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Discussing position of clergy in war
letter, McIlvaine, Cook, clergy
Cook, R. S., "Letter to C.P. McIlvaine" (1862). Charles Pettit McIlvaine Letters. 254.
Office of the Sab. Committee
21 Bible-House, NYork, [?] 4 ‘62
Rt. Rev. & dear Sir,
Your valued note of the 3d [?] has just reached me, and I desire to thank you for communicating my views to the Government.
I should discuss the matter here, but for the apprehension that the plan of [?] is not quite understood. Mr. Seward’s objection, which you consider to have weight, is thus stated: “If such agents are [seized] by the Govt. it is quite impossible to [kill] their connections with it [?]; and then not only is the Govt. [?] responsible for what they write, but being [?] as is the way of the Govt. what they do loses influence,” etc.
To this I answer,
That while the movements of gentlemen as widely-known as yourself, Archbishop Hughes & Mr. Weed, in a period of excitement like that of the [Treat] affair, are [bruited] on both sides of the Atlantic, the crossing the ocean by gentlemen of less mark and at the present time, would not answer [possible] attention. The men [?] for such a week, two, should be [prudent] enough to keep their own secrets; and, if they were wise, they would enable other real or ostensible objects with their secret mission.
They should have, in fact, no formal connection with Government, and they do not need to be experienced to [?] it in the least, in public or private.
Writing solely, or mainly, for Editorial columns, their utterances would become there if the generals to which they way gained access, so that the question of “Their pay” could never affect the [humbled] influence of their labors.
There can be no immodesty in illustrating my position by the [?] of five years in kindred efforts in this duty. I have written the Editorials of a dozen different generals, Daily & Weekly, on the Sunday question, and such others [?] as I have chosen to disclose. Not one in a hundred has been declined. But, beyond the Editors themselves, and the members of our “Committee,” not a dozen persons in the world are aware of the service of these articles. The [?] public [?] has been assumed by the Journals, and the question of the pay or the relations of the authors has never been raised.
So, it seems to me, it might & should be with the agency [problem]. It should be felt, not seen. No man [?] of personal notoriety should be such; but only those who are willing to serve their country & the cause of truth & peace on the [?] of “Genius.”
It is clear, I think, that the project will never be realized unless it be taken in hand by the State Department. No voluntary arrangement will secure the requisite oversight or responsibility. As a member of the Secret Service of Govt, I see not why it may not be as legitimate + effective as any other - more effective, if it be the object of Govt. to conciliate the good will of the people of Great Britain.
But, my only object was to remove what seemed to be a misapprehension of the plan, rather than to argue the question of power or efficiency, and I forbear further remark.
I expect to visit Washington next week, on another errand, and should you consider it desirable that further expectations should be made to [Mr. Seward], I shall take pleasure in waiting on him. Several of the members of our Committees will also be there; and their knowledge of the efficient inking of the Press in our special Department may help Mr. S. to mature his views as to the adaptation of the system to international questions.
You will be pleased to learn that the movement on behalf of the Sabbath in the Army & Navy is talking in definite & hopeful form. Influential [persons] at Washington have negotiated for an audience with the President and a [Deputation] from new Committee on Thursday next. Admiral Foote & the Secy of the Navy have [?] themselves deeply in the subject, and the President has given favorable instructions. Our [Deputation] consists of Norman White, F. S. [Winston], [Wm. A Booth, [David] [Hoadley], Fred G. Foster, and Gustav Schwab (German). We shall [present] an address & form of a Gen. Order, also we shall be greatly disappointed if we do not succeed in this, esp. under the blessing of God, we have in all our other [?] for the sanctification of the Lord’s day.
Thanking you for your [thoughtfulness] as to this influential interest when at W., and [bespeaking] the esteem of any influence that you may deem helpful toward the result at which we aim.
I am, Rt. Rev & Dear Sir,
With affectionate reverence,
Yours in the Gospel,
P.S. My address at Washington will be to the care of
The Hon. Peter Parker, M.D.