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But it was swept away by an act of the Executive; the Army became the nation's army, and what was done in vindication of the law has received a splendid vindication in point of policy from a conspicuous and vast advance in military efficiency since the date of the great Army reforms. So also in the Civil establishments of the country. The members of the House of Commons have freely given up their respective shares of the patronage, which the friends of each successive Administration habitually exercised through the Treasury; and a wide career of unequalled security, with emoluments undoubtedly liberal for the average of good service, and with the moral certainty of fair play in promotion, has been opened to character and talent throughout the land without distinction of class.
If, now, we look to what has happened oversea, and to our country's share in it, the view is in many respects satisfactory, and the period is in all remarkable. I speak with respect of the East India Company, and with a deep admiration of the Statesmen who were reared under its shade. The transfer of the government of the vast dominion in 1858 was not an unmingled good. But upon the whole it was the letting in of a flood of light upon a shadowed region. If since that time evil things have been done, it has not been at the instigation or with the sanction of the country. The Company had the merits and the faults of a conservative institution. The new feeling and new methods toward the natives are such as humanity rejoices in. They are due to the nation, and are intimately associated with the legislative change. It is no small matter if, though much may yet remain to do, progress has been made in the discharge of a debt, where the creditors are two hundred and fifty millions of our fellow-creatures, each of them with a deep and individual concern. With respect, again, to the great and evergrowing Colonial Empire of the Queen, the change has been yet more marked. Before Lord Grey's Reform Act, Colonies were governed in and from Downing Street. An adherence to the methods then in use would undoubtedly before this time have split the Empire.
The substitution of government from within for government from without has brought all difficulties within manageable bounds, and has opened a new era of content which is also consolidation.
But the period has also been a great period for Europe. The Treaty of Vienna, in the main, had consecrated with solemn forms a great process of reaction, and had trampled under foot every national aspiration. The genius of Mr. Canning moved upon far other lines and his efforts, especially in Portugal and Greece, made preparation for a better day, and for the vigorous action of his disciple Lord Palmerston. Nationalities have suffered, and in some places suffer still. But if we compare this with other periods of history, never have they had such a golden age. Belgium set free, Germany consolidated, Portugal and Spain assisted in all such efforts as they have made for free government, Italy reconstituted, Hungary replaced in the enjoyment of its historic rights, Greece enlarged by the addition of the Ionian Islands and of Thessaly, ten millions of Christians under Ottoman rule in communities, that once had an historic name, restored in the main to freedom, to progress, and to hope; to say nothing of reforms and changes, many of them conspicuously beneficial, in other vast populations: these are events, of which we may reverently say, 'their sound is gone out into all lands, and their voices unto the ends of the world." * If these things are as good as they are unquestionably great, nay if, being so great, they have real goodness at all to boast of, then it is comforting to bear in mind that in by far the greater number of them the British influence has been felt, that in some of them it has held a foremost place, and that if, in any of them the note uttered has not been true, it has belied the sentiment of the nation, made known so soon as the forms of the Constitution allowed it an opportunity of choice. Wars have not
*I do not mention the important episode of the Crimean War, because it would require more space than this very summary statement would allow to exhibit its true character in
point of policy; which I conceive to have been that it was an attempt, not wholly unsuccessful, to apply European authority toward keeping the peace of Europe.
been extinguished; they have been too frequent; and rumors of wars have grown to be scarcely less bad than the reality. Yet there have been manifestations, in act as well as word, of a desire for a better state of things; and we did homage, in the Alabama case, to the principle of a peaceful arbitration, at the cost, ungrudgingly borne by the people, of three millions of money.
