Newspaper Provocations

New York World, November 28, 1860

An article, which appeared in the Chicago Democrat, a day or two after the election, is floating through the southern press, and doing good service in the cause of secession. Its character may be inferred from the following paragraphs:

What will the chivalry do about it?

Will they eat dirt? Will they take back all they have said about disunion, a southern confederacy, the rights of the South, the blood of their enemies, and all that sort of thing? What will the Yanceys, the Rhetts, the Keitts, the Jefferson Davises, and all that noble army of traitors do? To what dodge will Wise, the doughty champion of the Hay Stack war, resort, in order to cover his inglorious retreat? Where is the army with which he was to march on Washington and seize the federal city?

The chivalry will eat dirt. They will back out. They never had any spunk anyhow. The best they could do was to bully, and brag, and bluster. John Brown and his seventeen men were enough to affright the whole mighty commonwealth of Virginia out of its propriety, and to hold it as a conquered province until recaptured by the federal troops, and to this day John Brown's ghost is more terrible than an army with banners, in the eyes of every southern cavalier. These knights of the sunny South are just such heroes as Sancho Panza was. They are wonderful hands at bragging and telling fantastical lies; but when it comes to action, count them out.

Such sort of talk is contemptible enough; it could only come from the very meanest spirit, the very lowest grade of human nature. And yet it would be hard to estimate the extent of its mischief. Base as it is to jeer and flout an adversary in the moment of victory, the baseness does not blunt the sting, nor deaden the feeling. It can hardly fail of stirring up the very worst resentment; and we can well understand the motive which prompts the giving this ribaldry as wide a circulation as possible among the southern people. Once satisfy that people that this is the spirit which pervades the North, and there would be no further need for argument. Separation would come unbidden. It is not in human nature to endure such insult unmoved. The man who should , use it toward another man would give proof of the most virulently hostile spirit; and so of the people that should use it toward another people. Once let it be taken as an earnest out-giving, and peace thenceforth is impossible. None but the veriest of poltroons could think of yielding to such insolence.

Every intelligent man here at the North knows that the great body of the northern people are free from any such spirit as is set forth in this Chicago print. There is no inclination to scoff or taunt. The general desire is, on the other hand, to inspire confidence. Every northern man of the least reflection feels that the advent to power of a party confined to a single section, is, on its face, not a very assuring omen for the opposite section. Anxiety on the part of the South is unavoidable; and we take it that the victorious party itself does not think strange of this, or at least is not disposed to turn it to derision. Its duty as well as its interest is to dispel, if possible, from the public mind, every fear that it intends to degrade the South or do violence to any of its constitutional rights. Whether an open rupture is imminent or not, every true patriot looks with regret upon the general weakening of the old spirit of loyalty at the South. It is a calamity that men who are Americans should anywhere be canvassing the idea of breaking up the glorious Union of their fathers. It is not a subject for jeering. The public journal that will lend itself to the miserable work of venting contumely upon the South at a period like this, is a public bane. It is at variance with every true national impulse, and wickedly perverts every manly sentiment of the North. We are among those who believe that there will yet come a better mutual knowledge and feeling between the two sections; but never, if such language as we have quoted becomes the general style of either the northern or the southern press. Such language could have no other possible effect than intenser hate and increased estrangement. It is high time that such wretched ebullitions of gall and bitterness should have an end in all parts of the country.