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Civil War Harper's Weekly, April 13, 1861

The April 13, 1861 edition of Harper's Weekly features news of the Civil War with important content on slavery and Abraham Lincoln. Newspaper thumbnails will take you to a large, readable version of that page.

 

Point Isabel, Texas

Point Isabel Description

A Slave Murder

Ft. Pickens

Scenes Around Ft. Pickens

Abe Lincoln Cartoon

Abe Lincoln Cartoon

 

A Slave Family

 

 

 

 

 

 

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

[APRIL 13, 18 61.

226

THE "DANIEL WEBSTER" AT
POINT ISABEL, TEXAS.

WE publish on page 225, from a drawing by Government draughtsman, a view of Point Isabel Texas, with the steamer Daniel Webster lying oil the coast. Point Isabel was a place of note in the Mexican war, and the name will be familiar to on readers. The Webster arrived here from thence, on Saturday, March 30, with United States troops.

The reporter of the Associated Press states :

"When the Webster sailed there were left at Fort Brown one company Third Artillery, Captain Dawson commanding, and two companies of Second Cavalry, Captain Stoneman commanding. The posts in the upper par of Texas had generally been abandoned, and the troop, were being concentrated on the sea-coast. Colonel Backus was at Fort Brown, and two companies Third Infantry under Major Sibley, were expected soon. The Indians followed the march of the troops, and committed great havoc among the people, killing some and running off their stock. Major Sibley chastised some of the savages. Great fear is felt all along the line of the Rio Grande, and indeed the whole frontier, of attack from Indians. Cortinas was understood to be simply waiting the departure of the Federal troops to recommence operations on a larger scale than heretofore, and in which he was checked by the army of last year.

" The Daniel Webster passed the Star of the West about two hundred miles off Tortugas. The Daniel Webster has had a remarkably pleasant passage, and the troops on board are all in fine health. When they reached Key West they found the people very much excited, and apparently not inclined to furnish them with fresh water ;but finding that the troops were determined to take by force, if necessary, whatever supplies were needed, they complied with the request, although with very ill grace. The troops which arrived here on Saturday in the Daniel Webster proceeded to Fort Hamilton Saturday night, where they will remain until further orders are received from headquarters."

 

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

SATURDAY, APRIL 13, 1861.

THE PRINCIPLE OF CENTRALIZATION.

GOVERNOR PICKENS, of South Carolina, in a Message recently transmitted to the Legislature of that State, asserts that South Carolina has " made an advance in the science of government by engrafting the fundamental right of a separate and independent State to withdraw from any confederacy that may be formed, whenever her people, in sovereign convention assembled, shall so decide."

We will not stop to question the merit of the " advance" which South Carolina is here said to have made. But we must say, in justice to the ancients, that Governor Pickens is stealing their laurels. If it be a credit to establish separate governments, and to maintain separate nationalities on either side of each mountain ridge or river, the glory is due to the men who lived a thousand years ago or thereabouts. Governor Pickens and his State are borrowing the scanty honors of the barons of the Middle Ages. For they it was who invented the system of small nationalities, and an endless series of secessions.

The events of the past few months have done much to shake our belief in the teachings of history, and in the grand old truths which are preached in the lives of such men as George Washington and Benedict Arnold. But still, facts are facts, and can not be controverted. It is a fact, for instance, that before Charlemagne, France consisted of a series of small nations like South Carolina, all warring against each other, and wasting their strength in internecine contests ; that he united them under one head, after which they began to prosper ; and that when his empire broke up, the " right of withdrawing from the empire whenever the people shall so decide" was invoked by various constituent parts of his realm, and France relapsed again into a congeries of independent States, which instantly made war on each other, and fought for centuries, breeding races of ignorant paupers, until another great man forcibly reunited the whole under one head, when, once more, France began to prosper. It is a fact again that, a thousand years ago, more or less, the little island from which our ancestors came was divided into no less than seven distinct kingdoms—to say nothing of Scotland ; and that these kingdoms, all of which insisted on separate national rights, were steeped in the deepest barbarism ; from which none of them emerged until the whole seven began to be united under one head. It is a fact that Italy—notwithstanding occasional gleams of energy and prosperity at Genoa and Venice—has never enjoyed any real national strength from the time of the Caesars, when it was under one head, until now, when the Kingdom of Italy is reconstituted. The same is true of Spain, Germany, and Russia.