I have not dwelt in these pages upon the commerce of the United Kingdom, augmented fivefold in a term of years not sufficient to double its population, or of the enormous augmentation of its wealth. One reference to figures may however be permitted. It is that which exhibits the recent movement of crime in this country. For the sake of brevity I use round numbers in stating it. Happily the facts are too broad to be seriously mistaken. In 1870, the United Kingdom with a population of about 31,700,000 had about 13,000 criminals, or one in 1,760. In 1884, with a population of 36,000,000, it had 14,000 criminals, or one in 2,500. And as there are some among us who conceive Ireland to be a sort of pandemonium, it may be well to mention (and I have the hope that Wales might, on the whole, show as clean a record) that with a population of (say) 5, 100,000 Ireland (in 1884) had 1,573 criminals, or less than one in 3,200.
If now I set out upon chronicling the actual misdeeds of the Legislature during the last half century, and deal not with temporary but with permanent Acts, the task is a very easy one. Were I recording my own sentiments only, I should set down the Divorce Act as an error; but I conceive it has the approval of a majority. I should add the Public Worship Act, but that it is fast passing into desuetude; and the Ecclesiastical Titles Act, which ended its mute and ignominious existence in an early repeal. If these were errors, and some would deny it, what are they in comparison with the good laws of the time?
If we look for sins of omission, it is indeed undeniable that the public business is more and more felt to be behind* The figures are subject to a small deduction on account of Acts passed to extend the jurisdiction of minor courts.
hand. What we call arrears, however, were arrears in the beginning of the century; only they were then unfelt ar
For my own part, I believe that the cause and prospective cure of these arrears lies in a single word. That word is Ireland. But Ireland at this moment means controversy, and for the purposes of this paper I regard it as forbidden ground.
There is one serious subject which, as it is commonly understood, falls neither under the head of legislation nor of administration, while it partakes of both. Within our memory, and especially within the last twenty years, we have seen a large and general growth of the public expenditure. It may now be stated in round numbers at ninety millions. It has grown, since 1830, much more rapidly than the population. Fully to exhibit this growth we should deduct the charge for debt and repayment of debt. After this has been done it will appear that what may be called the optional expenditure has more than trebled within fifty years, while the population has less than doubled. Against this it may be said that in the defensive services we have greater efficiency; that changes of armament have been costly; and that the vast augmentation in continental forces compelled a certain degree of upward movement; while, in the civil services, provision has undoubtedly been made for a multitude of real wants, formerly undreamt of. Let ail reasonable allowance be granted accordingly. It will still remain true, first, that this growth has been in many cases forced by the House of Commons, of which the first duty is to curtail it; secondly, that the appetite, to which it is, in my opinion, partly due, is as yet unsated and menaces further demands; thirdly, that promises of retrenchment given to the country on the Abolition of Purchase in 1871 by the Government of the day have not been redeemed; fourthly, that the dangerous invasion by the House of Commons of the province of the Executive with regard to expenditure betokens a prevailing indifference to the subject in the country. It is true, however, that, though our expenditure is greatly swolis not demoralized. len, our finance The public credit has been vigorously
maintained our debt (since 1816) has been reduced by more than 150 millions, and we no longer enjoy the melancholy distinction of being the most indebted people in the world. But on the whole I am unable to deny that the State and the nation have lost ground with respect to the great business of controlling the public charge, and I rejoice in any occurrence which may give a chance, however slender, of regaining it.
Let us not, however, overstate the matter. It is an item in the account, but an item only. There is an ascensus Averni for the nation, if it will face the hill. The general balance of the present survey is not disturbed.
It is perhaps of interest to turn from such dry outlines as may be sketched by the aid of almanacs to those more delicate gradations of the social movement, which in their detail are indeterminate and almost fugitive, but which in their mass may be apprehended and made the subject of record. The gross and cruel sports, which were rampant in other days, have almost passed from view, and are no longer national. Where they remain, they have submitted to forms of greater refinement. Pugilism, which ranges between manliness and brutality, and which in the days of my boyhood on its greatest celebrations almost monopolized the space of journals of the highest order, is now rare, modest, and unobtrusive. But, if less exacting in the matter of violent physical excitements, the nation attaches not less but more value to corporal education, and for the schoolboy and the man alike athletics are becoming an ordinary incident of life. Under the influence of better conditions of living, and probably of increased self-respect, mendicity, except in seasons of special distress, has nearly disappeared. If our artisans combine (as they well may) partly to uphold their wages, it is also greatly with the noble object of keeping all the members of their enormous class independent of public alms. They have forwarded the cause of self-denial, and manfully defended themselves even against themselves, by promoting restraints upon the traffic in strong liquors. In districts where they are most advanced, they have fortified their position by organized co-operation in sup
ply: and the capitalist will have no jealousy of their competition, should they succeed in showing that they can on a scale of sensible magnitude assume a portion of his responsibilities, either on the soil or in the workshop.
