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Prospects of European Interference.—The selfish Calculations of Eugland.—Effects of the Blockade on the South.- Arrest by Capt. Wilkes of the Southern Commission. ers.—The Indignation of England.-Surrender of the Commissioners by the Lincoln Government.--Mr. Seward's Letter.-REVIEW OF AFFAIRS AT THE CLOSE OF THE YEAR 1861.-Apathy and Improvidence of the Southern Government.-Superiority of the North on the Water.-The Hatteras Expedition.—The Port Royal Expedition. The Southern Privateers. Their Failure.— Errors of Southern Statesmanship.—“King Cotton.”—Episodes of the War.-The Affair of Santa Rosa Island.—The Affair of Dranesville. - Political Measures of the South.-A weak and halting Policy. The Spirit of the War in the North.-Administration of the Civil Polity of the Southern Army.—The Quarter-master's Department.—The Hygiene of the Camps.--Ravages of the Southern Army by Disease.—The Devotion of the Women of the South.

SINCE the commencement of the war, the South had enter tained prospects of foreign interference, at least so far as to involve the recognition of her government by England and France, and the raising of the blockade. Such prospects,

, continued from month to month, had an unhappy effect in weakening the popular sentiment of self-reliance, in turning the attention of the people to the result of external events, and in amusing their attention with misty illusions.

These prospects were vain. By the close of the year, the Sonth had learned the lesson, that the most certain means of obtaining injury, scorn, and calumny from foreign people, was to attempt their conciliation or to seek their applause, and that not until she had proved herself independent of the opinions of Europe, and reached a condition above and beyond the help of England and France, was she likely to obtain their amity and justice.

It had been supposed in the South, that the interest of Enrope in the staples of cotton and tobacco would effect a raising of the blockade, at least by the fall of the

the year. The statistics on these subjects were thought to be conclusive. France derived an annual revenue of $38,000,000 from her monopoly of the tobacco trade; and Great Britain and her people, a revenue of $350,000,000 per annum from American cotton. Five millions of souls, in England, were interested in one way or the other in the cotton manufacture; and the South calcu. lated, with reason, that the blockade would be raised by foreign intervention, rather than that one-sixth of the population of the British Isles would be permitted to be thrown out of em ployment by a decree or fulmination of the Yankee govern ment at Washington.

Among the statesmen of Great Britain, however, a different calculation prevailed, and that was, as long as the possible contingencies of the future held out the least hope of avoiding the alternative of war with the Washington government, to strain a point to escape it. It was argued, that it would be cheaper for England to support, at the public expense, five millions of operatives, than to incur the cost, besides the unpleasantness of an embroilment in American affairs; and it was in this spirit of selfish calculation—the results of which were stated by Lord Palmerston in the declaration, that the “necessities" of England had not reached that point to require her to interfere, in any manner, in the American war-that it was ultimately decided by the British government to maintain her nentrality with reference to the blockade, as well as other incidents of the war.

About the fall of the year, the South had begun to feel se verely the effects of the blockade. Supplies of the usual goods, and even provisions, were becoming scarce. The evils were augmented every day in the results of a baneful spirit of speculation, which indulged in moostrous extortions and corrupted the public spirit, making opportunities for mercenary adventure ont of the distresses and necessities of the country. There was great suffering among the poor, and especially among refu

, gees, who had fled to the cities from districts occupied by the enemy.

The resources of the South were such, however, that any thing like famine or actual starvation, of any portion of the people, was not to be apprehended. The changes which happened in the circumstances and p 'rsuits of people, were not always as unfortunate as they appeared, and, in the end, not unfreqnently proved an advantage to them and to the prosperity of the country. Many new enterprises were started; many sources of profitable labor were sougiit out; and many instances of the diversion of popular industry were occasioned,

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In the month of December occurred an event which promised the most fortunate consequences to the South, with respect to foreign intervention and her release from the blockade. The Confederate government had deputed Mr. James M. Mason, of Virginia, and Mr. John Slidell, of Louisiana, cuinmissioners, respectively, to England and France. They had escaped ile blockade at Charleston on a Confederate vessel, and arriving at the neutral port of Havana, had left there on the 7th day of December in a British mail-steamer, the Trent, commanded by Capt. Moir. The next day after leaving port, the British vessel, while in the Bahama channel, was intercepted by the Federal steam-frigate, San Jacinto, Commander Wilkes, being brought to by a shotted gun, and boarded by an armed boat's crew. The persons of the commissioners and their secretaries, Messrs. Eustis and Macfarland, were demanded ; they claimed the protection of the British flag, and refused to leave it except at the instance of actual physical force, which Lieut. Fairfax, who had boarded the vessel, then declared he was ready

The Trent was an unarmed steamer, and as resistance was hopeless, the commissioners were surrendered, under a distinct and passionate protest against a piratical seizure of ambassadors under a neutral flag.

