Sunday, September 4, 2016

William Cullen Bryant to John Bigelow, December 3, 1862

New York, December 3, 1862

Your view of the proposal of the French government that there shall be a suspension of arms for six months, to give the great powers of modern Europe an opportunity to mediate between the acknowledged governments, as to the rebellion, is the one which almost universally prevails here. Everybody sees that it is neither more or less than asking us to give up what we are fighting for. The most favorable construction that can be put upon it makes it a device to give the rebel government an opportunity to get on its legs again, to breathe, recruit, and take a new start. That is, on the supposition that the interference is to end with the procuring of an armistice, which is not probable. The top of the wedge being once inserted, the rest would be driven in after it. An interference of the nature proposed once allowed, would draw after it interferences of the most decided and domineering character, and transfer to our continent the system of dictation by which three or four sovereigns give law to Europe. I do not think that the French ministry will be much pleased with the manner in which the project is received here. The most blatant of the Peace Party would not venture upon the unpopularity of proposing a cessation of hostilities. You put the case strongly against England in the letter to the “Independence Beige.” Notwithstanding the expression of the French Emperor's desire to interfere, and the refusal of his proposal by Great Britain, the feeling of dissatisfaction with Great Britain is much stronger than against France. It pervades all classes; the old British party, who looked at everything British through a prism, are reached by it, give up their old prejudices, and scold vehemently against England. At least this is the case with very many of them. The English have lost more ground in public opinion in America within the past year and a half than they can redeem in a century.

SOURCE: Parke Godwin, A Biography of William Cullen Bryant, Volume 1, p. 182-3

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