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with coffee, and bank-directors rob their creditors, and but for the private sorrows, and a few great lessons we have learnt, it is as though the war had never been.
We are justified, then, in inquiring, whether these anticipations deserved to be realized; whether there was truly any foundation for the idea that society would be bettered and the tone of public feeling raised by the proclamation of a European
a If we find that these hopes were destitute of a good ground and substance, and that we must look for the greatest development of the better national feelings not in conflicts with other nations only, but also and rather in those purposes and energies which are consistent with the enjoyment of the profoundest peace and most friendly foreign relations,—then we shall have reason to believe that civilization is a real working agency for good after all: and that the portion of the national frame which may be used to the greatest advantage is not, as poets fable, the muscles, but the mind.
Such a poem as Maud can plead no exemption from the laws of positive argument, so far as the poem itself is didactic in tenor. Nor is the madness of the hero a shield against the assaults which may fairly be made against it; since it only serves, as far as we can see, to soften and tone down the harsh propositions which would otherwise perhaps hardly have obtained the assent which has largely been granted to them. Now in this poem it is indicated that we are being consumed by the canker of peace. We have made it, we read, far from a blessing; society is rotten, trade dishonest, we are virtually at war with one another. Burglary and drunkenness are in particular some of the fruits of peace, and fatten on the pastoral ħillock. Now if splendid language and a rhythm new and entrancing were sufficient to ensure what after all is simply true political economy, we of course should not venture to criticise those eloquent verses of the Laureate. But is the stigma on peace one rightly and fairly deserved ? are these specified evils to be traced to these specified causes? We think not. Society is rotten? We doubt very much whether the Tory lord gave up his dinners when he heard of the entrance into the Black Sea. The news of Balaclava did not shorten our milliners' bills, or annihilate for ever morning calls. Trade dishonest ? Yet Paul and Strahan may have speculated in the warloan, and Robson and Redpath did somehow swindle through it all. Fraud did not cease when we sent our armies out; and the analysis of the Lancet did more to purify our food than the message from Her Majesty to the Commons. Is the love of gold the parent of all cheating and malice? Yes surely this is a mere phase of the general plague of com
petition; and a myriad of Laureates would fail to convince us that a restriction on the necessaries of life has a tendency to remove this curse. Let us boldly state what we believe; the richer a nation is, so far the more prosperous it is, and the more happy its inhabitants; and if we have no reason to suppose that peace is a fruitful mother of crime, in the name of all social science, let us be peaceful, and prosperous, and rich. Our brute instincts teach us that to fight is part of our nature; and a necessary part too, as history shows; but if we read and believed some few of our popular works just now, we should run the risk of laying them down persuaded that the object of reason and christianity was not to regulate our brute instincts, but to stimulate them. Deny it if you will, each member who sat on committee the other morning upon church-rates was a better object of veneration than any of the vieilles moustaches or the older beaux sabreurs.
Are we then to deny that a just war, justly waged, has its uses? Let us separate the justice and the use, and acknowledge the benefit only in the large agencies for good which the sense of a right action will always have. The late war was commenced, carried on, and completed, for a single, clear, and righteous object;—the maintenance of the police of Europe, the sustaining in all its integrity of a system which we share for the common profit, the resistance to aggression, not because it directly injured us, but because we were conscious that the offence was an indirect injury to all, and that it attacked an individual part of the common body of European interest which it was our duty to defend. The very fact of suffering for this object was a glory and benefit to all: but when once we pass this point, when once we lay the glory in the pride of repelling the usurper, when we once in the very slightest degree wage war for the sake of success, when Alma and Inkermann fill us with any sensations beyond pleasure at the certainty of our own strength, this feeling of a common interest either vanishes or becomes a curse, because it is selfish ; and the common energy shews itself no longer a harmonizing principle, but an endeavour for common aggrandisement. Now has there been, on the other hand, in
, a kindred though different department of the public service, something lately of a higher glory gained? Have we had before us something which may perhaps hereafter be a still greater cause of rejoicing than all the triumphs of the war? Is there something which gives greater hopes of national prosperity and advancement than the unanimous vote of money to the Queen or the stubborn resistance of that November morning?
Have we not that speech, spoken by an English reMay, 1858.
presentative at the Congress of Paris, the substance of which the cramped minute boldly but eloquently shadows forth :
“ The Earl of Clarendon, having demanded permission to "lay before the Congress a proposition which he thinks should “be favourably received, states that the calamities of war are “still too present to every mind not to make it desirable to “seek out every expedient calculated to prevent their return. “That a stipulation had been inserted in Art vii. of the Treaty “of Peace, recommending that in case of difference between "the Porte and one or more of the other signing Powers, “recourse should be had to the mediation of a friendly state " before resorting to force. The First Plenipotentiary of Great “Britain conceives that this happy innovation might receive "a more general application, and thus become a barrier "against conflicts which frequently only break forth because “it is not always possible to enter into explanation and come " to an understanding. He proposes therefore to agree to a resolution," &c.
