Page images
PDF
EPUB

knowledge of the foibles of his countrymen, said the other day, " The Empire is burning itself out; " and so strong is the impression

impression devoted to

strong

that Corsican advisers, men as the great Corsican House as Legitimists are to the descendant of St. Louis, are said to have warned the Emperor plainly that the departments were growing cold. Both stories may be untrue, though we believe the first, but thu invention of them in Paris bears testimony to the growth of the feeling officially expressed in this amendment to the Address. France is restless, troubled with a myriad of minute discontents, every one of which is fanned by the immense number of persons whom in fourteen years the Empire has irritated beyond forgiveness. We are apt to forget the effect of the gradual accumulation of personal hatreds against a Government like the French. They accumulate in every country, and even in England exercise a most perceptible effect in accelerating the fall of Ministries. But in France they level themselves not at the individual ruler, but at his regime, which is changeless, and cannot therefore disarm hatreds by occasional gratifications. Then the genuine French politicians, the few men who really care for France, and the French race, and the French genius, men who are of De Tocqueville's spirit, though not of De Tocqueville's force, and who, though without direct authority, exercise through society much of the influence a few rigid Calvinists will exercise through a religious community, are alarmed by a growing danger. They thought the Empire would last but a few years, and it is lasting many. The lads who were ten years old when the coup d'etat was struck are now grown men, and have lived their educational life under a system of political obscurantism, which has enfeebled their judgments, hardened their fixed ideas, and embittered their tempers. The wild ideas uttered in Belgium, the eager voluptuousness of the cities, the mixture of indifference and hardness observed in the departments, frighten careful observers for the " future of France." That seems to Englishmen a very vague phrase, but Frenchmen feel it, and a danger to the future of their country once realized would stir them to more than protest. Classes less honest but still cultivated fret under the unyielding repression, the extinction of discussion, the prohibitions placed even upon news, and though they seem so powerless, it is they who have hitherto led all revolutions. The bourgeoisie, again, do not like the growing contempt for family life, the

excessive luxury of the great, the recurrence of incidents like the invitation of The'rese to sing before the Court. Frenchmen are supposed in England to be very "liberal " in all such matters, but they are rigid enough in their own way, though it is not our way, and the very men who throng to a play the chief attraction of which is stripped actresses, sneer bitterly at the Court which can make of such people guests. The bourgeoisie are very prosper- ous, and very pleased to see France raised in Europe, but the duties are heavy, rents terrible, M. Haussman a troublesome despot, and mere comfort has never yet been sufficient to reconcile Frenchmen to a lot they cannot approve. Throughout the brilliant history of France the one antiseptic which has visibly preserved a race always prone to license is its fidelity to sentiment, exaggerated, gr tawdry, or vicious sentiment perhaps, but still sentiment, and therefore outside the corruption of material temptation. The bourgeoisie once alienated from the Empire cannot be expected to defend it, will by the slow filtration of their dislike downwards help to sap its foundations. The peasantry are disturbed as to Rome, frightened many of them at the coming danger to the last Mexican loan, which was distributed in very small sums, annoyed at what they are told is a failure in Mexico. They see no papers, but the cure's hear what concerns their Church, and the cures have no motive to conceal their dislike of the Imperial policy in America. Finnally, the artizans in the great cities, though not pressed for work, and immensely benefited by the Imperial policy on strikes, see their rents rising, their walks to and from the factory growing longer, themselves surrounded by unattainable and flaunting luxury, and ask whether equality — the one object except food for which they will overthrow any institution whatever— does not imply, if not some equality of condition, at least some equality of external life. These sources of inquietude roll together till in the provinces every Imperial success at the hustings is secured by a strained effort, till in the centre of Imperial power, amidst a Chamber almost nominated and entirely " devoted," there are signs of mutiny, hints of the possibility of a protest from the Legislature against the regime it has tolerated so long.

It may all come to nothing. The conservative forces which support the Empire are of almost unknown strength. The army, though annoyed at the turn of events in Mexico, and more annoyed at many recent promotions, has given no reason tor suspicion of its fidelity. The peasantry, though recalcitrant, can still be brought up to the polls. The artizans of the cities, though uniformly electing opponents of the Government, are not pressed either by hunger or the fear of it, and in their relations with capital have the Emperor on their side. Paris, though her whole representation is hostile, is driving a magnificent trade, and if oppressed by rents, is proud of her renovated beauty. The Church has not broken absolutely with its "eldest son,"and amidst the doubtful or conflicting rush of opinion the power of the sword held in strong hands by a man who can give an order, and who in contingencies which he has had time to consider does not waver, must remain supreme. The Emperor, too, may distract the population by new enterprises, or promises, or even concessions of liberty, and it is far too soon to pronounce the words fatal to so many French rulers — too late. But the more perfect the organism the greater the disturbance caused by any intrusion — the grain of sand which destroys the eye is hardly felt by the foot, — and the machine he guides' is vast and complicated almost beyond human control. A hostile vote in the Chamber would be a terrible blow struck at its mechanism, and even a hostile resolution, if numerously supported, will be like an intruding body. If a third of the Chamber really demands more liberty for France, Napoleon must either concede it, in which case the Empire changes its form; or commence a war, in which case all Europe is interested; or risk the rapid growth of that kind of hostility which only immovable men excite, and which in France no Government has ever yet survived. There is a possibility that such a minority may pronounce itself, and therefore we call attention to the coming amendment, praying for more air.

