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the complement of the other—the dispersion of the race over the surface of the globe, followed after a time by a sudden revival of the sense of race-unity, the practical realisation of which has been rendered possible by the shrinkage of the world.
The Master-men of the Reign have been, not the politicians and statesmen, the soldiers and sailors, the poets and artists—they have been the engineers, the shipbuilders, the electricians, the men who have yoked the thunderbolts of Jupiter to the hammer of Vulcan, and have usurped the authority of Neptune over the waves, at the same time they have outstripped the herald Mercury by the speed of their despatches. The steam-engine, the steam-ship, and the electric wire have, in sixty years, effected a more revolutionary change in the conceptions of distance than all the millenniums that have passed since the Stone Age. When the Queen ascended the throne, the United States, measured by time, were three times farther away than they are to-day. India was forty days distant instead of fourteen, Australia six months instead of six weeks. While this shrinkage has been made a practical reality for all manner of brute substances, a much more rapid and total conquest of space and time has been effected in the exchange of thought and knowledge. The cables have enabled us to beat the sun, to deliver messages in London hours by the clock before they started from India. To-day, all news of importance is practically reported simultaneously all over the whole world. Our steamships bridge every sea, our cables link every continent, and Commerce, that Spider of the Planet, despite the temporary hindrance of protective tariffs, is weaving all the nations of the world into one vast web, and the home and nest and central abode of that Spider is the capital of the Empire of our Queen.
The Age of the Engineer coincided with the era of Free Trade. The more closely the history of the reign is scrutinised, the more vividly will be seen to stand out in immense relief the enormous significance of Free Trade. Down to 1842 there seemed no reason to believe that the Queen's reign would be prosperous. Things were in a bad way. Business was depressed, there were deficits at the Treasury, and the rate of pauperism was nearly four times as high in proportion to population as it is to-day. The prisons were full, the factories were empty, and the condition-of-England question, as Carlyle called it, was serious indeed. But after Free Trade the whole scene changed as by magic. Surpluses replaced deficits, business improved by leaps and bounds. England became the emporium of the world. Our exports and imports rose from £140,000,000 in 1837 to nearly £700,000,000 in the nineties. The Income Tax penny, which when it was first levied only drew £700,000, now yields £2,250,000. Probate was paid on £50,000,000 in 1838; it had mounted up to £164,000,000 in 1894. England has become the creditor of the world.
Closely connected with the Free Trade movement there was the rise; triumph and decay of the Manchester school of laisser faire. Cobden in his day did good work, cleared away much rubbish, and secured national recognition for many sound principles. The idea that to buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest sums up the whole duty of nations was never preached by Cobden in this naked simplicity of explicit assertion. But it was a deduction which some not unnaturally drew from the excessive zeal which the Manchester men showed in minimising the action of the State. They were in politics what the voluntaries of the Anti-State-Church agitation were in religion. As the Nonconformist minimised the right of the State to interfere in things religious, so the Manchester school protested against State intervention in affairs secular. They were Administrative Nihilists who would fain have reduced the Government to zero, the natural recoil from a system of administration which was clumsy and unjust, and which moreover used the power and influence of the State to increase the wealth and strengthen the position of a privileged minority. From the ultra-negation of the Manchester school, the wheel has come round in full circle, and, as Sir W. Har
court declared, “We are all Socialists to-day." But it is a modified socialism in which faith in the infallibility of the State is tempered by a knowledge of the fallibility of human nature, and the mischief that may be done with the best intentions when there is neither experience to instruct nor precedent to guide.
Nothing is more notable in the latter half of the Queen's reign than the growing confidence of all classes in the efficiency of local elective bodies. The Liberals created the School Boards, but the County Councils were established by the Conservatives. Both have justified the hopes that were entertained as to their success. Hardly as much can be said as yet for the Parish Councils. But the great and conspicuous successes of local administration have been achieved in the large cities. The example of Manchester, Glasgow, and Birmingham, and the heroic efforts of the London County Council, have given new hope and confidence to reformers throughout the English-speaking world. Another great success of the reign, of which we have little but which probably comes home to more lives than many a much more loudly vaunted achievement, has been the creation of the County Courts.
For fifty years these Courts have gradually won their way upwards, until now they have succeeded in establishing such a firm hold on public confidence that the natural instinct of every legislator is to impose every fresh judicial burden upon the County Court Judge.
