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Echoes of the Week

The Illustrated London News, vol. 44, no. 1265, p. 607.

June 25, 1864


An action in the Channel upon a Sunday morning, when prayers for peace and good will were being put up to Heaven, and the Englishman was enjoying an amount of quietude in which he acknowledges his chief happiness consists, was an event not to be passed over by our numerous writers. Some determine to be moral about it, as if war could be judged by the canons of morality. "Sunday," says a writer in the Realm, "is very often desecrated by men of diplomacy and men of war." But diplomacy, let us instance the Conference, is to all intents a work of mercy and necessity; and war, having for its end something special in the minds of each combatant, is far above or below the ordinary rules of morality, which it necessarily sets aside. The sympathies of the great body of the English are entirely with Captain Semmes and his gallant crew. Although some blame him for rashness, it is more than probable that his attack on the Kearsarge was a necessity. The Alabama has done her work, and lies low in the sea, her fit resting-place, leaving us to regret, at least, the brave English surgeon who, at his work below, went down with the patients to whom he had devoted himself. So strong and sympathetic a note did this sea-fight strike upon us, that in recording it the leader-writer of the Daily Telegraph, a man unused to the melting mood, commences his leading article with a decent hexameter verse--

Fathoms deep in Norman waters lies the good ship Alabama--

an accidental piece of scansion ever so much better than many of the laboured Latin-English verses of Southey and Longfellow.

A novel method of fighting General Lee has been adopted--if we believe the telegrams--which we don't--by General Grant. That soldier has commenced "digging," that is, we suppose he is about to undermine Lee's position, which, by-the-way, that prudent commander can, as we know, shift at a moment's notice, and, as his shifting really means retiring to a stronger position, tant pis for Grant. In the mean time, one or two little jottings unobserved in the great length of the telegrams peep out. Ten thousand men have been lost in one week by the North; these include a loss of five thousand in a useless brush--an affair of no moment--with Lee; and gold has risen to nearly double the value of the State currency--viz., 199. This does not look as if the Northerners were very sanguine; and the knowledge that the South has really lost perhaps half as many (to them) more valuable lives, does not give us any comfort. Cannot an attempt be made to mediate? Is it not our duty to do so? Let our offer be that of a peacemaker, as humble, as gentle as it can be, but at least let it be made before circumstances crop out which will render interference as insulting as it will be useless....

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