Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

England, and rival of Frederic of Prussia, took care to show his hostility to the Americans and to their revolutionary movements. The "House of Hapsburg" became even then a proverbial name for despotism, and "Tories"in those days were taunted with having it for an ally. The feeling has been fostered with some care, and there has even been a clever American book written on "The Crimes of Austria," which has influenced politicians whilst they were yet students. To this feeling far less ProHungarian than Auti-Hapsburg-Kossuth's transient success was due. Some feeling there has been favourable to Poland, more especially in earlier days when the memory of Kosciusko was fresher; but the crime against Poland has, so far as American statesmen have discussed it, been laid at many doors, equally with that of Russia. There has thus been no particular obstacle to an alliance with Russia arising from her violent suppression of revolutionary nationalities, which were understood to have no higher aim than to set up castes and despotisms of their own so soon as they were free from that of the Czar.

The first decided manifestations of American sympathy for Russia occurred during the Crimean war. I was residing at that time in Washington, where this feeling was very general, and took some pains to search into the causes of it. It was not difficult to discover that the sympathy for Russia mainly emanated from the Russia within our own borders. The similarity between serfdom in the one and slavery in the other is too well known to require illustration here. It is more important to remember that both of these institutions existed in vast and sparsely settled regions; that they had organised both territories into a system of immense estates, owned by a few wealthy and powerful men; and that both regions were animated by a passion for extension and aggression. The American Russia had, moreover, held the reins of the United States Government for a quarter of a century, and in pursuing its objects it had frequently come into collision with the moral sentiment of Europe. This sentiment, chiefly represented by England, did not hesitate to utter itself against slavery, against the injustice of the Mexican war, the "filibustering" against Central America, and the sinister designs on Cuba. Hence the Slave-power then the Autocrat of all America had come to cherish a strong animosity against England; and when the Crimean war broke out it at once showed itself against England and in favour of

Russia, which had never uttered a word against slavery or against any Southern scheme of extending the area and the markets of slavery. The administration of Mr. Pierce, which was in power at the time, represented exclusively the pro-slavery party, and was particularly hostile to England. Unfortunately the entire country, from Plymouth Rock onward, was covered with so many monuments of the uniformly oppressive course of England toward America, that there was only too much fuel to feed this anti-English feeling even in the sections least friendly to slavery. Nevertheless New England, and the States born of her, were too far advanced in feeling to sympathise with the despot in a war between Liberty and Despotism. In the Northern States, the adulation of Russia was almost confined to the New York Herald- then and always utterly servile to oppressors whilst the Boston press was earnest in its sympathy with the Allies. In New York the fall of Sebastopol was announced in the theatres and received with deafening cheers. But in all the South there was, I believe, not a politician or a newspaper that did not take the side of Russia.

As Antæus would regain his strength by touching the earth, so do wounded monarchs remember their people in times of calamity, and seek to recover strength by contact with them. The Russian Czar evoked a reinforcement of his throne from the plantations. The American slaveholders winced under this grand and sudden emancipation of the serfs, and especially at something said by the Czar about "humanity" when he performed the act. The opponents of slavery at once availed themselves of the prestige of Russia, which the Southerners themselves had so industriously diffused through the nation, and rang the changes upon the greatness and humanity of Russia. The example of that country was quoted with much effect against the obstinate retention of a similar institution by a republic. And thus the admiration for Russia was for intimate political reasons assiduously cultivated in the North. Amongst the Northern people it no doubt became a genuine though never an ardent nor a universal feeling; but it was not accompanied by any sentiment adverse to England or France. It is also noteworthy that several of the leading Northern papers strongly condemnedwhilst none of them approved - the mission of Mr. Fox, and that the enthusiastic demonstrations in Russia have been received in America with a significant silence, with

the New York Times, which has taken them as a text for an article reminding Europe that America knows how to be grateful to friends.

the exception of Mr. Seward's chief organ, 'so imperatively. The fact that the two nations representing the English language, law, and liberty, should, in their respective great historical conflicts with barbarism in the noon of this century, each have found the other sympathising with its enemy, is an anomaly and a scandal; and it will be an evidence of the decay of statesmanship in both nations if they are not startled enough by it to insure a more honourable record in the future, and transmit no worse result than such natural shame as Titania might have felt on awaking from her grotesque infatuation.

At length the time arrived when America must turn and grapple with her Russia. And now there came cold blasts from Western Europe, and warm breath from the steppes of Russia. Whilst France was proposing openly to aid the South, whilst dlabamas, manned by Englishmen, were destroying American commerce, whilst every other European nation was either indifferent or hostile, Russia warmly applauded the efforts of America to preserve her Union, and even sent her fleet in the eyes of the world to bear the expression of her sympathies. Under such circumstances it could not be expected that Americans would at once begin to search into the historical records of Russia, or weigh the part she had played in the old domestic controversies of another hemisphere: she did what was inevitable clasped the only hand that had been extended to her in her hour of darkness.

