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Two foreign opinions of the Confederate cause and people.

As illustrating the absurd opinions which may be published by even an intelligent foreigner whose only view of the facts about our late war has been through the medium of so called “history,” manufactured by fanatics of the North for consumption across the waters, we give the following, as presented by our gallant and accomplished Vice-President for Mississippi-General W. T. Martin, in the Natchez Democrat. We may add that the author from whom General Martin quotes never saw, so far as we know, a copy of the Southern Historical Papers, or anything giving our side of the question.

General Martin's letter.

Editor Natchez Democrat:
I have just read the closing volume of Martin's popular history of France. It is a continuation of Guizot's History, and closes with an account of MacMahon's resignation of the office of president of the French republic in 1881, and the installation of M. Jules Grevy. This [561] work, as translated from the French, is published in Boston. It is beautifully printed and illustrated, its style is captivating, and altogether it is highly interesting and must needs be generally read. Already it has been distributed to thousands of subscribers in our own country, and it is reasonable to suppose that it will find its way into public and private libraries, and be regarded as history by readers in all civilized countries.

I give you below some extracts from the third volume, to show the pressing necessity for the dissemination of the facts touching the late civil war, that the South may have justice and a fair hearing the world over. The Historical Society aims to meet this necessity, and will do it if we are true to ourselves, to the illustrious dead, the brave survivors of the armies, to our wives and our children.

The author, writing of the interference of the Federal government in Mexican affairs just after the close of our civil war, says:

The South, thanks to the leisure which slavery gave her, was far more given to politics than the North; and although very inferior in numbers, the Southern people had hitherto held public office and the reins of government, far more frequently than those of the North. The North at last reacted against this preponderance; the slavery question let loose the dogs of war. Popular feeling in the North, on this point, agreed with popular interest. Aside from political jealousy and manufacturing greed, religious and philosophical principles were brought powerfully to bear, and the men devoted to the abolition of slavery formed a party whose sincerity was incontestible, and whose energy was undaunted. The whole world was shaken by the tragic story of John Brown, that martyr of liberty, hung by slave owners for preaching the enfranchisement of the blacks. * * * The North would fain have avoided civil war; the South hurried it on, and took the offensive. Two Southern States, Virginia, the home of Washington, and Maryland, refused to be led astray, and saved the seat of the Federal City of Washington by remaining loyal to the union.

The South nevertheless had the advantage at first. Nearly all the officers of the small Federal army belonged to her, and she was far better prepared for the war than was the North.

The Northerners were not people to be discouraged by a few defeats. They squandered men and money in Cyclopean efforts unceasingly renewed. They improvised an army; they improvised with the free help of individuals, an admirable organization for the succor of the wounded and sick of their army. This indomitable nation extemporised war as it extemporised everything. * * *Early in 1864 the South seemed [562] lost. She revived temporarily, by a desperate effort. A relentless Dictatorship converted every inch of ground left her into one vast camp. The Southern government waged a truceless and relentless war, trampling under foot all law, all justice, all humanity.--Volume 3, pp. 467-8-9-70.

The italics are mine. And this is history! Shall it be unchallenged? Shall the grandest Christian heroes of modern days, Generals Sidney Johnston, Jackson, Davis and their compeers, and the gallant armies that fought with them for a cause they believed to be just, be handed down to posterity as barbarians, such as Attala, Genghis Khan, or Hyder Ali. “Waging a truceless and relentless war; trampling under foot all law, all justice, all humanity?”

So it will be if we lie idle. And the murderer of Harper's Ferry be exalted into “a martyr of liberty,” while the Spartan-like soldiers of the South--whose feet were often shoeless, whose clothing was in shreds, whose haversacks were empty, but whose courage was undaunted — whose cartridge boxes were full and their bayonets always bright — will be doomed to an immortality of infamy.

will T. Martin, Vice-President Southern Historical Society for Mississippi. November 18th, 1882.

In vivid contrast to the miserable twaddle of the above extracts from this “Popular history of France,” (which will no doubt be circulated even in the South and used in some of our schools), we give the following beautiful tribute of that accomplished Englishman, Percy Greg, Esq., who was in the Confederacy during a part of the war, who has been since a student of American History, who is a regular reader of the Southern Historical Society Papers, and has made himself familiar with the true history of our great struggle for constitutional freedom. As a regular contributor to the London Standard and other periodicals, he has written a number of articles in defence of Confederates, and their cause, and the following but adds to the many obligations under which he has placed us.