From The Saturday Eevtew. HOW TO PACIFY IRELAND.

No reasonable being needs to be told that Queen Victoria is, beyond question, the most popular Sovereign that ever reigned over tiiese islands. One or two of her predecessors may have produced short, momentary bursts of greater enthusiasm; but for deep, quiet respect and love, felt in all classes and conditions, none of our former rulers can compare with the present Queen. Now,

this is undoubtedly loyalty of a very sincere and beautiful form. But is it the loyalty which was felt for the Stuarts? Is it the loyalty which led the poor Highlanders to follow an unknown and untried young prince through endless difficulties and dangers, to be finally butchered at Culloden? In a word, is the popularity personal or dynastic? Does it belong to tne Queen her self, or to the illustrious house represented in her person?

Upon the proper answers to these questions grave issues depend —graverthan, in our fat contentment and prosperity, we are apt to suppose. In consequence of the attractive and exceptional virtues of the reigning sovereign, a whole generation has acquired the attitude and language of a loyalty which it is quite possible might be exchanged for something very different were those virtues conspicuous only by their absence in another occupant of the throne. We are constantly being told that these islands have never been so loyal as they are at this moment; and nothing can be truer, if by loyalty is meant respect and attachment to Queen Victoria. But a misconception is in these circumstances very possible; nay, we believe, is actually very often entertained. Docs any one believe that the monarchical principle is more esteemed now than formerly r The personal representative of that principle receives on all hands unbounded honour — honour as merited as it is unbounded; but may we hence conclude that the principle itself is honoured in the same degree? the distinction is very great, and its importance cannot be exaggerated. Noisy protestations of a rather boisterous loyalty, such as are of daily occurrence, are apt to mislead, not because they are necessarily insincere, but because it is obvious that thev confound an individual with an office — one of the most certain results of which confusion would most probably be a sudden and vehement recoil of popular feeling, and even possible hostility to tnat office, should it at any future time bo less admirably filled. Let any one conjecture what would now be the language of the Radical and revolutionary press if, instead of a virtuous woman of cultivated mind and exemplary lile, a George IV. were seated on the throne. Let any one remember or read of the state of public opinion during the Regency, and inquire, should anything similar ever again occur, whether, with the rush and m mentum now acquired by popular and liberal views, an explosion altogether unprecedented might not very probably be the result. And supposing that matters stopped much short of any such untoward consummation, is it not presumable that in any case the transition from a Queen to a King will be most trying? Many a prosperous Briton, we fancy, whose bosom under present circumstances is ready at any moment to swell with the most gushing loyalty, would experience a sudden and remarkable change of sentiments and emotions were he to witness only a few of the most ordinary of royal vagaries in the person of a male Sovereign.

We confess that the above train of thought was not entirely absent from our minds when we read a paragraph which appeared in the Times of February the 2nd. We there read that "His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales arrived at Windsor on Wednesday evening, by the 7.10 ordinary train, on the Great Western Railway, having travelled direct from Sandringham, attended by Major Grey, for the last day of pheasant shooting in Windsor Great Park." We were further told that the Royal shooting party bagged 137 pheasants, 494 rabbits, 1 patridge, 1 woodcock, and that "the Prince has shot this season upwards of 26,000 head of game." Now in no European nation is a taste for field sports more genuine and vigorous than in the English. A simple, unsophisticated, almost boyish delight is taken in all the accessories involved in the pursuit of game — in the fresh open air, in the hard muscular exercise, in the cleverness and sagacity of the dogs. Shooting with us is its own exceeding great reward.- Wu do no,t follow it for the sake of victual, like the Esquimaux; nor for the sake of putting on a fancy costume fearfully and wonderfully made, as is occasionally done in certain foreign parts. To see our Princes share and delight in a strong national taste, cannot be otherwise than gratifying to Englishmen. Nothing creates a readier bond of sympathy and mutual understanding than a community of amusements. You may do business with a man, and know all the time he is your enemy ; but it is not easy to have a bit of fun with any one whom you cordially dislike. We say, therefore, that it is a source of pleasure to a large section of the public merely to hear of the Prince following the hounds, or shooting grouse in Scotland and pheasants at Windsor. The more our Princes share our tastes the more welike them, and we trust the more they will like us. But est modus in rebus. If the figures in the above quotation are correctly given, His Royal Highness must have shot upwards of 150 head of game every day, Sundays inclued, for the last five months. We are far from

