London: Saturday, December 20, 1862The Illustrated London News, vol.41, no.1179, p.650.
December 20, 1862
"Persicos Odi Apparatus" was probably the declaration of many an anxious person who was waiting for the Persia's news, and who anticipated the information that her machinery had got out of order. But she has arrived at last, and brought President Lincoln's Message. It is in many respects a remarkable document. If ever debility was manifested in diplomacy, the manifestation has been made in the document now before us. Passing over such of its details as have no interest for the English reader, and remarking that the President acknowledges that in
Page 651the delicate matter of the slave trade England continues to act in the most satisfactory manner, and leaving Mr. Lincoln's geographical essay on the impossibility of dividing the United States to the consideration of those whom it may concern, we proceed to note the President's new plan for dealing with the question of slavery. He proposes that by legal and constitutional enactment, not by his own fiat libertas, all slaves who shall not have been freed by a certain date shall be enfranchised at the expense of the Union. The certain date will probably make readers smile. It is New Year's Day, 1900. For thirty-seven years to come the system which Mr. Lincoln's own party have been branding as the "covenant with hell," and as "the accursed black canker which is eating out the vitals of the Union," is to be endured, unless accident does it away. This is the final prescription of those who pretend to be fighting an anti-slavery war. As only one or two of Mr. Lincoln's organs affect to treat this strange proposition seriously, we may abstain from remark upon it until the verdict of the North shall be taken. But as Mr. Lincoln has one faculty, that of telling a good story when an argument is expected, we may respectfully offer him an Oriental tale. A King had a favourite white donkey, to which he became so attached that he sent for the wisest of his physicians and ordered him, under pain of death, to make the animal speak. The wise physician instantly assented, but demanded two conditions--a large reward at once, and a term of seven years to perform the miracle. The terms were accepted, and to wondering friends the wise physician said, "I have surely done a good thing. I have got a heap of money and have preserved my life. In seven years the King, the ass, or I may die, and either event makes me safe." Let us add that in one point of view the President's practical retraction of his previous scheme is satisfactory. The elections have told, and the power of public opinion has asserted itself. This is the healthiest sign we have had to chronicle for some time. There are brief accounts of engagements, in which success seems to have been divided--Morgan having had a triumph, and having afterwards been repulsed, and some Confederate "raids" appear to have been fortunate. Fredericksburg had not been bombarded. General Bank's naval expedition had sailed; his friends did not know his destination, but his enemies were, doubtless, better informed. The Secretary of the Navy is very bitter against England about the Alabama, but it is very difficult to see that we are in fault because she terrifies New York. It is more pleasant to add that the American merchants are raising a subscription in aid of the Englishmen who suffer by the American War.