I have addressed this preface to the young gentlemen of the University, first, because it is my duty to teach such of them as will hear me, Modern History; and I know no more important part of Modern History than the condition and the opinions of our own fellow-countrymen, some of which are set forth in this book.
Next, I have addressed them now, because I know that many of them, at various times, have taken umbrage at certain scenes of Cambridge life drawn in this book. I do not blame them for having done so. On the contrary, I have so far acknowledged the justice of their censure, that while I have altered hardly one other word in this book, I have rewritten all that relates to Cambridge life.
Those sketches were drawn from my own recollections of 1838–1842. Whether they were overdrawn is a question between me and men of my own standing.
But the book was published in 1849; and I am assured by men in whom I have the most thorough confidence, that my sketches had by then at least become exaggerated and exceptional, and therefore, as a whole, untrue; that a process of purification was going on rapidly in the University; and that I must alter my words if I meant to give the working men a just picture of her.
Circumstances took the property and control of the book out of my hand, and I had no opportunity of reconsidering and of altering the passages. Those circumstances have ceased, and I take the first opportunity of altering all which my friends tell me should be altered.
But even if, as early as 1849, I had not been told that I must do so, I should have done so of my own accord, after the experiences of 1861. I have received at Cambridge a courtesy and kindness from my elders, a cordial welcome from my coequals, and an earnest attention from the undergraduates with whom I have come in contact, which would bind me in honour to say nothing publicly against my University, even if I had aught to say. But I have nought. I see at Cambridge nothing which does not gain my respect for her present state and hope for her future. Increased sympathy between the old and young, increased intercourse between the teacher and the taught, increased freedom and charity of thought, and a steady purpose of internal self-reform and progress, seem to me already bearing good fruit, by making the young men regard their University with content and respect. And among the young men themselves, the sight of their increased earnestness and high-mindedness, increased sobriety and temperance, combined with a manliness not inferior to that of the stalwart lads of twenty years ago, has made me look upon my position among them as most noble, my work among them as most hopeful, and made me sure that no energy which I can employ in teaching them will ever have been thrown away.
Much of this improvement seems to me due to the late High–Church movement; much to the influence of Dr. Arnold; much to that of Mr. Maurice; much to the general increase of civilization throughout the country: but whatever be the causes of it, the fact is patent; and I take delight in thus expressing my consciousness of it.
Another change I must notice in the tone of young gentlemen, not only at Cambridge, but throughout Britain, which is most wholesome and most hopeful. I mean their altered tone in speaking to and of the labouring classes. Thirty years ago, and even later, the young men of the labouring classes were “the cads,” “the snobs,” “the blackguards”; looked on with a dislike, contempt, and fear, which they were not backward to return, and which were but too ready to vent themselves on both sides in ugly words and deeds. That hateful severance between the classes was, I believe, an evil of recent growth, unknown to old England. From the middle ages, up to the latter years of the French war, the relation between the English gentry and the labourers seems to have been more cordial and wholesome than in any other country of Europe. But with the French Revolution came a change for the worse. The Revolution terrified too many of the upper, and excited too many of the lower classes; and the stern Tory system of repression, with its bad habit of talking and acting as if “the government” and “the people” were necessarily in antagonism, caused ever increasing bad blood. Besides, the old feudal ties between class and class, employer and employed, had been severed. Large masses of working people had gathered in the manufacturing districts in savage independence. The agricultural labourers had been debased by the abuses of the old Poor-law into a condition upon which one looks back now with half-incredulous horror. Meanwhile, the distress of the labourers became more and more severe. Then arose Luddite mobs, meal mobs, farm riots, riots everywhere; Captain Swing and his rickburners, Peterloo “massacres,” Bristol conflagrations, and all the ugly sights and rumours which made young lads, thirty or forty years ago, believe (and not so wrongly) that “the masses” were their natural enemies, and that they might have to fight, any year, or any day, for the safety of their property and the honour of their sisters.
