Our Navy — the Merrimac — the Richmond--Captain Bobadil. [For a forth coming No. of DeBow.]
Mankind in all ages and countries have been the dupes of Humbugs ! Quack medicines and laborsaving machines abounded among the Greeks and Romans almost as much as in our day. The Romans, who, like the Southrons, were an honest, truthful, unsuspicious, credulous people, addicted to war and abhorring trade, were continually duped, gulled and swindled, by cheats and charlatans from subject provinces, who had settled in Rome.
Phoenicians, Carthaginian, Jews and Greeks, (especially Arcadian,) were the Yankees of that day, who handled quack medicines, popular pumpkin seed, wooden nutmegs, and worthless warranted laborsaving machines, or things of like kind.
Men love simplicity and cheapness and hate what is laborious and costly, and hence lend a willing ear to every charlatan who promises great results from little labor or expense.
They are ever hoping and endeavoring to throw off the original curse which condemn them ‘"to earn their bread by the sweat of their face,"’ and to find out some easter mode of living by inventing perpetual motion, self propelling machinery, and cheap substitutes for the ordinary articles of food and clothing.
Mankind, and especially womankind, love to be humbugged.-- ‘ "For doubtless the pleasure, is as great Of being cheated as to cheat."
by George Fitzhugh.
The adroit Yankee pedlar never displays his wares and merchandize until the husband has ridden out ‘"Then Greek meets Greek,"’ for women pride themselves on their bargain making qualities, believe all the men are combined to cheat them, and are joyous and triumphant when they have fooled them and got the better in a trade. When husband returns and the pedlar has slipped off, how radiant and exultant with pleasure is the wife, as she displays her ‘ "great bargains"’ and tells how she ‘"footed the Yankee !"’ How crestfallen, when she learns that she has bought nothing but worthless counterfeits. But the husband is afraid to chide, or to laugh at her, else she might revive the story of the last great county auction sale, at which he got boozy, and bought bargains enough, in use less lumber, to fill half the cellar and the whole of the garret. Each sex loves to be humbugged, and exhibits the propensity in its own peculiar way. This war has brought forth the humbug mania in a new form. Short and cheap processes for perpetrating homicide on the grand scale are the order of the day; showing that if we cannot elevate ‘"murder"’ to a ‘"fine art."’ We will do better, and reduce it to a simple, safe, and certain mechanical process. Demand begets supply, and now that the Yankees are excluded from the Humbug market. Southrons aim to take their places. --Self-loading artillery that will fire a hundred times a minute, titles that are a sure shot at a thousand yards, and pistols, with a dozen barrels, that will shoot as far as rifle, almost invented. Cannon balls that will pierce any thickness of iron, and iron plating that will resist successfully any cannon ball, are plenty as blackberries. But the greatest of our inventions is the iron ram, the pets of the nation, one of which, barring unfortunate accidents, would suffice to butt down to Davy Jones's locker the whole of the Yankee navy. Barring accidents, wouldn't the Manassas, or the Merrimac, the Louisiana, the Mississippi, or the Arrases, have done all this? And won't the Richmond do it when she is finished?--when she is finished! We must be patient, and recollect that Rome was not built in a day, and ‘"that Nosh was a hundred years in building the ark" ’ For our part, we should be quite satisfied that our folks should be as long in building the Richmond, for we have some misgivings that her steam power will only suffice to carry her down the river in the current of a great freshet, and that it was require two steam tugs, when there is no current and a strong flood tides, to bring her up. Besides, it may be that the Yankees will be so mean as to came in at the breach which we make in our obstructions to let her out. But we are one of the few of little faith. The better opinion is, that she will vanquish the whole Yankee fleet in detail, or as is vulgarly said. ‘"she will bent bobtail."’ Now, we suspect that ‘ "bobtail"’ is a mere corruption of ‘"Bobadil,"’ and if so, the saying is quite classic. Our readers who are over fifty, and used to read, in early boyhood. ‘"Scott's Lesson,"’ no doubt have a vivid recollection of the valorous and redoubtable Captain Bobadil, and will probably agree with us. that this plan of whipping and destroying the whole Yankee fleet, in detail, with a few iron-clad rams, is stolon from the Captain, the Scene of action only being transferred from land to water. We can't find a copy of our friend and acquaintance, ‘"Scott's Lesson,"’ but by the help of a learned friend, who is curious in literary matters, we have hunted up the original and veritable Captain Bobadil, and found him ensconced in Ben. Johnson's comedy of ‘"Every man to his own humor,"’ Determined to vindicate originality and expose plagiarism, we will let the Captain speak for himself. "Bobadil.