Cassius M. Clay and the London Times--"Our Foreign Relations."
The letter from Cassius M. Clay
to the London Times
was briefly referred to yesterday.
We do not propose to burden our columns with the text of this letter, preferring to give the comments of the London Times
thereon, which are as follows:
This lively letter writer proposes six questions--three relating to his own country, three relating to England
The first question he is more successful in asking than answering: --"What are we fighting for?" "We are fighting," says Mr. Clay
, "for nationality and liberty." We can understand a fight for nationality between different races, but a fight for nationality between men of the same nationality is to us, we candidly confess it, an inexplicable enigma; nor can we better understand how a people fighting to put down a rebellion, to force their fellow-citizens to remain in a confederacy which they detest, and to submit to institutions which they repudiate, can be called the champions of liberty.
If the South
seriously threatened to conquer the North
, to put down trial by jury, freedom of the press and representative government, the contest might be for liberty; but, as this is not so, the introduction of such topics is mere rhetorical amplification. "Can you subdue the revolted States?" "Of course we can," says Mr. Clay
So on that point there is no more to be said.--"Can you re-construct the Union
when one-half of it has conquered the other?" "Nothing easier," says Mr. Clay
The victim of today will become the confederate of to-morrow; the traitors will be cast out, and the Union
firmer than ever — witness the happy results of the conquest of Ireland
, repeated over and over again, and always repeated in vain.
Having answered the questions which he supposes to be addressed to him by England
, Mr. Clay
becomes the questioner, and asks us where our honor would place us in this contest.
Clearly by the side of the Union
, because, he says, if slavery be extended in America
, it must be restored in the West Indies
.--If any one doubts the force of this demonstration, we are sorry for it, for Mr. Clay
has no other to offer.
Our examiner next asks us to consider our interests.
Clearly, he says, it is to stand by the Union
, because they are our best customers, and because, though they have done all they can, since the separation of the South
gave them the power, to ruin their trade with us, they will, in spite of their own hostile tariff, remain our best customers.
Lastly comes the momentous question, ‘"Can England
afford to offend the United States
? "’ ‘"Certainly not,"’ says Mr. Clay
, ‘"for in half a century they will amount to a hundred millions of people, and will have railways four thousand miles long. "’ But is Mr. Clay
quite sure that, even if we should offend them now, the people of America
will bear malice for half a century; and, if they do, is he quite certain that his hundred millions will all be members of one Confederacy, and that we may not then, as we might now, secure either half of the Union
as our ally in a war against the other?
must really allow us to give our own version of the honor and interest of England
Our honor and interest is to stand aloof from contests which in no way concern us: to be content with our own laws and liberties, without seeking to impose them upon others; ‘"to seek peace and insure it,"’ and to leave those who take to the sword to fall by the sword.
In war we will be strictly neutral; in peace we will be the friends of whatever power may emerge out of the frightful chaos through which Mr. Clay
sees his way so clearly.
And that neutrality which is recommended alike by our interest and our honor we will not violate through fear — no, not of a hundred millions of unborn men. Let Mr. Clay
and his countrymen look well to the present, and they will find enough to occupy their attention, without troubling themselves with long visions of humiliation and retribution, which no man now alive will ever see accomplished.
The New York Journal of Commerce has the good sense to comment as follows upon the impertinent effusion of the Kentucky Cassius
— a man who bears the name of Clay
to disgrace it, both at home and abroad:
The present Administration has the fortune to have secured the services of a jealous and earnest, if not a discreet champion, in the person of its newly-appointed Minister to Russia
, the valiant Cassius M. Clay
, of Kentucky
That gentleman lately arrived in England
on his way to the field of his official labors, and finding the tone of public sentiment there not quite in conformity with his own views of the American
question, forthwith writes a letter to the London Times, to instruct the English
nation in their duty and their interests.
To say nothing of the lack of propriety and of dignity, in thus forcing his opinions, unsolicited and probably undesired, upon the people of a country through which he was passing, on the way to another to which he was officially accredited, the letter of Mr. Clay
was in bad taste, and liable to damage the cause which it was doubtless intended to advance.
