In the inability or unwillingness of people to let other people alone, may be summed up all the aggravation of living. The bane of my life has been never being let alone. People seem to think they have come into the world with a special mission to give me advice, and from my babyhood up, I have never been allowed to carry out the best-arranged plan of operation, without interference. As each man and woman is the representative of a certain class, I conclude others have had the same experience with myself; and there is a gloomy satisfaction in reflecting that there are many who have been made as essentially uncomfortable as I. The result has been, I have come to the unalterable determination never, under any circumstances, to either advise anybody or receive it myself where it can be avoided. If it is ordained that I am to make a fool of myself, it shall be done on my own responsibility, and not with the assistance of meddling friends—though if they have any desire to take the credit of it, I shall make no objections whatever. I doubt if they will. The longer I live in the world, the clearer appears the fact that half at least of our unhappiness is unnecessary. We seem perversely bent on tormenting and being tormented. We visit people for whom we do not care one straw, because our position in society or our interests demand it. We sacrifice our own judgment to the whims of others as a matter of expediency, and almost ignore our own capacity in the eagerness to agree with everybody. We suffer because a rich snob snubs us, and agonize over unfavorable remarks made concerning our abilities or standing. These things ought not so to be. No man can find a substitute when he lies a-dying;—why should all his years be spent in the vain endeavor to find a substitute for living? An endless dependence upon the opinions, the whims, the prejudices of others, is the bane of living, and the mark of a weak mind, made so oftener by education than nature.
When the young forget to abuse the old, and the old to run down the young; when mothers-in-law cease to hate their daughters-in-law, and to improve all opportunities for sowing strife; when wives take pains to understand their husbands, and husbands decide that woman nature is worth studying; when women can remember to be charitable to other women; when the Golden Rule can be read as it is written, and not 'Do unto others as ye would not they should do unto you;' when justice and truth rule men, rather than unreason and petty spite, then the aggravation of living will die a natural death, and the world become as comfortable an abiding place as its inhabitants need desire.
Till then, hope and wait. Live the life God gives us, as purely and truly as you know how. Have some faith in human nature, but more in God, and wait his own good time for the perfect life, not to be reached here, but hereafter.
THE LESSON OF THE WOOD.
In the same soil the family of trees Spring up, and, like a band of brothers, grow In the same sun, while from their leafy lips Comes not the faintest whisper of dissent Because of various girth and grain and hue. The oak flings not his acorns at the elm; The white birch shrinks not from the swarthy ash; The green plume of the pine nods to the shrub; The loftiest monarch of the realm of wood Spares not his crown in elemental storms, But shares the blows with trees of humbler growth, And stretches forth his arms to save their fall. Wild flowers festoon the feet of all alike; Green mosses grow upon the trunks of all; Sweet birds pour out their songs on every bough; Clouds drop baptismal showers of rain on each, And the broad sun floods every leaf with light. Behold them clad in Autumn's golden pomp— Their rich magnificence, of different dyes, More beautiful than royal robes, and crowns Of emperors on coronation day. But the deserted nest in silence sways Like a sad heart beneath a royal scarf; And the red tint upon the maple leaves Is colored like the fields where fell our braves In hurricanes of flame and leaden hail. I love to gaze up at the grand old trees; Their branches point like hope to Heaven serene; Their roots point to the silent world that's dead; Their grand old trunks hold towns and fleets for us, And cots and coffins for the race unborn. When at their feet their predecessors fell, Spring covered their remains with mourning moss, And wrote their epitaph in pale wood flowers, And Summer gave ripe berries to the birds To stay and sing their sad sweet requiem; And Autumn rent the garments of the trees That stood mute mourners in a field of graves, And Winter wrapped them in a winding sheet. They seemed like giants sleeping in their shrouds.
DIARY OF FRANCES KRASINSKA;
OR, LIFE IN POLAND DURING THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY.
CASTLE OF JANOWIEC, Wednesday, May 27th, 1760.
I had hoped too much! He is going, and the memory of the past will render the days to come very sad. I knew that Monday was an unlucky day: since my maid gave me such a fright by announcing the approaching departure of the princes, all has gone from bad to worse.
The huntsman who brought me the bouquet from the prince, told me, in his name, that he too was forced to depart. With great difficulty could he invent a pretext for remaining three days after his brothers left. These three days will not expire until to-morrow, and yet he leaves me to-day; he must go, and can no longer delay. The king has sent an express for him, with an order to return as soon as possible. He will leave in one half hour, and I do not know when we can meet again. Ah! how soon happiness passes away!...
Sunday, June 7th.
It is now two weeks since the prince royal left me; he has sent two expresses, and slipped two notes for me under cover to the prince palatine. But what is a letter?... An unfinished thought—it soothes for a moment, but cannot calm. A letter can never replace even a few seconds of personal intercourse; he has left me his portrait; I am sure every one would think it like him; but for me, it is merely a shred of inanimate canvas. It has his features, but it is not he, and has not his expression.... I have him much better in my memory.
All consolation is denied me, for I will not reply to his letters; this restraint I have imposed upon myself; I am sure that my hand would become motionless as the cold marble were I to write to the man I love without the knowledge of my aunt, my elder sister, and my parents. I told the prince royal that he could never have a letter from me until I was his wife. This is a great sacrifice, but I have promised my God that I will accomplish it.
Since his departure, time weighs upon me as a continued torture. During the first few days I wandered about as if bereft of reason; I could not fix my thoughts, or apply myself to any occupation. The illness of the princess has restored some energy to my soul. The injury to her foot, which she at first neglected, has become very serious; during three days she had a burning fever, which threatened her life. My anguish was beyond description; I am sure I could not have been more uneasy had it been my sister or one of my parents. I scarcely thought of the prince royal during the whole of those three days; and what is most strange, I no longer regretted his absence; if he had been here, I could not have devoted myself so entirely to the princess. The idea of her death was terrible to me, for, notwithstanding all the arguments of the prince royal and of the Princes Lubomirski, I feel myself very culpable in having withheld my confidence from her; if she suspects the truth, she has every reason to accuse me of perfidy.... There is in this world but one inconsolable evil, and that is the torture of a bad conscience—remorse....
I hoped one day to be able to repair my wrongs toward the princess, to fall at her feet and confess my fault, but when I saw her in danger, I felt as if hell itself were menacing me, and as if I must be forever crushed under the weight of an eternal remorse.... Another thought too has distressed me to the very bottom of my soul! My parents are advanced in years; if I should lose them before I have confessed my secret to them! It is written above that I am to know every sorrow! Heaven has cruelly tried me, but to-day a ray of pity seems to have fallen upon my miserable fate. The princess is steadily improving, and I have received good news from Maleszow; I breathe again.
Were the king to give his consent to our marriage, I could not be happier than I was on hearing from the physician's own mouth that the princess was out of danger.... I will then be able to open my heart to her! Ah! my God! if this painful dissimulation weighs so heavily upon me, what must be the state of the prince royal, who is deceiving his father, his king, and offending him by a misplaced affection!
Why did not these reflections present themselves to me before? Why did I not show him the abyss into which we were about to fall?... My happiness then blinded me, and now I can fancy no condition which I would not prefer to my own.... I feel humiliated by my imprudence. Did I not, with the whole strength of my wishes and desires draw upon me this very love so dear to my heart and so fatal to my repose? My pride has lost me; and that pride is an implacable enemy, which I have no longer strength to subdue. Oh! I must indeed blame our little Matthias! It was he who first awoke such ambitious dreams within my soul.
Happy Barbara! If I only, like her, loved a man of rank equal to my own! But no, I am not of good faith with myself: the prince royal's position dazzled me. Ah! how merciful is heaven to cover our innermost thoughts with an impenetrable veil! Alas! God pardons the defects in our frail humanity sooner than we ourselves can!
I left the princess half an hour ago, and must now return to her; she loves so to have me with her! And indeed, no one can wait upon her as well as myself. I feel happy when sitting at her bedside; I regain courage when I think that I am useful to her, and I feel a kind of joy in finding that my heart is not occupied by one sentiment to the exclusion of all others.
CASTLE OF OPOLE, Thursday, June 18th.
The princess has entirely recovered, and we have been three days at Opole. I was sorry to leave Janowiec, for all around me bore the impress of his presence. In his last letter, he announces a very sad piece of news: he is forced to pass two months in his duchy of Courland. He will endeavor to see me before he goes; but will he succeed? Two months! how many centuries, when one must wait!
We have had several visitors from Warsaw; among others, Adam Krasinski, Bishop of Kamieniec; he is in every way estimable, and universally esteemed! All speak of the change in the prince royal: he is pale and sad, and flies the world. The king himself is uneasy concerning his son, and it is I who am the cause of all this woe. Is love then a never-ending source of sorrow? He suffers for me, and his suffering is my most cruel torment.... They say too that I am changed, and believe me ill: the good princess attributes my pallor to the nights I have watched by her side. Her manifestations of interest pierce my heart! When shall I be at peace with my conscience?
Saturday, July 11th.