Wisdom is justified of her children, and the result of the measures of Reform and of Free Trade, carried in face of the vehement opposition of the old Tories who saw in every reform a concession to revolution, has been to confer upon the country a degree of tranquillity and of content to which the world has long been a stranger. The state of things at the beginning of the reign can hardly be imagined to-day. Sir Theodore Martin, writing of the year 1839, says:
“A succession of bad harvests since 1836 had sent up the price of provisions to an alarming extent, while languishing manufactures and a general stagnation of trade had so greatly lowered the scale of wages as to make the pressure of high prices all but intolerable
The attempted rising at Newport in South Wales in 1839 revealed the existence of a widespread organisation for the establishment by fire and sword of their visionary Charter upon the ruins of the Constitution. That the apprehensions on this score were well founded was only too clearly shown by the occurrences at Birmingham in July of the same year, which provoked from the Duke of Wellington in his place in Parliament the remark that he had seen as much of war as most men; but he had never seen a town carried by assault subjected to such violence as Birmingham had been during an hour by its own inhabitants.'”
Again, writing in 1842, the same author says :
" In the course of the year serious insurrections which required to be put down by military force broke out in the iron and coal districts of Staffordshire and South Wales, in the Potteries, in Manchester and elsewhere in Lancashire, while matters assumed an aspect no less serious among the stalwart and more highly-paid workers in the coal and iron mines of Lanark and Renfrew. The military force in the United Kingdom, small at best and reduced to half the strength by the numbers required for the maintenance of peace in Ireland, was taxed to the uttermost. Again, in the same year, after Parliament was prorogued, disturbances of so alarming a character broke out in Lancashire that a Cabinet Council had to be held to decide how to meet the emergency.
“ Disorderly mobs traversed the country, forcing their way into mills and manufactories, destroying their machinery, and compelling by threats and intimidation those who were willing to work to cease working and join in these riotous demonstrations. A Proclamation against such proceedings was issued on the 14th August, and the whole troops that could be spared from London, including a regiment of the Guards, were dispatched to Manchester by rail at two hours' notice. There, and also in Burslem and Preston, lives were lost, and many wounded in the collisions between the military and the rioters. The railway communications were threatened. Stockport, Macclesfield, Bolton, and Dudley were kept in terror by bands of excited operatives... - The evil spirit,’ Sir Robert Peel wrote to the Queen, “ has spread into the West Riding of Yorkshire; Huddersfield has been attacked by the mob, and other towns are threatened !'"
What a nightmare it seems to us nowadays to read this old-world story! But how was the change from all these horrors brought about? By simply endeavouring to treat the people with justice, by putting the people themselves in authority and allowing them to answer for order.
The same sound principle bore excellent results in the Colonies. Canada was in
incipient insurrection when the Queen came to the throne. There is no more loyal Colony under the Flag to-day. How was the transformation effected? By conceding to the Colonists the right to govern themselves in their own way. The same truth was demonstrated in Australia. The fact that English-speaking people will obey the laws which they themselves make, will respect rulers whom they themselves have elected, has, as the converse of the proposition, the not less important fact that they will not obey laws in which they have had no hand in making, and that they will rebel against a ruler who is not the man of their choice. A recognition of the fundamental principle that the State is much less likely to come to grief by letting the people run the machine almost anyhow they please, than by thwarting them by its superior wisdom and greater strength, has given us peace at home and enthusiastic loyalty in the great self-governing Colonies over sea.
There is only one black blot on the Queen's reign at home, and one abroad. The black blot abroad was the Crimean War, with its sequela in the Indian Mutiny, in the Jingo madness of 1878, and the Afghan Wars. But for that fatal virus of Russophobia with which David Urquhart inoculated the nation, the good Queen's reign might have been unstained by any European war. As it is, the Crimean War, where, in Lord Salisbury's belated confession, “we put our money on the wrong horse,” was the only European war in which we were engaged. We had a narrow escape-thanks to the Queen--from being embroiled with the Federal States of North America in 1861, and we had an equally narrow escape, from which we again escaped-also thanks to Her Majesty—of being drawn into a war with Germany in 1864.
Again, we came near war with Russia in 1876-8, from which we were saved by Mr. Gladstone, and the late Lord Derby, and Lord Carnarvon. In 1885 we were within an ace of war with Russia, Mr. Gladstone this time being the responsible party ; but that also passed by the mercy of Heaven ; and so it has come to pass that for sixty years Britain has been saved from participation in European war. Of other wars in China, Burmah, Persia, India, and Africa, West and South, and East and North, we have had full many.
