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and acts accordingly. An observer could not but perceive that in those days Congress was taking upon itself the part, not exactly of an obedient husband, but of a husband vainly attempting to assert his supremacy. * I have got to learn,” said one gentleman after another, rising indignantly on the floor, “ that the military authority of our generals is above that of this House.” And then one gentleman relieved the difficulty of the position by branching off into an eloquent discourse against slavery, and by causing a chapter to be read out of the book of Joshua.

On that occasion the gentleman's diversion seemed to have the effect of relieving the House altogether from the embarrassment of the original question ; but it was becoming manifest, day by day, that Congress was losing its ground, and that the army was becoming indifferent to its thunders :—that the army was doing so, and also that ministers were doing so. In the States, the President and his ministers are not in fact subject to any parliamentary responsibility. The President may be impeached, but the member of an opposition does not always wish to have recourse to such an extreme measure as impeachment. The ministers are not in the houses, and cannot therefore personally answer questions. Different large subjects, such as Foreign affairs, Financial affairs, and Army matters, are referred to Standing Committees in both houses; and these Committees have relations with the ministers. But they have no constitutional power over the ministers; nor have they the much more valuable privilege of badgering a minister hither and thither by vivá voce questions on every point of his administration. The minister sits safe in his office-safe there for the term of the existing Presidency if he can keep well with the President; and therefore, even under ordinary circumstances, does not care much for the printed or written messages of Congress. But under circumstances so little ordinary as those of 1861-62, while Washington was surrounded by hundreds of thousands of soldiers, Congress was absolutely impotent. Mr. Seward could snap his fingers at Congress, and he did so. He could not snap his fingers at the army; but then he could go with the army, could keep the army on his side by remaining on the same side with the army; and this, as it seemed, he resolved to do. It must be understood that Mr. Seward was not Prime Minister. The President of the United States has no Prime Minister,or hitherto. has had none. The Minister for Foreign Affairs has usually stood highest in the Cabinet, and Mr. Seward, as holding that position, was not inclined to lessen its authority. He was gradually assuming for that position the prerogatives of a Premier, and men were

beginning to talk of Mr. Seward's ministry. It may easily be understood that at such a time the powers of Congress would be undefined, and that ambitious members of Congress would rise and assert on the floor, with that peculiar voice of indignation so common in parliamentary debate," that they had got to learn," &c., &c., &c. It seemed to me that the lesson which they had yet to learn was then in the process of being taught to them. They were anxious to be told all about the mischance at Ball's Bluff, but nobody would tell them anything about it. They wanted to know something of that blockade on the Potomac; but such knowledge was not good for them. “ Pack them up in boxes, and send them home,” one military gentleman said to me. And I began to think that something of the kind would be done, if they made themselves troublesome. I quote here the manner in which their questions, respecting the affair at Ball's Bluff, were answered by the Secretary of War.

“ The Speaker laid before the House a letter from the Secretary at War, in which he says that he has the honour to acknowledge the receipt of the resolution adopted on the 6th instant, to the effect that the answer of the department to the resolution passed on the second day of the session, is not responsive and satisfactory to the House, and requesting a further answer. The Secretary has now to state that measures have been taken to ascertain who is responsible for the disastrous movement at Ball's Bluff, but that it is not compatible with the public interest to make known those measures at the present time.”

In truth the days are evil for any Congress of debaters, when a great army is in camp on every side of them. The people had called for the army, and there it was. It was of

younger than Congress, and had thrown its elder brother considerably out of favour, as has been done before by many a new-born baby. If Congress could amuse itself with a few set speeches, and a fieldday or two, such as those afforded by Mr. Sumner, it might all be very well,--provided that such speeches did not attack the army. Over and beyond this, let them vote the supplies and have done with it. Was it probable that General Maclellan should have time to answer questions about Ball's Bluff, -and he with such a job of work on his hands ? Congress could of course vote what committees of military inquiry it might please, and might ask questions without end; but we all know to what such questions lead, when the questioner has no power to force an answer by a penalty. If it might be possible to maintain the semblance of respect for Congress, without too much embarrassment to military secretaries, such semblance should be maintained; but if Congress

birth

chose to make itself really disagreeable, then no semblance could be kept up any longer. That, as far as I could judge, was the position of Congress in the early months of 1862; and that, under existing circumstances, was perhaps the only possible position that it could fill.

