« VorigeDoorgaan »
From the Spectator, Jan. 6. ever, ideas seem “ to the wise,” that is to THE TRIUMPH OF IDEAS.
those who want results, a “stumbling-block,”
and “ to the Greeks,” that is to Saturday THERE is strength, then, in ideas after Reviewers, who want everything to conduct all. Never, perhaps, in the history of the itself in a highly cultured way, mere world did an idea gain so rapid, complete, “ foolishness.” and visible a triumph as that which was The advocates of this “philosophy of consummated at Washington on the 19th common sense” which after all is only December. One of the many depressing utilitarianism degraded from a creed into signs around us which observers watch with an opinion, always seem to us to omit one alarm, is the apparent decay, or rather great datum from their calculation. Souls temporary paralysis, of the faith in ideas. always accrete themselves bodies of some In the new search for intellectual realism kind, though not necessarily the fittest people doubt audibly — witness the Pall bodies. Great ideas do not always triumph Mall Gazette of Thursday, on the French only by percolation; if they did, enthusiasts Press — whether thought is stronger than might well despair, for no generation would armies, whether an idea has, simply because ever witness the realization of its own it is great, the power of making itself ef- greatest thoughts. The labour of sending a fective. They do not despise thought, they new thought requiring the assent of millions do not many of them deny that it would be before it can be effective through those well if it were stronger than bayonets, millions of hostile and unreceptive minds but they question its effectiveness, its power would daunt the imagination of the thinkers to cloth itself in flesh and bones, and do of to-day, as it did those of the same class great things in the world. Freedom is in the century before Christ, and again better than tyranny; but, after all, French during the Renaissance. Individuals disfreedom has battled for a hundred years like planting oaks till the only oaks planted only to be suppressed by the peasants of in Europe for timber are those planted by France: Pauperism is an evil; but, after States, or by nobles who expect their families all, the ideas of the social thinkers of Europe to endure like States. Let postérity judge, have not perceptibly diminished pauperism. is the wish of the dreamer, rarely that of Ignorance is bad ; but, after all, crime varies the man intent on diffusing a real idea. He in the ratio of population, and not in that of wants to see it succeed, and, if he cannot see education and enlightenment. Is it worth it, turns aside, as Comte did, to plunge into while to fight for a great idea, and with vast himself till he becomes a mere dreainer of pain and expenditure of energy and self-sacri- dreams. Fortunately for mankind, the fice to accelerate its diffusion one little hair- first property of an idea, that is of a thought breadth, when, after all, it may never grow with fructifying power, a thought for which strong enough to affect the welfare of man- men can be martyrs, is to accrete to itself kind? Ideas must grow, and for growth weapons not its own, to use
causes and there must be soil, and there is as yet no such dominate classes, and as it were dye acts, thing, but only sand. Enthusiasts waste with all which it has little or no connection. their lives in preaching co-operation, and The French idea of equality won its way co-operation is good ; but to be effective, it not by percolation, but because there was in needs a lower class aware that self-sacrifice the France of 1789 no road to justice and is essential to its success and there is no physical comfort but through it. The idea such class. Why strive and toil, and, it may of Free Trade by itself would never have be perish, to advance a principle which won the battle, for the English masses are after all may never be more than abstract ? not free-traders yet, but it drew to itself Is it not better, or even nobler, says the the desire for cheaper food, and so used the modern Archimedes, to become wise one's- " big loaf” as to come out triumphant. It self, but never apply wisdom, to study the will be triumphant in America, when it has lever, but never build a catapult, to play found a similar weapon, and all who support the part of the intellectual Sadducee, seeing it assist the day when the search for such a the wrong and the right and commenting weapon shall be successful. We remember thereon, but otherwise well content to know reading once an account in an American that sugar is sweet, and that one has sugar ? magazine, how far accurate .we know not, Or better still, to do all that, and also what of the way in which education triumphed little good comes to hand easily, and in Rhode Island. The rulers there, middleleave principles to take of themselves; class, well-to-do men, would not have the punish the beadle who starves the pauper, idea, declared it expensive and visionary, but level no stroke at pauperism ? Now, as fought it on the ground of economy, suc
ceeded year after in preventing its taking civilization might in their slow development to itself a bordy in the shape of a legislative gradually ameliorate the