Like a flash of lightning has a single ray of happiness shone out and then disappeared. He came here to see me, but could remain only two hours. Last Wednesday he left Warsaw, as if he were going to Courland, but, sending his carriages before him on the way to the north, he turned aside and hastened here. His court awaited him at Bialystok, and he was forced to travel night and day to avoid suspicion. I saw him for so short a time that those few happy moments seem only a dream. He was obliged to assume his huntsman's dress in order to gain admittance unknown into the castle.
No one penetrated his disguise, and no one except the prince palatine was cognizant of our interview. He spoke to me, he gave me repeated assurances of his love, and restored to me my dearest hopes; had he not done so, I feel I should have died before the expiration of the three months. Three months is the very least that he can remain at Mittau. How many days, how many hours, how many minutes in those three months! I could be more resigned were I alone to suffer; but he is so unhappy at our separation!
Thursday, September 3d.
I have neglected my journal during nearly two months. Good and evil, all passes in this world. My days have been sad and monotonous, but they are gone, and their flight brings me nearer to my happiness. The prince royal assures me in all his letters that he will return in October. I was crazy with joy to-day when I found the leaves were falling: I am charmed with this foretaste of autumn. We will leave for Warsaw in a very few days.
A new incident has lately come to pass: a very brilliant match has been offered for me, and the princess, who loves me twice as well since I nursed her through her illness, after having concerted the marriage with my parents and the Bishop of Kamieniec, hoped to win my consent. I was forced to bear her anger and reproaches, and worse than all that, the bitter allusions which she made to the prince royal....
To satisfy my parents, I was obliged to humiliate myself, and write a letter of excuse; my mother deigned to send me a reply filled with sorrow, but without anger. She ends her letter by saying: 'Parents who send their children away from them, must expect to find them rebellious to their will.'
My poor mother! She still gives me her sacred blessing, and assures me of my father's forgiveness! Ah! I purchase very dearly my future happiness and greatness!
WARSAW, Tuesday, September 22d.
We returned to Warsaw several days ago. Ah! with what joy did I find myself once more here; how beautiful this city is! Here I will often see the prince royal. He assures me in his last letter that he will return by the first of October; I have then only one week to wait; without this hope I should no longer have any desire to live. Nothing now gives me any pleasure. Dress tires and annoys me, visits and assemblies weary me to death; every person whom I meet seems to me a scrutinizing judge; I fancy that all are pitying or blaming me. Especially do I fear the women of my acquaintance; they are not indulgent, because they are never disinterested; they are no better pleased with another woman's good fortune than they are with her beauty and agreeability....
Even yesterday, with what cruelty Madame ——, but I will not write her name—questioned me! She enjoyed my confusion; I was almost ready to weep, and she was delighted. In the presence of fifty persons, she revenged herself for what is called my triumph, but what I consider the most sacred happiness. Ah! how deeply she wounded me! I almost hate her.... This feeling alone was wanting to complete the torment of my soul. The prince palatine took pity on me, and came to my aid; may God reward him! In every difficult crisis he is always near with his active and powerful friendship. He would be quite perfect, if he only understood me a little better; but when I weep and show my sorrow, he laughs and calls me a child.... I cannot tell him everything.
Thursday, October 1st.
He has come, and I have seen him; he is quite well, and yet I am not happy. I saw him amid a crowd of indifferent people; and when my feelings impelled me to run and meet him in the palace court, I was forced to remain by my work table and wait until he came into the saloon, when he of course first saluted the princess, and my only consolation consisted in being able to make him a formal and icy reverence. But he is come, and all must now go well.
Great God! how sweet are the words to which I have just given utterance! Happy, a thousand times happy, is the woman who can promise with all her heart to give her hand during her whole life to him whom she loves! The fourth of November is the prince's birthday. He desires, he demands, that this may be the day of our holy union! He made me swear by my God, and by my parents, that I would no longer oppose his wishes; he said he would doubt my affection if I still hesitated. His tears and prayers overcame me; encouraged by the advice of the prince palatine, I promised all he desired, and already do I repent my weakness. But he—he was happy when he left me....
He wished our marriage to be kept secret from my parents, as it must be during some time from the rest of the world; he desired that the Princes Lubomirski should be our only witnesses and our only confidants; but I opposed this project with all my strength; I even threatened him with becoming a nun rather than play so guilty a part toward my parents. He finally yielded: he is so kind to me. It was then decided that I should write to my parents, and that he would add a postscript to my letter.
At first I felt grateful to him for his submission; but with a little more reflection I felt offended. Is it not he who should write to my parents? Is it not thus that such affairs are conducted? Alas, yes; but only when one weds an equal! It is a prince, a prince of the blood royal who deigns to unite himself to me! He then does me a favor in wedding me.... This thought has become so bitter that I was on the point of retracting; but it is too late, for I have given my word.
I must now write to my parents; I must confess to them the love which I have so long kept a secret from them. Ah! how wicked they will think me! I have been wanting in confidence toward the best of mothers.... My God! inspire me; give me courage! A criminal dragged before his judges could not tremble more than I do!
Thursday, October 22d.
The prince palatine's confidential chamberlain has already left for Maleszow. I am very well satisfied with my letter; but the prince royal finds fault with it, and says it is too humble; I, in my turn, found his postscript altogether too royal. I was about to tell him so, when the prince palatine stopped me.
What will my parents say? Perhaps they will refuse their consent, and, strange as it may appear, during the last few days, the sense of my own dignity has been stronger than my vanity or my desire for greatness. This event seems to me quite ordinary: it is true he is the prince royal, Duke of Courland, and will perhaps one day be King of Poland, but if he has not my father's consent, it is he who is not my equal.
If no opposition is made to my marriage, I ardently desire that it may be the parish priest of Maleszow who will give us the nuptial benediction; the prince palatine has promised me to do all he can; at least, he will be the representative of my parents, and will confer a small degree of propriety upon the ceremony. Barbara's destiny is ever in my thoughts! I deemed her wishes very modest when she said to me: 'Strive to be as happy as I am!' Alas! her happiness is immense, when I compare it with mine!...
Wednesday, October 28th.
My parents' answer has arrived; they give us their blessing and wish me much happiness; but the tenderness they express toward me is not like that obtained and merited by Barbara. This is just; I suffer, but have no right to complain. The prince royal expected to receive an especial letter addressed to himself; but my parents have not written to him. He is piqued, and conversed a long time with the prince palatine on the pride of certain Polish nobles.
I feel more tranquil since my parents know our secret; my heart is relieved from a most cruel torment. My parents promise not to reveal our marriage without the prince royal's consent; one may see in their letter both joy and surprise; but there is a tone of sadness in my mother's expressions which touches me deeply. She says:
'If you are unhappy, I will not be responsible for it; if you are happy (and I shall never cease to beg this blessing of God in my prayers), I will rejoice, but at the same time regret that I had no part in contributing to your felicity'....
These words are almost illegible, for I have nearly effaced them with my tears.
The curate from Maleszow will arrive next week, and we will be married immediately after. The prince palatine has had the necessary papers prepared, and no one has any suspicion. I can scarcely believe that my marriage is so near.... No preparations will be made for me; all must be conducted with the greatest secrecy. When Barbara married, she had no reason to hide herself; all Maleszow was in commotion on her account.
If I could only see the prince royal, I should feel consoled. But sometimes two whole days pass by without any possibility of meeting him. He is afraid of exciting the king's suspicions, and still more, those of Bruhl; he avoids me at all public assemblies, and comes less frequently to the prince palatine's. To all these painful necessities of my position must I submit.
Yesterday evening, at Madame Moszynska's soiree, I accidentally overheard a conversation which pained me deeply. A gentleman whom I did not know, said to his neighbor: 'But the Starostine Krasinska is terribly changed!' The answer was: 'That is not at all astonishing, for the poor young girl is madly in love with the prince royal, and he is somewhat capricious; when he sees a pretty woman, he falls in love with her immediately, and now he is all devotion to Madame Potocka, and has eyes for no one but her.'
I am sure the prince pretends to be occupied with other women that he may the more readily conceal his real feelings, and yet I shuddered when I heard this conversation. It is really frightful to be the subject of such improper pleasantries!
If I only had a friend in whom I could confide, and whose advice I could ask! My maid is as stupid as an owl, and suspects nothing, but notwithstanding, she is to be sent to the interior of Lithuania, and in a few days her place will be supplied by a middle-aged married lady of good birth and acknowledged discretion. I have not seen her yet, and I have no one to consult with regard to my wedding toilette. For want of a better adviser, I consulted the prince palatine, and he replied: 'Dress as you do every day.'
What a strange destiny! I am making the most brilliant marriage in the whole kingdom, and yet my shoemaker's daughter will have a trousseau and wedding festivities which I am forced to envy.
WARSAW, Wednesday, November 4th, 1760.
My destiny is accomplished, and I am the prince royal's wife! We have sworn before God eternal love and fidelity; he is mine, irrevocably mine! Ah! how sweet, and yet how cruel was that moment! They were forced to hurry the ceremony, as we feared discovery.
I saw nothing of the prince royal during the week preceding my marriage; he feigned sickness, and did not leave his room; he has refused to-day invitations to dinner at the prince primates, the ambassadors, and even one to the ball given by the grand general of the crown: his supposed illness was the pretext on which he freed himself from these obligations.
