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The occasional execution of a Confederate officer (alleged to be a spy) in the Northern cities affords the masses at home an opportunity of seeing the death-struggles of a rebel, which could in no other way be gratified. It is not enough to read in the newspapers of killing the scoundrels, "way down South," but, by this new process, every man at home can have the banquet served up at his own table, and feast his own delicate senses upon the luxury. A nice young man, son of one of the "F. F. V.'s," if possible, in the morning of his existence, with a calm, determined face and a refined intellectual cast of features (as some of the newspapers describe it), hung up like a dog upon some trumpery charge, is a tit-bit for the million which each man can roll, like a sweet morsel, under his tongue. General Dix, who is entitled to the chief credit of bringing home to all classes of Northern society this cheap and popular luxury, must be considered a public benefactor. He may have borrowed the idea from the Roman Emperors, who used to entertain the Roman populace with the spectacle of captive enemies brought from distant climes, and put to death before the eyes of the assembled multitudes. But the Romans were barbarous, and compelled the miserable prisoners to fight each other, or to fight wild beasts, and to perish sword in hand, whereas General Dix works them off in the scientific and humane method of Newgate, and gives the public a fine political and moral lesson, calculated to invigorate their patriotism and refine their hearts. General Dix, who now occupies a position in the administration of Federal justice like that of Mr. Dennis, in Barnaby Rudge,--that is to say, chief hangman of that Government, --gave no promise in his former life of the peculiar eminence which he has now attained. He was a very sedate and exemplary person, figuring in church assemblies, and prominent at prayer-meetings, and as quiet and contemplative as a cat on a hearthrug before a good fire. He was not a soldier by profession, but as meek and merciful a creature as man ever set eyes on. It is possible that, even now, he is not gratifying any inherent taste for blood; but, by some subtle casuistry, has reconciled his conscience to the deeds he is performing, and really thinks he is doing his duty to God and his country. Well, we are all apt to judge ourselves with great lenity, and to take it for granted that our final Judge looks at our actions through our eyes. But an error on that point may be fatal, and if General Dix has been hanging innocent men, not because he had sufficient evidence of their guilt, but because he was afraid of the wrath of the Northern mob, his professions of piety and long prayers will fail to secure a verdict of "Not Guilty" for himself when he stands arraigned at the last tribunal for Murder.
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