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I KNOW the sun shines, and the
lilacs are blowing, And Summer sends kisses by beautiful May
Oh ! to see all the treasures the
Spring is bestowing, And think—my boy Willie enlisted to-day!
It seems but a day since at
twilight, low humming, I rocked him to sleep with his cheek upon mine, While
Robby, the four-year old, watched for the coming Of father, adown the street's
It is many a year since my Harry
To come back no more in the
twilight or dawn; And Robby grew weary of watching, and started Alone, on the
journey his father had gone.
It is many a year—and this
At Robby's old window, I heard
the band play, And suddenly ceased dreaming over my knitting To recollect Willie
is twenty to-day;
And that, standing beside him
this soft May-day morning, The sun making gold of his wreathed cigar-smoke, I
saw in his sweet eyes and lips a faint warning, And choked down the tears when
he eagerly spoke :
"Dear mother, you know how those
traitors are crowing, They trample the folds of our flag in the dust; The boys
are all fire; and they wish I were going—" He stopped, but his eyes said, "Oh
say if I must!"
I smiled on the boy though my
heart it seemed breaking : My eyes filled with tears, so I turned them away, And
answered him, " Willie, 'tis well you are waking—. Go, act as your father would
bid you, to-day!"
I sit in the window and see the
flags flying, And dreamily list to the roll of the drum,
And smother the pain in my heart
that is lying, And bid all the fears in my bosom be dumb.
I shall sit in the window when
Summer is lying Out over the fields, and the honey-bees' hum
Lulls the rose at the porch from
her tremulous sighing, And watch for the face of my darling to come.
And if he should fall....his
young life he has given For Freedom's sweet sake.. ..and for me, I will pray
Once more with my Harry and Robby in heaven To meet the dear boy that enlisted
ALBION, NEW YORK.
SATURDAY, MAY 18, 1861.
MR. JEFFERSON DAVIS'S
JEFFERSON DAVIS, Ex-Senator from Mississippi,
has transmitted to the select council of rebels at
Montgomery a document which he calls " a
Message." It is a most ingenious and plausible statement of their case. Mr.
Jefferson Davis is renowned for having made the most specious argument on record
in justification of Mississippi repudiation. He has not forgotten his cunning.
His "Message" would almost persuade us—if we could forget facts and law—that
rebellion is right, and the maintenance of government and the enforcement of law
a barefaced usurpation. Unhappily for him, our common-school system, at the
North, impresses so indelibly upon our minds the cardinal facts and the
fundamental principles upon which our government rests that each reader will
refute his fallacies as they meet his eye.
The idea which constitutes the
basis of his theory is that of independent State sovereignty. He holds that no
State parted with its sovereign rights on the formation of the Union ; that the
Union was essentially a confederacy of States; and that each State which entered
into the partnership is as free to leave as it was to join it. In support of
this view Mr. Davis adduces a number of plausible arguments and some specious
statements of fact.
Mr. Davis overlooks several facts
and arguments which are rather more important than those which he alleges in
support of his peculiar views. It is undoubtedly true that an influential
political party has for many years upheld the doctrine of State sovereignty. But
their views amount to nothing when opposed to the naked fact that the
Constitution is a compact, not between States, but among " people." " We, the
people of the United States, for the purpose of forming a more perfect union,"
etc., are the words of the Constitution. If Mr. Davis and his confederates are
right in their understanding of the Constitution of the United States, why did
they alter it when they adopted a Constitution at Montgomery, and insert the
clause "each State acting in its separate sovereign capacity?" Is not this
amendment an admission that the old Constitution was not a league among States,
but among people ? Why, again, does not Mr. Davis make some explanation of the
case of Alabama, which State, by special act of its Legislature, declared that
it could not secede from the Union without the consent of the United States? Why
does he say nothing of Florida and Louisiana, which were bought, or of Texas,
which was only secured by force of arms—none of which States can therefore have
displayed much sovereignty in becoming members of the Union? These were
questions with which it would have been well for Mr. Davis to grapple, when he
undertook the justification of disunion on abstract legal grounds.
For our part, we don't think the
legal points involved in this disunion business worth discussing. Conceding all
that Mr. Davis claims in his argument, statesmen will recognize reasons superior
to any that he sets forth for maintaining the Union inviolate at all hazards.
