There is a growing conviction in the public mind that the coming days of this month are laden with events of the most solemn character. The manifest of cargo is sealed, and whether it shall prove to be a freight of blessings or of curses the portents are equally balanced. It seems to be considered certain that peace or civil war depends upon the manner in which the Government at Washington shall acquit themselves towards the Commissioners selected to arrange the matter of the forts and arsenals in possession of the Confederate States, as well as of those yet in the occupancy of the United States within the seceded States, and such other questions as are a consequence of the establishment of a separate sovereignty out of portions of the old Confederacy. It will be perceived that the programme embraces many delicate, grave and complicated issues; but the ones which press for solutions, as likely to embroil the two Governments in sudden hostilities, are those which relate to the occupancy of the captured forts and the disposition of such as yet remain in the possession of the United States.

The case presents one of those marvels in the progress of free government, where the dearest interests of humanity depend upon the behest of one man. Such contingencies are familiar to the European mind. The nations of the Old World catch up the utterances of Napoleon as presaging the destiny of Empire. A casual word dropped in the interchange of courtesies, a phrase moulded for the ceremonies of a reception, is enough to wreck a thousand fortunes on the stock exchange, and set the arsenals and navy yards a buzzing with the hum of warlike preparation. There the Court is the State; and kings and queens and emperors sacrifice the laboring millions as chessplayers do their pawns and lesser pieces, to save their castles or capture a crown. But in this “free” land the possibility of a state of facts arising which would invigorate the arm of any one who might chance to be President for the time, with these regal prerogatives, was not dreamed of by those who framed the constitution under which Mr. Lincoln holds his seat. Bad administration might indeed embarrass the nation, imbecility might complicate foreign relations, and cupidity bankrupt the treasury. But there the evil would cease; and the people, in contemplation of the constitution, would come to the rescue and redeem the country from misrule and corruption. In the present condition of the country, a civil war may be inaugurated despite the people, and the land drenched with kindred blood against the moral sense and wishes of every State in the two Confederacies. It is this anomaly in the accidental posture of a popular Government that darkens the future with gloom. If the question could be sent to the people there would be no fear of a collision, but held in the counsel of a single individual, there is much to excite distrust.

If Mr. Lincoln is equal to the occasion, if Mr. Seward is desirous of peace, if, indeed, the ambition of the Cabinet can reach the dignity of preserving the country at whatever cost to party, all will go well. There is abundant justification for the United States Government to address itself to the preservation of peace, in the fact that the late Congress tools cognizance of the revolutionary condition of the South and refused utterly to pass laws which even had a color of coercion; a Congress, too, composed of majorities of the President’s own party—rendered so by the withdrawal of Southern members from the Senate, and, from the beginning, such in the lower House. What better evidence could the President have that coercion was not the temper of the people, than the refusal of his own party to pass coercive laws, and that, too, when revolution was in progress? If his inaugural means peace, as his Secretary of State says it does, why not do the things which belong to peace? He cannot but know that an attempt to recapture the forts, or reinforce those in the occupancy of the Federal troops, is an act of war —of invasion, if you will. Why not, then, abandon what Congress has refused to give him power to maintain, and withdraw all provocatives to collision as well as abstain from adding new ones? This would be the course of a statesman—of a patriot. If the President was in earnest when he declared, before the assembled multitude at Washington, and in the face of the representatives of all the nations of the earth, that he would not inaugurate a policy that need require the shedding of one drop of blood, why maintain a posture which may provoke assault, and must keep alive hurtful as well as dangerous apprehensions? A peace policy requires the removal of incentives to war as well as abstinence from aggressive acts. Omission to remedy what may obviously produce war is just as criminal as the commission of overt acts of hostility. When the President says he will not do anything to make war, and yet fails to remove what may produce it, he but “keeps the promise to the ear whilst he breaks it to the hope.”

Mr. Lincoln may be deceived by the multitudes which assembled at the various stations along the railroad to see and cheer him on his journey to Washington, and by the Union demonstrations with which he was from time to time greeted, into the belief that the entire North is ready to wage a war of extermination for its preservation. But Mr. Seward is not. He knows the value of these exhibitions. The Prince of Wales was just as enthusiastically received, and we are told Heenan met with an ovation equally as overwhelming. The Secretary of State has had experience of these demonstrations. If any time before the Chicago nomination he had traveled through the Northern States in company with Mr. Lincoln, the latter would have been overlooked in the greater show of his own popularity. But what would it have all signified? Nothing! He was overslaughed as ruthlessly as others have been; and those who have put their faith in such demonstrations have discovered to their cost that in these affairs at least, vox populi is vox et praeterea nihil.