In a word, the history of all nations is the same. At first, in a state of nature, every man is his neighbor's enemy, and fights him when occasion offers. By-and-by he discovers that friendship and mutual assistance are better than fighting, and he agrees to an association for mutual benefit. This is the village. This village naturally goes to war with neighboring villages, and, for several generations—as the history of our Indian tribes proves--these village wars go on, until some day the communities make the discovery which the individual had made before—that peace and co-operation are

better than war and disunion. Then several villages unite together, and form a county, a tribe, a State, or a province. The province or tribe or State follow the time-honored example, and war with other provinces, tribes, or States, until exhaustion and ripened intelligence teach them, too, the lesson that it is better to be friends than foes. Then several of the tribes or provinces or States unite, and constitute A NATION. This is the history of Great Britain ; it is the history of France; the history of Spain ; the history of Germany ; the history of Russia; and, we venture to say, it will be the history of America notwithstanding secession.

So far from the doctrine of secession being an improvement in political science invented by South Carolina, it is, on the contrary, one of the oldest of the doctrines of barbarous nations in the dark ages. Nothing is commoner, in ancient history, than the rebellions of minorities against the decision of majorities. It is ripened experience and enlarged civilization which alone have taught and enforced the great truth that minorities must yield to majorities, and yield peaceably ; and the same great teachers have also taught us that the tendency of civilization is toward the destruction of small and the consolidation of great nationalities.

The natural tendency of the wild man is to rebel against all authority, especially that which is not directly palpable to his senses. The natural tendency of the civilized man is to bow to constituted authority for the sake of its advantages. The idea of the Indian is to declare his little clan independent of all control save his own. This is what he calls independent national existence. The idea of the civilized man, on the contrary, is to widen as far as possible the limits of the nation to which he belongs. He knows that in doing so he must sacrifice some of his wishes ; but he wisely calculates that the gain he will realize from an enlarged nationality and freedom from strife will more than compensate him.

In one word, civilization centralizes. Barbarism divides. When the Roman Empire was in its glory, all the civilized world obeyed implicitly the decrees and the officers of the Senate. When it fell into ruin every province, every proconsulate, every town, and every castle set up for itself. Shall it devolve upon the future historian to report that when the United States were in their glory, the acts of the Congress were obeyed from the frontier of Russia to the frontier of Mexico ; but that the moment they broke up not only did each State deny the central authority, but many counties repudiated the power of their States, cities derided the superior control of counties, and strong places throughout the country arrogated to themselves an independent robber sovereignty?

THE PUBLIC CREDIT.

IT must be a matter of satisfaction to every true-hearted citizen that the public credit has begun to improve. In the spring of 1860 United States Sixes were worth at least 15 per cent. premium. In November of the same year a political panic, assisted by the flooding of the market with bonds stolen from the Indian trust fund, caused them to decline to 6 @ 7 discount. In February last, after the secession of the Cotton States, they were barely salable at 90 1/4 per cent. Now, in April, the Secretary of the Treasury asks for $8,000,000, and is offered $34,000,000 at an average of 93 50/100 per cent. The public credit is evidently improving.

In point of fact, there never existed any sufficient reason for the depreciation of Government bonds which has been witnessed. If the whole fifteen slave States had seceded from the Union, the remaining nineteen free States would have been abundantly able to pay the interest on the Federal debt, and to make arrangements for the principal at maturity. The decline in national credit proceeded from a want of back-bone in our financial community, and the knavish tricks of stock speculators.

The success of the new loan renders the negotiation of the Southern loan a matter of comparative certainty. Pride will oblige the wealthy men of the South to subscribe for their loan, now that the Northern loan has gone off so well.

The people in both sections will realize, in due time, that if they wish to enjoy the luxury of a Government they must pay for it. Savages retrench themselves in selfish independence, and leave their chiefs to support themselves by plundering the weak and levying toll on the cowardly. Civilized nations tax themselves voluntarily for the support of their Government, and the more onerous the tax the clearer the evidence of the satisfaction of the governed. Certain efforts which have lately been made to break down the credit of both Governments prove, that if we have still primitive people among us, they are powerless to oppose the en-lightened will of our people.

IN publishing last week the diagram of the "Ups and Downs of the States," we accidentally omitted to give due credit for it to Professor WM. MITCHELL GILLESPIE, LL.D., of Union College, to whom is due the conception

and the development of this striking manner of presenting to the eye at a single glance relations and variations which the largest study of mere numerical tables could with difficulty suggest.

THE LOUNGER

THE ACADEMY AGAIN.

LAST week we stopped in our tour through the Academy exhibition just as we were entering the third room. Stop a moment longer and look at these two notices of the Academy, which have fallen in our way since last week. One of them begins in this melancholy way :

'I It is in an eminent degree dispiriting to be forced to chronicle, year after year, the deterioration of the Academy exhibitions. Fewer good pictures, about the same number of tolerable ones, and an enormous increase of rubbish. If the annual exhibitions be practically, as they are in theory, an indication of the condition of painting in this country, the conclusion is inevitable, either that the Academy fails to fulfill its contemplated ends, or that the conditions essential to the steady growth of art do not yet exist among us."