The Act. The suffrage, however, was wide, wise ” defended it, the “Greeks,”— always and one fine morning Rhode Island found wiser than the wise, as the Saturday Review itself in presence of an imminent agrarian is wiser than the Record, — thought John law. The idea had found its weapon, op- Brown's attempt a foolish waste of life, and position died instantly away, and the com- yet as the fanatic body gave up its soul, mon schools of Rhode Island are amongst slavery, to end which John Brown had given the best in the Union. The truth would his body and offered bis soul, died too. In seem to be that conviction, or as most men all history nothing is more certain than that following an Oriental model call it, faith, is from John Brown's
“mad” attempt sprang in itself power, and that a minority once secession. “ These men, then, can fight, fully imbued with a principle can and does said the South, can die for their wild lead a majority anxious for something very fanaticism, are not cowards, but madmen;" different, but convinced against their will, and from that moment, as Calhoun had or rather with their will and against their prophesied, the South saw in separation the prejudices. Conviction gives the power to only chance for its beloved institution. It convince, and as we see every day in the- seceded, and the “idea " so long contemned, ological life and the life of scientific and derided, and despised, leaped up armed. enthusiasts, faith is an effluent power as Its advocates, by no means able men as a much as fire or electricity, or many other rule, were still the only men who saw, what of the physical forces. Even inferior men, the statesmen could once possessed of it, can dominate superior in slavery was the root of the evil, that it men, and those who are not statesmen can or the Union must die, that in it lay the lead masses, who are seeking far different death warrant of Republican institutions. results, direct to the one the enthusiasts Alone decided amidst the rushing crowd, have desired.
these men were always foremost, and always The recent illustration is, we believe, therefore guided the else vacillating rush. the most wonderful, or at least the most Reluctantly, defiantly almost, another idea, visible, yet recorded. On the 19th De- the thirst for empire, always armed and cember Mr. Seward, Secretary of State, always ready for battle, placed its armies at announced officially that the constitutional the disposal of à nobler thought, and to amendments abolishing, slavery and ena- secure a geographical gain worked out a bling Congress to make that abolition moral victory. A half convinced President effectual, had been signed by twenty-seven proclaimed to a partly convinced army and States, and had consequently become part an unconvinced people that he accepted an of the Federal Constitution. It is not yet idea he had not made, that not because it six years since John Brown died on the stood condemned of God, not because it gallows, saying, “ God sees that I am of was in itself the sum and aggregate of all more use to hang than for any other earthly human wickedness, but because it was oppurpose.”. He was the first abolitionist who posed to a glorious dream — the dream of a died fighting the slave power, and in his continent set apart for the peaceful progress death was
more illustration of the of humanity — slavery should die. And he “ worn out” truth that the blood of the did die, die of hard blows, and blood shed,and martyrs is the seed of the church. It is brave men put to flight, and strong men sent impossible to conceive a cause more triumph- to the gallows— Captain Gordon, e.g.- and ant than that of slavery was when that old all those things which are done only by power man, after kissing the negro child - thick- clothed in flesh and dressed in armour. lipped child, with yellow whites to its eyes The idea had become flesh, had dressed itself
- walked quietly up to the gallows sur- in armour, and struck this abstract and rounded by an execrating soldiery. The lightly ungentlemanly thing, as the Pall Mall institution, fenced in by the active love of Gazeite would say — terrible physical blows, eight millions who could slay or be slain as social equality has also struck, as religious for it, by the reverence of twenty millions freedom may strike, as democracy, one of more, who when the national existence the grandest, if one of the most imperfect was in question hardly dared to touch it, ideas which ever visited man, will yet strike, by the silent respect of probably five-sixths at recalcitrant power. In 1859° abolition of the rulers of earth, who felt slavery an
was John Brown. In 1865 it was John outpost of their own dominion, seemed Brown followed by a million of armed and beyond all human attack. The most drilled Anglo-Saxons, intent doubtless on sanguine dreamer only hoped that time and many ends but fulfilling in their own
despite always the end that to John Brown know not, possibly from some low greed for was living, when as he walked — slightly gain which only the negro can secure to us, slouching, possibly - to the gallows he but come it will at last, and then the idea kissed that thick-lipped child.
