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Civil War Harper's Weekly, May 10, 1862

We have posted all the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War to this WEB site. This archive serves as an invaluable research tool to see first edition reports on the key events of the War.

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Democrats and Slavery

Democratic Party's Position on Slavery

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HARPER'S WEEKLY.

[MAY 10, 1862.

290

OUR SUCCESS.

THE regular circulation of Harper's Weekly is now between ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-FIVE and ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY THOUSAND copies. Assuming that each number of the paper is read by ten persons—a moderate estimate—a million and a quarter people derive instruction and amusement from this journal. It affords us no little satisfaction to witness this success. Certainly we may say that no effort on our part has been wanting to deserve it.

Our weekly expenses for traveling artists are alone as heavy as our total outlay for artistic labor used to be when Harper's Weekly was first established. This out-lay, however, enables us to depict, week by week, the progress of our arms along the whole circumference of the Rebellion, with a fidelity and vividness seldom equaled.

We are besides enabled to lay before our readers each week several pages of the best reading of the day, including the works of Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and Bulwer. So remarkable a combination of artistic and literary excellences has never been presented in any journal, either in this country or abroad.

We think that this Number, for instance, will bear comparison with any number of any paper ever produced in the United States or in Europe. 

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

SATURDAY, MAY 10, 1862.

DEMOCRACY ON TRIAL.

DURING the Crimean war the late Prince Albert was furiously abused by the British people for saying, in a public speech, that constitutional monarchy was on trial. What he meant was, that the pending contest would test whether it was possible to carry on a great war without interfering with the free institutions which were established for peace-time. The event proved that the British system was equal to the test. The war was brought to a successful close without any violation of the laws established for the government of the British empire in time of peace. It must be remarked, however, that the war was prosecuted at a point several thousand miles distant from Great Britain; that England's trade with Russia was very limited; that the chief commerce of Great Britain was not injured by the war; and that the number of individuals whose private interests were affected by the war was very small indeed.

In these important aspects the pending war in this country differs essentially from the Russian war, and it is reasonable to assume that its bearing on our peace institutions must be widely dissimilar. The war is carried on at our own doors, with a people most closely allied to us by ties of marriage, association, and commerce; it has crippled our trade, and gravely impaired our industrial energy; and the number of persons whose interests are directly affected by it is enormous.

These essential differences explain why it was necessary, in this country, to do what was not required in England during the contest of 1854-'5; namely, to suspend the operations of those great free institutions which, in peace-time, are the main bulwark of popular liberty.

It must always be borne in mind by the candid observer that since history began there never was such a rebellion as the one we are now suppressing. The rebellion of Catiline, to which it has been compared, was only able to raise 5000 men, and of these a large portion had no better arms than clubs. The famous rebellions which constitute so important a part of the history of Great Britain and France were trumpery little disturbances in comparison with the Southern insurrection. A faint resemblance may be traced between the present contest in this country and the religious wars in Europe; but the latter, it will be seen at once on examination, were very diminutive prototypes of the present struggle. In all the religious wars in England and France there was no more bloody contest than the Battle of Winchester, which the historian will class among the minor fights of the present war. History contains no example of 8,000,000 people rebelling against 20,000,000 of their countrymen, and bowing so completely to the lead of fanatic leaders as to submit to be forced by conscription into military service. There never was an instance before of a country raising a million of men to fight each other. Nor was there ever a war, before the present one, which inflicted such wholesale misery upon the country which first took up arms; which involved so fearful an injury to peaceful commerce; which developed so much treachery on the part of persons in public employ; which brought to light such diabolical treason and such heartless perfidy. The honest historian will stand aghast when he discovers the progressive developments of the scheme of secession.

These unparalleled facts will constitute the historical apology for the violations of law perpetrated by the authority of President Lincoln. They will be deemed an ample and sufficient excuse. Posterity will decide that if Abraham Lincoln had hesitated to assume the responsibility of suspending the act of habeas corpus, or of interfering with the dissemination of treason in Northern newspapers, he would, under the circumstances, have proved as derelict as his imbecile predecessor James Buchanan.

At the same time it must not be forgotten that, if it comes to the worst, our liberties are more precious than any thing else. We could better afford to forego the restoration of the

Union than the complete reassertion of the rights secured to us by the Constitution. What has been done was right, and inevitable under the circumstances. But if it was in violation of law, the law must vindicate itself.

