« AnteriorContinuar »
dirt. Instead of betraying the Sicilians, Aberdeen would have told them from the first that they had no business to rebel against their good king of lazzaroni, He would not have patted the back of that strange hybrid, an unhappy “reforming' Pope, till he had compromised the poor thing so far that it could not decently escape from liberalism. Nor would Aberdeen have hired French bravos or Cossacks to do his work in Rome and Hungary, and then have come down to an 'honourable House' with a lie in his mouth, exclaiming—'How very deplorable: but indeed I knew nothing about it, had no means of preventing it.' Aberdeen and his gang would have shown us Tyranny as it is, not dressed blasphemously à la Saviour; and so perhaps would have roused even the comfortable atheists on 'Change to take the part of Justice. At the worst we should not have been humbugged. We might have had to shoot our rulers, on finding them (to wit, the aforesaid lions and unicorns) to be veritable wild beasts; or we might have been overrun by them; but one consolation would have remained to us :that of not being tricked by cowards, of not having to loathe our tyrants as treacherous, which is far worse than brutal.
The English and continental peoples should fully understand that the defeat of Liberty in this last campaign is owing--next to their own disunion-to the meddling of the English Whigs, the 'non-interventionists.' An open Tory Government must have stirred what little spirit yet lurks in English hearts; and even if we had been overcome, the attempt had kept their hands full, and given that advantage to our friends abroad. But we left the Whigs to do their best, which means always their worst; and so they kissed Liberty with their poisoned mouths, and sent out their secret agents to plot against the peoples. From the commencement of the Lombard war they sought how best they could serve Austria, sacrificing Italy to their dread of French republican intervention. And when, despite their intrigues, the Republic was proclaimed at Rome, they agreed for French intervention (no longer republican) to bring back the Pope. They forbad the Sardinian and Neapolitan fleets to raise the Austrian blockade of Venice; but they left free passage for the French fleet to Civita-Vecchia. Everywhere else their conduct was the same. The Russians were let into Hungary ; and when a British fleet passed the Dardanelles, to aid the hospitable’ Turk, it was but to secure the safe custody of Kossuth in an Asian prison, because they feared to have bim slain. And now they have helped the Czar to put down the last remains of German freedom in Schleswig-Holstein.
What have they gained by thus making the English name abominable in Europe? What they sought. They have put off some little while the inevitable advent of Republicanism. And wherever they have seemed to work for Freedom, they have acted on the principle of the cowardly animal who bites off the part
a How friendly their position with the Gallician murderers we may understand from an Austrian ambassador daring to propose to Lord Palmerston an union of Austria, Piedmont and England, to betray Italy, and oppose republican France. (See Baron Hummelauer's note to Lord Palmerston, London, 23rd of May, 1847,--published by the House of Commons.) And what will Englishmen think of their Minister at Turiu writing home that the cabinet of Vienna had 'unhappily lost an opportunity against Italy'! (Abercromby to Palmerston, March 25, 1848.) Heaps of similar evidence might be added from the same source. And how much has never come to light?
which the hunters want, in order to escape with its miserable life. But the Whigs never bite boldly; they nibble bit by bit, hoping to trick their adversary.
They have done something more, but without intending it. They have made any middle course for the future impossible: for they have proved that the ‘Moderates' are never to be trusted. So much the better : but no thanks to them. From end to end of Europe there is now no corner where men will trust to English Whiggism or its like, or to the pretence of compromise in which Whiggism so much delights. The Whigs and their constitutional'allies, Prussian, Piedmontese, and French, are now known. The trench is at last dug between the Anarchs and the Republicans. It is no more to be filled up or bridged with the promises of traitors. France, Germany, and Italy, know at length that their worst enemies are the half-friends at home; and the struggle recommences with no further opportunity for the part of the bats in the fable. There is no alternative now but to be Cossack or Republican. So much the better.
But here in England well-meaning people of little wisdom would fain persuade us that things may be different. Here the Whig dodge may still override our salvation, why not for ever? ‘Republicanism does not tempt me,'-writes a very sincere person and a fair representative of this class ;-'if I were French, or German, or Italian, it might ; but we English may, I think, whenever we have made up our minds, obtain all we want without turning Republican. The position is worth reconnoitring, for it is the stronghold of all those who, acknowledging the evil of misgovernment, will yet make no endeavour to get a real government : the great and peculiarly English party of political tinkers and damers.
