The Washington correspondent of one of our morning cotemporaries says:

The point of embarrassment concerning Fort Sumpter, in the President’s mind, as announced with entire candor, is, that if it be yielded, and the Federal authority be thus withdrawn under real or supposed necessity, similar reasons may be urged as to Fort Pickens and other points, which are not considered in the same category.”

We should be very sorry to think that the President’s mind was embarrassed, or his action controlled, in any degree by such considerations at this late day. Undoubtedly in themselves they deserve serious and grave attention. But they should have been weighed and disposed of long ago. It is by no means a new discovery that much may be said on both sides of every question;—and persons who have nothing better to do may amuse themselves by such carefully balanced dialectics. But President LINCOLN has duties and responsibilities on his hands which forbid his indulgence of such tastes. He is required to act,—and action requires decision. Certainly it is a momentous question whether Fort Sumpter should be evacuated or not:—there are many reasons to be urged for it and many against it. But Mr. LINCOLN is under the necessity, after full consideration of both sides, to adopt one course or the other;—and when adopted he should act as if no objections had ever been urged against it. If he has decided to evacuate Fort Sumpter, he should do it frankly,—not with apologies or useless “embarrassments.” The effect of such a step should have been considered long ago.

It is idle to conceal the fact that the Administration thus far has not met public expectation. The country feels no more assurance as to the future,—knows nothing more of the probable results of the secession movement,—than it did on the day Mr. BUCHANAN left Washington. It sees no indications of an administrative policy adequate to the emergency,—or, indeed, of any policy beyond that of listless waiting to see what may “turn up.” There are times when such a policy may be wise;—but not in presence of an active, resolute, and determined enemy. The new Confederacy is moving forward, towards the consummation of its plans, with a degree of vigor, intelligence, and success, of which, we are sorry to say, we see no indications on the part of the Government at Washington. In spite of the immense difficulties with which they have to contend,—the poverty of the country, its utter lack of commerce, of an army and navy, and of credit,—the hostility of its fundamental principles to the sentiment of the Christian world, the utter hollowness of its reasons for revolution, and the universal distrust which it encounters everywhere,—in spite of all these obstacles and discouragements, we cannot conceal the fact that the new Government of which JEFFERSON DAVIS is at the head, has evinced a marvelous degree of energy, and is rapidly assuming the proportions of a solid and formidable Power. Within less than six months they have adopted a Constitution, organized a Government, put all its machinery into working order, established a commercial system and put it in operation, laid the basis of a financial department, organized an army, secured enormous stores and munitions of war, and put themselves in a position to offer a very formidable resistance to any attempted coercion on the part of the United States. And what has been done on our part against them? What single step has been taken by our Government, either to resist their movement from without, or to appeal with vigor and effect to the loyalty which still lives within their borders? JEFFERSON DAVIS will soon have an organized army of 30,000 men at his command:—suppose he decides to march into Mexico, or Virginia, or upon Washington,—what organized means have we to resist and defeat his schemes? They have adopted a revenue system for the express purpose of depleting and damaging our commerce:—what have we done to offset it? With a blindness and a stolidity without a parallel in the history of intelligent statesmanship, we have done everything in our power to aid their efforts, and crown their hostile endeavors with complete success.

The fact is, our Government has done absolute[ly] nothing, towards carrying the country through the tremendous crisis which is so rapidly and so steadily settling down upon us. It allows everything to drift,—to float along without guidance or impulse of any kind. This might do well enough, if the Southern States were pursuing the same policy. But while we are idle, they are active. While we leave everything at loose ends, they make everything tight and snug for the coming storm. Such a course can have but one result. The President must adopt some clear and distinct policy in regard to secession, or the Union will not only be severed, but the country will be disgraced. No great community can drift into ruin, without losing character as well as prosperity. It must, at least, make an effort at self-preservation, if it would avoid the contempt inseparable from imbecility. A nation may be overcome by outward force, or destroyed by internal treachery;—but if it struggles nobly and gallantly against its enemies, whatever else it may lose, it preserves the respect of the world, as well as its own. We are in danger of losing everything—even honor. The public sentiment is already demoralized,—the heart of the people is deadened,—and the patriotism of the country is already paralyzed, to a degree which a year ago we should not have thought possible in any contingency. Rebellion in the popular judgment has ceased to be a crime. Treason has become respectable. Men throughout the North think and talk of the revolution which is crushing the best Constitution the world ever saw,—which is sweeping away a Government which has done more for popular rights and popular interests than any other the earth has ever known, as they would talk of a partisan canvass for control of a village corporation. Deeds of infamy, compared with which ARNOLD’S treason shines bright as the sun at noonday, excite scarcely a passing remark, and the fate of the great Republic of the Western world—the great Republic of human history—excites scarcely as much interest as the fluctuations of the Stock market, or the ups and downs of a local canvass.