We are therefore not sorry to see that an action at law has been instituted against Ex-Secretary of War Simon Cameron by a party who was at one time confined in Fort Lafayette by his orders. We have no doubt but the Secretary, or the President, by whose orders he acted, had sufficient reasons for ordering the incarceration of the person in question. But it is right, it is. due to our institutions, that a jury should pronounce upon the subject. Congress will of course interpose to protect the members of Mr. Lincoln's Administration against pecuniary loss arising from such prosecutions. But the facts should nevertheless be ascertained. General Jackson was thoroughly commended by the American people for trampling on the law of the land at New Orleans; but he was sued for it, and fined $1000, and the people approve the condemnation. It must be so now. Unusual emergencies have called for unusual remedies, and remarkable assumptions of power. But wherever the laws have been violated, the violator should be punished at the bidding of a jury. Congress will grant indemnity wherever it may rightfully be claimed.

If we can not suppress the rebellion without sacrificing the fundamental principles of our political system, the work of suppression will cost dear. In the memorable words of President Lincoln:

"I understand the ship to be made for the carrying and preservation of the cargo, and so long as the ship can be saved, with the cargo, it should never be abandoned. This Union should likewise never be abandoned unless it fails, and the probability of its preservation shall cease to exist without throwing the passengers and cargo overboard. So long, then, as it is possible that the prosperity and the liberties of the people can be preserved in the Union, it shall be my purpose at all times to preserve it."

THE LOUNGER.

THE NATIONAL ACADEMY.—No. II.

SINCE the opening of the Exhibition the Committee have extinguished the gas in the front room, and admitted the daylight. The result shows that their first judgment was correct. For in seeing pictures it is desirable to have plenty of light, though it be not sunshine; and the tops of the windows at the end of the room supply only a twilight, in which it is impossible to see the real value of the paintings. In the entrance-hall also there are several works full of conscience, skill, and talent, which it is a pity can not be better seen. But the difficulty is not one that the Committee could avoid. They have procured the best accessible hall, and they have placed the more important pictures in the largest gallery. But the artistic success in smaller works is proportionably so much greater than in larger ones that it would be a good thing always to secure a room in which they could have full justice.

Thus in the entrance-hall, in the very sanctum of Mrs. Croker, whose annual presence is one of the pleasant traditions of the Academy, you may observe, No. 512, The Pacific from the Ramparts of the Panama, by Charles Parsons, whose peculiar talent for marine subjects is already well known. The sketch is striking for its vigor, breadth, and fidelity. The wide sweep of sea dashes up on the stone walls and the ruined tower—a monument of past dominion and romantic history. The sketch shows the poet's eye as well as the painter's hand. Mr. Parsons is not unknown to the diocese of Harper's Weekly. His late anniversary picture, in the number for April 19, of the great uprising of the nation is a memorial work, a most felicitous patriotic allegory. In the same passage with 512 is No. 521, At Work, a pen-and-ink drawing, by Thomas C. Farrer. It is a portrait, of cabinet size, of a young man writing. The likeness is excellent, and the portrait of John Brown on the wall, and the card or address of Wendell Phillips upon the table, show the direction of his sympathies. But the specialty of the work is the marvelous delicacy of its execution. It is like the finest etching, and although finished with the painful fidelity of the Pre-Raphaelites, is yet broad and effective. No. 546, by the same hand, is Spenser's butterfly—

"Now this, now that he tasteth tenderly,

But pastures on the pleasures of each place."

It is a study of common wild flowers and weeds, in tangled and brilliant luxuriance, and is one of the most conscientious works in the gallery. The talent for manipulation and the knowledge of the pallet shown by such a sketch are remarkable.

Passing into the large gallery, Mr. Gignoux's Winter, No. 9, is one of the characteristic bits of the painter, and yet a surface of such universal snow among the mountains would seem to be hard to find. Our New England and Northern bills are usually shaggy with evergreen forests, and the snow drifts between, or catches upon the needles and sprays so as to give the mass a silver-gray rather than white complexion. But any critic must be very diffident in speaking of the representation of an aspect of nature which the painter has especially studied. Mr. Hall's, No. 10, Un Carro de Sevilla (as per Catalogue), is a bright strain of Spanish reminiscence. Costume, attitude, and "business" are doubtless faithful. Yet if Spanish peasant life is not essentially different from that in Italy, the scene is too clean. Dirt belongs to Italian peasant romance, however brilliant, as dust enhances the charm of bottled wine. This merry group looks almost like a masquerade of ladies and gentlemen. No, 15, Beard's March

of Silenus, is in his best vein. The humor is thoroughly bestial; the open mouth of the bear behind admirable; and if Kaulbach occurs to the spectator as he looks, it is but to mark the difference in a generally similar fancy. No. 21 is Mr. Hazeltine's Amalfi, Coast of Naples. It is almost too dainty, if not too gorgeous, for the actual coast. But the patient skill with which the whole is wrought, and the poetic sensitiveness with which the scene is felt, instantly suggest that the painter is doubtless truer in his picture than the critic in his remembrance of that lovely shore. The dingy, briny luminousness of the rising wave is masterly. It is sea-water itself rolling up on the beach, with bits of floating sea-weed caught like flies in amber. The beach itself, the burnished, rainbow-glowing pavement of the sea, is resplendent, as in evanescent, glancing sweeps of sunlight the shore may be. This picture is the best we remember to have seen by a painter of evident power.

