Signs of an Impending Puritan Outbreak in England
New York Herald, June 9, 1861
The intelligence received by each fresh arrival from Europe, confirms the view we have for some time taken, that a direct support of the Southern rebellion by Great Britain, is only a question of time; that, meanwhile, every possible indirect aid and comfort, will be rendered to the rebels; and that it is the duty of our government to insist upon her abandoning so offensive and menacing a position, or else make it a cauus belli.
There has been no period since the acknowledgment of the independence of its North American colonies, that the aristocracy and governing classes of England, have not been engaged in covert or open hostility with the institutions of the United States. Their arrogance, during the earlier years of the century, led to the war of 1812, and, since the peace of 1815, they have sought to undermine our prosperity, more insidiously than by force of arms. To abolition schemes laid in England, forty years since, are attributable the convulsions and disorders that agitate our country now; and the course which is being pursued by the Palmerston Ministry, proves its eagerness to aid in crowning with success the machinations that began so long ago, for the overthrow of our greatness as a nation. Such perfidy must meet with its due reward, and it is impossible to contemplate closely the state of affairs in Great Britain, without being convinced that the poisoned chalice prepared for us, will speedily be returned to its own lips, and that while, if she is foolhardy enough to rush into a war with the United States, no permanent harm can befall the United States as a nation, the germs of a revolution are already perceptible in the mother country, which may destroy the power of its aristocracy, and shake the foundations of the throne itself.
While British statesmen are acting under a terror lest the four or five millions of the inhabitants of England who are dependent upon our cotton, should be cut off from their daily bread, they are shortsighted enough to forget that ten millions of the population of the United Kingdom would be impoverished, if her trade with the United States should be utterly destroyed by war. The press and manufacturers, of England are, just now, loud in their outcry against the blockade of the Southern coast; and, notwithstanding the evident fact that it can be easily enforced by means of our steamers, there are strong indications of a disposition to violate it as "not efficient." Insurrection is believed to be imminent, if trade with the agricultural States of the Union should be hampered or embarrassed, and, rather than face such a catastrophe, Lord Palmerston and his advisers, are apparently preparing to choose the alternative of war with the United States. Such a policy, if persevered in, will dash them to pieces on Scylla, while avoiding the rocks of Charybdis.
However interested, moreover, Great Britain may be in mere trade, the very depths of public sentiment will be agitated, in opposition to those steps which Lord Palmerston is initiating for the recognition of the independence of a confederacy, dependent upon slavery for its existence. A revolution to get cotton, on terms that violate the moral and religious sense of the people, will as inevitably be met by a more dangerous counter revolution, in behalf of outraged Christian feeling, and the philanthropic spirit of the age. The Anglo-Saxon and German, unlike the Latin races, have never overthrown their governments, for mere material causes; but an undercurrent of morality or religion, has always occasioned their serious national struggles. It was so in the time of Luther, on the continent of Europe, and when England had become leavened with the principles of the Reformation, Puritanism worked its way there, until the throne possessed no power to withstand it. It overthrew Charles I.; drove James II. into exile; and assumed the supremacy it has since maintained in Great Britain. Since the days of Wilberforce, it has concentrated its strength against African slavery; and there has not been a ministry, or a party, for thirty years which has dared to raise a voice in favor of the slave traffic. A government that should wink at it, or to subserve some shortsighted, temporary object, should indirectly sustain its theories, would be swept away by the aroused wrath and indignation of a unanimous people.
It is to this already partially aroused conscience of England, as well as to the danger of Congress, when it meets, giving power to the President to declare war against Great Britain, in case of her aggressive policy being continued, that Lord Palmerston is bidding defiance, in catering to the cotton wants of the manufacturing districts, and coquetting with the revolted portion of the United States. The anti-slavery sentiment in Great Britain was fostered by the governing classes, for the avowed object of injuring our republic. Sir Robert Peel declared that the "money expended to free the negroes in Jamaica, was the best possible investment, in order to injure the cause of free government in America." The intrigues of Exeter Hall and the Stafford House, have been crowned with partial success. The Garrisons, Tappans and Leavitts, followed by the Wendell Phillipses, Greeleys and Sumners who have freely used English money, subscribed to put down slavery, have done their work and an insurrection of the Southern States has been the consequence. But the spirit that was aroused by the conspirators in England, cannot now be appeased. Anti-slavery is no longer the instrument, but the master of those who conjured it into being. Just as Puritanism which was patronized by the successors of Henry VIII. for their own selfish purposes, became the means of beheading one of their successors and of driving a dynasty out of the kingdom, so the abolition element, if opposed, may end with equal disaster now.
Dark clouds hang over the future of Great Britain, and, no matter what course its government may pursue, a revolution is perhaps impending there, which cannot be long delayed; but the day of its calamity will be near at hand indeed, if its government should be insane enough to risk a war with the United States, at a period, and on a question, which would be sure to cause fatal civil disturbances at home.