This outrage done by a Federal vessel to the British flay, when it was learned in the South, was welcome news, as it was thought certain that the British government would resent the insult, and as the boastful and exultatt tone in the North, over the capture of the commissioners, appeared to make it equally certain that the government at Washington would not surrender its booty. War between England and the North was thought to be imminent. Providence was declared to be in our favor; the incident of the Trent was looked upon almost as a special dispensation, and it was said, in fond imagination, that on its deck and in the trough of the weltering Atlantic the key of the blockade had at last been lost.

These prospects were disappointed by the weakness of the government at Washingtyn, in surrendering the commissioners

to use.

and returning them to the British flag. The surrender was an exhibition of meanness and cowardice unparalleled in the po litical history of the civilized world, but strongly characteristic of the policy and mind of the North. The people of the North had, at first, gone into raptures over the arrest of the commissioners; the newspapers designated it as “worth more than a victory in the field;" the hospitalities of the city of New York were offered by its common council to Capt. Wilkes, and a dinner was given him by leading citizens of Boston, in honor of his brave exploit in successfully capturing, from the deck of an unarmed mail-steamer, four unarmed passengers. The gov- . ernment at Washington had given every indication of its approval of the arrest. The compliments of the Cabinet had been tendered to Capt. Wilkes, and a proposition introduced into Congress to distinguish his piratical adventure by a public vote of thanks. The subjects of the capture were condemned to close cells in Fort Warren.

Despite all this manifest indorsement by the government of the legality and value of the arrest of the commissioners, Mr. Seward did not hesitate to surrender them when the alternative of war with Great Britain was indicated to him, in the dispatches of that government demanding, in very simple and stern terms, the reparation of the outrage that had been committed upon its flag.

In a letter to Mr. Adams, the representative of the Washington government at London, Mr. Seward had advised him to make no explanations, as the Washington Cabinet thought it better that the ground taken by the British government should first be made known to them. The ground of its claims was never furnished by the British government. Its demand for reparation and apology was entirely naked, and evidently disdained to make a single argument on the law question. With unexampled shamelessness, Mr. Seward made the plea himself for the surrender of the commissioners; he argued that they could not be the subjects of a judicial proceeding to determine their status, because the vessel, the proper subject of such a proceeding, had been permitted to escape; and with a contemptible affectation of alacrity to offer, from a returning sense of justice, what all the world knew had been extorted from the alarms of cowardice, he declared that he cheerfully *

surrendered the commissioners, and did so in accordance with long-established American doctrine.

In surrendering the commissioners, the Washington govern ment took the opportunity to declare its reassured hopes of the Union, and to express its contempt for the Southern revolution. In his letter to Earl Russell, Mr. Seward took particular pains to declare, that “the safety of the Union did not require the detention of the captured persons;" that an

“ effectual check” had been put to the “existing insurrection,” and that its “ waning proportions" made it no longer a subject of serious consideration.

The declaration was false and affected, but it contained an element of truth. There is no doubt that, at the time it was made, the power of the revolution in the South was declining; and a rapid survey of the political posture, and of events transpiring in the latter half of the year 1861, affords painful evidence of relaxation on the part of the Confederate government, and of instances of weakness and abuse that the people, who had pledged every thing and endured every thing in a contest for freedom, had no right to expect.


The justice of history compels us to state that two causesthe overweening confidence of the South in the superior valor of its people, induced by the unfortunate victory of Manassas, and the vain delusion, continued from month to month, that European interference was certain, and that peace was near at hand, conspired, about this time, to reduce the Southern cause to a critical condition of apathy.

Western Virginia had been abandoned to the enemy almost with indifference, and with an apathetic confidence in an army that was in danger of becoming demoralized, and in the prospects of European interference, which were no brighter than formerly, except in imagination, the South carelessly observed the immense preparations of the North, by sea and land, to cxtend the area of the contest from the coasts of Carolina to Lie States on the Mississippi, and to embrace her whole terri. try with the lengthening arms of the war.

While the enemy was busy making his immense naval prep

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