All this to me was very melancholy. The streets of Washington were always full of soldiers. Mounted sentries stood at the corners of all the streets with drawn sabres,-shivering in the cold and besmeared with mud. A military law came out that civilians might not ride quickly through the street. Military riders galloped over one at every turn, splashing about through the mud, and reminding one not unfrequently of John Gilpin. Why they always went so fast, destroying their horses' feet on the rough stones, I could never learn. But I, as a civilian, given, as Englishmen are, to trotting, and furnished for the time with a nimble trotter, found myself harried from time to time by muddy men with sabres, who would dash after me, rattling their trappings, and bid me go at a slower pace. There is a building in Washington, built by private munificence, and devoted, according to an inscription which it bears, “To the Arts.” It has been turned into an army clothing establishment. The streets of Washington, night and day, were thronged with army waggons. All through the city military huts and military tents were to be seen, pitched out among the mud and in the desert places. Then there was the chosen locality of the teamsters and their mules and horses -- a wonderful world in itself; and all within the city! Here horses and mules lived, -or died,-sub dio, with no slightest apology for a stable over them, eating their provender from off the waggons to which they were fastened. Here, there, and everywhere large houses were occupied as the head-quarters of some officer, or the bureau of some military official. At Washington and round Washington the army was everything. While this was so, is it to be conceived that Congress should ask questions about military matters with success ?

All this, as I say, filled me with sorrow. I hate military belongings, and am disgusted at seeing the great affairs of a nation put out of their regular course. Congress to me is respectable. Parliamentary debates, be they ever so prosy,—as with us, or even so rowdy, as sometimes they have been with our cousins across the water,-engage my sympathies. I bow inwardly before a Speaker's chair, and look upon the elected representatives of

any

nation as the choice men of the age.

These muddy, clattering dragoons, sitting at the corners of the streets with dirty woollen comforters

round their ears, were to me hideous in the extreme. But there at Washington, at the period of which I am writing, I was forced to acknowledge that Congress was at a discount, and that the rough-shod generals were the men of the day. “Pack them up and send them in boxes to their several States.” It would come to that, I thought, or to something like that unless Congress would consent to be submissive. “I have yet to learn- !” said indignant members, stamping with their feet on the floor of the house. One would have said that by that time the lesson might almost have been understood.

Up to the period of this civil war Congress has certainly worked well for the United States. It might be easy to pick holes in it;-to show that some members have been corrupt, others quarrelsome, and others again impracticable. But when we look at the circumstances under which it has been from year to year elected,—when we remember the position of the newly-populated States from which the members have been sent, and the absence throughout the country of that old traditionary class of Parliament men on whom we depend in England; when we think how recent has been the elevation in life of the majority of those who are and must be elected,—it is impossible to deny them praise for intellect, patriotism, good sense, and diligence. They began but sixty years ago, and for sixty years Congress has fully answered the purpose for which it was established. With no antecedents of grandeur, the nation, with its Congress, has made itself one of the five great nations of the world. And what living English politician will say even now, with all its troubles thick upon it, that it is the smallest of the five? When I think of this, and remember the position in Europe which an American has been able to claim for himself, I cannot but acknowledge that Congress on the whole has been conducted with prudence, wisdom, and patriotism.

The question now to be asked is this,—Have the powers of Congress been sufficient, or are they sufficient, for the continued maintenance of free government in the States under the constitution? I think that the powers given by the existing constitution to Congress can no longer be held to be sufficient; and that if the Union be maintained at all, it must be done by a closer assimilation of its congressional system to that of our Parliament. But to that matter I must allude again, when speaking of the existing constitution of the States.

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CHAPTER XXIII.

THE CAUSES OF THE WAR.

I HAVE seen various essays purporting to describe the causes of this civil war between the North and South; but they have generally been written with the view of vindicating either one side or the other, and have spoken rather of causes which should, according to the ideas of their writers, have produced peace, than of those which did, in the course of events, actually produce war. This has been essentially the case with Mr. Everett, who in his lecture at New York, on the 4th of July, 1860, recapitulated all the good things which the North has done for the South, and who proved—if he has proved anything--that the South should have cherished the North instead of hating it. And this was very much the case also with Mr. Motley in his letter to the ‘London Times. That letter is good in its way, as is everything that comes from Mr. Motley, but it does not tell us why the war has existed. Why is it that eight millions of people have desired to separate thenselves from a rich and mighty empire,-from an empire which was apparently on its road to unprecedented success, and which had already achieved wealth, consideration, power, and internal well-being ?

One would be led to imagine from the essays of Mr. Everett and of Mr. Motley, that slavery has had little or nothing to do with it. I must acknowledge it to be my opinion that slavery in its various bearings has been the single and necessary cause of the war ;—that slavery being there in the South, this war was only to be avoided by a voluntary division,-secession voluntary both on the part of North and South ;-that in the event of such voluntary secession being not asked for, or if asked for not conceded, revolution and civil war became necessary,were not to be avoided by any wisdom or care on the part of the North.

The arguments used by both the gentlemen I have named prove very clearly that South Carolina and her sister States had no right to secede under the constitution; that is to say, that it was not open to them peaceably to take their departure, and to refuse further allegiance to the President and Congress without a breach of the laws by which they were bound. For a certain term of years, namely, from 1781 to 1787, the different States endeavoured to make their way in the world, simply

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