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which makes the task more than ordinarily difficult, especially to an intellect not framed to take pleasure in general conclusions, and from his imagination being one which does not naturally conceive in separate wholes, and most of all from an insufficient sense of the duty incumbent on us all to form determinate estimates of the characters and moral incidents around us, if only to form the landmarks and bearings for our own conduct in life. These features remain in the Newcomes. There is the same want of ballasting thought, the same see-saw between cynicism and sentiment, the same suspension of moral judgment. The indignant impulse prompts the lash, and the hand at once delivers it; while the mind hangs back, doubts its justice, and sums up after execution with an appeal to our charity on the score of the undecipherable motives of human action, the heart's universal power of self-deception, and the urgency of fate and circumstance.
Art. VIII.- FOREIGN POLICY AND THE NEXT
CAMPAIGN. General Treaty of Congress, signed at Vienna, June 9, 1815; with
the three Annexes thereto, relating to the Kingdom of Poland and the Republic of Cracon. Presented to the House of Commons by her Majesty's command, in pursuance of their Address of
the 8th February 1847. Correspondence between Viscount Castlereagh (late Marquis of Lon
donderry) and the Emperor Alexander of Russia, respecting the Kingdom of Poland. Vienna, October, November, 1814. "Pre
sented to the House of Commons, February 1847. Papers relative to the Suppression, by the Governments of Austria,
Prussia, and Russia, of the free State of Cracon, and to the Annexation of that State to the Austrian Empire. Presented
to both Houses of Parliament, February 1847. Correspondence respecting the Relations between Greece and Turkey.
Presented to both Houses of Parliament, 1854. Eastern Papers. Part XIV. Negociation at Vienna. Presented
to both Houses of Parliament, 1855. Geschichte des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts seit den Wiener Verträgen.
Von G. G. Gervinus. Erster Band. Leipzig, 1855. The Polish Question, from the German Point of View. By a German
Statesman. Translated from the German. London, Ridgway.
1855. THE “happy new year” prayed for to-day by millions of affectionate voices,-may God copiously send it into private homes, where so much remains sheltered from the world's storms! In
public affairs it is more than can be expected; and to exchange such a wish in the family of States would imply a levity and delusion secure of disappointment. At the opening of 1856 Europe knows that the holiday-mood must be short, and the welcome to the fresh time graver than its wont. Stern duties await it; sharp sufferings impend over the months; unforeseen complications cannot fail to arise; and never was there a time when clear commanding purpose was more needful in our statesmen,-purpose flexible enough to take up the exigencies of the hour, but unbending in its general direction. Dearth of the chief necessaries of life, a falling scale of wages, a rising rate of discount, the European spread of speculative finance, the need of loans by every body at once, growls from Washington, insolence from Naples, snares from Vienna, plots at Athens, the permanent ban of the Pope on one ally, and the periodic shots of assassins at another, are omens serious enough to make wise men anxious, and to fill the irresolute with dismay. None of these things move us, however, in comparison with one all-pervading doubt, which adds a darkness to them all : have we public men to lead us with honour through ?-men who see their
and mean to hold to it; who, having shaped the nation's best instincts into well-defined conviction, will prevent popular fickleness by constancy in themselves ; men in whose hands the character of England and the menaced interests of Europe are really safe? This miserable doubt has settled with a fixed depression on the spirit of the country. Banished for a moment by happy words at Romsey, it is brought back by sinister overtures to Knowsley; forgotten in the excitement of the morning's telegraph, it returns at night with some “ four-point” rumour from Vienna or Berlin. Nor does this painful feeling merely express a personal estimate of this or that cabinet-minister or political leader; though it would find perhaps excuse enough in the shifting parts of last year's drama at St. Stephen's. The distrust is chronic, and has a deeper seat. It is impossible to follow men who cease to lead, and put faith in those who have no faith themselves; and it has become the habit and accomplishment of public men to substitute the feeling of the country for their own; to dispense with positive convictions, and calculate instead the pressures of the hour; to determine the right by merely assuming the inevitable. It was the fatal merit of Sir Robert Peel to leave this type of political morality as a heritage to his successors. Thrice compelled to surrender to the force of national opinion, and frankly accepting it as a decree of nature, he acquired a matchless tact in yielding; he consecrated the virtue of legislative acquiescence; he identified statesmanship with the art of discriminating between ripe and unripe social wants. The admiration felt for his later career has raised this narrow and imperfect conception into the Englishman's very ideal of political wisdom; giving it a prominence far greater, it is probable, than it had in his own mind. No doubt it is of the utmost moment to read aright the indications of matured opinion, to avoid protracted resistance to an irreversible national will, and pronounce the verdict when the hearing has fairly closed. The institutions of a country are thus kept in permanent harmony with its life, and escape the danger incurred either by their own inertia or by the pedantry of doctrinaire politicians. Yet, after all, this is but the negative side of government. We cannot consent to reduce it thus to a mere registering-machine for jotting down the wishes of the hour, and forming the diary of a people's humours. Let the popular sentiment act freely on the statesman; but if he does not powerfully react on the popular sentiment, and mould the very opinion which he obeys, he is unworthy to occupy his higher point of view:
" Celsâ sedet Æolus arce Sceptra tenens, mollitque animos, et temperat iras." But, according to our modern doctrine, the political Æolus is but paid clerk to the national anemometer; his cave of the winds, a snug office in Downing Street; and his business, to supply paper for the wriggling lines of the outside breeze, and keep the pencils pointed that are broken by jerks of storm. The opinions prevalent in a free country are surely not to be treated as a destiny, on which the minister has but to wait; they are, to an extent little suspected, an undetermined power that waits for him. True, a host of other causes is ever impressing a certain direction on the mind of a people ; but among them all there is no influence more steadily intense than the earnest expression, by trusted leaders, of a clear political creed and noble public aims. To abdicate this function, to leave it in the state to which the last five-and-twenty years have reduced it, amounts to a confession of unfaithfulness or incapacity. A few weeks ago a candidate for the suffrages of an Irish constituency, in responding to public curiosity as to his political principles, replied, what you please, gentlemen.”* Perhaps he intended to parody
* the pliant policy which he emulated only too well.
