Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

PEACE AND PATRIOTISM:

A LETTER TO IRENÆTS.

MY DEAR IRENÆUS, I congratu- scarlet, with gold epaulettes to finish late you. So they have really made it. We are not prepared to say that you churchwarden, committing the this would be a very startling change. interests of the church militant to a It is said that once upon a time one man who so lately was a professor of of the brotherhood caught another peace. Has all this change really attired in a red hunting-coat, and the taken place in consequence of our culprit defended his vanity by saylittle adventure at Boulogne? Why, ing, “ Friend, it is only a high they will be making you a father of drab." the church dext, like your great name. So it appears that the people of sake, and I perhaps shall live to see Manchester have actually adopted it. “Marte, virtute esto." But what my advice, and burnt John Bright in have you done with the broad-leaved effigy for his Russian sympathies ; hat and straight-cut coat? Having this is certainly a little variation on made shipwreck of your principles, the time-honoured custom of chairing you have probably offered up, as the a member, and will no doubt be genancients used to do, the weeds you erally imitated. were shipwrecked in

Irenæus, I am very glad to see your “ Uvida vestimenta maris Deo ;"

name as a subscriber to the Patriotic

Fund; not that I should have been and I should translate " uvida vesti- surprised at this, even had your prinmenta," the garments of a wet Quaker. ciples remained unchanged; for sevePerhaps the broad-leaved hat might ral of your late co-religionists, to their bang beside the helmet and pennon eternal honour, have proved their of Admiral Penn, which, if my me hearts better than their principles mory uses me well, are bung in the (for the credit of humanity, a thing beautiful Church of St Mary Red- not uncommon), and refused to turn cliffe at Bristol, a perpetual reproach away from the soldier's widow and to those descendants who forsook his orphans, though in his lifetime they knightly principles. Such a peniten- turned the cold shoulder to him. But tial offering would be at least grace. I expect that you have subscribed to ful. As for the drab, there is no the Patriotic Fund, not simply because doubt about it ; it will soon become your heart pulled stronger than your the military wear, as it has been dogma, but from a hearty sympathy found that conspicuous regimentals with patriotism. The other night I attract rifle bullets. The Russian took my coffee too strong, and lay officers, it seems, from notions of self- awake in consequence for some hours, preservation, have adopted a garb with my head in a whirl of thoughts nearly approaching to that of their and fancies not entirely unpleasant. Friends of the Peace Society; and I First, I thought, as people who lie expect that ere long the English and awake commonly do, of my own French will have to do the same,- private little budget, my incomings under compulsion no doubt, for it has and outgoings, whether I should been proved that they consult nothing make both ends meet this year,but their romantic courage, and seem whether or not we could afford a to think, like the Decii of Rome, that run to Paris, whether it would not be the shedding of their brave lives on more prudent to wait for the Exhibithe field is necessary to the triumph tion,--then of my subscriptions, and of their country's cause. Should such other people's subscriptions, and how a change take place, and the Society handsomely John Bull had behaved of Friends still determine to distin. in the matter of the Patriotic Fund, guish themselves from their fellow and the other war - subscriptions. citizens, it seems to me that nothing Then I fell a-musing on the word will be left them but to don the Patriotic; whether it had not changed

VOL. LXXVII.-NO. CCCCLXXI.

H

its meaning lately somewhat, and country. But I have a dim recollecwhether that change was not fortion of learning some catechism of the better, and whether the com- English history when a boy, in which mencement of that change for the it was asked who was Algernon Sidbetter was not to date from the com- ney? The answer was-A great pamencement of the present war with triot. So I suppose by that, that Ruggia. Patriotism had doubtless Algernon Sidney is considered a model fallen into disrepute during the thirty- patriot. I certainly did read about eight years' peace. It had certainly Algernon Sidney in Macaulay's Hiscome to mean the same thing as revo- tory lately, and I think I am right in Intion-mongering. Dr Johnson was saying that he opposed certain arbithe first to take its character away, trary acts of the court of Charles the by defining it as "the last refuge of a Second, and that he lost his head in acoundrel and not long ago, when consequence; but as Cæsar's mur

