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Results of Bunsen's Speculations.
to which we referred at the outset, unsolved. We admire him for his genius, his learning, and the noble stand he has made for religious freedom, and we by no means underrate him for his many and great virtues both public and private. But how, with his evident desires, and his earnestly expressed intentions, to labour in these pages for the restoration of belief in the Bible, he could have treated it as he has done, we are utterly at a loss to comprehend. But we see what havoc the prov fevdos of a false philosophy, the impossibility of a miracle, makes in the pleasant paradise of the soul, even in the case of the very best disposed. What trees of life it roots up, what rivers of truth it cuts off at the fountainhead, what paths of softest sward, and green alleys of delight, it strews with rugged flint! This plan of pacification, what is it but to make a wilderness, and call it peace? You tell us the Bible is the Book of Mankind, and you confiscate it for the use of the few dozens of believers in the Almighty Syllogism; that it is the Mirror of the World's History, and you dash it into a thousand fragments!
To ourselves, as Englishmen, the publication before us suggests some weighty lessons. The author, as we have seen, has lived among us so long as to have become, in his general opinions and tastes, more than half an Englishman. He is, moreover, a man of strong religious feeling. But what must be the natural tendencies of that 'higher criticism,' as it is called, among our German neighbours, seeing the work it has done even in such a mind? The Hegelian, pantheistic jargon, which pervades this performance, and the sweep of destruction which the author sends over the documentary proofs of revealed religion, while still professing himself a believer in it, give us a significant token of what we may ourselves expect from the prevalence of such speculations in this country. We may hope, indeed, that our English common sense will be found proof against not a little of this nonsense; and an influence much above that will, as we earnestly trust, be vouchsafed to us. But the tendency of things on which we have to reckon, and which it will behove us to oppose ceaselessly and to the utmost, is that which seems to aim at showing how small a residuum of anything really Christian may be retained, and a man be still entitled to call himself a Christian. The effect of this licence in Germany has been, as we have shown, so destructive of everything that may be honestly called Christianity, that the rush now is in the direction of a servile Puseyism, as a half-way house, we fear, towards a still more servile Romanism. An utter contempt of the past has thus prepared the way for a base surrender to it. Chevalier Bunsen looks on with amazement, and would call the renegades from their course, not
seeing that it has been precisely such teaching as his that has put them on this false track, and that every utterance he makes acts upon them only as a stronger impetus Romeward. We hope to be more than ever vigilant as to what is doing among ourselves in this way. Sound and honest criticism we shall be prepared to welcome, come whence it may; but we shall spare no pains to expose the pretentious, the hollow, and the mischievous.
ART. IX.-Papers relative to Disturbances in China.
THE question which has been put to issue by the Dissolution of Parliament is, substantially, whether the Government of this country is to be conducted henceforth by the present Ministers, or is to be transferred to a combination of parties whose distinguishing characteristics, if installed in power, resting neither in their Chinese policy nor in their general principles of domestic legislation, would be marked simply by a difference of administrative ability. For while, on the one hand, it is generally agreed that the leaders of opposite parties in the House of Commons have long ceased to be actuated by any broad distinctions in their first principles of home government, it is clear, on the other, that whatever were the Administration now in power, it would have no alternative but to adopt the Eastern policy initiated by Sir John Bowring, and sanctioned by Lord Palmerston.
The latter of these considerations is very obvious. If Lord Palmerston's Government had unhappily withdrawn in consequence of the recent decision of the House of Commons, a new Administration must have been formed upon the principle either of adopting, as now inevitable, a line of policy which its members, nevertheless, professedly condemned, or of yielding to the insults and the perfidy of the Chinese Commissioner. In the former event, the only appreciable result would have been found in an increased difficulty of bringing the Chinese authorities to terms. In the latter, the massacre of our subjects in China, for which such a decision would be the signal, and the consequent extinction of our eastern trade, would have involved us, not in a renewal of the present isolated measures of retaliation, but in the prosecution of a deadly war.
Theory and Practice of the Conservatives at Issue. 511
If the necessity of this alternative were not too clear to call for any auxiliary illustration, such an illustration might fairly be drawn from an analysis of that grotesque quaternion-represented by Mr. Gladstone, Lord John Russell, Mr. Disraeli, and Mr. Cobden-under whose momentary union Lord Palmerston's Government sustained an exceptional defeat. Now, it is well known that Lord John Russell was himself the organ, in the House of Commons, of the Government under which the Chinese war of 1840 and 1841 was instituted; and which, whether right or wrong in the adoption of that policy-and we firmly believe them to have been right-based their casus belli upon grounds of complaint virtually similar to those under which the present retaliation, on the part of our forces, has been taken. It will also be remembered that the war thus commenced by Lord Melbourne's Ministry was vehemently opposed by the leaders of the Conservative party up to the period of their accession to power in August, 1841, when they immediately were transformed into vigorous supporters of a belligerent policy. Lord Derby became Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, and assumed the immediate responsibility-not of sending out, in the recent words of Mr. Gladstone, a message of mercy and peace-but of earnestly prosecuting hostilities. Lord Aberdeen, meanwhile, was Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs; nor did Sir James Graham fail to share the custody of the signet with those two Ministers. Mr. Gladstone, during the continuance of a war thus anticipating great commercial ends, was Vice President of the Board-we allude to the Board of Trade-as most directly interested in its prosecution. Mr. Disraeli, meanwhile, cordially voted with the Government. Finally, Mr. Herbert, as Secretary of the Admiralty, was himself the official organ for the direction of those naval operations which included the attack on Canton by the squadron of Sir William Parker.
