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Echoes of the Week

The Illustrated London News, vol. 46, no. 1297, p. 43.

January 14, 1865


The explosion of fifty-five tons of gunpowder sufficed to frighten Erith out of its wits, shake Woolwich to its foundations, and knock a considerable portion of the Thames embankment into what is termed, in Hibernian parlance, "smithereens." But 215 tons of powder exploded by the Federals under the lee of a fort at Wilmington seem to have made no more impression on its walls than the hundred plum buns full of calomel and prussic acid made on Chunee, the mad elephant, at Exeter Change. Our cousins seem unfortunate in their blow-ups. What a disastrous failure was the springing of that mine before Petersburg last August! The superstitious among the warriors of the great armada, which is said to have returned to Fortress Monroe, may ascribe the failure of the expedition to the presence of General Butler in a position of high command. Jonah should have been cast overboard. But many of those who are not superstitious might feel inclined to augur that no success could attend an enterprise which was conducted on a Sunday and on Christmas Day.

The veteran James Wallack is dead. Not many weeks have elapsed since we saw him in his little bijou of a house in New York, surrounded by the portraits of Macready, and Younge, and Kemble, with his stalwart son Lester by his side, and a little grandson on his knee, looking as handsome and as dignified as of yore, and full of his old humour, vivacity, and grace. He had been for many years a cruel sufferer from the most atrocious form of rheumatic gout; chalkstones exuded from him like drops of blood; his limbs were all swathed in silken bandages; but at seventy years of age, and all but bedridden, there were still in his eye and in his voice the vigour and cheeriness of a young man. It was no wreck you saw before you. The gallant and chivalrous Don C├Žsar, the dashing Massaroni, the audacious Monseigneur, could still be recognised.

James W. Wallack was something more than a brilliant and versatile actor. He was a high-minded and accomplished English gentleman. In his own country the noblest in the land were glad to associate with him, and more than one of his sons and nephews held commissions in the British Army. He was the proprietor of the most charming theatre in New York--a theatre wherein good English plays are performed by good English actors, and had realised, we believe, a handsome fortune. His son Lester, who is a great favourite as an actor in light comedy with the New York public, and who is married to a sister of Mr. Millais, the Academician, will, we presume, succeed to the management of Wallack's Theatre. Some of the best traditions of the English stage in its best days die with James W. Wallack....

We rarely allude to matters personal to ourselves; but there is an acme of ill-treatment at which even the most patient camel will groan. Among the multifarious publications of a Mr. Beeton we perceive that there is a magazine specially devised for the delectation of young ladies. We notice that Mr. Beeton, or Mr. Beeton's editor, has chosen to appropriate two lengthy extracts from the series of papers entitled "America in the Midst of War," written by the writer of these "Echoes," and to publish them in his magazine as distinct articles, appending to them the author's name. This is the more unseemly, as in the whole course of our life we never wrote a line for Mr. Beeton. The whole proceeding is exceedingly untradesmanlike. Every bookseller in London knows that the experiences of the author of "America in the Midst of War" are about to be published in book form; and had Mr. Beeton's magazine been published in February instead of January, an injunction in the Court of Chancery would very soon have taught him the difference between meum and tuum. Editorial scissors are excellent things, but they are ill employed in taking the bread out of a labouring man's mouth.

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