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those of two or three first-rate astronomers is, the great democratic mass of the comwho
may be biassed by personal equations. munity on the one man one vote principle Or again, to take another scientific simile, -have had it all their own way. What who could have predicted that the erratic has been the result ? Nothing has immovements of innumerable atoms of a pressed me more than the exceeding wisgas, rushing about and colliding in all im- dom and sobriety with which all really imaginable ways, would have resulted in an portant matters have been dealt with by uniform temperature and pressure ! And this democratic community. Take the yet such is the case, and the kinetic the most important act of their political life, ory of gases is an established fact.
the triennial election of Presidents. They I invoke his own principle that “the have elected an uninterrupted succession proof of the pudding is in the eating? ; of higbly fit men ; in some cases, like or, in more magniloquent language, that that of Lincoln, their greatest man ; in the survival of the fittest is the best test all, men of bigh character and sound judgof fitness, and I apply it to the facts of ment, untainted by any suspicion of loose past and of contemporary history.
morality, or of extravagant demagogism Aristocracy bas, undoubtedly, had great – men who were fair, or rather excellent advantages in the past, and has so still in representatives of the best traits of the conntries where militarism, or the condi- national character. These Presidents have tion of frequent wars and constant prepa- selected Ministers of whom it may
be said, ration for wars, is the first necessity of na- without exaggeration, that they are quite tional existence. I confine myself to Eng- up to the average standard of Cabinet lish speaking States ; the United Kingdom, Ministers of any European country. Take the United States, Canada, and Austral- the management of foreign affairs, which asia. Can it be said that the patent fact is perhaps the best test of wise statesmanof the age, the decay of the principle of ship, and that in which the opponents of Aristocracy and the progress of Democ- democracy bave predicted the worst conracy, has been a failure as regards those sequences from the transfer of political conntries ?
power from the classes to the masses. If Professor Huxley thinks so, I ven- That of the United States has been uni. ture to differ from him. I admit, to the formly wise and successful. Filibustering fullest extent, his superiority in scientific has become extinct ; temptations to annex attainments and in literary ability, but in territory in Cuba and Mexico have been this particular class of questions I have the resisted; the Monroe doctrine has been advantage over him of being a Specialist. upheld, and France compelled to retire I have had a very long and very close train- froin Mexico without firing a shot ; differing, in the House of Cominons, at the ences with European States, as with EngTreasury and Board of Trade, as Finance land about the Alabama claims, and with Minister o? India, and as the head of great Germany about Samoa, have been settled railway and commercial companies, in the temperately and honorably. In no single great questions of the day which come case can it be said that the foreign policy within the definition of practical politics. and diplomacy of the United States have And it is a study of contemporary facts, been unwise or have met with a rebuff. aided by this training, which has led me And in great domestic questions, where to reverse the course commonly attributed demagogic incitements were not wanting, to age and riper experience, and with ad- the same wise and provident policy has vancing years to become more Democratic. been equally conspicuous.
I will refer first to the United States, At the conclusion of the war, the nation for here the problem of Democracy bas found itself loaded with an been tried on the largest scale and to the debt and an inflated currency. Most of fullest extent. Prior to the great war and this debt bad been incurred in paper, dethe presidency of Abraham Lincoln, the preciated far below its gold value. Surely selections of the captains and officers to here was a case, if ever, where the “ Tobnavigate the American State had been lolly-boys” and common sailors might made, for many years, practically by a have been expected to listen to the seducselect aristocracy, the Southern planters. tions of demagogues, who were not wantSince then the " loblolly-boys," as I sup- ing, telling them that they ought not to pose the Professor would call them—that subunit to excessive taxation, in order to
pay in full in gold, the cormorant capital- with foreign powers, and of the true and ists who had advanced their loans in paper. permanent interests of the einpire as disBut no ! the maxim that “ honesty is the tinguished from temporary ebullitions of best policy" was so engrained in the na- sentiment and prejudice. Has it been ture of the American masses, that they so ? In my own experience, ranging over submitted cheerfully to a load of taxation, the best part of 50 years, the chief feawhich converted the United States from tures of the policy and feelings of the one of the cheapest into one of the dear- “ Classes" have been :est countries in the world, and the dema- 1. Sympathy with Louis Napoleon, and gogues, instead of riding into power on the entente cordiale with the French Empopular prejudice, found themselves sim- pire landing us in the Crimean war. ply ostracized from public life.
: 2. Sympathy with the Southern States Those who wish to pursue the subject in the war of the Union. further, and to understand the real effect 3. Sympathy with Turkey and an exagof democratic institutions on social life, gerated Russo-phobia, leading to a policy will do well to study one of the most ad- alike cynical and stupid, of trying to bolmirable books of recent times, Professor ster up the decay of the decrepit empire Bryce's work on the “ American Com- of the Sultan at the expense of the Chrismonwealth.”. Space forbids my pursuing tian populations struggling for their inevi. the subject further, and it is sufficient to table enfranchisement. say, that I challenge any dispassionate ob- 4. Sympathy with Austria in her wars server to say that democracy has been a to prevent the creation of an united Italy failure in America ; and what is true of and of a great Germany. America is equally true, on a smaller 5. Violent indignation at the settlement scale, in all English-speaking colonies, of the Alabama claims by arbitration. with self-government, representative insti- 6. Successive Afghan wars undertaken tutions, and a wide franchise.
in defiance of common sense and of the Turving to our own country, the situa- remonstrances of the leading authorities, tion is more complex. The political edu- like Lord Lawrence, who were practically cation of the masses can only be said to acquainted with Indian affairs. have begun in the present generation, with 7. A Colonial policy of treating Canada, Board schools, a cheap Press, and the ex- Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, tension of the franchise. On the other as dependencies of Downing Street, by hand, the principle of aristocracy is not which our Colonial Empire would have merely hereditary, but is reinforced by the been infallibly lost to us but for the tardy numerous class who have risen to wealth ; application of democratic principles. by the social influences radiating from the Many more instances might be men. Queen on the throne down to the wife of tioned, but these are sufficient to show a retired tradesman living in an Acacia or that, in point of fact, the “classes” bave Beaconsfield Villa ; by powerful profes- signally failed to make good their claim sional and monopolist interests, such as to be a real "Aristocracy," that is a the Law, the Church, and the publicans, Government of the best and wisest, and which are either manned by members of tbat in the very field where, if anywhere, the upper class or have grown up under their superiority ought to have been most its shelter ; and by the conservative in- clearly manifested. stincts which have made Englishmen as a If we turn to domestic affairs it is still rule slow to move and suspicious of novel. more clear that the “ classes' have not ties. Still there remains a large number shown that superiority in political wisdom of facts from which an approximate induc- which is claimed for them
over the tion can be drawn. Take, first, the ques
It would be difficult to name tion of foreign policy. Here, certainly, one of the great and beneficial reforms of if the “loblolly-boy' theory has any the last 60 years which could have been force, the superior wisdom of the Classes carried if the upper classes of society, repover that of the Masses ought to be most resented by the hereditary aristocratic apparent. If an aristocracy has any raison House of Lords, had been able to give d'être in times of peace, it surely ought effect to their opinions and wishes. to be in keeping alive sound traditions, The Reform Bills, the Extensions of and taking sensible views of our relations the Franchise and of Education, Free Trade, the Repeal of the Corn Laws, the literature, Mr. H. Fowler from a solicitor's Disestablishment of the Irish Church, the office, and scores of others who would do Irish Land Acts, would all have been re- fairly well if they had the opportunity. jected, and it is not too much to say that, Can the same be said of the House of if the navigation of the ship of State had Lords ? Assuredly not! With a very been intrusted to the select few, it would few eminent exceptions, they do not even long ago have been among breakers, and take a sufficient interest in politics to atinstead of Reform we should have had tend its sittings. And they are terribly Revolution,
biassed by what I have called the “
perIf we inquire the reason, it will be sonal equation ;'' they view things through found in the fact that the so-called aris. the inedium of West-end society, and the tocracy has ceased to be what its name result is that nine-tenths of them are ut. purports—a selection of the best of the terly out of sympathy with the public nation. Militarism, or a state of frequent opinion and political views of a majority great wars, or apprehension of wars, re
