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De Quincey once wrote a neat little esthetic essay on "Murder Considered as one of the Fine Arts." Murders, he maintained, have their little differences and shades of merit, as well as statues, pictures, cameos and the like. The performance of Cain was the first infancy of the art, and a good many modern murders are quite as deficient in taste, finish and scenical grouping. This connoisseur of homicide admits that murder is a dangerous, as well as difficult branch, and that "if a man once indulges in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination. Many a man has dated his ruin from some murder that perhaps he thought little of at the time." He tells of a brother connoisseur who had become gloomy and misanthropically over the cleaver and paving stone character of modern murders, and looked upon the French Revolution as the great cause of degeneration in the science. "Very soon, sir," he used to say, "men will have lost the art of killing poultry; the very rudiments of the art will have perished." We submit to the profession in the North whether there is not some danger of bringing a noble service into disrepute by the wholesale style in which it is now practiced. In former times, the public taste required a superb chefæd' uvre, like that of the Burdell assassination, and turned up its nose at more blood-shedding, unaccompanied by any exhibitions of genius or study, as vicious and vulgar abortions, unworthy the attention of a civilized community. But now, alas! nothing satisfies it but the hanging, or shooting, or putting to death in some form or other, without any regard to the proprieties of Confederate victims. "Fifteen guerrillas" taken out and shot is the kind of reading that gives spice to a morning newspaper.-- "Five Confederates" to be hung for every Union man killed. The military commanders, who have a prompt, off-hand way of sending helpless mortals out of the world, are the most popular. The only appetite to be consulted is killing, without discrimination, taste, or anything like science. Corpses of alleged spies, guerrillas and other monsters, must be supplied at the shortest notice for breakfast, dinner and supper, and "Thugdom, in all its branches," is the toast of the day.
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