Nor can it be alleged that this parallel is unjust, on the ground that we were then actually at war with China, and that it was the duty of a new Administration to maintain the honour of the country, however immoral they might profess to regard the original declaration of hostilities. For if the honour of the country were then involved in our withdrawal from a war alleged to be unjust, it would now be equally involved in a withdrawal from demands supported by military demonstration. Nor would the difficulty of obtaining terms, as arising from the implacability of the Chinese authorities, have been greater in the one instance than in the other. Two considerations are, therefore, obvious-the one, that the coalesced Opposition have not hesitated, in a closely parallel instance, to pursue military operations when in office which they
denounced as immoral when in opposition; the other, that this inconsistency totally destroys the value of their opinions.
It is clear, therefore, that the question of the Chinese disturbances has, in reality, little or no practical concern with the issue which the Dissolution of Parliament is now submitting to the constituencies of the country. That issue virtually is,-by which of two great and rival parties is the Government of England to be maintained? What those parties are is well known. We have an Administration resting rather on public opinion, than upon numerical support within the narrow arena of Parliament-which is pledged to progressive social improvement, but is ready to discountenance all rash innovation. On the other side, we have a combination constituted of two distinct parties, of which the one has been ostracised for its shortcomings in war, and the other for its electioneering corruptions.
Into the manner in which it is proposed to amalgamate a party led by the zealous defenders of the late Sir Robert Peel, with a party led by the malignant vituperator of that statesman, and differing from each other in every element of political character, we do not now propose to inquire. Indeed, the internal divisions of each of these two chief sections of the existing coalition are so vital as to render it very difficult to restore so much as the unity of each. The Peelite party in the House of Commons, for example, is represented by Sir James Graham, Mr. Gladstone, Mr. Herbert, and Mr. Cardwell. Of these four public men, Mr. Cardwell has become a convert to the Ministerial doctrines of finance, while Mr. Herbert has become an opponent of Parliamentary Reform. If we pass to the Conservative side of this Coalition camp, we find nearly equal distinctions of opinion between Mr. Disraeli, Mr. Walpole, Sir John Pakington, and Mr. Henley. It is clear that a party so constructed-and illustrating the familiar satire of Burke, 'such a tesselated pavement; here a bit of white, and there a bit of black'-could only exist, while clamouring for the necessity of avowed principles,' by consigning every subject of practical administration to the latitudinarianism of open questions.'
The expediency of the recent Dissolution had been apparent during a considerable period before the decision of the late House of Commons upon the Chinese question. The gradual and progressive dislocation of parties within the House itself had begun to compromise the stability of Government-so far, at least, as that stability could at all depend upon a Parliamentary verdict and, consequently, to render the progress of public business insecure. This Parliament, it will be remembered, was summoned by Lord Derby in 1852. It then recognised three
principal parties: these were, the Conservatives, who were in power-the Liberals, led by Lord John Russell-and the Liberal Conservatives, led by Sir James Graham and his friends. The two latter of these sections united in the same year to form a Government when the Conservative Ministry resigned. The Liberal Conservatives fell away in 1855, and re-established a third distinct element in the House. The subsequent division of the Liberals on questions of Finance-and that of the Conservatives on the question apparently of confidence in their own leadersincreased this dislocation at length in a degree wholly inconsistent with the first principles of party government.
When, therefore, a narrow majority of sixteen voices, in a House of Commons comprising 654 members, became finally at issue with the policy of the Executive on a pressing question of the hour, it became immediately obvious that the Government and the House could no longer co-exist. Which, therefore, should give way? It must have been foreseen from the moment that this collision was anticipated that, on the present occasion, the Legislature must yield; both because the unprecedented majorities which the same Ministry had commanded during the two previous Sessions had not ceased to indicate its possession of the general confidence of the House of Commons; and because that House had arrived at a vote upon a question of pressing importance, and which could not be acted upon without fatally dislocating the whole Eastern policy of the State, and without endangering the lives of those who had settled upon the Chinese coasts, on the faith of our jealous maintenance of stipulations which the Chinese authorities had repudiated.
Nothing can, in truth, be more strictly constitutional, in spite of all that has been asserted to the contrary, than the present. antagonism between the Executive and the House of Commons, and the repudiation on the part of the former, pending an appeal to the country, of the vote at which the House arrived. It must be remembered, in the first place, that the balance of the Constitution-the Crown and the House of Lords-is already on the side of our Chinese policy. The case would have been somewhat different if Lord Derby had not solicited the verdict of the House of Lords on the same question with that on which Mr. Cobden obtained the decision of the House of Commons. We are perfectly ready to acknowledge the ascendency of the latter body in the Legislature; but we know of no doctrine of our constitu
These majorities were-on Mr. Disraeli's motion on the conduct of the war, 100; and on the Report of the Sebastopol Committee, 107, in the year 1855; and on the two corresponding questions of importance in 1856, these majorities were respectively 127 and 194.