My former waiting woman was sent away day before yesterday, and yesterday came the new one, who has sworn upon the crucifix to be silent upon all she may see and hear.
At five o'clock this morning, the prince palatine knocked at my door; I had been dressed for at least two hours. We departed as noiselessly as possible, the prince royal and Prince Martin Lubomirski met us at the palace gate.... The night was dark, the wind blew, and the cold was intense. We went on foot to the Carmelite church, because it is the nearest: our good priest already stood before the altar. If the prince royal had not supported me, I should have fallen many times during the passage.
And how sad and melancholy was all within the church! On all sides the silence and darkness of the grave! Two wax tapers burned upon the altar, casting a dim and uncertain light, while the sound of our own steps was the only sign of life heard within the solemn and sombre vault of the temple. The ceremony did not last ten minutes, the curate made all possible haste, and we fled the church as if we had committed some crime. The prince royal returned with us: Prince Martin wished him to go at once to the palace, but he would not leave me, and with great difficulty did he at length part from me.
My dress was such as I wear every day. I had only dared to place one little branch of rosemary in my hair.... While I was dressing, I thought of Barbara's wedding, and could not refrain from weeping.... It was not my mother who prepared the ducat, the morsel of bread, the salt, and the sugar, which the betrothed should bear with her on her wedding day; and so, at the last moment, I forgot them.
I am now alone in my chamber; not a single friendly eye will say to me: 'Be happy!' My parents have not blessed me.... Profound silence reigns in every direction, all are yet asleep, and this light burns as if near a corpse.... Ah! my God! what a mournful festival! Were it not for this feverish agitation and this wedding ring, which I must soon take off and hide from every eye, I should believe all these events to be merely a dream.... But no, I am his, and God has received our vows.
SULGOSTOW, Monday, December 24th.
I thought when I married that I would no longer have any occasion to write in my journal: I believed that a friend, another me, would be the depositary of all my thoughts. I said to myself: 'Why should I write, when I will tell all to the prince royal (it seems to me as if I could call him thus during my whole life)? He does not know enough Polish to read my diary, and consequently it is useless.' But everything separates me from my well-beloved husband; I will continue to write that I may be more closely bound to him, that I may preserve all the remembrances which come to me from him.... I am pursued by a pitiless fate! Ah! what despair is at my heart!... When shall I see him again?
These last few days have been fearful! I thank Heaven that I am not yet mad! The princess palatiness has sent me from her house, driven me out as if I were unworthy to remain.... I have taken refuge with my sister at Sulgostow: when I arrived, I sent for Barbara and her husband, and said to them: 'Oh, have pity, have pity on me, for I am innocent; I am the prince royal's wife!'
My poor sister, to whom the whole transaction was a mystery, thought I had lost my reason, and was about calling in her maids to aid me. I endeavored to calm her fears, and to-day I have confided to her all my sorrows.
I will try to write down all these recent events. If God ever permits me to enjoy happiness and tranquillity, I will again read these pages, and will better appreciate the value of a quiet felicity.
Six weeks passed after our marriage, and no one had the least suspicion: neither the king, the court, nor the watchful society surrounding me, had penetrated our secret; all called me as usual, the Starostine Krasinska. The prince royal, under the pretext of his health, went nowhere, and the prince palatine managed our interviews. But a week since the prince royal began to go out, and paid a visit to my aunt, the princess. I was in the saloon when he was announced; it was the first time since our marriage that I had seen him in presence of a third person, and I found it impossible to hide my confusion. I could not see and hear him without telling him through my eyes that I loved him.
The princess observed me. When he was gone, she scolded me, and reproached me with what she called my coquetry and imprudence; I could not bear her injustice, and very rashly replied, that no one had a right to blame me when my own conscience absolved me. The prince royal came again the next day; the princess was abstracted, and a dissatisfaction, which she strove in vain to disguise, appeared in her whole manner. He was entirely occupied with me, and did not perceive the storm which was gathering; not having been able to speak with me alone on that day, he had written to me, and while pretending to play with my work basket, he slipped a note into it. The princess saw it, and as soon as he had gone, seized upon the fatal note, which was addressed to: 'My well beloved.'
I can never describe her anger and indignation. How did I ever live through that horrible scene!...
'Your intrigues,' she cried, 'will never succeed in my house; you are the horror, the shame, and the ignominy of your family, and you shall not disgrace my mansion. I have already taken measures to put an end to your infamous conduct; here is a copy of the letter sent by me this morning to the minister, Bruhl. I tell him that honor is dearer and more sacred to me than all family ties, that an ambitious hope will never induce me to renounce the duties which it imposes upon me, and that I now esteem it my duty to inform him that the prince royal loves Frances Krasinska. I conjure the minister to do all in his power to end this intrigue while there is yet time. I will prove that I have nothing to do with this abomination, and that if I have been in fault, it was because I placed such implicit confidence in my niece's virtue. Yes—the king himself, at this very moment, probably knows the whole extent of your shame and your insane pride.'
'The king!' I cried, almost out of my senses, 'the king! Ah! Let no one tell him that I am the prince royal's wife; let no one tell him that, or I shall die at your feet!'
Lost to all memory, all sense, except that of the fearful abyss just opened before me, I thus confessed the secret which no personal invective or humiliation could have drawn from me.
'How?' she replied, 'the wife of the prince royal! You! his wife!'
This word recalled me to myself, and led me to comprehend the enormity of my fault. I shuddered when I thought of the prince's anger, and I saw but one chance for safety, and that was by confessing all to the princess.
I fell at her feet, imploring, her to forgive the past, and keep our secret. Whether she was offended by the tardiness of my confession, or whether she thought she had gone too far to retrace her steps, I know not, but she remained implacable, and with cold and repulsive dignity commanded me to rise, saying:
'So great a lady should never be found at any one's feet, and I offer you a thousand apologies for my conduct toward you.'
I attempted to kiss her hand, but she withdrew it, and ended by saying that her house was unworthy of a lady of my quality, of a princess royal, of an independent duchess, of the future Queen of Poland. She then made all the preparations necessary for my departure.
I retained strength enough to control my feelings, for which I thank God: a momentary flash of anger did not cause me to forget so many proofs of kindness and affection, and, with the docility of a girl of sixteen, I prepared to depart, although I was entirely ignorant where I should go to, or who would offer me protection and an asylum.... I believe the word Sulgostow was uttered either by myself or by the princess. The valet who came to take the princess's orders during the latter part of our conversation, mentioned throughout the mansion that I was going to Sulgostow to pass the Christmas holidays.
Chance decided my fate, and, incapable of forming any resolution, I was happy in permitting myself to be guided by others. Before I left, I wrote a long letter to the prince royal, which I confided to the princess. In less than two hours all my arrangements were made; I came and went, I acted mechanically, without fixed thought or purpose; I was finally placed in the carriage with my lady companion, and the horses bore us rapidly away from Warsaw.
When I beheld the walls of Sulgostow, I began to think upon how I could best acquaint my sister with these incredible events; but once in her presence, my confusion was such that I lost the power of measuring my words, and hence she fancied I had gone mad....
Now that all has been explained, we laugh together over this strange mistake, but such laughter is only a momentary forgetfulness of my position, and a passing truce to my torment. These first two days have been most painful, for I have as yet heard nothing from the prince royal. I cannot express my grief and my anguish; my health must be very strong not to have suffered more from such torments.... At least, may I not hope that my dreams of bliss will one day be realized?
THE GREAT STRUGGLE.
Is it true that 'our democratic institutions are now on trial?' Everybody, or nearly everybody, says so. The London Times says so, and is or has been gloating over their failure. Many of our 'able editors' say so, and are trying desperately to prove that they will not fail. Thus, while there is a wide difference in opinion as to what may be the result, there seems to be a quite general agreement as to the fact that the trial is going on. There appears to be no suspicion that the question is not properly stated. Doubtless the assertion will excite surprise, if heeded at all, that in fact the great struggle here and now is not between aristocracy or despotism on the one hand, and democracy on the other. Most people in the United States have come to entertain the fixed idea that the only natural political antagonisms are democratic as opposed to despotic in any and all shapes. And this idea has become so ingrained in the American mind that it will be difficult to gain credence for the assertion that the terms constitutionalism and absolutism represent the forces or systems which, have really been antagonistic ever since Christianity began to affect and animate social and political relations.
It may be a new idea to many readers that absolutism can be democratic, as well as aristocratic or autocratic. Yet such is the fact, and the whole history of Greece and Rome proves it. Plato, the friend of the people, taught the absolute power of the state—of the power holder, whoever that might be, whether the people, the aristocracy, the triumvirate, the archon, or the consul. It was not possible for Plato, Demosthenes, or Cicero, to conceive the idea of constitutionalism.
Wherever the will of the power holder operates directly upon the subject or object, there is absolutism. Interpose a medium between the two, separate the law maker from the law executor, make both the subjects or servants of the law, and then, if the people are virtuous, you can harmonize private liberty with public order. The individual must not be absorbed by the state; individual liberty must not be merged in absolutism. Nor must the state go down before individualism.
