MATTERS IN VIRGINA
The Kansas Excitement at an End – The Bubble Bursted – The fire-Eaters at a Loss for a New Issue – The Clerkship of the United States House of Representatives – Change in the Proprietorship of the South Side Democrat – The Crops in Virginia – The Contest Between Wise and Hunter – Prospect of a Split in the Democracy.
Petersburg, VA, Friday Sept. 4, 1857.
The Kansas excitement may now be said to be fairly at an end. The most rabid of the fire-eating journals in Virginia are silent upon the subject, seeing, no doubt, that such an agitation would not be consistent with the possibility of their existence under the pressure of an overwhelming conservative sentiment. This ultra policy was first conceived in a spirit of chagrin and disappointment, arising from the failure of its originators to secure office, but having no just principle to sustain it, its early demise might reasonably be expected. The truth is, there was not a particle of sincerity in the cry of opposition raised by those ultras to the course of Gov. WALKER. It was the sheerest affectation and hypocrisy, but it soon had its corrective in the sound, conservative public opinion of the common wealth. So far as I have been able to ascertain, nine-tenths of the people of Virginia were decidedly opposed to this war upon the Administration. And appearances are exceedingly deceptive if a heavy retribution will not so come upon the heads of those who originated that infamous crusade. The more it is reflected on, the more repugnant does it become, and like Know Nothingism, increases in enormity with time. Every politician who has based his prospects upon that issue is now, I understand beginning to regret his course, and would now feign ally himself with the Administration Party. But I imagine they will find it too late for the law of condemnation attaches to every individual who took an active part in this movement. Had the sentiments of some members of Congress who sided with the opposition in this Kansas excitement been known before their election I have no doubt they would be left to enjoy the sweets of private life for all future time. There are a few known to be opposed to the Administration upon this question, but I venture to say they will not pursue that opposition actively, for they know enough by this time of the sentiments of their constituents on that head to satisfy them of the dangers of such a course.
All the pretext for excitement which the Kansas question afforded being now removed, the ultras will necessarily feel at a loss for some new food for agitation. They cannot with any consistency turn round and support an administration which they have so bitterly denounced. I am inclined to think they are all looking hopefully forward to the forthcoming vindication by Gov. WALKER of his Kansas policy, in expectation of finding therein some loop-hole through which to escape the podium attaching to their course hitherto. Best assured that this document, when it does appear, will be closely analyzed, and if no plea for a recantation will be presented, that of misunderstanding as to his object in the pronunciamentos which he has made, will be seized upon. But whether the friends of the Administration will be content with this s a question. They have betrayed their feelings, and have endeavored to do all the injury in their power, and this resort will justly be regarded as one of necessity. In other words, they pursued the warfare until forced by the pressure of public opinion to abandon it. True, they were not sincere, but this serves rather to aggravate than extenuate their guilt. The would-be leader of the faction, Mr. PRYOR, is, I understand, somewhere up the mountains brooding sorrowfully over the false stop which he has taken. He has few to condole with him, judging by the sentiments now prevalent in Virginia; nor has he seen the worst of this. Six months hence will reveal propriety of his course. If he would learn from it a lesson discretion, he should not regret that step; for if ever there lived a man who needs common prudence and a little judgment, it is he. His whole history as a journalist has been characterized by an uninterrupted series of blunders. His capacity is united entirely to the mere matter of writing, and is essentially superficial. In matters requiring judgment and discretion he may be set down as a perfect nonentity. His course with reference to the Administration in the Kansas warfare, will be his death-blow in Virginia, if all I have heard be true.
I have heard considerable talk in this city since my arrival here, regarding the Clerkship of the United States House of Representatives, for which, I am informed, BANKS, of the South-Side Democrat, is a candidate. It was this fact, no doubt, which led to the interest in this matter which I have soon manifested here. I have been informed by some members of Congress of the active exertions which he is aiming to secure this office, and I have ascertained here that fully nine-tenths of his time is devoted to canvassing, to the almost entire neglect of his paper. The Democracy in this district are said to be very much dissatisfied with the manner in which the paper is conducted, and many of them, I was told, seriously contemplate a withdrawal of their support from it if some change in his conduct does not take place. From all I have heard I do not hesitate to say that never was such a wild goose chase known as that of a BANKS for the Clerkship of the U.S. House of Representatives. It is, in fact, deemed the utmost impertinence on his part, to seek for it, when there are many others anxious to get it, who have strong claims upon the party. He has none, for, as I understand, he has been far more than remunerated for any little service which he has ever rendered. I have heard one individual very truthfully remark, that he had better attend to his little paper than be wasting his time in the hopeless pursuit of office.
I was told to-day that BANKS has sold his share of the Democrat to a Mr. DeWit, who was formerly associated with JOHN M. DANIEL, in the Richmond Examiner. This course was, doubtless necessitated by the dissatisfaction among the Democracy, to which I have referred. But it appears strange, in view of the fact, that BANKS will deprive himself of the chief means by which he could render a service to his party, and the only basis upon which to found a claim to the office for which he now seeks. The paper afforded the only passport to party favor that he could find present, for personally he is said to have no influence. He may possibly have sold his interest under an assurance that his election to the post to which he so earnestly aspires, was beyond a question. Happy conceit, in truth!
The crops in Virginia, so far as I can see and ascertain, are exceedingly promising. The corn crop will be an abundant one, and the tobacco crop is represented as likely to yield a fair average. It is far superior to what was expected some month or six weeks ago, and as a general thing above the average yield of the last and previous year. The prospect of a plenty of all kinds of produce is looked to hopefully.
The contrast between Governor WISE and Senator HUNTER, for the United States senatorship, is waxing very warm. I have ascertained during my travels in Virginia, that the friends of both are actively at work drumming up for the contest next winter. WISE is said to have decidedly the advantage in the race, occupying as he does the popular side of the Kansas question, which, it is said, will be the issue in this election. He is for the Administration, while HUNTER is against it. But I am told the friends of the later would feign avoid such an issue, seeing how unpopular the Anti-Administration policy is becoming. His chief organs having assumed that position, however he will be kept to it until he makes a formal avowal to the contrary.
Should WISE be successful, it is probable the Hunter party will go over body and bones to the disupionists, and engage with them in building up an ultra Southern party for 1860. But it is a matter of doubt whether enough could be found in Virginia to constitute even the nucleus of such a faction, and it is no less doubtful whether the people, from any cause, especially so trifling a one as the selection of one individual over another, to whom they may be more favorable would be induced to abandon those principles of conservatism which have always distinguished the masses in the Old Dominion. I do not think, whatever chagrin may be felt by a few at HUNTER’S defeat, that a result of this kind will follow.