of their countrymen. quiring a system of military organization, When an organ becomes useless in the is the condition under which alone an course of evolution it is very apt to behereditary aristocracy can maintain their come injurious, and this, I think, may be position as natural leaders. When I read sạid of the principle of hereditary aristocof the noblemen who come to grief in the racy under existing conditions. The great betting-ring and in divorce-courts, I often mischief it does is in fostering the national think how different would have been their defect of snobbishness. What is snobcareer if they had been born in Germany bishness? It is the tendency to bow instead of England. The stuff is there- down before a golden image, and worship the physical courage, the high spirit, the rank and wealth rather than real merit. feeling that noblesse oblige - but how dif- We hear loud complaints of this, the beferent has been the training. In the one setting sin of the age ; but how can it be case, duty, discipline, and the stern reali- otherwise, when the fountain of honor ties of the battle-field ; in the other, the flows in a channel the first condition of enervating influences of luxury and idle- which is the possession of wealth sufficient
Compare the House of Commons, to found a farnily, and keep up an heredi. the crew selected by the nation, includ- tary title. ing, if you like, the cooks and loblolly- If there are to be honorary distinctions boys, with the House of Lords, the crew at all, surely those names ought to be enselected by hereditary succession, and re- rolled in the list of British worthies who cruited only from the upper classes. Any have been, by universal consent, foremost one who has stood a contested election in doing honor to their age and countrymust be aware, that in a great and increas- names like those of Darwin, Herbert ing majority of cases, no one has a chance Spencer, and Huxley in science ; Dickens, of being returned to the popular Asscm- Thackeray, and George Eliot in literature ; bly, who has not a good deal of the ex- Wordsworth, Shelley, and Browning in perience and qualities which make for poetry; rather than nien whose claim is statesmanship. He must be a fairly good opportune ratting, party services in conspeaker, well up in all the political and testing elections, excuses for excluding social questions of the day, with command from Cabinets, in all cases with the conof temper to stand heckling, of indepen- dition of wealth, and, in many instances, dent means, and of fair position and moral with this obviously and obtrusively the character. He must have done something sole qualification. Tennyson is the soli. to make his name known as a man who tary exception, and his case shows more has succeeded in life or who has shown forcibly the degradation of hereditary marked ability. The House of Commons honors, for a painful thrill of surprise ran is recruited more and more every day by through most of his admirers on hearing inen who, if some accident called them to that the greatest poet of the agc
had conbe Cabinet Ministers and heads of great descended to accept a peerage. departments, would discharge the duties There remains the bugbear of “Rousof their office very creditably. Men like seauism." I call it a bugbear, for any Mr. W. H. Sinith from trade, Mr. Gos- one, who is practically acquainted with chen from the City, Mr. John Morley from the House of Commons and the drift of
public opinion, must be aware that it is as nation to throw the whole weight of the far as possible from being within the Government, the law, the army, the posphere of practical politics. Take the lice, and the whole system of evictions case of the Irish Land Act and the Scot- and Coercion, into the scale of the landtish Crofters Act, which are, I suppose, lords to perpetuate this state of things, the high-water mark of what the members with the certainty of so exasperating the of the Liberty and Property Defence feeling of an intelligent nationality whom League would call Socialist legislation. you have educated, and to whom you
I doubt whether ten members of the have given equal political rights, as to House of Commons have ever read the make Ireland a source of weakness rather "Contrat-Social," or whether a single than of strength to the Empire, and comone of those who voted for these Acts was pel you, in case of war, to lock up a influenced by a belief in the axiom that all fourth of your available military strength men are born equal, and that all property in order to keep it in subjection ? is a robbery. On the contrary, the argu- That, in a nutshell, is the question of ments which were used, and which pre- Home Rule. vailed, were identical with those which These views may be right or wrong, but Professor Huxley himself puts forward assuredly they are based on something with so much force in his article on “Nat- quite different from the abstract axioms ural Rights and Political Rights." He of Rousseau. says that “ labor is the foundation of the So far from denonncing all property as claim to sound ownership,” and instances a robbery, we aim at recognizing it by rethe rude flint chipped into an axe by a storing to those who, on Professor Huxpalæolithic savage, and the green crop on ley's own principles, are the chief owners, the otherwise stony desert of Upper Egypt, some moderate share at any rate of that which had been fertilized by the labor of of which they have been robbed by unjust the irrigator bringing to it the muddy legislation, water of the Nile. "Property,” he says, But then it is said that you are violating “ consists in fact of two elements ; the the principle of the sanctity of contract soil or other raw material, and the labor which is the main object of the State to applied to it."
