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Striking an Average.

A certain newspaper emits the following gem of well-informed charity: “The people of the Southern States, if no better, are no worse, and certainly no more foolish than the average of mankind.” Considering that the Average of Mankind eats its guests and even its grandfather; worships idols; goes in its own skin; cannot comprehend that two and two make four; is brutish, ignorant, sensual, thievish, gluttonous, improvident and superstitious, our polished friends in Richmond will pant with pleasure at this comprehensive compliment. To us it seems about as foolish as the average folly of mankind. But if this writer, as we suppose, meant to say that the people of the seceding States, are no lower in the scale of civilization than the people of the other [184] States--the people of the State of Massachusetts, for instance — then we take issue and deny the truth of his assertion. In support of this denial, we refer to the Census Report, passim. If it shall be asserted that a people without schools can be as well educated, or a people without churches as religious, as a people with many schools and churches, why, he who asserts it must be foolisher than that great fool, the Average of Mankind!

Without repeating here the Statistics of Mr. Olmsted who is a keen observer, we beg leave to refer the reader to the travels of “Porte-Crayon” in the Southern States, illustrated by his own clever pencil, and published in Harper's Monthly Magazine. The author is a Southern man, and so far an interested witness; and we are sure that nobody would have believed, but for his decisive testimony, in the barbarism to be found in North Carolina.

But it is most convenient to argue directly from the point of Secession. The fact that it is a great crime without provocation, and a blunder almost idiotic, knocks both nails on the head and clinches them. Secession is Wickedness and Ignorance. On the one hand, it is Passion, Pride, Ambition and Greed. On the other, it is Folly and Stupidity. The Seceders may not be any worse than the Hottentots, but in a certain sense they are no better.

It will be said that Massachusetts has talked of seceding. This is not true. Certain men, some of them of tolerable culture, but none of them of much political account, may now and then have spouted [185] nonsense; but the popular mind of Massachusetts has never even approximately assented to the doctrine. Her leading statesmen have always ardently disavowed it, and the Union has been a cherished sentiment of her people.

But it will be said that the people of the Southern States have been deluded by the Southern aristocrats. So much the worse for their wisdom! nobody ever thought a flock of sheep to be a flock of philosophers, because with multitudinous bleat they followed a silly bell-wether to destruction. Besides, what are the seceding States doing in this age and domain of Democracy, with Aristocrats? Jefferson's Virginia, the pet daughter of Democracy, gone to the deuce to please her Aristocrats!

But no: again it will be said, you do not understand. The Virginian kind is a Democratic-Aristocratical Democracy — a Despotism tempered by mintjuleps, plug, tobacco and “niggers.” You must not suppose for a moment that the man with one nigger is obliged to obey the man with one thousand niggers — he only obeys because he delights to do so. Only he knows, this forlorn man with one nigger, if he offends the man with one thousand, that a dozen scamps with no niggers at all will be hired by the well-supplied Aristocrat to tar-and-feather shoot, stab or hang, the poor man with one nigger. That's all! That is Virginia Democracy! As for South Carolina, why, we confess that she is our pet State. She never babbles of Democracy. Quoad niggers and poor whites, her refined, learned, rich, polished, [186] nice, noble Aristocrats believe in a Despotism, beside which that of the Metternich school ripens into a kind of genial liberalism. Let her alone, and in five years we shall have the Court Guide of her Emperor illustrated by the names of Prince Pod, the Count of Cotton-Plant, Sir Robert Rice, and of many esquired gentry. What will become of the Average of Mankind, poor fellow! then, and in those swampy regions, we can only guess; but we are disposed to think that there will be a rise in the whip-market of the Empire.

It has been one of the chiefest causes of negro slavery in this country that it has demanded of the North, as well as the South, a general muddle of the human intellect, as the only safe, proper, constitutional cure of our complaint. This was natural, but none the less disgraceful. Thank God that at this end of the land at least, we shall hear no more, or not much more, of this dismal sophistry — this never-ending, still-recurring jangle of Inferior Races — of the Curse of Canaan — of the Compromises of the Constitution, of which nobody can give us the name and nature. The swift besom of war has swept away much of this rubbish, We stand more nearly upon the ground of solid truth than we have for half a century past. This is at least encouraging.

October 22, 1861.

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