The outside pressure upon the United States Government at this time must be great indeed. But when the offices are disposed of the Cabinet will be like a stranded ship from which the waters have subsided. It has been so with other Cabinets; and they will be left to the calming influences of partial desertion, or roused only by the patriotism which can afford to wait for vacancies. There are any number of self-sacrificing souls who are ready for brand and blood and would go right up to the cannon’s mouth, if it were not for the irksome duty of filling profitable posts in the civil service. There are your sanguinary patriots—men who bear other people’s losses with fortitude. Mr. Seward knows all about such folk. Will he address himself to the great task of composing his country’s troubles? Will he be for firebrands or firesides? for tomb stones or hearth stones? for the tented field or contented homes? If the United States does not intend to wage war or retake the captured forts, the retention of those now held by her in the Confederate States are merely irritation—nothing more.

In this connection, the President of the Confederate States has a parallel duty to perform. He has achieved his reputation as a soldier, and we are sure he feels no desire to augment a fame that might content any man, by civil war. He will have much to do to restrain the eagerness of the young soldier, who is panting to flash his maiden sword upon his country’s enemies. He will have something to do to restrain the rashness of the misguided enthusiast, who requires the bonds of union to be cemented in blood; and perhaps a little in the way of quelling such as find their advancement in disorder. We rejoice to believe that President Davis possesses a manhood above the temptations of whatever glory may be won in fraternal strife; and at the same time a firmness which cannot be shaken by inducements beneath the interests of his country.

The opinion is gaining ground that if upon the return of our Commissioners from Washington, Forts Sumter and Pickens are not at once surrendered, they will be taken at every hazard and at whatever cost of life. These are brave words; they are exciting words. But when we know that Mr. Lincoln is not in these forts, that Mr. Sumner is not there, that neither Garrison, nor Beecher, nor Webb, nor indeed any enemy of the South is in them, they lose something of their quickening power. The commander of Fort Sumter is a Southron in his birth, education, and in feeling. If he is kept there, it will be by the stolidity of an administration which for the time being stands like a leaden wall between the American people and peace. And in all the untold forays, battles, sieges, and massacres which may ensue, there will not be one of the Black Republican leaders in harm’s way. The fighting will be done between persons who would be at peace with one another; by those who have had no part or lot in forming or fomenting sectional parties; who are united to the South by the ties of interest and advantageous commerce. Now inasmuch as the reinforcement of these forts would be an aggression such as Mr. Lincoln, taking the pacific view of his inaugural, has pledged himself against making, would a little patience be more hurtful to us than the reputation of having struck the first blow? If the U. S. Government fails to surrender the forts for fear of a jibe, the Confederate States are not called upon to relieve them of their embarrassment by doing for them what they dare not do for themselves. They must either reinforce or abandon the forts; we can prevent them from reinforcing easier than we can take them, and by forbearance obtain the prestige of the humaner and more deserving party. Certainly something will depend upon the report of the commissioners, and the reasons urged for whatever course Mr. Lincoln may think fit to pursue; but the Southern Confederacy is too respectable to be frightened by a sneer, and too strong to be damaged by prudence. Again we say that Jefferson Davis has achieved a position which will enable him to pay some respect to the traditions which are common to both sections of the country, without fear of incurring the charge of timidity, and may well aspire to the honors of a triumph of peace, as he has enjoyed and deserved those of war.

There is an idea afloat that the Confederate States would lose all respectability if they permitted the forts to remain in the occupancy of the United States an hour after our commissioners return from Washington. Up to the inauguration of Queen Victoria, if we mistake not, the sovereign of England signed himself King of Great Britain, Ireland and France, and yet we do not learn that France was any the less thought of on that account. It was a display of vanity, of which the present age got ashamed. And the retention of the disputed forts by the United States will be quite as silly a proceeding, if it be understood that they are not to be reinforced or used. They are indeed irritations, and must be reinforced to be retained, and that necessity will come soon enough for our purposes. But at last the great reason, the great desire we, in common with others, entertain for peace as long as it can be preserved with honor to the Confederacy, is, that when war comes the parties who will have the fighting to do, the rank and file, will be composed of people who would be friends if their rulers would let them. The young and generous soldier, who is ready to encounter the dangers and toils of war, will be willing to wait awhile when he reflects that not one of the locust horde of detractors and plotters against his country will ever come in reach of his thirsty blade; that he will have to go to Boston tofind Sumner; to New Hampshire for Hale; and that those whom he will find are such as were wont to bring hither the rich products of the West for the sustenance of our people, and carry back the produce of the South for the comfort of theirs.