SOCIAL, POLITICAL, AND MILITARY.
WRITTEN FOR THE LONDON TIMES,
WILLIAM HOWARD RUSSELL, LL. D.,
J A M E S G. G R E G O R Y,
(SUCCESSOR TO W. A. TOWNSEND & CO.,)
46 WALKER STREET.
PICTURES OF SOUTHERN LIFE.
CHARLESTON, April 30, 1861.[A]
NOTHING I could say can be worth one fact which has forced itself upon my mind in reference to the sentiments which prevail among the gentlemen of this state. I have been among them for several days. I have visited their plantations; I have conversed with them freely and fully, and I have enjoyed that frank, courteous, and graceful intercourse which constitutes an irresistible charm of their society. From all quarters have come to my ears the echoes of the same voice; it may be feigned, but there is no discord in the note, and it sounds in wonderful strength and monotony all over the country. Shades of George III., of North, of Johnson, of all who contended against the great rebellion which tore these colonies from England, can you hear the chorus which rings through the state of Marion, Sumter, and Pinckney, and not clap your ghostly hands in triumph? That voice says, “If we could only get one of the royal race of England to rule over us, we should be content.” Let there be no misconception on this point. That sentiment, varied in a hundred ways, has been repeated to me over and over again. There is a general admission that the means to such an end are wanting, and that the desire cannot be gratified. But the admiration for monarchical institutions on the English model, for privileged classes, and for a landed aristocracy and gentry, is undisguised and apparently genuine. With the pride of having achieved their independence is mingled in the South Carolinians’ hearts a strange regret at the result and consequences, and many are they who “would go back to-morrow if we could.” An intense affection for the British connection, a love of British habits and customs, a respect for British sentiment, law, authority, order, civilization, and literature, pre-eminently distinguish the inhabitants of this state, who, glorying in their descent from ancient families on the three islands, whose fortunes they still follow, and with whose members they maintain not unfrequently familiar relations, regard with an aversion of which it is impossible to give an idea to one who has not seen its manifestations, the people of New England and the populations of the Northern States, whom they regard as tainted beyond cure by the venom of “Puritanism.” Whatever may be the cause, this is the fact and the effect. “The state of South Carolina was,” I am told, “founded by gentlemen.” It was not established by witch-burning Puritans, by cruel persecuting fanatics, who implanted in the North the standard of Torquemada, and breathed into the nostrils of their newly-born colonies all the ferocity, bloodthirstiness, and rabid intolerance of the Inquisition. It is absolutely astounding to a stranger who aims at the preservation of a decent neutrality to mark the violence of these opinions. “If that confounded ship had sunk with those —— Pilgrim Fathers on board,” says one, “we never should have been driven to these extremities!” “We could have got on with the fanatics if they had been either Christians or gentlemen,” says another; “for in the first case they would have acted with common charity, and in the second they would have fought when they insulted us; but there are neither Christians nor gentlemen among them!” “Any thing on the earth!” exclaims a third, “any form of government, any tyranny or despotism you will; but”—and here is an appeal more terrible than the adjuration of all the gods—“nothing on earth shall ever induce us to submit to any union with the brutal, bigoted blackguards of the New England States, who neither comprehend nor regard the feelings of gentlemen! Man, woman, and child, we’ll die first.” Imagine these and an infinite variety of similar sentiments uttered by courtly, well-educated men, who set great store on a nice observance of the usages of society, and who are only moved to extreme bitterness and anger when they speak of the North, and you will fail to conceive the intensity of the dislike of the South Carolinians for the free states. There are national antipathies on our side of the Atlantic which are tolerably strong, and have been unfortunately pertinacious and long-lived. The hatred of the Italian for the Tedesco, of the Greek for the Turk, of the Turk for the Russ, is warm and fierce enough to satisfy the Prince of Darkness, not to speak of a few little pet aversions among allied powers and the atoms of composite empires; but they are all mere indifference and neutrality of feeling compared to the animosity evinced the “gentry” of South Carolina for the “rabble of the North.”
The contests of Cavalier and Roundhead, of Vendean and Republican, even of Orangeman and Croppy, have been elegant joustings, regulated by the finest rules of chivalry, compared with those which North and South will carry on if their deeds support their words. “Immortal hate, the study of revenge,” will actuate every blow, and never in the history of the world, perhaps, will go forth such a dreadful væ victis as that which may be heard before the fight has begun. There is nothing in all the dark caves of human passion so cruel and deadly as the hatred the South Carolinians profess for the Yankees. That hatred has been swelling for years till it is the very life-blood of the state. It has set South Carolina to work steadily to organize her resources for the struggle which she intended to provoke if it did not come in the course of time. “Incompatibility of temper” would have been sufficient ground for the divorce, and I am satisfied that there has been a deep-rooted design, conceived in some men’s minds thirty years ago, and extended gradually year after year to others, to break away from the Union at the very first opportunity. The North is to South Carolina a corrupt and evil thing, to which for long years she has been bound by burning chains, while monopolists and manufacturers fed on her tender limbs. She has been bound in a Maxentian union to the object she loathes. New England is to her the incarnation of moral and political wickedness and social corruption. It is the source of every thing which South Carolina hates, and of the torrents of free thought and taxed manufactures, of Abolitionism and of Filibustering, which have flooded the land. Believe a Southern man as he believes himself, and you must regard New England and the kindred states as the birthplace of impurity of mind among men and of unchastity in women—the home of Free Love, of Fourierism, of Infidelity, of Abolitionism, of false teachings in political economy and in social life; a land saturated with the drippings of rotten philosophy, with the poisonous infections of a fanatic press; without honor or modesty; whose