But most of them have been mere wars of police, and although the sum of their expenditure both in blood and money has been considerable, they have been--with the exception of the Afghan blunders-followed for the most part by solid and satisfactory results.
The black spot at home is Ireland. There is no need for rhetorical exaggeration here. Everything that has been said about the rest of the Empire needs to be reversed when we come to speak of Ireland. It is the only country which we have obstinately refused to govern according to the only principles on which English-speaking men can be governed, and it is the only country where the population has dwindled, and where a free vote of the inhabitants would, if taken to-morrow, lead to the hauling down of the Union Jack. If the example of England, of Canada, and of Australia illustrate the advantages of allowing people to “run the machine as they darn please," the case of Ireland affords as significant an illustration of the disastrous results of the opposite policy. Nor does it add to our national complacency to know that a Royal Commission has recently reported that during the Queen's reign we have extracted from the Cinderella of the Imperial household nearly £100,000,000' of taxation in excess of the sum with which she could legitimately have been saddled.
Sir Archibald Alison was satirised by Mr. Disraeli as a man who wrote a history in twenty volumes proving that Providence was always on the side of the Tories. I am afraid some of my readers will accuse me of surveying the history of the Queen's reign in order to prove that the laws of the universe operate only to demonstrate Radical principles. But facts speak for themselves; and no one can deny that the most conspicuous fact of contemporary politics is that the Conservatives are in power with the strongest majority of recent times at their back, and that this is the net outcome of a series of reforms, each of which was declared in turn to deal a fatal blow at the British Constitution, and to throw the door wide open to the forces of Outrage and Revolution. It is, however, in the affairs of the State Church that we find the most astounding justification of Liberal principles and the most crushing confutation of Tory prophecies. One of the most conspicuous features of the legislation of the Victorian era has been the gradual but steady removal of religious disabilities. Tests were abolished in the Universities, Nonconformists were permitted to use the national burial-grounds, Jews were admitted to the House of Commons, Church Rates were abolished, and the Anglican Church in Ireland was disestablished and disendowed. Every one of these measures was successfully resisted for years by the Tories, backed by the majority of the clergy, on the ground that they would fatally injure the Established Church. As long as these reforms were not carried, the Liberation Society grew and prospered, and began to indulge in hopes of its complete success. But no sooner did these Bills become Acts of Parliament than it was discovered their immediate effect was enormously to strengthen the Church and to destroy the very foundation of Liberationist influence. There is no Anti-State Churchman to-day who will not admit that the Establishment is stronger than it was fifty years ago, and that the increased security of the State Church is chiefly due to the success of its assailants, who demolished the irritating and indefensible outworks by which its position was sought to be defended.
This brings us by a natural transition to consider the change that has come over Religion in the reign of the Queen. When she ascended the throne the state of the Established Church was in many districts a scandal and a disgrace. One of my earliest memories is that of hearing a discussion as to whether a neighbouring rector, familiarly known as “Drunken Jack -," was or was not too tipsy properly to perform the Burial Service. In many dioceses the Anglican Church was as the valley of dry bones in the prophet's vision. But in the early years of the reign there came a wind from Oxford, and it breathed upon the dry bones, and so they came together and stood up an exceeding great multitude. The Catholic revival that is associated with the name of Newman did at least this for England. It made Anglicans believe in the Church as something other than an ecclesiastical branch of the Civil Service. Cardinal Manning used to declare to the day of his death that it was absolutely impossible to get the spiritual idea of the Church of God into the head of an English Churchman, so hopelessly Erastianised is the Anglican mind. If he felt that in 1890, it is easy to imagine how much more bitterly the conviction must have been borne in upon the earnest disciples of the Catholic Revival. A genuine spirit of religious enthusiasm lit anew the flame of piety in many a parish, and the excellent good works that followed were too excellent and too good to lose their savour because the good vicar held fantastical notions about Apostolical succession, and believed wondrous things as to the spiritual significance of the bibs and tuckers and other smallclothes of the English incumbent.
In Scotland the same spirit of revived faith in the spirituality of the Church and her divine mission led to the great secession which founded the Free Kirk of Scotland. Nothing converts men like sacrifice, and the spectacle of Chalmers in the North and Newman in the South shaking off the dust of their feet against what they considered a heretical or faithless Church, produced a deeper effect upon the minds of men than all their preaching.
The Free Churches of England and Wales passed through similar experiences, They were provoked to a spirit of pious emulation by the new spirit born of the Catholic