No. 28, a Lady, by R. M. Staigg, is one of the fine portraits of the Exhibition, and one of the most admirable works of the artist. Mr. Staigg carries into his portraits the same refinement and delicacy and tender fidelity which marked his miniatures, but there is no niggling, no littleness; and there is not a quieter, broader portrait upon the walls. That it is the likeness of a lady there needed no catalogue to tell. There is a certain gravity of experience in the expression which yet is not enough to repress the salient, buoyant spirit that is evidently the mainspring of the character. The elegant simplicity and propriety of the treatment are singularly harmonious with the impression produced by the subject. It is a great success. No. 34, Sunlight and Shadow, by A. Bierstadt, is an effect of sunshine upon the stone wall and balustrade of an old church, and is more perfectly painted than any sunshine we ever saw. Look through your closed hand at it from a little distance. See how the light glances along the top of the balustrade, flecking the posts beneath, and how kind and placid and warm it lies upon the wall itself of the church. Inside the door the sunshine never comes, only the light. It is cool, and odorous, and still within. There are gorgeous gleams on the high painted windows, but far up in the vaulting nave and around the altar there is grave shade always, and a few cloaked solitary figures are silently kneeling. You do not see all this in the picture; oh no, but it is there, in the church. This is the court where the wicked cease from troubling, the pasture where the weary are at rest. And the sunlight, dropping through masses of leaves, rests like a benediction. This picture, too, is a poem.

No. 44 is Mr. Page's portrait of Collector Barney. It is certainly he who stands there; but where he is, and what he is doing, are still as uncertain as ever. It is a picture curiously devoid of taste, but only an accomplished painter could have painted it. On the other side of the gallery are Nos. 162 and 169, also portraits by Page. When you first look at them they are perfectly flat; they have an unreal, glazed, spectral air. But gradually the skill of the modeling of the head, especially in 162—the conscientious fidelity with which, as the painters say, every point of the surface is "felt" —the masterly decision and confidence with which every line is drawn and every touch placed, soon show you that it is not the work of a tyro, at any rate, nor of a man who has not a clear conception of the effect he wishes to produce. Whether that effect is reached, and if so, whether you know what it is, are different questions. Like all Page's pictures, this portrait, No. 162, is in a very low key, which is perhaps a just principle; for since light can be only proximately represented upon canvas, every thing else in nature should be delineated accordingly if you would have real harmony. Then there is an avoidance of dark shadow—and of shade generally—and the tint of the back-ground overpowers the figure. This is peculiarly evident also in 169. The result is an impression of power, and skill, and knowledge, but not of satisfaction. The picture challenges you—"Come, what is the matter with me?" It draws every spectator in the gallery before it, and defies him with that question. "If I am right," it says, "all these others are wrong. If I am wrong, can you say where and how? 'Pooh!' is no answer. No fool painted me, but many a one looks at me!" You see, this is a very unmanageable kind of picture. It gives you as good as you send.

Mr. Inness's Light Triumphant, No. 48, is a study of a brilliant effect skillfully done. But it is a feat of pigments rather than a picture. Nos. 54 and 63 are portraits by Mr. Wenzler, the latter of the poet Bryant. The likeness of this last is very striking. The failure is in a tone of pensiveness which is part of the natural, although not immediately observable, expression of the subject, and which is not indicated in the portrait, which shows mainly the severity that belongs to the face. The elaborate, verging upon morbid, smoothness and carefulness of treatment which distinguish Mr. Wenzler's style, and which give the faces a slightly opaque and waxen look, are evident in both these pictures. But there is with it a sweetness and tenderness which, united with the strong likeness, make the charm of Wenzler's portraits.

We stop here to-day, but shall return to our notes of the Exhibition.

A LOOK AROUND.

AT this moment of writing we have reached a lull in the movements of the war. Driven back almost simultaneously from their outer line across the country from the Chesapeake to the Mississippi the rebels stand at Corinth and at Yorktown. At the former place Halleck for the first time appears in the field, and at the latter McClellan has the most ample theatre for the exhibition of his powers.

