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Echoes of the Week

The Illustrated London News, vol. 44, no. 1264, p. 599.

June 18, 1864


Those pleasant affiches from which the general public gather their evening news have startled us lately by the different complexion which they make the truth wear. Jesting Pilate, as in Bacon's beautiful essay, might well inquire what truth was, nor be expected to "tarry an answer," if he had but one week's reading of the placards of the pro-Southern and the pro-Northern journals. The pro-Southern journals give details which the pro-Northern suppress--at least on their placards--unpleasant details, and give a couleur-de-rose glow to the defeats and troubles of Grant which should earn the eternal gratitude of that Caledonian-Yankee. Thus, we hear that he has been reinforced; that he is victorious; that he has taken rifle-pits; outmarched, outflanked, and outwitted his enemy; and that the Southern cause grows every day more desperate. From the Standard placards we have a very different tale. Federal defeats form the staple of its announcements, and it rejoices so much in these that it does not, like the Star, throw in a "horrid murder" to enliven the sympathies of its readers when low under pressure and defeat. What, indeed, is one horrid murder, committed by a half-maddened sot or love-stricken potboy, to the grand announcement, "7000 Federals slain"? Do we sufficiently comprehend numbers to realise the fact in all its horrors? As many men killed as would fill one of our decent, pretty county towns; as many soldiers destroyed as we have sometimes in the whole of England--certainly about as many as garrison the south of our island; and for what? in an obscure skirmish at along distance from home and in an expedition which is pretty sure to be a failure. No wonder that the price of gold goes up and up in the North, that the Government trembles, and that men prophesy a collapse, in which the deceived and outraged people will turn on their rulers and rend them. Adversity will bear the same precious lesson to that very young nation which she brings to all; and it is to be hoped that a crowning defeat of Grant will bring an overture of peace. Opposed to victorious troops who are safe in rifle-pits and intrenchments, while his are in the open, and obliged to purchase every forward movement by an exhausting loss, even that brave and obstinate General must in all likelihood yield. If, however, he should enter Richmond as a conqueror, he will be President of the North; if he fail, Mr. Lincoln will continue in power, stronger by a new lease, and able to make that peace which he so ardently desires....

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