This sentiment is on the part of the American warm and real, but it means no more than gratitude. Nevertheless there is some reason to think that politicians at Washington and at St. Petersburg are coldly considering how these popular emotions may be utilised. Undoubtedly, in the case of a conflict of either of those two countries with England or France, the other would permit the fitting out within its borders of any number of predatory cruisers by such belligerent.

The indications are, that there will be a reconciliation between Washington and the Tuileries. It is, however, deeply to be regretted that the relations between England and America should be settling down into a condition of vindictiveness on one side, and of proud indifference on the other. It is a sad presage for the world, that the first message sent from New York to England by the Atlantic Telegraph should have been a cold sneer. The chief hope in which the friend of peace can indulge is, that the common sense of England will abandon, whilst such a course would be beyond misconstruction, a policy that is not even pennywise. Lord Stanley has, indeed, almost invited America to reassert her claims, in his public speeches. But the United States cannot recognise such expressions, nor ministerial changes; she has many precedents on which to act, and none of them will permit her to renew a claim that has been refused, except when she is in a position to do

Yet it is impossible in the nature of things that any regular alliance can be formed between Russia and America. The reaction in the United States from a generation of Southern misrule, ending almost in ruin, must for the next generation at least transfer the sceptre to New England; for the South and New England alone represent ideas, the States between the two being, as Wendell Phillips has well said, "like the blank leaves between the Old and New Testaments, taking any impression that the owner for the time being chooses to write on them." New England is to be the directing brain of America, and New England has both culture and character; it has also convictions more than sentimentsconvictions whose roots are traceable deep in the heart of that great era from which sprang Anglo-Saxon liberty. They who seek to press the sentiment of gratitude so far as to create a practical and permanent co-operation between the intensified absolutism of the past and the idealistic republicanism of New England, will find the fruit they seek rotten ere it is ripe. Nulla vestigia retrorsum. It was not a new Russia that the Mayflower fought its way across the ocean to establish, but a new England. MONCURE D. CONWAY.

From the Spectator Nov. 3.

THE COMING REVOLUTION IN SPAIN.

THERE are, we believe, among us men who are to politicians what some collectors are to artists, that is, not politicians but curious in politics, delighted to examine new constitutions, eager to study new statesmen, willing to spend thought and time over new specimens of incident. It is not, to change the figure, that the grand drama interests

Spain was treated as if in a stage of siege. Decrees were held to be equivalent to laws; the Cortes was silenced by the simple expedient of dispensing with its attendance. The entire system of education was revolutionized in a day, the Supreme Board being summarily dismissed, to make room for priests and laymen more fanatical than priests, and all teachers suspected by the local priesthood of Liberalism being placed at the disposal of the Bishops. All Liberal newspapers were suppressed, and their editors in many instances deported. All other newspapers and books were placed under a rigid censorship. Any expression even in society reflecting on the Queen, or the Church, or established order was declared a crime punishable as treason. All municipal bodies were abolished as "centres of disaffection" and replaced by juntas nominated

them profoundly, but that special scenes do, that they like to see how the new trap-door works, what effects the new machinery can produce, what is to be hoped from the hitherto unknown tragedian or actress. To all such, as well as to all serious politicians, we commend for close watchfulness the present situation in Spain. A very great problem is working itself out in that country, which ought to test the truth of many of the laws upon which far-sighted politicians are wont to rely. According to the theories accepted almost universally among Englishmen, a very few months ought to witness the outbreak of a revolution in Spain much more thorough in its ends, in the first changes it will secure and the effect it will exercise upon the national fortunes, than any which has as yet agitated that great country. English Liberals, for example, hold almost as dogmas that it is impossible for an inde- from Madrid and "amendable to ideas of pendent European Government to recede discipline." And finally, a reign of terror far without imminent danger; that the reign was established over individuals, families of obscurantism cannot be reintroduced ex- suspected of Liberalism being seized by the cept temporarily without an outbreak; that score, -more than 150 in Barcelona alone a régime of mere repression is certain to end in one day, and either deported to the in an explosion; that government by the tropical island of Fernando Po, a doom al sword leads to swift bankruptcy; that no most worse than death, or thrown into prisons modern people, if really a people, that is which no Howard has ever cleansed. The independent of external restraints, can be French papers which still receive some few replaced under the régime of the Middle letters from Madrid declare that the prisons Ages. Well, Queen Isabella of Spain, un- are full to bursting, that the Queen drives der conditions not unfavourable, is putting out only amidst a guard of cuirassiers, that all those propositions to the test. She is all Madrid only waits its turn to undergo deliberately trying to govern as Philip II. the penalty of being suspected. All Spain in might have tried to govern had he been fact is not only under martial law, but marprovoked by sufficient resistance, to carry tial law as administered in Jamaica, among out the Bull against civilization, to transform negroes, and by Mr. Eyre. Silence reigns an organized if imperfect State into a des- throughout the land, silence as of men expotism of the older fashion. Inspired, it pecting death, or of troops expecting imwould seem almost certain, by that passion mediately the order to close for action. of bigotry which at forty descends on some Continental women like a cloud, and from which few Bourbons have ever been wholly exempt, the bigotry which springs at once of satiety and faith, she a few months ago dismissed Marshal O'Donnell, who was a despot of the modern or Cæsarist type, a man without scruples but with eyes, and called to the Vizierate Marshal Narvaez, with Gonzales Bravo for Grand Executioner. To them she entrusted the task, of which Louis XIV. once dreamed, of restoring Spain to orthodoxy, of suppressing whatever institutions, or persons, or forms of civilization were inconsistent with the limitless sway of Rome. The Vizier accepted his mission and went to work with that clearcutting audacity, that supreme confidence in will, that contempt for all rights visibly in the way which characterizes the East. All

