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Mr. Russell's letters to the London times.

‘"Our Own"’ Criticises Mr. Seward and his Lake and Sea-coast defence circular — the Politician's Anxiety for a War with England, &c.

[from the special Correspondence of the London Times.]

Washington, Oct. 19.
--In my last letter, in the hurry of closing the envelope, a copy of Mr. Seward's circular and some remarks upon it were omitted; but the omission is of little consequence, as the mail must have taken over the document and the news of the effect produced by it in New York and other cities of the United States. The immediate impression in every one's mind was, ‘"Mr. Seward is aware of some action on the part of England, which must result in war"’ ‘"The Secretary is bent on doing something which will lead to a war with England"’ I infer these reflections from the words of many people I met last week.

The whole American people will, I doubt not, sustain Mr. Seward's tone and position, and certainly the dispatch to which he had to reply was not a very remarkable one, not quite worthy, perhaps, of the Foreign Office. The effect of these arguments will be best treated at the other side of the Atlantic, but it may be remarked that the cases selected for remonstrance were far from being the strongest that could have been found. Every word that comes from Great Britain, every act that is done by her, is closely — nay, unjustly — construed by Americans. She may not look over the hedge, while France can steal a horse if she please. The suspicious jealous, shrewish young lady detects foul play in every movement of her mother-in-law, and will ‘"brave none of that."’

I actually heard an officer find fault with Lieut Grant, of Her Majesty's ship Steady, because he was not quite pleased with the Captain of the United States ship Vandalia, off Charleston, for firing a round shot across his bows to bring him to. This one reads continually of the good faith of France in her neutrality and of the perfidy of England. When the French officers in the Crimean snubbed Gen. McClellan and his brother commissioners, not a word was said of it aloud, nor was there, on the other hand the least expression of satisfaction at the cordial reception of the commissioners by the English authorities, and but for Col. Delafield's report nothing would have been known of the facts. Had the case been reversed we should have been threatened with nothing short of war — a menace, by the by, which might almost be stereotyped in some of the most widely read, and therefore least influential of the American journals.

Since my last letter up to this date little has occurred of interest or importance. Reconnaissances have pushed out carefully from the front of the Federal army, and have discovered as far as Fairfax and Vienna — even to creeks below Alexandria and along the road to Drainsville — that the enemy are not in force and do not hold the ground; but that they are in observation, and have their troops well thrown back towards the old position at Manassas.

It is believed that the Confederates know every move of their opponents, who are not at all so fortunate. The negro population are thought to act for their masters with zeal and fidelity. We heard of regiments and guards of colored people down South, and when the Confederates were at Munson's Hill one of their most forward skirmishes — an indefatigable fellow, always loading and firing — was a black man. There has been no great reinforcements received by this army lately, in consequence of the diversion of Ohio and Illinois and Indiana troops to the State of Kentucky and to the West, and the largest estimate of the forces in the field does not raise it much above the numbers given in one of my recent letters. It is in the New England States, and the emigration from them in the West, which have put forth their strength in the war for the Union, and the Puritan and Quaker element of the other States has been animated by a similar spirit. In the regiments in camp there are prayer meetings, and preaching, and revivals, and Young Men's Christian Associations; the Colonels give benediction, the Majors preach, the sergeants pray, and the battalions march, singing sternly--

"Old John Brown lies a mouldering in his grave, But his soul is marching on;
Hallelujah, Hallelujah,
Hallelujah, Hallelujah,
"Old John Brown lies a mouldering in his grave, But his soul is marching on."

’ No army was ever so well provided, in quantity at all events with chaplains, and in some men's minds the war for the Union is a crusade for all that is good and holy in the world. The gulf that separated Christian Knight from Saracen Emir was not wider than that which divides the Northern volunteer from the Southern chivalry. The contest over, new political relations may be established, but France and England will not be more distinct. There seems to be no apprehensions that this great mass of armed men cannot be disposed of by a few circulars.

They are an immense power in the States and of the State, and they can determine issues not only with their votes, but with their bayonets. The regular army, of course, views its volunteer associates with feelings it dares not express. But each is a check upon the other, and, while the former would gladly reform some of the mischiefs, as they conceived, of Democracy, as it exists here, and would resist any attempt to turn this into an abolition war, the latter have determined to keep the power they have got, and are leavened by a strong and slavery feeling, which in some regiments is nearly unanimous. It is scarcely possible to imagine any feeling in life for which a man will be as well fitted after three years absence as he was when he left it. What a rift three years can make in the purposes of a life. To suppose that the immense mass of men collected here can ever return to their usual avocations is to give them credit for more tenacity in civil pursuits than human nature exhibits generally elsewhere. What will be their humor at the end of the war if it lasts three years? They will be entitled to their discharge, but long before that the farm must have found some other superintendence, the trade and the profession must have gone to the dogs, and to tens of thousands eleven dollars a month and food and clothes must be a better thing in the present than anything in the future can offer to them.

They have pay, subsistence, clothing, pensions, ‘"bounty lands,"’ just the same as the regulars. They have, however, the privilege of electing their own officers, to a great extent, which is open to many objections. Law or custom induces the Governors of the States to leave to the men of the companies of the State Volunteers the nomination of their captains and subalterns and the habit of acting so as to please the men, becomes inveterate in any officer who has once gained a certain amount of favor and hopes to procure higher advancement. It will be a very glorious proof of the patriotism and purity of the American people, if they overcome all temptations which usually beset men in power, and lay down that which they have had conferred on them for a special object as soon as it shall have been accomplished. To all but the eye of Faith that object is still far off indeed. Matters in Missouri are no better. What would be thought in London if an enemy's battery were playing on the shipping below Blackwall? In Kentucky the Federalists do not appear to have gained much, if anything, and the Union party there confess they must have the aid of troops from the other States, or they cannot hold their own against the bold and enterprising Confederates.