Nor are the beneficial changes of the last half century confined to the masses. Swearing and duelling, established until a recent date almost as institutions of the country, have nearly disappeared from the face of society: the first a gradual change; the second one not less sudden than it was marvellous, and one happily not followed by the social trespasses which it was not wholly unreasonable to apprehend from its abolition. Serious as opposed to idle life has become a reality, and a great reality, in quarters open to peculiar temptation ; for example, among the officers of the army, and at our public schools, which are among the most marked and national of our institutions. The clergy of the Anglican Church have been not merely improved, but transformed; and have greatly enlarged their influence during a time when voluntary and Nonconforming effort, within their province and beyond it, and most of all in Scotland, has achieved its noblest triumphs. the same time, that disposition to lay bare public mischiefs and drag them into the light of day, which, though liable to exaggeration, has perhaps been our best distinction among the nations, has become more resolute than ever. The multiplication and better formation of the institutions of benevolence among us are but symptomatic indications of a wider and deeper change: a silent but more extensive and practical acknowledgment of the great second commandment, of the duties of wealth to poverty, of strength to weakness, of knowledge to ignorance, in a word of man to man. And the sum of the matter seems to be that upon the whole, and in a degree, we who lived fifty, sixty, seventy years back, and are living now, have lived into a gentler time; that the public conscience has grown more tender, as indeed was very needful; and that, in matters of practice, at sight of evils formerly regarded with indifference or even connivance, it now not only winces but rebels: that upon the whole the race has been reaping, and not scatter
ing; earning, and not wasting; and that, without its being said that the old Prophet is wrong, it may be said that the young Prophet was unquestionably right.
But do not let us put to hazard his lessons, by failing to remember that every blessing has its drawbacks and every age its dangers. I wholly reserve my judgment on changes now passing in the world of thought, and of inward conviction. I confine myself to what is nearer the surface; and further, I exclude from view all that regards the structure and operation of political party. So confining myself, I observe that, in the sphere of the State, the business of the last half century has been in the main a process of setting free the individual man, that he may work out his vocation without wanton hindrance, as his Maker will have him do. If, instead of this, Government is to work out his vocation for him, I for one am not sanguine as to the result. Let us beware of that imitative luxury, which is tempting all of us to ape our betters. Let us remember, that in our best achievements lie hid the seeds of danger; and beware lest the dethronement of Custom to make place for Right should displace along with it that principle of Reverence which bestows a discipline absolutely invaluable in the formation of character. We have had plutocrats who were patterns of every virtue, as may well be said in an age which has known Samuel Morley: but let us be jealous of plutocracy, and of its tendency to infect aristocracy, its elder and nobler sister; and learn, if we can, to hold by or get back to some regard for simplicity of life. Let us respect the ancient manners; and recollect that, if the true soul of chivalry has died among us, with it all that is good in society has died. Let us cherish a sober mind; take for granted that in our best performances there are latent many errors which in their own time will come to light; and thank our present teacher for reminding us in his stately words:
*New Locksley Hall, p. 32.
Forward, then, but still remember, how the course of Time wil swerve,
Crook and turn upon itself in many a backward streaming curve.