The Vizier has done his work thoroughly, has stretched the power of the sword to its logical extent, and Spain is at this moment governed as Philip II. governed her, on the same principles, more cruelly applied, and for the same ends. The great experiment of open war against modern civilization, of an avowed and determined attempt to restore the past, has been tried by a man competent to his task, with means adequate to his end, and amidst circumstances singularly propitious. Spain, however disaffected it may be to the reigning Sovereign, and we question whether active dislike, is not confined to the cities, is essentially monarchical, and is, moreover, hampered by accident in its choice of Sovereigns. It has no cadet branch to use of the sacred House. One Bourbon of the Spanish branch is as bad as another, and of the French branch there is

but one remaining, a childless and feeble | objects and modes of action. Sooner or old man. The Italian Bourbons are the later, and usually very soon, it goes too far, Spanish branch over again, with their bad does something which alienates the people qualities intensified; and against the Or- to such a degree that it is left without footleanists, who stand next, the Emperor of the hold, like a tree sawn through, which falls if French has either issued his veto or is fully a bird but light on a drooping branch. In believed in Spain to have issued it. The Spain the momentum which will overturn Duke de Montpensier is not worth a war the tree is pretty sure to come from the side with France, and no idea of the Hapsburgs, of the Church, which, being guided by what who failing the Bourbons would be the it deems conscience, and not by earthly wis"legitimate" Sovereigns of Spain, seems dom, cannot rest until its conscience is satisever to cross the Spanish mind. The mal- fied, which, again, when the Church is the Rocontents are thrown back as it were violent- man, can never in modern society occur. Eily on the idea of a Republic, which would in ther the soldiery will be irritated-as the Lea month be Federal, and is therefore out of gion of Antibs have been - by the interferthe question; or on a totally new election, ence of priests, or the towns will be excited which would not impress the populace; or by some tax essential to the rehabilitation of on the House of Braganza, which would the Church, or, what is most probable of all, bring a glorious dowry, but is as much dis- some menace will be held out to the lay liked in Spain as the Stuarts were in Eng- owners of clerical property, one-third of land, and has as its head a man who-who Spain. The priests will never surrender is not fitted at all events to regenerate an their design of recovering their vast estate, empire. Then the mass of Spaniards are the Queen never be convinced that she did still orthodox to a certain degree, and re- not sin in sanctioning that "spoliation," the gard oppression in the name of the Church new owners never be satisfied that they much as Scotchmen regard oppression upon have a shilling secure while Father Claret Catholics, as something which is disagree- reigns in the Queen's closet. It is in that able to their judgments rather than revolting direction that the explosion ought to come, to their secret instincts of right. The Church but even if fire be kept from that magazine, is of course strongly on the side of the ex- the explosion, by all the laws which govern periment, and the Church, powerless for political forethought, cannot be long deinitiative, is still strong to paralyze popular layed. Despotism such as that of Narvaez, emotion, while the Army all over the Conti- a despotism radically different from Cæsarnent obeys, for a time at all events, the ism, because it seeks the welfare of the power which avowedly makes the sword throne and the Church instead of that of the masses, may be borne resignedly for years by the passive section of the people, but it does not attract them, while it stings every other section into strong hostility. It excites deadly dislike in all Liberals, in all sceptics, in all secularists, and even in Spain those three classes make up a great section of the people. It irritates statesmen by superseding them for soldiers, worries the cities by restricting municipal movement and making securities worthless, frets the squirearchy and the peasants by making the titles to estates uncertain. Above all, it alienates the Army, by making it feel that it is amenable to priests, by shutting up all roads to success save one, and that one of which soldiers are always impatient, and by the favouritism which inevit ably follows on a triumph of personal rule. Every natural defence of the throne is struck with dry-rot, till, as in the Neapolitan case, a King surrounded by tried counsellors, by a great army, and by the prestige of centuries, may be banished from

supreme.

