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THE BLOW AGAINST AMERICAN COMMERCE.
suffered through the course England thought proper to take in the very beginning of the Rebellion, we have scarcely reached the threshold by simply counting the two hundred and seventyfive peaceful merchantmen sunk or bonded by British cruisers. This covered only so many tons of shipping-and perhaps twelve or fifteen million dollars of value in ships and goods. It was an item too inconsiderable to demand much attention, compared with the stupendous loss of the carrying trade with foreign nations, then in our hands. We glance at the commercial condition in 1860, when, although the clouds were lowering over the political horizon, commerce had not yet shortened its sails, nor altered its courses.
The following figures are from the Treasury Reports, which show our commerce and navigation with all countries for the financial year, ending June 30, 1860: Domestic produce, exported, $373,189,274. Foreign, exported, $26,933,022. Total exports, $400,122,296. Total imports, $362,166,254. Total exchanges, $762,288,550. Entered, American tonnage, 5,921, 285. Cleared, do. 6,165,924. Foreign tonnage entered, 2,353, 911. Cleared, 2,624,005. Our exports had risen in eight years, one hundred and seventy millions; a commercial growth unparalleled in the history of any nation.
The figures for the next five years will be given in the body of the work, with much valuable information derived from the Records of the New York Chamber of Commerce. To show the vigilance with which that important Institution guards the commercial interests of this country, and the feelings with which its members contemplated the whirlwind which swept our commerce from the sea, I have only to cite below a few pas sages from the proceedings of the Chamber, January 2, 1863.*
"Whereas, It is alleged that the Alabama is continually supplied from Great Britain with coal and ammunition, by means of which she is enabled to continue her piratical course against American commerce, the consequence being to raise the premium of insurances on American vessels and their cargoes, and to depress the rate of freights in American ships, and to transfer our carrying trade to vessels of other nations, this Chamber is led to the following conclusions:
MEMORIAL OF N. Y. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE.
Could we not have our share of blue water? Could not our Republic live, and your oligarchy too, at the same time? Must you humiliate us in order to save your own pride?
England has yet to learn the great lesson that Democracy is hereafter to be the law of the human race. Monarchy and despot
"First. That through the active instrumentality of the subjects of Great Britain, the so-called Confederate States are furnished with ships, men, arms and ammunition with which to war on the commerce of the United States.
"Second. That without such foreign aid the States in revolt against the government of the United States would be powerless to effect any injury to American commerce on the high seas.
"Third. That this war on American commerce, carried on by ships built and manned in Great Britain, if not rebuked by the British press generally, is not discouraged by the public sentiment of a once friendly nation, claiming to be guided by high and honorable principles, and is not effectually and thoroughly arrested by the strong will and stronger arm of the British government.
"Fourth. That as a result of the foregoing facts and conclusions, the merchants of the United States are subjected, in a certain degree, to the evils which would attend a state of war with Great Britain, and are compelled to witness the carrying trade of their country transferred from their own vessels to British bottoms, under all the sanctions and advantages of peace and neutrality to the latter, while the source of this great peril, threatening to drive American commerce from the ocean, is of British origin; now, therefore."
In the autumn previous (Oct. 22, 1862,) the Chamber had used the following language in another memorial to the President of the United States:
Now it cannot be said that the government of England, and the merchants of England, indeed, every body in England, are ignorant of this, or of the further fact, that vessels are to follow the "Alabama" and other privateers intended to operate against our commerce on the seas, when they leave the shores of England, with cargoes of arms, guns, and munitions of war, and crews made up of British subjects, all which are to be transferred to these piratical vessels for the purpose of destroying American ships and American commerce.
"Therefore, we say that this Chamber ought publicly to express the opinion it set forth seven years ago, when the situation of the two countries was reversed, when England was at war, and we were at peace. The sentiments we then expressed, when vindicating our character and our honor against unfounded aspersion, we may well, and should emphatically express as our sentiments today, and hold them out for the consideration of the people of England, with whom it has ever been our desire to live on terms of friendly intercourse. It will be for them to consider what impression it will make on the American mind that British built ships, manned by British seamen, are sent out to burn and destroy our ships pursuing their legitimate courses upon the ocean, and to commit
DEMOCRACY TO BE THE LAW OF THE WORLD.
ism may live for a while in form;-in spirit they are dead. They can hope for no resurrection. The world is not wide enough any longer for monarchy, hierarchy, superstition, or oppression, of the bodies, souls, or spirits of men. The emancipation of men everywhere from the thraldom of man, is the enchanting watch-word of the last, and better half of the Nineteenth Century. The world has heard the shout of Freedom, and is straining on its fetters. It is saying to its oppressors: "The cup of bitterness you have so long pressed to our lips, we will drain no more forever."
