Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

found Russia an Empire of savages, and left it an Empire in contact with, aud almost a part of, the civilized world. It was not only that when Peter visited William III. 11: i h was unknown to England, but there was nothing as to Russia which Europe was in the least concerned in knowing. Its only port was Archangel; Sweden cut it off from the Baltic; Turkey from the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. It had no cities, or wealth, or learning, or armies fit to cope with Europeans. Peter said that the Swedes taught him the art of war, and he luarnt it as a perfectly new lesson, in a manner that made the Swedes repent that their teaching had been so good. Peter, under circumstances so very unfavourable, determined thnt Russia should not only be a great Power, but a great naval Power. He set himself to lenrr. the rudiments of the art of shipbuilding, and he framed in the dockyards of Saardam and Deptford the project of giving Russia a navy. No instance of the expansive power of the political mind of man is more extraordinary than this. Peter entirely out of his own head invented the notion of Russia, a landlocked Power, becoming the mistress of great seas and the owner of gigantic navies. It was only part of the same idea, and not so striking a part, that he should have nursed the ambition of making Russia a Power distinct from other European Powers, and yet one of their number. Sweden and Poland collapsed before Russia, because they were little Powers affecting to be great ones. Turkey, unprotected by Western Europe, had no sufficient basis of resistance. That Uii ; i p should have learnt some of the arts of civilization from communication with Europe; that, possessed of the^e arts, she should have largely influenced Europe; that, with an autocratic Government and a brave, submissive population, she should have gradually won her way on all sides, i.s not so very wonderful. What is wonderful is, that the author of her greatness should have seen that a seaboard and a navy were necessary to her, aud might be won by her, at a time when she had no ports, no ships, and no seamen. The only Russian who could see this was the Sovereign, and the Sovereign, in order to realize his visions, had to begin at the beginning and learn the merest rudiments of seamanship and ship-building. Perhaps thy only parallel in modern times is that of Frederick the Great, who conceived and carried out the equally difficult project of making a tiny State without a frontier and without a military ally, by mere force of

pluck, drill, good management, generalship, ; and economy, fight at the same time Rusj sia, Austria, and France. Prussia is in itself almost as unfit to be a great military I Power as the Russia of Peter's earlier days was to be a great naval Power. But in both cases genius and patience, and the infinite attention to details which is the soul of patience, and perhaps of genius, won their way, and secured the desired end.

But although great works cannot be done without great workmen, still the great workman must have adequate materials in order to achieve his purpose. Frederic'; the Great could never have fought the Seven Years' War unless his subjects had been akin in temper and stubborn courage to their descendants whom we have seen marching through France in 1870. Peter could not have made Russia great unless there had been a Russia to make great. And the greatness of Russia is due to three causes. In the first place, there was the influence of a spirited, though utterly unscrupulous, set of alien adventurers whose talents were bought by Russia just as the statues and pictures and books of ancient Europe were bought to add to the nascent glories of St. Petersburg. In the next place, there was a frugal, hardy, devout, abundant peasantry, gifted with a great courage and a readiness to die for their Czar the fruits of which were made sufficiently apparent to the world of our days at the Alma aud Inkerman. The present Emperor has at his absolute disposal sixty millions of subjects and a million and a quarter of trained men. Lastly, the most effective spiritual agency known to the modern world, that of the Russian clergy, is entirely at the command of the Czar. When Peter was in England he undertook, at the instigation of Lord Carmarthen, to permit the introduction of tobacco into Russia; and when it was represented to him that not only had the laws previously prohibited smoking, but that the clergy had denounced the practice as damnable, Peter replied that he knew how to manage the priests. Certainly the Czars have shown that they know how to manage their priests. The Russians are among the most devout of men. They are always rendering external homage to the signs of religion. They bow in adoration before every cross, and always have a pictured Saint at hand to bless and protect them. The clergy have all the respect and reverence paid them which flow from the hearts of an uninquiring and admiring people. But the whole of this spir

