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London: Saturday, August 29, 1863

The Illustrated London News, vol. 43, no. 1219, p. 210.

August 29, 1863

London: Saturday, August 29, 1863.

"My goodness gracious me, Miss Floy; you naughty, wicked child; if you don't shut your eyes and go to sleep this very moment, I declare I will call in the goblins to eat you up!" So spoke the Nipper, strengthening her words by scratching at the door as a conscientious goblin might be expected to do under the circumstances. The passage might be added to the author's "American Notes," as an illustration of what the Nipper, Columbia, is always saying and doing to keep John Bull quiet. She is for ever trying to frighten us with some goblin, and this time she has got a very large one indeed. It is the great goblin of the North, whom we thought that certain exorcisms conducted by Lord Raglan and others had laid in the Black Sea, but who, it seems, is still rampagious. In other words, America is to reunite, and, in alliance with Russia, is at once to declare war upon France and England. Mr. Cassius Clay has arranged the little matter for Mr. Brutus Lincoln, and the sooner we recall the fleet from the South the better.

As, of course, there can be no doubt of the existence of the arrangement, or of its entire and perfect success, and as France and England must succumb to the terrible Powers that are to league against them, it may be more profitable to consider how we shall get on under the sway of our conquerors than to indulge in speculations upon the means of averting the double blow from the two eagles. We will, therefore, suppose the inevitable result. The combined English and French fleets have been annihilated by Admiral Wilkes (and Liberty), and Toulon and Liverpool are strictly blockaded. The Duke of Cambridge is flying into Scotland, hotly pressed by the Irish and Negro legion under Hooker, and the Emperor of the French is sending petitions for peace to the victorious Mouravieff. Our enemies are great, but merciful, and are inclined to grant us favourable terms, which are being arranged at Mr. Adams's house in Portland-place. Under the circumstances, we have reason to be thankful.

Of course, we must pay the expenses of the war and settle handsome pensions upon the victorious Generals. All the Sebastopol cannon must be collected from the English and French cities, whose municipal officers will be charged with the execution of that decree. As the Guards' Monument in Pall-mall speaks of Russian valour and English blundering it may be allowed to stand, with an amended inscription inserted without Mr. Bell's permission. We shall have to surrender the Warrior and Black Prince and all the Chelsea steam-boats, and to enter into treaty not to have more than three steamers at a time in Southampton Water. Liverpool will be held to have been sufficiency punished by "a soldier's quarter of an hour" allowed while the capitulation is being signed in St. George's Hall. A more severe lesson will be read upon the Clyde, and Glasgow will be given up to its Irish inhabitants, who will avenge a long series of atrocities sustained at the hands of Provosts and Bailies with tyrannic notions about order and property. The shipbuilders who are suspected of having worked for the Confederates will be suspended from the St. Rollox stalk. Birmingham has been impartial, and has supplied arms to anybody who could pay for them, and may be let off with the demolition of the Townhall; but we tremble to think what will happen to Mr. John Brown, of Sheffield, who forged the shields for the iron-clads. There was a John Brown in America--but the prospective historian gladly drops a painful theme. The British Lion's tail will be definitely and effectively cut off, and he will walk about a melancholy proof of the folly of provoking the hunters of the West.

But France cannot expect the lenity which will be shown to us by those who speak the language of Shakspeare, more or less. America has always had a great admiration for Paris; but sentiment must now give way to justice, and France must make her own peace with Russia. Paris, as the Russian Foreign Minister has lately been good enough to inform her, is the focus and hotbed of insurrection and conspiracy--just as a certain person stated London to be when a certain repressive bill was wanted a few years ago. Therefore, Paris must make no more Polands. Half a dozen towns must be garrisoned permanently (à la Rome) by Russian soldiery, and our cousin the Prince must evacuate his palace in favour of a military representative of Russia. These measures, the cession of a province or two, and the execution of all the Poles in France, may, perhaps, satisfy the justice of Holy Russia. Nothing will then remain to be cared for but the "Te Deum" and the fireworks, and a history of the war, to be written in fifteen volumes by an American author accustomed to compile despatches.

It is well to hope for the best and to be prepared for the worst. It is open to everybody to hope that these results may not arrive; but it is well that we should all be ready for them. To be sure, it may be--that is to say, the thing is just within the compass of possibility--that the American Nipper may be misinformed about her goblin, and that the whole story of Mr. Clay and the Russian alliance may be a canard, or an effusion of the spite of the Irish convicts who misrepresent American feeling by the incessant manufacture of lying and illiterate leading articles, in which the Irish transport-taint is as disagreeably manifest as the Irish notion of English grammar. Perhaps Mr. Clay has not concluded this alliance. Perhaps thousands of thoughtful and honest Americans would as soon think of a league for putting down gas in favour of oil, and printing in favour of manuscript, as of a league between Russia and America for putting down England. Perhaps there are myriads in America who recognise the loyalty and uprightness with which England has acted in a most difficult crisis and in presence of the heaviest temptation not to be neutral, and who believe in the assurances of the respectable part of the British press that the war is a source of the deepest grief to us, and that we would instantly mediate if we could be permitted so to do. And it may be that the Emperor of Russia, who is emancipating Russians and subduing Poles, may have enough on his hands, and may, moreover, be too righteous a man to desire a war with those who have neither injured nor offended him. But "what can be doubted may be true," and the Nipper may have held out no vain threat. The goblin may be at the door, and it may be no imitative scratch that we hear. To be sure, he has just now been particularly eager to assure us that we are making a mistake in supposing that he has increased his navy; but then this, again, may be a profound ruse, intended to throw us off our guard until he shall be ready to avenge Bomarsund at Portsmouth. In any case, it is very kind of the American journalists to let us know our danger; and if the Americans themselves laugh as heartily at the allegation as we do, and as we think they will do, the success of the fiction will be complete.

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