Congress meets to-day—probably the last national Congress that will ever assemble at Washington City. The session terminates by law on the 4th of March, but it would not greatly surprise us if it terminated much earlier than that time, so far at least as respects the Southern States and their Representatives. Unless we greatly mistake the signs of the times—unless we interpret incorrectly the steady development of the plan of secession, requiring time only for its consummation, several of the Southern States will be out of the Union before the session has half expired; and, of course, no Representative in either branch of Congress will remain there after his State shall have formally closed her connection with the Federal Government. Some of the South Carolina members, in anticipation of the future, have already declined to go to Washington at all, and have resigned their commissions as representatives of the people.

Probably the unhappiest man, this day, within the whole limits of the Union, is James Buchanan, the President of these nearly disunited States. In common with nine-tenths of the people of the North, he has been accustomed to regard the threats of withdrawal at the South as mere idle talk, which really amounted to nothing. He finds out, now, how much he is mistaken. He finds out that it is not mere idle talk on the part of the South, but a stern and inflexible determination. He finds out how terribly in earnest the South is, and with what confident step she marches to political independence. The difficulty which Mr. Buchanan has to confront is different from that which Gen. Jackson had to meet in 1832. Then, South Carolina proposed to stay in the Union, but at the same time to nullify the laws of the Union. She claimed the right to stay in the Union, and obey only such Federal laws as suited her, and disregard those that did not. Now, her attitude is changed. She is going to dissever her connection with the Central Government, and resume what she claims to be her original sovereignty as an independent State. This is the “lion in the path” which the Old Public Functionary has to meet, and which we are warranted in believing, from his conduct in the past, has made the Functionary bitterly curse the hour when, thirty years ago, he fixed his eye upon what was then the glittering prize of the Presidency.

That Mr. Buchanan will, in his message to be delivered to Congress to-day, take ground against the right of secession on the part of a State, we confidently predict. That he will plead with the people of the South—entreat them to forego their purpose of independence—beg them to remain in the Union and take another chance of subduing the antislavery element of the North—we have no manner of doubt. The old sing-song cry of “compromise, compromise,” will again be raised. The traditions of the past, the glories of the revolutionary war, the experiment of self-government, the spectacle we will make before the other nations of the world if the Union be dissolved, the taunts and reproaches they will cast at us—all these will be invoked to “plead trumpet tongued” for Southern forbearance. But James Buchanan will now learn that the day of sentiment and clap-trap has gone by, and that revolutions, once commenced, rarely go backwards. He is now in a position where a bold man and a brave man and an honest and conscientious man might make his mark upon the times, and live in history. Without reference to old party antagonisms, we may say that such is not our estimate of the President—but we shall make haste to do him ample justice, if, in his message, he shall give us cause to reverse our judgment.

The Congress which meets to-day will, of course, be occupied mainly, if not exclusively, with the political affairs of the people. Little, if any, of ordinary routine legislation will be attended to. The peaceful revolution now going on dwarfs everything else. It is the grand, salient, conspicuous and absorbing topic of the times; and neither Congress nor the people will have any heart for other and inferior issues. That there will be stormy debates, violent political harangues, exciting scenes and untimely exhibitions of bad temper, we have every reason to dreadbut if our voice can reach the ear of Southern representatives, we would counsel them to a mild but firm bearing, a calm demeanor, and a patient but yet fearless assertion of their rights and their remedies.

It is hardly within the range of probability that there can be any present adjustment of our troubles. There may be politicians, South as well as North, who will make the attempt—but the people of the South are in advance of the politicians, and their potential voice must and will be obeyed. They have come to the conclusion that they have at least been driven to the wall, and it is a question now of life or death of political and personal independence, or of perpetual serfdom and vassalage. The issue has to be met sooner or later, and it had as well be met now and be done with it. If the madmen who have gained control of the ship of state are determined to run her upon the breakers and dash her to pieces, the South can, as a last resort, take to the longboat and save her people from the wreck.