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“ I chose her,” said he, “ like old plate,
Not for the fashion but the weight!" or chapter and verse' for the lady who for gold sells herself to a rich fool :
· Lucia thinks happiness depends on state,
She weds an idiot, but she eats on plate.' Nor is there any call to banish and proscribe harmless commonplaces touching affectation, prudery, or flirtations in the one sex; or jealousy, selfishness, and love of money in the other. Pleasantries aimed at a man's corporeal bulk (such as that apropos of the gentleman of a pre-Bantingian æra, who must have been 'money in pocket' to any body of street-commissioners), are offensive to none, and would provoke as hearty a laugh from their subject, as from indifferent persons :
· When Tadloe walks the streets, the paviours cry,
“God bless you, Sir!” and lay their rammers by.' Indeed, it must be a peculiarly touchy individual who objects to a little harmless raillery, whether in verse or prose, anent his Pickwickian figure, or his beard and moustache. But admitting thus much, we still think it high time that English epigrammatists should explode some of the superstitious axioms, which in time past their fraternity deemed matters of faith. Their predecessors seem to have composed their “jeux d'esprit’ in the firm belief that all men were liars and knaves, and no woman virtuous. Eliminate all these antiquated crotchets, and the epigrams that perpetuate them; retain a score or so of the best epigrams on bad poets and quack-doctors, and send the rest a-packing; make evil-speaking, lying, and slandering, in epigrammatic couplets, penal; and it strikes us that the cream of this kind of poetry, which will remain, may be contained in a moderate sized and pleasant volume. And, as regards future supply, it might be well if none were suffered to epigrammatize, but such as were of ascertained good-digestions, and such as had no need to look to patrons for a dinner. Cynicism and servility would then alike disappear, and we should assimilate more, in these offerings to the Muse, to the sunny light-heartedness of the Greek original. We should unlearn, as a nation, the habit of sharpening our wit on the misfortunes of our fellow-creatures; and, even in this little matter, aim at nearer conformity to our perfect Pattern. If the law of love is to pervade the heart, the pen and tongue must not lend themselves to spleen and annoyance. To this end it is desirable that that, which was not a primary or essential element in the epigram, its sting, should be remitted to its original insignificance. Point,'' honey,''brevity,' should be insisted on, as immutable requisites. Wit, however lively and impatient of restraint, should be accommodated to the Greek, rather than to the Latin pattern. Thus constructed, the epigram might become the favourite resource of refinement as well as wit; the toy of learned leisure, and not the shaft of busy and stinted satire. Thus, in fine, would it keep clear of the ban, under which one of our greatest poets justly places all verse, that is not in the interest of general kindliness and benevolence.
• Cursed be the verse, how well soe'er it flow,
Art. IX.-1. Letter from Mr. Cobden to Mr. Scovell. August,
1862. 2. Letter from Mr. Bright to Mr. Horace Greeley. October,
1864. 3. The Confederate Secession. By the Marquis of Lothian.
first watched the vicissitudes of the American war. The change must seem heartless to the actors in it, whose fate is staked upon the issue ; but it is not difficult to explain. The conflict burst upon the world so suddenly, and in spite of many premonitory symptoms it was so little expected, that it was at first an absorbing topic even to those who were not interested in it by any selfish considerations. The collapse of the great experiment of democracy, the sudden transition from unbroken peace to ferocious war on the part of a people whose devotion to mere gain was thought to be engrossing, the gigantic scale of the operations, and the splendid heroism for which, on one side at least, they gave the opportunity, all combined to exercise a fascination over the minds of Englishmen, never probably exercised before by any events in which they were not nationally engaged. English feeling naturally takes the weaker side ; and where the weaker side is adorned by characters of the grandeur of 'Stonewall' Jackson and Lee, the sympathy which follows its course warms into enthusiasm. Something too of indignation at the transparent hollowness of the pretences put forth by the North, mixed itself with the admiration that was aroused
by the gallantry of their opponents. There was something revolting in the sudden horror of rebellion developed in a nation which was itself born of that which it denounced, and which still retained and reverenced some of the actors in the successful revolution to which its origin was due. They had so stoutly asserted the right of all men to choose their own form of government, both in their own formal public documents and in the speeches of their public men, they had always been so prompt to recognise successful revolts in other countries, that the phenomenon of a legitimist democracy, prepared to fight for the divine right of mobs to govern wrong, excited at once the anger and the derision of the nation that in a former generation had suffered from the prevalence of exactly the opposite principles among them. All these causes combined to make the American war a subject of absorbing interest during the first three campaigns.