The problem is to render possible and reconcile the coexistence of the largest private liberty and the highest public authority. This implies the idea of mediation. There must be mediatizing institutions standing between the state and the individual, insuring the safe transmission of power, and guaranteeing justice between the state and individuals, as well as between individuals in their relations with each other. This done, you realize or actualize the grand idea of mediation in the political relations of men. The distinguishing idea of Christianity—the God-man reconciling man with God, and thus harmonizing the finite with the infinite—this idea must actualize itself in the affairs of men, in order to harmonize perfect liberty with salutary authority. Animated by this idea, penetrated with profoundest belief of the infinite worth of the individual man because the God-man had wonderfully renewed his nature, the early Christian heroes and martyrs took hold of the hostile and disorganized elements of European society—the fragments of the Roman empire on the one hand, and the barbarians of the north on the other—and brought order out of chaos. They re-organized society by naturally, though slowly, developing those numerous intermediary institutions—guilds, corporations, trial by jury, the judiciary, and representation of interests, orders, guilds and corporations, not of individual heads, in Parliament—all which, as a living, harmonious system, constitute, or did constitute, the English Constitution, and were essentially reproduced in the Constitution of the United States, and which wonderfully distinguish constitutionalism from absolutism.
'The will of the emperor has the force of law,' was the fundamental maxim of the civil law. Emperor, imperator;—hence, imperialism, Caesarism, absolutism. That maxim obtained with pagans—civilized it may be, but none the less pagans—whose theory or gospel was that 'man is his own end.' Man's infinite moral worth as man, was not known or not recognized in the pagan civilization of the classic Greeks and Romans. Hence the state, which outlived the individual, was of more importance than the individual, and naturally absorbed the individual. Man being his own end, and existence being next to impossible without society, the state was the best means to obtain his end, and therefore Plato taught that man lives for the state, must be trained up for the state, belongs to the state, and is of no value outside of the state. Hence the pagan civilization of Greece and Rome, being intensely human, while it became very splendid and refined, became also, and could not help becoming intensely and unutterably corrupt—so corrupt that St. Paul refrained from finishing the disgusting catalogue of its awful sins and vices. The church, Christianity, could save man, but it could not save the empire. The principle of social harmony being lost, government and society fell to pieces.
On a certain memorable occasion, the present Emperor of France uttered the mystic phrase: The empire is peace! So it is. But how? I answer: Several centuries of Godless French statesmanship—engineered by men who, though nominal Christians or Catholics, discarded God in affairs of state, and attempted to rule without God in the world, except to use Him (pardon the expression) as a sort of scarecrow for the 'lower orders'—resulted in gradually drying up those intermediary institutions which had served at once to develop a manly civic life and to protect private liberty, and in reabsorbing and concentrating all power in the central government. Even in the early part of these centuries, Louis the Fourteenth made his boast, 'I am the state,' and thereby announced the substantial reinauguration of pagan imperialism or absolutism. His successors, aided by the ever-growing influence of the renaissance, which was but the revivification of classic paganism, continued his system, and when at last their cruel, inhuman, and unchristian oppressions drove men to the assertion of their rights in the fierce whirlwind of the French Revolution, that very assertion, 'clad in hell fire,' as Carlyle says, was based on the self-same fundamental principle that 'man is his own end.' The Revolution also ignored the divine idea, and failed. The subsequent revolutions, and especially that of 1848, were no wiser. The last was simply the triumph of democratic absolutism by universal suffrage, in place of autocratic or monarchic absolutism, as De Tocqueville clearly demonstrated in his 'Ancient Regime and the Revolution.' De Tocqueville had thoroughly mastered the constitutional system, as had also Lacordaire and Montalembert, and he, as well as they, joined the so-called republican movement of 1848, hoping that constitutionalism would triumph at last. But he soon saw that European Democrats or Red Republicans did not comprehend the idea;—that, in fact, they meant absolutism, though democratic; and he retired in disappointment, though calm hopefulness, to his estate, and there wrote his 'Ancient Regime.'
True, the Red Republicans issued high-sounding phrases about liberty, rights of man, and the right of the people to govern. But they meant rights of man independent of God, and the right of the people to be absolute; and they continued the system of centralism, or government by bureaucracy, without God. The French have learned by sad experience that there is a thousand times more danger of change, turbulence, and disruption, under democratic absolutism than under autocratic absolutism. Louis Napoleon knows it well, and hence his significant phrase, 'The empire is peace.' It is the strong iron band around a mass of antagonistic atoms, which have lost, at least in the sphere of politics, the cohesive principle of harmony: union with each other by virtue of union with the God-man.
Through all the terrific scenes of turbulence and carnage, the frequent dynastic changes, and the fearful scourgings of the French empire since the days of Louis the Fourteenth, the nation itself has not been destroyed, because, after all, there was and is a vast deal of virtue in the people as individuals. God never destroyed a nation for its public or national sins until the people themselves had become individually thoroughly corrupt. The city of Sodom itself would have been spared had even five good men been found therein. And so the French nation does not go to pieces, as the Roman empire did, because, notwithstanding the vice of Paris, of which we hear and read so much, and the godlessness of French statesmanship and French literature, the great body of the people, even in Paris, still retain their integrity, and a wholesome fear of God. But because their current literature is heathenish, and their statesmanship has ignored honesty and the divine origin of man's rights, those intermediary institutions, which were developed by Christian charity from the idea that man's rights are sacred because God-given and dignified by the God-man, have been undermined or disanimated, and it has come to pass that the only government possible, where the divine idea is eliminated from politics, is one in the form of absolutism. How long this form will continue in France remains to be seen. But it is certain that European Democrats or Red Republicans, with their ideas—or rather lack of ideas—will never comprehend the constitutional system, and will never rehabilitate or reanimate those intermediary municipal institutions, the monuments of which De Tocqueville was surprised to find scattered so generally through continental Europe, as well as in England and in New England.
Turning, now, to the United States, it is plainly evident that the whole tendency of our politics, intensely accelerated by the influence of Jefferson's French views, has been, first, to lose out of mind the true significance of those intermediary institutions embodied in the common law of England, and inherited by us from the mother country; and, secondly, to depreciate them as standing in the way of the people's will, or popular sovereignty; and, lastly, to break them down entirely, and substitute for them the tyranny of an irresponsible majority, or democratic absolutism. The persistent efforts to get rid of grand juries and trial by jury, to popularize the judiciary, to make senatorial terms dependent on changing party majorities, to reduce the representative to a mere deputy, and other similar schemes to bring about the direct unmediatized operation of the popular will upon the subject, are all illustrations of this direful tendency.
Concurrently with, and greatly aiding this tendency, there has been a gradual decay of the manly virtue that charactized our fathers. Men have become less conscientious in the performance of their public duties, and more regardless of private rights. A genuine manly self-respect implies sincere respect for the rights of others, and both inevitably decay as the fear of God dies out. When men continually act on the idea that man is his own end, and when each one is intensely engaged in seeking his own interest, what can result but jarring of interests, opposition, repulsion, disregard of law in so far as it clashes with private ends, and thus, finally, social and political disruption more or less extensive? Thus our trouble lies deeper than slavery. Remove the canker of slavery to-day, and yet the tendency to disruption and dissolution would evermore go on while prevailing ideas actuated society. The remorseless mill of selfishness would keep on grinding, grinding, grinding toward dissolution. Look at our literature, our architecture, our science, our political and moral theories, our social arrangements generally, and especially our hideous, almost diabolical arrangements or lack of arrangements for the care of the poor and the unfortunate, and what a confused jumble they present! Having no grand animating idea, no all-pervading principle of harmony, no universally recognized standard for anything, we are necessarily the most anomalous, amorphous, helter-skelter aggregation of independent and antagonistic individualities ever gathered together since nations began to exist. What can prevent such an agglomeration from falling to pieces? What can hold it together?
Thus, with the frightful decay of Christian, and even manly virtue—alas! too plainly visible all around us—and the entire divorcement of morality or religious ideas from politics, what fate is in store for us but the inevitable triumph of anarchy, and through it of despotism? Herein lies our real danger. The great struggle is not, as many assert, between aristocracy, or monarchy, or despotism and democracy. But it is between despotism or absolutism and constitutionalism. It is the struggle of the pagan system (revived by the renaissance), based on the idea that 'man is his own end,' with the Christian system based on the idea of mediation, involving the idea that the true end of man is God. It is not true, therefore, that democratic institutions are now on trial in the United States. Democracy, pure and simple, precisely in the form it is assuming or has assumed in this country, was tried long ago. It was tried in ancient Greece, and found wanting. It was tried in Rome, and ended in the dissolution of the empire. And in both these trials it had, to begin with, a much more highly finished, fresh, robust, and whole-souled manhood to work with and to work upon than that of modern democracy. More recently it was tried in France, and for the present is blooming in the despotism of Napoleon III.