Percy Greg's tribute to Confederate heroes.

Do you forget, then, “rejoined Cleveland,” how often the hand of Providence has been manifestly against the better cause? Do you forget the Pagan saying that reconciles so many readers of history to the fall of the noblest States and the defeat of the truest heroes, “Victrix causa Deis placuit, sed victa Catoni,” or the cynical paradox of the French [563] Empire, that “ Heaven is on the side of the bigger battalions?” Do you forget, again, that in the American struggle everything that was personally great and noble was to be found almost exclusively on the Southern side? The North produced no gentleman and chevalier worthy to be named in the same day with him who led so long the splendid chivalry of Virginia and the Carolinas, and before whom, on every occasion, the Northern cavalry (often the Northern infantry) were scattered like chaff before the wind. The Unionists had no twenty statesmen whose combined moral and intellectual powers would have reached the level of President Davis; indeed, the comparative quality of the two nations could hardly be better illustrated than by contrasting the Mississippi soldier and gentleman chosen to rule the ‘rebels’ with the “rail-splitter” representative of the “legitimate” democracy, whose term, had he died in his bed four or five years later, would have been remembered only as marking the nadis of American political decline; the culmination of the vulgarity, moral as well as formal, of the unworthiness and ignobleness that had so long dishonored more and more deeply the chair of Washington. Lincoln's uncleanness of language and thought would hardly have been tolerated in a Southern “ bar.” Or, again, take the favorites of the North--the best known names in the camp and Cabinet — Sheridan and Hunter, whose ravages recall the devastation of the Palatinate, political rowdies like Banks and Butler, braggarts like Pope and Hooker, or even professional soldiers like Meade, Sigel, Sherman. These are the ‘household words’ of the North, and any one Southern chief of the second rank — Ewell, Early, Fitzhugh Lee, Hardee, Polk, Hampton, Gilmer, Gordon — alone outweighs them all. Needless to remind you that among the ‘twenty millions--mostly fools’--was no man whom even party spirit dared liken to the stern, simple Virginia professor, the Cavalier-Puritan, whose brigade of recruits stood “like a stone wall” under the convergent fire of artillery and rifles that was closing round them at Mannassas; no A. P. Hill, second only to Jackson among the lieutenants of Lee; no strategist comparable to him whose death by simple self-neglect marred the victory of Corinth, or his namesake, who baffled so long the threefold force of Sherman in the Georgia campaign. Rivers, railways and brute numbers only enabled the Federal power not to conquer, but to exhaust, on fifty battlefields, nearly all disastrous and disgraceful to the Union, the flower of that “incomparable Southern infantry,” whose superiority is acknowledged in these very words by one of the bitterest of Northern historians. Washington himself cannot sustain as soldier, statesman or citizen a comparison with the last and greatest of the long list of Virginia heroes. [564] Not all the military exploits of all former American history thrown into one can count with the defence of thirty miles of slender earthworks by a force never from the first numbering more than 45,000, and at last dwindling to 28,000, against armies counting as potentially or actually available a quarter of a million. “Since the last Athenian covered his face with his mantle and mutely died,” the world has seen no such example of absolute, unconscious simplicity, utter self-devotion, patriotism, yet more signally exhibited in humiliating disaster than in a brilliant career of victory, as that shown by General Lee--the first military chief of the age, yet greater in the college than even in the camp; the noblest member of a splendid chilvary, yet most noble amid the ruins of his cause, his country, and his fortunes; the one true knight sans tache, sans peur, et sans reproche, the living embodiment of all that is grandest in the ideals of the past as of all that is simplest in the promised republican manhood of the future; ideal soldier, pattern Christian, selfless man, and stainless gentleman. Little as man can know of the ways of Providence, what indication, however clear, of the probable purposes of Heaven could for a moment countervail to my conscience or to yours the warranty given for the righteousness of a cause by the names of Stuart, Stonewall Jackson, and Robert Edward Lee?

We are willing that the world shall judge our cause and people, if only the world shall have the facts, and not the false and slanderous version with which the mind of the nations has been poisoned against us. Surely our people ought to sustain this Southern Historical Society, and place it on such a foundation that it may make itself still more potent at home and abroad in vindicating the truth of history.

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