If in relation to home questions there is some plea for the helpless sequaciousness of our statesmen, they cannot be excused
• “You will naturally feel anxious to know what particular line of politics I shall advocate, in the event of your choosing me for your representative My answer is plain, - Whatever you please. Although a Catholic in religion, yet I am not bound by the Church; and you have only to direct me how I will [sic] act, and I shall endeavour to advocate your interests."— Address of Mr. C. Fitzgerald Higgins to the Constituency of Armagh.
from the duty of directly forming and frankly leading the public sentiment on foreign affairs. Here, for the most part, they have it all their own way. Their councils are unembarrassed by any predetermination in the national will; and if their hands are weak, it is not from excess, but from defect in the “pressure from without.” It is Lord Palmerston's own remark, that “
one of the chief difficulties in foreign affairs which are felt in this country is due to the circumstance of the great bulk of the people having cared, generally, little about them.” And if it be so, who is to blame? Are the English people, by some fatality of nature, incurious of the world's affairs? or doomed, by insular position, to a blind selfishness? or so pleasantly asleep on their own liberties, that no cries of wrong or alarm of advancing tyrannies can wake them? Such reproaches may be pardoned when flung at us from Kossuth's embittered and scornful spirit; but an English minister should know that opportunity has never been given us in vain to acknowledge our international obligations and venture something for truth and justice in other lands. Queen Elizabeth had no occasion to complain that her people knew nothing of the Netherlands, and were without opinions about Spain. Cromwell found in a vigorous policy abroad his best support amid dangers at home. Íslands and stations in every sea, -not won by colonisation only, but the award of treaty or the prize of war-Gibraltar, Jamaica, Malta,-attest the habitual participation of this country in all great European movements. How, indeed, is it possible that a people with possessions in every habitable latitude of both hemispheres, with kindred and commerce in every civilised land, with the exiles of every continen
. tal convulsion living on their shores,-should be indifferent to “foreign affairs ?"
We feel precisely as much interest about them as our rulers choose to invite ;-intense in crises of conflict like the present, when sacrifices are needed and publicity is inevitable; relaxing in peaceful times, when controversies are removed from the battle-ground to the diplomatic desk, and the guardians of the “public service,” freed from immediate dependence on the national spirit, relapse into mystery and silence. A sustained interest in foreign affairs requires a sustained knowledge: and this it has never been the habit or inclination of statesmen to keep up in parliament or the country. The fitful temper of the public mind has faithfully responded to their alternations of confidence and reserve; and as soon as they feel it their duty to hold us wide-awake to the course of external politics as it proceeds, instead of coming down upon us three or four times in a century for a sudden verdict on all the arrears, we are convinced that the last“ difficulty" to be felt will be that of general apathy. As it is, our English habit of
government indemnifies itself for yieldingness in home affairs by uncommunicative independence in foreign policy. Imperial confidences, secret correspondence, Olmütz meetings, take place; the most important reports stream in from our ambassadors or consuls-general, mutual engagements distinctly affecting the future of Europe are covertly taken by foreign states ;—and unless some stray whisper reaches the sensitive ear of stock-brokers and
own correspondents,” the facts first come to light a year or two after they have passed from diplomacy into history. We are far from attributing this to any official selfishness or treachery; far from wishing to see a parliamentary usurpation of the executive. We have less fear of un-English compromise, and of failure in political vigilance from the statesmen of any party, than from the middle-class multitude of the House of Commons; and believe that no instrument of government is so good as a reasonable trust reposed by parliament in the advisers it has given to the
But this trust, to be reasonable and free from caprice, must be intelligent. The management of international relations must cease to be an occult art. The minister must actively contribute from the materials in his custody to the formation of a sound public opinion, and the maintenance of a lively national interest in foreign affairs. Let his rule be to tell all that he fairly may, instead of only what he absolutely must. Let him rely for support, not on his ability to outwit bewildered countrygentlemen, and alight upon his feet however rudely tossed in the Yorkshire blanket of a peace-debate, but on the clear judgment of a country prepared and instructed by himself, and the openeyed assent of a parliament not wholly left to the “light of nature" for its notions of the boundaries, races, religions, the recent history, alliances, and treaties, of all states beyond a vacation-trip. Had it been an established usage for the Secretary of Foreign Affairs to take leave of every session of parliament with a survey of external relations, we believe that, at the outbreak of the present war, the government would have seen its own way more clearly, have had a better understanding with the country, and been spared the distrusts and desertions which have so much paralysed its action.
The second year of the war is over; and with it ought to pass away the mere tentative conduct of it, which is permissible, even inevitable, in its first stage. The time has come when it must cease to be a mere military struggle, and must be taken possession of and directed by a comprehensive policy. And that policy ought to be a new one, computed, not on the necessities of 1815, but on the living conditions of our own generation, and the manifest requirements of the opening time. It is vain to urge that the status quo ante, or the four points, because once