How changed, thank God! is all this now. Before the influence of religion, both Evangelical and Anglican; before the spread of those liberal principles, founded on common humanity and justice, the triumph of which we owe to the courage and practical good sense of the Whig party; before the example of a Court, virtuous, humane, and beneficent; the attitude of the British upper classes has undergone a noble change. There is no aristocracy in the world, and there never has been one, as far as I know, which has so honourably repented, and brought forth fruits meet for repentance; which has so cheerfully asked what its duty was, that it might do it. It is not merely enlightened statesmen, philanthropists, devotees, or the working clergy, hard and heartily as they are working, who have set themselves to do good as a duty specially required of them by creed or by station. In the generality of younger laymen, as far as I can see, a humanity (in the highest sense of the word) has been awakened, which bids fair, in another generation, to abolish the last remnants of class prejudices and class grudges. The whole creed of our young gentlemen is becoming more liberal, their demeanour more courteous, their language more temperate. They inquire after the welfare, or at least mingle in the sports of the labouring man, with a simple cordiality which was unknown thirty years ago; they are prompt, the more earnest of them, to make themselves of use to him on the ground of a common manhood, if any means of doing good are pointed out to them; and that it is in any wise degrading to “associate with low fellows,” is an opinion utterly obsolete, save perhaps among a few sons of squireens in remote provinces, or of parvenus who cannot afford to recognize the class from whence they themselves have risen. In the army, thanks to the purifying effect of the Crimean and Indian wars, the same altered tone is patent. Officers feel for and with their men, talk to them, strive to instruct and amuse them more and more year by year; and — as a proof that the reform has not been forced on the officers by public opinion from without, but is spontaneous and from within, another instance of the altered mind of the aristocracy — the improvement is greatest in those regiments which are officered by men of the best blood; and in care for and sympathy with their men, her Majesty’s Footguards stands first of all. God grant that the friendship which exists there between the leaders and the led may not be tested to the death amid the snow-drift or on the battle-field; but if it be so, I know too that it will stand the test.
But if I wish for one absolute proof of the changed relation between the upper and the lower classes, I have only to point to the volunteer movement. In 1803, in the face of the most real and fatal danger, the Addington ministry was afraid of allowing volunteer regiments, and Lord Eldon, while pressing the necessity, could use as an argument that if the people did not volunteer for the Government, they would against it. So broad was even then the gulf between the governed and the governors. How much broader did it become in after years! Had invasion threatened us at any period between 1815 and 1830, or even later, would any ministry have dared to allow volunteer regiments? Would they have been justified in doing so, even if they had dared?
And now what has come to pass, all the world knows: but all the world should know likewise, that it never would have come to pass save for — not merely the late twenty years of good government in State, twenty years of virtue and liberality in the Court, but — the late twenty years of increasing right-mindedness in the gentry, who have now their reward in finding that the privates in the great majority of corps prefer being officered by men of a rank socially superior to their own. And as good always breeds fresh good, so this volunteer movement, made possible by the goodwill between classes, will help in its turn to increase that goodwill. Already, by the performance of a common duty, and the experience of a common humanity, these volunteer corps are become centres of cordiality between class and class; and gentleman, tradesman, and workman, the more they see of each other, learn to like, to trust, and to befriend each other more and more; a good work in which I hope the volunteers of the University of Cambridge will do their part like men and gentlemen; when, leaving this University, they become each of them, as they ought, an organizing point for fresh volunteers in their own districts.
I know (that I may return to Cambridge) no better example of the way in which the altered tone of the upper classes and the volunteer movement have acted and reacted upon each other, than may be seen in the Cambridge Working Men’s College, and its volunteer rifle corps, the 8th Cambridgeshire.
There we have — what perhaps could not have existed, what certainly did not exist twenty years ago — a school of a hundred men or more, taught for the last eight years gratuitously by men of the highest attainments in the University; by a dean — to whom, I believe, the success of the attempt is mainly owing; by professors, tutors, prizemen, men who are now head-masters of public schools, who have given freely to their fellow-men knowledge which has cost them large sums of money and the heavy labour of years. Without insulting them by patronage, without interfering with their religious opinions, without tampering with their independence in any wise, but simply on the ground of a common humanity, they have been helping to educate these men, belonging for the most part, I presume, to the very class which this book sets forth as most unhappy and most dangerous — the men conscious of unsatisfied and unemployed intellect. And they have their reward in a practical and patent form. Out of these men a volunteer corps is organized, officered partly by themselves, partly by gentlemen of the University; a nucleus of discipline, loyalty, and civilization for the whole population of Cambridge.
A noble work this has been, and one which may be the parent of works nobler still. It is the first instalment of, I will not say a debt, but a duty, which the Universities owe to the working classes. I have tried to express in this book, what I know were, twenty years ago, the feelings of clever working men, looking upon the superior educational advantages of our class. I cannot forget, any more than the working man, that the Universities were not founded exclusively, or even primarily, for our own class; that the great mass of students in the middle ages were drawn from the lower classes, and that sizarships, scholarships, exhibitions, and so forth, were founded for the sake of those classes, rather than of our own. How the case stands now, we all know. I do not blame the Universities for the change. It has come about, I think, simply by competition. The change began, I should say, in the sixteenth century. Then, after the Wars of the Roses, and the revival of letters, and the dissolution of the monasteries, the younger sons of gentlemen betook themselves to the pursuit of letters, fighting having become treasonable, and farming on a small scale difficult (perhaps owing to the introduction of large sheep-farms, which happened in those days), while no monastic orders were left to recruit the Universities, as they did continually through the middle ages, from that labouring-class to which they and their scholars principally belonged.
So the gentlemen’s sons were free to compete against the sons of working men; and by virtue of their superior advantages they beat them out of the field. We may find through the latter half of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth centuries, bequest after bequest for the purpose of stopping this change, and of enabling poor men’s sons to enter the Universities; but the tendency was too strong to be effectually resisted then. Is it too strong to be resisted now? Does not the increased civilization and education of the working classes call on the Universities to consider whether they may not now try to become, what certainly they were meant to be, places of teaching and training for genius of every rank, and not merely for that of young gentlemen? Why should not wealthy Churchmen, in addition to the many good deeds in which they employ their wealth now-a-days, found fresh scholarships and exhibitions, confined to the sons of working men? If it be asked, how can they be so confined? What simpler method than that of connecting them with the National Society, and bestowing them exclusively on lads who have distinguished themselves in our National Schools? I believe that money spent in such a way, would be well spent both for the Nation, the Church, and the University. As for the introduction of such a class of lads lowering the tone of the University, I cannot believe it. There is room enough in Cambridge for men of every rank. There are still, in certain colleges, owing to circumstances which I should be very sorry to see altered, a fair sprinkling of young men who, at least before they have passed through a Cambridge career, would not be called well-bred. But they do not lower the tone of the University; the tone of the University raises them. Wherever there is intellectual power, good manners are easily acquired; the public opinion of young men expresses itself so freely, and possibly coarsely, that priggishness and forwardness (the faults to which a clever National School pupil would be most prone) are soon hammered out of any Cambridge man; and the result is, that some of the most distinguished and most popular men in Cambridge, are men who have “risen from the ranks.” All honour to them for having done so. But if they have succeeded so well, may there not be hundreds more in England who would succeed equally? and would it not be as just to the many, as useful to the University, in binding her to the people and the people to her, to invent some method for giving those hundreds a fair chance?
I earnestly press this suggestion (especially at the present time of agitation among Churchmen on the subject of education) upon the attention, not of the University itself, but of those wealthy men who wish well both to the University and to the people. Not, I say, of the University: it is not from her that the proposal must come, but from her friends outside. She is doing her best with the tools which she has; fresh work will require fresh tools, and I trust that such will be some day found for her.
I have now to tell those of them who may read this book, that it is not altogether out of date.
Those political passions, the last outburst of which it described, have, thank God, become mere matter of history by reason of the good government and the unexampled prosperity of the last twelve years: but fresh outbursts of them are always possible in a free country, whenever there is any considerable accumulation of neglects and wrongs; and meanwhile it is well — indeed it is necessary — for every student of history to know what manner of men they are who become revolutionaries, and what causes drive them to revolution; that they may judge discerningly and charitably of their fellow-men, whenever they see them rising, however madly, against the powers that be.
As for the social evils described in this book, they have been much lessened in the last few years, especially by the movement for Sanatory Reform: but I must warn young men that they are not eradicated; that for instance, only last year, attention was called by this book to the working tailors in Edinburgh, and their state was found, I am assured, to be even more miserable than that of the London men in 1848. And I must warn them also that social evils, like dust and dirt, have a tendency to reaccumulate perpetually; so that however well this generation may have swept their house (and they have worked hard and honestly at it), the rising generation will have assuredly in twenty years’ time to sweep it over again.
One thing more I have to say, and that very earnestly, to the young men of Cambridge. They will hear a “Conservative Reaction” talked of as imminent, indeed as having already begun. They will be told that this reaction is made more certain by the events now passing in North America; they will be bidden to look at the madnesses of an unbridled democracy, to draw from them some such lesson as the young Spartans were to draw from the drunken Helots, and to shun with horror any further attempts to enlarge the suffrage.
But if they have learnt (as they should from the training of this University) accuracy of thought and language, they will not be content with such vague general terms as “Conservatism” and “Democracy”: but will ask themselves — If this Conservative Reaction is at hand, what things is it likely to conserve; and still more, what ought it to conserve? If the violences and tyrannies of American Democracy are to be really warnings to, then in what points does American Democracy coincide with British Democracy? — For so far and no farther can one be an example or warning for the other.
