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THE position of this country, with reference to its foreign relations, is the most extraordinary that ever existed in the world. It may safely be pronounced without a parallel in the whole history of mankind. It is hard to say whether it is most marvellous considered with reference to the moral influence of past effort, or the real weakness arising from present blindness. We are at peace; we seem to be secure; all the appliances of civilised life are at our command; wealth, unbounded at least as regards territorial magnates and wealthy millionaires, is around us; every one is set on gain, or straining after pleasure; and yet the hand of the spoiler is ready to wrest it all from us; and, amidst our feasting and rioting, the handwriting is already to be seen on the wall which foreshadows our doom. But our people are blind to the warning-they are deaf to the voice of the prophet, prophesy he never so clearly. They have yielded to the influence of great and long-continued prosperity, won by the strenuous efforts of former times. With the usual disposition of mankind to believe in the perpetuity of the present order of things, they think they are always to be at peace because they are so now, and have long enjoyed that blessing; and flatter themselves that their enjoyments are never to be abridged, nor serious sacrifices required of them, because they have so
VOL. LXXII.-NO. CCCCXLI.
long been blessed with an exemption from the serious national ills of life. Like the human race in the days of the Flood, they will be marrying and giving in marriage when the deluge comes upon them.
Although, however, this is, beyond all question, the general condition of the influential part of our people, and though it is the apathy or indifference of this majority holding power which has so long stamped indecision and want of foresight on the measures of Parliament, yet, upon a nearer examination, it will be found that it is not an absolute majority of the whole nation which has been struck with this judicial blindness, but a part of it only. Unfortunately, however, it is a very large class that has been so affected, and precisely the class in whom political power is now vested, and who, as they return, at present at least, the representatives of a majority of the seats in the House of Commons, have in effect acquired the government of the whole nation. It is in the boroughs-above all, the manufacturing boroughs-that the belief has spread most widely that war is an evil which has entirely disappeared from the world; that we shall never be called on to fight again; that pacific influences and moneyed power will henceforth entirely regulate the affairs of nations; and that muskets and cannon, swords and cuirasses, sail of the line and steamers of war,