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Roundheads and Cavaliers.

what is chivalry? What is a chevalier? Why, because a person is a man-owner should he be styled a horseman? Or why call him a chevalier, if you come to that, simply because he is an ass? What is there in the fact that a man is tolerably white and lives in Virginia, by the toil of others, which should induce The Londo,, Spectator, for instance, to liken him to Prince Rupert or to Peveril of the Peak? Or to go further back, if you look into the charming pages of Froissart, you do not find that Sir Robert de Namur tarred and feathered anybody; that John of Gaunt owned “niggers ;” that Sir Charles de Montmorency was addicted to cock-tails before breakfast, or that Lord Robert d'artois was a tavern-brawler. The fascinating chronicle tells you of “honorable enterprises, noble adventures and deeds of arms;” but such really do not remind you of anything done by [152] Preston Brooks, or Henry A. Wise or John Tyler. Even if the English “Cavaliers” did “plant Maryland and Virginia,” which is not true, although so often and so confidently asserted, the condition of very considerable portions of both of those States would seem to indicate a sad deterioration of the blood, through the admixture of that of several Royal African houses and overthrown black Stuarts. With all their faults, neither few nor small, the English cavaliers were gentlemen, and did neither mean things nor cruel ones, as the Virginia cavaliers continually do. The English cavalier would have been ashamed to get into a tempest, torrent and whirlwind of wrath with a woman — some small school-mistress, perchance, who had offended him by going to conventicle; the English cavalier would have thought it a work below his condition to arrest pedlars or to confiscate their packs; the English cavalier would have scorned captious and unreasonable disloyalty to a long-established government; and the English cavalier, with as many peculations on his shoulders as now weigh down those of Floyd, would hardly have attended at any court except a Court of Justice. In short, the English cavalier was generally a gentleman, and the Virginian cavalier is generally not a gentleman — a pretty broad distinction. This Virginian gentleman, as the vulgar error paints him — frank and generous to a fault, of speckless honor, and even of a religious turn, quick to resent a vile action, no matter where or by whom committed — this Sir Roger de Coverley, of the New World, does not now exist, even if he ever existed; [153] and figure as he may in those dreadful novels which only Virginians can write, his form and embodiment could not be found in the Old Dominion, although, for his production, a considerable premium were offered to the exhausted treasury of that province. He is a myth now, perhaps he always was.

Then, again, it is a great mistake to suppose that the opposition to slavery-extension, which the Northern States exhibit, is purely a Puritan feeling; for a deal of it is of old Dutch origin; and more of it has grown up in spite of Puritan predilection for a literal interpretation of, and a strong respect for, the Hebrew Scripture. The truth is, so far as the Scriptural argument is concerned, that the Puritanical spirits are at the South, and holding slaves there by virtue of perverted texts out of Genesis and Deuteronomy, and fine-spun theories about the curse of Canaan. The Puritan error, if such existed, happened to be precisely the error into which the philosophical and religious slaveholder always tumbles. He is the fanatic. He it is who, honestly perhaps, opposes his crude and interested convictions to the decision of the rest of the world. He it is who repeats a spectacle-too often, alas! exhibited — a spectacle of the fondness with which human nature clings to a delusion all the more fondly because it is a delusion. All the world knows that the moral and economical argument is upon our side. Nobody supposes it to be right to enslave men, except those who have either a direct or indirect temptation to enslave men. Which is nearest to that dark side of the Puritan character which Southern newspapers [154] sneer at--Dr. Fuller or Dr. Wayland? How much of a Hebrew was Dr. Channing? On which side is the Rabbi Raphall himself?

Men seem inclined to take it for granted that the hostility to slavery is simply a religious one, and that every Abolitionist has become so through his moral convictions alone; as if economy had had nothing to do with the matter; as if it had been left undemonstrated that Slavery is bad policy; as if there had not been a strong appeal to the Anti-Slavery pocket as well as the Anti-Slavery heart; as if such books as “The impending Crisis” had never been written or never read. But now all arguments against the institution have been left behind by the fatuity of slaveholders themselves, who by their rude violence to the Constitution, and their intolerable disregard of the popular verdict, have shown that Slavery makes them the enemies of peace, of law and of order, and is therefore, through its influence in this way, the enemy of, and inconsistent with, social happiness. This result, no matter from what point it may be viewed, is utterly unnecessary. This Rebellion has come to demonstrate how terribly damaging Slavery is to social character. The best friends, not merely of human, but especially of Southern happiness, are those who seek to stay the hands of this madman, bent so resolutely upon self-destruction,

June 6, 1861.

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