« PreviousContinue »
him, adverse to the proceedings of Captain Wilkes, if put forth in terms of ordinary courtesy, would not have called for special remark. But the tone of this article and the animus exhibited in it are such that we hesitated respecting its authenticity; and it is only upon assurances that no doubt exists on that point that we feel at liberty to speak of it, and its author, as we had intended to do, according to its and his merits, or rather demerits.
We have not space, however, at the present time to do justice to the subject, and it may be that we shall not consider it of sufficient importance to advert to it hereafter. We close, therefore, with a few short extracts, and a single remark.
“ President Lincoln affirms that there is no Southern Confederation, – that there are only citizens of the United States in rebellion against legitimate authority; whence he concludes that he is engaged in chastising - in reducing to subjection - rebels, but that there is no war. It is in order to effect this chastisement that he, the representative of legitimate power, declares all ports of the Southern States closed to foreign commerce, and that he decrees the confiscation of all vessels found guilty of having attempted to violate the law made by the territorial sovereign. Thus, it is not for having violated a blockade, it is for having disobeyed a custom law, that neutral vessels have been condemned. There are, therefore, no belligerents, but only, on the one hand, rebels, and on the other hand, a legal power, resolved, by mere force, to bring them back to their obedience. It is in the character of rebels that Messrs. Slidell and Mason have been seized. This simply amounts to saying that rebels may be seized and arrested wherever they shall be found, even on board a foreign vessel, or, in other words, in a foreign territory. .....
" If, then, there be no war, if the Americans be not belligerents, the act perpetrated by the commander of the San Jacinto against an English vessel is an outrage committed against the independence of the British flag; it is an act of downright piracy, for which the perpetrator, if he acted without the special orders of his government, should be made responsible to the tribunals, but of which the whole responsibility will fall on the Cabinet of Washington, if it has given instructions to that effect.
“ But had the Trent committed a contravention of any customs regulations? Had she disobeyed the sovereign orders of Mr. Lincoln ? Even admitting for a moment the monstrous pretension of the Presi
dent of the Northern States, we have no hesitation in replying in the negative.
“ Therefore, from this point of view, as well as from others, the act committed by the commander of the American frigate, the San Jacinto, is opposed to the most elementary and the most important principles of maritime international law. It constitutes an aggression on the liberty of the seas, and an audacious outrage on the English flag.
“What motives, what excuses, can the Northern Americans allege to, we will not say justify, but even to explain this outrage? .....
“Mr. Lincoln would do well to reflect, that neither France nor the other powers would tolerate the perpetration of such outrages on the persons of their subjects; nor would they, without demanding full satisfaction, endure the insolence and brutality too common to certain American officers in the exercise of their rights. •
“ The Northern Americans should beware of calculating on the too great longanimity shown towards them by England of late years, or supposing that this Trent business will be settled in their favor, like that of the Island of San Juan, and so many others.
Times are changed. The United States were lately the exclusive holders of an article indispensable to the commerce, the industry, and, consequently, the prosperity, of Great Britain. Cotton weighed immensely in all the decisions of the English Cabinet. Now the United States no longer possess cotton, - the precious article is in the hands of the Southern Confederation. The interests of England naturally lead her in the direction of the cotton producers, and assuredly this business of the Trent, if not settled by ample satisfaction, is of such a character as to lead England to take the step which in all probability she would not have done so soon."
It seems quite clear that this opinion must have been obtained through Confederate instrumentality; and it was probably paid for in something much better than the bonds of the Confederate States.
ART. II. - The Art Journal. New Series. Vol. VIII. Nos.
85 – 88. January - April, 1862. London: James S. Virtue.
Art is, after all, the business of our century, and war but a passing incident. Christian civilization has reached too great proportions and momentum to be staggered by any shock of arms. In our Northern United States, hardly a sight or sound indicates that the pursuits of peace have been interrupted by our national convulsion. Art and arms are not antithetical. War has its industries and æsthetics, its pomp and circumstance. If murder be a fine art, as De Quincey argues, much more so is war, with its elaborate tools and trappings. Indeed, the artistic in military affairs, from the monstrous crests and rude arms of olden time, down to the forage-cap and rifle of to-day, would form a voluminous history.