What is the reason of this sad—this fearful change in the temper and tone of the country? Is patriotism a fiction? Have we suddenly discovered that Governments are but playthings—that loyalty is a delusion—that to stab a nation is to commit no crime? Or does the event vindicate the old faith that Democracy is a delusion—that the people are incapable of self-government, and that bayonets and cannon are the only security for law and order?

Is it not rather that the people have no leaders,—no representatives in the posts of power,—no men filled with the conscious sense of duty, and omnipotent to do what is right through faith in the people whose interests and rights they guard, and whose power they wield? One of the highest and noblest functions of a Government in a free country is to lead the nation,—to go forward as the national honor and welfare may call, and summon the people to rally to the standard set up in their defence. The people look to their Government for guidance in every great emergency. They look to it for courage, for vigor, for indomitable energy, for all the great qualities which give success to nations and glory to success. And when the Government fails them, they are powerless. They have no other leadership—no other means of union—no possibility of making their wishes known or their will felt, but through the action of the Government to which they have intrusted their welfare and delegated their power.

It is the high, the imperative duty of President LINCOLN, in this solemn crisis of the nation’s fate, to give the American people this guidance and leadership. He was perfectly right in saying at Springfield that upon his shoulders rests a responsibility more weighty than has ever fallen upon any one of his predecessors. That responsibility is not met by supervising the distribution of office. Mr. LINCOLN should reserve his thoughts and his strength for nobler duties than presiding over the wranglings of hungry and selfish hunters for patronage and place. He wastes powers that belong to the nation,—he squanders opportunities which millions upon millions of gold will never bring back, for rescuing the nation from the most fearful perils. We shall not be suspected of any but the most friendly sentiments towards the President of the United States, when we tell him, what the courtiers who hang upon his favor will not dare to whisper,—that he must go up to a higher level than he has yet reached, before he can See and realize the high duties to which he has been called. He has spent time and strength in feeding rapacious and Selfish partisans, which should have been bestowed upon saving the Union and maintaining the authority of the Constitution he has solemnly sworn to defend. He has not done what he was expected to do as soon as he should assume the reins of power—summon back, by word and act, the loyalty of the American people to the flag and the Government of their common country. The Union is weaker now than it was a month ago. Its foes have gained courage, and its friends have lost heart. Step by step the new Confederacy marches forward towards solid and secure foundations,—and day by day the bright hopes of the lovers of the Union fade and die away.

The Administration must have a policy of action,—clear and definite in the end it aims at, wise and resolute in the means employed, and proclaimed to the people as the standard around which they can rally. What it should be, it is not for us to say. That is a matter requiring wise and careful deliberation on the part of those who are responsible; but it should be decided upon promptly, and then carried into effect with steady and dauntless resolution.

The President has to decide whether he will enforce the law at the hazard of civil war,—or whether he will waive the execution of the law, and appeal to the people of the seceded States on behalf of the Union. One or other of these courses he Should lose no time in adopting,—simply because every day lost renders less possible the success of either. If he decides to enforce the laws, let him call Congress together and demand the means of doing it. If he decides upon Peace, let him proclaim his purpose,—and seek at once the confidence and favor of the people whom he desires to win. Let him first disarm the fears of War which now unite, by outward pressure, the Southern people,—and then let him proceed to organize a Union Party in every Southern State, and to strengthen and encourage it by all the legitimate means at his disposal. Why has SAM HOUSTON, of Texas, been left to fight the battle of the Union alone,—without a word of encouragement, or promise of a man or a dollar from the Government at Washington? Why have the Union men in Louisiana been abandoned without an effort, to the despotism of the minority which has usurped control of their affairs? Why have the noble-hearted champions of the Union and the Constitution in Virginia and Tennessee and Kentucky, been ignored utterly in the use of the Executive patronage and in all the public action of the Federal Government? Simply, in our judgment, because the Administration has decided upon no means of meeting the secession movement,—because it has no POLICY. It is going on blindly,—living from hand to mouth,—trusting in the chances of the future for deliverance from present and impending perils.

We trust this period of indecision, of inaction, of fatal indifference, will have a speedy end. Unless it does, we may bid farewell to all hope of saving the Union from destruction and the country from anarchy. A mariner might as well face the tempest without compass or helm, as an Administration put to sea amid such Storms as now darken our skies, without a clear and definite plan of public conduct. The country looks eagerly to President LINCOLN for the dispersion of the dark mystery that hangs over our public affairs. The people want something to be decided on—some standard raised—some policy put forward, which Shall Serve as a rallying point for the abundant but discouraged loyalty of the American heart. In a great crisis like this, there is no policy so fatal as that of having no policy at all.