That the public confidence in success at the Southwest is increased by the presence of Halleck in active command is unquestionable. There has been such an accumulation of proof that we were not properly prepared for attack at Pittsburg Landing, that brave and loyal, and successful even, as

General Grant has been, it was impossible to avoid the question whether we should be any better prepared for the next onset. There has as yet been no reason assigned for the separation of the two great divisions of our army in Tennessee by so large a space that we had almost been destroyed. Common sense must count for something even in military strategy.

Parson Brownlow says he considers Beauregard the best General upon the Continent. If he be so, he is worthily opposed to General Halleck, in whose sagacity, rapidity, and comprehensive grasp of the campaign there is very general confidence. Whether this arises from the public satisfaction with his administration of the Western Department or from extraneous considerations, it is not easy to say. This only we know, that, whether the Department had been prepared for success by the operations of General Fremont, who had every conceivable difficulty to master when he was in charge, or from whatever other reason, yet the West, since General Halleck took command, has been the scene of a continuous series of splendid victories.

How much of the credit of all this belongs to the Commanding General is yet another question. But it is impossible not to recognize the prestige which the mere fact gives to him; and if he succeeds in defeating the army of desperation under Beauregard, while Foote presses down the river—for the two events would probably be simultaneous—it will not be easy for the rebels to collect another formidable army, except under great difficulties.

So also if McClellan is successful upon the Yorktown peninsula, and either defeats the enemy in a general engagement or compels him to retire upon Richmond—Norfolk falls; the rebels can hardly stand in Virginia or North Carolina; they will retreat southwestwardly, and the rebellion will be virtually inclosed in the sea-board and Gulf slave States. It would then by no means yield, but maintain itself by a general guerrilla warfare, and a sullen submission wherever the National force was actually superior. This state of things would inevitably continue until pride and passion and prejudice had had their way. At length the ordinary motives and desires of men in civil society would begin to act; the people of the rebellious section would give pledges, not oaths, of their loyalty to the National Government; and gradually, as various influences combined to extirpate the root of treason, they would be as faithful to the system which gave them dignity, nationality, honor, and power, as the most loyal citizens to-day.

It is dangerous to speculate—how much more to prophesy—so we forbear. Especially as our eyes rest upon an enthusiastic article in the Times of March 17, which exultingly predicts that "within twenty days Richmond will be in the hands of McClellan, Norfolk in possession of Burnside, and Jeff Davis either a prisoner in our hands or a fugitive among the people whom he has deluded and ruined."

The Times will smile, and justly insist that its rosy anticipations were out a little in point of time, but not of fact; and that about May-day all will be true. Amen! It is, after all, only a question of time.

HOPELESS SPITE.

THE recognition of Hayti and Liberia is another of the national acts which show that we are no longer chained to the most remorseless despotism. This Government sends a minister to the Chinese, who are yellow people; and an agent to the Japanese, who are bronze people, whom Mr. Douglas called an inferior race; we have consuls in India and a minister in Turkey, where the people are dark red and olive; and there really has seemed to be no reason why we should refuse an agent to people who are black. Nor has there been any reason except that many of the Senators, whose consent was necessary, held black people as slaves.

The utterly false, abnormal, and fatal position which this nation has occupied toward men of African descent is being rapidly changed to the natural and simple one which other civilized people maintain. Nor would there be any serious difficulty in immediately establishing it except for two things—the prejudice which always prevails in a country against an enslaved race, and the party capital which in this country is made out of it.

Such a person as Vallandigham, for instance, who comes from Ohio, is in practical collusion with slavery and its effort to destroy the Government, merely because it serves his political purpose. The slaveholders for many years had worked with the Democratic party. The consequence was that, to secure the unanimous slave section, the Democratic party gradually relinquished all its fundamental principles, and became an association for the propagation and extension of slavery and the annihilation of the safeguards of liberty. The consequence of this in turn was, that as the party left its principles the best Democrats left the party, until at last the Southern leaders stood in open rebellion, and all loyal national Democrats stood against them.

Those who did not were last summer's "peace men." These were people who thought that the Government was, as Mr. Senator Powell calls it, a tyrant and despot for laying its hand upon its enemies. They were the people who voted in Congress with Breckinridge and the other open traitors, who staid because they could do most harm by staying. These are the people who, upon the hope that the French Government has indirectly threatened recognition of the rebellion, call loudly with Vallandigham for the correspondence that the traitors may be encouraged by it. They are the men who would like to see Jeff Davis, reeking with the blood of thousands of loyal citizens, marching into the White House: who rejoiced over Bull Run: who are aghast at Pea Ridge, Donelson, and Newbern: who would gladly shut, by any means, the mouths of men who expose the true source and aim of this infamous rebellion: and who show the spite they bear to human progress, national peace, and the civilization of liberty, by opposing every measure which aims to cut the fangs of slavery. (Next Page)


 

 

  

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