St. Louis dispatches profess to be founded on telegraphic reports from towns near the Kansas border. Some scattered buildings in Lawrence may have been spared; but it is hardly questionable that all the compact portion of the towns lies in ruin.
No possible pretext or provocation for this horrible crime has yet been alleged on either hand. The citizens not only made no resistance, but permitted Donaldson to make arrests to his heart's content, though he seems to have displayed but a small part of his force, in the hope that its apparent weekness would tempt the Free-State men to brave a collision. He and his confederates ate dinner peaceably at the Free-State Hotel, and carried off the only cannon in the place, which had been quietly given up to them. The only demand made by Sheriff Jones which the people did not instanly accede to was that for the surrender of their private arms, the right to bear which the Federal Constitution expressly guarantees to every citizen. At length, finding that no pretext for destruction could be trumped up, the leaders of the Ruffians commenced cannonading the Free-State Hotel and The Herald of Freedom office, and the people remaining in the town began to make their escape as fast as they could. Such is the substance of our information up to this present writing: and it leads us to hope that the slaughter may have been limited, though it is hardly possible that a town containing, as Lawrenee must have done, invalids and newborn children, can have been so suddenly destroyed without some loss of life. And there is too much reason for believing that Gen. S.C. Pomeroy, one of the bravest and most energenic of the Free State leaders, has been caught and murdered by the ruffians. Ex-Gov. Reeder is understood to be safe in Iowa or Nebraska, and Gov. Robinson will hardly be murdered at Lecompton under the immediate eye of Shannon; but Editor Brown, we fear, is among the massacred at Kansas City, Mo., in the destruction of the Free State Hotel. We shall doubtless hear of other butcheries at different points throughout the Territory, where conspicuous Free-State men were surprised in their fields or houses by an overwhelming force of the ruffians.
Thus the first act in Douglas's drama of subduing and crushing out the opponents of Slavery in Kansas has been brought to a successful close. To Pierce's Kansas Message of last Winter and the corresponding action in the Senate is the scene of widespread devastation which the ill-fated Territory now presents justly attributable. The Border Ruffians have been assured by the Federal Executive and Senate, backed by the united South and the Democratic Press of the North, that those who resisted the acts of their Missouri-made Legislature at the Shawnee Mission should be treated as rebels by the Government and dragooned into abject submission. It waa a Marshal of the United States who led the Ruffian regiment into Lawrence; it was by virtue of process issued by the Federal Judge at Lecompton that the Free-State resistance had been paralyzed and the demoniac work completed. So ends the first act in the great tragedy of enslaving Kansas: where will the curtain rise on the next?