itiial power is an engine in the hands of the Czar. The priests only exist to serve him and to promote his glory. The Russian Church is at once a State Church with the extreme of vitality in itself and with the extreme of subordination as regards the State. Peter, who was entirely free from anything like high principles, and allowed nothing to stand in the way of his niins, persecuted the Protestants in his dominions to the complete satisfaction of his clergy; and his policy has been that of his successors, and has met the reward anticipated. The State upholds the Church with au iron hand, and the Church has no desire except to please the Emperor. If all that has taken place in the last ten years in the way of religious persecution in Russia, under a singularly mild and noble-minded Czar, could be made known, Europe would stand aghast. The Orthodox Church is maintained and its area extended at any cost; but the Orthodox Church is not like the Catholic Church in Catholic countries, a foreign and usurping Power — it is heart and soul the handmaid of the Emperor. For anything like it we must go out of European experience, and look at Mahommedau countries. The Czar is the head of the Faithful, just as the Sultan is the head of the Faithful, and the only difference is that the spiritual power of the Sultan is crippled, while that of the Czar is not crippled, by the opposing influence and the abiding control of foreign nations.

When great men have done great things for a nation it is natural and right that occasionally the greatness of these men and of their work should alone be brought into prominence, while their bad qualities and the evil they wrought are for the moment cast into the shade. It is quite true that, in spite of all these processions to and from the statue and the Cathedral, Peter was in real life a gross, cruel, sensual savage. But it is not for Russia to think of this at a time when the accident of what is pronounced to be an anniversary recalls, to the exclusion of everything else, what Peter was, and what he did, for Russia. It may, however, be observed that the works of great men have always two sides and operate in different directions. They have a constructive and at the same time a destructive force. Pc-ter's object, in which, seconded by his able successors, he fully succeeded, was to make Russia at once great and part of the European system. Having become great, and having become part of the European system, the country inevitably tends to change its character, and to lose'

those special elements of greatness by which it has risen. Russia become* every year more like Europe. Its peasantry, and even its clergy are on the road to change. We often hear of the Old RusRian party, and perhaps are not clear what it means, and what it desires. Its meaning and its desires become clear if we regard it as the party which wishes to accept one half of Peter's work without accepting the other half. It wishes that Russia should be great in Europe without begoming European. It thinks that the status of the peasantry and of the clergy shall be immutable. It disregards the general politics of Europe anil clings to Panslavisra. It dreams not of absorbing Poland, but of blotting it out. It has persistently, and not unsuccessfully, resisted the benevolent and liberal policy of the Czar. It recoils from Germany because German thought and German training are the doors of European influence. Peter is at this moment, as it were, fighting with himself in Russia. The ladder by which his family has mounted to the heights of its dizzy ambition declines to be kicked down. Russia, to be all that he wished, needs to be transformed, and the transformation of a people is a long and difficult process. There are eddies and backwaters in the current of every national history, and Russia will only with many struggles and many retrograde movements become really European. There will be many scratchings of the skin, and the Tartar will always be revealed beneath. Of the ultimate result there can be little doubt. Russia will be gradually changed, but in calculating the effects of the change, which will be, it may he expected, favourable both to its real and apparent greatness, it must be borne in mind that the new Russia will not be the old, and that the peculiar instruments by which the dreams of Peter were realized will have ceased to exist.

From The Spectator. THORBECKE.