And now a closing word. There is a circle of elect spirits, to whom the whole strain of this paper will, it is most likely, seem to be beside the mark. A criticism on the new volume in the Spectator,* bearing the signs of a master-hand, justly (as I think) praises the chief poem, in a temper unalloyed by the fears which weaker men may entertain, lest by other men weaker still it may be taken for a deliberate authoritative estimate of the time, and if so taken may be made and excused for the indulgence of the opposite but often concurring weaknesses of a carping and also of a morbid temper. If I understand the criticism rightly, it finds a perfect harmony, a true equation, between the two Locksley Halls; the warmer picture due to the ample vitality of the Prophet's youth, and the colder one not less due to the stinted vitality of his age. In passing I may just observe that this stinted vitality can strike like a spent cannon-ball. But at all events we must in this view not merely accept, we must carry along with us in living consciousness, the proposition that the poems are purely subjective; that they do not deal with the outward world at all; that their imagery is like the perception of color by the eye, and tells us only our own impression of the thing, not at all the thing itself. Provided with this mōlu,† we can safely confront any Circe, and defy all her works. But it is not a specific that all men are able to keep in stock ;” and, for such as have it not, the minutes spent upon this roughly drawn paper will possibly not have been wasted, if it shall have helped to show them that their country is still young as well as old, and that in these latest days it has not been unworthy of itself. Justice does not require, nay rather she forbids, that the Jubilee of the Queen be marred by tragic tones. -Nineteenth Century.
*Of December 18, 1886. † Odyssey, x. 305.
M. RENAN'S LATER WORKS.
BY ANDREW LANG.
"ONE day,' says M. Renan, speaking of the time he spent, when young, at the Seminary of Issy, "one day M. Pinault met me in an alley of the park. I was sitting on a stone bench, and was reading, I remember, Clarke's treatise on The Existence of God. I was wrap ped up as usual in a thick overcoat. Oh, the little treasure!' said M. Pinault, when he came near me. 'How pretty he looks there, all nicely packed. Don't disturb him; he will always be like that; he will read, and read, but when he is called to care for the souls of men, he will be reading still. Warm and snug in his fur coat, he will cry, Oh, leave me, leave me
M. Renan admits that he is
Whether we agree with M. Renan that life is amusing or not, it is certainly of interest to study the confessions of this considerable writer and learned man. His comedies in prose are almost as much confessions" as his autobiographical Souvenirs d'Enfance. They are veiled statements, gazés, as he says, if not of his whole philosophy, at least In reading M. Renan's later works, of certain nuances de pensée, some forms those singular and ironic apologues to and shades of thought, which are fawhich he gives more or less of the form miliar to him. "A man writes such of comedies, one is often reminded of things," he says, speaking of his SouM. Pinault's pedagogic taunts. M. venirs, for the purpose of passing on Renan is still, in the midst of this cold to others that theory of the universe world, wrapped up in the houppelande of which he carries about with him." Pera warm content, of a soft success. He haps it can hardly be said that M. sits like God, holding no form of Renan possesses a theory of the unicreed, but contemplating all." Like verse. If ever he says anything serithe Buddha, he seems pleasantly sit- ously, he returns on it with a sceptical uated, outside the great Wheel of exist- smile, or half sighing a smile in a yawn ence, watching it roll on its unknown as it were. You must not imagine way into the darkness. He cries to the that so clever a man is dull enough to Nature of Things, "Courage, courage, suppose that things are exactly as he Nature !" * as the old man in the pit, thinks they are at any given moment. at the first representation of Les Pré- Still there be certain ideas, notions, cieuses Ridicules cried, Courage, nuances de pensée, which return more Molière !" And, like the same old frequently, and are dwelt on with more man, M. Renan seems inclined to add favor than the rest. thing more permanent, these fleeting and returning forms and phantoms of thought may be accepted at M. Renan's hands as la théorie de l'univers qu'il porte
to his Courage, Nature!'' his comment, Voilà la bonne comédie !''
On the whole, with all his ironies and reserves, this appears to be M. Renan's final judgment of the world he contemplates and the long result of time. It is comedy, and not bad comedy after all. "The age I have lived in will probably not seem the greatest, but it will assuredly be considered the most amusing of ages." But perhaps this is a mere subjective impression," for
* Souvenirs d'Enfance, p. xxi.
For want of any