At the beginning of this contest, there was one statesman of the South, now in his grave, who stood alone in the Confederacy, and we may almost say the continent, in his opinion of the probability of English intervention. This was the late John B. Floyd. He maintained, with distinctness and emphasis, that it was not merely the disruption of the old Union which England sought, but the material ruin of the two belligerents, in order that she might relieve herself of the commercial rivalry of the one and be in dependent of the cotton of the other; compelling the world to look to herself for not only the manufacture but the production of her own staple — an inferior kind, it is true, but still the best (Southern cotton out of the way) they could get.

We well recollect the incredulity with which these views of Governor Floyd were generally received, and yet time has set the seal of truth to every word he uttered, and added another to the many illustrations his life afforded of statesmanlike sagacity. It only needed the application to the probable policy of England of the infallible standard of self-interest to know what would be her course in this war. The interest of nations is their only principle, and England is certainly no exception. We speak of her as a government, not as a people, when we say that nowhere on the face of the earth, in ancient or modern times, can be found more intense selfishness than controls her councils. Her policy towards America, in particular, has been so cold-blooded and persistent in its purposes of self-aggrandizement and revenge that no penalty she can pay can ever reach the measure of her crime.

For thirty years she has labored with deep and unflagging determination to produce the disunion of the American States. She was actuated in those labors by the combined influences of interest and revenge. She never forgave the American Revolution. The loss of the most resplendent jewels of her crown was an unpardonable sin. The late war added a fresh flame, which has never yet been extinguished, to her bitter exasperation. The telling blows that Perry, Decatur, Hull, Chauncey, McDonough, and others, delivered, humbled her pride upon her favorite element. She would have forgiven the successes of General Scott in the North, and of Jackson in the South, but her naval disasters were a rankling thorn which the hand of time could neither extract nor soothe.--Up to that period, she had been the acknowledged naval mistress of that element, and it was necessary she should be so to protect the trade by which she lives, and to secure her existence as a first-rate Power. Napoleon once declared that, geographically, England was but a province of the Grand Empire, but between France and England rolled an ocean which even the genius of Napoleon could never bridge over to his coveted prey. Suddenly appeared upon the waters a flag which, for the first time, caused the meteor glories of the British banner to trail the sea. In all the late war she only gained two victories in the contest of ship to ship — a poor consolation for a long series of crushing defeats. Thenceforth the spell of British naval supremacy was broken. There was another nation whose sailors were as good as her own — a nation with nautical tastes and aptitudes, and with unlimited resources of ship- building and of men.

As time passed on, the commerce of this new rival began to overspread the world,--and not only her commerce — she produced in abundance cotton which could not be equalled in quality in any other part of the habitable globe. Her manufactures, moreover, began to improve; her western forests were cleared up with unexampled rapidity, and her population increased at a rate unexampled in the history of nations. If England stood idly by, the time was, evidently, not distant when her trans. Atlantic rival would overtop her own gigantic proportions, and drive her from the arena of commercial and manufacturing enterprise, and despite her power and influence among the nations. It was useless for her to attempt to get rid of this competition by war. Her experiments in that way had been too costly and fruitless to warrant their repetition. She, therefore, looked with eager eyes for some vulnerable point in the armor of the young giant, and thought she found it in the slavery institutions of the Southern States.

She had planted slavery here herself; she had poured in slaves upon us contrary to our earnest remonstrances; she had been the great slave trader of the world; but what mattered that? At once she made the discovery that slavery was the greatest of human abominations. Her public sentiment underwent at once a transformation little short of miraculous. All her organs of public opinion sounded the same emancipation note.--The pulpit, the press, the bar, the literature of England, became thoroughly saturated with the new philanthropy. The leaders of society gave the cold shoulder to slaveholders as the most execrable and wicked of mankind. All these influences were brought to bear upon the non-slaveholding communities of the United States. Emissaries, with their pockets lined with English gold, came to America to stimulate what was then a feeble anti-slavery sentiment in the North; to encourage the organization of Abolition societies; to circulate Abolition tracts; to inflame the Northern public mind against the institutions and principles of the South. For nearly thirty years England has been pushing on with her whole moral power, and, no doubt, such material aid as she could furtively render, a crusade which could have no other possible end than the disunion of the American States. The wedge was at last driven home, the once stately tree toppled to its foundation, the flames of war lighted a once peaceful land, and then, for the first time in thirty years, the conscience of England ceased to be exercised upon the subject of Slavery.--Since the war began, we have heard very little from England of that iniquity.--Since the war began, she has discovered that something can be said on both sides of that question; that slaveholders are not unmitigated monsters, but, on the contrary, are very chivalric and Christian gentlemen, who had been grossly misrepresented and misunderstood.

These newly acquired lights of intelligence do not, however, prevail upon her to afford us anything more than the light of her amiable countenance. She is not disposed to demonstrate her newborn sympathies by any practical works. She is careful to inform us by every mail that reaches this continent that she means to take sides with neither belligerent. She furnishes arms to both parties with indiscriminate impartiality, and hopes they will have a fair fight. It is possible she deplores our defeats, but surely not on our account. She would rejoice to see our blood flowing for a half century, or any other long period of time, so it did not exhaust our veins, till the North was equally exhausted. She fears that we may fall, because she apprehends that, in that event, she may be called upon to pay the arrears of a long account, and that both parties may find a new bond of union in vengeance for common wrongs.

In any event of this war, it is impossible that England should derive permanent advantage from the success, thus far, of her schemes. Her policy is as short sighted as it is malevolent. It will not take many years to neutralize the advantages her commerce has gained.--She has many enemies in the world, and there may be a combination hereafter which, proud and powerful as she is, may test, as it has never yet been tested, her strength and stability. Her policy has not gained her friends in either of the two warring nations on this continent. We are neither dolts nor idiots that we do not recognize in her the hand that has stimulated the passions and sharpened the swords that have drank our best blood.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
United States (United States) (1)
McDonough (Georgia, United States) (1)
France (France) (1)
Decatur (Illinois, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Napoleon (2)
John B. Floyd (2)
Scott (1)
Perry (1)
F. Jackson (1)
Hull (1)
Chauncey (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: