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from without, not conquered from within ; and he also, like Russia, and perhaps England, concerning Crete, thought that Spain's winning of it by her own strength would endanger his interests. Wordsworth, putting himself into the heart of “a high-minded Spaniard,” states what such a man would feel. We can endure our wasted lands, the sword, the flame, the slaughter of all the brave, Spain made a wilderness— “this food a tyrant's appetite demands”; but when he speaks of giving us our freedom, of working our desolation into peace, of his benefits—
Then the strained heart of fortitude grows weak,
And the fortitude of Crete can bear the worst from Turkey, as it has borne it for many wicked years, even to the butchery of all her women and children; but not the gifts of the despotic Powers of Europe; not to be policed into peace by Russia and Germany; not the demand from England of gratitude for the benefits of her enlightened sway, enforced by bombardment and starvation. This is the intolerable; this is an insult which breaks the heart of a free people. There is only one benefit for Crete worth having—a free hand in making a free choice of her own government; and this is deliberately withdrawn from Crete. It is the benefit England has always claimed for herself; to maintain which she brought one king to the scaffold and drove another into exile; to gain which her people have constitutionally struggled with success for the last seventy years:–and that she should now join hands with others in refusing it to Crete; that she should support in this matter the policy of emperors whom, were they to rule in England as they rule in Germany and Russia, she would drive like criminals from her shores; that Europe, in spite of England's diplomatic excuses, should see in her the chief protector of the worst of all the murderers who have disgraced Mohammed's name— this, for England, is to draw near to infamy; and such, if she do not repent, will be hereafter the judgment of humanity.
In the same year in which Wordsworth published his Tract on the Convention of Cintra, in 1809, and in which some of the Spanish Sonnets were produced, the Tyrolese, under Hofer, rose for their freedom, and for the last time, against the French oppression. Wordsworth's hope that all Germany would rise against it in 1807 was only realised in the Tyrol, and it was the Bavarians who finally defeated and slaughtered Hofer. The xviii. Sonnet is indignant with Austria for selling “a daughter of her Throne,” but, after all, the Emperor Francis I. gave up the Tyrol because he could not help it, and against his will. The reproach, therefore, Wordsworth addresses to Austria in this Sonnet, is not quite fair.
These Sonnets to the Tyrolese are addressed to them, not as the devoted children of Austria—few people were more monarchical and conservative than the Tyrolese—but as men in arms against the enemy of national independence; and as mountaineers, like his own Cumbrian folk, of a simple and patriarchal life who had won and kept an inheritance of freedom. He knew but little of the war, but he knew that Hofer fought for his country's independence. It was enough for Wordsworth. He followed this uprising with eagerness and joy, and he sang with sorrow its melancholy close [ix.—xv.]. The x. Sonnet, to Liberty—“Advance—come forth from thy Tyrolean ground,” is full of his brightest and most youthful genius, nor is that which follows it, on the Feelings of the Tyrolese, much behind it, either in form or exultation. Crete might take it for her own. The xiii., scarcely on the Tyrolese, yet brings the struggle in Spain into union with the struggle in the Tyrol. The soul of Spain, alit for freedom, is as great a bulwark against tyranny as the Alps of the Tyrol. The xiv. calls on England to be as true to the universal Godhead which dwells in the affections and the soul of man, as Spain and Tyrol have proved themselves to be. Hold fast, he cries, to
the eternal laws,
The xv. mourns over the fate of Tyrol, as we might mourn over the fall of Crete. Yet the overthrow of these poor shepherds is not without its consolation. They “fought for a moral end,” and it was not in vain. When mighty Thrones were put to shame, these weak and simple folk earned the praise and honour of mankind. They have left behind them an inspiration of freedom, as Greece, even in defeat, will leave to us,
An impulse, and a claim
And to Greece, as to Tyrol, defeat will not make much matter. Nay, defeat is more likely than victory to give to Greece all that she justly wants. Europe, Wordsworth goes on, “impatient of her guilt and woes, will yet break forth.” She did break forth, and the tyrant fell; nor in the present day will Europe long endure, as she has endured too long already, the iniquity within her borders. Crete and Greece have disturbed her soul to thought. “What?” Europe at last will say, Europe, whose conscience has so long walked in her sleep—“What, will these hands ne'er be clean?” When all the foolish work of diplomatic casuistry is burnt up by the fire of coming events, what Greece and Crete have done for liberty in Europe will live in the hearts of men.
A few strong instincts and a few plain rules
This then is the voice which speaks to us from the past. It will be well with us if we listen to its call and approve its warning and remonstrance. For indeed it is time that England should gather herself together, and, remembering her ancient honour which has always been held in the love of freedom not only for herself but for all who loved it in the world, refuse any longer to be hand and glove with autocracies in support of an Empire whose crimes have amazed the civilised world. There are foolish persons among us whose sympathies drift back to the theories of the divine right of crowned heads and of persons called noble to use and manage the peoples as they please for the interests of their power, persons to whom the ideas of independence and liberty are a continual menace which they hate and fear; and who, openly in some kingdoms and secretly in England, support the despotisms of the Continent and even condone the felonies of Turkey. There are millionaires and commercial men among us who are led, through fear of losing their wealth, into support of the shifting policy of a Concert of Europe which has not been able to secure peace, which perhaps has provoked war, and which is at the mercy of courts who hate freedom and who fear any revolution of the oppressed in any part of the world. There is a materialised class among us, to whom Wordsworth's appeal to the soul of the nation is revolting; and indeed it is an insult to them. These folk, were it not for their material power, might be laid aside as of no weight in the world, as they are of no use to it. But England should repudiate them, and Europe should be made to understand that they do not represent the sense or the feeling of our nation.