We may get all we want when we have made up our minds to display that amount of combined strength which will terrify the Government, or the governing class, into giving it to us. There can be no doubt of it: their fears will yield us anything. But think well if it is a healthy state of things for a nation to be not organized under a good government to do its work, but in a continual whirl of agitation in order to get from day to day even leave to begin the day's work. Is this increasing fashion of political strife (two hundred and twentythree meetings in one year for the single matter of financial reform) to become the normal condition of English life? Will some of our quiet friends think of this. Is the work of English reformation and regeneration so light that we can afford time for all this preliminary speech-making, agitation, and hubbub of strangely discordant sound ? Must we give up all hope of ever being able to set our house in order, to go about our daily work quietly, like sensible men; and are we to be for ever doomed to waste our best energies in ‘moving for leave' to begin. At this present time we have Clartist meetings, Socialist meetings, Financial-Reform meetings, Church-Reform meetings, Tenant-League meetings, Education meetings, and how many more ? and this perennial babeldom is the very heaven on earth of those who are not to be tempted by Republicanism. Try to form some idea of the amount of time and real energy spent upon all these partial endeavours to get leave from "Government' to begin to work; and then say if you ought to be satisfied with such a state of confused life-wasting, when one combined effort might supersede the necessity of any more leave-asking, by
enthroning , in the place of the present hinderers, the people's own servants, to organize the people's work.
Look again at this education question. The whole nation (saving a few bigots not worth counting) is con aced of the want here. The Government alone is in the way. If there was a republican Government, the wish of the People once uttered would be enough. A session could not pass without a nieasure of education. There would then also be an organization for ascertaining the most popular view as to the methods of education. But now, till the whole country can be called from its occupations, to crowd round platforms, to pass resolutions, to waste no end of time and energy in vain endeavours to convince an unwilling Ministry, and till at last men lose temper and threaten the Ministry with consequences,-no education shall be commenced. Then the same system of turmoil has to be repeated for the next move. Again and again to the end of the chapter. And this is called orderly government; and we pride ourselves upon our English methods of governmental and popular procedure, Is it because Englishmen are so combative, that their best ideal of a Government is one that like the dull ass' will hardly mend its pace for beating ? It is as if a man might have his choice of two servants,-one incompetent, perverse, and faithless, and another who would work like himself and he chose the first for the mere pleasure of being badly served at the cost of much painstaking and bullying. But to expect figs from thistles is the one article of belief ever fondly cherished by the constitutional Englishman who is not to be tempted by Republicanism.
Let him hug his impracticable creed. And yet, even though some miraculous interposition could make the impossible possible, it would not avail him: for whether he like it or not, some form of the Republic is inevitable in England. Inevitable, spite of any amount of sceptical laughter. The deathblow to Monarchy (only struck down by Cromwell) was given when your constitution declared that the monarch could do no wrong, so rendering him equally powerless for good. We have now only the pageantry, without the reality: and reality is royalty. The part of Hamlet is left out, and we have only the accessoriesafter the fact. It is all as false as the sham hind-quarters of the Pope in the procession. When the assembled crows can pluck up their scarecrow, and say to it, Here shalt thou stand and not there; and cau treat with it, and make it, from an infinite, a quite finite Constitutional Scarecrow,—what is to be looked for?' The only purposes for which the remains of the said Scarecrow have been galvanized are to sign state-papers and to spend a certain amount of our hardearned money,
The first-it was found during the last illness of George the fourth of offensive memory-could be done just as well by a common stamp: and the writing was only the more legible. The last--the tax-eating purpose is already pronounced intolerable by that influential section, the Financial Reformers. When Mr. Cobden talks of 'garrisoning our present institutions,' be sure he is not pledging himself to maintain an expensive- -Scarecrow, Mr. Carlyle calls it. Let the Manchester men come into power, and they will soon
b I think it is Carlyle who gives the story of the Pope, who, having on certain days to be carried in procession, in a kneeling posture, to bless the people, had a pair of false legs, etc., made to do the reverential half of the ccrcmony, while he sat comfortably in front.
(may none of their deeds be worse !) scrape down the gilding of the image till the poorest gentleman will be ashamed to stand for Sovereign.' And when the new Ministers bring in their recommendation for a president ‘to do the puppeting cheaper,' or to get rid of the puppets and pay only for the stamp;-what will prolong the last legs of Royalty then? Will my Lords get up a rebellion ? They could not raise a troop of horse among them. Will the clergy denounce the sacrilege from their pulpits? They will be busy anointing the trade-president. Has not the English Church always stuck to the dominant power ? Will the special-constable class turn out again for their Sovereign ? Not they, if saved sovereigns jingle in their consciencious pockets. It was for the shop, and not from any spurring of loyalty, that they rallied behind the police on the tenth of April, their one day of orderly renown. There will be some lamentations from a few old Tory Jeremiahs, some groans from under the red and blue and black cloth of the professions,' some lifting up of hands and wagging of sapient heads in the Universities: and so an end. The Royal GALVANIC APPARATUS stopping, through a wise economy of oil.
