THE PRESENT CONDITION OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES.* THE authors of
the two volumes which are now before us, having spent some time, during the latter part of last year, in the Con- federate States, have alike arrived at the not unnatural conclusion that a plain narrative of what they saw there may possess some interest for the British public. The objects with which these gentlemen visited the South are as different as their respective callings. Mr. Malet, who is a clergyman of the Church of England, went over to tell a female relative of his, the wife of a Southern planter, of the recent death of three of her relations, the stoppage of the mails to the South having rendered it impos- sible to convey the intelligence in the ordinary mauner. The merchant's object was to ascertain what had happened to certain customers of his firm, of whom nothing had been heard since the commencement of the war. Nor is there a less difference between the volumes in which the travellers have respectively recorded the results of their experiences. While, on the one hand, the merchant has written a sensible, straightforward book, which contains a good deal of interesting information respecting the actual condition of the Confederate States, the clergyman has on the other hand, produced a work of precisely the opposite character. The superiority of the merchant's book is, no doubt, partly owing to the fact that its author visited in succession most of the leading towns in the Confederate States, while Mr. Malet's time was principally spent on his relative's plantations in a remote corner of South Carolina. The main cause of the dif- ference between them must, however, be sought in the mental characteristics of their respective writers. When we found Mr. Malet telling us, at the outset of his narrative, that he took his surplice with him to America, and officiated in it twice while he was crossing the Atlantic, it was impossible to avoid a suspicion that his ideas respecting the kind of information which the British public would be likely to welcome were of a somewhat peculiar nature ; and, as we went on with his book, this sus- picion ripened into positive conviction. His volume is, in fact, a curious mixture of 'extracts from Southern papers, scraps of
* Two Months in the Confederate States. By an English Merchant. London: Bentley.
• An Emand to the South in the Summer of 1852. By the Rev. Willla,n Wyndham IfAlet. Bentley.
Southern poetry, quotations from his own and other people's ser- mons, reflections of the feeblest possible kind, partizan stories against the Yankees, and statements the truth of which.few of his readers will be in a position to dispute—as, for instance, that Mrs. W--'s driver is named " March," and "stammers much in talk, but not at all in reading," and that "Mr. Blake's entire donkey is valued at £200." All this valuable matter is conveyed in a peculiar style, of which the following sentence is by no means an unfair example :—" He has seventy sheep ; all their clothes are now of home manufacture." After this account of Mr. Mulct's work, the reader will scarcely require to he in- formed that it has not taught us much respecting the present condition of the Southern States, and that the information on this point which we are about to lay before him is derived almost exclusively from the volume which we have associated with it as the subject of this article.
We hive al,.eady s tid that the author of Teva Months in the Confederate Stqtes visited several of the principal cities in the South. He went, in time first instance, from New York to New Orleans by sea, and thence successively to Jackson, Mobile, Montgomery, Charleston, and Richmond. Almost the first person he saw at New Orleans was General Butler, who had come down to time wharf to meat the steamer, in which his wife was a passenger. The general's personal appearance is thus described :-
"He seemed a spare man, of middle height, quick and nervous in his movements, and, at a glanc?, very much more like a lawyer than a soldier. His face is distinguished by nothing more unusual than what boys call a cock eye, and with its thin compressed lips, livid complexion, almost, if not entire, absence of beard, moustache, or whisker, and thin grey hair thrown back over his ears, impressed Me simply as the face of a restless, earnest, decided, and possibly abrupt man, but with no special bias towards, nor familiarity with evil, rather than as that of the cruel, cunning, unprincipled scoundrel, which by Common consent so many millions of peop!e believe him to be."