And looking, as they probably will under the pressure of present excitement, at the latter question first, they will surely see that no real analogy would exist between American and English Democracy, even were universal suffrage to be granted tomorrow.
For American Democracy, being merely arithmocratic, provides no representation whatsoever for the more educated and more experienced minority, and leaves the conduct of affairs to the uneducated and inexperienced many, with such results as we see. But those results are, I believe, simply impossible in a country which possesses hereditary Monarchy and a House of Lords, to give not only voice, but practical power to superior intelligence and experience. Mr. J. S. Mill, Mr. Stapleton, and Mr. Hare have urged of late the right of minorities to be represented as well as majorities, and have offered plans for giving them a fair hearing. That their demands are wise, as well as just, the present condition of the Federal States proves but too painfully. But we must not forget meanwhile, that the minorities of Britain are not altogether unrepresented. In a hereditary Monarch who has the power to call into his counsels, private and public, the highest intellect of the land; in a House of Lords not wholly hereditary, but recruited perpetually from below by the most successful (and therefore, on the whole, the most capable) personages; in a free Press, conducted in all its most powerful organs by men of character and of liberal education, I see safeguards against any American tyranny of numbers, even if an enlargement of the suffrage did degrade the general tone of the House of Commons as much as some expect.
As long, I believe, as the Throne, the House of Lords, and the Press, are what, thank God, they are, so long will each enlargement of the suffrage be a fresh source not of danger, but of safety; for it will bind the masses to the established order of things by that loyalty which springs from content; from the sense of being appreciated, trusted, dealt with not as children, but as men.
There are those who will consider such language as this especially ill-timed just now, in the face of Strikes and Trades’ Union outrages. They point to these things as proofs of the unfitness of workmen for the suffrage; they point especially to the late abominable murder at Sheffield, and ask, not without reason, would you give political power to men who would do that?
Now that the Sheffield murder was in any wise planned or commanded by the Trades’ Unions in general, I do not believe; nor, I think, does any one else who knows aught of the British workman. If it was not, as some of the Sheffield men say, a private act of revenge, it was the act of only one or two Trades’ Unions of that town, which are known; and their conduct has been already reprobated and denounced by the other Trades’ Unions of England, But there is no denying that the case as against the Trades’ Unions is a heavy one. It is notorious that they have in past years planned and commanded illegal acts of violence. It is patent that they are too apt, from a false sense of class-honour, to connive at such now, instead of being, as they ought to be, the first to denounce them. The workmen will not see, that by combining in societies for certain purposes, they make those societies responsible for the good and lawful behaviour of all their members, in all acts tending to further those purposes, and are bound to say to every man joining a Trades’ Union: “You shall do nothing to carry out the objects which we have in view, save what is allowed by British Law.” They will not see that they are outraging the first principles of justice and freedom, by dictating to any man what wages he should receive, what master he shall work for, or any other condition which interferes with his rights as a free agent.
But, in the face of these facts (and very painful and disappointing they are to me), I will ask the upper classes: Do you believe that the average of Trades’ Union members are capable of such villanies as that at Sheffield? Do you believe that the average of them are given to violence or illegal acts at all, even though they may connive at such acts in their foolish and hasty fellows, by a false class-honour, not quite unknown, I should say, in certain learned and gallant professions? Do you fancy that there are not in these Trades’ Unions, tens of thousands of loyal, respectable, rational, patient men, as worthy of the suffrage as any average borough voter? If you do so, you really know nothing about the British workman. At least, you are confounding the workman of 1861 with the workman of 1831, and fancying that he alone, of all classes, has gained nothing by the increased education, civilization, and political experience of thirty busy and prosperous years. You are unjust to the workman; and more, you are unjust to your own class. For thirty years past, gentlemen and ladies of all shades of opinion have been labouring for and among the working classes, as no aristocracy on earth ever laboured before; and do you suppose that all that labour has been in vain? That it has bred in the working classes no increased reverence for law, no increased content with existing institutions, no increased confidence in the classes socially above them? If so, you must have as poor an opinion of the capabilities of the upper classes, as you have of those of the lower.