Then feelings of a more selfish kind operated in the same direction. At first it was exceedingly doubtful whether we ourselves should not become principals in the war. The notorious invalidity of the blockade, and the arrogant tone in which the Federals seemed inclined to interpret the rights of belligerents, threatened at one time to involve us in it whether we would or no. It was at that period a matter of some controversy whether the absolute inaction that we have in the sequel observed would be the wisest policy to follow. There were many political considerations of some weight to sanction the course suggested by sympathy for Southern bravery, and horror at the interminable butchery that was being undertaken by the Federals. The sufferings of our own operatives in Lancashire, the disturbance of commerce that was threatened by a war so costly and so desolating, the advantages that might be anticipated from a close alliance with the South, and the probability that the mere prospect of European interference would suffice to compel a peace, all pleaded for some bolder course than mere neutrality. The personal opinions, however, of some statesmen who were prominent in both the great parties in parliament inclined the balance against any active measures. At that time English feelings were so strongly moved, that if a Minister had resolved on interference he would probably have been supported; and the consciousness that the stream of events, so capricious in its course, might at any moment draw England into the struggle, heightened the intense anxiety with which each successive military movement was followed.
Now many of these causes have disappeared, or act with diminished power. The startling novelty of the war has worn off. The hopes of its early termination, under the influence of
frequent frequent disappointment, are fading away. The probability that England will be engaged in it under any circumstances has ceased. Opinion in favour of action on the part of this country was never strong enough to have forced an unwilling Minister to undertake it; and now that the country is pledged to an opposite policy, the prevalent opinion, rightly or wrongly, is unquestionably in favour of a rigid neutrality. Whether this course has been determined by wise self-restraint or by timidity under the mask of wisdom, it will be for time to show. The Federal Government, convinced at last of the magnitude of the task it has in hand, will probably for the present shrink from adding to it the dangers of a conflict with any of the maritime powers. And without calling in aid any other explanation, the mere fact that the war has lasted so long, and that all the various forms of heroism and of suffering which the word represents have become familiar to us as household words, necessarily reduces the tension of the emotion with which we listened to such strange and harrowing tales at first.
But though the interest has slightly slackened, it cannot be said that the judgment formed upon the war and its causes is materially changed. The mass of educated men in England retain the sympathy for the South which they have nourished ever since the conflict assumed a decided shape. There are, indeed, philanthropists in England who still imagine that the war is a crusade upon the one side against slavery, and on the other a struggle for its maintenance; but their number is scanty and their authority insignificant. There are agitators, too, men of a different stamp, who never lifted up their hand against slavery while the North protected it, but who now turn the honest fanaticism of the abolitionist to the profit of a democratic agitation. It is a very idle task to attempt to convince such men that the North are not fighting against slavery, and that if slavery should suddenly cease to exist, the South would not lay down its arms. But lest the mere iteration of refuted fallacies should be taken for proofs, and the silence of weariness on the part of those who have frequently refuted them should be construed as acquiescence, we will reprint the testimony of a witness whose authority as to the motives upon which the war is being waged is as good as any that can be obtained, and whose language is not ambiguous. The following appeared in the early part of this last December in the New York Times,' the recognised organ of Mr. Lincoln's government, and conducted by a politician who was the chief manager of the recent election
his side :• There is a prevalent opinion here in the North, that it is fighting for
slavery. It is crroneous. Though a passion for slavery is the immediate cause of the war, it does not now sustain the war. The South would buy triumph to-morrow, if it could, by a complete sacrifice of slavery. It would not now yield, though it could take a bond of fate that by yielding it would save slavery. What Jeff. Davis told Colonel Jaques in his confidential interview is perfectly true, that slavery had now nothing to do with the war, and that the only question now involved is the question of Southern independence, that is to say, the independence of the Confederacy. There seems to be substantial agreement, both by Jeff
. Davis and his opponents of every shade, that the sole object of the South is to vindicate, and for ever establish, State independence and sovereignty. It is precisely that for which the South is fighting-exactly the converse of this national principle for which the North is fighting. We can tell the South, in all sincerity, that the Northern people will carry this war to any extremity, rather than let the nationality be broken. This is the unalterable determination of nine-tenths of the Northern people, whether supporters or opponents of President Lincoln's administration. They know that, sooner or later, they will break down the fighting power of the South. They know, too, that they can afterwards maintain the national authority over the South, if not with Southern acquiescence, on a basis of mutual respect, and good will, and civil equality, then by throwing open all the lands of the enemies of the Government to the permanent possession of every actual settler from whatever quarter of the world, and the repeopling of the South by a loyal population. We are not willing to believe that the madness of the South will be so prolonged as to drive the Government to that resort. But that resort will be used, and even others sterner yet, if need be, sooner than let the nation be divided and destroyed.'
Here is another passage from the New York Times' of last month, as distinctly worded as the last :
The North, though it may destroy slavery in waging war, does not wage war to destroy slavery. There is nothing about slavery that would prevent the North from making peace to-morrow, if it could. It is quite willing to leave the whole disposal of that subject to future peaceful and constitutional action. In no form or degree is the adherence of the South to slavery a part of our casus belli.'
This is plain speaking enough. The North is fighting for no sentimental cause--for no victory of a higher civilization. It is fighting for a very ancient, and vulgar object of war-for that which Russia has secured in Poland that which Austria clings to in Venetia—that which Napoleon sought in Spain. It is a struggle for empire, conducted with a recklessness of human life which may have been paralleled in practice, but has never been avowed with equal cynicism. If any shame is left in the Americans, the first revision they will make in their constitution