THE GREAT CONFEDERATE PUItITAN.
IT has been narrated of the good and able general whom t evil cause of Slavery has just lost, and it seems in itself pro- bable in a high degree, that at the first outbreak of the war his mind was fiercely divided against itself. General Jackson had
married a Northern wife. His father-in-law, a Northern clergy- man, visited him, and urged him to remain faithful to his country and his flag; '• they spent," it is said, "several hours in prayer together, but finally the doctrine of State-rights, which Jackson,. like so many other gallant Southerners, had imbibed early in life, won the day. 'I must go,' he cried, 'with Virginia." This statement, made long ago, seems intrinsically likely, and agrees with the account of Jackson's Puritan faith, of which we have all heard so much. "For the divisions of Reuben" there must when the war broke out have been "great searchings of heart" among all really conscientious men. A master-mind like that of President Davis, which had no scruples either in conceiving or working out the. greattreacheryof whichhewas guilty before the outbreak of the war, would not, perhaps, have quailed, could he have fully foresaen the oceans of blood which his policy would pour out. But to good, men, guiltless of the premeditated quarrel, like Jackson, and simply called to choose between their native land and their rightful govern- ment at a time when no effort could prevent the strife, the hour of choice must have been one of awful solemnity. Though we believe. that a greater statesman of the same moral calibre as "Stonewall" Jackson must have taken the nobler and far more difficult course of" sacrificing the local ties of country for the moral ties of country, we would be the last to condemn him, or to dispute that he may, in the hands of Providence, have done even a greater service to the. freemen he opposed, by humbling their insufferable self-confidence, and teaching them the true secret of military strength, than if he had led the Northern, instead of the Southern, troops to. victory. That matter is, at all events, no business of ours. But it is worth while to examine the relation between Jackson's Puritan style of piety and a cause which we are probably in the habit of unconsciously identifying with the manly, loose, enjoying aristocracy of an old cavalier state. For there can be no doubt that General Jackson, as a soldier, was of the Crom- well type, though to statesmanship, as we said, he made no preten- sions. It is stated from so many different quarters that we must suppose it morally certain that, like Luther, he habitually " wrestled. with God" with streaming eyes in agonies of prayer. "Twice a day, for weeks," says one accolnt, "rain or shine, my friend. saw Jackson slip away to this secluded place—unseen, as he be- lieved—and seat himself upon the small fence which bounded the- field. There he would remain, often for an hour, with his hands. clasped, face turned upwards, convulsed with emotion, the tears streaming down his face, deep in the performance of secret and agonizing prayer. Nothing can be said that can increase the value. of this evidence as proving the sincrffity of the man." A man who, would slip out even into the rain, and get wet, to secure the solitude- he needed for prayer, must have been thoroughly in earnest. Another account tells us that the negroes always knew when a. battle was imminent by the General's praying all night. There can be no question—not only of the man's heartfelt piety, but of that intensity and depth of character in connection with' it which is now so rare in the world. A man who pours. himself passionately out to God not to be seen of men, but simply because his strongest feelings are naturally stirred by prayer, is no. common product of " modern thought."
And more than this ;—though Jackson had, at Washington-, before the war, the reputation of a hypochondriac, and znalade inzagina ire, he does not seem to have had any of the acerbity of the Puritan type of piety. An Englishman who recently visited him described him as a tall, handsome man, with dark blue,. searching eyes, and with simplicity and considerateness written. in his face as well as his actions. A General in full work who. would take real pains, as General Jackson did, to dry a stranger's coat for him by a given hour is not of the gloomily spiritual type. And every one represents General Jackson's thoughtfulness and gentleness to others as only less remarkable than his prompt mili- tary rigour. A general may be the idol of his men who simply leads them uniformly to victory. But the man who promised not in vain for his soldiers that they should "stand like a stone wall" at Bull Run, who burst like a thunderbolt upon
poor General Pope's rear when that commander thought him in his front or far away,—who, after a rapid and hotly-con- tested march through Maryland, struck successfully at Harper's Ferry before the relief could come,—who, on his last battle-field, turned the enemy's menacing position and inflicted a severe d
feat,--,Cleeded no other power over his men than that of the military con dence he inspired. But it is well known that his real power oy6r them was multiplied greatly, not only by his habit of praying "With them personallybefore and after battle, as apious soldiershould, instead of abandoning them to a chaplain, but by the rare self-denial with which be insisted on sharing their hardships, and the thoughtful sotcitude he showed for their welfare. No doubt General Jack- son has done as much to give an imaginative character of grandeur and holiness wholly undeserved to the Confederate defence and cause, as President Davis has done to give it a tone of intellectual dignity and strength.
