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sont devenus vertus, et les vertus fadeurs. Les tribuns du peuple ont inventé à l'usage de leurs passions un évangile révolutionnaire aussi étranger à la vérité historique que les sermons monarchiques du Père Loriquet. Et voilà comment, l'ignorance des uns secondant la perversité des autres, et le prolétariat ayant mis de la partie les rugissements de son ventre, nous eûmes 1848 succédant presque sans secousse à 1830, et la République tout court à la meilleure des républiques.'*
But the greatest gain of the last few months has been the moral dethronement of Paris. It has been a hard matter to unteach the provinces their veneration for this corrupt and capricious mistress. They have seemed to think it quite in the natural order of things that the populace of Belleville and Montmartre (M. Jules Favre will admit that there is such a thing now) should make and unmake the governments of France, should dictate her policy, should according to its fancy award to her a period of prosperity and peace, or a period of convulsion and ruin. At last, however, they have become weary. The perpetual changes, and the unchanged discontent, the grievances ever renewed, the experiments of redress always unsuccessful, have at last opened the eyes of the provincial population. They appear to have come to the conclusion that eighty years of intermittent revolution is too high a price to pay for the caprices of even the most elegant capital in the world. It is to be hoped that no return of tenderness to their early love will warp their resolution. If the workmen of Paris and one or two other great towns can be made innocuous, there is some hope of quiet and orderly government, whichever of the political forms of government be adopted. If that condition cannot be secured, any kind of government that may be set up, be it monarchy, empire, or republic, will merely be an entr'acte between the bloody acts of the revolutionary drama.
It is the destiny of France to exhibit, for the benefit of others, the special dangers of modern civilisation in their most aggravated form. Among these, not the least serious is the obstacle to peaceable government which the growth of large cities has created. It is the fashion to speak of them as more enlightened than the country districts; and to claim for them in consequence a larger share of political power. Paris, for instance, is constantly eulogised as the 'brain of France.' It is thought a great hardship that the intelligence of the capital should be swamped by a mass of ignorant and bigoted rurals. The Commune had even the impudence to demand as one of the terms of peace that the electoral laws should be so modified as to neutralise the numerical preponderance of the country districts.
Even if the assumed superiority of enlightenment had been real, the
* Moriac, Preface.
demand alie Ere
demand would have come strangely from the advocates of pure equality. But it is a mere fallacy, resting on an equivocal sense of the word Paris. There is a scientific, a political, a studious Paris, which is superior in enlightenment not only to the rest of France, but probably to most of the other cities of Europe. But this Paris has no share in the thoughts or counsels of the Paris which acts, revolts, fights, and murders--the Paris of the barricades, the Paris of universal suffrage. Look over the list of the Commune: you will not find a single name of the slightest intellectual reputation. Those who are really enlightened and distinguished in Paris, might on political principles which are old-fashioned now, have some claim to govern the rest of France. But they are a miserable minority, hunted down in times of trouble by the dominant proletariat. And what claim have these latter to govern France by title of superior enlightenment? In the power of believing the wildest fiction, the artisan leaves the peasant far behind; and, in point of advisers, the priest and the prefect are at least not inferior as guides to the wire-pullers of the Internationale or the writers in the · Père Duchesne.'
It is impossible to study the forces which are driving our brilliant neighbours through such appalling trials to an unknown goal without a passing reflection upon our own dangers and the future that lies before us. Have we any part reserved for us in this terrible drama? Are we securely sheltered from the devastation that is sweeping, at so short a distance from us, over a civilisation as high and as complicated as our own? Is there any danger that we shall see the same wild dreams translated into the same bloody and rapacious deeds? Shall we ever be driven, in bare defence of our religion and our social existence, to undertake the same terrible struggle ? Shall we seeking in theoretic constitutions, for some new principle of political cohesion to reconstruct a society shạttered by revolution, and shall we too seek for it in vain ?
There is nothing in the attitude of English workmen, as a body, to give cause for apprehensions of this kind. A few Englishmen have made themselves conspicuous by recommending revolutionary social changes, but even of those very few are workmen ; they are usually youths of a higher culture, who see no other path of promotion open to them. The English workmen, as a class, have exhibited no taste for the visionary doctrines of the Internationale. England is a useful headquarters for the Association, on account of her perfect freedom; but the foreign names of many of the members who assume to represent her at the Congresses, and the foreign style in which its English manifestoes are written, betray a signi
ficant poverty in English agency. The workmen in this country have been active of late years, but it has usually been with the very practical object of raising the rate of wages. With this ain, in one or two localities, fearful crimes have undoubtedly been committed ; but these practices seem to be disappearing under the operation of the law and the censure of public opinion. And it is necessary to bear in mind that, so long as the liberty of others is not infringed, efforts to raise wages are perfectly legitiinate. They are sanctioned by the general principles of freedom of trade. If people think that, singly, they bargain at a disadvantage, they have a perfect right to combine; and the rule holds as good for labour as for any other commodity. The wisdom of doing so may, in most cases, be doubted: for, if labourers combine, employers will combine too, and the employers can generally afford to wait the longest. Moreover, every pound that is wasted by the enforced idleness of a strike, is so much subtracted from the fund out of which future employment is to be supported. But, though the policy of striking is open to grave question, the right to do so is indisputable. It is a form of higgling in the market,' which it would be highly unjust to confound with schemes of revolution.
