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Slave-Holder's honor.

Dr. William H. Russell, the peripatetic philosopher and friend of The London Times, complains, if we may credit a telegram from Cairo “that his correspondence has been tampered with by the Rebels, his letters being altered, and in some cases not sent at all.” Had this fact come sooner to the knowledge of Mr. Russell, it would, we fear, have diminished his relish for that celebrated bottle of Old Madeira which he drank near Charleston, and his appetite for the excellent official dinners eaten by him in Montgomery. If anything could diminish the self-satisfaction of The Thunderer, we should think it would be the publication of the fact that, for so many weeks, and [159] upon such a subject, its sacred columns have been controlled by Davis, Cobb, and Benjamin. If anything could change to something like an inclination that stern neutrality which has puzzled us all, we should think it would be the discovery that in its august person, The Times has been made the victim of petty larceny by the descendants of Prince Rupert and other cavaliers. It may be an extenuation when a man intends to pick your pocket, that in pursuit of his purpose, he asks you to dinner, and accomplishes his nefarious project while you are cutting his mutton and sipping his champagne. We wish The Times joy of its high-toned thieves, of its larcenous cavaliers, of its cut-purses all of ancient families, of its sneaks all with unexceptionable pedigrees! Mr. Russell is already at the West, and will soon be again at the North. We can promise that in neither quarter will his letters be in danger. He may write them with the perfect assurance that they will go forward to their destination unopened, and of course unaltered. We may be fanatics, but we do not steal; we may be mere shop-keepers, but we do not tamper with the mails; we may be bigots, but no letters are opened in our Post-Offices as they are in those of England and Russia.

The stercoraceous power of Slavery to develop all the cardinal virtues, has received another illustration. Seedy patriots of Alabama, very much in debt to the North, where distance from home lent an enchantment to their persons, and a power as of triple brass to their faces, feeling, when the miseries of maturity [160] came upon them, at once a disinclination and a disability to meet their bills, have counseled with the Lord High Chancellor Dargan of their State as to the propriety and legality of repudiating. There never was such a Chancellor for sagacity and profundity and erudition as Dargan is. Dargan says at once: “Do n't pay a red cent. These Northern creditors are public enemies. In the name of Justinian, I charge you to withhold the cash! The Law of Nations forbids payment and so do I! If you pay so much as a sixpence to your Northern creditors, I will have you indicted!” Pleasing opinion! Every debtor refuses at once to pay, every bank to collect and every public notary to protest.

Now, as between distinct and independent nations, actual belligerents, Dargan is right in his law, although it is a very barbarous law at the best. The hardships of war have been in many ways mollified, yet this vestige of ancient and savage hostilities still remains. But under the circumstances of the present conflict, there are two considerations--one moral and the other legal — which will suggest themselves to every intelligent and just man, even in the Confederate States. How far, in the first place, have these hostilities been precipitated merely for the sake of avoiding just pecuniary obligations? How many men have become big-voiced Secessionists, because their pockets were empty and their promises to pay imminent? Whatever hoar and antiquated Law, in the person of a perjured Chancellor, may say, the man who rebels in order that he may repudiate, is [161] both a traitor and a swindler, and worthy of the jail should he escape the gibbet. In spite of Law, he is still a liar, and no possible number of precedents can give him a sweet character. In a time of peace, as in a time of war, he would find some specious and sneaking excuse for avoiding his promaises to pay.

In a war like the present there is no reason why obligations as between man and man should not remain in full force. It is true that Alabama has asserted herself to be an independent State, but so, for most of the essential wants of trade, she has always been. Our merchants could only sue her citizens in her own courts, except under accidental circumstances. She does not pretend, no seceding State can philosophically claim, to have so altered her political relations that foreign creditors cannot collect demands in her own courts. It is claimed that the State of New York is a belligerent, and as a component part of the American Union, she undoubtedly is; but it is not claimed, and it cannot be with truth, that hostilities exist between the States of New York and Alabama. The very tenacity with which Southern men cling to their doctrine of State Rights, is against them in this matter. Why should the merchants of the separate States suffer by the acts of the General Government?

No: we believe that every honest Southern merchant — and there must be such — will pay his debts if he can, and as soon as he can hereafter if he cannot pay them now. This will, indeed, be the only safe [162] course for a business man in these parts to pursue. Whenever peace is restored — it does not matter for the purposes of the argument in the least upon what terms — the Southern trader must come to New York to buy, or to Philadelphia, or Boston. He must come either with cash or clean hands, and something better than a thiefs record, if he would be sure of obtaining merchandise. Every repudiator will be known at the counters of trade, and instead of being wined, and dined, and smiled upon, and trusted, he will be met coldly, and as frigidly informed that the “terms are cash.” Repudiation will then be found to have been a most costly luxury, and it is pretty certain that a man who cannot command credit in New York would be as badly off in Richmond or Charleston, although these cities should become flourishing marts. The taint of the swindler will stick to him, and those who now applaud will be the last to trust him. Trade is based upon private honor, and there is not a market in the world which will not be shut against the merchants of Alabama for fifty years to come. This is the stubborn fact which no amount of bluster can alter.

John B. Floyd, for instance, Brigadier-General, Confederate Army, is there a single man doing business in this city, no matter what may be his politics, is there a single man who would trust John B. Floyd to keep his cash? who would give him any responsible situation in his counting room? who would even allow him to be in the counting-room without somebody to watch him? And really after this decision, [163] is there a tailor in New York who would trust Chancellor Dargan for a pair of breeches? States repudiating their obligations must in the long run pay for the little luxury.

June 23, 1861.

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