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that although I believe, with some Southern statesmen, whose names are favorably known to the world, that slavery is a wrong and an evil, I am neither Abolitionist nor “Black" Republican ; and whom, if they are surprised at anything I have written, I would remind that what the men who control the South
now fighting for is something that has never brought honor to any nation, and which has been long the reproach of this country throughout civilized Christendom. Reproach which we who were in no sense justly open to it have yet borne for the sake of brotherhood, and the ultimate benefit of our country and the world; and which we are willing still to bear, so long as they who inflict the wrong and hug the evil, do not insist upon our sharing their fearful responsibility.
This, however, not by way of apology, or deprecation. I have not one word to take back or to regret. But I do ask the reader's pardon for detaining him so long here, while, like an over-anxious host, I press upon him half my entertainment at the threshold.
R. G. W.
NEW YORK, Sept. 16th, 1861.
In the Spring of the present year a new want began to be felt in this country. The batteries with which the faithful commander of Fort Sumter had, with silent guns, seen himself surrounded during four long months, opened fire upon the national flag floating from a military post of the United States, and he and his handful of brave soldiers were burned out of the strong-hold from which it does not appear that they could have otherwise been driven. Indignation flashed through the astonished land; and the loyal citizens of the Republic rose as one man to avenge wrong
and defend the national existence. The whole country quivered with a new emotion. Men lived in the open
air that they might read in each other s faces, eye to eye, the noble wrath, the fixed determination, the lofty purpose that ruled the hour. Two could hardly speak together in the street above their ordinary tone without being surrounded by eager listeners. Every public place was thronged by unbidden crowds, intent upon the discussion of the momentous situation;
and more formal meetings, numbering from hundreds to tens of thousands, were common.
A nation of freemen each one of whom felt, at last, his own responsi. bility for his country's safety and honor, was pierced through brain and heart with the barbed conviction that that safety was in peril, and that honor was at stake.
Party barriers fell as if by magic, and we all found ourselves side by side with one feeling, one purpose, forgetful of the past, absorbed in the present and the future. Patriotism, which had been trodden under the feet of politicians, which had withered in the arid soil of selfishness under the blazing sun of prosperity, which had been choked with the thorns of care, and wealth, and pleasure, struck at once its roots to the very centre of the nation's being, and in a single night blossomed into fruitfulness. That fruit was a stern resolution to sacrifice life and fortune in defence of the republic. But stern although it was, there was mixed with it no hatred, no vindictive
The insurgents were enemies only in so far
* "I have nowhere in the North," said the late Secretary of War, Mr. Holt of Kentucky, in his New York speech of September 3rd, "found any feeling of exasperation against the people of the South.”
as they were enemies of the republic for which their fathers and ours had toiled, and fought, and died together. The resentment was pure of all personality, and consistent with all charity and individual good will. Nay, it was mingled with sorrow and pity for men and brethren, whose judgment had been so blinded, and whose moral sense had been so perverted by the holding of an inferior race in slavery, as to enable trading politicians, disappointed or fearing disappointment, to prepare them for, and finally lead them into a rebellion against, what one of themselves has well styled, " the most beneficent government the world ever saw:" a rebellion, unsupported even by the slightest prospective danger to slavery wherever it was made locally secure by the organic compact of the nation, but having for its sole motive the determination, either to make the interest of slavery dominant in this country, and to pervert the flag of this free republic to the protection of inchoate slave communities, or to rend and ruin the great nation in which that interest had ceased to rule.
This purpose was regarded as a wicked one; but it was the sin that was hated, not the sinners; and, to illustrate this period by glancing forward from it—if the national forces, instead of succumbing to their humiliating and causeless panic at Manassas Junction, had been able to follow up and complete their first well won success, there would have been joy, indeed, throughout the loyal States; but no exultation, no triumph, no festivities, no illuminations would have celebrated that victory. Government would have but
performed one of its gravest functions; loyal citizens would have but absolved themselves of one of their highest duties; deserving therefore, however, none the less, the gratitude of their country than if they had protected its interests, its honor, or even its existence against a foreign foe. The feeling thus awakened, though so considerate and so placable, was yet enthusiastic. The fire of patriotism never burned with purer, brighter, or intenser flame, than in the breasts of the Americans who were so startled by the guns of Sumter.
Such was the feeling of the hour; and with such emotions glowing in their breasts, men met continually in greater or smaller assemblages, where, alternately relieved and excited by each other's eloquence -for then the simplest utterance of patriotism seemed eloquent—there was yet one want most sorely felt. A national hymn was lacking. The strong feeling of great numbers always tends to utterance in song. Music is the universal language of emotion. It is that in which, with rare exceptions, all can give vent to excitement, that without it must be repressed. Men will sing what they would be shamefaced to say. Music has the twofold effect of stimulating and relieving the grand passions of the soul.
But no little of its power in awakening sentiment and keeping it alive, is derived from its association with words or with events. There was no particular æsthetic reason why the brave, calm English soldiers should sing " Annie Laurie” in their cheerless camp