So far from the misdoings of Trades’ Unions being an argument against the extension of the suffrage, they are, in my opinion, an argument for it. I know that I am in a minority just now. I know that the common whisper is now, not especially of those who look for a Conservative reaction, that these Trades’ Unions must be put down by strong measures: and I confess that I hear such language with terror. Punish, by all means, most severely, all individual offences against individual freedom, or personal safety; but do not interfere, surely, with the Trades’ Unions themselves. Do not try to bar these men of their right as free Englishmen to combine, if they choose, for what they consider their own benefit. Look upon these struggles between employers and employed as fair battles, in which, by virtue of the irreversible laws of political economy, the party who is in the right is almost certain to win; and interfere in no wise, save to see fair play, and lawful means used on both sides alike. If you do more; if you interfere in any wise with the Trades’ Unions themselves, you will fail, and fail doubly. You will not prevent the existence of combinations: you will only make them secret, dark, revolutionary: you will demoralize the working man thereby as surely as the merchant is demoralized by being converted into a smuggler; you will heap up indignation, spite, and wrath against the day of wrath; and finally, to complete your own failure, you will drive the working man to demand an extension of the suffrage, in tones which will very certainly get a hearing. He cares, or seems to care, little about the suffrage now, just because he thinks that he can best serve his own interests by working these Trades’ Unions. Take from him that means of redress (real or mistaken, no matter); and he will seek redress in a way in which you wish him still less to seek it; by demanding a vote and obtaining one.
That consummation, undesirable as it may seem to many, would perhaps be the best for the peace of the trades. These Trades’ Unions, still tainted with some of the violence, secrecy, false political economy which they inherit from the evil times of 1830–40, last on simply, I believe, because the workman feels that they are his only organ, that he has no other means of making his wants and his opinions known to the British Government. Had he a vote, he believes (and I believe with him) he could send at least a few men to Parliament who would state his case fairly in the House of Commons, and would not only render a reason for him, but hear reason against him, if need were. He would be content with free discussion if he could get that. It is the feeling that he cannot get it that drives him often into crooked and dark ways. If any answer, that the representatives, whom he would choose would be merely noisy demagogues, I believe them to be mistaken. No one can have watched the Preston strike, however much he may have disapproved, as I did, of the strike itself, without seeing from the temper, the self-restraint, the reasonableness, the chivalrous honour of the men, that they were as likely to choose a worthy member for the House of Commons as any town constituency in England; no one can have watched the leaders of the working men for the last ten years without finding among them men capable of commanding the attention and respect of the House of Commons, not merely by their eloquence, surprising as that is, but by their good sense, good feeling, and good breeding.
Some training at first, some rubbing off of angles, they might require: though two at least I know, who would require no such training, and who would be ornaments to any House of Commons; the most inexperienced of the rest would not give the House one-tenth the trouble which is given by a certain clique among the representatives of the sister Isle; and would, moreover, learn his lesson in a week, instead of never learning it at all, like some we know too well. Yet Catholic emancipation has pacified Ireland, though it has brought into the House an inferior stamp of members: and much more surely would an extension of the suffrage pacify the trades, while it would bring into the House a far superior stamp of member to those who compose the clique of which I have spoken.
But why, I hear some one say impatiently, talk about this subject of all others at this moment, when nobody, not even the working classes, cares about a Reform Bill?
Because I am speaking to young men, who have not yet entered public life; and because I wish them to understand, that just because the question of parliamentary reform is in abeyance now, it will not be in abeyance ten years or twenty years hence. The question will be revived, ere they are in the maturity of their manhood; and they had best face that certain prospect, and learn to judge wisely and accurately on the subject, before they are called on, as they will be, to act upon it. If it be true that the present generation has done all that it can do, or intends to do, towards the suffrage (and I have that confidence in our present rulers, that I would submit without murmuring to their decision on the point), it is all the more incumbent on the rising generation to learn how to do (as assuredly they will have to do) the work which their fathers have left undone. The question may remain long in abeyance, under the influence of material prosperity such as the present; or under the excitement of a war, as in Pitt’s time; but let a period of distress or disaster come, and it will be reopened as of yore. The progress towards institutions more and more popular may be slow, but it is sure. Whenever any class has conceived the hope of being fairly represented, it is certain to fulfil its own hopes, unless it employs, or provokes, violence impossible in England. The thing will be. Let the young men of Britain take care that it is done rightly when it is done.