The strikes, therefore, in themselves are no proof that the English workmen entertain the visionary ideas which have produced so much disaster on the Continent; and there is certainly no other proof that they have so far bidden adieu to the common sense which belongs to their race. If there is any danger, it will arise in a very different quarter. We fear rather the operations of English parties, and the somewhat antiquated working of our political machine. It is not possible, of course, that a body of educated Englishmen should ever adopt the creed of the Internationale, still less that any legislative sanction should be given to it. No statesman will ever undertake to abolish capitalists, or to make land common property, or to destroy the 'selfish instincts of the family' by discouraging marriage. Such theories can have no creative power. But they may be potent for destruction. Rousseau's political philosophy, as far as constructive legislation went, has never travelled beyond the paper on which he wrote it. The omnipotent State, founded on absolute equality and the entire surrender of the individual will such as he dreamed it—has made but few converts, and has never passed even into the condition of an experiment. But his writings, nevertheless, were a mighty engine in accomplishing the disintegration of the French State. The only harm which the Socialist theories are likely to do us is of the same kind. They may bring about the fall of institutions, the place of which they are wholly impotent to supply. They may create a band of
fanatics, sufficiently powerful by their union and numbers to extract perilous, though insincere, pledges from the facile virtue of politicians. There is much in our political habits of thought to smooth their way. We have had many reforms, and many changes that were not reforms; but our philosophy of politics, though old-world and out-of-date, continues to survive the state of things in which it had life and meaning. Speakers and writers still fight battles that have been won; still repeat watchwords that no longer represent a struggle ; still urge a policy based on some shibboleth of the past, to which events have affixed a signification undreamt of when it was devised. They still talk of freedom, as though such a thing as bondage was lelt in England ; of reform, as though we had never changed ; of progress, as though we had never moved. These battle-cries are a valuable property: whose inheritance are they to become ? In past time they did great service to those who used them, and gave currency to many proposals with which in logic they had nothing to do; but, as far as the recognised political schools are concerned, they have now little meaning left. What party is to affix to them a new gloss—to use them as a talisman for its purposes? Now that the political budget of the dominant party is nearly emptied, and all Liberal aspirants for power are on the search for a new cry, it surely concerns any one who is wont to accept these
passwords blindly to inquire what cause they are about to serve, and of what kind of combatants they are in future to be the mark.
Let us take 'progress' for an instance. There is no belief to which this age-generally feeble in its grasp upon the evidence of things not seen-more passionately clings than the belief in progress. The doctrine that the present age is superior to all that has gone before it has been a favourite one at various times, especially among the younger portion of each generation : but the idea of applying the same notion to the future has, until modern times, been confined to a few sanguine thinkers. For the last century, however, it has been rapidly passing out of the condition of a learned theory, and has been taking its place among the sanctities of popular belief. In our time it has risen to the rank of an orthodoxy. A fervent belief that we have progressed, are progressing, and must progress, not only in things material, but in the excellence of our political arrangements, and in what is called (with an ever-varying definition) pure religion, is an article of faith which all who aspire to popular favour must surely believe, or at least profess. To moralise on progress has become a popular commonplace, objectionable only for its triteness, like a disquisition on the beauties of Shakespeare or the merits of the British Constitution. A kind of prose ode to Progress is the ordinary peroration of a popular orator's speech. Doubts of progress, if any should be found hardy enough to suggest them, are no longer met with argument, but only with anathema. By a quaint perversion of well-known religious terms such doubts are denounced as 'want of faith,' or—by a still more courageous use of the same vocabulary-as atheistical.'
If this confident belief in the future progress of our corner of the earth were confined to material things, no criticism could find fault with it. It requires no assistance from "faith,' but rests on facts which past history abundantly supplies. Knowledge of natural phenomena, and all the prosperity and convenience which that knowledge brings with it, has increased for many centuries at a constantly accelerating pace. But this is a very small part of the Gospel which the religion of progress preaches. Perhaps the contemplation of our scientific and material gains has made the idea of a necessary political advance more generally credible. But there is no logical comparison between the two. Scientific progress means nothing but the addition of discovery to discovery. Once ascertained to be true, each is a gain in knowledge which can never be lost. Political progress is little, if at all, dependent on intellectual discovery. There is a certain perfection to be gained in administrative contrivances: and to this kind of growth scientific discovery may lend its aid. But in essence it is a moral change. Its problems are not solved by thinking. Its achievements are not the work of studious or ingenious brains. Peace and goodwill—the object to which it ought to tend—will not be the result of some clever contrivance which men by much debating and many experiments may hope to hit upon. If they attain it all, it will be by rooting out the selfishness which good fortune nurtures, and the recklessness which springs from misery. What ground have we in our past experience for thinking that years as they roll on will bring us nearer to this condition ?
It is a comfortless occupation to dwell on the unreality of the progress mankind is supposed to be making in the art of selfgovernment. But the optimism of politicians in recent times has been something more serious than an amiable weakness. It has lent a warmth of tint to their political speeches, and has furnished them with a stock repertory of comfortable reflections; and so far · it has made political life more agreeable than it otherwise would have been. But unfortunately it has also coloured and governed their political calculations. The assurance that constant future progress is a certainty, and that there must be within reach of legislation some remedy for every evil, has been their intellectual datum line. This conviction explains the apparent recklessness with which changes have been advocated, without any effort to