clothed and visible will rule with the tyranAnd so it will always be. It is hard even nical sway all Anglo-Saxon ideas assume. for trained thinkers intent upon their work Meanwhile it is well for the few who have to explain precisely why a true idea always not lost the capacity for intellectual faith to wins - except indeed by saying what to-day march on, carrying their idea over an ever is an argument only with the Record, and widening range until at last the body is the Record's bitterest antagonist, that the found, careless of those who satirize them as Judge of all the earth can do only right, and fanatics, dangerous to those who denounce that He is irresistible — but the fact re- them as evil men, firm even against those mains. Great ideas have strength. Let who, seeing as clearly as themselves, will the strongest man in Europe try a fall with lend no hand to help because the workmen the Emperor Napoleon and he will be reek so with their toil. Was ever beaten, will possibly end his days in rowing thusiast yet so silly as he who first put a a boat under the lash through the bayous of seed into the ground and expected the rotCayenne. Nevertheless, as sure as the idea ten mite to grow ? of freedom is higher than the idea of authority, so surely will Napoleonism pass away, leaving only the trace a beacon light leaves when it flashes on a quagmire or a rock. Nothing on earth at this moment seems so invincible as English pauperism. It is
From the Saturday Review. tected by the faith of the strongest people THE GOVERNMENT OF COLOURED RACES that ever lived, by the impregnable earth
IN COLONIES. wall of human ignorance, by a wretched perversion of the words of the Son of God, PERHAPS nothing so much illustrates the and it will fall nevertheless, fall till its de- careless hand-to-mouth state of political fence will seem, not to our “sons or our opinion in England as the utter ignorance posterity, but to us, a momentary aberra- of two-thirds of the people, and the utter tion which volumes will be written to explain. indifference of nearly the whole other third, Ideas are stronger than armies, for they can as to the principles on which alien and disnot only produce armies, as the idea which similar races ought to be governed. Wholed to the Crusades did, but they can borrow ever at any time thinks at all on the subr armies, as the idea which produced Abolition ject of civil government must think on this. did, and as the idea which demands justice But the fact is that, in England, very few in Jamaica will do. These good Tories people ever do think of the theory of govthink they will have a majority upon that ernment. We pride ourselves on our “ pracquestion, which is really an idea," - tical” character and habits. We rejoice the right of the British subject with that we are not as other nations are, theopigment in his cuticle to the same measure rists and formalists. We have shaped, rathas the British subject without pigment- er than designed, a form of government and their view, though an improbable one, which altogether suits our disposition and is of eourse a possible one. What then ? our wants, but which is so full of modificaThe Sadducees may say the true policy is to tions, inconsistencies, checks and countersee that the people of Jamaica are oppressed, checks, that we should wholly despair of and be silent lest there should be a fuss making it intelligible to an enlightened citiabout it, and uncultivated people say things zen of those nations which rejoice in the pleasing to the Almighty but not to Oxford, elaborate enunciation of first principles, and and the Sadducees will be for their ends in the rigid formularies of codified constituthe right. And the idea will march on tions. We do not care very much about nevertheless, till it meets some day, and at first principles. We fashion for ourselves no long day,
the beautiful or hideous, a Parliament and Government, and rewhich will clothe it with the required fashion them as we feel the need of change. physical power, and the Sadducee will But we leave to a select few, whether nacower first of all, and acknowledge, "Lo! tives or foreigners, the duty of explaining, here is Truth armed.” Fighting her is not criticizing, and formalizing what we have my business, but concession. Why fight done. with expediencies which have become This so-called "practical" character of strong ?' Whence the flesh is to come we our minds has made most of us wholly in
different, if not blind, to one of the greatest preacher or law student occasionally falls in problems which can puzzle the ingenuity our way; but it would hardly be accurate of statesmen. For certainly no question to say that either of these specimens is gencan well be more puzzling than this : erally calculated to excite sympathy or lik“How ought subject alien races to be gov- ing beyond the unetuous pale of Exeter erned ?” Even when the unexpected Hash Hall