And how ought it to be done? That will depend upon any circumstances now future and uncertain. It will depend upon the pace at which sound education spreads among the working classes. It will depend, too, very much — I fear only too much — upon the attitude of the upper classes to the lower, in this very question of Trades’ Unions and of Strikes. It will depend upon their attitude toward the unrepresented classes during the next few years, upon this very question of extended suffrage. And, therefore, I should advise, I had almost said entreat, any young men over whom I have any influence, to read and think freely and accurately upon the subject; taking, if I may propose to them a text-book, Mr. Mill’s admirable treatise on “Representative Government.” As for any theory of my own, if I had one I should not put it forward. How it will not be done, I can see clearly enough. It will not be done well by the old charter. It will not be done well by merely lowering the money qualification of electors. But it may be done well by other methods beside; and I can trust the freedom and soundness of the English mind to discover the best method of all, when it is needed.
Let therefore this “Conservative Reaction” which I suspect is going on in the minds of many young men at Cambridge, consider what it has to conserve. It is not asked to conserve the Throne. That, thank God, can take good care of itself. Let it conserve the House of Lords; and that will be conserved, just in proportion as the upper classes shall copy the virtues of Royalty; both of him who is taken from us, and of her who is left. Let the upper classes learn from them, that the just and wise method of strengthening their political power, is to labour after that social power, which comes only by virtue and usefulness. Let them make themselves, as the present Sovereign has made herself, morally necessary to the people; and then there is no fear of their being found politically unnecessary. No other course is before them, if they wish to make their “Conservative Reaction” a permanent, even an endurable fact. If any young gentlemen fancy (and some do) that they can strengthen their class by making any secret alliance with the Throne against the masses, then they will discover rapidly that the sovereigns of the House of Brunswick are grown far too wise, and far too noble-hearted, to fall once more into that trap. If any of them (and some do) fancy that they can better their position by sneering, whether in public or in their club, at a Reformed House of Commons and a Free Press, they will only accelerate the results which they most dread, by forcing the ultra-liberal party of the House, and, what is even worse, the most intellectual and respectable portion of the Press, to appeal to the people against them; and if again they are tempted (as too many of them are) to give up public life as becoming too vulgar for them, and prefer ease and pleasure to the hard work and plain-speaking of the House of Commons; then they will simply pay the same penalty for laziness and fastidiousness which has been paid by the Spanish aristocracy; and will discover that if they think their intellect unnecessary to the nation, the nation will rapidly become of the same opinion, and go its own way without them.
But if they are willing to make themselves, as they easily can, the best educated, the most trustworthy, the most virtuous, the most truly liberal-minded class of the commonweal; if they will set themselves to study the duties of rank and property, as of a profession to which they are called by God, and the requirements of which they must fulfil; if they will acquire, as they can easily, a sound knowledge both of political economy, and of the social questions of the day; if they will be foremost with their personal influence in all good works; if they will set themselves to compete on equal terms with the classes below them, and, as they may, outrival them: then they will find that those classes will receive them not altogether on equal terms; that they will accede to them a superiority, undefined perhaps, but real and practical enough to conserve their class and their rank, in every article for which a just and prudent man would wish.
But if any young gentlemen look forward (as I fear a few do still) to a Conservative Reaction of any other kind than this; to even the least return to the Tory maxims and methods of George the Fourth’s time; to even the least stoppage of what the world calls progress — which I should define as the putting in practice the results of inductive science; then do they, like king Picrochole in Rabelais, look for a kingdom which shall be restored to them at the coming of the Cocqcigrues. The Cocqcigrues are never coming; and none know that better than the present able and moderate leaders of the Conservative party; none will be more anxious to teach that fact to their young adherents, and to make them swim with the great stream, lest it toss them contemptuously ashore upon its banks, and go on its way unheeding.
Return to the system of 1800 — 1830, is, I thank God, impossible. Even though men’s hearts should fail them, they must onward, they know not whither: though God does know. The bigot, who believes in a system, and not in the living God; the sentimentalist, who shrinks from facts because they are painful to his taste; the sluggard, who hates a change because it disturbs his ease; the simply stupid person, who cannot use his eyes and ears; all these may cry feebly to the world to do what it has never done since its creation — stand still awhile, that they may get their breaths. But the brave and honest gentleman — who believes that God is not the tempter and deceiver, but the father and the educator of man — he will not shrink, even though the pace may be at moments rapid, the path be at moments hid by mist; for he will believe that freedom and knowledge, as well as virtue, are the daughters of the Most High; and he will follow them and call on the rest to follow them, whithersoever they may lead; and will take heart for himself and for his class, by the example of that great Prince who is of late gone home. For if, like that most royal soul, he and his shall follow with single eye and steadfast heart, freedom, knowledge, and virtue; then will he and his be safe, as Royalty is safe in England now; because both God and man have need thereof.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:56