[FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT.]
New York, February 16, 1866. A Roos is published to-day entitled, " The War of the Rebel- lion ; or, Scylla and Charybdis, consisting of Observations upon the Causes, Course, and Consequences of the Late Civil War in the United States." It is by Mr. H. S. Foote, a man of some note among the politicians of the slaveholding States. He was Governor of Mississippi, and senator from that State before the days of se- cession ; after which he was senator from the State of Tennessee in the Confederate Congress. What he says about the causes of the rebellion fills 334 of the 440 pages of his book, and has little novelty or interest even in this country, and would have none for British readers ; but as Mr. Foote, although regarded as a headstrong and somewhat eccentric and conceited man, has always borne a reputa- tion for fairness and honourable dealing, as well as for penetration, which this book sustains, his revelations of the inside affairs of that so-called Confederacy of which he was a part have some value. Mr. Foote has one honorable record, which he brings up not boastfully or improperly, when speaking of how " the secessionists of Missis- sippi," hi furtherance of their party purposes, " suddenly recuperated their strength by the announcement of a new political issue involv- ing the shameless and disgraceful repudiation of the Planters' Bank Bonds, the validity of which stood- explicitly and emphatically guaranteed by the State Constitution," and how in consequence of this "most opprobrious act, openly countenanced and undeniably participated in by Mr. Jefferson Davis," he resigned his governor- ship and went to California. Things which exist together are not always connected, but it is noteworthy that repudiation, fili- busterism, and secession are sworn brothers.
One statement made by Mr. Foote in his preliminary matter is striking and to us ludierous. It is that Mr. Calhoun was op- posed to the election to the Presidency of " any man of Northern birth and residence," but that he made an exception in favour of Mr. Dallas, because "he was not only a gentleman, but the son of a gentleman." Now Mr. Calhoun notoriously pined for the Presi- dency, and he was the son of an Irish emigrant, on both sides of the house, his father, Patrick, being described in a later biographical notice of his son as " strong-headed, wrong-headed, very brave, honest, ignorant man," who had " only learned to read and write," and who was one of the small up-country farmers, who tilled their ground with their own hands, and who were not noticed in any way by the planters and professional men. This is nothing to Mr. Calhoun's discredit, but this being true, his nonsense about Mr. Dallas is. It is, however, only a characteristic exhibition of " Southern " pretence and folly.
Among the documents published by Mr. Foote is the provisional Constitution or Bond of Confederation adopted by John Brown, in which are these two articles, which are interesting as revela- tions of his purposes :—
" Art. XXXIV. Neutrals.—The persons and property of all non- slaveholders, who shall remain absolutely neutral, shall be respected so far as circumstances will allow of it, but they shall not be entitled to any active protection."
"Art. XXXVI. Property Confiscated.—The entire personal and real property of all persons known to be acting, either directly or indirectly, with or for the enemy, or found in arms with them, or found wilfully holding slaves, shall be confiscated and taken, wherever and whenever it may be found, in either free or slave States."
It seems strange to most of us that any one can doubt for a moment that John Brown was simply insane—a good, weak man, crazed by grief and excitement.
Mr. Foote describes himself justly as one of the Unionists of the Smith ; that is, he was equally opposed to the Republicans and the Secessionists, wished slavery to be neither established nor forbidden by law in the Territories. He was opposed there- fore from the beginning to Mr. Davis ; yet, like most of the rest of his way of thinking, he fell in with the secession move- ment, and went to the Confederate Congress from Tennessee, although, as he confesses, that State " voted down by an over- whelming vote the proposition to call into existence a State con- vention " for secession purposes, and had one been called " a very large majority of its members would have utterly repudiated all hostile movements against the Federal Government." Tennessee was nominally carried out, in virtue of " a civil and military league " with the secession leaders, which the authorities of the State boldly made. Of Mr. Davis the ex-Confederate senator speaks rather in pity than in anger :—
" As to Mr. Davis, I must say that I regard him mainly as the unfortunate victim of dark and dangerous political heresies, for which he is by no means primarily responsible ; a victim, likewise, of the intriguing machinations of cunning and unscrupulous managers, whose trite character he had n ever penetrated ; as the dupe of adulation and of false promises from abroad which might perchance have deceived men far more sagacious than himself ; in fine, as the almost involuntary instrument of dark and potential influences generated in the womb of Revolution, which led him to claim and to exercise powers, the employ- ment of which, though utterly subversive of freedom, he believed to be indispensable to the successful execution of the grand scheme of Seces- sion, to which he had for so many years devoted the best energies both of his soul and his understanding."
Nevertheless he accuses him of " impolitic tenacity " in his sup- port of favourite but incompetent Generals, of " direct and unwise interference in military movements"—to which " is to be attributed nearly all the principal disasters of the war," of " that weakest weakness, vanity," and of trusting to promises that " one hundred thousand French soldiers" would be sent to the Confederate States "by way of Mexico," the expectation of which aid was repeatedly spoken of in Mr. Foote's hearing by Mr. Davis's parti- cular friends and supporters.
Of one of Mr. Davis's Cabinet, Mr. Foote says that he,
"Besides his inability to meet the military exigencies which he had been encountering, as well as the more serious ones in prospect, was subject to other objections, as the incumbent of a high Cabinet position, of the greatest and most vital character. His reputation for integrity had never been good, and of late years it had become deeply tarnished by his known participancy in schemes of notorious corruption, both in the State of Louisiana and in Washington City. The offensive moral odour arising from the celebrated Houmas fraud (one of the most un- blushing and profligate legislative transactions that had ever disgraced the annals of a free people) had affixed such a stigma upon the reputa- tion both of Mr. — and his friend and patron, Mr. John A. Slidell, as it was not possible that any lapse of time could entirely efface."