--I am a gentleman, and live here obscure and to myself; but were I known to Her Majesty and the Lords, observe me, I would undertake upon this forehead and life, for the public benefit of the State, not only to spare the entire lives of her subjects in general, but to save the one half, nay, three parts of her yearly charge in holding war, and against what enemy soever. And how would I do it, think you ? "Knowell.--Nay, I know not nor can I conceive. ‘"Robadil.--Why, thus, sir. I would select nineteen more, to myself, throughout the land; gentlemen they should be of good spirit, strong and able constitutions. I would chose them, sir, by an instinct, a character that I have, and I would teach those nine teen the special rules, as your punto, your reverse, your toccata, your imbroccata, your passado, your montanto, till they could all play, very near or altogether, as well as myself. This done — say the enemy even forty thousand strong; we twenty would come into the field the 1st of March, or thereabouts, and we would challenge twenty of the enemy. Well we would kill them. Challenge twenty more, kill them; twenty more, kill them too, and thus we would, every man, kill his twenty a day, that's twenty score; twenty score, that's two hundred a day.--five days a thousand, forty thousand, forty times five, five times forty, two hundred days, kill them all up by computation."’ Of course the enemy would be too honorable to double teams upon our iron clad rams, and would never think of building larger and more powerful iron-clad vessels of their own. To be serious, this whole scheme of improvising a navy is as gross a piece of charlatanry as ever was played off upon a credulous and confiding people. It cost us New Orleans, and all the Mississippi valley, except Vicksburg; it cost us Nashville and a great part of Tennessee and Kentucky, and would have cost us Richmond, but for the fortunate blowing up of the Merrimac. After that, we went seriously to work in obstructing and fortifying, the James river, and thus saved our capital, by the sacrifice of our favorite ram. Now, that most of the lams are at the bottom of the sea, or of the Mississippi, we begin to breathe freely, and to hope that, no longer confiding in such humbugs, we shall go about building forts, which will afford real protection and security to most of our rivers and harbors. Bonaparte, when England had destroyed his navy, had too much good sense to begin building up another. We suspect that the verdant young gentlemen of the press, who are continually urging on the Administration and the army to some rash coup de main, in order to end the war at once, have been pouring over the fabulous feats of Orlando, Rinaldo, and the other Paladius of Charlemagne, and, like Don Quixote, have run stark staring crazy.--As for the stump crators, who are equally clamorous in their demands for an immediate action that shall wipe out the enemy at a single blow, they know better, and are merely talking for Buncombe We should as soon suspect a monkey or Connection Yankee of running mad as a stump orator. --They are like the dealers at fare, who are always trying to get others drunk, but never get drunk themselves. The Secretary of the Navy has been very unjustly censured for doing too little. Like any other man placed in his situation he has done, or attempted, a great deal too much. When he came into office he found the Confederacy without a navy, without sailors, without a mercantile marine, and without ship builders, and the enemy threatening and ready to command all our rivers and harbors, with an overwhelming navy, an enormous mercantile marine, and with means and facilities to increase or renew them to any amount that might be needed. In fact, the Secretary found his office detrop, and himself superfluous and supernumerary. Had he been more than man, he would have resigned, and advised the nation not to attempt in the time of war to build up a navy, with no safe docks or harbors in which to build it, with no carpenters to construct it and no sailors to man it, after it should be constructed. But he was a man, an earnest, energetic, yet foolish man — and such men are the most mischievous and trouble some in the world, when they have to carve out work to keep alive their restless energies. Cromwell was one of this port, who, before the revolution had given him work to his taste, played bully, and kept his neighborhood in a continual row or quarrel. I very village and country neighborhood has a character of this sort, whose restless activity is venting itself in visionary homes and speculation or finding outlet in fends and fights. Such men nature intends for public, not private Our Secretary, circumstanced as be was, and constituted as hers, and, besides, urged in by stump orators, editors, street loungers, and the whole hard of outsiders, who profess, if they do not practice, the art of ‘ "Murder made Kasy."’ went to work most assiduously to improvise and build in of a sudden, a new fangled, unicorn navy, that promised to clear the Yankees from the sea in the shortest time imaginable. Taking the Yankees by surprise, it did pretty well at first, but is now one of the things of the past — and joy go with it, for it cost us a great goal of money, and diverted pait of our attention and of our strength, form the prosecution of old, tried, and