New York, March 2, 1866.
THE political news of the week is brief but important. It is that the proposed amendment to the Constitution changing the basis; of representation, and intended to bring about negro suffrage throughout the Union, has failed in the House—substantially failed, that is, for although the motion to lay the whole subject
upon the table was lost by a vote of 110 to 41, the motion to,
postpone it until the first Tuesday in April prevailed by a vote ofi 113 ayes to 36 noes. Postponement in cases like this is generally equivalent to failure, and in this instance delay is almost certaim loss to the Radicals. Their chief ground of hope was that the feeling upon the close of the rebellion might enable them to secure negro suffrage by the impulsive action of the people in the (old) Free States. What they have most to fear is the chill o5 popular feeling against slaveholders as a class, reflection, the influence of material interests, and restored intercourse between the people of the North and South. The effect of postponement is also enhanced by the fact that it is not a Bill that is postponed; but a mere resolution submitting the proposed amendment to the State Legislatures for their action. Resolutions never seem to take: that hold of the House that is taken by a Bill.
The news of the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act in Ireland', and of the numerous arrests in Dublin, which reached us yesterday by the steamer of February 17th, has attracted more serious- attention than anything else that has occurred with regard to.
Fenianism. You call Feniauism a thing of "American growth." So perhaps it is. So do Indians, and snapping-turtles, and rattle- snakes, and other " varmint" grow here, and our love for and interesb in them and in Fenianism are about equal. The Indians, an the snapping-turtles, and the rattlesnakes we found here, but that by no means makes them " ours." So other evils are sent to us: from Europe, Fenians, or the stuff for Fenians, among them; and we let them grow here, as we let Mormonism, and Spiritualism, and Bloomerism grow, because under our form of government, and with our structure of society, we cannot help it. But the imported nuisances are no more " ours " than those we found
here when we arrived ; and as we let the " isms" die as well as grow, and kill them or make them harmless by letting them alone, so we shall let Fenianistn die its natural death, feeling very sure that if we should oppose or denounce it, or in fact anything in regard to it but make fun of it, we should only pro- long its sickly life. But upon one point I may venture to assure you that there will be not the slightest hesitation to act. Ths news we have (only the brief telegraphic summary from Halifax hip reached us yet) mentions apprehensions of Fenian privateert:t; fitted out in and sailing from our ports. If I know the tempe7 of my countrymen and the spirit of the Government at Wash- ington, you may be entirely at rest upon this subject. Fenian privateers will not prey upon British commerce, either by the con- sent or through the negligence of the Government of the United States. This might be safely assumed, even if what is Attila the Fenian movement had an element of sanity and a faint hope of success, which it seems to us to be utterly without. Most of
the thinking people of this country believe, with many of those in England, that both wisdom and justice dictate serious changes in the British Government of Ireland, but they doubt very much.
that even a successful revolution in Ireland, and the establishment. of an Irish monarchy or republic, is the road to Irish happiness and
prosperity ; and the attempt to wrest Ireland from the British Government by a voluntary association in this country, is looked: upon as the wildest exhibition yet made even of Celtic harebrained
folly. You may judge of the mental calibre of the managers here, from the fact that it was announced with a flourish and received
with great enthusiasm the other day at a Fenian " Congress," that a noble-hearted Irish firm in New York had promised two ships when the expedition for Ireland was ready to sail. They talk largely, too, about the few hundred thousand dollars that they have been able to wheedle the poor Biddys and Patricks—chiefly the former— into paying into the "Treasury." So ignorant are they, or do they seem to be, of how many ships would be required, what munitions of war, and what expenditure, to land even 10,000 men
in Ireland, to say nothing of the certain destruction that would await them even if they were landed. An attempt upon Canada might seem to apprehensive persons in England to have better pro- mise of success, and if successful to place Fenian privateering beyond the control of the United States at least. But a moment's considers- ' tioa with the aid of a map will show even the most apprehensive person, I think, that Canada is as safe as Ireland from the Fenians. The distances to be traversed are so great—it is 400 miles by rail from New York to Montreal, which I mention merely to give the scale of the field of operations—the points to be attacked are so scattered, the means of transport so limited, and so under control of the authorities on both sides of the line, that an invasion could not be even momentarily successful, could not in fact be made without connivance on the part of both. The maddest Fenian must know, too, that to an invasion on the smallest scale that would give serious trouble (to say nothing of hopes of success) a base of supplies is necessary, and the gathering together of such an amount of the material of war as could not be gathered or even transported without the knowledge of the United States Govern- ment. And finally the Fenians are in the cities, and would have to traverse the rural districts to get to the border, and beside that willingness which there is, and which the Spectator has divined, to teach the Irish on good occasion that New York does not belong to them, there is the feeling of the farmers, who have no notion of seeing the country embroiled in another war for the sake of the Fenians, and whose only willingness to allow the passage of an Irish force through the country into Canada would arise from the hope that the invaders would stay there, either above the ground or under it.