. As a rule, English people out of of a Jamaica rebellion or tumult startles London see little either of the Eastern or us, we fail to recognize in the event a symp- the African races. They do not know tom which we ought long, since to have what it is to grow up with, and in close studied and examined. We had a graver proximity to, a race of different origin, warning in the Indian mutiny; smaller ones manners, thoughts, intellect, from themin disturbances at St. Vincent's and Anti- selves, and bearing on their bodies the gua. The Indian mutiny was put down, strong ineradicable signs of this hereditary but it flared long enough to startle the difference. Not only are the races differwhole of England with its unwonted blaze. ent in all other characteristics, but they The riots at St. Vincent's and Antigua were have the two signal marks of distinction also put down, though not in a very satis- a distinct feature and a distinct colour. Of factory or honourable way; for the one re- this contiguity of populations nothing is quired the intervention of French troops, known in England, as it is known in the and the other left vestiges of greater alarm East Indies, in the West Indies, and the on the minds of those who had been as- Southern States of the American Federasailed than of those who disturbed the tion. But something distantly resembling public peace. The final suppression of the it is known in our larger towns. There, first, and the comparative obscurity of the mixed up with our own native artisans, is a latter insurrections deadened inquiry and large body of Irish immigrants — different thought in England. “Practical” men took indeed in race, lineament, and religion, but it for granted that, if such outbreaks did not different in colour or language. Such occur, some means would be found to put dissimilarity as does exist, though fruitful in them down. So all concern was dissipated, small disputes, and inimical to fusion, does men ceased to think on the subject, and its not prevent a general harmony of existence important bearings on the relations, not only and occasional intermarriages. It gives, of England, but of other European coun- however, a peculiar, and perhaps not å de tries, to other multifarious races were soon sirable, character to the life of those dislost sight of
tricts in which the two races are found toYet, even in an age in which intelligent gether. There is a great deal of Celtic artisans allow themselves to be persuaded impulse, of Celtic warmth, of Celtic mobiliby a powerful demagogue that there was a ty, and Celtic quickness, together with a time in the history of England when the certain degree of Celtic insincerity and want right of voting for members of Parliament of truth, thrown, in casual and unadjusted was possessed by all yearly tenants of houses proportions, into mixture with thie dull (as that phrase is now understood), it may stolid obstinacy of the lower Englishman. not be impossible to convince some persons The result is not, on the whole, partcularly that the question which we have propound- pleasing. But then there is this to be reed, even if difficult of solution, is worthy of membered. Both the races thus brought consideration. To us, as a people, it is one together in frequent collision and only parof urgent importance. To others — for ex- tial combination are of the lowest and poorample, Holland, France, Spain, and tho est class. All the temptations and all the United States —it is only of less import- irritations of poverty are common to both. ance because their coloured and alien sub And the result could hardly be expected to jects are less numerous than ours. But it be pleasing. When the Irish become disis important to all Europe and to the Euro- proportionately numerous (which they bave pean races in North America, because both a faculty of becoming), their characteristics Europe and America will, every succeeding give a decided tone and colour to the subyear, have greater intercourse with this urb or district. What that tone and that motley herd of dissimilar populations. In colour are, magistrates, vestry-men, and England we see little of these races. A parish officers can best define. Whatever Lascar at a crossing, an old negro servant they are (and they are not unmixedly bad) preserved as a relic by an only half-ruined they illustrate - partially, indeed, imperJamaica family, are objects which excite fectly, and suggestively — what it is to deal occasional sympathy or liking or pity in the with a whole population of which not onemind of the worldly Londoner. A negro half or two thirds, but eight or nine-tenths,
are as dissimilar and as alien from the gov- | instinct of the Oriental. It saps the innate erning race as the great Author of mankind submissiveness of the natives, and stimulates can make his creatures.
