MR. VAILANDIG HAM'S ARREST.
FROM OUR SPECIAL. CORRESPONDENT.] New York, May 26, 1863. TILE Northern enemies of the cause of the Union have gained a great victory, and, like all the victories on that side, whether North or South, it is gained, not through their superiority, but our stupidity. Whether in ordinary times a knave or a fool is the most mischievous member of society may still possibly be an open question ; but certainly nothing more calamitous can befall a state in a critical period than to have affairs in the hands of the unwise. Some calculation can be based upon wickedness Public virtue may foresee and avert a proposed public crime, but what wisdom Can preconceive the tergiversations of folly, and set guards and limits to its possible calamitous consequences ? The stupidities of which our present administration has been guilty at a period when the highest order of wisdom, as well as of virtue, was needed in the guidance of public affairs, are manifold ; whether they are also unpardonable the times are not yet ripe enough to show. Neither has the time yet come for their classification, nor for singling out those on whose future fame or infamy must rest their responsibility. History will take care of that, and in the mean- time we can only shoot the folly as it flies and note its fruits.
The latest foolishness is the arrest of Mr. Vallandigham—a name that I know you will mispronounce, and which error I shall leave without correction. So far, at least, he will be cheated of the notoriety he covets. Bad as the man is, his arrest, trial, and condemnation by court martial, are acts which the Government should never have instigated or never permitted. The man, as the whole country knows, is a brawl- ing, loud-mouthed traitor, hating the North and all its free institutions, sympathizing fully with the Secessionists, desiring, first, the supremacy of the slaveholders, and, if that is impossible, next, their independence. To this end, he has boldly attempted to instigate his party to revolution, and would gladly, if he could, have aroused it to take up arms on behalf of the slaveholders' revolt He, doubtless, wanted the courage, or possessed too much pru- dence, to lead a band of desperadoes to Washington, to depose Mr. Lincoln and take possession of the Government, but he would gladly have moved others to so mad an adventure. In intention he was carable of the blackest civic crime, and would, at any moment, to serve his own bad ambition, have sold or betrayed his party. Traitors generally have their price, but Mr. Vallandigham seems to have loved treason from a natural depravity of heart, and was the voluntary tool of rebels, who mean to be despots, because he is by nature a man, who has no higher idea of freedom than to be the minister of the will of a tyrant. Many such pupils of slaveholding education are to be found among us, and especially in the Democratic party. I say the Democratic party, because that class, for thirty years, has been taught to take the foot of the slaveholder and place it on their necks. In the providence of God this war is to unlearn that lesson.
Nevertheless, the course of the Government in making a martyr of this creature is a most unwise one. He has been very careful to
keep out of those sections of the country where his appeals 'CT-the passions of men might lead to turbulence, and where, in the colses don, his own personal safety might be endangered. But he 11 8 confined himself to those loyal States where, at the worst, Ii - ...... could only excite to discontent. But so intemperate was he, and so clearly (lid he show himself to be a mere political charlatan and adventurer, that he excited the multitudes whom he has been ac- customed to address, not to revolt, but to disgust. As an extreme representaive of the " Copperhead '' faction, possessing none of the prudence, little of the pretended patriotism, and nothing of the assumed respectability of his confederates, he laid bare so com- pletely the base purposes and the slavish subserviency of his party that the minds of honest and intelligent men revolted at such an exhibition of demagogism, and were appalled at the future of a country that should come under such leadership. If he deceived a few he set many more to thinking, and real, hard thinking is just the most dangerous element that democrats and slaveholders can possibly arouse among this people. Unrestricted liberty of speech in such a case as his justifies itself. Connecticut, hitherto a Demo- cratic State,—I use the word always in its partisan sense,—was carried in the recent election by the Union anti-Democratic party because such men as this Vallandigham, Wood, Seymour, Toncey, and other bold, bail, and outspoken representatives of their party avowed to th u people the true character of their pur- poses. In this State the election was lost because another faction of the Democrats were wily enough not to teach the people, but to lead the unreflecting and ignorant multitude of the large towns by false pretences. It is this class—and there is a faction in the. Republican party that works with them—that the country has to fear, and not the bolder men whom General Burnside would send to the Dry Tortugas.
This arrest was unwise for another reason. It is not Vallandig- ham alone that should be made to suffer, if it is to be the policy of the Government to put a stop to a wordy opposition to the war. Such a policy, if adopted at all, should be carried out promptly, unhesitatingly, and boldly. In that case there are half-a-dozen daily journals in this city alone that should be stopped instantly, and their editors sent across seas ; governors, members of Congress, private citizens of wealth and influence, who should be consigned to dungeons. To strike terror into these domestic traitors the blow should be sweeping and heavy. Timidity only recoils upon the Government, and to choose a victim is only to make a martyr, not to punish a criminal. This is pre- cisely what the Government has done in Vallandigham's case. Impunity to the fellow-traitors of this man only incites, not suppresses them. And, sccordingly. " Copperhead" journals and " Copperhead " meeting.; are only all the bolder for this arrest, re- sorted to, apparently, to test rather than to lead public opinion. It is only a new evidence of that imbecility of purpose which has characterized the Administration from the beginning.
Nor even were the arrest and trial legal. Undoubtedly General Burnside, if he acted on his own motion, was governed by the purest motives, but he exceeded his authority, as the whole subject is clearly within the jurisdiction of the civil courts. If General Burnside acted ignorantly, his superior, the Secretary of War, Mr. Stanton knows, or perhaps I should say ought to know, better. The whole proceeding, however, is entirely in accordance with the usual course, in other matters, of that member of the Administra- tion. Headlong, loving a sensation, unable from natural incapacity to take a large view of any subject, and see it in all its relations, he is accustomed to throw himself with tremendous energy upon a trifle, and to bring the Government into disgrace and difficulty by sheer incapacity to comprehend and grapple with an exigency where cool courage and a clear brain are needful. When you are disposed to be impatient with and blame Mr. Lincoln, remember, I pray you, the character of some of the men by whom he is sur- rounded.
But we live through such blunders, as in good time, doubtless, we shall through tee blunderers. And in that " good time coming"—which the amiable Dr. M ackay has done so much, as New York correspondent of the Lonlm Times to bring about, let us hope we shall have pleasanter things to write about.
You will hear of the meetings and of the newspaper comments— through the good Dr. Mackay, if nobody else—which this Vallan- digham case has brought forth. But do not believe, therefore, that there is a great popular uprising against the Government, that the conscription is to be forcibly resisted, and that the Opposition to the war is growing more formidable than ever. The talk about Vallandigham is the Vallandigham sort of talk—all sound and fury, signifying nothing. It is put forth where those who indulge in it know they can do so without danger. The true friends of tbe
GoT: rnment see the blunder it has made, and do not hesitate to say
zs":. It is made, probably not to be repeated, and goes to the score of past experiences by which we learn wisdom and grow stronger. And it has the good effect of so many previous mistakes, as it shows that we can commit blunders and be none the weaker.
The mail to-morrow goes from Boston, and, therefore, I cannot tell you, as I hoped to do before closing this letter, that Vicksburg was taken. The result, however, you may hear by telegraph. Grant has made a brilliant campaign, driving the rebels before him from point to point, and victorious in battle after battle. That some of the most important outworks of the city are taken—that it is completelyinvested,we know ; and the chances are certainly in Grant's favour. If he succeeds the Mississippi is open, and the rebellion cut off from its trans-Mississippi resources, and so far has received a most damaging blow. But we wait for the result before counting the gain.