The statement in question is found in an article entitled, "The North and the South," introduced with these words : "January 4, 1862, I was shown some things in regard to our nation." It is in a narration of what Mrs. White was shown at that time, that the words, "This nation will yet be humbled into the dust," are found.
The question arises, Are we to understand this statement as an event still to be looked for in the future ? Frequent inquiries from the field indicate that sortie are so doing, thus entering into the doubtful realm of prediction. If this statement has never been fulfilled, then, of course, such a conclusion might be justified, but if it has already met an adequate fulfillment, then no one is warranted in assuming that we must use this statement as the basis for a forecast of what is ahead of us. In looking for the fulfillment of these words during the course of the Civil War, regarding which the article was primarily written, other statements in the same connection should be noted, such as:
"Our Government has been very proud and independent. The people of this nation have exalted themselves to heaven. . . . England is studying whether it is best to take advantage of the present weak condition of our nation. . . She well knows the perplexed condition of our Government ; she has looked with astonishment at the prosecution of this war,—the slow, inefficient moves, the inactivity of our armies, and the ruinous expenses of our nation. The weakness of our Government is fully open before other nations... They . . . look down, some with pity, others with contempt upon our nation."—Id., pp. 258-260. (Italics mine)
About five months prior to this view, Mrs. White had been shown the optimism with which the North entered upon the conflict. Of a view given August 3, 1861, she wrote:
"I was shown that many do not realize the extent of the evil which has come upon us. They have flattered themselves that the national difficulties would soon be settled, and confusion and war end ; but all will be convinced that there is more reality in the matter than was anticipated." "The North has been deceived in regard to the South. They are better prepared for war than has been represented." —Id., pp. 264, 266.
It was this overweening optimism at the beginning of the war that deepened the humiliation of the nation in the eyes of other lands, so that they could "look down, some with pity, others with contempt." And as the war proceeded, this pity or contempt increased, till it may well be assumed that the nation was indeed humiliated "into the dust."
A recent visit to the Library of Congress and an examination of the files of the London Times for the year 1863, affords abundant evidence of the contempt with which England then watched the progress of the Civil War. In the second issue, reporting the "disastrous defeat of the Federal forces at Fredericksburg," editorial comment stressed the "dismay among the war party" and the growing public indignation against the Government. A New York paper was quoted as asserting that "if there were any constitutional method of compelling the resignation of the president and the vice-president and placing a new man in the place of Abraham Lincoln, the people would employ it."—London Times, Jan. 2, 1863.
"The last reserve to support the shattered Federal forces is now called into action," reported the American correspondent, regarding Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, with its invitation for the Negroes to take up arms. "The last hope of the magnanimous, mighty Washington is in the insurgent black. If he disappoints them, all is lost."—Id., Jan. 20, 1863.
The editor, in the same journal, quoted the words of the Reverend Doctor Cheever, who in prayer blessed "the name of God for having so humbled the nation that it was compelled as a military necessity to ask the aid of the Negro."—Ibid. Scarcely an issue of the paper during that year failed to carry sentiments which must have been deeply humiliating to loyal American readers. One editorial sarcastically referred to the new war budget of $900,0030,000, and said :
"Next to not being ruined at all, the finest thing from •the American point of view, is to be ruined on a good scale—to go down like a tropical sun, blood-red and pulsing into the sea, with no dull and ineffective twilight, no shadings or fadings away to accentuate the magnitude of the catastrophe. . . . No nation was ever ruined at once so magnificently and so greatly."—Id., Jan. 26, 1869.
In another issue, reference was Made to the "profound ignorance which could ever induce the Washington cabinet to conceive that it was possible to reduce the South into submission."—Id., March 18, 1863. Some of the most biting sarcasm, perhaps, is found in the editorial bearing date of the American Independence Day, referring to it as "this day of festivity, now converted into a day of humiliation." Further extracts from this editorial follow :
"What is America today? How is she keeping the annual festival which she consecrates to her own glorification and the villification of all the rest of mankind? . . . The signal failure of five successive invasions must, we should hope, have done something to shake Northern confidence in the skill of their generals and the invincibility of their Army. . . . Big guns, big ships, big threats, and bulletins replete with statements more enormous than any of them, have all been tried in vain, and the North finds itself the object of that very invasion with which it has so continually and so vainly menaced its antagonist. . . . These are the military prospects for the Fourth of July, 1863."—Id., July 4, r863.
A few days later the editor wrote of the situation : "Never was the overweening pride of a nation so awfully rebuked."--Id., July 16, 1863, There is further abundant evidence of the historical accuracy of the statements penned by Mrs. White, in the article cited—statements to the effect that England was weighing the situation and sounding out other nations to see what would result should she recognize the South, thus engaging in war with the United States. She feared 'that if she should commence war abroad, she would be weak at home, and that other nations would take advantage of her weakness." If she thought it would pay, she, would not have hesitated "a moment to improve her opportunities to exercise her power and humble our nation." But it was evident that when or if she did declare war, other nations would "have an interest of their own to serve," and there would be "general war, general confusion."
This entire passage is a remarkable commentary on Civil War background, and international relationships, when we think of the early date when it was written. But to take sentences pertaining to that period and isolate them as a basis upon which to form predictions is illogical and deplorable.
D.E. Robinson. [Member of the E. G. White Publications Staff.]