But one cannot help asking how General Jackson could have failed to recognize his apparently greater affinity with the Puritans of New England, than with either the aristocratic passions of the old Virginia and South Carolina planters, or the coarse soldiery of the mean white class. How could a man, who prayed daily with almost Lutheran fervour for the kingdom of God, lead a crusade in favour of a kingdom which had taken Slavery for its corner-stone, and whose only justification professed to be the non- extension of Slavery into the territories of the Union? We have no doubt that terrible doubts on such questions as these must Often have flitted through the mind of the rough soldier kneeling at his solitary prayers, even long after his own name had been absolutely identified with the cause of Slavery. But though the history both of Judaism and of Protestantism has much to tell con- cerning the impulse which a deep faith can give to the subversion of tyranny, it can scarcelybe,said that its specific effect is always favour. able to what we call constitutional freedom. Religious enthusiasm operates rather negatively than positively on political institutions, rendering men averseto conform to what they think evil, passionately resolved never to bow the knee to Baal, rather than sanguine of poli- tical expedients for extirpating evil. Faith kindles a revolutionary resistance to an alien yoke, makes men spurn the hollow formalisms; they have outgrown, deepens every local and imaginative attach- ment, adds colour to patriotism, stirs up the scorn for danger, and the daring of implicit trust ; but it does not improve the capacity to judge calmly what will best restrain average men in average times -from deeds of oppression or injustice. If General Jackson had never clearly realized to himself—as he perhaps never had—the inevitable tendency of the principle of slavery to degrade all concerned in it, to corrupt the love of power into an almost sensual appetite, to brutalize labour and capital alike, and to extend itself in every direction with insatiable craving for a wider dominion, we do not see that his faith in God would in any way have helped him to realize it. On the contrary, it would have tended to convince him that the evil lay rather in individual selfishness than in the system, and persuaded him that a truly righteous slave-owner might really do far more to educate his slaves into Christians than could be effected under any other political institution. Just as true faith,— if it could be universal and universally practical,—would make it almost indifferent under what political system we might happen to Jive, since justice would then supersede law, so those who really live in the world of faith are apt to look too little to outward means, and too much to the divine influence over the individual heart, for the security of the future. Even with the Puritans the State was, in fact, a mere arm of the Church, and their contempt -for kings vastly more remarkable than their respect for liberty. Per- sonal faith, without intellectual culture, will often restrain a tyranny, but seldom or never establish a sound system of constitutional law. Jackson may have felt that the serf--relation between the negro and the whites, if mercifully and justly handled, was at present the true one, and would have had far less insight into the absolute impossibility implied in that "if," than a more worldly, selfish, and ambitious man. Such piety as Jackson's may often blind the eyes of political sagacity.
And there was another way in which General Jackson's Puritan earnestness of character would tend to obliterate for him the evil nature of his cause. Religious faith has a very curious and marked effect in strengthening local and national ties, even to a passion. One would expect the very reverse. One would look to personal faith in God as a principle likely to raise men above the accidental ties to place and kin, which, of course, it must often wound and break. In fact however, you never meet with any very strong type of personal trust--that kind of trust which clings to a personal king, without finding also passionate national feelings and strong local adhesiveness. David and St. Paul were both Hebrews of the Hebrews ; Luther was a German of the Germans; Knox a Scot of Scots ; Calvin a typical French- man ; and Cromwell as typical an Englishman. The truth seems to be that the implicit trust in God sets free the mind from that selfishness which more than anything else chills national and local
ties. It has often been observed that a view which presents itself casually to the eye when the mind is agitated by an overwhelming emotion, burns itself into the memory as no attention or study could imprint it. The man who does not live in, but in a manner outside, his little world, is the manIwho generally loves it best, and is most willing to give his life for it. `` No national poetry exists so passionate as the poetry of the Hebrew prophets, who knew that the throne of David and the prosperity of his tiny principality was established on no human foundation. Deep national and even local passions are impossible without some supernatural centre ; and the true man of the world is usually:the man who loves his own world least. The imagination must be raised habitually to the eternal and supernatural, in order to give the full flavour of sweet- ness and tenderness to the temporary and the visible. Intense spiritual loyalty like General Jackson's, while it is in danger of throw- ing into shadow the clear political sagacity which estimates the true value of institutions, always stimulates the loyalty of old associations with the people and country of its birth. No people, by temperament profoundly religious, had ever yet a high value for sober constitutional (forms and restraints; but, on the other hand, there was never any great religious passion in the world unas- sociated with overpowering patriotic emotions. The Jesuit, in trying to separate the two, destroyed not merely loyalty but faith.
We do not need, then, to depreciate the real greatness of the Con- federate General's character, because we hold that his choice was a mistaken one. No doubt the old-fashioned Puritan piety, though it overclouded his political judgment, stands out very grandly against the poor conceit:of the Northern generals. General Jackson fought blindly, as many heroes have fought before him, on the evil side, with a spirit far more worthy:of the good cause than that of its nominal representatives. And so doing, it will one day, we trust, be found that the God he served with the passionate devotion of his heart and life, has used the sword which was drawn in behalf of the diabolic principle of slavery to hasten the coming of a better kingdom.