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Echoes of the Week

The Illustrated London News, vol. 44, no. 1248, p. 262.

March 12, 1864


...The Fenians, who have given rise to one or two Thackerayian imitations of Irish ballads, have called forth "Mister Smith O'Brine, who once raged like a line (lion)" on the "Shannon shore," but who now tends the soundest advice in the most cogent of reasoning to his Fenian or Finian friends. "Don't," says he in effect, "don't, my friends, enlist, for the Northern States; it is a roundabout way to free Ireland by getting kilt in America. The Federals only use you, and crush you, and put you to the fore to be slain." Much more to this tune, says O'Brien the King; and he calculates that upwards of 200,000 Irish have been cruelly "used up" on American soil. That this advice will affect Yankee recruiting, we have no doubt; that like words have done so is apparent from the fact that the recruiting-sergeants have been shipping loads of Germans from Liverpool to fill the jaws of the Yankee war. Is it not a pity that the German and the Celt did not study Emerson, who so candidly explains that the coarse bodies of the German and Irish are made purposely to manure the soil for the sweet efflorescence of the superior Yankee?

And how "do you keep your health?" as Mrs. Lincoln said to Mr. Sala, but which question we would apply to the American Bird o' Freedom itself. Really, Sir, not very well. The South is not in a state of disintegration, but adheres more strongly than over to its purpose. Charleston is not taken, and, indeed, not one firm step forward has been made by the North. Moreover, one of the Southern commissioners is here back in London debating, or, rather, ready to debate, with Lord Palmerston and Louis Napoleon the expediency of recognition. Surely the heads of the Northern people must be alive now to the hopelessness of their dream of reunion. Surely enough blood has been spilt, and enough groans and tears have been vented and shed. In the mean time, too, the deterioration of American society must have been going on--luxury on one hand, license and corruption on the other; sudden fortunes by illicit dealings, shoddy princes, springing up like mushrooms, and firm and stalwart merchants of the old and honourable school falling quickly to decay; these are not sights which exalt a nation. Will not the Yankees at this last hour let their "wayward sisters go in peace," or will they persist to the "bitter end," an end no less bitter assuredly to themselves than to their opponents, who are already growing better under the "sweet uses of adversity"? By-the-way, one ought to notice the clear photographic minuteness and evident truth of Mr. Sala's pen-pictures of "America in a state of war." Nothing has ever been better done in that way. Many object that he says little about the war, and for two very good reasons, let us add. In the first place, his letters are not about the war, but concerning the people during its progression; and, in the second, it is absolutely at a stand-still, as we may gather from the letters of Dr. Mackay in the Times, which specifically concern it....

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