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A Glance Abroad

The Illustrated London News, vol. 43, no. 1214, p. 78.

July 25, 1863


...Any one who was so sanguine as to hope that the fratricidal contest which wages in the once United States of America was even verging towards a termination must now confess that a glance at the situation dissipates any such fond idea. Without entering into a minute consideration of the military events which have recently occurred, it may well be predicated of them that they have postponed the conclusion of the civil war sine die. Those whose proclivities are towards the South, while giving every credit to Meade for the only piece of real generalship that has been developed by the Federal leaders, still preserve their faith in the star of Lee. They still believe that, if he has received a check, he has nevertheless retired in good order, and only leans back the better to leap forward, as the French proverb has it. They assert that his movement into the enemy's country was not an invasion, but a raid to procure stores and provisions elsewhere than in his own somewhat exhausted territory; they prophesy a great Southern victory, and treat the surrender of Vicksburg as an organised canard for Federal purposes in connection with the chartered American anniversary of the 4th of July. Assuming that the next news fulfils these expectations, we still doubt whether carrying the war into the dominions of the North was calculated to promote the cessation of hostilities. People talk of a decisive battle won by the South as likely to bring about a settlement of the dispute. In such a contest as that in which North and South are engaged decisive battles are not likely to occur. As yet, there has been no approach on either side to such a victory as would be entitled to rank, even theoretically, amongst decisive battles; and we confess we do not see much chance of the attainment of any such success either by Meade or Lee. This civil war has within it peculiar elements. It is not the sanguinary sport of Kings, but the deadly struggle of a divided people for political and social supremacy. It partakes of the fierce contention between individual men; it has the unnatural ferocity which characterises the hatred of brothers which has risen to the height of a thirst for each other's blood. It is not tempered by the chivalry which belongs to war carried on between two different nations, and it has long passed beyond the reach of that diplomacy which is always watching a favourable moment to intervene in a quarrel between rival Monarchs. He is hardy who ventures to predict anything which relates to this American difficulty; but we will venture to say that the only circumstance which seems to us likely to have an influence on the contest will be the next Presidential election. Many reasons, which it is not convenient for us to enter upon now, might be stated to show why this event may become the turning point of the quarrel. It was the election of one President which was the immediate cause of the war; the election of another may be the means of bringing it to an end.

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