But while this is the feeling towards Fenianism, and this the estimate of it in this country,—which attitude of the people is not at all inconsistent with the effort of a few demagogues like Mr. Fernando Wood to catch the Irish vote by talking Fenianism at meetingi in the cities,—it is perhaps fair, and may be interest- ing, for me to say that in a certain extremely improbable contin- gency, the resistance of Irishmen to the British Government would be regaxded here from a somewhat different point of view. That contingency is a genuine, hearty, extended Irish revolution— in Ireland. Should this almost impossible event take place, you may expect not the slightest relaxation of vigilance on the part of our Government in enforcing a genuine neutrality, but the ex- pression of a very different feeling on the part of many of our people from that which Fenianism elicits. And this for a reason the validity of which to a certain degree I have heard admitted by the sturdiest John Bulls of my acquaintance ; the Irish are a people, a race by themselves, inhabiting an isolated country, the union of which to Great Britain is purely political and arti- ficial, being not even of the natural kind which once bound us to the same Government. If Yorkshire and Northumberland should rebel and secede they would get no sympathy here ; certainly no one would defend their action on principle. But if all Ireland, or nearly all, should rise up and declare its independence and fight for it, the same feeling towards a race seeking a separate national existence which prompted sympathy here for the Poles and the Hungarians; for the Italians, when they said Italians are one people, and shall be one nation ; for the Danes, when they lost North Schleswig ; and the Holsthiners, in their wish not to be Daneified, would act, to a certain degree, at least in favour of the Irish. It would not, however, produce any fruit, for sober second thought would check it. People here see as well, I think, as any one in England can see, the stern necessity that there is for the political union of the two islands, and—certain reforms being granted—the great benefit of the union to Ireland.
The excitement which the Fenians cause in England as well as in Ireland, is one of many occasions upon which I and other Yankee& have remarked, what will surprise you—the much greater excitability of your people than of ours. This is exactly the reverse of what you have been taught to believe, and so are some other statements which have been made in these letters, and which have not proved to be untrue. But as a community and as in- dividuals, your apprehensions are much more easily excited than ours. You will remember Mr. Russell's telling you, even while the rebels were making military preparations and building earth-
works, of the "divine calm" that pervaded the North. He only spoke the truth. We are slow to be disturbed by the apprehen- sion of danger of any kind ; not given to excitement, joyful or sorrowful, either singly or in mass. The testy, irascible man, and the jovial fellow of English novels are both hard to find here. (I am speaking of Yankees, not of "Irish Americans.") There is no braver or cooler man in danger than an Englishman, yet his nervous apprehensiveness of peril to his person or his purse, and his eagerness to take precautionary measures, strike our attention. I am not prepared to say that his temperament is not the safer and his course the wiser, but the noticeable fact is, that he, and not the Yankee, is the more apprehensive creature.
One of the most characteristic exhibitions of our style of journalism appears to-day, in the reports of the marriage of Mr. P. T. Barnum's daughter. It would seem as if a showman might marry one of half-a-dozen children in Connecticut without having a half-column report of the event published in New York, but everybody will read while they laugh at and condemn it— would it not be read if it were published in the London Times?— and therefore it is published, our editors, unlike yours, seeking only to publish what will be read, and being careless, within certain limits, of condemnation. Therefore we are told that Bridgeport was excited by the announcement " that Hon. P. T. Barnum," inexorable wretch, was going " to offer his last and youngest daughter upon the altar of Hymen ;" that " the body of the church was reserved for the friends of the Barnum family, who were about 500 in number ;" that "the groomsmen were Adrian Hegeman, jun., of Hoover, Calhoun, and Co. ; Russell Howell, of M. A. Howell and Co. ; and T. S. Terry, of Weston and De Billier. The ' gentlemanly ushers ' were M. V. B. Smith, of E. A. Smith and Bros. ; David Scott, of Vernon and Bros. ; and Samuel H. Wheeler, of Yale College,"—which Messrs. Hoover, Calhoun, and Co., and the rest of them, will doubtless regard as an ingenious device for bringing " self and partner " into public notice. It is comforting to be assured that Mr. Barnum's house was filled with " the beauty and fashion not only of Bridgeport, but of other places ;" and also that " no stimulants were present," and that the correspondent does not doubt that " to this excellent feature is due the complete success of the affair."
It seems that in passing judgment upon the taste and propriety of certain passages of Mr. Bancroft's oration in memory of Mr. Lincoln, we were all in the dark upon one important point and were misinformed upon another. Mr. Bancroft, as I suggested in my last letter, looked upon the occasion as a purely- domestic one, and wrote his oration with a single eye to Congress as his audience—in fact considered himself rather as the mouthpiece, the retained spokesman of the House of Representatives. But when he arrived at Washington, and learned that the diplomatic corps had been specially invited to hear him, he addressed a note to Sir Frederick Bruce, suggesting as kindly as possible that it would probably be more agreeable to him not to be present at the delivery of the oration. Sir Frederick in reply thanked Mr. Bancroft for his warning, but added that if there was anything to be said against Great Britain or the Government that he had the honour of representing, he wished to hear it. He consequently came, and after the oration went up to Mr. Bancroft and conversed with him for a few minutes, not only with courtesy, but kind- ness. This has not been made public, but I state it not upon report, but knowledge. As to Sir Frederick Bruce's declining to meet Mr. Bancroft at dinner because of his speech, there has no evidence come to light to sustain the positive assertions of the Washington correspondents that such was the case. Thus what- ever judgment may be passed upon the pertinence of Mr. Ban- croft's strictures to the subject of his oration, he must be held guiltless of the charge of disregarding the feelings of a distin- guished guest who was invited to be present, and sit silent and helpless while his Government was attacked. A YANKEE.