The merchant informs us that the hatred which was felt in New Orleans for General Butler and his brother did not extend to the Federal officers as a body, they being generally spoken of as "gentlemen who were fulfilling difficult duties in a gentle- manly manner ;" and he adds, on his own authority, that the Federal soldiers were Very well behaved and free from disorder. Our author had not much difficulty in leaving New Orleans, there being at that time some sort of authorized communication between the city and the Confederate lines. Before reaching Jackson, however, he had personal experience of the severity with which the conscription is enforced in the Southern States. At one of the intermediate stations the train was stopped, the passengers examined, and every one who could not produce papers exempting him from military service was at once drafted
off to the army. The production of a Foreign-office .passport by our author did not satisfy the officer in charge, who sent him
before the Coascript Judge, and it was not without trouble that he succeeded in prOving himself to be a British subject. The merchant gives us a good many details respecting the army which is reinforced in this promiscuous manner. The discipline of the troops, when off duty, appears to be somewhat of the loosest. "When squatted cross-legged on beds," our author tells
us." the rank and file can curse his officer's eyes and limbs as handsomely as ever I believed one officer could similarly accom- modate another." For the most part, they wear no uniform, but each man dresses as best he can. Until very lately, shoes were the article of which they were most in want. Owing to
the vigorous measures that were taken to supply this de- ficiency, printed cards were nailed up in the bedrooms in all the large hotels, warning the traveller that if he put his boots outside the door they would inevitably be stolen. Now, however, this want appears to be in great measure
removed, partly by means of home manufacture, and partly owing to the patriotic conduct of the leading Southern mer- chants, which contrasts most favourably with what we hear. of
the proceedings of the Northern contractors. Our author tells us that, when a house has run a cargo of goods, it is the practice to offer the whole shipment first to the Government at the regu- lation prices of the day ; and he mentions one case in which" a very large lot of strong army shoes were sold to the Government at fifteen or sixteen dollars a pair, when from twenty to thirty. dollars could readily have been obtained outside. It is not true now, whatever it may have been at one time, that the Southerea troops are insufficiently supplied with food or clothing, thought'
curious details respecting the number of prisoners taken on either side. At City Point, -near Richmond, a periodical exchange of prisoners takes place, and on one of these occasions when cur author was present, about 450 Federals were exchanged for only nine Confederates ; and the latter boasted that up to that time they had returued about 21,000 men more than the former. As regards the treatment of prisoners by the Confederates, the merchant seems to think that it is as good as is possible under time circumstances, though he- owns that "time prisons at Richmond certainly are discreditable places." And he proceeds to relate, without any expression of reprobation, a ease in which a sentry, having thrice vainly warned a prisoner to stop sp"tting out of the window, immedi- ately shot the man dead. Mr. Millet has a still more remarkable story, to the effect that 300 Federals, who had been paroled after the battle of Harper's Ferry, were, on being taken prisoners again shortly afterwards, summarily shot by order of General Jackson. We must not, however, forget that this tale is told by a gentleman who does not scruple to assert, on the authority of "a widow, who had a plantation at Pollocksville," that four ship-loads of negroes had been takeo by the Federals from Port Royal to Cuba, and sold to pay the expenses of the war.
The merchant declares very positively that the chance of starving out the South is quite a hopeless one. Timer can easily grow corn and breed hogs enough to feed their whole population, and that is all that they absolutely require. The Southerners like nothing so well as pork. Our author was repeatedly assured that "they hated yer darned beef and fixius T. Give 'em a cut of well-cured pork, and ye may take all the rest." Salt and medicines are the articles the want of which is most felt. The merchant tells us a good deal respecting the-prices of various commodities, which, however, we need not repeat, as the newspapers are continually giving us more recent information on this head. Thera is an absolute dearth of beer, wine, or Tirits ; and genuine tea or coffee is very rarely to be met with. Still, living,though bad, is not very dear; hotel-beard at Mobile was only three and a half dollars a day. Those hotels which remaiu open are generally crowded to excess, and the traveller has to put up with the most wretched accommodation. Time difficulty of procuring new rails has compelled the Southerners to husband the existing railways in the most careful manner. The rate of speed had generally been reduced to ten miles an hour, at which rate it was believed that the rails then down would last about two years longer. At the end of that time it was calculated that the com- panies would be able entirely to relay those lines essential to military operations from the new rails in stock, those being made in the Confederacy, those taken from unimportant lines in-time interior, and those also taken from the horse-railroads in the streets of the various cities. As to future prospects, our author tells us that the Confederates are very anxious that both their Northern and foreign creditors should understand that they mean ultimately to discharge every penny of their liabilities ; and he entirely believes in their ability to do so. This belief appears to be based on the conviction that nothing that can be done by cotton-growing associations elsewhere can ever deprive the South of the monopoly of their staple product. Want of space prevents us from doing more than referring the reader to some very interesting observations on the enormous price of gait at Richmond, which, our author argues, ought not to be regarded as - a proof of a corresponding degree of poverty in the Confederate States. His financial views are less simple than those of .Mr.. Malet, which are confined to the statement that, " having heard much of time trouble caused by the paper-money which is current in the Confederate States, he was not sorry to get for fifty dollars in gold ninety-two and a half dollars in neat paper not-es of various value."