established forms of defence. All military men, all historians, and all philosophers, know that ‘"murder"’ is an ‘"art"’ that never can be ‘"made easy,"’ because Individuals, communities and nations, valuing life more than anything else strive harder to protect, secure and defend life, than to preset anything else. We believe, had there been any room or occupation for the Secretary, that he would have made an excellent officer; but there being none, he realized and illustrated the truth of the nursery adage, that ‘"Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do"’ A well meaning but imprudent friend of the Secretary has let out some of his mischievous pranks, The whole are not told, because there are a great many rams now secretly being built which are in tended to take the Yankees by surprise, or, falling in that, to blow themselves up, in a most extraordinary and heroic way. From the Secretary's Handiwork, as furnished by his imprudent friend, we cite as follows: "The Merrimac, the Manassas, the McRae, the Jackson, the Carondolet, the Blenville, the Pamlico, the Livingston, the Pontchartrain, the General Polk, the Red River, the Savannah, the Huntress, the Lady Davis, the Resolute, the Sampson. Also, five small gunboats, constructed at Charleston and Savannah, and five purchased from the State of South Carolina--the St. Nicholas, the Patrick Henry, the Jamestown, the Arkansas, the Missouri, the Mississippi,&c., &c. All this was an idle waste of money; yet it was natural that the Secretary should buy or build these useless vessels; but most wrong and unnatural that the teachers of the ‘"Art of Murder Made Rasy."’ the non combatant outsiders, should abuse the Secretary for doing nothing, whilst he has been so assiduously engaged in their favorite plan of perpetrating homicide by new, easy, and cheap processes. Ever since the battles of Manassas and Bull Run they have been complaining that the war has not been ended by a ‘"corp de main"’ by some short, simple, and expeditions procedure, and yet censure the Secretary, who has been busily at work trying to invent new and easy ways to victory. --Will they never find out that to organize, discipline, and mobilize large armies requires length of time and vast expenditure of money? Will they never discover that eight millions of men can conquer twenty millions only by the combination and exercise of great skill, courage, caution, patience, and fortitude? The greatest stump orator that ever lived was Peter the Hermit. He turned General and set out for Asia and Jerusalem with three hundred thousand undisciplined troops, and without any plan of operations, just as our politicians, editors, and street longers would have had our undisciplined army set out for Washington after the battle of Manassas. He lost part of his army in Hungary and the balance in Asia. The next most conspicuous stump orator commander in chief that our knowledge of history enables us to cite is Abraham Lincoln. He took command of the United States forces last spring. They were then seven hundred thousand strong. We doubt if they number, now, more than three hundred thousand.--Old Abe Prince of the Satanic School of Stump Orators and unsurpassed at jokes and anecdotes, will boat Peter the Great, head of the Celestial School, and famous for prayer and preaching, at least one hundred thousand in the useless sacrifice of human life. War is not easy work, nor a simple process. It requires for its successful prosecution scientific education, minute, profound, and extensive knowledge of history; long training and experience, great courage skill, caution, and native ability. When we hear our Bobadil, who know nothing about it, criticising the conduct of our Generals, and thus impairing their usefulness, and begetting despondency and inertness among the people, we see and feel the necessity of a strict, and rigid censorship of the press and of speech, in times of war, at least. There is little danger of war precedents being used and relied on in times of peace. At all events, the liberty and independence of the Confederacy ought not to be jeoparded in order to indulge the too preeminent and licentious liberty of either press or speech. Too much liberty, not too little, is the master evil of the day, throughout Christendom. The whole object of law and government is to restrict liberty, not ‘"laisset faire,"’ to ‘"let alone,"’ as the political economists teach. Everything potent for good, misdirected, is equally potent for evil. Our armies have succeeded and by their success vindicated the wisdom of our Administration and of our Generals. But there are chances in war, and the best laid plans fail sometimes. Had they failed and the predictions of the croakers been verified, the Confederacy would have been ruined by the liberty of the press and liberty of speech. These liberties, when unrestricted, are the most dangerous of all others, because the press and free speech influence the conduct of men and societies of men more powerfully than any or all other agencies Stump orators and editors would have us believe that, like the King of England, ‘"they can do no wrong"’ We, who don't believe even in the Pope's infallibility, are much less inclined to believe or confine in theirs. ’