enforce, and which is the foundation of Now the Irish question was this : that all civilized society. Here again we rein a vast majority of small holdings, under ply No, we are seeking to strengthen £10 a year, comprising half the popula- the principle of contract by making it a tion of Ireland, and to a considerable ex- reality, and not a legal fiction. Even the tent in larger holdings, the landlord had English Law, harsh as it is in siding with contributed nothing but poor, rocky, and the rich against the poor, the strong boggy soil, worth certainly on the average against the weak, admits that contract is not half-a-crown an acre, and often not only valid where the contracting parties worth sixpence of annual rent, while the are free and meet on equal terms, and not tenant had built the houses, drained, under irresistible compulsion. It does not fenced, and reclaimed the land, and made hold in the case of minors, married women, all the improvements, which had created a or where undue and irresistible influence property worth say 15s, or 20s. an acre. can be established. Now in the case of Was the law just which entitled the land- Irish and Scotch Crofters, Commission lord to take the whole or the greater part after Commission has established the fact of this 158. or 20s, and to leave the other that there was no real freedom of contract partners who had created fully three between landlord and tenant. Eviction fourths of the value, nothing but a bare is in effect what it has been 80 often called subsistence in a condition of poverty un- -a sentence of death. matched in any other civilized country, There is so little independent employand often not even that, for the rent was ment for labor, that the cottier, if he is paid not from the land, but from extrane- aged, infirm, or burdened with a family, ous sources such as harvest labor in Eng- has no alternative but to pay, or promise land, and remittances from sons and daugh- to pay, an impossible rent, or to turn out ters in America ? That, in a nutshell, is and die in a ditch. Even now, after the the Irish Land Question.
passing of the Land Act, such is his fate And was it right or wise for the English in the poorer half of Ireland, unless he can
pay the arrears of what are admitted to ought to pay something toward the supbe unjust rents. In Scotland it is differ- port of the State, that is, for the common ent. There arrears of unjust rents are good ; the question is whether it pays held to be unjust, and the Land Commis- enough, and whether it is levied on the sion reduces them accordingly.
right sorts of property. What first opened my eyes, more than Here in England, apart froin all ques20 years ago, to the realities of the Irish tions of Ireland, there is a general and question, was a conversation I had with an growing opinion that past legislation has Irish laborer, whom I found trenching a not sufficiently kept in view the great and piece of mountain land on the banks of fundamental distinction between earned the Lakes of Killarney. He told me that and unearned property. he was working for a farmer, that his The former, whether in land or personwages were eighteenpence a day, but that alty, is a natural, the latter an artificial, he only got work on the average for 90 right. That it is artificial is clearly proved days in the year. I have since visited by the fact that it is different in different most of the poorer parts of Ireland and ages and countries. England is the solicross-examined innumerable laborers and tary exception in which the right of propcotters, and have found this statement erty has been strained so high as to carry confirmed, or rather aggravated, in the ro with it the absolute right of the owner moter districts. Take the case of Gwee- not only to do what he likes with his own, dore, where I once spent a month. with what he has made by his own exercertain that in an area of 20 miles round tions and during his own life, but to do the scene of the recent lamentable events, wbat he likes with it after his death. A with a population of 3,000 or 4,000, there millionaire may, if he likes, disinherit his is not employment at day's wages for 50 family, and leave his widow and children or 60 independent laborers.
In the no
to be supported by the ratepayers. To a torious Falcarragh estate, it has been stated certain extent this is mitigated by settlein open court, and the figures have never ments, but even these leave the first owner been contradicted, that the ancestors of the power of tying up his estate as he the present proprietor bought it originally likes for a long period, and the theory of for something like £500, that the land- the English law is that the absolute right lords have never expended a shilling on of ownership persists after death. But improvements, and that the rental before this is an exceptional law ; in the Roman the passing of the Land Act was £2,500 law, and in the laws of France, Gerinany, a year, and is still nominally from £1,500 Austria, Italy, Spain, and other civilized to £2,000. Am I Rousseauist, if I say nations, and even in such an integral part that this is indeed robbery, but robbery of our own empire as Scotland no such not by the tenant on the landlord, but by theory prevails. On the contrary, the unthe landlord on the tenant?
limited power ceases with life, and the To turn, however, from Ireland, whose disposal of property after the owner's burning questions of party and political death, is not left to him, but to the operinterests obscure the view, what are the ation of law, by which the bulk of it goes general questions respecting the rights and to provide for the family. duties of property, and especially of landed Clearly the devolution of all property property, which are within the sphere of to those who bave done nothing to earn it practical politics? They are all questions beyond, as the witty Frenchman says, of finance and of figures. Even Henry“ taking the trouble to be born,” is an George, when he comes to the practical affair of laws, and the fortunate heirs application of his able and ingenions, but may be expected to pay bandsomely for often extreme and impracticable theories, the support of the law and order to which confines them to the special case of land, they are indebted for their windfa!l. This and limits his practical demand to a trans- is a question not of abstract theory, but fer to it of the larger share of national tax- of the proper amount of succession duties, ation. This is a question, more or less, and of the incidence of the income-tax on of compromise and practical adjustment, the two descriptions of income, earned and rather than of abstract theory. The prin- unearned. ciple is already admitted, by the income Then there is the case of the unearned tax and succession duties, that property increment. To take a practical illustra