When this Union was established,
eighty years ago, it consisted of 3,000,000 of people, scattered along the
Atlantic coast from the Penobscot to the coast of Florida. It is preposterous to
suppose that these 3,000,000 of dwellers by the sea-coast foresaw the nation
they were going to beget in eighty years : and it is absurd to pretend that the
principles by which they shaped their petty destiny must necessarily control
that of a nation of over 30,000,000 people, inhabiting the whole continent
between the oceans, and stretching from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Our growth
has created necessities—political and military—which were not dreamed of by the
founders of the Republic. It has compelled us to
purchase Louisiana and
Florida--purchases which would have seemed wholly unnecessary to the framers of
the Constitution, because, in their day, the necessity for them did not exist.
It has led to the establishment of the Monroe doctrine, which the limited sphere
of the original thirteen States would have never suggested to their imagination.
And now, it compels us to put down secession by force of arms, notwithstanding
that one or two of the original thirteen States did, eighty years ago, in the
different circumstances of that day, contemplate such a resort.
Events modify the policy of
nations. Eighty years ago, the experiment of a great independent nation on
American soil was undetermined. Many sound minds believed that it would not
answer. Under those circumstances, it is easy to understand why a prosperous
State like New York, with a fine harbor and a promising commercial future,
should have reserved the right of withdrawing from the experimental Confederacy,
if it proved a failure. But the reservation became null and void after the
experiment was proved to be a success by eighty years' successful working, and
by the consolidation of the original three millions of maritime people into a
great and wealthy nation of thirty millions. All the reservations, express or
implied, which accompanied the Acts of the original ,thirteen State Legislatures
ratifying the Constitution, were predicated upon the apprehension that the Union
experiment might prove a failure. Its success did away with them all.
From the moment the people of the
United States constituted a great nation, a political and military necessity for
union came into existence. This necessity was vital and paramount. It was the
only possible guarantee they could obtain for peace, growth, and prosperity.
Without union, incessant intestine wars were inevitable. Without union, they
could never have assumed a commanding rank among nations ; never have been
secure from the ambitious designs of foreign invaders ; never have efficiently
protected their commerce or their citizens abroad ; never have developed their
free political institutions at home.
For these vital
considerations—involving not only the progress and prosperity but the liberties
and existence of the nation—good men hold that, even if every original State had
expressly reserved the right of secession in ratifying the Constitution, it
would still be our duty to fight to the last to resist secession now, under the
altered circumstances in which we are placed.
But the hour for argument has
passed. Mr. Davis has called 100,000 men into the field, and commits the destiny
of his rebellion to the arbitrament of arms. The United States accept the
challenge. Heaven knows they have been long-suffering enough. They have
submitted to see their forts seized, their revenue-cutters stolen, their
arsenals plundered, their citizens outraged, their flag fired upon, their
officers exiled, their authority defied and insulted in every possible way. At
last they have arisen in their might, and as we write the war has begun. It is a
sad, a cruel emergency to all of us. But the die is now cast ; and we can only
say, in buckling on our armor — GOD DEFEND THE RIGHT !
THE readers of the early numbers
of Harper's Weekly will remember the pleasant gossip of town life published in
these very columns under the title of " The Bohemian." They were written by
Edward G. P. Wilkins, whose name became subsequently well known as the author of
several successful plays, the latest of which was "Henriette." Mr. Wilkins was
the dramatic critic of the Herald, and wrote airy and sparkling feuilletons for
the Saturday Press. His peculiar gifts promised a conspicuous career ; but a
brief illness ended his life on the 4th of May.
Personally, " The Bohemian" was
unknown to the Lounger ; but he was well known to him, as to others, through the
warm words of admiring friends. And now that the pen of the kindly critic and
genial author is laid aside forever, there is a melancholy fitness in naming him
here, scattering rosemary upon his early grave.
"ALL that we want," says Mr. Jeff
Davis, " is to be let alone." All that the rebels in
Charleston wanted, when
they were for five months building batteries to fire upon the United States flag
and take a United States fortress, was to be let alone.