How doleful that is ! On the other hand, The Crayon, which is the especial organ of Art, says, in a cheerful strain:

"The collection, numbering 576 works, is not quite so large as that or last year, nor is it so interesting, there being too few figure-subjects, which are always essential to render an exhibition effective. There are, nevertheless, many striking and excellent works—works that indicate a steady and rigorous growth of art."

There it is ! One man looks round the galleries and says, "Well, at least art is steadily growing among, us." Another looks about, shakes his head, and sighs, "Well, art hasn't even begun among us." Let us chime in with the more cheerful critic, and enter the Third Gallery.

This is devoted to the small pictures; but, unluckily, small pictures require to be seen separately to be fully appreciated. Here they press and squeeze, and, so to speak, overlap each other, so that they can not be fairly seen. All pictures want elbow-room. But the Third Gallery of the Academy is always like a crush at a ball—the simplest country girl and the most-gorgeous dowager are crowded into equal obscurity. The Third Gallery is the Grune Gewolbe of the exhibition, where the jewels and precious bits are heaped and massed so that even diamonds look dull. Do I mean to say that there are any diamonds here ? Perhaps. Look for yourself.

No. 297 is the Astronomer, by W. H. Beard. This picture the Lounger saw in Buffalo last autumn, and spoke of it then. Mr. Beard has opened a new vein of humor—the comedy of animal life. Of course the comedy is in the spectator's mind, and not in the animal's consciousness. It is the same spirit in which Koulbach illustrates the Reinike Fuchs and Grandville, Fontaine. Yet there is positive humor in the round-eyed owl on the bald mountain peak. The picture is a pleas-ant sarcasm. No. 334 is Mr. Church's sole contribution to the exhibition, the Star in the East. It is remarkable for the brilliancy of the star, and the illustration of his singular mastery of light.

There are other pictures to be seen here, but we will pass on, reserving the right to visit the Green Vault again ; and so we enter the Fourth Gallery.

No. 349 is Grimalkin's Dream, by Beard. The sleek cat sleeps, and dreams of fine fat poultry in her grasp, standing in the cloud-land of dreams, erect and humanly conscious, like Puss in Boots, as she displays her trophies. No. 374, The Culprit, is Eastman Johnson's best picture this year. It is a mere sketch, by no means so elaborately finished as the Husking, but a very faithful bit of nature. A little boy sits sullen upon a high stool in the corner. It is a good little boy, but some-thing has gone wrong. A cloud suddenly over-casts the sunny sky. It is all boy, and a happy picture. It must have been in Gallery number Four that the first critic I have quoted to-day conceived his article upon the exhibition. So let us hasten, before we surrender and entirely agree with him, to enter the Fifth Gallery.

A charming Portrait of a Lady, No. 424, by W. Oliver Stone, disposes us not to assent to the theory of the constant deterioration of American art. And No. 428, The Highlands from Shrewsbury River, by Kensett, makes us laugh that theory to scorn. It is a beautiful picture. The deep, soft shade of the hill-side, the glassy summer calm of the water, the idling sails, the universal rest—does this stream flow around Lotos-islands, or out of the land of dreams ? The quiet power, the grace, the transparency, the fidelity, and refinement of imagination, which are synonymous with his name, are all in this lovely work of Kensett's. A little beyond we come to the largest picture in the exhibition, No. 440, Dolce Far Niente—Italian Peasants—by William Page. When we sit down before this picture we ask no more of American art, for we think only of Venetian. Tintoretto might have painted this, or Paul Veronese—shall we dare to whisper, or Titian? Mr. Page evidently thinks that the Venetian masters understood the possibility of the art of painting more fully than any others ; that they knew how far pigments can go, and what key is necessary for a symmetrical picture. Therefore when you or I say that Tintoret might have painted this, I suppose we mean that Page has studied him as a great master of color, as you or I might have studied Jeremy Taylor, or Milton, or Addison as great masters of the language—by no means insinuating that any thing is imitated, in the baser sense.

The depth, and richness, and transparency of color in this work—the fleshiness of the flesh—the unshrinking imitation of the facts of nature in the costume and details—the vivid portraiture of the picturesque brutishness of the Campagna peasant, and the hopeless sadness of the impression of Italian country life, are equally remarkable here with the total want of power of composition—whatever that may be. It is not a question into which you

and I, who are in a great hurry, and are rapidly using up our space, wish to enter now : and the picture is so masterly and delightful in many ways that we ought to congratulate the Academy upon such a prize in the exhibition, and reserve our meditations upon the question whether the copying faithfully in form, and color, and chiaro-'scuro of any object whatsoever makes a picture ? Only let us ask as we turn away, sure to return to this seat many times in the season, if it be so, why are not Murillo's Madonnas as fine as Raphael's?