It does not appear to have occurred to Mr. Clay
that in the first place he was insulting the British
public by thus thrusting his opinions in their faces, while simply halting for a day or a few days on his passage to Russia
; and secondly, granting the propriety of place and occasion, that "British honor," "British interests," and the question whether "England
can afford to offend the great nation which will still be the 'United States of America
,' even should we lose part of the South
," are delicate subjects for an American diplomat to handle in the columns of an English newspaper, where no provocation or occasion has been given for such a departure from the usage of the Representatives
of our country abroad.
Had Mr. Clay
been the Ambassador
of the United States
instead of Russia
, it would have been manifestly improper thus to thrust great questions of the character discussed in his letter to the Times
before the British
people; and we cannot see how the case is materially changed by the fact that his mission is to Russia
instead, unless it be to give to the transaction an air of impudence when otherwise it would have been one of impropriety.
We need no better proof of the indiscretion of the act to which we refer, than the comments of the English
They regard it as an impertinent interference with questions belonging to the British Government
and people, and it can scarcely be doubted that the effect of the course pursued by Mr. Clay
, however well intended, must be to damage rather than promote the cause of our Government abroad.
Had he been a private citizen, invested with no official importance, his undertaking might pass for a specimen of the vanity which sometimes characterizes the action of Americans
; but the importance attached to his connection with the Administration, whose confidence in him has so recently been manifested by his selection for an important mission, will be likely to give undue prominence to the views which he has so unwisely sought to thrust upon the people of England
"our Foreign Relations."
The New York Herald, of Thursday, editorially says:
's dispatch to Mr. Dayton
is again criticised in a very sneering manner by the London Times, and another English journal does not hesitate to class Mr. Lincoln
's Cabinet and the insurgent Southern conclave of rebels as the two American factions.
Lord Palmerston says, through his London
organ, the Post, that Canada
will soon become the centre of commerce and emigration for the American
Our compilation from the foreign files, given to-day, in such connection, is worthy of serious consideration, and exhibits a manifest tendency towards an unfriendly policy to the Government
, which, if carried out, may result in giving England
a severe lesson, for which she is probably not prepared.
, M. P., who recently visited this country, in a speech to his constituents at Sunderland
, has gone far towards indoctrinating them with the idea of the right of secession at the South
and the necessity of maintaining the rebel cause.
This gentleman advises France
to step forward and proclaim the independence of the Southern Confederacy as the only means of allaying the thirst for blood which he says prevails at the North
Morning Post, Lord Palmerston's organ, asserts that the Southern States
were de facto
independent at the moment.
Under this heading the New York Express observes:
It was a favorite notion with not a few of our contemporaries quite lately that, if the present British Ministry would be so infatuated as to espouse the cause of the Montgomery Confederacy
, it would find its speedy account in ejection from office.
The opposition led on by the Earl
, it was never doubted, would be but too happy to avail themselves of Palmerston
's leanings towards the Cotton Confederacy
, to make them uncomfortable, at least, in their places, if not ultimately to compel her Majesty to seek other advisers.
This expectation was not an unreasonable one.
It was predicted upon the fallacy that the British
anti-slavery feeling was something more substantial than a sentiment, and that in a hand-to-hand contest with a "Government," the chief corner-stone of which, as acknowledged by Mr. Vice- President Stephens
, is negro slavery, English sympathy must all be on the side of the North
. --Never was there a greater delusion, as everybody may now see.
, so far from espous- ing "the cause of freedom," and making that cause a lever with which to oust Palmerston
from office, has taken the first opportunity to go a step or two in advance of them even, in favor of the Confederates
Witness his speech, on the 16th, in favor of treating privateers, not as pirates, but (we had almost said) as gentlemen.
That speech, now, together with the cold shoulder Lord Brougham has given them, ought to open the eyes of the Beechers, and Cheevers, here at home, to the truth we have ever been trying (in vain) to impress upon them — that the Abolitionists of Exeter Hall have for years and years only been using them to bring about a dissolution of the Union
--and that all their lip sympathy for "Liberty and Humanity" was but a bubble, which would collapse — as it has already collapsed — the moment "sentiment" came in contact with interest.