“Touch it off gently,” said Pat standing before the mouth of a cannon and supposing it was only primed. “Touch it off gently, and I’ll catch the ball in this basket.” It was touched off as gently as possible, but Pat and the basket were never seen again. Thus do many of the Republican leaders of the present day blunder along as they approach the terrible crisis of our country’s destiny. They seem to think that they can manage the explosive forces of human passion and civil war, and pocket a net profit upon the whole operation. Notwithstanding the repeated declarations of Congressmen from Southern States, notwithstanding the emphatic declarations of a dozen Gubernatorial messages and the solemn acts and resolutions of a majority of Southern Legislatures, notwithstanding a thousand unmistakable indications of deep, strong, and unchangeable feeling in the Southern States, a portion of the leaders of the Republican party have gone on steadily ignoring all these portentous signs of the times in a policy which they must have known, if they had capacity to understand the plainest indications, would imperil the Union. They coolly rejected all propositions to unite upon any recognized conservative national candidate, and, while the bonds that hold our Union together were snapping under the strain, they labored with a zeal and power worthy of a better cause to break asunder all the remaining links of Union by instilling into their followers the bitterest prejudice and hatred against the slaveholding States. That infamous and vindictive libel written by the renegade Helper was circulated by the hundred thousand as a campaign document of the Republican party, endorsed by some of its leading men.

After all this—after deriding and depreciating the power, the character, and the resources of the Southern States, we should not perhaps be surprised at the votes cast by their dupes, but we have a right to expect from the leaders of the party a higher order of intelligence, which should rise above the tricks and deceptions of an electioneering campaign and realize the true condition of the country, since even their followers by hundreds of thousands have manifested their eager desire for an amicable and patriotic settlement of our national contest. We are sorry to say, that, if such intelligence exists, it is very slow in coming forth to meet the crisis, if we are to judge from leading Republican newspapers. The paltry humbugs of the late campaign are still kept up, until we are led to doubt whether the language of much of the Republican press does not arise from such a narrowness of mind and ignorance of the people of the United States as utterly disqualify the writers for the responsibilities of political journalism. We are tempted to believe that not a very large portion of the Republican journalists have sufficient knowledge of human nature or of the resources and character of the Southern States to make their opinions worth anything in the present crisis.

Just before the Presidential election we were gravely assured by Mr. Greeley of the Tribune that the election of Lincoln would have a wonderfully quieting effect upon the country, that it would be like oil poured upon the waters, and would promptly remove all sectional excitement. Not believing Greeley altogether a fool, we were compelled to suppose that he had reconciled his conscience to the necessity of winning an election by transparently false pretences. If he would now claim credit for sincerity in that prediction, he would prove a degree of ignorance or imbecility which would excuse his present transcendent follies. The Tribune, the Times, and other leading Republican papers are gravely urging the coercion of all the seceded States by an embargo or blockade, which, they maintain, would gently switch them back into the Union without involving the calamities of war or inflicting any injury upon the North. Nay, they are even calculating that all the commerce of the country would be driven to Northern ports; that Southern cotton would be sent North by land, and that the Northern cities would make a handsome speculation by thus playing gracefully and daintily at the great game of war. To such stuff as this we would reply emphatically—gentlemen, unless you are resolutely bent on realizing all the horrors of war, you need not deceive your readers any longer by such delusive assurances. If you know no better yourselves, if you really believe that your nice and comfortable calculations will be verified, and, that the Southern States will succumb like mischievous children to a little flagellation, we are amazed at your folly and can scarcely conceive how men of respectable intelligence on other subjects could be so utterly deluded in reference to this great question.

Can you for a moment doubt that the blockade of the Southern States would be resisted by all their warlike energies? Surely your partizan prejudices have not wrought such self-deception. Can you anticipate any other consequence than the annihilation of all American commerce by privateers, except sofar as it may be protected by the presence of men-of-war?

Do you not plainly see that Northern manufacturers would lose not only for a time but perhaps forever their Southern market—that emiration to the North would be arrested by the want of employment and by burdensome taxes, and that the calamities of war would be terribly realized by every inhabitant of the Northern States?

If the policy of a deluded party should drive the South into consolidated Union in defence of its demanded rights, do you suppose that eleven millions of as warlike population as the world contains, familiar with the use of arms and occupying a country full of innumerable strongholds furnished by Nature, would shrink from a war of invasion however desolate? That such a war must produce immense suffering and devastation on both sides is self-evident; but to anticipate the conquest of such a people as the men of the South or to suppose that their proud bearing and lofty spirit could be lowered by any such attempt at military coercion is but the delusion of a fanatic or the dream of a comfortable scribbler who speculates at ease in his arm chair, but knows nothing of the stern realities of war.

You count upon the black population as an element of danger and weakness only, forgetting, that, as agricultural laborers, they count as efficiently in war as if they were in the field. Perhaps you count upon the horrid policy of insurrection—if this enters largely into your estimates you are incapable of profiting by the lesson which you might have learned from the failure of John Brown.

Do not, we pray you, trifle any longer. An armed rebellion, converted into unconquerable revolution, proves that you were mistaken in all your calculations during the late campaign. If your editorial language expresses your real convictions, we assure you most solemnly that you are still more mistaken now. You know that we have labored with a zeal and earnestness greater than your own for the preservation of our glorious Union from perils which you have been so slow and so reluctant to recognize. We speak to you now plainly —we cannot polish our language and diminish its force. We entreat you by your regard for our whole country, in all of which every citizen has a common interest, to trifle no longer with this crisis, and to delude your readers no longer with the vain hope that any alternative remains but prompt and manly conciliation or wide-spread ruin to our whole country.

We have done nothing to bring on this crisis, nor have we expected to make any political capital out of our country’s misfortunes. We address you, Republican leaders, not as politicians, but in the name of humanity, in the name of patriotism, when we ask you to forget, as others have done, the paltry interests of party and give our country once more peace and prosperity. We need not repeat for the thousandth time our expression of the conviction, that the Southern Secessionists have acted unadvisedly, rashly, flagrantly, acted in strange and manifest disregard of the great interests of their own section and in violation of all loyalty to the Constitution and the laws, but a little calm and dispassionate reflection would convince you that the sectional and aggressive language and deeds of yourselves and your deluded followers, continued and aggravated through a long series of years, could in the nature of things have no other tendency than to inflame and provoke the fiery spirits of the South to such a course as they have taken. You well know that wrong will generally be revenged with wrong.