Seven Hundredths of a Candidate for the Senate.
August 3, 1858.
It is really amusing to read the various flimsy excuses with which the Douglas organs are trying to cover the Little Giant's inglorious retreat from a public discussion of his humbug principles, and his odious positions before the people of the State with Abe Lincoln. The latest pretext is in yesterday's Register as follows:
"Why had he (Lincoln) any more than Wentworth, or Browning, or Gillespie, or Palmer, or Dougherty, or Judd, or any other Republican or Danite notability a right to expect a challenge for debate from Douglas? * * * * We cannot see that the circumstances were such as to induce Mr. Douglas to single him out from the number of his opponents."
Now that this plea is the most ridiculous nonsense is proven by the fact that Douglas himself, in his first speech of the campaign, at Chicago, acknowledged and recognized Lincoln as the nominee of the Republican party for the United States Senate, as the opposing candidate to himself, and as an able and honorable opponent. He further acknowledged him as his equal, by taking up the glove which he asserts Lincoln threw down in his Convention speech. Furthermore he (Douglas) is now perambulating the State, with his banners, and his bodyguards, (we understand his cannon got stuck in the mud, and he has left that behind,) attacking, in his public harangues, not the Republican party and the Republican platform, but Lincoln and his convention speech. This snobbish and insolent plea of the Register only increases and makes more glaring the want of magnanimity; and fairness of Mr. Douglas, who goes sneaking about the country by himself, assailing, misrepresenting and villifying the man whom he has so ignominiously refused to meet in open, manly debate, before the whole people.
The Little Giant's own excuse for not accepting Lincoln's challenge, viz: that he was in the hands of his Committee, and the Committee wouldn't let him, was a much more plausible argument, but even that was too shallow and transparent to hide his fear of meeting Lincoln in such a contest. If that was a good reason for a general refusal, why was it not also a good reason for refusing the seven discussions which he accepts?
We have often heard of physical cowards who made a loud bluster and show of fight to intimidate an antagonist, while they were at the same time in an under tone piteously begging their friends, "For Heaven's sake hold me, or I'll hurt him." We suspect that Mr. Douglas has placed himself in the hands of his Committee for fear he would do Lincoln some terrible damage in this intellectual combat, and that his committee have wisely concluded to hold him.
There are about one hundred points in the State where the candidates for the United States Senate ought to have held discussions, in order that the people could have judged fairly of the respective merits of the men and their principles. Lincoln challenged Douglas to hold these hundred discussions; Douglas accepts just seven of them. He exhibits just sevenhundredths as much courage in political debate as Lincoln. Well, we suppose we have no right to grumble at the estimate a man puts upon himself. When we remember that Douglas has perhaps just about sevenhundredths as much truth and justice in his argument, and about sevenhundredths as much fairness and honesty as Lincoln, we need not wonder that he only considers himself just sevenhundredths of a candidate.
The truth is, Douglas well knew that it would never do let Lincoln lift up the thimble of the Dred Scott decision or the people would see at once that his "little joker," Popular Sovereignty, wasn't under it. He well knew that an exhibit of what he has done to spread slavery into both the Territories and the free States, would forever damn him before the people of Illinois. He therefore adopts the more prudent, though less honorable expedient of backing out, well knowing that --
May live to fight some other day;
But he who is in battle slain,
Will never live to fight again."