He adds that this officer availed himself of his position " to perpe- trate more barefaced acts of corruption and profligacy, than any single individual has ever been known to commit in the same space of time in any part of Christendom."
Mr. Foote's appreciation of the Confederate Secretary of War
may be gathered from the following paragraph, which, however, is but part of a very full-length portrait, all in the same tone :— " It may be safely asserted that he did not possess one of the qualities needful to a creditable and useful performance of the duties which were now devolved on him. He was never able to learn even the ordinary routine of official business, and often scornfully declined attendance to matters of the most urgent importance. He was as arrogant and insult- ing to those who approached him in his official sanctum as he was noto- riously servile and fawning to his own executive chief. He evinced, from his very entrance into office, an utter disregard of all constitutional obligations ; and in the exercise of the authority committed to him, he proved himself to be the most heartless and ruffianly tyrant whom I ever yet saw in the possession of official power."
Of Mr. Davis's Commissary-General Mr. Foote gives this description:— "His appearance was most unprepossessing indeed ; his manners were coarse, overbearing, and insulting ; his temper was austere, crabbed, and irritating ; he was utterly ignorant of the duties of the post assigned him, and was not at all solicitous to make himself acquainted with them. His self-esteem was the most inordinate that I have ever known any hu- man being to possess, and no man at all capable of judging of such a matter would have regarded him as in all respects tempos mentis The heartless tyranny practised by this monster of iniquity in all the States of the South, in connection with the system of forcible impressment established, has, I am persuaded, scarcely ever been equalled. His brutal indifference to the sufferings of the Confederate soldiery, by all of whom he was most cordially detested; his indecent and habitual dis- regard of the requisitions made upon his department, from time to time, by the various military commanders with whom he was necessarily thrown into contact ; his open and notorious employment of disrespect- ful and contemptuous language in regard to those in official station to whom he was legally subordinate, are matters upon which it would be now superfluous to dwell. Yet he was retained in the Commissary Department for four years, in utter contempt of remonstrance, of com- plaint, and of direct and positive accusations of delinquency."
Among those favoured officers who brought most disgrace upon Mr. Davis both within and without the Confederacy were General Hindman and General Bragg. Of the former Mr. Foote says that he had led in Arkansas " a very turbulent and disreputable life," of which his course as a Confederate military officer was worthy. Of his own motion he established a conscription and proclaimed martial law in Arkansas, and did any one dare to refuse obedience to it,
" He had them executed, and, going even beyond the infernal Jeffreys himself in barbarity, he, as he also ostentatiously declares in that same report, took care to be present to witness the dying agonies of his vic- tims. This man seized upon all the cotton and other property for which he had use (as he boldly avows), burnt some, retained some, and appro- priated a third portion to such purposes as he pleased. His cruelties were so enormous in Arkansas that it became unsafe that he should remain there longer," &c.
The holders of Confederate bonds may be interested in the following account given by a Confederate senator of the manner in which the loan was authorized. It certainly tallies well with the declaration made at the last meeting of the bondholders:— By the aid of the celebrated ten-minutes rule and the sitting with closed doors, it was finally carried by a somewhat meagre majority in the House of Representatives. The dissentient members filed an elaborate protest against this injudicious and unpardonable measure, which it is hoped will see the light one of these days. Those in Europe who are now complaining of severe pecuniary losses in consequence of having participated in this luckless scheme of finance will know whom to hold responsible. "
Mr. Foote was not among those members of the Confederate Congress who approved of the step taken after Colonel Dalhgren's raid upon Richmond for the release of our men from the Libby Prison, when, in the words of Mr. Pollard, the Confederate histo- rian,
"The Libby Prison was undermined, several tons of powder put under it, and the threat made that, if any demonstration on Richmond such as Dahlgren's was ever again to occur, the awful crime, the appall- ing barbarity would be committed of blowing into eternity the helpless men confined in a Confederate prison."
Against all these barbarites Mr. Foote continually protested, and finally, as some of my readers may remember, he took leave for ever of what he calls—the emphasis is his—" that mobbish assemblage, the Confederate Congress." According to all that has been revealed since the downfall of the so-called Confederacy, nearly all the ability and virtue in the public service of that short- lived " institution " was concentrated in General Lee, Stonewall Jackson, General Johnston, and Mr. Trenhohu.
The sole value of Mr. Foote's book is in its confessions. Its style is wordy, inflated, and painfully pretentious. He must speak of Daniel Webster as "the immortal defender of the Union," and, referring to one of his speeches, of " the over- whelming recollection of this most stupendous display of genius on the part of the personage of whom I have been speaking." He of course talks of the " chivalrous sons of the South ;" also of " the principles of a high-toned humanity ;" and tells us that Achilles " did not refuse the exanimate body of Hector to parental imprecations." A judge he calls " a learned and eminent judicial functionary." You call this "the American style." Perhaps that is the reason that the only three persons whom I have heard speak of this book, not highly educated people, called it, one of them, " gabby," another, " villanously written," the third, " full of gas and buncombe." In regard to this style and its origin, I propose to say something hereafter. In so far as it is " American " it is Southern, for in the words of Mr. Foote him- self, " the South has teemed in all generations with gifted ora- tors." The book of course is classical. Your Southern states- man is always strong on the classics. So Mr. Foote indulges often in such quotations as "Duke et decorum est pro patria more," " 0 tempora 0 mores ! " and " In medio tutissimus ibis." I wish that some Egyptian schoolboy centuries ago had wrung the neck