The Illustrated London News

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London, Saturday, October 5, 1861.

The Illustrated London News, vol.39, no. 1111, p. 340.

October 5,1861

It no doubt savours of cowardice to indulge in any sort of exultation at the difficulties of a rival; but it is indeed difficult to peruse the file of American journals brought over by each successive mail without something like a quiet chuckle at the singular admissions which are gradually and most reluctantly forced out. Blessed ourselves with a really free and constitutional Government, a responsible Ministry, an unfettered press, and tribunals of unquestionable integrity, it has been difficult—perhaps we ought rather to say unpalatable—to our imaginations to picture the actual condition of internal affairs on the other side of the Atlantic which has contributed so largely to bring about the present struggle, and promises fair to make its final solution a work of such time and difficulty. The serious hindrances presented by the want of a standing army and an adequate navy, formidable as they are, appear to us as nothing compared with the entire absence of actual freedom of thought and action involved in such proceedings as the torture of independent editors, an exercise of female influence rivalling the worst features of the Court of Louis XIV., and a consequent thrusting into responsible positions of men of no real competency whatever. It is impossible at the same time not to connect this chronic disorder of the most exalted functions of American administration with the tone at once so unfairly and so persistently indulged in in reference to the attitude and intentions of this country. When will our Transatlantic kinsmen—as well as French Colonels and M. Dupin—begin to understand that war is the very last thing an Englishman thirsts for? It is forced upon us undoubtedly from time to time, and we accept it as a necessity, and so meet and subdue it; but we recognise it all the while as an odious necessity, involving an expenditure of human lives which we would fain spare, a waste of national treasure which we can ill afford, and an interruption to commerce which strikes us like a malignant disorder. A most miserable subject for contemplation is no doubt furnished by the present condition and future prospects of our cotton trade, and of the hundreds of thousands implicated in it; but even this, the South may be well assured, will not tempt us to force the blockade. We can and shall wait for better times and wiser counsels.

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