On the subject of slavery the merchant says very little indeed. In fact, with time exception of a rather inconsistent estimate -of the value of negro troops, which he holds to be eiiiite useless when on the side of time Federals, While, when fighting for the Confederates, they have, "if well handled, plenty of mischief in them," he scarcely mentions the slaves at all. In this respect he is very inferior to Mr. Malet, who appears to hold very streng
opinions on the subject of slavery. We do not know whether the . reverend gentleman ever shared the prejudice against the pecu- ' liar institution which is common to the vast majority of his . countrymen ; but his book proves beyond dispute that, if he did, , he has succeeded in completely emancipating himself from it is very natural that Federal prisoners, accustomed to time abund- According to him, the negro has nothing to complain of, and - awe of the Northern armies, should give somewhat deplorable everything to be thankful for ; and when the South has won its
reports of their condition. Apropos of prisoners, we have some independence he will be treated, if possible, e' g'
than he is now. I3oth he and the merchant agree in stating that
the masters do not at all care to keep their slaves in ignorance or what is gding on ; but, while the latter attributes this careless- neie- toContempt for the negro, the former has no doubt that its sole causeis perfect confidence in his affectionate attachment. Literally the only point in the treatment of slaves to which Mr. Malet
could take any exception whatever, was the practice of selling them by auction, and he suggested that a sale by private contract would be less likely to hurt the negroes' feelings ; but he was promptly comforted by the assurance that they rather liked the excitement of a public sale, and by the recollection that there is a considerable resemblance between an auction and an English statute-fair. But the strongest proof of Mr. Malet's complete success in ac- quiring the true Southern tone of feeling us regards slavery is to be found in the fact that he tells us, with the most perfect naivete; that he had no hesitation in appealing to Scriptur for its justification. "I read to them," he says, speaking of his kins- man's slaves, " the words of Genesis xiv. 14, proving that Abraham had the same kind of servants ; and they seemed quite pleased." It really seems quite a pity that Mr. Malet ever left the Confederate States, for his peculiar talents must be, to a great extent, thrown away in a free country.
We must, in conclusion, be allowed to extract a passage from the merchant's book, which, though it has DO direct bearing on the present condition of the Confederate States, is far too amusing to be passed over without notice. It refers to the free and easy manner in which justice is administered in the neighbourhood of Richmond. The scene is a town named Woodstock, where what answers to our petty sessions was going on.
"When my friend, a Confederate officer, and I entered, some one pre- sent was being tried for stealing a horse. Of course, we did as every- body else did, that is, pushed up to one of the stoves, looked intently at it for a moment, poked it up, and then asked a gentleman with a large beard, who sat by, with his hands in his pockets and his feet on the stove, chewing and spitting like the rest, how the case was likely to go ? He expressed a very decided opinion that the prosecutor's case had not &leg to stand on. In the course of a short time, however, the jury decided differently, and the chairman condemned the prisoner at the b..r (for whom I had been looking) to six mouths' imprisonment. Where- upon another gentleman, who had jest put a log into the opposite stove, walked across to where our bearded friend sat, and quietly suggested that they'd better clear out.' I was then informed that the two gentle- men who were retiring in amicable conversation were, respectively, the prisoner in the case just concluded, and the officer of the C .urt ; arid I could account at once for the strong opinion of the gentleman with whom I had been allotting as to the chance of the prosecutor. How- ever, in this, as in all other cases' no doubt substantial justice is done, for an hour afterwards our bearded friend could be seeu gloomily look- ing out of a heavily-barred window in the lock-up, safe enough, no doubt."
Lest Mr. Malet should think that we are inclined to show an undue preference to his lay competitor for public notice, we will give a brief extract from his book also, which has at least the merit of novelty. The story rests on the authority of a Dr. Harrill, and the reader may, as we have done, please himself about believing a word of it :—
"He (Dr. Harrill) was at Castleton in 1854. Dr. Howe was there, and a Mr. Hall was at Prospect Hill, near White Hill. These gentle- men were friends of the family of Mrs. Beecher Stowe, who was left badly off. This lady had travelled in the South, where few Northerners ever go, except it be to settle there ; she had written notes about the slaves. Judge Howe concluded, as an abolitionist and universalist, to make out a book, and employed Hall, a clever hand, to write it. He called it Uncle Tom's Cabin,' a fiction on the said notes ; it was agreed to bring it out under Mrs. Beecher Stowe's name. Hall was to be paid for writing, and Judge Howe was to give Mrs. Beecher Stowe part of the profits, which immensely exceeded all their expectations, and proved fortunes to them both. A conscientious Methodist minister in the same district, feeling that false impressions would be made by the book, wrote a pamphlet to counteract it ; but he was threatened with dismissal from his congregation, and the pamphlet was quashed."