations of fanatical hate be accomplished, and the Central Government
, already triumphant over the liberties of the North
, shall obtain as the price of success the unenviable duty of holding down, under the heel of military despotism, the struggling and palpitating remains of what were once the Southern States