clerical friend of mine made a sud- derers, whatever they did, remained don appearance at another friend's “honourable men," so I suppose must honso after a walking-tour in Wales Algernon Sidney be considered in rather mufti costume, the first ex- he does not appear to have done clamation his friend made was, “My much — the model patriot. There dear fellow, you look more like a pa are certainly greater names in Engtriot than a parson,"-especially allud. lish history - few people will deny ing to a very open neck and shadowy that. Wellington and Nelson are hat which he wore. Apropos of the greater names; but they were men of hat as a symbol of pseudo-patriotism, action : it cannot be supposed that another friend of mine, an Oxford either of them had any great objecFellow, was arrested at Heidelberg in tion to their country, seeing that they 1849, during the state of siege, and did her work so well. Still the first detained for a short time till he could idea that strikes us with regard to prove his identity to the military au- them is not that they were patriots ; thorities, on the ground that he had but not so with regard to Algernon on "a Heckerish hat," -- tbe hat ap- Sidney-he was the patriot. Pitt, Dearing to these Teutonic wiseacres a Fox, and Burke, again, were much political combustible far more danger- greater politicians, no doubt about it. ons than the head it covered. I sup. Pitt, whatever the Whigs thought of pose the same military authorities him, did love his country, for he deliwould have been more afraid of an cately hinted to a foreign lady, who empty mortar than of a bomb-shell made overtures to him in leap-year, with a lighted fuse, such as I take a that he was wedded to his country, patriot's hond to be, the fuse being his and Fox, it is now generally allowed, eternal pipe. The abuse of the word was not French in his heart, although l'atriotism is not new. It has been he was not very anxious to go to the custom to call certain characters war with France; and Burke, both in history patriots by way of distinc- as Whig and as Tory, was British

toil, while it has been also the custom to the backbone, and his eloquence to enll certain other characters who burns with love of country. Yet ahowed their love of their country neither of these three may occupy most con plouously, oven by dying in the pedestal of Algernon Sidney ; her emune, not perhaps unpatriotic, he remains to the end the model hut till not by the distinguished name popular patriot, and none may disof patroon. For instance, why should possess him. From all this we may we call lampden, Pym, &c., patriots, pretty well gather what has been more than Montrose or Admiral Blake? the common notion of patriots and Admtrul Nake was a republican, it is patriotism during the thirty-eight true but his distinction was not years' peace, and why some people uutmed to battle with his fellow-citi. may wish for some other adjective to Kons, but against a foreign enemy be applied to a fund for the widows Milton, again, was as much of a re- and orphans of soldiers. The first publlonn or more than Hampden, yet requisite, according to this view, to he is never quoted as a great patriot, form the character of a patriot, is though he did immortal honour to his that his politics should be democratic;

the second, that he should be a talker Before this war with Russia broke rather than a doer,-for we have seen out, we had been gradually getting from our trifling induction that even less and less national, less and less democratic doers are excluded. Yet patriotic. Our cultivated classes were no one will deny that there is a true beginning to plume themselves on beas well as a false patriotism, and in ing citizens of the world, and feeling this sense the Fund I have spoken of equally at home in any part of the may well be called the most patriotic two hemispheres. Nor do we blame thing of our day. The love of country, them for this, for it was a natural or patriotism, traly so called, is an consequence of a smooth course of emotion second and subordinate only prosperity and peace. It is not in to the love of God; it is, in fact, the abusing the customs of foreign counlink between the love of God and the tries or sneering at foreign manners love of man-between Jeremy Tay- that patriotism is shown, or even in lor's religion and Howard's philan- an assumption of superiority over thropy. It is just as unfair to limit other nations; those who assume the its exclusive possession to any set of superiority being, by the way, by no political views, as it is to limit piety means superior specimens themselves. to any set of religious opinions. Yet, Indeed, it is the essence of patriotism as religious sectarians anathematise that it is not shown at all until the octhose who differ from themselves, and casion for its exercise arrives. It is deny them the possession of religion, like true religion, true love, true so do political sectarians deny their friendship, emphatically undemonstraopponents the possession of patriot- tive. I have spoken of that pseudoism. We begin to see the unfairness patriotism which is at bottom mere of the former view, in those trying Jacobinism; I have also alluded to circumstances which evoke the spirit another kind which is mere vulgarity, of love that they possess in common and which has caused gentlemen in time in religions antagonists; of the latter of peace to seem unpatriotic because view, when one puts our manhood to they shrank from obtruding their love the test, and we see our soldiers, Tory, of country on foreigners. This kind Whig, and Radical, vying in affec- is the patriotism of Brown, Jones, tiopate obedience to their common and Robinson, or the Englishman country, and shedding their blood who goes up the Rhine, does Switwith equal readiness at their common zerland, and returns by Paris, or country's bidding. Now, at length vice versa,—not for the pleasure of we plainly see the truth of those the thing, but to say he has been noble words of Arnold, that “politi- there. This class of patriots had cal opinions are not the ultimate dis begun to make us very unpopular on tinction between man and man," the Continent before this war broke there being occasions which sound out; and it will take all the heroism the depths of human nature, and cause that our soldiers are displaying in this men to group themselves, whatever war to do away with the unpleasant their imaginary or artificial discre- impression they have made. It is pancies, under one or the other of the scarcely too much to say that the airs great natural classes of true men or this class gave themselves were makfalse men, good men or bad. A great ing England a byword in French, spirit-stirring war is an occasion of German, and Italian society; for into this kind. As the truth and good. Spain and Scandinavia, being uncomness of individual nature is tested by fortable countries, they have scarcely affliction, so is the reality or non- yet penetrated. These people, so far reality of patriotism tested by war. from doing at Rome as the Romans And even as we require suffering to do, if they do not bring our characters to perfection, and show what our hearts are made “ Beard the lion in his den, of, so does a nation sometimes, we