By the death of its Premier, Johann Rudolf Thorbecke, Holland has lost one of ;he most distinguished statesmen who have ever adorned, not only the Netherlands, not unfruitful of great political capacities, aut any country of Europe. It was of Thorbecke that Palmerston said that he wad ;< statesman too great for his little country ; and the recollection of his life and

labours must indeed excite the regret, coupled with no envious feeling towards the sturdy commonwealth which honoured him as its foremost citizen, that nations of greater weight and influence have been so destitute of public servants whose names deserve to be mentioned in the same breath with his. Seventy-four years of age, for Thorbecke was born in 1798, represents a vast total of useful activity in a man who could not be inactive and who had been engaged from his earliest year in the discharge of public or quasi-public functions. It was not, however, without a feeling of painful surprise, notwithstanding that rumours of M. Thorbecke's failing health had been current for some months past, that the news of the death of the venerable Premier broke upon the community. It was but a fuw days since he had made his last appearance in the Chamber, during the discussions upon the Income-tax. The step had been taken contrary to the advice of his physicians, and the knowledge that there was more of patriotic zeal than personal prudence in the proceeding no doubt contributed to swell the enthusiastic applause with which he was greeted by the Deputies. It is now certain that the exertion directly accelerated his death. At the time, however, the spectacle of Thorbecke in his accustomed place was little calculated to prepare his colleagues and countrymen for the sad event that was so soon to supervene. We might almost say of him, as of Chatham, that his last breath was given to the service of his country. Perhaps it was not less emblematic of the man, that while Chatham fell on the wellknown occasion, the last energies of Thorbecke were expended on a question of budgetary finance. In his time he had been called to decide upon the gravest questions which could affect the public welfare, but in every question it was his character to be equally thorough, reflective, and resolved.

In an epoch which beholds the son of a Marseilles locksmith on the Presidential Throne of France, the rise of Thorbecke may not excite any extraordinary emotion. It was none the less remarkable in a high degree. Born at Zwolle, the unpretending capital of the province of Overyssel, and of parents in but middling circumstances, there was little connected with his origin which seemed to promise the favour of fortune. In truth, it was not to fortune, but to brilliant abilities, which his parents spared no pains to cultivate, that he owed his advancement. An undergraduate of ibe University of Lcydcn at the age of

nineteen, within three years he had obtained the baccalaureate, with the highest honours which the University could bestow, and when he departed from the collegiate cloisters in 1820 to visit during two years the German seats of learning, it was with a promise from the University authorities that a professorship awaited his return. Unfortunately for his chances of promotion at Leyden, the young Thorbecke, who had already conceived strong affinities for the philosophy of his countryman Spinoza, came back additionally imbued with the theories of Schelling and Hegel, and at the heterodoxy of his speculations on God and existence the Dons of Leyden refused him the promised professoriate. For two years more Thorbecke returned to Germany, and at the University of Gottingen continued to extend his studies, and, it may well be imagined, to view, no dull or indifferent • observer, the political spectacle which Germany presented at the time. In effect, the four years, 1820-24, which Thorbecke spent in Germany were singularly rich in matter of interest and instruction. The sovereigns and half-sovereigns were fulfilling on all sides their engagement to grant constitutions in that fashion which, after provoking the wrath of the Democrats of 1818, has finally ended in their present mediatization and Prussianization. At the same time, Wurtemburg was already the focus of democratic sentiments which were blasphemies in the ears of the Holy Alliance. There were other matters al-o upon which a keen young Hollander could take notes. In 1821 the injuries which the commerce of the Rhine had immemorially suffered from the various customs and tolls imposed by Holland at the mouth of the river, and by the German States along the banks, provoked the angriest feelings between the Dutch and Germans, feelings which more than once subsequently nearly exploded in war. When a quarter of a century later, Thorbecke was Premier of Holland, one of the most important measures of his ministry was the abolition of all navigation dues in favour of the vessels of such nations as were ready to return the compliment to the traders of Holland. In 1825 King William I. acknowledged the rising fame of the young savant t>y nominating Thorbecke to a professorship in the University of Ghent, more tolerant or less devout than Leyden. After the revolution which divorced Holland and Belgium, Leyden became sufficiently relaxed from its former austerity, to grant at length a professorial chair to its distinguished alumnus. At Leyden especially did Thorbecke succeed,

by hi? teaching on history and political economy, in creating a school of Liberal politicians, who were later to fight side by side with him in effecting the reformation of the Constitution. After the abdication of William I. and the accession of William II., the voice of Thorbecke became louder and bolder in the demand for constitutional reform. Almost everything required reform. Religious equality and ministerial responsibility were among the most indispensable requirements, and Thorbecke was already preparing that alliance between the Catholics and the Radical Protestants to which Holland owes the present Constitution. The work of victory was not easy. It took the salutary terrorism of 1848 to impress the wisdom of progress on the minds of the Court and the old Conservative party. In 1849, Thorbecke became Premier. He had previously been the President of the Commission for revising the Constitution.

