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A French opinion of American Affairs.We do not flatter ourselves with the hope that 1862 will bring us the solution of the American crisis. Unionists, and separatists, federal and Confederates, abolitionists and partisans of slavery, at the commencement of a struggle which has given rise to all those barbarous neologisms, cannot all at once lay down their arms. But what will war effect? Why make the gulf between them wider and wider? Is a return to peaceful discussion possible? Are the respective pretensions of the North and of the South of such a nature that they cannot be beneficially examined by the eminent men of the different States or by impartial mediators? Mediation, which certain journals have rejected as visionary, we still regard as the sole means, not only of putting an end to the internal discords of the great American Republic but also of preventing a war between England and the United States, which number among their citizens so many of her sons. We are aware that at London and Washington, at Liverpool and New York, the act of violence committed in the Bahama Channel has caused an effervescence which has not yet subsided. Preparations are being made on both sides, and warlike defiances exchanged; but all the journals agree, in spite of the dispatches received, in considering as premature the non possumus of the American Government. Accurate calculations show that the last communications of the British Government could not reach Washington till the 23d ult We therefore still hope for a peaceful issue, and redouble our efforts to promote a friendly settlement of this grave difference, which French diplomacy has judged with such calmness and dignity.
What M. Forcade says on the subject.We cannot contemplate with indifference a crisis which threatens with dissolution the more vital portion of America. The coolness with which the South seems to wish to connect its cause forever with that of slavery, and the great principle of free labor on which the prosperity of the North rests, do not allow of generous feelings hesitating between the two parties. The most pressing interests must make us desire the prompt conclusion of this crisis, to which a foreign war would give a duration and proportions more dangerous by augmenting the sufferings under which England, France and all Europe are indirectly laboring. Now, the American crisis cannot terminate but by there establishment of the Union. The Secessionist doctrine, were it ratified by success, would be for the States of North America-- for those of the North as for those of the South--a permanent cause of dissolution. It would again appear everywhere and on every pretext. State would separate from State, county from county, district from district. They would all fall, as in South America, into an anarchy, with changing dictatorships raised up and overthrown by violence, as the only remedy. If the present civil war be prolonged, or if it be aggravated by a foreign war, the North will be obliged to have recourse to the immediate and radical abolition of slavery, to servile war, to those extreme measures which will not repair the mischief, but which will complete the ruin of the South We have already seen by the last message of the President, and especially by the propositions presented and discussed in Congress, how difficult it is for the North to defend itself against the tendency which leads to these desperate extremes. We may observe in passing, that since the beginning of this struggle, people in Europe have not been just enough towards Mr. Lincoln and his friends They have not had sufficient consideration for the reserve these have exhibited on the question of slavery. So far as it depended upon them, Mr. Lincoln and his friends have not desired to resolve it in a summary manner, amid the fire of a civil war, and at the cost of cruel uncertainty and incalculable evil. They have sought to take away from violence the solution of a problem so formidable. They have tried to confine the quarrel between them and the secessionists within purely political grounds — on the question of ascertaining whether the most respectable of all contracts, that on which depends the existence of a constituted State, can be broken at the pleasure of one of the contracting parties. Their moderation will perhaps be vain, but it is of importance that it should be admitted in order to free their responsibility from the terrible consequences which the necessities occasioned to the United States by the complications of foreign policy may have for humanity. The incident of a war with England would be all the more deplorable, as at the present moment a great military event which would be favorable to the cause of the North might lead, more rapidly than is believed in Europe, to the re-establishment of the Union.--It must not be forgotten that the United States are in one of those revolutionary fits when the moral effect is all powerful, when an accident suffices to change the course of ideas and of facts. If the North had its revenge for the defeat at Bull's Run, if time be not given to the Government of the Southern Confederation to take root in the minds of the inoffensive masses, if, after having broken the material force on which it rests for support, or having disturbed it in the opinion of men of order by offering serious guarantees in their interest, it is possible that the secessionist edifice may fall to pieces like one of those frail constructions which American genius pleases itself with raising in a single day. It is, perhaps, at the moment when an effective blow is on the point of being struck that the Americans will be surprised by the fatal diversion of a foreign war. We know, in fact, that the capital of the Union is nothing now but a vast camp, and that military preparations are become the only thought of the Northern States. After their first follies the Americans have come to understand that a great war is not organized like a President's election. The Americans share this character of the English race, usually so slow in preparation; the issue will show whether they have also inherited British perseverance. Otherwise, from the manner in which it is raised and organized, from its composition and its spirit, the present army of the United States, resembles nothing known to Europe. The The democratic and mercantile spirit, by a obvious phenomenon, has produced combinations which, in our eyes, belong to the fundal times and the old regimes. We see there, as in the old military organization of France, companies formed for the occasion and a species of colonels-proprietors. To introduce discipline they have had to struggle against the influence of the manners and habits of the United States, against the system of the election of officers by the volunteers, and against the jealous authority of Governors of States interfering between the troops and the central government. It is, indeed, a strange army, of which it cannot be said whether it be an army of mercenaries, or a national army, or an army of volunteers. They are mercenaries, as the Southerners call them, insomuch as they take to the profession of arms as a livelihood, and speculate on high pay. But, then, how can they be called mercenaries, as they are not foreigners? The soldiers whom the Union have got together by hundreds of thousands represent, quite as well as an army of conscripts, all the classes which compass the nation and reflect its spirit. True, they count in their ranks 50,000 or 60,000 Europeans; and this is only a fair proportion accorded to the immigrants, who, established for some time in the United States, already make part of the nation, and begin to play an important part in all its affairs. The American soldier has the inexperience and the impatience under discipline that characterize the volunteer; but he has less enthusiasm than the latter. He is said, however, to be intelligent and inured to fatigue. These are strange elements with which Gen. McClellan, with the aid of the officers and soldiers of the old regulars, trained in the prairies, composes an army which may become formidable, and which seems destined to exercise on the destinies of the reconstituted United States a serious influence, though still hidden in the mysterious uncertainty of the future.
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