The Douglas in his ball," may even say, require the hopes and fears of war to bring out its character, they insult the Pope in his own Vatiand find the way to its better feel- can, walk noisily up the aisles of ings.

Roman churches to assert Protestant ascendancy, put their hats over their to get experience and information : brows when the Host is passing, for- he knows he is ignorant of the world, getting, and forgetting only, it is to be and is affable to every one who is hoped, that the deepest injury to a willing to increase his knowledge; but people is a slight to their religious he finds himself puzzled by the lanfeelings, which is sooner or later re- guages, and the varieties of coinage sented ; talk big about the freedom he accumulates, and cannot pass; and of the press and liberal institutions in at last he flies home, down the Rhine, passport-offices and custom-houses on without stopping, like a dog who is the Austrian frontier ; walk with their disgusted with a bad shot. When at hats on into public rooms in Germany home he does not abuse foreigners, he and elsewhere, and forbear to make only wishes he knew more of them; the customary salutation, which is a he thinks they make excellent coffee ; graceful acknowledgment of the pre- he likes omelettes for breakfast, and sence of others; insist on dining late pats Mrs Bull out of all patience, and when all the world dines early; put her cook out of all temper, in trying the waiters to all possible inconve- to get French dishes out of them. He nience, and then make them extor- likes the Continental railway systemtioners by overpaying the inconve- regular, punctual, and safe, not racing nience, to show their command of for life, or rather for death; relieving money-in fact, take every possible one of all worry about luggage ; givopportunity of impressing every pub- ing plenty of time to bait (that is lic with the usefulness of John Bull, what he likes), and good real refreshimagining themselves invested with ments, not the miserable messes of all the past and present greatness of some of our refreshment-rooms. He Great Britain. Such are the patriots thinks passports a nuisance, but, as who, I do not hesitate to say, have he is not ashamed of his name, does made England unpopular in all those not much mind it, especially as he parts of the Continent where the people knows it must be a greater nuisance do not cringe to her for her money, and to the natives—owns, in fact, that he even with detestation in their hearts. has been generally pleased, though he In France, perhaps, this feeling was, is glad to get home again, because he even before the present war, less feels it more natural. Mr John Bull is strong than in Germany, because the a diamond in the rough, a thorough French were more used to us and our gentleman at heart ; for who so gentle ways, and could see beneath the sur- as he, where gentleness of heart is face, and distinguish one class of needed ? and we must be cautious of Englishmen from others; but I have confounding him with the pseudobeen told more than once in Ger- patriot I have been describing. As many, that the French, notwithstand for him, he is the caricature and deing the remembrance of Napoleon's gradation of John Bull, as the ape is invasion, are better liked in society; of the man, the ass of the horse, the and I should not wonder whether this pig of the elephant, the cat of the lion, feeling towards England, through the and the gent of the gentleman. I travelling English, has not been one would make a diminutive of the timecause why the German people seem Jhonoured name, and call him Johp cold as to the issue of our struggle Bully. John Bully is nothing more with Russia, in which their own in- or less than a fattened Yankee; and terests are so deeply, at stake. Now, what is a Yankee? I do not mean I do not wish to confound this pseudo- an American gentleman like Washingpatriot with that respectable agricul- ton Irving, but an American mobturist Mr John Bull, the model gentle- man, like those who refused to drink man-farmer. Mr John Bull is no our Queen's health at Richmond, on traveller ; but, when he does travel, the anniversary of their Independhe is full of bonhomie. He pays ence. For there is the deteriorated, through his nose to be sure, but then the underbred American as Englishhe does not avenge himself by giving man--such a degenerate Yankee is himself airs; and every one who an Anglo-Saxon run to seed, and cheats him must have a twinge of left to the natural law of deterioraconscience in doing so. He travels tion common to all unmixed races.