No. 489, Bears on a Bender, is a picture of Beard's, of which the Lounger has spoken before. The fidelity to bear nature is not less striking than the grotesque humor of the picture. And so we go on into the Sixth Gallery. No. 533, Gems for the Market, by Frank Howland, is a rich, glittering picture of Circassian Girls in a Slave-boat going to Constantinople, attended by eunuchs and guards. It is a vivid glimpse of the mingled bestiality and magnificence of Oriental life. The girls have the list. less, sugary prettiness of ignorant puppets, for they are scarcely more, and the sensuality, ferocity, and languor of their guardians are admirably depicted. It is a spirited and effective picture. No. 551, Indian Summer, by Jervis McEntee, is one of the best landscapes in the galleries. The dreamy pervasive haze of the pensive season is most delicately and truthfully rendered ; but the fault a Lounger would naturally find with the picture is, that so poetic an aspect of nature implies a more interesting pas-sage of scenery than the painter has chosen. In a picture of Indian Summer the eye craves dreamy distances of shining haze—the ghosts of hills that glimmer out of sight—a winding stream arched by a bridge—" a shallop flitting silken-sailed"—gold heaps of corn on a creaking wagon which drowsy oxen draw, while the driver lounges behind and cuts a sunflower with his lazy lash, brushing the asters as he goes. It is not fair to measure this excellent picture of McEntee's by any standard so arbitrary as this—nor do I mean to do so. Mr. McEntee is too thoughtful and—in the old sense—painful, an artist, not to know thoroughly why he selects one scene rather than another; and his Indian Summer is another indication of the rapidity with which his fine eye and faithful hand are raising him to the heights of fame.

—Here we stop for the present, and pass out. If other visits shall reveal other pictures as good as those already named, a loyal Lounger will not fail to mention them—quite sure, in the mean time, that, as long as an Academy exhibition will furnish even as many good pictures as this, we need not give up all hope of American art.

STICK TO YOUR LAST.

VERDI, the composer, has been elected a deputy to the Italian Congress, and has therefore declined alluring engagements from Russia and France. The Lounger's neighbor Terence is of opinion that Verdi is a fool for so doing ; that he makes a huge mistake. " Isn't he a musician?" cries Terence—" then why doesn't he stick to his trade ? Ne sutor ultra crepidam." (Terence graduated last year.) " Let the shoemaker stick to his last, as Apelles said to the cobbler who found fault with the slipper the artist had painted."

Terence says it of Verdi; but he means it of some people nearer home. Ile is polite, and does not wish to be personal, and so castigates inferentially. " Melodus is a poet," he said, speaking of a distinguished political gentleman ; " why doesn't he stick to poetry?"

" Bosh !" replied his friend Plautus, to whom Terence made the remark - " and you are a stockbroker; why the d— don't you leave politics alone, and stick to stockbroking? Yes, and why doesn't your brother," continued Plautus, energetically, carrying the war into Africa, as the classical Terence would allow if the debate were upon any other subject—" why doesn't your brother, who is a dry-goods merchant, stick to his dry goods—and your cousin, who is a wet-goods merchant, to his wet goods—and your uncle, who is a hatter, to his hats—and his brother, who is a watchmaker, to his watches—and his nephew, who is a manufacturer, to his manufactures—and his niece's husband, who is an iron man, to his iron— and the masons to their mortar, and the farmers to their plows, and the carpenters to their rules ? That's your argument, is it : Let every man stick to his trade, and not meddle with politics?

"Well, then, tell use who the —" (Plautus is profane when he is excited) "are to meddle with then? The politicians, of course, because politics is their trade. And they are notoriously the rottenest scamps in the country." (Plautus is vehement upon these occasions.) Then you propose that all the men of intelligence, and capacity, and honesty, who have every thing at stake under the Government, shall stand aside and let the rotten scamps who have made the name politician synonymous with all that is false, rule the country? That is where you come to, with your absurd talk about poets, and mechanics, and merchants, and lawyers, and clergymen having no business to meddle in politics.

" Why, Terence—bless your poor addled poll!--it has not yet got through your brain, it seems, that in our system, where the people are the Government, politics is the peculiar and sacred business of every citizen. Are your uncle, and brother, and cousins, are all your relations any less citizens because they are dealers in wet and dry goods? Why, in this country, even stock-brokers may be citizens; and when they are so, if they don't meddle with politics they don't do their duty, and they deserve every thing they get. Politics is or are—for I don't care a cent for grammar in a matter of this importance—the last of every citizen in the country, and, by Jove! let him stick to it. And when you or any of your tribe come puling round with your weak twaddle about people's minding their own business—you must excuse me, really ; but, by Jove ! I hope you will be told to your face that it is just such white-livered sneaks as you, who leave and have left the Government to


 

 

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