The question, then, I repeat, is whether constitutionalism, as originally developed in England and embodied and reproduced by our fathers—who, perhaps, 'builded wiser than they knew'—can come safely through this crisis and triumph over the two ideas which, thus far, have predominated in the American mind, and driven us with fearful strides toward absolutism. 'Every man for himself' is the first idea. In the family, in church, in politics, in commerce, in all social and political relations, every man striving, pushing, scrambling, straining every nerve to advance himself, regardless of his neighbor or the public interest—such everywhere is the confused and hideous picture of American society. Selfishness predominates, and selfishness is repellant. So it was before the ages were, when Lucifer, in the pride of self, refused obedience to the Word. So it is even yet, and its inevitable tendency is to hostile isolation and final dissolution. Its logical consequence is anarchy. But anarchy is intolerable, and a civilized people, yea, even barbarians, will submit to anything rather than social and political chaos. Then comes the iron band of despotism to hold together the antagonistic fragments.
'The supremacy of the people's will' is the second idea. Vox Populi, vox Dei! What the people decree is right, and nothing must stand between their will and the subject or object upon which it operates! Such is the political gospel according to democracy, and fifty years' earnest proclamation thereof has wellnigh abolished all the barriers of constitutionalism—barriers, which stood like faithful guardians, stern but just, between the Individual and the State, which reconciled the harmonious coexistence of private liberty and public power—an idea wholly unknown in pagan or classic civilization—and which at once prevented the anarchy of individualism and the tyranny of absolutism. But true it is, whatever a people constantly assert they come to believe, and whatever they believe will at last crystallize itself in action. And thus, with the oft-repeated and ever-increasing assertion that 'man is his own end,' and 'is sufficient unto himself,' and with that other assertion that the will of the people is law and must act directly upon its object, we have gradually lost out of mind the true significance of the constitutional system. Those numberless intermediary institutions—which logically grew out of the Christian idea of mediation, as the oak naturally grows out of the acorn, and which wonderfully reconciled liberty with authority, freedom with order, the finite with the infinite—have become more and more obsolete, and less and less understood. They have crumbled away like the stately columns of a magnificent but neglected cathedral. They have become dead branches that must be lopped off. They are rubbish that must be removed—relics of monarchy or aristocracy, cunningly devised inventions of priestcraft or kingcraft, that retard the triumph of democracy.
If the will of the people is supreme, then away with your high and life-long judges, or at least let them be elected by the people and for very brief terms. Let grand juries be voted a humbug, and trial by jury a nuisance. Let electoral colleges be abolished as meaningless and cumbersome anomalies. Let the President be the direct representative of a mighty people, and act without let or hindrance—only let him act with gigantic energy and swift execution. Let senatorial terms be dependent upon changing legislative majorities. In fact, let the two legislative houses, as being wholly useless and very expensive, be reduced to one. Let the representative be a tongue-bound deputy, and not a free, manly, self-acting agent. Let county boards of supervisors give way to the one man power of the county judge. And, in short, let us go on, as we have been going on, democratizing or popularising our institutions, 'improving,' or rather impairing and tearing down one after another of the venerable columns of the original system, until every safeguard of personal freedom is removed, and there shall be nothing left to restrain the giant sway of unmitigated and unmediatized public power. Then we shall have despotism or absolutism, pure and simple—and none the less so because it shall be democratic.
The London Times will have nothing to jubilate over if what it mistakenly calls our 'trial of democratic institutions' shall be unsuccessful. For in fact, our constitutional system was but the reproduction, in a broader field and on a grander scale, of the British Constitution, in all its essential features, differing only in what philosophic historians call 'accidentals.' And if that system finally fails here, The Times may have a 'most comfortable assurance' that it will fail in England. True, we have more rapidly departed from and defaced that system than the English, chiefly because, in escaping from the fogs of England, we left behind us that stolid conservatism, that bulldog tenacity for the old because it is old, which are instinctive in the narrow-minded islanders. But they, just as much as we, have lost out of mind the significance of the Christian idea. They, just as much as we, have become thoroughly paganized—have become saturated with the central idea of pagan civilization, that man is his own end, lives for himself alone, and not for God, and therefore is inferior to and must be the mere tool of the state. If Americans hold that the state can make right, as well as enforce it, so do the English. If divine sanctions have no longer any significance in America, so have they not in England. If expediency, and not God's truth, is the universal rule of action here, so is it there. If every American or 'Yankee' seeks his own end in his own way, regardless of his neighbor, his Government, and his God, so does every Englishman. The Englishman has no God except his belly or his purse. Years ago it was said by one of themselves, 'The hell of the English is—not to make money,' If the divine principle of charity is a myth, and selfishness rages against selfishness here, much more so with a people whose only God is Mammon. And finally, if inevitable dissolution shall overtake us, and we rush into absolutism as a refuge from anarchy, we shall have the melancholy pleasure—if it can be a pleasure—of hailing the almost simultaneous wreck of the British Constitution, whose noble ruins, no less than ours, would be mournful monumental witnesses to the glory of ages wiser and better than our own.
AMERICAN FINANCES AND RESOURCES.
LETTER NO. II, FROM HON. ROBERT J. WALKER.
LONDON, 10 Half Moon Street, Piccadilly, October 8, 1863.
In view of the fact that the people of the United Kingdom and of the United States are mainly of the same race, speak the same language, have the same literature, ancestry, and common law, with the same history for centuries, and a reciprocal commerce exceeding that of all the rest of the world, it is amazing how little is known in each country of the other. This condition of affairs is most unfavorable to the continuance of peace and good will between two great and kindred nations. It causes constant misapprehension by each party of the acts and motives of the other, arrests the development of friendly feeling, and retards the advance of commercial freedom. It excites almost daily rumors of impending war, disturbing the course of trade, causing large mercantile losses, and great unnecessary Government expenditures. If war has not ensued, it has led to angry controversy and bitter recrimination. It is sowing broadcast in both countries the seeds of international hatred, rendering England and America two hostile camps, frowning mutual defiance; and, if not terminating in war, must, if not arrested, end in embargoes and non-intercourse, or discriminating duties on imports and tonnage, greatly injurious to both countries. I know it has become fashionable in England and America to sneer at the fact of our common origin; but the great truth still exists, and is fraught with momentous consequences, for good or evil, to both nations, and to mankind. The United States were colonized mainly by the people of England. Ten of our original thirteen States bear English names, as do also nearly all their counties, townships, cities, and villages.
Leaving to Englishmen the task of disabusing the Americans in regard to their own country, I will endeavor to present, in a condensed form, some material and authentic facts as regards the United States, for the consideration of the people of the United Kingdom. I read and hear every day here predictions of our impending bankruptcy and national dissolution; our wealth and resources depreciated; our cause, our people, our armies, and Government decried; and a war in words and in the press prosecuted against us with vindictive fury. All this hostility is fully reciprocated in America; and if the war is not confined to words and types, it will not be the fault of agitators in both countries. So far as an American can, even in part, arrest this fatal progress of misapprehension, by communicating information in regard to his own country, is the principal purpose of these essays.
In answer to the daily predictions here of our impending ruin and national bankruptcy, I shall first discuss the question of our wealth, resources, and material progress.
AREA.—The area of the United States, including lakes and rivers, is 3,250,000 square miles, being larger than all Europe. (Rep. Sec. of Interior and of Com. of Gen. Land Office for Dec. 1860, p. 13.)
Our land surface is 3,010,370 square miles, being 1,926,636,000 acres. This area is compact and contiguous, divided into States and Territories, united by lakes, rivers, canals, and railroads. We have no colonies. Congress governs the nation by what the Constitution declares to be 'the supreme law,' whilst local regulations are prescribed and administered by the several States and Territories. We front on the two great oceans—the Atlantic and Pacific; extending from the St. Lawrence and the lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, from near the 24th to the 49th parallel of north latitude; and in longitude, from 67 deg. 25' to 124 deg. 40' west of Greenwich. Our location on the globe as regards its land surface is central, and all within the temperate zone. No empire of contiguous territory possesses such a variety of climate, soil, forests and prairies, fruits and fisheries, animal, vegetable, mineral, and agricultural products. We have all those of Europe, with many in addition, and a climate (on the average) more salubrious, and with greater longevity, as shown by the international census. We have a far more fertile soil and genial sun, with longer and better seasons for crops and stock; and already, in our infancy, with our vast products, feed and clothe many millions in Europe and other continents. Last year our exports to foreign countries of breadstuffs and provisions, from the loyal States alone, were of the value of $108,000,000. (Table of Com. and Nav. 1860.)
If as well cultivated as England, our country could much more than feed and clothe the whole population of the world. If as densely settled as England, our population would be more than twelve hundred millions, exceeding that of all the earth. If as densely settled as Massachusetts (among the least fertile of all our States), we would number 513,000,000 inhabitants.
We have seen that our area exceeds that of Europe, with a far more genial sun and fertile soil, and capable of yielding more than double the amount of agricultural products and of sustaining more than twice the number of inhabitants. We have a greater extent of mines than all Europe, especially of coal, iron, gold, silver, and quicksilver. Our coal alone, as stated by Sir William Armstrong (the highest British authority), is 32 times as great as that of the United Kingdom, and our iron will bear a similar proportion.
Our maritime front is 5,120 miles; but our whole coast line, including bays, sounds, and rivers, up to the head of tide water, is 33,663 miles. (Ex. Doc. No. 7, pp. 75, 76, Official Report of Professor A. D. Bache, Superintendent of U. S. Coast Survey, Dec. 5th, 1848.) Our own lake shore line is 3,620 miles. (Top. Rep. ib. 77.)
