From The Constitution, Wednesday, November 27, 1861 (volume 24, number 1248)
The Arrest of Mason and Slidell
The arrest of Mason and Slidell, and the probable consequences which may result from it, has been the principal topic for the past week. These two self-constituted [sic] embassadors find themselves in a very different position from what they expected. Instead of visiting foreign courts, and enjoying the aristocratic pleasures peculiar to this season of the year in London and Paris, they have been compelled to visit the Yankee city of Boston, to breathe an atmosphere polluted by the presence of “greasy mechanics,” and to take up with vile lodgings at the public expense. These men are among the greatest enemies which the North has had. Even Jefferson Davis himself cannot surpass them in his intense hatred of northern institutions. Slidell is a northern man by birth and education. But having married at the South, he has identified himself with southern interests. He is a man of ability and has had a vast influence in procuring the secession of the cotton states. The Confederate Government relied principally upon his efforts for procuring a favorable notice from the courts of Europe. Mason is not a man of much talent. He is distinguished for pomposity more than anything else. He is an intense admirer of the British aristocracy, and thinks there is no government in the world quite equal to the English monarchy. He was evidently relied upon by the Confederates for making an impression in London society by his solemn stateliness of manner. Slidell and Mason were very well paired for the business they had in hand. While the latter was to do the bowing and scraping the former was to do the real work. Mason is a man of no property. He married a wealthy Philadelphia lady, and lives on her money.
The arrest of these two men is a serious loss to the confederates. Disguise the fact as they may, they know that their only hope of success in this rebellion lies in their recognition by either England or France. Unless one of these powers steps in and with its navy attempts to break the blockade, their case is a desperate one. Yield they must, and that very soon. They had therefore hoped much from these two envoys. They now hope that England will resent the alledged [sic] “outrage” and “insult” to the British flag in the seizure of these men on board a British steamer. But this is a forlorn hope. England cannot with any show of consistency consider this act as an outrage. It is an act fully justified by the usage of nations in a time of war, and abundantly sustained by the highest judicial authority. If England makes this a cause of war, […] she would be sure to seek some other cause if this did not exist. It would prove that she only needed a pretext for hostilities.
It is pretty certain that a hue and cry will be raised in some quarters in England. There is a party there which longs for a war with the United States. It is a party which hates republican institutions, which hopes they will be crushed out in this struggle, and which would willingly lend a hand to Jefferson Davis in helping him overthrow our Government. The taking of Mason and Slidell on board a British vessel will be seized upon with the utmost eagerness by the leaders of this anti-American party in England. We shall expect to hear a good deal of growling and snarling, and a considerable show of teeth, from Mr. Bull. But this will be all. The mass of the English people do not sympathize with the confederates, and do not want a war with America.
Will the War Be a Short One?
It is understood to be the opinion of General McClellan that this was will not be a long one, but may be brought to a close in a few months. As General McClellan probably knows as much about the matter as any body, his opinion may be considered valuable. But there are indications of a speedy termination of the contest which any intelligent observer may discern. The enemy never calculated upon a long war. They entered upon it destitute of those resources which are necessary in these times to sustain a protracted contest. Calculating upon the sympathy and help of a large party at the North, they hoped by a few vigorous blows to overturn the Government, and establish their independence. But they have been disappointed in their calculations. They have been thrown entirely upon their own resources, and in the course of six months they have not made a single step in advance. During this time the government has been gradually gathering strength, and is now adopting decisive measures in the offensive. The southern forces are beginning to be demoralized. In Virginia regiment after regiment is showing signs of uneasiness, and endeavoring to leave for their own states. Dismay prevails in the principal cities of the south. In Charleston and Savannah the most abject terror has been shown, and the conduct of the public authorities shows that they consider their case a desperate one. The capture of Mason and Slidell has [sic] levelled all their hopes of foreign recognition. Under such a state of things it does not seem as if the war could be protracted. If it be prosecuted vigorously, as we believe it will be, this winter, we may look for an end of the contest by next spring.
Messrs. Mason and Slidell arrived at Boston in the San Jacinto on Sunday morning, when they at once went into free lodgings at Fort Warren. Mason said, some time ago, that he would never again visit Boston till he could go as an [sic] embassador. He didn’t think that he should also have the honor of being conveyed there in one of Uncle Sam’s frigates, be attended by a body guard, and lodged at the public expense. He is just beginning to find out how great a man he was made to be.
Jefferson City, Nov. 22.—Passengers by the train from the west report that the rebels burnt Warsaw on Wednesday night to prevent its being used as winter quarters for our troops. The intelligence reached Syracuse just before the train arrived; and is considered reliable. A quantity of government stores was destroyed.