All that the rebels of
Orleans wanted, when they stole the Mint, was to be let alone. All that General
Braxton Bragg wanted, as he concentrated troops and reared batteries against
Fort Pickens, was to be let alone. All that the rebels who took the navy-yard
and hospitals at Pensacola wanted was to be let alone. All that Floyd wanted, as
he robbed the treasury of the United States and put the arms of the people of
the country within reach of the rebellion, was to be let alone. All that Toucey
wanted, as he sent the ships away and put the navy-yards into the hands of weak
men, was to be let alone. All that Cobb wanted, as he strained himself to create
a disastrous financial panic in the country, was to be let alone. All that the
Virginia traitors who went to seize the
arsenal at Harper's Ferry, and were
going to possess the navy-yard at Gosport, wanted was to be let alone. All that
the Baltimore Plug Uglies want at this moment is to be let alone. And Jeff
Davis, at the head of a rebellion which struggles to destroy the government of
the United States, and would snatch Washington if it could, merely wants to be
let alone. Yes, and Guy Fawkes going to touch the slow-match which should
explode the powder in the cellar of the Parliament House only wanted to be let
alone. Hicks, who murdered the sloop's crew last year, only wanted to be let
alone. The forger writing your name, the incendiary kindling your store, the
thief picking your pocket, the burglar breaking into your house, only want to be
My friend, if you cry out so
lustily, when you see the sheriff's officer coming, that you want to be let
alone, I shall do my best to detain you until the officer comes up.
During all the years in which the
mind of a section of the country has been carefully prepared for this rebellion,
the leaders of the movement and their friends have said, politely, " All that we
wish is to be let alone. We think that we understand ourselves better than you
understand us—so, if you please, only let us alone." There was an inexpressible
sarcasm in this request. They certainly did understand themselves better than we
understood them. They were " let alone"—and this is the consequence.
They have led us by the nose, and
kicked us, and laughed at us, and scorned us in their very souls as cravens and
tuppenny tinkers. They have swelled, and swaggered, and sworn, and lorded it in
Washington and at the North, as if they were peculiarly gentlemen, because they
lived by the labor of wretched men and women whom they did not pay—whom they
sold to pay their debts, and whipped and maimed savagely at their pleasure. They
have snorted superciliously about their rights, while they deprived four
millions of human beings of all rights whatsoever, and have sought to gain such
control of the General Government that they might override altogether the state
laws which protect the equal rights of men. They have aimed to destroy the
beneficent popular system which peacefully and patiently and lawfully was
working out the great problem of civilization; and while they have been digging
about the foundations of the temple to make sure of its downfall, they have
loftily replied to our inquiries, " We only want to be let alone."
The treachery, the meanness, of
the whole rebellion now stand exposed to the world. There is nothing heroic in
it, nothing just, nothing fair: nothing that appeals to any emotion in the
breast of honest men but detestation and contempt. The only two things that have
lately flourished in the region which has bred this rebellion are cotton and
treason. And the conspirators, who have now made this clear enough to the
dullest mind, will discover that the Government of their country will "let them
alone" only when they have paid the penalty of the most monstrous social crime
by flight or the halter, and when the seeds of the treason they have sown are
THERE are times when neutrality
is impossible, because neutrality implies inaction, and inaction necessarily
favors one party more than the other. If a man sees another running toward him
followed by the cry of stop thief, and stands aside upon the plea that he wishes
to be neutral, he helps the thief and does all he can at the moment to encourage
robbery. Or when a riot breaks out and the military are called upon to quell it,
every soldier who refuses to march because he does not care whether the rioters
are suppressed or victorious, is responsible in his degree for the consequences
of the riot.
When the Government of the United
States summons all loyal citizens to help resist a rebellion, if any citizen
says that the troops shall not march over his land to reach the rebels, he is
one of the rebels whom the troops are to put down. His inaction is simply a
barrier between the criminal and the officer. So when Kentucky or Maryland or
Missouri talk about neutrality in this contest they assert the very principle of
the superiority of the State to the National power, which is the life-blood of
the whole treason.
There is no necessary conflict
between the State and National authorities. The Constitution of the United
States declares that all laws which shall be made in pursuance of the
Constitution "shall be the supreme law of the land, any thing in the
constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding." The
President swears to support those laws, and he is made commander of the whole
force of the country for that purpose. If any body is dissatisfied with the
operation of those laws he has a two-fold remedy : he may endeavor to change the
policy of Congress that laws objectionable to him may be repealed, and if they
were objectionable to the greater number of citizens, they will be repealed. In
the second place, he may bring his action in the Supreme Court of the United
When, therefore, the
calls upon the country to sustain the laws and the Government by force of arms,
whoever cries hands off is a rebel. If, for instance, the people of Kentucky
the Government of the United
States should be maintained, and to maintain it, it should be necessary to march
loyal citizens through the State of Kentucky, what do they mean when they say
that those citizens shall not come? They mean that they don't care whether that
Government is maintained or not.
