Echoes of the WeekThe Illustrated London News, vol. 46, no. 1316, p. 514.
May 27, 1865
Mr. Simon Tappertit, to whom Mr. Dickens did me the honour of introducing me (with a few other favoured persons) some years ago, had a secret society, bound by a dreadful oath, the aim of which was to overthrow the tyrant masters, rescue the gallant apprentices, slay the beadles, massacre the watchmen, seize the Compter, strangle the City Chamberlain (the great enemy of all City 'prentices), and, after due trial, behead the Lord Mayor. It is true that the celebrated author did not permit Mr. Tappertit to reveal all this; indeed, Mr. Sim, who used to "eye over" all suspected persons, would have been torn, like Ravaillac, with horses, or grilled on a bed of red-hot steel, like Damien, rather than say one word; but we inferred, such dreadful note of preparation lay in his frown, that such was his intention. Poor, brave, misguided Tappertit! how much his society resembles that of our Fenian heroes who, as the Jefferson Brick of the New York Herald writes with scornful sarcasm, "ardently desire to crush the Kannucks and the dirty Britishers, and wrench Ireland from the giant grasp of a bloated aristocracy." I have many a time given a pet bit of quotation from that pretty little green book, the "Spirit of the Nation." That book will become historic; it is to be the text-book of the invading Fenians. Tom Davis, whose spirit is now "riding the whirlwind," Mr. Gavan Duffy, D. F. M'Carthy, Sliabb Cuillin, and others, will be the Tyrtæi of the Fenians. The "Muster of the North," of which the New York Herald quotes one line, will be sung by millions of voices--
Glory to God, my eyes have seen the ransomed fields of Down!
My ears have drunk the joyful news, "stout Phelim has his own!"
And gladsome bell, and bugle horn, from Newry's captured towers,
Hark! how they tell the Saxon swine, this land is ours is!
Seriously speaking, that was a document not wholly to be laughed at which the Times gave on Tuesday from the New York Herald. A child's squib may set a house on fire, and it is unpleasant to have a fowling-piece, loaded only with gunpowder, peeping in your ear.
In Mexico the first faint drops of the thunderstorm seem to have fallen. The officers of Maximilian refuse his Majesty's commission, and Juarez has no lack of merry men who are going out as emigrants. With grim satire we are told that these American emigrants will be furnished with arms to protect themselves against robbers. A few Parrott guns, a Dahlgren or so, and the most approved of modern cartridges will be added; and a piece of bunting, commonly known as the "gridiron," alias the stars and stripes, will be used to frighten away birds from the upspringing crops of these peaceable incolae. 'Tis a mad world, my masters! The dragon's teeth have been sown, and the crop is not dead yet....
Those irrepressible Bonapartes are at it again. Fresh from the tomb of Mdme. Mère, the mater regum, Prince Napoleon--that Junius Brutus of the occasion, that lover of everything Roman except that which is austere--has made a speech eulogising the first Emperor for his ardent attachment to Republicanism! Napoleon Bonaparte, indeed, loved Republicanism as much as a nurse loves the baby whom she overlays and smothers out of existence. But we are always discovering fresh virtues in the martyred saint of St. Helena. He loved American Republicanism and, by a kind of prophetic prevision, he hated the aristocrats of the South. It is indeed easy to hate those who are down. They debate now with closed doors, and before an unreported tribunal, the fate of some of those aristocrats--such Robert Lee and Jefferson Davis--at Washington. The best French papers are earnestly in favour of the conquered South, and tremble lest anyone should first raise the cry of "Vœ Victis!" One might praise democracy another way; the appeal to the many is sure to be answered. A great man would try and lead the many, even though he failed. But if the Prince's speech was in bad taste, the Moniteur acted in worse taste in excluding it; and now, all society in Paris talks--for its usual three hours--about the coolness of the Emperor, the anger of the Court, and the rashness of that headstrong youth, Plon-Plon. Verily the French kaleidoscope is very prettily turned!