The shore line of the Mississippi river above tide water and its tributaries, is 35,644 (ib. 77); and of all our other rivers, above tide water, is 49,857 miles, making in all 122,784 miles. Of this stupendous water mileage, more than one half is navigable by steam, employing an interior steam tonnage exceeding that of all the internal steam tonnage of the rest of the world. No country is arterialized by such a vast system of navigable streams, to have constructed which as canals of equal capacity would have cost more than ten billions of dollars, and then these canals would have been subjected to large tolls, the cost of their annual repairs would have been enormous, and the interruption by lockage a serious obstacle. We may rest assured then, that, all Europe combined, can never have such facilities for cheap water communication as the United States. This is a mighty element in estimating the power and progress of a nation. It shows, also, why we have no such deserts as Sahara, so small a portion of our lands requiring manures or irrigation, and no general failures of crops, with so few even partial failures of any one crop.
We have more deep, capacious, and safe harbors, accessible at all tides, than all Europe, with more than twenty capable of receiving the Great Eastern. (Charts, U. S. Coast Survey.)
Our hydraulic power (including Niagara) far exceeds that of all Europe. We have more timber than all Europe, including most varieties, useful and ornamental. We have, including cotton, vastly more of the raw material for manufactures than all Europe. With all these vast natural advantages, has man, in our country, performed his duty, in availing himself of the bounteous gifts of Providence? We are considering now the question of our material progress, in regard to which, the following official data are presented.
We have completed since 1790, 5,782 miles of canals, from 4 to 10 feet deep, and from 40 to 75 feet wide, costing $148,000,000, and mostly navigable by steam. (Census Table, 1860, No. 39.)
We have constructed since 1829, 33,698 miles of railroad (more than all the rest of the world), costing $1,258,922,729. (Table 38, Census of 1860, and Addenda.)
We have in operation on the land, more miles of telegraph than all the world, a single route, from New York to San Francisco, being 3,500 miles.
Our lighthouses exceed in number those of any other country, and we have no light-dues, as in England.
Our coast survey, executed by Professor Bache, Superintendent of the U. S. Coast Survey, exceeds in extent and accuracy that of any other country. On this subject, we have the united opinions of British and Continental savans.
We have made since 1790, 1,505,454 linear miles of survey of the public lands of the United States, belonging to the Government, including 460,000,000 of acres already divided into townships, each six miles square (23,040 acres), subdivided into square miles, called sections, of 640 acres each, and each section further subdivided into 16 lots of 40 acres each.
TONNAGE.—The total tonnage of the United States was in—
1814, 1,368,127 tons. June, 1851, 3,772,439 " June, 1861, 5,539,812 "
At the same rate of increase as from 1851 to 1861, our tonnage would be, in
1871, 8,134,578 tons. 1881, 11,952,817 " 1891, 17,541,514 " 1901, 25,758,948 " (Table of Com. and Nav.)
At the close of this century our tonnage then, at this rate of increase, would far exceed that of all the rest of the world.
GOLD AND SILVER.—The aggregate product of our gold and silver mines approaches now one billion of dollars, most of which has been converted into coin at our mint. Nearly all of this product has been obtained since the discovery of gold in California. Less than two per cent. of the precious metals has been the product of the seceded States. This gold and silver are found now in seven States, and nine Territories; the yield is rapidly augmenting, and new discoveries constantly developed.
The Secretary of the Interior estimates the total product 'next year,' of our mines of precious metals, at '$100,000,000,' and when our railroad to the Pacific (traversing this region) is completed, his estimate of the 'annual yield' is '$150,000,000.' The mines are declared 'inexhaustible' by the highest authority, and our Nevada silver mines are now admitted to be 'the richest in the world.' The completion of our imperial railroad, now progressing to the Pacific, will carry an immense population to the gold and silver regions, vastly increase the number of miners, diminish the cost of mining, and decrease the price of provisions and supplies to the laborers. When we add to this, the vast and increasing product of our quicksilver mines of California, so indispensable as an amalgam in producing gold and silver, as also the great and progressive improvement in processes and machinery for working the quartz veins, it is now believed that the estimates of our Secretary of the Interior, and Commissioner of the General Land Office, will be exceeded by the result. These mines of the precious metals are nearly all on the public lands of the United States; they are the property of the Federal Government, and their intrinsic value exceeds our public debt.
PUBLIC LANDS.—The United States own an immense public domain, acquired by treaties with France, Spain, and Mexico, and by compacts with States and Indian tribes. This domain is thus described in the Report of the Commissioner of the General Land Office, of November 29th, 1860:
'Of the 3,250,000 of square miles which constitute the territorial extent of the Union, the public lands embrace an area of 2,265,625 square miles, or 1,450,000,000 of acres, being more than two thirds of our geographical extent, and nearly three times as large as the United States at the ratification of the definitive treaty of peace in 1783 with Great Britain. This empire domain extends from the northern line of Texas, the Gulf of Mexico, reaching to the Atlantic Ocean, northwesterly to the Canada line bordering upon the great Lakes Erie, Huron, Michigan, and Superior, extending westward to the Pacific Ocean, with Puget's Sound on the north, the Mediterranean Sea of our extreme northwestern possessions.
'It includes fifteen sovereignties, known as the 'Land States,' and an extent of territory sufficient for thirty-two additional, each equal to the great central land State of Ohio.
'It embraces soils capable of abundant yield of the rich productions of the tropics, of sugar, cotton, rice, tobacco, corn, and the grape, the vintage, now a staple, particularly so of California; of the great cereals, wheat and corn, in the Western, Northwestern, and Pacific States, and in that vast interior region from the valley of the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains; and thence to the chain formed by the Sierra Nevada and Cascades, the eastern wall of the Pacific slope, every variety of soil is found revealing its wealth.
'Instead of dreary, inarable wastes, as supposed in earlier times, the millions of buffalo, elk, deer, mountain sheep, the primitive inhabitants of the soil, fed by the hand of nature, attest its capacity for the abundant support of a dense population through the skilful toil of the agriculturist, dealing with the earth under the guidance of the science of the present age.
'Not only is the yield of food for man in this region abundant, but it holds in its bosom the precious metals of gold, silver, with cinnabar, the useful metals of iron, lead, copper, interspersed with immense belts or strata of that propulsive element, coal, the source of riches and power, and now the indispensable agent, not only for domestic purposes of life, but in the machine shop, the steam car, and steam vessel, quickening the advance of civilization and the permanent settlement of the country, and being the agent of active and constant intercommunication with every part of the republic.'
Kansas having been admitted since the date of this Report, our public domain, thus described officially, now includes the sixteen land States, and all the Territories.
Of this vast region (originally 1,450,000,000 acres), there was surveyed up to September, 1860, 441,067,915 acres, and 394,088,712 acres disposed of by sales, grants, etc., leaving, as the Commissioner states, 'the total area of unsold and unappropriated, of offered and unoffered lands of the public domain, 1,055,911,288 acres.' This is 'land surface,' exclusive of lakes, bays, rivers, etc., 1,055,911,288 acres, or 1,649,861 square miles, and exceeds one half the area of the whole Union. The area of New York, being 47,000 square miles, is less than a thirty-fifth part of our public domain. England (proper) has 50,922 square miles, France 203,736, Prussia 107,921, and Germany 80,620 square miles. The area then of our public domain is more than eight times as large as France, more than fifteen times as large as Prussia, more than twenty times as large as Germany, more than thirty-two times as large as England, and larger (excluding Russia) than all Europe, containing more than 200 millions of people.
As England (proper) contained in 1861, 18,949,916 inhabitants, if our public domain were as densely settled, its population would exceed 606 millions; and it would be 260,497,561, if numbering as many to the square mile as Massachusetts. Its average fertility far exceeds that of Europe, as does also the extent of its mines, especially gold, silver, coal, and iron, with every variety of soil, climate, mineral and agricultural products.
These lands are surveyed at the expense of the Government into townships of six miles square, subdivided into sections, and these into quarter sections (160) acres, set apart for homesteads. Our system of public surveys into squares, by lines running due north and south, east and west, is so simple as to have precluded all disputes as to boundary or title. This domain reaches from the 24th to the 49th parallel, from the lakes to the gulf, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Its isothermes (the lines of equal mean annual temperatures) strike on the north the coast of Norway midway, touch St. Petersburg in Russia, and pass through Manchooria on the coast of Asia, about three degrees south of the mouth of the Amour river. On the south, these isothermes run through Northern Africa, and nearly the centre of Egypt near Thebes, cross Northern Arabia, Persia, Northern Hindostan, and Southern China near Canton.
Of this vast domain, less than two per cent. is cursed by slavery, which is prohibited by law in eleven of these land States, and in all the Territories.
