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Echoes of the Week

The Illustrated London News, vol. 45, no. 1289, p. 546.

November 26, 1864

...Across the wide Atlantic "Uncle Abe," or "Father Abraham"--for the President stands in a double relationship to his obedient sons--has been again elected as absolute monarch for a term of four years; and it must be confessed that, so far as we know, the election has been well and quietly conducted, and went off without noise, tumult, or bloodshed. But then, so did our 10th of April, 1848, and possibly for the same reason. Mr. Lincoln and the English Ministry were fully prepared.

England does not know exactly whether to congratulate herself or not on the result of the American election. So thoroughly had people made up their mind that he would be re-elected that even the "sperrits" at a séance of a vulgar Medium foretold it, in conjunction, also, with the due execution of Müller; so that the ghosts were right on the double event. As the Times puts it, perhaps we are better off than with General M'Clellan, because Lincoln has passed through the rabies against England which is always demanded of a fresh President. What we hope for now is that the matured counsels of President Lincoln and his advisers may turn towards peace. Unfortunately, Mr. Seward, who is one of the wire-pullers of the great Lincoln, does not care to look at matters in this light. He has told his admirers that in the game they are playing "three out of five throws go for the winner," and therefore, presuming, we suppose, that the throws in the game have been as yet equal, the North will prepare immediately on the re-election of the President to enter the lists, like the Duke's "bony 'priser" and young Orlando in "As You Like It," and have another tussle. We all remember that, in that beautiful pastoral comedy, the biggest man did not get the better, and that the "'priser" was carried away, spoilt for life and good for nothing. Mr. Seward kindly suggests, however, that this fate is reserved for the South, and, parodying a well-known passage of Scripture, represents the Southerners as prodigals, crying out on their knees, "Father Abraham we have sinned before God and against our brethren, and"--We will not continue the quotation. The parallel is, to say the very least of it, in offensively bad taste.

Let us add that, even in the midst of massacres and sickening slaughter, there are one or two cheerful signs, which peep up like winter violets from the dead leaves. A very observant but, alas! a casual correspondent writes that he can see the civilising effects of war in the bearing of the men, that America is beginning to lose that careless, ruffling brusquerie which distinguished her, and that there is altogether more order, earnestness, and gentle bearing than were to be met with before the war....

A biography of the Brothers Davenport is to be published by Dr. Nicholls, whose last volumes on America were certainly some of the very best we have ever had. Let us hope he will take a philosophic view of the curious state of the human mind which permits such evident chicanery as is generally indulged in by mediums to pass off as the actual work of spirits--i.e., preternatural or miraculous. An intelligent writer, Mr. Barkas, of Newcastle, who has had twelve years' experience of spiritualism, has published two discourses on the matter, in the last of which he sums up his creed in twenty-four articles, so that intelligent spiritualism requires fifteen less than the Anglican Church. Some of these articles are well worth weighing. Mr. Barkas believes, and we cordially agree with him, "that the common practise of spiritualism is injurious to mind and body, and entirely unnecessary to Christian men and women who possess a reasonable faith; that those who practise it render themselves liable to pernicious obsession; that there is a considerable analogy between some forms of modern spiritualism and ancient witchcraft, sorcery, and necromancy; and that the less we become devotees of modern spiritualism the better we shall succeed in the Divine life." All this is very sound and good. If spiritualism be not witchcraft, it has the same effect, and they who practise it become confused and silly. Our author cites Timothy iv, 1--"In the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils," an a text expressly referring to this curious illusion....

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