As the Spanish hidalgos have be- them, whether by a one-headed or a come stunted by breeding in-and-in, many-headed despot. The love of 80 has the surly Anglo-Saxondom freedom is no new love with us, as it of the Pilgrim Fathers become more is with some other nations-it is an rank by being left to vegetate by it. ancestral tradition, as Burke says, self. Besides, in leaving their own with its monumental inscriptions and country they in a degree threw off bearings armorial; but it does not some of the better feelings generated come so much from those ancestors in long time in their native blood. who lost it at Hastings, as it does It was with them as with that first- from those Norman patriarchs whose rate race of horses, the hunter, that, lance, poised by a hand like a lady's, transported and put to other uses, fell but directed by an arm like a crowback to the original cart-breed, to bar, carried victory on its point from which it owed rather its strength than the North Cape to the Holy Sepulchre; its generosity of temper. The Saxon or those terrible Vikinger, who had as sturdiness in us in Old England, lack good a seat on the wildest waves as their ing nothing of its robust vigour, is spi- Norman cousins had on their fiercest ritaalised and refined by its mixture horses, and who have left the glorious with the virtues of other races. The beritage of a sea-empire, which, God Briton, at home, adopts, and, as it willing, we will hold fast, in spite of were, engrafts upon himself, without John Bright, for ever. It is the excasting off his own native worth, the istence of these two kinds of pseudogood of many races. Mixed in Eng- patriotism, Irenæus, and the extreme land with the Norman and the Dane, talkativeness of the men who reprein Scotland with these and with the sent them, that has brought PatriotGael, in Ireland with these and with ism into such bad odour with sensible the original Celt, he becomes the people during the peace, so that they aristocrat of the world, and his off- were tempted to abjure the name and spring consists of as fine men and as even the thought altogether. When fair women as ever existed upon an educated Englishman went about earth. But, as far as he is Saxon abroad, he felt certain sympathies for only, if left to his own devices, he re. foreign customs and ways, and certain mains for ever a hewer of wood and disgusts at home customs and ways. a drawer of water, altered by civilisa- Sometimes, in despair at getting them tion into a spinner of cotton, or a altered, he took to living abroad altodigger of dollars, according as his gether; and he fancied, from the perhabitat is a British manufacturing fect acquiescence of his pature in such town, or some Eden of the Western arrangements, that the love of his wilderness. Now, English patriot country was dead in his heart; at least ism does not reside in the Saxon, he did not trouble himself to know as Saxon only, for he is by nature whether it was dead, or only sleeping a serf, and the son of a serf: he to recruit its strength. We will supcares little or nothing about freedom, pose him, for instance, located in and does not understand its meaning, France. While he was there, bis though be is well up in the slang of tastes were gratified by the national revolutionary agitation, and lends a love of beauty, and he felt that, already ear to political incendiaries. though it was wrong for all classes of The truth is, he does not want free. that nation to spend too much of their dom, but he craves for equality, be time in profitless pleasure, he felt, too, cause it is the forbidden fruit-just as that it was equally wrong for most he feels a craving for ardent spirits classes of his own nation to spend too when fatigued. None but the noble much of their time in equally frivolous and the good, and those who are business, and that the former was of brought up in a natural way, really the two certainly the more graceful care for freedom, or know what it and the more intellectual error. In means; but for all that, it is a passion England, people seemed to live their in finely-constituted natures, like the lives away in a vain effort to enjoy love of fresh air or mountain scenery; themselves on a perpetually increasand the noble and the good would ing scale, till old age found them not rather die than have it taken from having enjoyed themselves at all ;

« VorigeDoorgaan »