Now, however, within our present vast domain, not only the poor, but our own industrious classes and those of Europe, may not only find a home, but a farm for each settler, substantially as a free gift by the Government. Here all who would rather be owners than tenants, and wish to improve and cultivate their own soil, are invited. Here, too, all who would become equals among equals, citizens (not subjects) of a great and free country, enjoying the right of suffrage, and eligible to every office except the presidency, can come and occupy with us this great inheritance. Here liberty, equality, and fraternity reign supreme, not in theory, or in name only, but in truth and reality. This is the brotherhood of man, secured and protected by our organic law. Here the Constitution and the people are the only sovereigns, and the Government is administered by their elected agents, and for the benefit of the people. Those toiling elsewhere for wages that will scarcely support existence, for the education of whose children no provision is made by law, who are excluded from the right of suffrage, may come here and be voters and citizens, find a farm given as a homestead, free schools provided for their children at the public expense, and hold any office but the presidency, to which their children, born here, are eligible. What does Europe for any of its toiling millions who reject this munificent offer? He is worked and taxed there to his utmost endurance. He has the right to work, and pay taxes, but not to vote. Unschooled ignorance is his lot and that of his descendants. If a farmer, he works and improves the land of others, in constant terror of rent day, the landlord, and eviction. Indeed the annual rent of a single acre in England exceeds the price—$10 (L2. 2s. 8d.)—payable for the ownership in fee simple of the entire homestead of 160 acres, granted him here by the Government. For centuries that are past and for all time to come, there, severe toil, poverty, ignorance, the workhouse, or low wages, and disfranchisement, would seem to be his lot. Here, freedom, competence, the right of suffrage, the homestead farm, and free schools for his children.
In selecting these homestead farms, the emigrant can have any temperature, from St. Petersburg to Canton. He can have a cold, a temperate, or a warm climate, and farming or gardening, grazing or vintage, varied by fishing or hunting. He can raise wheat, rye, Indian corn, oats, rice, indigo, cotton, tobacco, cane or maple sugar and molasses, sorghum, wool, peas and beans, Irish or sweet potatoes, barley, buckwheat, wine, butter, cheese, hay, clover, and all the grasses, hemp, hops, flax and flaxseed, silk, beeswax and honey, and poultry, in uncounted abundance. If he prefers a stock farm, he can raise horses, asses, and mules, camels, milch cows, working oxen, and other cattle, goats, sheep, and swine. In most locations, these will require neither housing nor feeding throughout the year. He can have orchards, and all the fruits and vegetables of Europe, and many in addition. He can have an Irish or German, Scotch, English or Welsh, French, Swiss, Norwegian, or American neighborhood. He can select the shores of oceans, lakes, or rivers; live on tide water or higher lands, valleys, or mountains. He can be near a church of his own denomination; the freedom of conscience is complete; he pays no tithes, nor church tax, except voluntarily. His sons and daughters, on reaching twenty-one years of age, or sooner, if the head of a family, are each entitled to a homestead of 160 acres; if he dies, the title is secured to his widow, children, or heirs. Our flag is his, and covers him everywhere with its protection. He is our brother; and he and his children will enjoy with us the same heritage of competence and freedom. He comes where labor is king, and toil is respected and rewarded. If before, or instead of receiving his homestead, he chooses to pursue his profession or business, to work at his trade, or for daily wages, he will find them double the European rate, and subsistence cheaper. From whatever part of Europe he may come, he will meet his countrymen here, and from them and us receive a cordial welcome. A Government which gives him a farm, the right to vote, and free schools for his children, must desire his welfare.
Of this vast domain (more than thirty-two times as large as England) the Government of the United States grants substantially as a free gift, a farm of 160 acres to every settler who will occupy and cultivate the same, the title being in fee simple, and free from all rent whatsoever. The settler may be native or European, a present or future immigrant, including females as well as males, but must be at least twenty-one years of age, or the head of a family. If an immigrant, the declaration must first be made of an intention to become a citizen of the United States, when the grant is immediately made, without waiting for naturalization. When the children of the settler reach twenty-one years of age, or become the head of a family, they each receive from the Government a like donation of 160 acres. The intrinsic value of this public domain far exceeds the whole public debt of the United States.
Our national wealth, by the last census, was $16,159,616,068, and its increase during the last ten years $8,925,481,011, or 126.45 per cent. (Census, 1860, p. 195.) Now, if, as a consequence of the Homestead Bill, there should be occupied, improved, and cultivated, during the next ten years, 100,000 additional farms by settlers, or only 10,000 per annum, it would make an aggregate of 16,000,000 acres. If, including houses, fences, barns, and other improvements, we should value each of these farms at ten dollars an acre, it would make an aggregate of $160,000,000. But if we add the product of these farms, allowing only one half of each (80 acres) to be cultivated, and the average annual value of the crops, stock included, to be only ten dollars per acre, it would give $80,000,000 a year, and, in ten years, $800,000,000, independent of the reinvestment of capital. It is clear that thus vast additional employment would be given to labor, freight to steamers, railroads, and canals, markets for manufactures, and augmented revenue.
The homestead privilege will largely increase immigration. Now, beside the money brought here by immigrants, the census proves that the average annual value of the labor of Massachusetts, per capita, was, in 1860, $300 for each man, woman, and child. Assuming that of the immigrants at an average net annual value of only $100 each, or less than 33 cents a day, it would make, in ten years, at the rate of 200,000 each year, the following aggregate:
1st year, 200,000 = $20,000,000 2d " 400,000 " 40,000,000 3d " 600,000 " 60,000,000 4th " 800,000 " 80,000,000 5th " 1,000,000 " 100,000,000 6th " 1,200,000 " 120,000,000 7th " 1,400,000 " 140,000,000 8th " 1,600,000 " 160,000,000 9th " 1,800,000 " 180,000,000 10th " 2,000,000 " 200,000,000 ——————- Total, $1,100,000,000
In this table, the labor of all immigrants each year is properly added to those arriving the succeeding year, so as to make the aggregate, the last year, two millions. This would make the value of the labor of these two millions of immigrants, in ten years, $1,100,000,000, independent of the annual accumulation of capital, and the labor of the children of the immigrants after the first ten years, which, with their descendants, would go on constantly increasing.
But, by the actual official returns (see page 14 of Census), the number of alien immigrants to the United States, from December, 1850, to December, 1860, was 2,598,216, or an annual average of 259,821, say 260,000. The effect, then, of this immigration, on the basis of the last table, upon the increase of national wealth, was as follows:
1st year, 260,000 = $26,000,000 2d " 520,000 " 52,000,000 3d " 780,000 " 78,000,000 4th " 1,040,000 " 104,000,000 5th " 1,300,000 " 130,000,000 6th " 1,560,000 " 156,000,000 7th " 1,820,000 " 182,000,000 8th " 2,080,000 " 208,000,000 9th " 2,340,000 " 234,000,000 10th " 2,600,000 " 260,000,000 ——————— Total, $1,430,000,000
Thus the value of the labor of the immigrants from 1850 to 1860 was fourteen hundred and thirty millions of dollars, making no allowance for the accumulation of capital by annual reinvestment, nor for the natural increase of population, amounting, by the census, in ten years, to about 24 per cent. This addition to our wealth by the labor of the children, in the first ten years, would be small; but in the second, and each succeeding decennium, when we count children and their descendants, it would be large and constantly augmenting. But the census shows that our wealth increases each ten years at the rate of 126.45 per cent. Now, then, take our increase of wealth in consequence of immigration as before stated, and compound it at the rate of 126.45 per cent, every ten years, and the result is largely over three billions of dollars in 1870, and over seven billions of dollars in 1880, independent of the effect of any immigration succeeding 1860. If these results are astonishing, we must remember that immigration here is augmented population, and that it is population and labor that create wealth. Capital, indeed, is the accumulation of labor. Immigration, then, from 1850 to 1860, added to our national wealth a sum more than one third greater than our whole debt on the 1st of July last, and augmenting in a ratio much more rapid than its increase, and thus enabling us to bear the war expenses.
As the homestead privilege must largely increase immigration, and add especially to the cultivation of our soil, it will contribute more than any other measure to increase our population, wealth, and power, and augment out revenue from duties and taxes.
We have seen that, by the Census (p. 195), the total value of the real and personal estate in the United States was, in—
1860, $16,159,616,068 1850, 7,135,780,228
Increase from 1850 to 1860, 126.45 per cent.
At the same rate of increase, for the four succeeding decades, the result would be, in—
1870, $36,593,450,585 1880, 82,865,868,849 1890, 187,314,353,225 1900, 423,330,438,288
If we subtract one fourth from the aggregate, we will find that our public debt constitutes less than one half of one per cent. of the increase of our national wealth. This debt, then, does not exhaust our capital, but effects only a small diminution of the rate of augmentation.
If we look at the causes of this vast increase of our national wealth, they will be found mainly in the enormous extent of our fertile lands, the vast emigration from Europe, and the constant addition of new States to the Union. Thus, from 1850 to 1860, four new States were added to the Union. These four States were almost an untrodden wilderness in 1850, but in 1860 were rich and flourishing States, with a population of 638,965, and an aggregate wealth of $331,809,418. Within this decade, from 1860 to 1870, at least six new States will be added to the Union. This is evident from a reference to our present Territories, as follows:
Dacotah, 95,316,480 acres. Nebraska, 48,636,800 " Indian, 56,924,000 " Idaho, 208,878,720 " Washington, 44,796,160 " Nevada, 52,184,960 " Utah, 68,084,480 " Arizona, 80,730,240 " New Mexico, 77,568,640 " Colorado, 66,880,000 " —————- Total, 800,000,480 acres.