Well spoken, representative of England ! Is not this a positive gain? May we not presume that we have here the germ of a system which after years and years may lead us, in spite of all the Mauds that can be written, to cast our hopes, not on the coming of a Russian fleet against Portsmouth, but on the steady and unselfish working of honest diplomacy, and very possibly a multitude of those processes of civilization which more than one parliamentary orator would call hypocrisies and shams?
And yet there are those who grow weary of mere prosperity, who see the evil much more vividly than the good, who have no sympathy with that patient and profound analysis which has elicited the great principles of social and political well-being. Forgetting that in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred in the world's history it has involved a folly and a crime; forgetting that even with every favourable construction it contains a strange and mystifying anomaly when waged by a Christian nation; omitting the consideration of the physical suffering, and disregarding that of the moral contradiction, they call for some whirlwind of war to sweep away
the noxious vapours which they see lazily gathering round the apathy of our prosperous peace.
It would be well sometimes to consider, when invoking the whirlwind, what the object and end of the whirlwind is. War for the sake of aggrandisement is now abandoned, in name at least, if not in practice. War for the sake of polemic proselytism, whether civil or religious, has been during the last halfcentury condemned. We do not now cast jealous eyes on Normandy, or send men-of-war on a mission for the advancement of constitutional principles. Europe seems now to have reached the higher ground of morality which lays bare the maxim that war is just only for self-defence. Whether self-defence relate merely to the repelling of foreign invasion, or have another larger meaning whereby tenfold strength is given to the cause of order—the meaning which includes the maintenance of the integrity of each nation by the arms of all in common,-can hardly be questioned by a people which has lately fought and suffered for the cause of the family of nations. But if there is one thing more certain than another in the whole subject of international ethics, if there is one point upon which no dispute can be maintained and no doubt arise, it is that war is an evil which is better, if possible, avoided. Which cardinal fact we are likely, it would seem, either to forget or deny.
The fact is, that all profit, all social advantage, which could have arisen from the late war, was neutralized by its distance. We never saw the enemy's fleet come yonder round by the hill. We never felt the rush of the shot from the three-decker out of the foam. When Philip swore to crush the small proud island, and the great Armada was first descried by the fishing-boat from Plymouth Sound, yeomen assembled, and merchant captains banded, the apprentices of London shouldered the blunderbuss, and the queen came down and reviewed them. Enemies of twenty years shook hands, factions which hated to the death were one again; one heart, one soul breathed through the island, lord and lout, Papist and Reformer. When the last ultimatum was rejected in '54, and her Britannic Majesty's representative at St. Petersburg declared that the violent construction which Count Nesselrode put on the treaty of Adrianople obliged him to request his passports,-a slight increase of activity was observed in the neighbourhood of the national dockyards, a rather unusual excitement in the barrack towns; the country at large read with interest and curiosity the reports of the special correspondent; and paid with a grumble of discontent the extra seven-pence in the pound.
So be it. But let us keep the chronology true. If the effect of war is changed, let us confess it. One great influence which used to work upon our people, the uniting and banding effect of a common danger, the brave unanimity inspired by a common mighty enterprise, is nearly gone; and who would wish it back? Let us, if the course of the world so bid, if the lauded work of christianity compel, if the glorious destinies of commerce constrain, let us resign this good, which was then so dearly bought. Has it given way to a better and more elevated influence? Has it left its substitute ?
Its substitute is graver, stronger, and better. It is the altered purpose of the man, which may be nobler, if fate so will,
, than the easy enthusiasm of the child. It is the sense which the prosperous nation, under the new régime, will have, of strength used all for good; of energies which cannot be abused so long as they are used in peaceful self-improvement. That ship is not the more compact which is always beaten by the waves; Hercules had his sinews as firmly braced when he worked at Elis as at Nemea. And perhaps our land may have done enough of late years in the way of slaying lions; ; and it might not be amiss for it to turn for a short time to the task of its Augean stables. But whether this be its work or no, it will have to learn by some work or other that the calm exercise of the national will even by the modern system, the working for what is right and good by blue-books and reports, debates and diplomacy, taxes and statistical returns, may lift it to as high a pinnacle of social brotherhood and evangelic single-heartedness, as if the cannon were thundering in the Channel, and all Manchester turned out as one man to slay the French. It is not that the nation has changed; it is not that its work has degenerated; it is but that civilization has brought its fruits; and among them we reckon a gravity of political action, which may indeed appear to obliterate the freshness of popular energy, but leaves in its stead the possibility of equal vigor combined with a recognition of the laws which have altered, we believe for good, the relations which we bear, man to man, and nation to nation. We are going on in a path which is not averse to energy, and not repugnant to honesty; we have openings wider and wider every day for the lover of his country to do it what good he may. If we wish this to go on and advance till we approach more nearly, and as nearly as may here be, to the form of a perfect nation, if we desire that
noble thought be freer under the sun,
And the heart of the nation beat with one desire," let us ennoble that desire, and strive to enrich that thought not in a mere outward enthusiasm caught from some instinct of the sinews, but by those means which are prepared by the onward progress of humanity for the use and benefit of nations which recognize their highest happiness in the quiet routine of civilization