- The first Ministry of M. Thorbecke lasted from 1849 to 1853. During that period, old, illiberal Holland came to on end, and new Liberal Holland was born. The activity of the Premier extended over the entire field of communal, provincial, and electoral legislation, and the existing Dutch Constitution is the work of his hands. Had the principles of religious equality been adopted five-and-twenty years earlier, the secession of Belgium might never have taken place. Even in 1M9, however, Thorbecke had enough to do to vanquish the resistance of the ultraProtestant party, which regarded as a profanation the grant of Catholic emancipation in the country of William of Orange. In 1853 that ultra party, whose chief, M. Groeu van Priuaterer, would have satisfied the ideal of Mr. Newdegate, found its opportunity in an event analogous to the one which in England produced the Durham Letter and the Ecclesiastical Titles' Act. In the month of March of that year the Pope made Utrecht the seat of a Catholic Archbishopric, with

I suffragan sees at Haarlem, Bois-le-Duc, and Ruremond. Immediately the tide of Protestant feeling rose against the invasion, and as Thorbecke professed himself to be unable to perceive the danger, and, on the contrary, opined that the organization of the Catholic Church was a matter for that communion exclusively, he was compelled to retire in favour of the more orthodox zeal which suited the fervour of the moment. As a considerable body of the Dutch Liberals hated the Pope with still greater energy than they loved liberty, the affair was the beginning of a scission in the Liberal ranks which has lasted to the present day, and which partly affords the reason why Thorbecke, though always remaining the acknowledged head of Dutch Liberalism, was reproached with a tendency to fall behind the more advanced members of the school. In 1862 and 1870 Thorbecke was again called to form Ministries. With regard to his religious opinions, beyond the fact of his early Spinozaism, perhaps the most definite indication of his views is afforded by the oration which M. Jolles, the Minister of Justice, delivered over his remains, in which we are assured that the deceased had firm faith in the existence of God, and the immortality of the soul. In summing up the character of Thorbecke, we should probably be right in describing him as having never lost that professorial and didactic turn which his more youthful pursuits had lent him. No man was ever more careful in following the Baconian rule of the multiplication of instances, in storing hia mind with the results of wide and varied experience, which his vast grasp of principles easily enabled him to reduce to order and sequence. With all his strong convictions, however, he had the Palmerstonian knack of never failing to present an unruffled geniality to the worst of circumstances. Along with the professor, not only the man of State, but the man of the world, were happily blended in Thorbecke.

Nor the least interesting page yet to be unfolded in the world's history is the future of the Chinese; in the meantime it is very evident that they hare no intention of being ignominiously exterminated like other barbarians, but are tent upon qualifying themselves to compete with more enlightened nations. A very curious movement has, it seems, been lately organized