With the January number of the time-honored London Art Journal, referred to at the head of this article, begins a new series of engravings on steel, and with the April number commences an illustrated catalogue of the British International Exhibition of 1862. The illustrations, like those of the catalogue of 1851, will no doubt be drawn largely from ornamental art, in the limited sense of the term, and will be regarded by most persons with idle curiosity, or with only a commercial eye, perhaps with but the trifling attention that may be given to the needlework patterns in a lady's magazine. To others, the catalogue and the event it chronicles will have a deep and manifold interest.
The International Exhibition now open emphatically recalls the world's attention to art, and, by striking associations, to some dark events of the last ten years. Our minds are carried back to the original Crystal Palace, then a new architectural wonder, hailed as a splendid symbol of the reign of Victoria and universal peace. Should man, now that he had built the glass house of the proverb, throw stones any more? Should not industry, empalaced more gloriously than Victoria herself, henceforth bear a quiet sway supreme ?
“Her court was pure; her life serene;
God gave her peace; her land reposed;
A thousand claims to reverence closed
“ She brought a great design to pass,
When Europe and our scattered ends
Of our fierce world were mixt as friends
“ And statesmen at her council met
Who knew the seasons, when to take
Occasion by the hand, and make
By the recent death of the Prince Con one of the most active promoters of the World's Fair of 1851, and the originator of its international breadth of plan, — the queen is no longer wife; nor has her empire kept its repose, Europe its friendly peace, and the fierce world its brotherhood. After Tennyson's Ode to Victoria, just quoted, the next poem of his that we remember to have seen was the war-song of the Light Brigade at Balaklava. Still later, England was doing battle in India and China. And her statesmen,- have they, during three years past, met in council to seize occasion for enlarging the bounds of freedom in Italy, in Mexico, in the United States? No sharp questions need be asked, only the sad contrasts noted between the peaceful visions of poetry and the turbulent course of time. And so it will continue to be, in spite of commerce and art, in spite of World's Fairs and pacific queens, until Christianity has worked out the elevation and enfranchisement of every class, the extinction of every oligarchy, in this sense “putting down all rule and all authority and power.” Oppression is chronic war, and alone leads to outbreaking war; and class privilege is chronic oppression. Not“ the Empire,” but a universal and enlightened democracy alone “is peace.” When they intelligently rule everywhere whose pursuits and interests are those of peace, then, in Tennyson's words,
" the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe, And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapt in universal law.”
The Southern rebellion, and the attitude of Europe toward the United States, have much to do with manufactures and commerce, and these have everything to do with that aspect of art which is indicated in the title of this article, “Ornament in Nature and Art.” Not the lighter graces only of Nature, not merely some frivolous appendages to man's work, are embraced in this topic. By ornament, as will hereafter be explained, we mean all in the properties and construction of any object which goes beyond its bare necessity, and is fitted to produce an agreeable effect, especially as related to other objects.
The economical relations of the subject render it one of great importance. Less than two years ago, nearly two millions of dollars were shipped in one day from New York for Europe, mostly to pay for beauty which might have been created at home, and which the Europeans have the wisdom to study in its application to the arts. To the specie annually shipped must be added all exports not of manufactured articles, and not counterbalanced by imports of food and raw material. The old proverb of the Continent has held true of us, after losing much of its force in respect to England, “ The stranger buys of the Englishman the skin of the fox for a groat, and sells him the tail for a shilling.” The South and the West have borne to the Northeastern States very much the same relation which the whole country has sustained to other lands. Even an axe-helve, it is said, must go North to be manufactured, to receive its perfect curves and smooth finish from Yankee machinery. Proverbially, rocky New England is prosperous for the immediate reason that it is the work-shop of this continent; and it is such, not in view of its large manufacturing towns only, but because many a house, many a home, is a factory, - many a woman or child is a skilful artisan on her or his own account. Out of New England, Newark and Philadelphia, for example, are noble testimonies to the value of a multiplicity of arts, — in the latter city carried on to a great extent by capitalists of foreign birth, as well as by foreign workmen. What may not be hoped from these sources of wealth, when cities have been built on pins, fortunes accumulated on dolls' eyes, and states enriched by wooden toys?