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Echoes of the Week

The Illustrated London News, vol. 45, no. 1293, p. 630.

December 24, 1864


It seems but a week since we heard a Message from his Excellency Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, read in the Senate House at Washington. But, lo! a whole year has passed, and again the newspapers overflow with the interminable paragraphs of a document which from its very nature must be drouthy and verbose. There are three noticeable features in Mr. Lincoln's voluminous Message. First, that he holds out no hope of any negotiations for peace being fostered by the North. The initiative must be set--if it be set at all--south of Mason and Dixon's line. Next; that, in the presence of a currency almost inconceivably depreciated, and of a public debt which it is estimated will next July reach the sum of five hundred millions sterling, he declares the resources of the United States to be inexhaustible; and, lastly, that he holds out an implied threat against Great Britain, by proclaiming that measures will be taken to place armed vessels on Lake Erie and Lake Ontario to protect the soil of the United States against raiders from Canada. American gun-boats on the St. Lawrence may be the next step, and then a blockade of the Mersey and the Clyde and the Southampton water may follow. The only possibly dignified answer which Great Britain could return under such circumstances would be, "Certainly. Bring out your gunboats; but we will likewise bring out ours, and keep the peace together." For American war steamers to have the right, whenever they chose, to poke their noses into Hamilton, Kingston, and Toronto, and, perhaps, get down as far as Montreal or Quebec would be intolerable, and would certainly provoke, ere long, that collision with the Canadian people which the Government of the United States profess to be so anxious to avert....

The Davenport Brothers would appear to be irrepressible. A Doctor Nicholls has written to the papers to repeat that the brethren desire only a fair scientific or practical examination, and are ready at any time, and under any penalty, to prove what they assert--that the manifestations in their presence are not the result of trick, confederacy, or any kind of imposture. They are prepared, they say, to meet a select committee fairly chosen, at any place, except St. James's Hall or the Hanover-square Rooms, and to place £250 at its disposal for any charitable purpose if the verdict be against them. This is all very well as far as it goes; but the agents of the brethren have resorted to the somewhat indecorous proceeding of sending circulars round to a number of literary and scientific persons, in which, without a "with your leave" or a "by your leave," they are nominated as members of a certain "test committee." We find our own name in one of these circulars; and although we are in very good company--Mr. Dickens, Mr. Hepworth Dixon, Mr. Lewes, Mr. Thornton Hunt, Mr. Tom Taylor, and many others being also enumerated--we must emphatically protest against being made a "medium" for advertising purposes by the proprietors of a show. Let those who choose puzzle themselves with "spiritual investigations." The material exigencies of attempting to earn an honest living are quite enough for us. The Davenports are, we dare say, very wonderful people; but we are rather blasé with wonders. We have seen Simmonds cut off his own head, and Heller devour his own hat. We have listened to the pythoness, Cora Hatch. We have heard of a young man in the State of Indiana who can jump down his own throat; and if we gave any preference to a wonder-worker just now, it would be to one who could tell us how to prevent the pipes freezing, or who could bring the chartered gas companies to a sense of common honesty with regard to the article they supply....

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