Of course there are plenty of
loyal men in Kentucky. But they are not enough to put the State upon a loyal
footing. There are so many disloyal men that the friends of the Government agree
to compromise upon this vague ground of neutrality. They can not stand there.
Either the loyal men will openly fight under the flag of the country, or the
disloyal men will run up the rattlesnake. Because the Government, maintaining
its authority over all the domain of the United States, will move wherever it is
necessary to move. Whoever impedes its movement is a traitor, and must be so
THE CORE OF THE REBELLION.
THE pleasantest and aptest
reading in these days is our Revolutionary history and literature. It is good to
see what the men who made this Government thought and said, for it is an
inspiration to those who are now maintaining and defending it. "The cause of the
United States," said the Continental Congress as it resigned its functions, "is
the cause of human nature." In the introduction to " Common Sense"—the pamphlet
which crystallized the revolution of the colonies for independence—Thomas Paine
had written: "The cause of America is, in a great measure, the cause of all
mankind." When William Moultrie, with his pipe in his mouth, held the fort,
which bears his name, against Sir Peter Parker, the flag under which he fought
was a white flag with a crescent and the motto " Liberty." The Virginia
Declaration of Rights was the germ of the
Declaration of Independence. It was
drawn by George Mason, in a convention of which Edmund Pendleton was President,
and Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Patrick Henry, George Mason, Archibald
Cary, and Richard Blond were members. This paper, which is still the Bill of
Rights of Virginia, struck a higher key in the morals and philosophy of human
society than had ever been sounded. It declared that " All men are by nature
equally free, and have inherent rights of which when they enter into a state of
society, they can not, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity :
namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and
possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety."
Then came the Declaration of
Independence, which every inhabitant of the country should read certainly once a
year, that he may clearly understand the American theory of the rightful origin
of government, and that the revolutionary principle, as it is called, is not
anarchy, but the assertion of the right of the last desperate resource when life
and liberty and property are no longer protected by the government.
This knowledge is the more
necessary because the Davis rebellion, in the last emergency, undertakes to
justify itself upon the plea of the right of revolution. Before that can be
sustained, however, it is for the rebels to show that in any particular, or at
any time, the Government of the United States has injured their lives,
liberties, or property. They do not dare to say it. They assert simply that
certain men and women are property, and then assume that the Government of the
United States may at some time, and in some way, interfere with that property,
and therefore, to avoid the chance, they will try to break up that Government.
This is the substance of Davis's message and of Stephens's recent speech.
The American Revolution was
fought upon the principle that all men have an equal right to life, liberty, and
the pursuit of happiness, and that therefore Government must be founded on
common consent ; and the Jeff Davis rebels are trying to destroy the Government
lest in some way it should prevent their depriving certain people of those
rights at their pleasure. That a body of men should attempt the destruction of a
Government which secures these fundamental rights to the great majority is bad
enough ; but that they should attempt it because it may, by its lawful and
peaceful operation, ultimately secure them to all, is devilish.
Let it, then, be distinctly
understood that this
Jeff Davis rebellion is an effort to override the normal
operation of our Government by the merest Mexican anarchy ; and it is pushed
with this desperation because the late election shows that, under the peaceful
operation of our political system—the most just and benign known in history—the
barbarism which has clogged and disgraced us as a nation will be surely and
safely eliminated from our society. It is an insurrection against the common
sense and common conscience of mankind, and against the inevitable course of
THE SECRETARY OF STATE.
THE letter of
Secretary Seward to
Mr. Dayton, Minister to France, ought to convince the most skeptical that there
is no man who more clearly comprehends this crisis than the Secretary of State.
Certainly no honest statesman was ever more suspected and abused than he has
been ; and yet he has been calmly consistent from the beginning.
Believing that it was necessary
to exhaust every chance of pacific settlement, not from timidity or ignorance of
the nationality of our Government, but in order to consolidate public opinion at
home and destroy all pretense of premature severity which might be urged by the
rebellion to foreign courts, Mr. Seward's policy, both as Senator and Secretary,
has been to put the rebels utterly in the wrong, that their moral defeat might
precede their discomfiture in battle. No other policy than this could have saved
the Government, for no other could have so indissolubly joined the hearts and
hands of loyal men. Mr. Seward has been called (Next