The money is flowing now to the extent of some $1,000,000 a day or more — that is, the notes are; for Mr. Chase, to the immense delight of the New York bankers, has left several millions of loan in their vaults, on which they have been drawing their interest since the date of the first instalment.

The Treasury notes are now regularly in circulation, and are rather liked than other wise, and, as General Scott pointed out, they are found to be convenient by the soldiers, who were formerly paid in gold exclusively, and had difficulty in transmitting their pay to their friends at home, as there is no system of money orders known to the post-offices of this country.

October 20th.--Gen. McClellan--in some perplexity, probably in reference to the course to be adopted towards such an elastic enemy, who gives way before pressure only to spring out when it is removed, or to spread out into some new quarter — ordered a reconnaissance yesterday morning in the direction of Fairfax Court-House and Flint Hill, and the creek called Difficult.

As the good Virginians never made any map of their country of value for military purposes — or, in other words, of accuracy or minuteness of detail, it was essential to procure an idea of this part of the theatre of operations, and the topographical engineers who have been at work laying down authentic plans of hill, dale, ravine, and by-path, were in requisition once more Gen. McDowell had no such advantages. He was shoved ‘"on to Richmond"’ without knowing anything of the country, except what he could learn from ill-disposed natives and his own eyes as he advanced, for the engineers could do little to assist him; and their efforts to reconnoitre on the Thursday before Bull's Run served only to show they were dangerous and futile.--Gen. McClellan left his quarters in Washington on Friday, and ... gave rise to many of the queer eccentricities of expression called rumors. It must be pleasant to get away sometimes from Cabinet Ministers and statesmen, though, truth to tell, the General is not much concerned about keeping them waiting, for as yet he feels his legs very strong under him.

He is standing on the supports of all the United States, but one step may make him know his feet are of clay — that soft end yielding stuff which is only to be hardened in the fire of victorious battle. His quarters are in a pleasant house at the corner of a square — not unlike that of Gordon and Easton. By day the doors and windows are open; a sentry in blue tunic, blue cap blue trousers, all without what are called facings, brass buttons, with a distracted eagle there upon, and a waist belt with a brass buckle inscribed ‘"U. S.,"’ walks up and down, generally with a pipe or cigar in his mouth and his firelock carried horizontally over his shoulder, so as to bring the bayonet on a level with any eye of which the unwary owner may be coming round the corner. Several dragoon horses are hitched up by the rail and the r es along the pavement, standing patiently and good-naturedly as american horses are won't to do or, at most, stamping and flicking off the flies which in the United States try patience and good temper so hardly. At the doors are ready orderlies, two quick, intelligent young men, who are civil without being servile, and who, in being so, afford some contrast to the various very independent soldiers lounging or sitting on the steps reading newspapers and wailing answers to their messages.

There is a sort of ‘"open sesame"’ air about the place which does not prevent the secrets in side being well kept. In the parlors are seated officers and visitors, smoking or talking. The tables are covered with a litter of papers and journals, and torn envelopes, and the clacking tongue of the telegraph instrument resounds through the building. The General is generally up stairs, and sundry gentle gerbert the entrance to his presence, nor is he destitute of the art of making himself invisible when he pleases. His staff are excellent men, I am told, so far as my personal experience goes, nor could any commander be served more efficiently than the General is by such men as Brigadier General Vanvilet, or Colonel Hunson, notwithstanding the absence of a good deal of stiffness which marks the approach to some headquarters, as General found when he and his brother Commissioner sought in vain to obtain access to Marshal Pelissier in the Crimea.

the General, a short time ago an employee on the General Illinois Railway, but still with so much of the old spirit in him that he studied closely all the movements of that short Italian campaign, of which he is not doomed to give a counter part in this part of the world, is a nocturne, and at the close of long laborious days, works hard and fast late into the night, till sleep pursues and overtakes him, when he surrenders readily, for he has one of those natures which need a fair share of rest, capable though they be of great exertion without it on occasion. He works hard, too, in the saddle; and when the business of the morning has been dispatched, off he goes, attended by a few officers and a small escort of orderlies and troops across the Potomac, visiting the camps, examining the positions, eating where for tune spreads the board, and returning generally after nightfall, to look over the reports, to issue orders, to baffle little politicians, and to stand on the defensive against those of larger dimensions.

Here he is natural, but vigilant — candid, but prudent, tobacco ruminant, or fumigant, full of life, and yet contemplative — of a temper, indeed, which seems to take some of its color from that of the accidents of its surrounding in time and place. Extraordinary acts are ascribed to him of which he knows nothing. He is the ‘"Haroun Arachnoid"’ of the journalist. At one time, attired as a vivandieres, he is testing the quality of lager beer; again, as a simple volunteer he is visiting the Commissariat stores and making practical experiments on bread and meat. Anon, he is encountered as a vidette, or starts out of a wood with embrowned face as a contraband, and before the week is over he has done everything except the thing he has been really engaged in Oh, ‘"Young Napoleon,"’ what a dreadful hundred days are in store for you. One can fancy even row the soldier sighing for the angulus iste in the palatial building devoted to the labors of Central Illinois officials at Chicago.

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