NGLISH critics and statesmen must not grow restive or angry at us because we turn the tables, and speak with some freedom about them, and their social and political system. Again and again we say, we do not care for your form of government, nor do we claim that Republican forms are necessary to the existence or perpetuity of liberty. You call your form a monarchy, by which you mean an aristocracy, as strong and impregnable as you could make it. You care not much more for your Queen than we do, and many of you not half as much. But you use her as a foil, a pretext, a sham, behind which you hide your unearned, often unjustly gotten, but always conve niently inherited wealth and titles. You are the monarchynot the royal family. You rule-not the Queen. You feast -the masses starve. I know that the word American Democ
their crews to chains. And because the law of nations, more careful it seems of personal interests than the interests of humanity, has so shut these pirates out from the ports of every civilized country, that they cannot take in their prizes for condemnation in the rightful way of law, they must, therefore, condemn them by fire on the seas.
“Sir, as a great commercial people, holding and anxious to hold friendly relations with the government and people of Great Britain, we have a moral right to present these views to the government at Washington, and to ask the Secretary of State for the United States, through our diplomatic agents abroad, to lay these resolutions before the government and people of Europe."
THE MULTITUDE YET TO BE HEARD.
racy grates harshly on English ears, but that alters not the There is no throne, nor mitre, nor class that can withstand the tide of the age.
And tell us!-should not the time come, sooner or later, when the many may have justice? When hunger among the neglected millions may drown the noise of pomp and splendor, and hush its revelry in a festival for the wronged, the outraged and the forgotten classes?
You know little of the sufferings that surround your own palaces. Through those noiselessly swinging doors the plaints of sorrow never pass. But those hearts that beat outside may be as warm as yours, and perhaps as divine music may be heard in heaven when those heart-strings are touched by angel fingers. Your own Dickens, whose suffering heroines you have read of, has taught you these lessons of sympathy long ago. If not, no word from this side of the Atlantic could reach your hearts.
But although I am writing with few of the restraints of arrangement which writers commonly impose upon their pens, I am admonished that I am encroaching unnecessarily upon ground which I have gone over more thoroughly in the body of the work. Therefore, at the risk of the imputation of egotism, I come to a brief account of the circumstances which led me to choose England as the theme of my first book.
\HE friends of an author are entertained by incidents which
ings. The public care little about either, till the fame of the writer has become the property of the world. It will therefore be understood, that the plain account I give in these introductory pages of the history of this work, is intended chiefly for those who on both sides of the Atlantic, have, during long years, sent or given me friendly greetings.
My health had given way, and my physicians told me that nothing could save my life but a voyage to sea, and in May,
HOW I FIRST WROTE OF ENGLAND.
1840, I sailed for England, uncertain whether the voyage would cure or kill me. I had to leave my wife and child behind me, and I need not say, it was a painful separation : and yet there was the relief of excitement about it-the inspiration of hope. Such a dash could not but change the current of my fortunes, for it seemed to me my last chance to live had come, and if there were a chance I should seize it,-if it were an ignis fatuus which lured me on, we would both disappear together.
There are periods when even Nature herself relies on extraordinary remedies, and Providence resorts to them so often in guiding our destinies, that uncommon exposures and bold designs often turn out to be the only means of success, or even of safety. All that books and teachers could do for a boy of my age had thus far been done. I had no idea of becoming an author, or trying to do anything to arrest the attention of mankind. To be well again I did not hope, but to die I could not think of.
What men call fortune, I was born with. It had melted away. I did not dream of recovering it again, and as for fame, it had nothing to do with my thoughts. I know, in recollecting that period, that I only hoped I might return and live a few quiet years, pursuing my studies unmolested by poverty, garnering up my treasures in the bosom of my family, with a home which I knew would be a happy one, so long as beings who loved each other so well, were not separated by death. I remember very distinctly that, while I was looking back to catch the last sight of my cottage door on the morning I started for Europe, I felt, with more intensity than I had ever before felt a sentiment in my life, a desire to live to come back. It seemed to me that I could not, must not, die so young, so happy.
STORM swept our vessel to England in fifteen days. As I look back on it, that voyage is almost a blank. It would have been quite such but for my sufferings. I remember little but the terrible monotony of creaking rigging, hoarse