Here then are Territories with an aggregate area of 800,000,480 acres, sufficient for twenty-six States of the size of New York. In all these Territories but one, the precious metals are found in great abundance, and the railroad to the Pacific, with numerous branches through this vast region, together with the greatest advantages of our new Homestead Bill of last year, is settling these Territories with unprecedented rapidity. Notwithstanding the war, immigration to the United States is progressing with more than its usual volume, caused by the very high wages for labor, the great benefits of our recent Homestead Bill, and the exclusion, by recent act of Congress, of slavery from all this vast domain.
It will be observed, that, whilst the lands constituting these Territories remain public lands, no estimate is made of them as wealth in the national census. It is only when these public lands become farms and private property, that they are valued as part of the wealth of the nation. This remark also applies to that 255,000,000 acres of public lands in the sixteen Land States of the Union. Hence the amazing increase of wealth at each decade, in the new States and Territories. Thus, by Table 35 of the Census of 1860, page 195, the rate of increase of wealth in the following States and Territories, from 1850 to 1860, was:
Washington, 5,000 per cent. Nebraska, 4,800 " Utah, 467 " New Mexico, 302 "
Kansas, 8,000 per cent. Iowa, 942 " California, 837 " Minnesota, 6,000 " Michigan, 330 " Oregon, 471 per cent. Illinois, 457 " Wisconsin, 550 "
It is thus that the wave of population moves onward in our Western States and Territories, that the axe and the plough are the pioneers of civilization, that farms, cities, and villages, the schoolhouse, and the church, rise from the wilderness, as if by the touch of an enchanter's wand. That enchantment is the power of freedom and education, the effect of which (as compared with the deadly influence of slavery and ignorance) shall be illustrated in a succeeding letter. In that letter, by comparing the relative progress of our Free and Slave States, as demonstrated by our Census, it will be proved, incontestably, that the total exclusion of slavery from our Union will cause an addition to our national wealth vastly exceeding the whole public debt of our country, and soon leave us much richer than before the rebellion.
R. J. WALKER.
THE DECLINE OF ENGLAND.
In Europe, two nations for almost a thousand years have contended for empire. England and France, for the greater portion of that period, have waged war with each other. When not engaged in actual hostilities, they have watched each other with jealous animosity—seeking by intrigue and diplomatic schemes to thwart or defeat the designs which one or the other had formed for national aggrandizement.
No one of Anglo-Saxon descent can peruse the histories of those countries, and not feel pride in the valor and success which have distinguished his race. Twice the victorious banner of England has fluttered in the gaze of Paris. Until a recent age, the French flag visited the ocean only at the sufferance of England.
Whatever may be thought of the wisdom of the continental policy of England since 1688—in pursuance of which she has persistently sought to defeat the ambition of France—no one can help admiring the ability and indomitable courage she has displayed in the gratification of her national antipathy. From the League of Augsburg, of 1687, to which she became a party, to the Treaty of Utrecht, in 1713, she put forth herculean efforts to compel the relinquishment of the family compact by Louis XIV. By that treaty, the darling project of that monarch to secure the crown of Spain for a Bourbon, was forever abandoned by France. Elated with this triumph over her adversary, throughout the eighteenth century England continued to pursue the same policy of checking and defeating all the schemes of France for territorial acquisition. It mattered not where; in whatever quarter of the globe France sought to plant her standard, she always found there an English enemy. In Asia, Africa, and America, as well as in Europe, all her attempts to extend her empire were defeated by England. Pondicherry was the only East Indian possession which the genius of Clive allowed her to retain. By the Treaty of Paris, of 1763, she was compelled to relinquish Canada in order to regain her West Indian islands conquered by England.
Vainly, under good or bad, weak or potent sovereigns, did France attempt the enlargement of her empire or an increase of national power. England, on one pretence or another, always confronted her, and by successful war, or unscrupulous diplomacy, baffled her designs.
The English mind was cultivated throughout the eighteenth century into the belief that every accession to France was a menace and an injury to England.
At last the French Revolution, inspiring with preternatural energy that gallant people, turned the tide of events so long adverse to French aggrandizement. Still true to her hereditary hostility, England combined all Europe to resist the aggression of republican France. But soon, from the raging elements of that awful convulsion, the 'Man of Destiny' arose, who could 'ride the whirlwind and direct the storm.' He seized the helm, evoked order from chaos, and smote the enemies of France wherever they appeared, revived the splendors of her early history, and, like her mediaeval Charlemagne, gave the law to Europe.
England took the measure of Napoleon, and recognized in him an enemy whom she must subdue at any cost, or submit to be reduced in the scale of nations to that importance and those proportions befitting her diminutive territory in Europe.
The battle of Marengo—the Peace of Luneville—the ascendency of Napoleon on the continent—the defection of the continental allies of England—and the preparations of Napoleon for her invasion, led to the Treaty of Amiens.
That treaty, however, was only a brief truce, which England never designed to observe but temporarily. She refused to respect its obligations, and even to negotiate for its modification. She feared that peace would enable Napoleon to rebuild his shattered navy.
Lord Hawkesbury's note of March 15th, 1803, assigned as her avowed reason for the renewal of the war—'the acquisition made by France in various quarters, particularly in Italy, and therefore England would be justified in claiming equivalents for these acquisitions as a counterpoise to the augmentation of the power of France.'
This note of Lord Hawkesbury avows distinctly the spirit of the foreign policy of England for the last two hundred years. She would not tolerate any acquisition by her rival unless she obtained 'equivalents.' In pursuance of this unchangeable policy, she again declared war against France. Mr. Pitt resumed his position of prime minister, and soon formed a new continental coalition to resist the mighty power and the aggressions of the French emperor.
Thenceforward she listened to no overtures for peace, but prosecuted with implacable resentment the war—until she finally prostrated her imperial foe, and became his inglorious jailer, until death relieved her from all apprehensions of danger.
But this triumph of a vindictive policy, so gratifying to the national antipathy, was purchased at a price perhaps far exceeding its value.
The overthrow of Napoleon was an achievement which compelled England to anticipate the resources of future generations. These generations have come, and are coming, and they find themselves unable any longer to contend with French ambition.
The first Napoleon, whom England fought with such relentless animosity, won his throne by the display of matchless ability in the field and the cabinet. The present Napoleon reached his throne by perjury, assassination, and crimes of the blackest atrocity. The first Napoleon England pursued with her hatred to his grave. The present Napoleon, reeking with the blood of his unarmed fellow citizens, kisses the queen of England, and the entente cordial with him becomes the foreign policy of England. Entangled in his toils, she makes war on Russia as his ally, stands silently while he humbles Austria and changes the map of Europe, and barely escapes by an afterthought being dragged into an attempt to destroy a free republic in America, to enable France to augment the area for the expansion of the Latin race at the expense of that of the Anglo-Saxon.
What would the great Chatham and his son—who so long moulded the destiny of Europe—say, if they could revisit the earth and peruse the history of their country for the last twelve years? Would they recognize her as that England who in their hands smote the house of Bourbon, and inaugurated the policy which led to the overthrow of the greatest captain who ever tormented with his lust for glory the human race? Certainly, in all the wars which England waged against the house of Bourbon, France never attempted a conquest of greater value than that which the present Napoleon has commenced in Mexico. Certainly, no conquest which the first Napoleon ever threatened in Europe would have so strengthened France as would the annexation of Mexico to her dominions. But England has expended in her wars with the first Napoleon, to restrain him from acquisitions which could not have materially injured England, all her resources for war. She is not in the condition to wage such wars with France as she prosecuted during the last and the beginning of the present century. She knows that she must acquiesce in the ambitious acquisitions of the present Napoleon, or else encounter his hostility. Cherbourg and the steam navy of France render an invasion of the British Isles a more practicable achievement for the present Napoleon than ever the first Napoleon could hope for. England shrinks, therefore, from any effort to curb the present aggrandizement of France, from fear. She ignominiously renounces and abandons the policy of her monarchy, her aristocracy, and her people—pursued for two hundred years with unfaltering pertinacity; not because she condemns it, not because she does not feel 'justified' in resisting French acquisitions unless 'equivalents for these acquisitions as a counterpoise to the augmentation of the power of France' are obtained; but obviously, because she fears to encounter the arms of the present Napoleon.
When the French emperor forced upon the acceptance of Lord Aberdeen's cabinet 'the harsh and insulting scheme of action' (as Kinglake calls it) which provoked the war with Russia in 1854, England's dilemma was: a war with Nicholas, or a rupture with France. 'The negotiation which had seemed to be almost ripe for a settlement was then ruined.'
A war for Napoleon at that time with one of the great powers, was a necessity. It was necessary for the stability of his throne. It was necessary to prevent the thoughts of France from dwelling upon the assassination of the republic and her own infamy in submitting to that enormous villany. If it had not been Russia, it would have been England that the imperial usurper would have denounced as disturbing the waters for his provocation.