This natural course of things is foreseen plainly enough by the class which has its gain as priests of the image. Lord John Russell knew well enough what he was about when he undertook the dirty work of all the despots in Europe. He was only trying to copy Metternich, to keep up the galvanic batteries for his own term of office. And are you innocent enough to be gulled by his recent gentle pelting of the Pope ? He picked the stones out of the mud before he threw it. Here too is a purpose to be answered, at which bis good friend and ally on St. Peter's Ottoman will not be too seriously offended. Why not use the occasion to split up the new union in Ireland, to ruin the Tenant-League, already threatening an invasion of our land? Why not try the 'excellent Prussian policy of getting up a sham-fight to amuse our combative subjects ? The more peaceable will have their heads turned at the Exhibition of all Nations ;' and so we provide for all. And old Leviathan holds out his stupid nose for the hook.
In truth the English people have been sadly at fault in this Pope-and-Russell business. They should have taken his little lordship at his word, struck again the ball he had flung them, and sent it on beyond his overtaking. The bishops, of course, did not want this ; neither did the small popes of the dissenting ‘persuasions. The radicals, who dine with Palmerston, who vote against a free press, and who are only careful never to damage the Worst Ministry,—they also were discreet enough not to push the “unfortunate business' too far. And honester men could only find the time auspicious for reässerting the principle of religious freedom; and saw no further. The matter is to be settled, they say, by a concordat, or some other compromise with Rome. And liberal “ politicians' call that judicious. Judicious enough for Lord John and the Pope, who would no more really quarrel than would Peachum and Lockit. Is there no fear for religious and political freedom in the embrace of these two worthies, now their mock squabble has served its turn? O, by all means keep the breach open. Do not lose so good an opportunity for striking down the papacy-the key-stone of the despotic arch.
It is perhaps too late. But the true policy of the people was this:-to have joined the anti-papal movement; to bave refused to allow the broad political
question to be entangled and lost in the quasi-religious and sectarian one; to have said to their catholic brethren-Your religion shall not be interfered with, but we repeat what even our old catholic monarchs (before there was any question of the religion) have ruled, we will have no foreign authority, no SECRET POLITICAL SOCIETY in England; to have said to the very reverend and savage denouncers of the impudent invasion,—Your sincerity shall be tested—we will have a guarantee for this religious freedom you, and we too, so much desire,— we will strike the scarlet abomination ’(why are your clerical cheeks red too?) in its own den. This blind Authority, which kings openly and whigs underhandedly support, because they know their own divinity is of the same nature, we will put it down. Our arm is long enough to reach the Vatican itself. Our arm, -indeed that is not needed: but our English word, voiced in old heroic style, shall forth, bidding the French Usurpation recall its Cossacks from the Eternal City, and cheering the Italian Exiles with one hearty, world-rejoicing shout*England will stand by you, go in and establish your Republic.' Then would be no fear of papal aggression upon England, nor opportunity for setting Catholics and Protestants by the ears, to subserve the far-reaching machinations of Jesuitism or the paltrier occasions of its more dastardly accomplices.
Here too, as elsewhere, the golden mean of Whiggism is to be abhorred. There is no decent middle course, no possible half-way resting-place, between Tyranny and Freedom, between Anarchy and Organization, between Wrong and Right. We must make up our minds one way or the other. The present policy, however prettily it may be disguised, will only keep us in a disreputable state of vacillation till it can push us by the fouler way into the arms of Evil. For a limited monarchy is at best a temporary, and withal a very bungling expedient: somewhat over-costly too, in economic days. The rule of the shopkeeper, come when it may, will after all be only a transition state, a trade whiggism, a cheap but intolerable establishment of Chaos, which the ever-during laws of Nature will condemn. We no more than other countries will be able to stop either at the bizarrerie of 'constitutional monarchy', or at the anarchical perfection of ‘laisser-faire.' We must either again revert to the rule of the Few or the Onedespotism, even though our Pope should be the best of communist patriarchs ; or go forward to the organization of free men, to the progressive rule of the Majority, to the Republic. The time is fast coming in which we shall have no alternative but to be Russian or Free. We cannot stand still amid the revolutions of the world. European Progress must, sooner or later, involve us. It may be well to choose betimes between THE POPE AND THE REPUBLIC.