Atlantic Monthly, Volume 10, Number 59, September, 1862
Author: Various
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From the past opinions and present condition of our Southern States, and from the history of the war thus far, the author strongly argues the necessity of a policy designed and fitted to build up a diversified industry and a vigorous productive power. In regard to the degree of protection, he advocates no more than is necessary to equalize advantages. In consequence of her abundant capital, lower rate of interest, and cheaper labor, England can manufacture at less cost than we can; and this disadvantage can be counteracted only by protective legislation. The benefits which have accrued to the manufacturers of England from a governmental policy on whose stability they could rely, the advantage of a long and firmly established business with all its results of experience and skill, and the collateral aid of a widely extended commerce, are points clearly brought out and presented to the consideration of American economists.

But our limits forbid that we should attempt any further exposition of this excellent work. The section on "Free Trade" cannot fail to arrest attention, and that upon "The Harmony of Interests among the States" is full of common sense inspired by the broadest patriotism.

Our imperfect abstract gives but a meagre notion of the fulness and completeness of this admirable work. It will accomplish its object, if it send the reader to the book itself. The appearance of the volume is timely. Events and circumstances have prepared the minds of our countrymen to understand and to appreciate the argument. The book cannot fail to diffuse sounder views of the great topics which it discusses, and will exert, we trust, a beneficial influence on the legislation of the country.

The Slave-Power; its Character, Career, and Probable Designs: being an Attempt to explain the Real Issue involved in the American Contest. By J. E. CAIRNES, M. A, London: Parker, Son, & Bourn. 8vo.

This book, which is dedicated to John Stuart Mill, and is in excellent keeping with that writer's article on "The Civil War in America," deserves a respectful and even cordial welcome from the people of this country. It has grown out of a course of university-lectures on North-American Slavery, more especially considered in its economical aspects. But the author has been led to enlarge his view, and has brought before the public one of the most significant works that have yet appeared on this momentous subject. So far as the treatise is a speculative one, it has an interest for all inquirers. So far as it is intended to influence or modify the current estimate of the great conflict in this country, it bears more directly on the people of England; but, unless we have determined neither to seek nor to miss the sympathy of intelligent Englishmen, we ought to hail so manly and powerful an attempt to correct the errors which prevail in the mother-country. We do not undertake at this time to subscribe to everything we find in this book, nor are we now about to criticize its contents. Our wish is to introduce it to our readers as a comforting proof that there is a leaven yet working among our English kinsmen which it would be extremely unjust in us not to recognize. We quote an English critic, who says:—"The work is exceedingly able, as well as exceedingly opportune. It will do much to arrest the extraordinary tide of sympathy with the South which the clever misrepresentations of Southern advocates have managed to set running in this country, and to imprint the picture of a modern slave-community on the imagination of thoughtful men." Professor Cairnes sets himself at the start against the endeavor to refer this great crisis to superficial and secondary causes. He pierces the question to the core, and finds there what has too often been studiously kept out of sight, the cancer of Slavery. Acknowledging what has been so diligently harped upon, that the motive of the war is not the overthrow of the slave-power, he still insists that Slavery is the cause of the war. This he attempts to establish historically and economically; nor does he leave the subject without a searching look into Southern society and a prospective glance at the issues of the contest. He has freely consulted American authorities, most of which are familiar to many of our readers; he has also turned to good account the reports of open-eyed English travellers, and the opinions of sensible French writers, not overlooking the remarkably clear narrative of our political history in the "Annuaire des Deux Mondes" for 1860. He handles his materials with great skill, and, in a word, has brought to bear on his difficult subject an amount of good sense and sound thought quite remarkable in a foreigner who is dealing with the complex politics of a distant country.

Professor Cairnes, in opposition to the Southern doctrine proclaimed at home and abroad, views the present rebellion as unconstitutional, and as therefore amenable to the usual tests by which a revolutionary movement is justified or condemned. He refers to the manner in which the English people allowed their sympathies "to be carried, under the skilful management of Southern agency acting through the press, round to the Southern side"; and while he admires the spectacle of a people rising "for no selfish object, but to maintain the integrity of their common country, and to chastise a band of conspirators, who, in the wantonness of their audacity, had dared to attack it," he attributes the "cold criticism and derision" of the English public to a shallow, but natural, misconception of the real issue. So far as in him lies, he does not intend that the case shall be so misconceived any longer. Without declaring himself an advocate or apologist of American democracy, he warmly pleads that democracy ought not to bear the burdens of oligarchy,—that the faults and mistakes in the policy of this country ought not all to be laid at the door of the present National Government, and thus redound to the benefit of its Southern foes, when so many of those faults and mistakes were committed under the sway of the very class in whose behalf they are now quoted. Our sensitive countrymen, who have so keenly smarted under English indifference or hostility, may console themselves with the thought that there is one Englishman of undoubted ability and sincerity who calls the Southern Confederation "the opprobrium of the age."

Near the close of the volume the author strives to penetrate the darkness which hangs over the present conflict. He does not think "that the North is well advised in its attempt to reconstruct the Union in its original proportions." He would have the North supported in striving for "a degree of success which shall compel the South to accept terms of separation, such as the progress of civilization in America and the advancement of human interests throughout the world imperatively require." The terms of his proposed settlement we have not room here to consider.

With this hasty notice, and without any attempt at criticism, we dismiss a thoughtful and interesting book, which, however in some particulars it may fail to meet the entire acceptance of all American readers, is well worthy of their calm and deliberate perusal.


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