a rebellious contempt wbich one day may Does it ever occur to mere loungers in a be fatal.” London club, laying down the law with a This doctrine, if it has some followers, positiveness of assertion that makes men of has many opponents in England. All the experience and knowledge dumb with religious world is opposed to it. It is apamazement, that there are not only inherent parently opposed to the teaching of the but increasing difficulties in the way of gov- Gospel. It is not readily reconcilable with erning these dusky populations ? That such those texts which inculcate humility, longis the case will be testified by every English- suffering, and turning the cheek to the man who returns from official, professional, smiter. But, if this be so, and if India can or commercial life in India or the West In- not be retained by a precise adhesion to the dies. It is natural that the feeling of na- most pacific texts of the New Testament, tionality, and the desire of vindicating it, some rather embarrassing questions present should in every people be intensified and themselves. If India were Christian exasperated by the presence of another, that is, if the people of India admitted the and that a dominant, race; and we must obligation of Christian precepts -of course not be surprised if the mixed races who every English officer of every kind might make up the population of British India — be expected to deal with them as he would Hindoos, Mussulmans, and what not- deal with his own countrymen at home. should gradually learn from the incumbent But not only is this not the case now, but sway of England the dreamy notion of a there seems no chance of its ever being the united Indian People. It may take genera- case. There are, and probably will contions to give the vision body and form; but tinue to be, conversions, more or less genuine, whether it ever will — or will within any to Christianity all over the peninsula. But assignable period of time - become a reality, to suppose that the mass of the Mussulman depends, according to all trustworthy ac- and Hindoo population will ever profess counts, much more upon Englishmen, Eng- Christianity of the English Protestant type lish officers civil and military, and English is simply one of those expectations on which residents, than on the natives themselves. no statesman would ever think of acting: “ As long as we prove ourselves worthy And so long as they remain Mussulmans or to govern and capable of governing so Hindoos, so long will their awe and obedilong shall we continue to govern. From ence be ensured by those virtues on the part the moment we betray the slightest con- of their masters which, though co-existent sciousness of incapacity, from that moment with many Christian qualities, are not themour raj is doomed.” Such is the testimony selves specially and eminently typical of the of those who know India best and long- Christian character. To hold out-numbering est. And what they mean is this: foes at bay, to preserve a haughty and imIn order to govern an Eastern people, perious demeanour amid treacherous and
not shirk the outward and rebellious subjects, to forego not one jot of visible signs of governing. You must not merited severity even when all around is appear to fear them, or to fear anything. ominous of danger and perfidy, these are You must not allow the people to take lib- the virtues which awe the Eastern mind; erties with you. You must not allow them but they are not the virtues most specially to jostle you in the streets, as they now do inculcated in the Epistles of St. James or in Bombay. You must assert your authori- St. John. And we fear that those virtues ty in ways which might be thought strange which are most specially enjoined by the in England. “ If,” say they, - you treat last-named Apostle are signally calculated a Bombay man or a Bengalee as you would to excite in the Eastern mind feelings as treat an Englishman of the lower class, you opposed as well can be to awe, reverence, do not conciliate him; you simply affront and submission. his pride. You are of the governing race; With regard to the negroes, a superficial yet you allow him to push and jostle you as contrast is established between them and he would push or jostle some wretched Pa- the natives of India by the readiness with riah. He knows you do not permit this which the former have learned to profess through pure affection. Therefore, he in- Christianity. It must be remembered that fers, you do it through fear. That simple the negroes who are known to us as Chrissuspicion of fear on your part is a loss tians had no choice but between Christianiequal to the loss of a great battle. It de- ty and Paganism. No other religion, at the stroys the feeling of veneration, which is an time of their conversion, was known to