A New year.
We are not inclined to be ironical at this moment, and therefore refrain from the customary salutation of the season--"A Happy New Year." Such happiness as the season affords can be easily carried in a nutshell, and there are not wanting hammers to crack even the nutshell, and expel therefrom such withered kernels of consolation as it may still contain.
It has pleased the excellent and exemplary people who are making war upon us to carry on that war in a way unrecognized by any other people called civilized; not simply fight us, of which we make no complaint, but to fight us in a way which renders ordinary warfare a pastime and recreation.
To burn houses and to drive forth their helpless and homeless occupants, the mother and the babe, into the freezing cold; to take their very food away from them, and, by burning mills, prevent them from getting more; to subject women to a ate more horrible than death,--these have become common occurrences and the most reliable instrumentalities of Yankee warfare.
Looking abroad upon the multitudes of our unprotected country population, the most virtuous, and once the most happy portion of our community, who are constantly exposed to such visitations, we have no disposition to mock their miscries by empty compliments, nor to feiga a hope, which we do not entertain, that the fiends who are let loose upon us will return to the bottomless pit and permit this year to be happier than the one whose dismal accounts have just been rendered up at the bar of Eternal Justice.
And yet these unparalleled trials and sufferings may prove the most effectual means by which the gulf between the two combatants will be rendered forever impassable, and the heart of the country roused to that degree of energy and self-sacrifice which is necessary to its deliverance.
If wrongs like these do not thrill every soul and nerve every arm, human nature in this Confederacy must be different from human nature in any other land or age. The mode in which the war is carried on has thrown the original cause of controversy completely out of sight.
If the United States
had possessed, under the Constitution
, an explicit assertion of the supremacy of the General Government
over the States and the undoubted right of coercion, the manner and means by which it has maintained its claims would have deprived it of all advantage ground of law and awakened a universal demand from every breast for eternal separation from a people capable of such atrocities against civilization and humanity.
They may thank themselves that the issue they have presented is one which the plainest understanding can comprehend and the coldest heart can feel.
If we are act able to with a "Happy New Year" to the people whom they have afflicted, it required no prophet to predict a year of vengeance upon these tormentors such as only crimes like these demand and deserve.
All other questions, slavery included, will soon be lost in the one question of independence of such a people.
Darkly as the last year has closed upon our fortunes in some portions of the widely-extended field of combat, it leaves us with a larger extent of territory delivered from the enemy than the last, and with an army as numerous and formidable as a year ago took the field.--We have, besides, a powerful element of strength in reserve, which can neutralise any additional accessions to the strength of the enemy.
The disasters we have suffered have been the result of errors which we have reason to believe will never occur again.
With the continued aid or that marvellous Providence
which has hitherto interposed in our behalf almost as manifestly as for the people of Israel
, and with a provident, sagacious and energetic employment of the resources at our command, the new year, which has begun in clouds, will and in sunshine, and the bow of approaching peace span the dark cloud of war. But, under Heaven, our whole future depends upon ourselves.
The people and their representatives must be alike ready to make any and all sacrifices; not only of life, but of prejudices of every kind; of pride, property, and, if need be, of institutions, however cherished, if their surrender will secure the end of their own deliverance.
As the mariner, threatened with shipwreck, commits joyfully to the waves the precious cargo for which he has crossed wide oceans that he may save his vessel and his life, so must we be prepared to throw overboard everything which can deprive us of the supreme and incomparable been of liberty and independence.