« AnteriorContinuar »
lieve that the weather may clear up in the next hour, or that the prospect can be worth waiting for:-in a moment the sun bursts out, and the cloud passes away; and it is a wonder how we had been so foolish and faint hearted. When the early morning is bright and hot, and the sky is clear and cloudless, it deceives even our own knowledge, and silences with hope and delight our abundant experience, that such a sunshine may turn to rain in one half hour; nay, that it is a probable sign of it.
The saddest seasons of misfortune and the greatest reverses in life have such sunshines. It is so with nations and individuals. It is so with the most fatal diseases. It is not for the physician to be deceived and elated by such signs; they are rather occasions with him for increased anxiety and warning: The present revulsion of public feeling may lead to improvement and healthy habit; but a change of physician is not yet a change of medicine and diet; and still less a cure of the complaint. The disease is deepseated. We must see, as well as hear talked of, a diminution, instead of an increase of the largest armies which ever existed, together with proposals for fortifying the frontiers of each nation, and the maintaining a universal war system and war spirit in the time of peace. We must cease to see the practices and the spirit of war, concurring with the praises and professions of peace. We must not only see a change of administration in the highest offices, but a diminished number of unbelievers in all the subordinate departments, and a diminished influence of money-worshippers and political adventurers;
all which together of late practically governed the country, and pulled the strings of the administration, who were but the puppets upon the stage. We must look to see what is the end of the temperance societies ; and whether, when they decline, they shall give place to something which is worse or better, and whether, having superseded religious obligations in their creation, they shall not in their abolition carry both belief and practice down with them in one general destruction. We must look to see the event for increase or diminution of the national debt. We must look see luxury and ambition less esteemed; the riches of the country and of the people less applauded; the poor better regarded and befriended, and more familiarized with their employers. The religious establishment, not the churches only, must be more equal to the wants of the people; a greater harmony must exist, religious and political; party-spirit must diminish; the children must be less hungry for want of spiritual and temporal food; and the parents and pastors must be more brotherly. When these things exist and grow, and show a confirmed tendency to re-establish themselves, then we may hail and welcome the approach of better things, and cease from fears and forebodings, and exchange warning for congratulation.
It is not consistent with our present object to dwell principally upon the condition and progress of other countries. But all nations of Europe and their colonies are advancing together, in the same direction; and this assimilation is growing greater and greater continually. All nations, at this period of free and rapid intercourse,
produce an impression one upon another. But the question for ourselves is, the extent of the impression which we are producing upon the world by our character and example; and whether it be good or bad. It is likely that England should become the predominating influence in the world: if she have not already assumed and occupied such a position. It is to be feared that this influence will be exercised more for evil than for good.
The position which England holds by virtue of her natural character is very peculiar. She is seldom the inventor and originator of new systems and principles; but she is eminently qualified to complete, and carry out the inventions of others. She has the power,
and skill, and steadiness, and perseverance, to mature and perfect, and give practical application and extension to what she approves and finds useful. England did not begin the Reformation, but she always, from the beginning, and at the last, gave the most practical form and the most forcible effect to those principles of it which she adopted. England did not invent the art of modern warfare: but she has carried it into the most successful operation. Her best models of ships, during the late war, were taken from her enemies, being of French construction; but she manned and used them with irresistible effect against the navies of the nation which had furnished them. The English were not the first, or till of late the best inventors of machinery; but they are always the best makers of machines. The English are not the originators of manufactures and commerce; but they have long since carried them to a greater extent and dominion than Venice, Spain, or
Holland,—which they have swallowed up in the vortex of their practical energy and perseverance. They are not the originators of political economy; but they promise fair to give to this science of money, and to the art of money-making, a completion and perfection which it has nowhere attained, and a dignity andauthority which shall be above all other law, or obligation or worship. England has promoted and perfected many good principles, through her wisdom and perseverance, and prevailed by means of them. If she have the dominion, and, in her elevation and hour of temptation, choose evil for her good, it is to be expected that she will carry
it on to a height and strength which will be invincible except by divine judgment. England will then be the leavening evil principle in the world.
It is to be feared that England has already justified by her measured and cautious use, and promoted by her success, several evil principles, which are now being imitated and carried to an immoderate excess by other countries, which have taken the pattern from her. The spoliation of Church property was first carried to a great extent in this country; and the same proceeding has since been carried on, in France, in Switzerland, in Spain and Portugal, in Italy, and even in Rome itself.
The system of poor-laws, in lieu of, and in restraint of charity,—which is rather the sign of a great evil, of which it is the ineffectual remedy, than the evil itself,has extended from this to other countries, together with the evils in which it originates.
The spirit of party, and the plan of opposition to government, is thought to have worked so well here,
that it has become the desire of foreign legislators, to secure their constitutions by the balance of opposition and faction.
England, though late, is now about to become the champion of education, and the chief dresser and cultivator of the tree of knowledge in the world.
England's rebellion has become the great model of rebellion and revolution which is aimed at by other countries; and is likely to be exceeded in every one of them.
What is more important and remarkable, having sowed the seeds of, and given the impulse and example to the French Revolution,-out of whose fresh-tilled and teeming soil sprung up fiercer monsters than the dragon himself from whose jaws the seed was extracted, -England now promises to cultivate, and bring up into approved perfection, these fresh offsets of human conceit and violence.
England is proceeding to carry out into practical operation all the leading principles of the French Revolution : those which had already, in that hot-bed, outgrown and exhausted themselves by their rankness. England has become the nurse of liberal opinions : in politics, in religion, in all departments of philosophy and opinion.
She has adopted the propagandism of the French Revolution ; and shown her desire to proselyte other nations to her liberal opinions, by the sword as well as by example.*
* This was avowed by the late ministry; and especially and more directly by Lord Palmerston in his speech on Spanish affairs in 1835.