London: Saturday, October 18, 1862The Illustrated London News, vol.41, no.1169, p.403.
October 18, 1862
President Lincoln's proclamation furnishes abundant matter for discussion by the American press; but as, under the beneficent rule of King Abraham, that press is much less free to comment upon public affairs than is the journalism of France, the criticism of Union writers is of a hesitating kind--that is to say, where disapproval of the proclamation has to be set forth. Point-blank opinion might consign the utterer to a prison whence release is not very easy, and therefore those who dislike the President's act go very little further than speculation as to its possible results. Of course those who desire to praise it are permitted to do so with the utmost vigour of almost profane laudation. Indeed, one journal accords to it an origin which we are afraid to describe, one which would entitle it to be read alternately with mandates which both sides appear to have forgotten in the excitement of fratricide. The opinion of most Americans would seem to be that the proclamation has completed the work of separation and has widened the rift in the rock; and all apparently agree that it would be impossible for any reunion to be accomplished while the author of that document should remain at the head of the State. Mr. Lincoln himself, like most weak men when they have done violent things, is very self-distrustful, and "hopes to God that he has made no mistake." The war news is scant; the dead have been counted, and the number is fearfully in advance of what had been put forward as an estimate. There has been no detailed official account of the great battle which repelled the Confederates, and it is naturally surmised that the Republic of the North was at one time in greater peril than the Government chooses should be pointed out by military critics. The movements of the Confederates are variously described; but another engagement was expected. It seems hardly worth mentioning amid such a crisis, and yet the fact is characteristic of American manners, that President Lincoln has given special audience to a person named Train, who was for a short time a little notorious in London--this man having merited the notice of his President by a furious speech, in which he denounced England as a nation of cowards and bankrupts and expressed his hopes for the success of an Irish rebellion. Would a person who had said a tenth part as much against the Americans be received by an English Minister? Yet the Americans affect surprise when told that they display animosity towards us. We must now await in meekness the storm that will follow their receipt of Mr. Gladstone's and Sir G. Lewis's speeches, in which the success of the South is described as all but certain.