I by a Chinaman, named Yung Wing, who was 'educated in Yale College, in the United States, having for its object the sending of Chinese youths to that country to be educated at the expense of the Government. Yung Wing has hod some difficulty in winning over the Chinese authorities to his project, but it is stated that he bos at lost been successful, and the 'plan if go far advanced that the first instalment of youths will be sent to the United States this summer. They are already selected, and are now in course of preparation at Shanghai. The necessary officers all named by the Chinese Government have been appointed to accompany them, and a large fund has been appropriated for their support. It is asserted that this fund amounti to over two million Mexican dollars, for which a cert-am percentage of the Customs has been pledged in the manner usual to the Chinese. The plan is understood to be as follows : — "1. The Chinese Government to select thirty boys each year for five consecutive years, 159 in all, without distinction of rank, and by competitive examination. They are to exceed fourteen years of age when they enter the preparatory school at Shanghai, or other schools th;it may be hereafter organized. The education in Chinese is to be made as thorough as possible before they are sent to the United States. 2. the entire expense for their living and education in the preparatory schools, and afterwards in the United States, to be borne by the Chinese Government. 3. An educated native of rank to be appointed as instructor to each yearly instalment, who is to accompany it to the United States and remain with them. He is charged with the instruction of the youths in the Chinese language, and literature while in the United States and is expected to devote a portion of each week to that object. 4. The students are required to prosecute their studies for twelve years, and during that time each is expected to acquire one of the professions. They will not be allowed to remain in the United States beyond that period, nor to enter upon any private occupation. 6. Each student is regarded from the first as in the service of the Chinese Government. A definite rank is assigned to him on the completion of his education, and he goes immediately into service on his return. In case the parents of any student are in narrow circumstances a certain indemnity is to be paid them by Government. 6. The students will not be permitted to divest themselves of their Chinese nationality or become naturalized citizens of the United States." An attempt, it is believed, will be made to secure the admission of a part of the students to the Military School at West point and the Naval School at Annapolis. i>Bu Mall Gazette.

Some interesting passages from the letters of Frederick the Great to Voltaire, relative to the retention of the Jesuits in Prussia after the abolition of the order by Pope Clement XIV. in 1773, are quoted by the Sreslau Gazette :

I have only kept them (says the King) for the education of youth. The Pope has already made them harmless; they can no longer, like Sampson's foxes, set on fire the fields of the Philistines. . . . Heretic and infidel as I am, I

have retained the Order in Silesin. My reasons are, first, that there are no Catholics here who possess a scientific education; we have neither Orivtorians nor Piarists, and the other monks are ignorant and unpolished. It was therefore necessary to retain the Jesuits, as otherwise the national schools would have to be given up. . . Moreover, our parish priests derive all their knowledge of theology from the Jesuit University of Breslau, and if the Order were abolished, which would also lead to the abolition of the university, it would be necessary to send Silesians to Bohemia to study theology, which is contrary to the principles of the Government.

... If these reasons do not satisfy you, I will add another and a stronger one. I promised in the Treaty of Dresden to maintain religion in my dominions in stalu quo. Now I found Jesuits in my new dominions; I must therefore leave them there. Catholic Sovereigns have a Pope at their disposal who can free them from their oaths at his pleasure. But I have no one to do me such a service; I must keep my promises, and the Pope would consider it a desecration to give me his blessing. ... I know the Jesuits have intrigued and interfered in questions of State, but the Government must look to that Why did it give way? It is not Tellier, but Louis XIV., that was in fault.

It should be observed, however, that Frederick the Great was not always so scrupulous in his adherence to treaties, and that he was hardly likely to put forward his obligations under the Treaty of Dresden as his strongest reason for retaining the Jesuits in Prussia, if there were not another in the background which, in his eyes at least, was much more important.

Pall Mall.

It is stated that the Prince of Orange's indisposition is of a nature to cause the gravest anxiety. He was unable to attend the funeral of his aunt, the Princess Henry, and is reported to be suffering from a severe depression of the nervous system, which only time and a strict attention to his physicians' prescriptions are likely to get the better of. His illness is the source of all the more uneasiness as his death would affect most materially the succession to the throne. The present king's uncle has only one daughter; his brother, husband of the Princess Henry recently deceased, has no children, and the Prince of Orange has only one brother—the Prince Alexander. If the former, therefore, were to die without issue, his younger brother would be the last of his line, and, in the event of his also being childless, the crown would go to some German prince — a Saxe-Meiningen or a SazeWeimar — for the House of Orange would have become extinct This is an eventuality looked forward to with much apprehension and dread by the Dutch people. p«ii Malt

« AnteriorContinuar »