Treason in a New Shape — Tampering with Illinois Soldiers.

Elsewhere we publish a couple of letters from officers of Illinois regiments in Gen. Grant's army, copied from the Chicago Tribune and the St. Louis Democrat, respectively. These letters leave no doubt that an extensive disloyal scheme has been concocted in this State, and that it has even extended its ramifications into the army — having for its object the betrayal of loyal men into the hands of the enemies of the Union, and the furtherance of the cause of treason. It is further evident that men holding office under the Constitution and by authority of the laws of this State, are engaged in this infernal and treasonable scheme. Worse than this, men holding positions as legislators of Illinois — empowered with authority to enact laws for the State — are found base enough to rise in their places and unblushingly and shamelessly to apologize for, justify, and even applaud the men who thus basely and traitorously violate their oaths and conspire to betray the interests of the country.

That such persons, whether in the army in the enemy's country, or in the loyal States, are adhering to the enemies of this Government, and giving them aid and comfort, is so apparent that it would be absurd to discuss it. In order that such a crime may be properly characterized, we refer to the following definitions. Webster defines Treason as follows:

Treason is the highest crime of a civil nature of which a man can be guilty. Its significance is different in different countries. In general, it is the offense of attempting to overthrow the Government of the State to which the offender owes allegiance, or of betraying the State into the hands of a foreign power.

That those now engaged in rebellion against the Government of the United States are guilty of treason, is apparent from the above definition.

As to what constitutes treason in the United States the same authority says — and his definition is taken from the Constitution itself:

In the United States, treason is confined to the actual levying of war against the United States, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.

The statutes of Illinois define Treason to be "levying war against the Government and people of this State, in the same, or being adherent to the enemies of this State, giving them aid, advice and comfort in this State or elsewhere."

Can there any longer by any doubt as to the crime of which those who have thus violated their oaths and endeavored to betray their country, as well as those who justify and approve their conduct, are guilty? The Government owes it to its loyal supporters and to itself to treat these criminals as their crimes deserve.

But how shall we estimate the enormity of such an offense? If there are degrees in the infamy of treason, the crime of the home traitor is as much more heinous than that of the Southern rebel, as the guilt of the wretch who murders, in cold blood, his own kindred, is greater than that of the madman who takes his neighbor's life without any consciousness of the crime he is committing. These men, while enjoying the protection of the Government, conspire against it; and, at the same time, prove the falsehood and malignity of their own charges against it, by immunity from punishment which they enjoy. They give "aid and comfort" to treason, and thus encourage traitors to continue in rebellion. They assist to prolong the war by furnishing the rebels with information, and inspiring them with hope; and thus they become the murderers of their own friends and neighbors — nay, perhaps even their own kindred — whose lives are sacrificed in consequence. Such is the guilt of those who, for base partizan ends, are to-day giving "aid and comfort" to rebellion.