CHAPTER XII. THE FINANCIAL POSITION.
The Americans are proud of much that they have done in this war, and indeed much has been done which may justify pride; but of nothing are they so proud as of the noble dimensions and quick growth of their government debt. That Mr. Secretary Chase, the American Chancellor of the Exchequer, participates in this feeling I will not venture to say; but if he do not, he is well-nigh the only man in the States who does not do so. The amount of expenditure has been a subject of almost national pride, and the two millions of dollars a day, which has been roughly put down as the average cost of the war, has always been mentioned by Northern men in a tone of triumph. This feeling is, I think, intelligible; and although we cannot allude to it without a certain amount of inward sarcasm, a little gentle laughing in the sleeve, at the nature of this national joy, I am not prepared to say that it is altogether ridiculous. If the country be found able and willing to pay the bill, this triumph in the amount of the cost will hereafter be regarded as having been anything but ridiculous. In private life an individual will occasionally be known to lavish his whole fortune on the accomplishment of an object which he conceives to be necessary to his honor. If the object be in itself good, and if the money be really paid, we do not laugh at such a man for the sacrifices which he makes.
For myself, I think that the object of the Northern States in this war has been good. I think that they could not have avoided the war without dishonor, and that it was incumbent on them to make themselves the arbiters of the future position of the South, whether that future position shall or shall not be one of secession. This they could only do by fighting. Had they acceded to secession without a civil war, they would have been regarded throughout Europe as having shown themselves inferior to the South, and would for many years to come have lost that prestige which their spirit and energy had undoubtedly won for them; and in their own country such submission on their part would have practically given to the South the power of drawing the line of division between the two new countries. That line, so drawn, would have given Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri to the Southern Republic. The great effect of the war to the North will be, that the Northern men will draw the line of secession, if any such line be drawn. I still think that such line will ultimately be drawn, and that the Southern States will be allowed to secede. But if it be so, Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri will not be found among these seceding States; and the line may not improbably be driven south of North Carolina and Tennessee. If this can be so, the object of the war will, I think, hereafter be admitted to have been good. Whatever may be the cost in money of joining the States which I have named to a free-soil Northern people, instead of allowing them to be buried in that dismal swamp which a confederacy of Southern slave States will produce, that cost can hardly be too much. At the present moment there exists in England a strong sympathy with the South, produced partly by the unreasonable vituperation with which the North treated our government at the beginning of the war, and by the capture of Mason and Slidell; partly also by that feeling of good-will which a looker on at a combat always has for the weaker side. But, although this sympathy does undoubtedly exist, I do not imagine that many Englishmen are of opinion that a confederacy of Southern slave States will ever offer to the general civilization of the world very many attractions. It cannot be thought that the South will equal the North in riches, in energy, in education, or general well-being. Such has not been our experience of any slave country; such has not been our experience of any tropical country; and such especially has not been our experience of the Southern States of the North American Union. I am no abolitionist, but to me it seems impossible that any Englishman should really advocate the cause of slavery against the cause of free soil. There are the slaves, and I know that they cannot be abolished - neither they nor their chains; but, for myself, I will not willingly join my lot with theirs. I do not wish to have dealings with the African negro, either as a free man or as a slave, if I can avoid them, believing that his employment by me in either capacity would lead to my own degradation.* Such, I think, are the feelings of Englishmen generally on this matter. And if such be the case, will it not be acknowledged that the Northern men have done well to fight for a line which shall add five or six States to that Union which will in truth be a union of free men, rather than to that confederacy which, even if successful, must owe its success to slavery?
* In saying this I fear that I shall be misunderstood, let me use what foot note or other mode of protestation I may to guard myself. In thus speaking of the African negro, I do not venture to despise the work of God's hands. That He has made the negro, for His own good purposes, as He has the Esquimaux, I am aware. And I am aware that it is my duty, as it is the duty of us all, to see that no injury be done to him, and, if possible, to assist him in his condition. When I declare that I desire no dealings with the negro, I speak of him in the position in which I now find him, either as a free servant or a slave. In either position he impedes the civilization and the progress of the white man.