A train of eighty wagons, with an escort of two hundred men, left Sedalia a few days since for Leavenworth. Messengers returned to Sedalia at 12 last night, announcing that they had been attacked near Knob Noster by 600 rebels and the train captured.
Refugees continue to arrive here in crowds; many in a most destitute condition.
An effort will undoubtedly be made to secure the release of Messrs. Gwin, Benham, and Brent. Senator Gwin claims to have taken no open ground against the Government, and Benham expects to be restored to liberty through the intercession of Gwin’s numerous friends in this city. He declares that he is a native of Ohio, and therefore should not be held in custody. He never thought of this while hunting down the freemen of California. Brent bases his appeal for release upon the assumption of having been a strong Douglas man in California. The difficult point in his case is the throwing overboard of his papers. I do not think the Government will be caught setting any more of these traitors free.—Phil. Press.
Money Sent Home By the Soldiers
It is a gratifying reflection that of the vast amount of money expended in maintaining our armies in the field, the great bulk of it comes back into our own communities, and is circulated at home. Our armies are composed of volunteer soldiers, most of whom have wives and children, and the money which they receive comes directly back again and is expended in the support of those whom they have left behind. The forces at Port Royal have lately been paid off, and out of $400,000 disbursed there, more than $250,000 was at once sent by the soldiers to their families. Fourteen large mail bags were [sic] despatched for the purpose of bringing the letters, which numbered over 14,000. The money is [sic] inclosed in an envelope and directed to the person for whom it is intended, the amount being certified by the proper officer.
The Ninth Connecticut regiment, Col. Cahil, sailed from Boston on Tuesday together with the 26th Massachusetts on the steamer Constitution. The steamer proceeded to Portland to take on board the 19th Maine regiment. Thence she proceeded to her destination on the southern coast. This is Gen. Butler’s vanguard. He himself is arranging to embark the 1st of December with about 6000 men, heavy artillery and a siege train. Col. Deming’s regiment, the Twelfth Conn., will go in this section of Butler’s division.
A stand of colors has been prepared by the State for the Ninth (Irish) regiment, and sent on to them. On one side are the Connecticut coat of arms and shield with the State motto. On the reverse are the Irish national emblems, the shamrock and harp, with the motto “Erin go bragh.”
The total number of students in Yale College this year is 599, of whom 137 are professional students.
Thanksgiving this week on Thursday. This ancient festival will be celebrated this year with more than usual spirit. Besides the many blessings which we have received during the past fruitful season for which we should be thankful, the recent signal victory achieved by our national forces will not be forgotten. The several churches in this city will be open for divine service in the morning.
Town Meeting on Saturday
A special town meeting was held last Saturday to hear and act upon the report of the committee to whom was referred the claim of Elijah H. Hubbard for reimbursement for damages sustained in seizing liquors under the Maine law. It was voted to pay Mr. Hubbard $619.
By late action taken at the meeting of the City School Society, it is provided that the public schools in this city shall be substantially free. This has caused some complaint among the Irish population, because while they support separate schools among themselves, they are taxed with others for the support of the public schools. What is the need of having separate schools for Irish children in this city ? The public schools are intended for all alike, and the advantages to be derived from them are greater than can be derived from separate establishments of their own. It will moreover be much better for Irish children to mingle with others, identify themselves in thought and feeling with them and become thoroughly Americanized. Religious considerations need not interfere. We are sure that such arrangements can be made as will be satisfactory to all parties.
There was quite a snow storm here on Monday morning. It commenced about five o’clock in the morning, and continued over four hours. It was about two inches deep.
A Large Porker
Mr. Ephraim Higby of this town, Westfield Society, has just butchered a hog 13 months old, which weighed when dressed 542 pounds ! The hams weighed 46 pounds apiece. Can any one in this neighborhood beat that?
The Philadelphia North American tells this story of Secretary Seward :
‘Hon. Wm. H. Seward, Secretary of State, passed through this city, on his way from New York to Washington. Mr. Seward has a weakness whenever possible for traveling in incog. He is an inveterate smoker. When he enters a passenger train he seeks out the smoking car, and finds beatitude in puffing La Hormas until the end of his ride. Between New York and this city he occupied a seat with a pleasant looking genius, who talked about ‘that —— fool Seward’ during the whole trip. The stranger supposed his fellow traveler to be a sutler’s book-keeper. Mr. Seward pitched into himself in a most scandalous manner, seconding every [sic] objuration of the stranger with hearty emphasis. When the latter observed Mr. Seward identified and saluted by a gentleman upon the boat, his feelings can be better imagined than described. The last seen of him by our informant he was hiding behind the steamer’s smokepipe.’
It is a subject of general congratulation that John M. Mason is not longer a free-mason.