Why, then, do we, in common with all Liberals, believe that the experiment must fail, must sooner or later produce an explosion amidst which the last Bourbon throne left standing in Europe will probably disappear? Because right is stronger than wrong? Scarcely, for though that is an ultimate law, still Ferdinand of Naples, who did all Isabella of Spain is attempting to do, died quietly in his bed a crowned King, and the penalty fell only on his comparatively guiltless successor. Because a people can never be kept down for long by a national army? Scarcely, for France is so kept down, and we have no more proof that the Spanish peasant hates despotism than that the French peasant detests Cæsarism as long as it benefits himself. It is because we believe that no despotism, and especially no Legitimist despotism, and most especially no Legitimist despotism seeking elerical ends, can in these days keep itself from going too far. It is too conscious of the permeating power of light, and therefore too timid, too his throne by a mutineer who arrives in a suspicious, too violent and revolutionary in | railway carriage.

The explosion is certain, and we judge that this time it will be fatal to the Bourbons, simply because they are, in this instance, the incumbent matter. The Queen, and not the Cabinet, is sitting upon the valve. A mere Legitimist might be forced to change her Cabinet, but how is a Catholic lady to be forced to change her confessor? and while the confessor remains the system of which he is the keystone will remain also. The Church will, and indeed can, compromise nothing; and the Queen having identified herself with the Church, the nation can meet only the inexorable nonpossumus, against which reason and menace and prayer alike dash in vain. Force alone remains, and the recent coup d'état has brought the Queen of Spain face to face with a people who, in that very coup d'état see that there is no security save in her dismissal, no compromise possible between civilization and the Church which does not commence with her dethronement. She is accumulating on herself all the hatred which priestly government engenders plus all the risks to which the old despotisms are exposed, is defying the nation without relying heartily on the Army. If the Liberals tests are true, and we believe them, the hour is fast approaching when the last reigning Bourbon, the last of the House which in 1848 filled four thrones, will have passed unregretted into the exile which swallows kings.

From the Saturday Review. TURNING-POINTS.

the trouble, we could form a shrewd guess at the future of the persons who compose the circle of our acquaintance. If it were not for the perturbations and errors caused in the computation by the happy decease of rich uncles, the appearance of unexpected heiresses, and the sudden collapse of jointstock banks and companies, such prophecy might be reduced to a certainty. When we turn from the contemplation of others to ourselves, we lose our power of foreseeing the consequences of the most simple actions. Wise saws and maxims are invented by philosophers and moralists for the express purpose of keeping us straight, but the chief use we make of them is for moralizing over the conduct of our friends. Men do not look ahead, and seem to have no capacity for looking ahead; they drive through life with the cheery nonchalance that may be supposed, on large railway lines, to be the prominent characteristic of the drivers of excursion-trains. There are probably some five or six turning-points in everybody's history. Five or six times in his life a man has to exercise his faculty of choice, and to take one out of several cross-roads, none of which lead to the same goal, and all of which lead somewhere. If one were inclined to add one more moral precept to the unvalued heap of axioms, mottoes, and maxims which the world has got piled up at its side, one could not perhaps do better than urge in neat and appropriate terms the necessity of coming slowly and carefully to our turning-points. As a rule, we dash at them with the impetuosity of a Zouave. Looking back from the pinnacle of maturer judgment upon the errors we have commited in our course, the majority of us might have reason to admit that all the waste of life and energy and happiness that has befallen us comes from nothing else than this, that once or twice we have taken the wrong turn, simply and solely because we chose to approach our turning-points at a rush.

The choice of a profession is the first serious election upon which a man's fortunes depend, and for which he is generally himself responsible. Up to that point parents and guardians have had the exclusive priv ilege of blundering about him, and have probably used the privilege unflinchingly, in sending him, if they but knew all, to the wrong school, the wrong university, and the wrong college. Unfortunately, the choice of a profession is about the last which can be managed safely by a young man who knows little or nothing of the world. Most of us drift, it may be, into our professions. Somebody who is in the college boat

CONSIDERING that the human race has now been going on for a considerable time, it is curious to reflect how little progress has been made by it in the art of managing life scientifically. Hardly anybody has got a distinct notion of what he means his life to be when he begins it, or takes the pains to arrange it and map it out beforehand. People scarcely attempt to do so in the case of their children, and still more seldom in in their own.

Spectators who are familiar with a man's education, habits, income, and family influence or connections, can generally predict within fair limits what will be his ultimate lot; and though opportunity or misadventure continually puts their calculations at fault, upon the whole, if we were to take

« ZurückWeiter »