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Secession Squabbles.

the reckless dissensions of leaders have been the ruin of half the revolts mentioned in history. It is not impossible that Charles Stuart might have reached London, however short might have been his stay there, if he could have kept his Highland chieftains from quarreling. The operations and efficiency of our own Revolutionary Army were often seriously embarrassed by the military intrigues of ambitious leaders; and nothing but the extraordinary good sense of Washington rescued us upon such occasions from temporary discomfiture. Men who have thrown off the authority of one Government, glide with but little grace into loyalty to another; and it is when the foundations of society are broken up, that the aspiring ply with the greatest and most mischievous assiduity their schemes of personal aggrandizement.

We are not, therefore, at all astonished to find that the leaders of the Slaveholders' Rebellion are already at loggerheads; and as our sources of information are their own newspapers, we accept as a fact what we should have theoretically anticipated. The vice which proved so fatal to the fallen angels has not spared these their legitimate descendants — the little Lucifers and the great Beelzebubs of the Man-Owner's Conspiracy. Richmond, if we may credit its journals, is full of petty squabbles, and the serenity of men who profess to be the architects of new and nobler institutions is continually disturbed by the torments of an unslumbering jealousy. We have written in our time [220] with sufficient asperity of our political antagonists; and if they have not always kept to the truth, why we, it must be owned, have not always kept our temper; and yet we never, for his sins, castigated a ProSlavery Democrat with a tithe of the virulent unction with which The Richmond Whig assaults the Davis Administration. The managers of that sheet know best whether they can afford, in their present predicament, to be hypercritical, and the pre-eminently factious of a faction; but as neither they nor those to whom they appeal have ever submitted, either in public or in private affairs, to the semblance of control, it is not probable that considerations of Confederate safety will keep one pair of duelling pistols in its case. The secession of those States was partly caused by a general passion for politics, which, in a slaveholding community, commonly afford the only avenue to distinction, and to the intelligent, the only escape from an intolerable night-mare, and life-indeath listlessness.

Secession, itself the offspring of politics, breeds in its turn a progeny of parties, each prolific of cliques, and each restive under guidance. Mr. Davis has not warmed the stool of office, before this aspirant or that newspaper seeks to push him from it; and a score of men think themselves as well entitled to the honor as he is. Are not their necks as precious as his? Why should he come in for the robes of place, and they for raggedness? Why he for eminence and they for obscurity? They made him, great as he has grown; their votes are the meat upon which he has fed. [221]

“Why,” some scion of an ancient and dilapidated Virginian house might ask, “Why is this man sovereign and I only sergeant upon (a promise of) quarter-pay?” It is in this key — a kind of mad minor — that The Whig pipes its disaffection. “Why has n't my advice been followed?” asks the able Editor of that paper. “Why does n't the army ravage Pennsylvania?” And then it goes on frankly to declare why. It is because the “Government” --which, of course, is not expected to even go through the motions of governing — has been “wrangling with popular generals, and piddling over petty jobs.” This is acidulous as well as alliterative. The Whig then, really quite after the manner of Junius, says: “A child with a bauble, an old man with a young wife, are partial illustrations of our deplorable folly.” The rage for fine writing has led many a Southern editor into scrapes either droll or murderous; but this man of metaphor who has contrived to compare the Confederacy to a “bauble” and “an old man's wife” has surpassed his predecessors as much in boldness as in truth.

To say that The Whig is discontented, exasperated, indignant and ferocious, is to say nothing adequate. Its wrath mounts to an ecstacy. Summer and winter have passed in dreary inaction. Disease and the weariness of waiting have demoralized, the Confederate camps. “The finest army ever assembled” has “wasted away,” and still The Richmond Whig has borne it with a patient shrug. But no, patience being no longer a virtue, but the most vicious of vices, The [222] Whig takes off its coat, and delivers its right and left at the culpable Cabinet, assuring its readers that certain “reputed great men” are, after all, disreputable little men, who must, unless this fine, fresh, youthful Confederacy is to go to the deuce, be reformed out of office, and give place to those who read The Richmond Whig regularly, and profit by its admonitions. It calls upon “Congress” to “see that other departments perform their functions,” and confidently predicts that when “our side” gets inside, the vehicle will move with admirable ease and celerity. But if “Congress” should prove as incompetent as “Cabinet,” nothing will remain to be done but for Mr. Jefferson Davis to go up to the House, pistol the Speaker, turn out the Members, and establish a Despotism tempered by cocktails and leading-articles.

This, then, is the Confederacy, so little compact that even the perils of war and imminent destruction cannot unite it These are the men so little unselfish, so grossly self-seeking, that their own companions cry shame upon their low ends and disreputable aims! These are the proofs of capacity for maintaining political independence which the Rebels offer to the powers of the world! President, Cabinet, Senators, Representatives, Editors, squabble like a group of runaway boys over a bird's nest with nothing in it! Why, this would make the most brilliant victories barren; what will be its effect when thick-coming defeats, the occupation of great cities, the dispersion of the Rebel armies, the seizure of military strongholds, the complete command of coasts [223] and rivers and gulfs, shall have brought that bitter disappointment to which only despair can succeed? Let the Rebel leaders look well to themselves then, lest the popular petard which they have been cramming with falsehoods and passions, give them a hoist more lofty than agreeable. Half the citizens of the South do not as yet know the alphabet of government. In the political ethics of the plantation they are well enough versed; they have a dim notion of governing by the aid of a long whip and a heavy-handed overseer; but of governing themselves, of permitting themselves to be governed, they have no more notion than had the Barons and Robber-Knights of the Middle Ages — the quarrelsome ragtag and bob-tail of chivalry that followed St. Louis to Palestine. The doctrine of secession would be found in the end monstrously inconvenient, even though it should be at first triumphant; for after that, there would be “nothing but thunder.” State would recede from State, County from County, Parish from Parish, Husband from Wife, and Copartner from Copartner, until, at last, we should hear from their farm in North Carolina that Chang had seceded from Eng, and that both were dead — the victims of a mania for breaking things generally!

March 6, 1862.

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