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fairs; it shares the qualities of a popular system of representation with the conservatism and virtues of aristocracy; it constitutes the highest and gravest council in our form of government. Certainly not one of these constitutional offices has been fulfilled by the Cabinet of President Davis, and history is forced to confess that the harmony of our government has been deranged by striking from it an important, valuable, and essential part.

The author is sensible that another ignorant rule of criticism besides that of the professional political flatterer, has been unjustly applied to his work. He is informed that there are persons so childish and contemptibly ignorant as to have decried his work on the ground that it has exposed abuses in our administration, and faults in our people, which will be a gratification and comfort to the enemy. The objection is simply absurd and contemptible. Throwing out of consideration the interest of truth, it is surely much better, even on the narrow ground of expediency, to expose abuses, and to let the enemy have what pleasure and comfort he can from them, than to permit them, unnoticed and uncorrected, to sap the strength of our country, and publish their conclusion to the world in the ultimate ruin of our cause. There are ignoramuses in the Southern Confederacy who think it necessary in this war that all the books and newspapers in the country should publish every thing in the South in couleur de rose; drunken patriots, cowards in epaulets, crippled toadies, and men living on the charity of Jefferson Davis, trained to damn all newspapers and publications in the South for pointing out abuses in places of authority, for the sage reason that knowledge of these abuses will comfort the enemy and tickle the ears of the Yankees. These creatures would have a history written which would conceal all the shortcomings of our administration, and represent that our army was perfect in discipline, and immaculate in morals; that our people were feeding on milk and honey; that our generalship was without fault, and that Jefferson Davis was the most perfect and admirable man since the days of Moses-all for the purpose of wearing a false mask to the enemy. They would betray our cause while hoodwinking the enemy; they would make a virtue of falsehood; they would destroy the independence of all published thought in the country. The author spits upon the criticisms of such creatures.

So much the author has thought it necessary to say with reference to two classes of critics, who have attacked not only his book, but every form of free and independent thought in the country. With reference to the public, confident as the author is of the rectitude of their decision, he is content to submit his work to their judgment, without importuning their favor.

Finally, the author begs to make, without temper and in the fewest words, a plain and summary vindication of the character and objects of his work.

Every candid mind must be sensible of the futility of attempting high order of historical composition in the treatment of recent and incomplete events; but it does not follow that the contemporary annal, the popular narrative, and other inferior degrees of history, can have no value and interest, because they cannot compete in accuracy with the future retrospect of events. The vulgar notion of history is, that it is a record intended for posterity. The author contends that history has an office to perform in the present, and that one of the greatest values of contemporary annals is to vindicate in good time to the world the fame and reputation of nations.

With this object constantly in view, the author has composed this work. He will accomplish his object and be rewarded with a complete satisfaction, if his unpretending book shall have the effect of promoting more extensive inquiries; enlightening the present; vindicating the principles of a great contest to the contemporary world; and putting before the living generation, in a convenient form of literature, and at an early and opportune time, the name and deeds of our people.

Richmond, September, 1862.


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