next


Is the Czar our friend or enemy?

--Not long ago, the Emperor of Russia, through his prime minister, Prince Gortschakoff, addressed a letter to Baron Stoeckle at Washington, to be read to the President of the United States, abounding in friendly expressions: but marked throughout by the most careful non-committalism as to the quarrel raging on this continent between North and South. To a plain person uninitiated in the mysteries of diplomacy, it seemed to be a letter intended, while expressing the autocrat's regard and friendship for all America, to announce his entire neutrality in the war of the sections; to assign to his American minister his position in respect to the belligerents, and to announce to the Washington Government the policy he would pursue in respect to either side. Other European Governments had taken means to announce their neutrality;--Spain by the proclamation of her Captain-General in Cuba; Great Britain by the declarations of her ministers in Parliament; and France, by her official organ, and her proclaimed concurrence in the policy of Great Britain and Spain. The letter of the Czar in its language purported to be nothing more than a similar declaration on his part; in which, while announcing his policy of strict neutrality, and while carefully declining to express an opinion upon the issues of the sectional quarrel, he embraced the occasion to remind our country of the long friendship that had subsisted between the two rising powers, and his unfeigned regret that the unity and greatness of our own country, so necessary to the equilibrium of power among the great nations of Christendom, should be lost by the separation of the two sections.

Such seemed to be the plain tenor and purport of the Autocrat's letter. It seemed to require no deep knowledge of or initiation into the mysteries of European diplomacy to interpret it. It seemed to carry its meaning in its face, and was accepted by the South as creditable to the heart and head of its Imperial author. But it is claimed that the South has been deceived; that the Czar is not the plain-spoken, straightforward man that we conceived, and his letter indicated, him to be; that beneath all his benignity of language there was a strong undercurrent of sympathy with the North, and of repulsion towards the South; that we must infer his feelings towards our seceding States from his hereditary animosity towards rebellious Poland; and that his expressions of friendship for the United States were intended only for the Northern States that are about entering upon a grand enterprise for the liberation of millions of slaves, such as he himself has just accomplished in the liberation of millions of serfs.

At least such is the gloss which the North has given to the letter of the Czar. That potentate, without reference to recent divisions, spoke of the United States; are not they the United States? He is profuse of expressions of sympathy and regard for the United States--that is to say, for the Northern States; is not this a stinging rebuke of ‘"Secession?"’ He is strong in his expressions of regret over the dissensions existing between the North and the South; is not the South the sole, unprovoked author, without provocation, cause, or excuse, of these dissensions, and the party indirectly, but most severely, condemned by the Czar on account of them? By this sort of self-complacent logic, they find a most favorable interpretation in their own behalf of the Emperor's letter; and then they go to work to account for this most demonstrative sympathy for their cause and their section.

The inevitable Edward Everett comes forward in a letter to Bonner's New York Ledger to account for this sympathy, and to unravel and explain the diplomatic mysteries connected with it. Mr. Everett doubtless has some other objects in view. Sumner and Wilson, the ultra abolitionists, of Boston, have shot far ahead of him of late years in political life. As violent an abolitionist as either of them, he long thought it most politic to take the conservative tack, and cultivate the favor of both South and North. Secession has left him high and dry in that path, and he now must ‘"'bout face,"’ and endeavor to outstrip Sumner and Wilson in the announcement of an extreme fanatical Northernism. He fancies himself, with probable truth, the best diplomatist in the whole North, imagines that his term in the State Department must come next after Seward's, and by way of attracting the attention of Lincoln's administration to himself, and of reminding the Northern public of his powers, airs his diplomacy in the widely circulating columns of the mountebank Bonner.

It is Mr. Everett who suggests that the imputed dislike of the Czar for the South arises from his dislike to slavery. He reminds the North of the Czar's devotion since the Crimean war, ‘"to the great work of abolishing serfage in his vast dominions,"’ and claims his consequent sympathy with ‘"the United States,"’ in a struggle ‘"forced upon them for the extension of slavery."’ He also explains with more truth than in the other case, the grounds of the Czar's solicitude for preserving the power of the United States in all its integrity, as necessary to preserve the equilibrium of power that has been established by circumstances among the great nations of Christendom. England's insular position, and almost boundless colonial empire, give her a constantly growing naval strength, and continually increasing resources of political energy and of material wealth, which perpetually threaten the prevailing equilibrium; and this growth of Great Britain was only compensated by the equal growth in power and wealth of the United States. It is the loss of this counterpoise to Great Britain that the Czar deplores; and Mr. Everett, with the usual modesty of a Northern man, interprets this natural chagrin of the Czar, at a great national event, into a sentiment of indignation and rebuke towards the section which Mr. Everett conveniently saddles with all the blame of the rupture.

Although we are not yet prepared to believe it, it matters very little to the South whether the Czar be in secret her enemy in fact.--The late American Minister to Prussia brought over with him assurances of the Prussian King's sympathy with the North. We suppose the Austrian Emperor feels also somewhat warmed towards Lincoln, since the imprisonments at Forts Lafayette and McHenry, and the domiciliary barbarities practised in Baltimore. France is the strongest military power in the world; Great Britain the strongest naval power, and the English people the freest in the world, besides the Southern. These two Powers are certainly not our enemies; and so if the partitioners of Poland turn against us, and would, desire the North, with Hessian soldiers to make a Poland of the South, why we should have to make the most of the misfortune.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
United States (United States) (8)
England (United Kingdom) (5)
Poland (Poland) (2)
France (France) (2)
Vicksburg (Mississippi, United States) (1)
Russia (Russia) (1)
Preussen (1)
Cuba (Cuba) (1)

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Everett (4)
Billy Wilson (2)
Sumner (2)
Lincoln (2)
Stoeckle (1)
Seward (1)
Bonner (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: