In looking at this wreck of Governments in all European countries, there is one consideration that suggests itself, sadly elucidative of our modern epoch. These Governments, we may be well assured, have gone to anarchy for this one reason inclusive of every other whatsoever, That they were not wise enough; that the spiritual talent embarked in them, the virtue, heroism, intellect, or by whatever other synonyms we designate it, was not adequate, — probably had long been inadequate, and so in its dim helplessness had suffered, or perhaps invited falsity to introduce itself; had suffered injustices, and solecisms, and contradictions of the Divine Fact, to accumulate in more than tolerable measure; whereupon said Governments were overset, and declared before all creatures to be too false.
This is a reflection sad but important to the modern Governments now fallen anarchic, That they had not spiritual talent enough. And if this is so, then surely the question, How these Governments came to sink for want of intellect? is a rather interesting one. Intellect, in some measure, is born into every Century; and the Nineteenth flatters itself that it is rather distinguished that way! What had become of this celebrated Nineteenth Century’s intellect? Surely some of it existed, and was “developed” withal; — nay in the “undeveloped,” unconscious, or inarticulate state, it is not dead; but alive and at work, if mutely not less beneficently, some think even more so! And yet Governments, it would appear, could by no means get enough of it; almost none of it came their way: what had become of it? Truly there must be something very questionable, either in the intellect of this celebrated Century, or in the methods Governments now have of supplying their wants from the same. One or other of two grand fundamental shortcomings, in regard to intellect or human enlightenment, is very visible in this enlightened Century of ours; for it has now become the most anarchic of Centuries; that is to say, has fallen practically into such Egyptian darkness that it cannot grope its way at all!
Nay I rather think both of these shortcomings, fatal deficits both, are chargeable upon us; and it is the joint harvest of both that we are now reaping with such havoc to our affairs. I rather guess, the intellect of the Nineteenth Century, so full of miracle to Heavyside and others, is itself a mechanical or beaver intellect rather than a high or eminently human one. A dim and mean though authentic kind of intellect, this; venerable only in defect of better. This kind will avail but little in the higher enterprises of human intellect, especially in that highest enterprise of guiding men Heavenward, which, after all, is the one real “governing” of them on this God’s-Earth:— an enterprise not to be achieved by beaver intellect, but by other higher and highest kinds. This is deficit first. And then secondly, Governments have, really to a fatal and extraordinary extent, neglected in late ages to supply themselves with what intellect was going; having, as was too natural in the dim time, taken up a notion that human intellect, or even beaver intellect, was not necessary to them at all, but that a little of the vulpine sort (if attainable), supported by routine, red-tape traditions, and tolerable parliamentary eloquence on occasion, would very well suffice. A most false and impious notion; leading to fatal lethargy on the part of Governments, while Nature and Fact were preparing strange phenomena in contradiction to it.
These are two very fatal deficits; — the remedy of either of which would be the remedy of both, could we but find it! For indeed they are vitally connected: one of them is sure to produce the other; and both once in action together, the advent of darkness, certain enough to issue in anarchy by and by, goes on with frightful acceleration. If Governments neglect to invite what noble intellect there is, then too surely all intellect, not omnipotent to resist bad influences, will tend to become beaverish ignoble intellect; and quitting high aims, which seem shut up from it, will help itself forward in the way of making money and such like; or will even sink to be sham intellect, helping itself by methods which are not only beaverish but vulpine, and so “ignoble” as not to have common honesty. The Government, taking no thought to choose intellect for itself, will gradually find that there is less and less of a good quality to choose from: thus, as in all impieties it does, bad grows worse at a frightful double rate of progression; and your impiety is twice cursed. If you are impious enough to tolerate darkness, you will get ever more darkness to tolerate; and at that inevitable stage of the account (inevitable in all such accounts) when actual light or else destruction is the alternative, you will call to the Heavens and the Earth for light, and none will come!
Certainly this evil, for one, has not “wrought its own cure;” but has wrought precisely the reverse, and has been hourly eating away what possibilities of cure there were. And so, I fear, in spite of rumors to the contrary, it always is with evils, with solecisms against Nature, and contradictions to the divine fact of things: not an evil of them has ever wrought its own cure in my experience; — but has continually grown worse and wider and uglier, till some good (generally a good man) not able to endure the abomination longer, rose upon it and cured or else extinguished it. Evil Governments, divested of God’s light because they have loved darkness rather, are not likelier than other evils to work their own cure out of that bad plight.
It is urgent upon all Governments to pause in this fatal course; persisted in, the goal is fearfully evident; every hour’s persistence in it is making return more difficult. Intellect exists in all countries; and the function appointed it by Heaven, — Governments had better not attempt to contradict that, for they cannot! Intellect has to govern in this world and will do it, if not in alliance with so-called “Governments” of red-tape and routine, then in divine hostility to such, and sometimes alas in diabolic hostility to such; and in the end, as sure as Heaven is higher than Downing Street, and the Laws of Nature are tougher than red-tape, with entire victory over them and entire ruin to them. If there is one thinking man among the Politicians of England, I consider these things extremely well worth his attention just now.
Who are available to your Offices in Downing Street? All the gifted souls, of every rank, who are born to you in this generation. These are appointed, by the true eternal “divine right” which will never become obsolete, to be your governors and administrators; and precisely as you employ them, or neglect to employ them, will your State be favored of Heaven or disfavored. This noble young soul, you can have him on either of two conditions; and on one of them, since he is here in the world, you must have him. As your ally and coadjutor; or failing that, as your natural enemy: which shall it be? I consider that every Government convicts itself of infatuation and futility, or absolves and justifies itself before God and man, according as it answers this question. With all sublunary entities, this is the question of questions. What talent is born to you? How do you employ that? The crop of spiritual talent that is born to you, of human nobleness and intellect and heroic faculty, this is infinitely more important than your crops of cotton or corn, or wine or herrings or whale-oil, which the Newspapers record with such anxiety every season. This is not quite counted by seasons, therefore the Newspapers are silent: but by generations and centuries, I assure you it becomes amazingly sensible; and surpasses, as Heaven does Earth, all the corn and wine, and whale-oil and California bullion, or any other crop you grow. If that crop cease, the other crops — please to take them also, if you are anxious about them. That once ceasing, we may shut shop; for no other crop whatever will stay with us, nor is worth having if it would.
To promote men of talent, to search and sift the whole society in every class for men of talent, and joyfully promote them, has not always been found impossible. In many forms of polity they have done it, and still do it, to a certain degree. The degree to which they succeed in doing it marks, as I have said, with very great accuracy the degree of divine and human worth that is in them, the degree of success or real ultimate victory they can expect to have in this world. — Think, for example, of the old Catholic Church, in its merely terrestrial relations to the State; and see if your reflections, and contrasts with what now is, are of an exulting character. Progress of the species has gone on as with seven-league boots, and in various directions has shot ahead amazingly, with three cheers from all the world; but in this direction, the most vital and indispensable, it has lagged terribly, and has even moved backward, till now it is quite gone out of sight in clouds of cotton-fuzz and railway-scrip, and has fallen fairly over the horizon to rearward!
In those most benighted Feudal societies, full of mere tyrannous steel Barons, and totally destitute of Tenpound Franchises and Ballot-boxes, there did nevertheless authentically preach itself everywhere this grandest of gospels, without which no other gospel can avail us much, to all souls of men, “Awake ye noble souls; here is a noble career for you!” I say, everywhere a road towards promotion, for human nobleness, lay wide open to all men. The pious soul, — which, if you reflect, will mean the ingenuous and ingenious, the gifted, intelligent and nobly-aspiring soul, — such a soul, in whatever rank of life it were born, had one path inviting it; a generous career, whereon, by human worth and valor, all earthly heights and Heaven itself were attainable. In the lowest stratum of social thraldom, nowhere was the noble soul doomed quite to choke, and die ignobly. The Church, poor old benighted creature, had at least taken care of that: the noble aspiring soul, not doomed to choke ignobly in its penuries, could at least run into the neighboring Convent, and there take refuge. Education awaited it there; strict training not only to whatever useful knowledge could be had from writing and reading, but to obedience, to pious reverence, self-restraint, annihilation of self, — really to human nobleness in many most essential respects. No questions asked about your birth, genealogy, quantity of money-capital or the like; the one question was, “Is there some human nobleness in you, or is there not?” The poor neat-herd’s son, if he were a Noble of Nature, might rise to Priesthood, to High-priesthood, to the top of this world, — and best of all, he had still high Heaven lying high enough above him, to keep his head steady, on whatever height or in whatever depth his way might lie!
A thrice-glorious arrangement, when I reflect on it; most salutary to all high and low interests; a truly human arrangement. You made the born noble yours, welcoming him as what he was, the Sent of Heaven: you did not force him either to die or become your enemy; idly neglecting or suppressing him as what he was not, a thing of no worth. You accepted the blessed light; and in the shape of infernal lightning it needed not to visit you. How, like an immense mine-shaft through the dim oppressed strata of society, this Institution of the Priesthood ran; opening, from the lowest depths towards all heights and towards Heaven itself, a free road of egress and emergence towards virtuous nobleness, heroism and well-doing, for every born man. This we may call the living lungs and blood-circulation of those old Feudalisms. When I think of that immeasurable all-pervading lungs; present in every corner of human society, every meanest hut a cell of said lungs; inviting whatsoever noble pious soul was born there to the path that was noble for him; and leading thereby sometimes, if he were worthy, to be the Papa of Christendom, and Commander of all Kings, — I perceive how the old Christian society continued healthy, vital, and was strong and heroic. When I contrast this with the noble aims now held out to noble souls born in remote huts, or beyond the verge of Palace–Yard; and think of what your Lordship has done in the way of making priests and papas, — I see a society without lungs, fast wheezing itself to death, in horrid convulsions; and deserving to die.
Over Europe generally in these years, I consider that the State has died, has fairly coughed its last in street musketry, and fallen down dead, incapable of any but galvanic life henceforth, — owing to this same fatal want of lungs, which includes all other wants for a State. And furthermore that it will never come alive again, till it contrive to get such indispensable vital apparatus; the outlook toward which consummation is very distant in most communities of Europe. If you let it come to death or suspended animation in States, the case is very bad! Vain to call in universal-suffrage parliaments at that stage: the universal-suffrage parliaments cannot give you any breath of life, cannot find any wisdom for you; by long impiety, you have let the supply of noble human wisdom die out; and the wisdom that now courts your universal suffrages is beggarly human attorneyism or sham-wisdom, which is not an insight into the Laws of God’s Universe, but into the laws of hungry Egoism and the Devil’s Chicane, and can in the end profit no community or man.
No; the kind of heroes that come mounted on the shoulders of the universal suffrage, and install themselves as Prime Ministers and healing Statesmen by force of able editorship, do not bid very fair to bring Nations back to the ways of God. Eloquent high-lacquered pinchbeck specimens these, expert in the arts of Belial mainly; — fitter to be markers at some exceedingly expensive billiard-table than sacred chief-priests of men! “Greeks of the Lower Empire;” with a varnish of parliamentary rhetoric; and, I suppose, this other great gift, toughness of character, — proof that they have persevered in their Master’s service. Poor wretches, their industry is mob-worship, place-worship, parliamentary intrigue, and the multiplex art of tongue-fence: flung into that bad element, there they swim for decades long, throttling and wrestling one another according to their strength, — and the toughest or luckiest gets to land, and becomes Premier. A more entirely unbeautiful class of Premiers was never raked out of the ooze, and set on high places, by any ingenuity of man. Dame Dubarry’s petticoat was a better seine-net for fishing out Premiers than that. Let all Nations whom necessity is driving towards that method, take warning in time!
Alas, there is, in a manner, but one Nation that can still take warning! In England alone of European Countries the State yet survives; and might help itself by better methods. In England heroic wisdom is not yet dead, and quite replaced by attorneyism: the honest beaver faculty yet abounds with us, the heroic manful faculty shows itself also to the observant eye, not dead but dangerously sleeping. I said there were many kings in England: if these can yet be rallied into strenuous activity, and set to govern England in Downing Street and elsewhere, which their function always is, — then England can be saved from anarchies and universal suffrages; and that Apotheosis of Attorneyism, blackest of terrestrial curses, may be spared us. If these cannot, the other issue, in such forms as may be appropriate to us, is inevitable. What escape is there? England must conform to the eternal laws of life, or England too must die!
England with the largest mass of real living interests ever intrusted to a Nation; and with a mass of extinct imaginary and quite dead interests piled upon it to the very Heavens, and encumbering it from shore to shore, — does reel and stagger ominously in these years; urged by the Divine Silences and the Eternal Laws to take practical hold of its living interests and manage them: and clutching blindly into its venerable extinct and imaginary interests, as if that were still the way to do it. England must contrive to manage its living interests, and quit its dead ones and their methods, or else depart from its place in this world. Surely England is called as no Nation ever was, to summon out its kings, and set them to that high work! — Huge inorganic England, nigh choked under the exuviae of a thousand years, and blindly sprawling amid chartisms, ballot-boxes, prevenient graces, and bishops’ nightmares, must, as the preliminary and commencement of organization, learn to breathe again, — get “lungs” for herself again, as we defined it. That is imperative upon her: she too will die, otherwise, and cough her last upon the streets some day; — how can she continue living? To enfranchise whatsoever of Wisdom is born in England, and set that to the sacred task of coercing and amending what of Folly is born in England: Heaven’s blessing is purchasable by that; by not that, only Heaven’s curse is purchasable. The reform contemplated, my liberal friends perceive, is a truly radical one; no ballot-box ever went so deep into the roots: a radical, most painful, slow and difficult, but most indispensable reform of reforms!
How short and feeble an approximation to these high ulterior results, the best Reform of Downing Street, presided over by the fittest Statesman one can imagine to exist at present, would be, is too apparent to me. A long time yet till we get our living interests put under due administration, till we get our dead interests handsomely dismissed. A long time yet till, by extensive change of habit and ways of thinking and acting, we get living “lungs” for ourselves! Nevertheless, by Reform of Downing Street, we do begin to breathe: we do start in the way towards that and all high results. Nor is there visible to me any other way. Blessed enough were the way once entered on; could we, in our evil days, but see the noble enterprise begun, and fairly in progress!
What the “New Downing Street” can grow to, and will and must if England is to have a Downing Street beyond a few years longer, it is far from me, in my remote watch-tower, to say with precision. A Downing Street inhabited by the gifted of the intellects of England; directing all its energies upon the real and living interests of England, and silently but incessantly, in the alembics of the place, burning up the extinct imaginary interests of England, that we may see God’s sky a little plainer overhead, and have all of us a great accession of “heroic wisdom” to dispose of: such a Downing Street — to draw the plan of it, will require architects; many successive architects and builders will be needed there. Let not editors, and remote unprofessional persons, interfere too much! — Change in the present edifice, however, radical change, all men can discern to be inevitable; and even, if there shall not worse swiftly follow, to be imminent. Outlines of the future edifice paint themselves against the sky (to men that still have a sky, and are above the miserable London fogs of the hour); noble elements of new State Architecture, foreshadows of a new Downing Street for the New Era that is come. These with pious hope all men can see; and it is good that all men, with whatever faculty they have, were earnestly looking thitherward; — trying to get above the fogs, that they might look thitherward!
Among practical men the idea prevails that Government can do nothing but “keep the peace.” They say all higher tasks are unsafe for it, impossible for it, — and in fine not necessary for it or for us. On this footing a very feeble Downing Street might serve the turn! — I am well aware that Government, for a long time past, has taken in hand no other public task, and has professed to have no other, but that of keeping the peace. This public task, and the private one of ascertaining whether Dick or Jack was to do it, have amply filled the capabilities of Government for several generations now. Hard tasks both, it would appear. In accomplishing the first, for example, have not heaven-born Chancellors of the Exchequer had to shear us very bare; and to leave an overplus of Debt, or of fleeces shorn before they are grown, justly esteemed among the wonders of the world? Not a first-rate keeping of the peace, this, we begin to surmise! At least it seems strange to us.
For we, and the overwhelming majority of all our acquaintances, in this Parish and Nation and the adjacent Parishes and Nations, are profoundly conscious to ourselves of being by nature peaceable persons; following our necessary industries; without wish, interest or faintest intention to cut the skin of any mortal, to break feloniously into his industrial premises, or do any injustice to him at all. Because indeed, independent of Government, there is a thing called conscience, and we dare not. So that it cannot but appear to us, “the peace,” under dexterous management, might be very much more easily kept, your Lordship; nay, we almost think, if well let alone, it would in a measure keep itself among such a set of persons! And how it happens that when a poor hardworking creature of us has laboriously earned sixpence, the Government comes in, and (as some compute) says, “I will thank you for threepence of that, as per account, for getting you peace to spend the other threepence,” our amazement begins to be considerable, — and I think results will follow from it by and by. Not the most dexterous keeping of the peace, your Lordship, unless it be more difficult to do than appears!
Our domestic peace, we cannot but perceive, as good as keeps itself. Here and there a select Equitable Person, appointed by the Public for that end, clad in ermine, and backed by certain companies of blue Police, is amply adequate, without immoderate outlay in money or otherwise, to keep down the few exceptional individuals of the scoundrel kind; who, we observe, by the nature of them, are always weak and inconsiderable. And as to foreign peace, really all Europe, now especially with so many railroads, public journals, printed books, penny-post, bills of exchange, and continual intercourse and mutual dependence, is more and more becoming (so to speak) one Parish; the Parishioners of which being, as we ourselves are, in immense majority peaceable hard-working people, could, if they were moderately well guided, have almost no disposition to quarrel. Their economic interests are one, “To buy in the cheapest market, and sell in the dearest;” their faith, any religious faith they have, is one, “To annihilate shams — by all methods, street-barricades included.” Why should they quarrel? The Czar of Russia, in the Eastern parts of the Parish, may have other notions; but he knows too well he must keep them to himself. He, if he meddled with the Western parts, and attempted anywhere to crush or disturb that sacred Democratic Faith of theirs, is aware there would rise from a hundred and fifty million human throats such a Hymn of the Marseillaise as was never heard before; and England, France, Germany, Poland, Hungary, and the Nine Kingdoms, hurling themselves upon him in never-imagined fire of vengeance, would swiftly reduce his Russia and him to a strange situation! Wherefore he forbears, — and being a person of some sense, will long forbear. In spite of editorial prophecy, the Czar of Russia does not disturb our night’s rest. And with the other parts of the Parish our dreams and our thoughts are of anything but of fighting, or of the smallest need to fight.
For keeping of the peace, a thing highly desirable to us, we strive to be grateful to your Lordship. Intelligible to us, also, your Lordship’s reluctance to get out of the old routine. But we beg to say farther, that peace by itself has no feet to stand upon, and would not suit us even if it had. Keeping of the peace is the function of a policeman, and but a small fraction of that of any Government, King or Chief of men. Are not all men bound, and the Chief of men in the name of all, to do properly this: To see, so far as human effort under pain of eternal reprobation can, God’s Kingdom incessantly advancing here below, and His will done on Earth as it is in Heaven? On Sundays your Lordship knows this well; forgot it not on week-days. I assure you it is forevermore a fact. That is the immense divine and never-ending task which is laid on every man, and with unspeakable increase of emphasis on every Government or Commonwealth of men. Your Lordship, that is the basis upon which peace and all else depends! That basis once well lost, there is no peace capable of being kept, — the only peace that could then be kept is that of the churchyard. Your Lordship may depend on it, whatever thing takes upon it the name of Sovereign or Government in an English Nation such as this will have to get out of that old routine; and set about keeping something very different from the peace, in these days!
Truly it is high time that same beautiful notion of No–Government should take itself away. The world is daily rushing towards wreck, while that lasts. If your Government is to be a Constituted Anarchy, what issue can it have? Our one interest in such Government is, that it would be kind enough to cease and go its ways, before the inevitable arrive. The question, Who is to float atop no-whither upon the popular vertexes, and act that sorry character, “carcass of the drowned ass upon the mud-deluge”? is by no means an important one for almost anybody, — hardly even for the drowned ass himself. Such drowned ass ought to ask himself, If the function is a sublime one? For him too, though he looks sublime to the vulgar and floats atop, a private situation, down out of sight in his natural ooze, would be a luckier one.
Crabbe, speaking of constitutional philosophies, faith in the ballot-box and such like, has this indignant passage: “If any voice of deliverance or resuscitation reach us, in this our low and all but lost estate, sunk almost beyond plummet’s sounding in the mud of Lethe, and oblivious of all noble objects, it will be an intimation that we must put away all this abominable nonsense, and understand, once more, that Constituted Anarchy, with however many ballot-boxes, caucuses, and hustings beer-barrels, is a continual offence to gods and men. That to be governed by small men is not only a misfortune, but it is a curse and a sin; the effect, and alas the cause also, of all manner of curses and sins. That to profess subjection to phantasms, and pretend to accept guidance from fractional parts of tailors, is what Smelfungus in his rude dialect calls it, ‘a damned lie,’ and nothing other. A lie which, by long use and wont, we have grown accustomed to, and do not the least feel to be a lie, having spoken and done it continually everywhere for such a long time past; — but has Nature grown to accept it as a veracity, think you, my friend? Have the Parcae fallen asleep, because you wanted to make money in the City? Nature at all moments knows well that it is a lie; and that, like all lies, it is cursed and damned from the beginning.
“Even so, ye indigent millionnaires, and miserable bankrupt populations rolling in gold, — whose note-of-hand will go to any length in Threadneedle Street, and to whom in Heaven’s Bank the stern answer is, ‘No effects!’ Bankrupt, I say; and Californias and Eldorados will not save us. And every time we speak such lie, or do it or look it, as we have been incessantly doing, and many of us with clear consciousness, for about a hundred and fifty years now, Nature marks down the exact penalty against us. ‘Debtor to so much lying: forfeiture of existing stock of worth to such extent; — approach to general damnation by so much.’ Till now, as we look round us over a convulsed anarchic Europe, and at home over an anarchy not yet convulsed, but only heaving towards convulsion, and to judge by the Mosaic sweating-establishments, cannibal Connaughts and other symptoms, not far from convulsion now, we seem to have pretty much exhausted our accumulated stock of worth; and unless money’s ‘worth’ and bullion at the Bank will save us, to be rubbing very close upon that ulterior bourn which I do not like to name again!
“On behalf of nearly twenty-seven millions of my fellow-countrymen, sunk deep in Lethean sleep, with mere owl-dreams of Political Economy and mice-catching, in this pacific thrice-infernal slush-element; and also of certain select thousands, and hundreds and units, awakened or beginning to awaken from it, and with horror in their hearts perceiving where they are, I beg to protest, and in the name of God to say, with poor human ink, desirous much that I had divine thunder to say it with, Awake, arise, — before you sink to death eternal! Unnamable destruction, and banishment to Houndsditch and Gehenna, lies in store for all Nations that, in angry perversity or brutal torpor and owlish blindness, neglect the eternal message of the gods, and vote for the Worse while the Better is there. Like owls they say, ‘Barabbas will do; any orthodox Hebrew of the Hebrews, and peaceable believer in M’Croudy and the Faith of Leave-alone will do: the Right Honorable Minimus is well enough; he shall be our Maximus, under him it will be handy to catch mice, and Owldom shall continue a flourishing empire.’”
One thing is undeniable, and must be continually repeated till it get to be understood again: Of all constitutions, forms of government, and political methods among men, the question to be asked is even this, What kind of man do you set over us? All questions are answered in the answer to this. Another thing is worth attending to: No people or populace, with never such ballot-boxes, can select such man for you; only the man of worth can recognize worth in men; — to the commonplace man of no or of little worth, you, unless you wish to be misled, need not apply on such an occasion. Those poor Tenpound Franchisers of yours, they are not even in earnest; the poor sniffing sniggering Honorable Gentlemen they send to Parliament are as little so. Tenpound Franchisers full of mere beer and balderdash; Honorable Gentlemen come to Parliament as to an Almack’s series of evening parties, or big cockmain (battle of all the cocks) very amusing to witness and bet upon: what can or could men in that predicament ever do for you? Nay, if they were in life-and-death earnest, what could it avail you in such a case? I tell you, a million blockheads looking authoritatively into one man of what you call genius, or noble sense, will make nothing but nonsense out of him and his qualities, and his virtues and defects, if they look till the end of time. He understands them, sees what they are; but that they should understand him, and see with rounded outline what his limits are, — this, which would mean that they are bigger than he, is forever denied them. Their one good understanding of him is that they at last should loyally say, “We do not quite understand thee; we perceive thee to be nobler and wiser and bigger than we, and will loyally follow thee.”
The question therefore arises, Whether, since reform of parliament and such like have done so little in that respect, the problem might not be with some hope attacked in the direct manner? Suppose all our Institutions, and Public Methods of Procedure, to continue for the present as they are; and suppose farther a Reform Premier, and the English Nation once awakening under him to a due sense of the infinite importance, nay the vital necessity there is of getting able and abler men:— might not some heroic wisdom, and actual “ability” to do what must be done, prove discoverable to said Premier; and so the indispensable Heaven’s-blessing descend to us from above, since none has yet sprung from below? From above we shall have to try it; the other is exhausted, — a hopeless method that! The utmost passion of the house-inmates, ignorant of masonry and architecture, cannot avail to cure the house of smoke: not if they vote and agitate forever, and bestir themselves to the length even of street-barricades, will the smoke in the least abate: how can it? Their passion exercised in such ways, till Doomsday, will avail them nothing. Let their passion rage steadily against the existing major-domos to this effect, “Find us men skilled in house-building, acquainted with the laws of atmospheric suction, and capable to cure smoke;” something might come of it! In the lucky circumstance of having one man of real intellect and courage to put at the head of the movement, much would come of it; — a New Downing Street, fit for the British Nation and its bitter necessities in this Now Era, would come; and from that, in answer to continuous sacred fidelity and valiant toil, all good whatsoever would gradually come.
Of the Continental nuisance called “Bureaucracy,” — if this should alarm any reader, — I can see no risk or possibility in England. Democracy is hot enough here, fierce enough; it is perennial, universal, clearly invincible among us henceforth. No danger it should let itself be flung in chains by sham secretaries of the Pedant species, and accept their vile Age of Pinchbeck for its Golden Age! Democracy clamors, with its Newspapers, its Parliaments, and all its twenty-seven million throats, continually in this Nation forevermore. I remark, too, that, the unconscious purport of all its clamors is even this, “Find us men skilled,” — make a New Downing Street, fit for the New Era!
Of the Foreign Office, in its reformed state, we have not much to say. Abolition of imaginary work, and replacement of it by real, is on all hands understood to be very urgent there. Large needless expenditures of money, immeasurable ditto of hypocrisy and grimace; embassies, protocols, worlds of extinct traditions, empty pedantries, foul cobwebs:— but we will by no means apply the “live coal” of our witty friend; the Foreign Office will repent, and not be driven to suicide! A truer time will come for the Continental Nations too: Authorities based on truth, and on the silent or spoken Worship of Human Nobleness, will again get themselves established there; all Sham–Authorities, and consequent Real–Anarchies based on universal suffrage and the Gospel according to George Sand, being put away; and noble action, heroic new-developments of human faculty and industry, and blessed fruit as of Paradise getting itself conquered from the waste battle-field of the chaotic elements, will once more, there as here, begin to show themselves.
When the Continental Nations have once got to the bottom of their Augean Stable, and begun to have real enterprises based on the eternal facts again, our Foreign Office may again have extensive concerns with them. And at all times, and even now, there will remain the question to be sincerely put and wisely answered, What essential concern has the British Nation with them and their enterprises? Any concern at all, except that of handsomely keeping apart from them? If so, what are the methods of best managing it? — At present, as was said, while Red Republic but clashes with foul Bureaucracy; and Nations, sunk in blind ignavia, demand a universal-suffrage Parliament to heal their wretchedness; and wild Anarchy and Phallus–Worship struggle with Sham–Kingship and extinct or galvanized Catholicism; and in the Cave of the Winds all manner of rotten waifs and wrecks are hurled against each other, — our English interest in the controversy, however huge said controversy grow, is quite trifling; we have only in a handsome manner to say to it: “Tumble and rage along, ye rotten waifs and wrecks; clash and collide as seems fittest to you; and smite each other into annihilation at your own good pleasure. In that huge conflict, dismal but unavoidable, we, thanks to our heroic ancestors, having got so far ahead of you, have now no interest at all. Our decided notion is, the dead ought to bury their dead in such a case: and so we have the honor to be, with distinguished consideration, your entirely devoted, — FLIMNAP, SEC. FOREIGN DEPARTMENT.” — I really think Flimnap, till truer times come, ought to treat much of his work in this way: cautious to give offence to his neighbors; resolute not to concern himself in any of their self-annihilating operations whatsoever.
Foreign wars are sometimes unavoidable. We ourselves, in the course of natural merchandising and laudable business, have now and then got into ambiguous situations; into quarrels which needed to be settled, and without fighting would not settle. Sugar Islands, Spice Islands, Indias, Canadas, these, by the real decree of Heaven, were ours; and nobody would or could believe it, till it was tried by cannon law, and so proved. Such cases happen. In former times especially, owing very much to want of intercourse and to the consequent mutual ignorance, there did occur misunderstandings: and therefrom many foreign wars, some of them by no means unnecessary. With China, or some distant country, too unintelligent of us and too unintelligible to us, there still sometimes rises necessary occasion for a war. Nevertheless wars — misunderstandings that get to the length of arguing themselves out by sword and cannon — have, in these late generations of improved intercourse, been palpably becoming less and less necessary; have in a manner become superfluous, if we had a little wisdom, and our Foreign Office on a good footing.
Of European wars I really hardly remember any, since Oliver Cromwell’s last Protestant or Liberation war with Popish antichristian Spain some two hundred years ago, to which I for my own part could have contributed my life with any heartiness, or in fact would have subscribed money itself to any considerable amount. Dutch William, a man of some heroism, did indeed get into troubles with Louis Fourteenth; and there rested still some shadow of Protestant Interest, and question of National and individual Independence, over those wide controversies; a little money and human enthusiasm was still due to Dutch William. Illustrious Chatham also, not to speak of his Manilla ransoms and the like, did one thing: assisted Fritz of Prussia, a brave man and king (almost the only sovereign King I have known since Cromwell’s time) like to be borne down by ignoble men and sham-kings; for this let illustrious Chatham too have a little money and human enthusiasm, — a little, by no means much. But what am I to say of heaven-born Pitt the son of Chatham? England sent forth her fleets and armies; her money into every country; money as if the heaven-born Chancellor had got a Fortunatus’ purse; as if this Island had become a volcanic fountain of gold, or new terrestrial sun capable of radiating mere guineas. The result of all which, what was it? Elderly men can remember the tar-barrels burnt for success and thrice-immortal victory in the business; and yet what result had we? The French Revolution, a Fact decreed in the Eternal Councils, could not be put down: the result was, that heaven-born Pitt had actually been fighting (as the old Hebrews would have said) against the Lord, — that the Laws of Nature were stronger than Pitt. Of whom therefore there remains chiefly his unaccountable radiation of guineas, for the gratitude of posterity. Thank you for nothing, — for eight hundred millions less than nothing!
Our War Offices, Admiralties, and other Fighting Establishments, are forcing themselves on everybody’s attention at this time. Bull grumbles audibly: “The money you have cost me these five-and-thirty years, during which you have stood elaborately ready to fight at any moment, without at any moment being called to fight, is surely an astonishing sum. The National Debt itself might have been half paid by that money, which has all gone in pipe-clay and blank cartridges! “Yes, Mr. Bull, the money can be counted in hundreds of millions; which certainly is something:— but the “strenuously organized idleness,” and what mischief that amounts to, — have you computed it? A perpetual solecism, and blasphemy (of its sort), set to march openly among us, dressed in scarlet! Bull, with a more and more sulky tone, demands that such solecism be abated; that these Fighting Establishments be as it were disbanded, and set to do some work in the Creation, since fighting there is now none for them. This demand is irrefragably just, is growing urgent too; and yet this demand cannot be complied with, — not yet while the State grounds itself on unrealities, and Downing Street continues what it is.
The old Romans made their soldiers work during intervals of war. The New Downing Street too, we may predict, will have less and less tolerance for idleness on the part of soldiers or others. Nay the New Downing Street, I foresee, when once it has got its “Industrial Regiments” organized, will make these mainly do its fighting, what fighting there is; and so save immense sums. Or indeed, all citizens of the Commonwealth, as is the right and the interest of every free man in this world, will have themselves trained to arms; each citizen ready to defend his country with his own body and soul, — he is not worthy to have a country otherwise. In a State grounded on veracities, that would be the rule. Downing Street, if it cannot bethink itself of returning to the veracities, will have to vanish altogether!
To fight with its neighbors never was, and is now less than ever, the real trade of England. For far other objects was the English People created into this world; sent down from the Eternities, to mark with its history certain spaces in the current of sublunary Time! Essential, too, that the English People should discover what its real objects are; and resolutely follow these, resolutely refusing to follow other than these. The State will have victory so far as it can do that; so far as it cannot, defeat.
In the New Downing Street, discerning what its real functions are, and with sacred abhorrence putting away from it what its functions are not, we can fancy changes enough in Foreign Office, War Office, Colonial Office, Home Office! Our War-soldiers Industrial, first of all; doing nobler than Roman works, when fighting is not wanted of them. Seventy-fours not hanging idly by their anchors in the Tagus, or off Sapienza (one of the saddest sights under the sun), but busy, every Seventy-four of them, carrying over streams of British Industrials to the immeasurable Britain that lies beyond the sea in every zone of the world. A State grounding itself on the veracities, not on the semblances and the injustices: every citizen a soldier for it. Here would be new real Secretaryships and Ministries, not for foreign war and diplomacy, but for domestic peace and utility. Minister of Works; Minister of Justice, — clearing his Model Prisons of their scoundrelism; shipping his scoundrels wholly abroad, under hard and just drill-sergeants (hundreds of such stand wistfully ready for you, these thirty years, in the Rag-and-Famish Club and elsewhere!) into fertile desert countries; to make railways, — one big railway (says the Major1) quite across America; fit to employ all the able-bodied Scoundrels and efficient Half-pay Officers in Nature!
1 Major Carmichael Smith; see his Pamphlets on this subject]
Lastly, — or rather firstly, and as the preliminary of all, would there not be a Minister of Education? Minister charged to get this English People taught a little, at his and our peril! Minister of Education; no longer dolefully embayed amid the wreck of moribund “religions,” but clear ahead of all that; steering, free and piously fearless, towards his divine goal under the eternal stars! — O heaven, and are these things forever impossible, then? Not a whit. To-morrow morning they might all begin to be, and go on through blessed centuries realizing themselves, if it were not that — alas, if it were not that we are most of us insincere persons, sham talking-machines and hollow windy fools! Which it is not “impossible” that we should cease to be, I hope?
Constitutions for the Colonies are now on the anvil; the discontented Colonies are all to be cured of their miseries by Constitutions. Whether that will cure their miseries, or only operate as a Godfrey’s-cordial to stop their whimpering, and in the end worsen all their miseries, may be a sad doubt to us. One thing strikes a remote spectator in these Colonial questions: the singular placidity with which the British Statesman at this time, backed by M’Croudy and the British moneyed classes, is prepared to surrender whatsoever interest Britain, as foundress of those establishments, might pretend to have in the decision. “If you want to go from us, go; we by no means want you to stay: you cost us money yearly, which is scarce; desperate quantities of trouble too: why not go, if you wish it?” Such is the humor of the British Statesman, at this time. — Men clear for rebellion, “annexation” as they call it, walk openly abroad in our American Colonies; found newspapers, hold platform palaverings. From Canada there comes duly by each mail a regular statistic of Annexationism: increasing fast in this quarter, diminishing in that; — Majesty’s Chief Governor seeming to take it as a perfectly open question; Majesty’s Chief Governor in fact seldom appearing on the scene at all, except to receive the impact of a few rotten eggs on occasion, and then duck in again to his private contemplations. And yet one would think the Majesty’s Chief Governor ought to have a kind of interest in the thing? Public liberty is carried to a great length in some portions of her Majesty’s dominions. But the question, “Are we to continue subjects of her Majesty, or start rebelling against her? So many as are for rebelling, hold up your hands!” Here is a public discussion of a very extraordinary nature to be going on under the nose of a Governor of Canada. How the Governor of Canada, being a British piece of flesh and blood, and not a Canadian lumber-log of mere pine and rosin, can stand it, is not very conceivable at first view. He does it, seemingly, with the stoicism of a Zeno. It is a constitutional sight like few.
And yet an instinct deeper than the Gospel of M’Croudy teaches all men that Colonies are worth something to a country! That if, under the present Colonial Office, they are a vexation to us and themselves, some other Colonial Office can and must be contrived which shall render them a blessing; and that the remedy will be to contrive such a Colonial Office or method of administration, and by no means to cut the Colonies loose. Colonies are not to be picked off the street every day; not a Colony of them but has been bought dear, well purchased by the toil and blood of those we have the honor to be sons of; and we cannot just afford to cut them away because M’Croudy finds the present management of them cost money. The present management will indeed require to be cut away; — but as for the Colonies, we purpose through Heaven’s blessing to retain them a while yet! Shame on us for unworthy sons of brave fathers if we do not. Brave fathers, by valiant blood and sweat, purchased for us, from the bounty of Heaven, rich possessions in all zones; and we, wretched imbeciles, cannot do the function of administering them? And because the accounts do not stand well in the ledger, our remedy is, not to take shame to ourselves, and repent in sackcloth and ashes, and amend our beggarly imbecilities and insincerities in that as in other departments of our business, but to fling the business overboard, and declare the business itself to be bad? We are a hopeful set of heirs to a big fortune! It does not suit our Manton gunneries, grouse-shootings, mousings in the City; and like spirited young gentlemen we will give it up, and let the attorneys take it?
Is there no value, then, in human things, but what can write itself down in the cash-ledger? All men know, and even M’Croudy in his inarticulate heart knows, that to men and Nations there are invaluable values which cannot be sold for money at all. George Robins is great; but he is not onmipotent. George Robins cannot quite sell Heaven and Earth by auction, excellent though he be at the business. Nay, if M’Croudy offered his own life for sale in Threadneedle Street, would anybody buy it? Not I, for one. “Nobody bids: pass on to the next lot,” answers Robins. And yet to M’Croudy this unsalable lot is worth all the Universe:— nay, I believe, to us also it is worth something; good monitions, as to several things, do lie in this Professor of the dismal science; and considerable sums even of money, not to speak of other benefit, will yet come out of his life and him, for which nobody bids! Robins has his own field where he reigns triumphant; but to that we will restrict him with iron limits; and neither Colonies nor the lives of Professors, nor other such invaluable objects shall come under his hammer.
Bad state of the ledger will demonstrate that your way of dealing with your Colonies is absurd, and urgently in want of reform; but to demonstrate that the Empire itself must be dismembered to bring the ledger straight? Oh never. Something else than the ledger must intervene to do that. Why does not England repudiate Ireland, and insist on the “Repeal,” instead of prohibiting it under death-penalties? Ireland has never been a paying speculation yet, nor is it like soon to be! Why does not Middlesex repudiate Surrey, and Chelsea Kensington, and each county and each parish, and in the end each individual set up for himself and his cash-box, repudiating the other and his, because their mutual interests have got into an irritating course? They must change the course, seek till they discover a soothing one; that is the remedy, when limbs of the same body come to irritate one another. Because the paltry tatter of a garment, reticulated for you out of thrums and listings in Downing Street, ties foot and hand together in an intolerable manner, will you relieve yourself by cutting off the hand or the foot? You will cut off the paltry tatter of a pretended body-coat, I think, and fling that to the nettles; and imperatively require one that fits your size better.
Miserabler theory than that of money on the ledger being the primary rule for Empires, or for any higher entity than City owls and their mice-catching, cannot well be propounded. And I would by no means advise Felicissimus, ill at ease on his high-trotting and now justly impatient Sleswicker, to let the poor horse in its desperation go in that direction for a momentary solace. If by lumber-log Governors, by Godfrey’s cordial Constitutions or otherwise, be contrived to cut off the Colonies or any real right the big British Empire has in her Colonies, both he and the British Empire will bitterly repent it one day! The Sleswicker, relieved in ledger for a moment, will find that it is wounded in heart and honor forever; and the turning of its wild forehoofs upon Felicissimus as he lies in the ditch combed off, is not a thing I like to think of! Britain, whether it be known to Felicissimus or not, has other tasks appointed her in God’s Universe than the making of money; and woe will betide her if she forget those other withal. Tasks, colonial and domestic, which are of an eternally divine nature, and compared with which all money, and all that is procurable by money, are in strict arithmetic an imponderable quantity, have been assigned this Nation; and they also at last are coming upon her again, clamorous, abstruse, inevitable, much to her bewilderment just now!
This poor Nation, painfully dark about said tasks and the way of doing them, means to keep its Colonies nevertheless, as things which somehow or other must have a value, were it better seen into. They are portions of the general Earth, where the children of Britain now dwell; where the gods have so far sanctioned their endeavor, as to say that they have a right to dwell. England will not readily admit that her own children are worth nothing but to be flung out of doors! England looking on her Colonies can say: “Here are lands and seas, spice-lands, corn-lands, timber-lands, overarched by zodiacs and stars, clasped by many-sounding seas; wide spaces of the Maker’s building, fit for the cradle yet of mighty Nations and their Sciences and Heroisms. Fertile continents still inhabited by wild beasts are mine, into which all the distressed populations of Europe might pour themselves, and make at once an Old World and a New World human. By the eternal fiat of the gods, this must yet one day be; this, by all the Divine Silences that rule this Universe, silent to fools, eloquent and awful to the hearts of the wise, is incessantly at this moment, and at all moments, commanded to begin to be. Unspeakable deliverance, and new destiny of thousand-fold expanded manfulness for all men, dawns out of the Future here. To me has fallen the godlike task of initiating all that: of me and of my Colonies, the abstruse Future asks, Are you wise enough for so sublime a destiny? Are you too foolish?”
That you ask advice of whatever wisdom is to be had in the Colony, and even take note of what unwisdom is in it, and record that too as an existing fact, will certainly be very advantageous. But I suspect the kind of Parliament that will suit a Colony is much of a secret just now! Mr. Wakefield, a democratic man in all fibres of him, and acquainted with Colonial Socialities as few are, judges that the franchise for your Colonial Parliament should be decidedly select, and advises a high money-qualification; as there is in all Colonies a fluctuating migratory mass, not destitute of money, but very much so of loyalty, permanency, or civic availability; whom it is extremely advantageous not to consult on what you are about attempting for the Colony or Mother Country. This I can well believe; — and also that a “high money-qualification,” in the present sad state of human affairs, might be some help to you in selecting; though whether even that would quite certainly bring “wisdom,” the one thing indispensable, is much a question with me. It might help, it might help! And if by any means you could (which you cannot) exclude the Fourth Estate, and indicate decisively that Wise Advice was the thing wanted here, and Parliamentary Eloquence was not the thing wanted anywhere just now, — there might really some light of experience and human foresight, and a truly valuable benefit, be found for you in such assemblies.
And there is one thing, too apt to be forgotten, which it much behooves us to remember: In the Colonies, as everywhere else in this world, the vital point is not who decides, but what is decided on! That measures tending really to the best advantage temporal and spiritual of the Colony be adopted, and strenuously put in execution; there lies the grand interest of every good citizen British and Colonial. Such measures, whosoever have originated and prescribed them, will gradually be sanctioned by all men and gods; and clamors of every kind in reference to them may safely to a great extent be neglected, as clamorous merely, and sure to be transient. Colonial Governor, Colonial Parliament, whoever or whatever does an injustice, or resolves on an unwisdom, he is the pernicious object, however parliamentary he be!
I have known things done, in this or the other Colony, in the most parliamentary way before now, which carried written on the brow of them sad symptoms of eternal reprobation; not to be mistaken, had you painted an inch thick. In Montreal, for example, at this moment, standing amid the ruins of the “Elgin Marbles” (as they call the burnt walls of the Parliament House there), what rational British soul but is forced to institute the mournfulest constitutional reflection? Some years ago the Canadas, probably not without materials for discontent, and blown upon by skilful artists, blazed up into crackling of musketry, open flame of rebellion; a thing smacking of the gallows in all countries that pretend to have any “Government.” Which flame of rebellion, had there been no loyal population to fling themselves upon it at peril of their life, might have ended we know not how. It ended speedily, in the good way; Canada got a Godfrey’s-cordial Constitution; and for the moment all was varnished into some kind of feasibility again. A most poor feasibility; momentary, not lasting, nor like to be of profit to Canada! For this year, the Canadian most constitutional Parliament, such a congeries of persons as one can imagine, decides that the aforesaid flame of rebellion shall not only be forgotten as per bargain, but that — the loyal population, who flung their lives upon it and quenched it in the nick of time, shall pay the rebels their damages! Of this, I believe, on sadly conclusive evidence, there is no doubt whatever. Such, when you wash off the constitutional pigments, is the Death’s-head that discloses itself. I can only say, if all the Parliaments in the world were to vote that such a thing was just, I should feel painfully constrained to answer, at my peril, “No, by the Eternal, never!” And I would recommend any British Governor who might come across that Business, there or here, to overhaul it again. What the meaning of a Governor, if he is not to overhaul and control such things, may be, I cannot conjecture. A Canadian Lumber-log may as well be made Governor. He might have some cast-metal hand or shoulder-crank (a thing easily contrivable in Birmingham) for signing his name to Acts of the Colonial Parliament; he would be a “native of the country” too, with popularity on that score if on no other; — he is your man, if you really want a Log Governor! —
I perceive therefore that, besides choosing Parliaments never so well, the New Colonial Office will have another thing to do: Contrive to send out a new kind of Governors to the Colonies. This will be the mainspring of the business; without this the business will not go at all. An experienced, wise and valiant British man, to represent the Imperial Interest; he, with such a speaking or silent Collective Wisdom as he can gather round him in the Colony, will evidently be the condition of all good between the Mother Country and it. If you can find such a man, your point is gained; if you cannot, lost. By him and his Collective Wisdom all manner of true relations, mutual interests and duties such as they do exist in fact between Mother Country and Colony, can be gradually developed into practical methods and results; and all manner of true and noble successes, and veracities in the way of governing, be won. Choose well your Governor; — not from this or that poor section of the Aristocracy, military, naval, or red-tapist; wherever there are born kings of men, you had better seek them out, and breed them to this work. All sections of the British Population will be open to you: and, on the whole, you must succeed in finding a man fit. And having found him, I would farther recommend you to keep him some time! It would be a great improvement to end this present nomadism of Colonial Governors. Give your Governor due power; and let him know withal that he is wedded to his enterprise, and having once well learned it, shall continue with it; that it is not a Canadian Lumber-log you want there, to tumble upon the vertexes and sign its name by a Birmingham shoulder-crank, but a Governor of Men; who, you mean, shall fairly gird himself to his enterprise, and fail with it and conquer with it, and as it were live and die with it: he will have much to learn; and having once learned it, will stay, and turn his knowledge to account.
From this kind of Governor, were you once in the way of finding him with moderate certainty, from him and his Collective Wisdom, all good whatsoever might be anticipated. And surely, were the Colonies once enfranchised from red-tape, and the poor Mother Country once enfranchised from it; were our idle Seventy-fours all busy carrying out streams of British Industrials, and those Scoundrel Regiments all working, under divine drill-sergeants, at the grand Atlantic and Pacific Junction Railway, — poor Britain and her poor Colonies might find that they had true relations to each other: that the Imperial Mother and her constitutionally obedient Daughters were not a red-tape fiction, provoking bitter mockery as at present, but a blessed God’s-Fact destined to fill half the world with its fruits one day!
But undoubtedly our grand primary concern is the Home Office, and its Irish Giant named of Despair. When the Home Office begins dealing with this Irish Giant, which it is vitally urgent for us the Home Office should straightway do, it will find its duties enlarged to a most unexpected extent, and, as it were, altered from top to bottom. A changed time now when the question is, What to do with three millions of paupers (come upon you for food, since you have no work for them) increasing at a frightful rate per day? Home Office, Parliament, King, Constitution will find that they have now, if they will continue in this world long, got a quite immense new question and continually recurring set of questions. That huge question of the Irish Giant with his Scotch and English Giant–Progeny advancing open-mouthed upon us, will, as I calculate, change from top to bottom not the Home Office only but all manner of Offices and Institutions whatsoever, and gradually the structure of Society itself. I perceive, it will make us a new Society, if we are to continue a Society at all. For the alternative is not, Stay where we are, or change? But Change, with new wise effort fit for the new time, to true and wider nobler National Life; or Change, by indolent folding of the arms, as we are now doing, in horrible anarchies and convulsions to Dissolution, to National Death, or Suspended-animation? Suspended-animation itself is a frightful possibility for Britain: this Anarchy whither all Europe has preceded us, where all Europe is now weltering, would suit us as ill as any! The question for the British Nation is: Can we work our course pacifically, on firm land, into the New Era; or must it be, for us too, as for all the others, through black abysses of Anarchy, hardly escaping, if we do with all our struggles escape, the jaws of eternal Death?
For Pauperism, though it now absorbs its high figure of millions annually, is by no means a question of money only, but of infinitely higher and greater than all conceivable money. If our Chancellor of the Exchequer had a Fortunatus’ purse, and miraculous sacks of Indian meal that would stand scooping from forever, — I say, even on these terms Pauperism could not be endured; and it would vitally concern all British Citizens to abate Pauperism, and never rest till they had ended it again. Pauperism is the general leakage through every joint of the ship that it is rotten. Were all men doing their duty, or even seriously trying to do it, there would be no Pauper. Were the pretended Captains of the world at all in the habit of commanding; were the pretended Teachers of the world at all in the habit of teaching, — of admonishing said Captains among others, and with sacred zeal apprising them to what place such neglect was leading, — how could Pauperism exist? Pauperism would lie far over the horizon; we should be lamenting and denouncing quite inferior sins of men, which were only tending afar off towards Pauperism. A true Captaincy; a true Teachership, either making all men and Captains know and devoutly recognize the eternal law of things, or else breaking its own heart, and going about with sackcloth round its loins, in testimony of continual sorrow and protest, and prophecy of God’s vengeance upon such a course of things: either of these divine equipments would have saved us; and it is because we have neither of them that we are come to such a pass!
We may depend upon it, where there is a Pauper, there is a sin; to make one Pauper there go many sins. Pauperism is our Social Sin grown manifest; developed from the state of a spiritual ignobleness, a practical impropriety and base oblivion of duty, to an affair of the ledger. Here is not now an unheeded sin against God; here is a concrete ugly bulk of Beggary demanding that you should buy Indian meal for it. Men of reflection have long looked with a horror for which there was no response in the idle public, upon Pauperism; but the quantity of meal it demands has now awakened men of no reflection to consider it. Pauperism is the poisonous dripping from all the sins, and putrid unveracities and god-forgetting greedinesses and devil-serving cants and jesuitisms, that exist among us. Not one idle Sham lounging about Creation upon false pretences, upon means which he has not earned, upon theories which he does not practise, but yields his share of Pauperism somewhere or other. His sham-work oozes down; finds at last its issue as human Pauperism, — in a human being that by those false pretences cannot live. The Idle Workhouse, now about to burst of overfilling, what is it but the scandalous poison-tank of drainage from the universal Stygian quagmire of our affairs? Workhouse Paupers; immortal sons of Adam rotted into that scandalous condition, subter-slavish, demanding that you would make slaves of them as an unattainable blessing! My friends, I perceive the quagmire must be drained, or we cannot live. And farther, I perceive, this of Pauperism is the corner where we must begin, — the levels all pointing thitherward, the possibilities lying all clearly there. On that Problem we shall find that innumerable things, that all things whatsoever hang. By courageous steadfast persistence in that, I can foresee Society itself regenerated. In the course of long strenuous centuries, I can see the State become what it is actually bound to be, the keystone of a most real “Organization of Labor,” — and on this Earth a world of some veracity, and some heroism, once more worth living in!
The State in all European countries, and in England first of all, as I hope, will discover that its functions are now, and have long been, very wide of what the State in old pedant Downing Streets has aimed at; that the State is, for the present, not a reality but in great part a dramatic speciosity, expending its strength in practices and objects fallen many of them quite obsolete; that it must come a little nearer the true aim again, or it cannot continue in this world. The “Champion of England” eased in iron or tin, and “able to mount his horse with little assistance,” — this Champion and the thousand-fold cousinry of Phantasms he has, nearly all dead now but still walking as ghosts, must positively take himself away: who can endure him, and his solemn trumpetings and obsolete gesticulations, in a Time that is full of deadly realities, coming open-mouthed upon us? At Drury Lane, let him play his part, him and his thousand-fold cousinry; and welcome, so long as any public will pay a shilling to see him: but on the solid earth, under the extremely earnest stars, we dare not palter with him, or accept his tomfooleries any more. Ridiculous they seem to some; horrible they seem to me: all lies, if one look whence they come and whither they go, are horrible.
Alas, it will be found, I doubt, that in England more than in any country, our Public Life and our Private, our State and our Religion, and all that we do and speak (and the most even of what we think), is a tissue of half-truths and whole-lies; of hypocrisies, conventionalisms, worn-out traditionary rags and cobwebs; such a life-garment of beggarly incredible and uncredited falsities as no honest souls of Adam’s Posterity were ever enveloped in before. And we walk about in it with a stately gesture, as if it were some priestly stole or imperial mantle; not the foulest beggar’s gabardine that ever was. “No Englishman dare believe the truth,” says one: “he stands, for these two hundred years, enveloped in lies of every kind; from nadir to zenith an ocean of traditionary cant surrounds him as his life-element. He really thinks the truth dangerous. Poor wretch, you see him everywhere endeavoring to temper the truth by taking the falsity along with it, and welding them together; this he calls ‘safe course,’ ‘moderate course,’ and other fine names; there, balanced between God and the Devil, he thinks he can serve two masters, and that things will go well with him.”
In the cotton-spinning and similar departments our English friend knows well that truth or God will have nothing to do with the Devil or falsehood, but will ravel all the web to pieces if you introduce the Devil or Non-veracity in any form into it: in this department, therefore, our English friend avoids falsehood. But in the religious, political, social, moral, and all other spiritual departments he freely introduces falsehood, nothing doubting; and has long done so, with a profuseness not elsewhere met with in the world. The unhappy creature, does he not know, then, that every lie is accursed, and the parent of mere curses? That he must think the truth; much more speak it? That, above all things, by the oldest law of Heaven and Earth which no man violates with impunity, he must not and shall not wag the tongue of him except to utter his thought? That there is not a grin or beautiful acceptable grimace he can execute upon his poor countenance, but is either an express veracity, the image of what passes within him; or else is a bit of Devil-worship which he and the rest of us will have to pay for yet? Alas, the grins he executes upon his poor mind (which is all tortured into St. Vitus dances, and ghastly merry-andrewisms, by the practice) are the most extraordinary this sun ever saw.
We have Puseyisms, black-and-white surplice controversies:— do not, officially and otherwise, the select of the longest heads in England sit with intense application and iron gravity, in open forum, judging of “prevenient grace”? Not a head of them suspects that it can be improper so to sit, or of the nature of treason against the Power who gave an Intellect to man; — that it can be other than the duty of a good citizen to use his god-given intellect in investigating prevenient grace, supervenient moonshine, or the color of the Bishop’s nightmare, if that happened to turn up. I consider them far ahead of Cicero’s Roman Augurs with their chicken-bowels: “Behold these divine chicken-bowels, O Senate and Roman People; the midriff has fallen eastward!” solemnly intimates one Augur. “By Proserpina and the triple Hecate!” exclaims the other, “I say the midriff has fallen to the west!” And they look at one another with the seriousness of men prepared to die in their opinion, — the authentic seriousness of men betting at Tattersall’s, or about to receive judgment in Chancery. There is in the Englishman something great, beyond all Roman greatness, in whatever line you meet him; even as a Latter–Day Augur he seeks his fellow! — Poor devil, I believe it is his intense love of peace, and hatred of breeding discussions which lead no-whither, that has led him into this sad practice of amalgamating true and false.
He has been at it these two hundred years; and has now carried it to a terrible length. He couldn’t follow Oliver Cromwell in the Puritan path heavenward, so steep was it, and beset with thorns, — and becoming uncertain withal. He much preferred, at that juncture, to go heavenward with his Charles Second and merry Nell Gwynns, and old decent formularies and good respectable aristocratic company, for escort; sore he tried, by glorious restorations, glorious revolutions and so forth, to perfect this desirable amalgam; hoped always it might be possible; — is only just now, if even now, beginning to give up the hope; and to see with wide-eyed horror that it is not at Heaven he is arriving, but at the Stygian marshes, with their thirty thousand Needlewomen, cannibal Connaughts, rivers of lamentation, continual wail of infants, and the yellow-burning gleam of a Hell-on-Earth! — Bull, my friend, you must strip that astonishing pontiff-stole, imperial mantle, or whatever you imagine it to be, which I discern to be a garment of curses, and poisoned Nessus’-shirt now at last about to take fire upon you; you must strip that off your poor body, my friend; and, were it only in a soul’s suit of Utilitarian buff, and such belief as that a big loaf is better than a small one, come forth into contact with your world, under true professions again, and not false. You wretched man, you ought to weep for half a century on discovering what lies you have believed, and what every lie leads to and proceeds from. O my friend, no honest fellow in this Planet was ever so served by his cooks before; or has eaten such quantities and qualities of dirt as you have been made to do, for these two centuries past. Arise, my horribly maltreated yet still beloved Bull; steep yourself in running water for a long while, my friend; and begin forthwith in every conceivable direction, physical and spiritual, the long-expected Scavenger Age.
Many doctors have you had, my poor friend; but I perceive it is the Water–Cure alone that will help you: a complete course of scavengerism is the thing you need! A new and veritable heart-divorce of England from the Babylonish woman, who is Jesuitism and Unveracity, and dwells not at Rome now, but under your own nose and everywhere; whom, and her foul worship of Phantasms and Devils, poor England had once divorced, with a divine heroism not forgotten yet, and well worth remembering now: a Phantasms which have too long nestled thick there, under those astonishing “Defenders of the Faith,” — Defenders of the Hypocrisies, the spiritual Vampires and obscene Nightmares, under which England lies in syncope; — this is what you need; and if you cannot get it, you must die, my poor friend!
Like people, like priest. Priest, King, Home Office, all manner of establishments and offices among a people bear a striking resemblance to the people itself. It is because Bull has been eating so much dirt that his Home Offices have got into such a shockingly dirty condition, — the old pavements of them quite gone out of sight and out of memory, and nothing but mountains of long-accumulated dung in which the poor cattle are sprawling and tumbling. Had his own life been pure, had his own daily conduct been grounding itself on the clear pavements or actual beliefs and veracities, would he have let his Home Offices come to such a pass? Not in Downing Street only, but in all other thoroughfares and arenas and spiritual or physical departments of his existence, running water and Herculean scavengerism have become indispensable, unless the poor man is to choke in his own exuviae, and die the sorrowfulest death.
If the State could once get back to the real sight of its essential function, and with religious resolution begin doing that, and putting away its multifarious imaginary functions, and indignantly casting out these as mere dung and insalubrious horror and abomination (which they are), what a promise of reform were there! The British Home Office, surely this and its kindred Offices exist, if they will think of it, that life and work may continue possible, and may not become impossible, for British men. If honorable existence, or existence on human terms at all, have become impossible for millions of British men, how can the Home Office or any other Office long exist? With thirty thousand Needlewomen, a Connaught fallen into potential cannibalism, and the Idle Workhouse everywhere bursting, and declaring itself an inhumanity and stupid ruinous brutality not much longer to be tolerated among rational human creatures, it is time the State were bethinking itself.
So soon as the State attacks that tremendous cloaca of Pauperism, which will choke the world if it be not attacked, the State will find its real functions very different indeed from what it had long supposed them! The State is a reality, and not a dramaturgy; it exists here to render existence possible, existence desirable and noble, for the State’s subjects. The State, as it gets into the track of its real work, will find that same expand into whole continents of new unexpected, most blessed activity; as its dramatic functions, declared superfluous, more and more fall inert, and go rushing like huge torrents of extinct exuviae, dung and rubbish, down to the Abyss forever. O Heaven, to see a State that knew a little why it was there, and on what ground, in this Year 1850, it could pretend to exist, in so extremely earnest a world as ours is growing! The British State, if it will be the crown and keystone of our British Social Existence, must get to recognize, with a veracity very long unknown to it, what the real objects and indispensable necessities of our Social Existence are. Good Heavens, it is not prevenient grace, or the color of the Bishop’s nightmare, that is pinching us; it is the impossibility to get along any farther for mountains of accumulated dung and falsity and horror; the total closing-up of noble aims from every man, — of any aim at all, from many men, except that of rotting out in Idle Workhouses an existence below that of beasts!
Suppose the State to have fairly started its “Industrial Regiments of the New Era,” which alas, are yet only beginning to be talked of, — what continents of new real work opened out, for the Home and all other Public Offices among us! Suppose the Home Office looking out, as for life and salvation, for proper men to command these “Regiments.” Suppose the announcement were practically made to all British souls that the want of wants, more indispensable than any jewel in the crown, was that of men able to command men in ways of industrial and moral well-doing; that the State would give its very life for such men; that such men were the State; that the quantity of them to be found in England lamentably small at present, was the exact measure of England’s worth, — what a new dawn of everlasting day for all British souls! Noble British soul, to whom the gods have given faculty and heroism, what men call genius, here at last is a career for thee. It will not be needful now to swear fealty to the Incredible, and traitorously cramp thyself into a cowardly canting play-actor in God’s Universe; or, solemnly forswearing that, into a mutinous rebel and waste bandit in thy generation: here is an aim that is clear and credible, a course fit for a man. No need to become a tormenting and self-tormenting mutineer, banded with rebellious souls, if thou wouldst live; no need to rot in suicidal idleness; or take to platform preaching, and writing in Radical Newspapers, to pull asunder the great Falsity in which thou and all of us are choking. The great Falsity, behold it has become, in the very heart of it, a great Truth of Truths; and invites thee and all brave men to cooperate with it in transforming all the body and the joints into the noble likeness of that heart! Thrice-blessed change. The State aims, once more, with a true aim; and has loadstars in the eternal Heaven. Struggle faithfully for it; noble is this struggle; thou too, according to thy faculty, shalt reap in due time, if thou faint not. Thou shalt have a wise command of men, thou shalt be wisely commanded by men, — the summary of all blessedness for a social creature here below. The sore struggle, never to be relaxed, and not forgiven to any son of man, is once more a noble one; glory to the Highest, it is now once more a true and noble one, wherein a man can afford to die! Our path is now again Heavenward. Forward, with steady pace, with drawn weapons, and unconquerable hearts, in the name of God that made us all! —
Wise obedience and wise command, I foresee that the regimenting of Pauper Banditti into Soldiers of Industry is but the beginning of this blessed process, which will extend to the topmost heights of our Society; and, in the course of generations, make us all once more a Governed Commonwealth, and Civitas Dei, if it please God! Waste-land Industrials succeeding, other kinds of Industry, as cloth-making, shoe-making, plough-making, spade-making, house-building, — in the end, all kinds of Industry whatsoever, will be found capable of regimenting. Mill-operatives, all manner of free operatives, as yet unregimented, nomadic under private masters, they, seeing such example and its blessedness, will say: “Masters, you must regiment us a little; make our interests with you permanent a little, instead of temporary and nomadic; we will enlist with the State otherwise!” This will go on, on the one hand, while the State-operation goes on, on the other: thus will all Masters of Workmen, private Captains of Industry, be forced to incessantly co-operate with the State and its public Captains; they regimenting in their way, the State in its way, with ever-widening field; till their fields meet (so to speak) and coalesce, and there be no unregimented worker, or such only as are fit to remain unregimented, any more. — O my friends, I clearly perceive this horrible cloaca of Pauperism, wearing nearly bottomless now, is the point where we must begin. Here, in this plainly unendurable portion of the general quagmire, the lowest point of all, and hateful even to M’Croudy, must our main drain begin: steadily prosecuting that, tearing that along with Herculean labor and divine fidelity, we shall gradually drain the entire Stygian swamp, and make it all once more a fruitful field!
For the State, I perceive, looking out with right sacred earnestness for persons able to command, will straightway also come upon the question: “What kind of schools and seminaries, and teaching and also preaching establishments have I, for the training of young souls to take command and to yield obedience? Wise command, wise obedience: the capability of these two is the net measure of culture, and human virtue, in every man; all good lies in the possession of these two capabilities; all evil, wretchedness and ill-success in the want of these. He is a good man that can command and obey; he that cannot is a bad. If my teachers and my preachers, with their seminaries, high schools and cathedrals, do train men to these gifts, the thing they are teaching and preaching must be true; if they do not, not true!”
The State, once brought to its veracities by the thumb-screw in this manner, what will it think of these same seminaries and cathedrals! I foresee that our Etons and Oxfords with their nonsense-verses, college-logics, and broken crumbs of mere speech, — which is not even English or Teutonic speech, but old Grecian and Italian speech, dead and buried and much lying out of our way these two thousand years last past, — will be found a most astonishing seminary for the training of young English souls to take command in human Industries, and act a valiant part under the sun! The State does not want vocables, but manly wisdoms and virtues: the State, does it want parliamentary orators, first of all, and men capable of writing books? What a rag-fair of extinct monkeries, high-piled here in the very shrine of our existence, fit to smite the generations with atrophy and beggarly paralysis, — as we see it do! The Minister of Education will not want for work, I think, in the New Downing Street!
How it will go with Souls’-Overseers, and what the new kind will be, we do not prophesy just now. Clear it is, however, that the last finish of the State’s efforts, in this operation of regimenting, will be to get the true Souls’-Overseers set over men’s souls, to regiment, as the consummate flower of all, and constitute into some Sacred Corporation, bearing authority and dignity in their generation, the Chosen of the Wise, of the Spiritual and Devout-minded, the Reverent who deserve reverence, who are as the Salt of the Earth; — that not till this is done can the State consider its edifice to have reached the first story, to be safe for a moment, to be other than an arch without the keystones, and supported hitherto on mere wood. How will this be done? Ask not; let the second or the third generation after this begin to ask! — Alas, wise men do exist, born duly into the world in every current generation; but the getting of them regimented is the highest pitch of human Polity, and the feat of all feats in political engineering:— impossible for us, in this poor age, as the building of St. Paul’s would be for Canadian Beavers, acquainted only with the architecture of fish-dams, and with no trowel but their tail.
Literature, the strange entity so called, — that indeed is here. If Literature continue to be the haven of expatriated spiritualisms, and have its Johnsons, Goethes and true Archbishops of the World, to show for itself as heretofore, there may be hope in Literature. If Literature dwindle, as is probable, into mere merry-andrewism, windy twaddle, and feats of spiritual legerdemain, analogous to rope-dancing, opera-dancing, and street-fiddling with a hat carried round for halfpence, or for guineas, there will be no hope in Literature. What if our next set of Souls’-Overseers were to be silent ones very mainly? — Alas, alas, why gaze into the blessed continents and delectable mountains of a Future based on truth, while as yet we struggle far down, nigh suffocated in a slough of lies, uncertain whether or how we shall be able to climb at all!
Who will begin the long steep journey with us; who of living statesmen will snatch the standard, and say, like a hero on the forlorn-hope for his country, Forward! Or is there none; no one that can and dare? And our lot too, then, is Anarchy by barricade or ballot-box, and Social Death? — We will not think so.
Whether Sir Robert Peel will undertake the Reform of Downing Street for us, or any Ministry or Reform farther, is not known. He, they say, is getting old, does himself recoil from it, and shudder at it; which is possible enough. The clubs and coteries appear to have settled that he surely will not; that this melancholy wriggling seesaw of red-tape Trojans and Protectionist Greeks must continue its course till — what can happen, my friends, if this go on continuing?
And yet, perhaps, England has by no means so settled it. Quit the clubs and coteries, you do not hear two rational men speak long together upon politics, without pointing their inquiries towards this man. A Minister that will attack the Augeas Stable of Downing Street, and begin producing a real Management, no longer an imaginary one, of our affairs; he, or else in few years Chartist Parliament and the Deluge come: that seems the alternative. As I read the omens, there was no man in my time more authentically called to a post of difficulty, of danger, and of honor than this man. The enterprise is ready for him, if he is ready for it. He has but to lift his finger in this enterprise, and whatsoever is wise and manful in England will rally round him. If the faculty and heart for it be in him, he, strangely and almost tragically if we look upon his history, is to have leave to try it; he now, at the eleventh hour, has the opportunity for such a feat in reform as has not, in these late generations, been attempted by all our reformers put together.
As for Protectionist jargon, who in these earnest days would occupy many moments of his time with that? “A Costermonger in this street,” says Crabbe, “finding lately that his rope of onions, which he hoped would have brought a shilling, was to go for only sevenpence henceforth, burst forth into lamentation, execration and the most pathetic tears. Throwing up the window, I perceived the other costermongers preparing impatiently to pack this one out of their company as a disgrace to it, if he would not hold his peace and take the market-rate for his onions. I looked better at this Costermonger. To my astonished imagination, a star-and-garter dawned upon the dim figure of the man; and I perceived that here was no Costermonger to be expelled with ignominy, but a sublime goddess-born Ducal Individual, whom I forbear to name at this moment! What an omen; — nay to my astonished imagination, there dawned still fataler omens. Surely, of all human trades ever heard of, the trade of Owning Land in England ought not to bully us for drink — money just now!”
“Hansard’s Debates,” continues Crabbe farther on, “present many inconsistencies of speech; lamentable unveracities uttered in Parliament, by one and indeed by all; in which sad list Sir Robert Peel stands for his share among others. Unveracities not a few were spoken in Parliament: in fact, to one with a sense of what is called God’s truth, it seemed all one unveracity, a talking from the teeth outward, not as the convictions but as the expediencies and inward astucities directed; and, in the sense of God’s truth, I have heard no true word uttered in Parliament at all. Most lamentable unveracities continually spoken in Parliament, by almost every one that had to open his mouth there. But the largest veracity ever done in Parliament in our time, as we all know, was of this man’s doing; — and that, you will find, is a very considerable item in the calculation!”
Yes, and I believe England in her dumb way remembers that too. And “the Traitor Peel” can very well afford to let innumerable Ducal Costermongers, parliamentary Adventurers, and lineal representatives of the Impenitent Thief, say all their say about him, and do all their do. With a virtual England at his back, and an actual eternal sky above him, there is not much in the total net-amount of that. When the master of the horse rides abroad, many dogs in the village bark; but he pursues his journey all the same.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:49