objecting to this, though it is scarcely in accordance with our notions of sport; but we may at least ask, now that the shootingseason is over, whether k is not possible, by an easy effort, to do something even more calculated to secure the affection and admiration of the country. The Prince has hitherto shown, not only such a desire, but such a capacity of imitating the example of his illustrious parents in the punctual discharge of every obligation and duty appertaining to his station, that the public would receive with extreme regret even a hint of a change in this respect, vague and unstimulating as are the duties of an heir-apparent to the British Crown, he has had, in his own experience, one striking example of the good which it is in his power to effect. It is acknowledged on ail hands that his visit to Canada was attended with the most happy and solidly beneficial results. How much of the loyalty of the colony, where it smouldered before,, burst out into a steady flame at the approach of the eldest son of the Queen of England! That gala trip saved us probably the cost oftransporting a good many regiments in the troubled epoch which has since intervened. An analogous effect was produced by the Prince's visit to the United States, and no one can doubt that, but for the calamitous civil war, a new era of international amity was approaching for England and America. It is impossible to think of these happy past events without being mournfully reminded of the. present. An Irish member, on the first night of the session, complained that his country had been so rarely visited by the Royal Family and had received so little attention from them ; and the complaint is not ill founded. It is well known that, whatever may be the faults of the Irish national character, incapacity of personal attachment is not one. It is well known that devotion to a chief or leader is so marked a trait in their nature that they will, faute de mieux, fabricate, out of the first adventurer that offers, an object of almost religious veneration. Beyond almost any race pretending to civilization, they are open to personal influence a*id kindness, and indifferent to abstract principles and cold passionless justice. But the method has been to give them nothing but principles — and those far enough from the best — anH withhold to the uttermost that personal influence to which they are so susceptible. Since the accession of George I. the time spent by the Princes of the House of Hanover in the sister island might conveniently be reckoned by days, we had almost said by hours. The sad result is only too evident A few weeks spent in the autumn by one or more of our Royal family, and particularly by the Prince of Wales, among the poor misguided but truly warm-hearted Paddies, would do more for the sister country than fifty debates in Parliament and a score of constitutional measures. Could not the Prince spare those few weeks before, or from, the next shooting season? What he did in Canada was productive of the best effects. Is there any reason why a visit to Ireland should not have the same happy results? An autumn season which should present the grand total of 26,000 Irish hearts won from treason and disaffection to loyalty and selfrespect would be a triumph to the Heir of England more enduring and more satisfactory, both to the country and himself, than the remembrance of that vast bag of fur and feathers which courtly newsmen consider so wonderful and creditable.

From The Saturday Review. HAPPY FAMILIES.

The old saying, that parents are wiser than their children, is chiefly true so far as wisdom means knowledge of the world. But whether parents are or are not wiser than their grown-up children, it is tolerably clear tbat they are not always nobler or better. And though it may be a searching discipline for a gushing young creature ot twenty or twenty-one lo submit to the incessant rule of those who are her interiors in sel£control,or in generosity and unselfishness, it i-*mu! a discipline that daily becomes more attractive. It is no credit to the agent that up to a certain point it is wholesome for the patient. A great deal of the unselfishness and consideration and tact of women is the result of long days spent in humouring the moods, and noting the caprices, and studying the tastes of those with whom they have been thrown into contact during their girlhood and their youth. Little things at such a time make or mar the precarious sunshine of each day, and at a very early part of their life women thus begin to learn to be delicate tacticians and diplomatists of no mean skill. Hence comes, perhaps, their keen power of observing and remembering trifles, not to mention their habit of judging of character from small outward peculiarities. . . .

But it is when we consider the case of married people that the theory of happy

families seems to break down the most completely. There is a great deal to be said in favour of living on cheerfully in the house where one has been reared, and putting np •with the faults and failings that have been familiar to us almost from our infancy. In the first place, if natural instincts mean anything, nature is in favour of it. Reason and duty certainly teach us the lesson, whether instinct is silent on the point or not. But it is not so easy to define the precise duty men and women owe to those with whom they have connected themselves by marriage. Let us take the case of a woman who marries the man to whom she is attached. She takes him after some observation, or it may be with some accurate knowledge, of his tastes and disposition. She has had the opportunity of guessing or of judging about them, and, if she is flagrantly mistaken, it must be either because she is hasty or because he has been a hypocrite. As the marriage service tells her, she takes him for better and for worse. But she does not take all his relatives, and his aunts, and his cousins, for better and for worse also; nor does she promise to respect and love them except so far as they deserve it. Why is she bound to love and venerate a set of people who, in spite of their worldly position, may be peevish or ignoble or mean? That by her marriage she contracts certain duties towards them is certain. She ought to respect the feelings of her husband, and not to give him pain or anxiety in her relations with his friends; nor, again, so to conduct herself as to create a coldness within a family circle which has hitherto been friendly, and to which she thenceforward has undertaken to belong. The converse may be said of the husband. He endows her with all his worldly goods, but he does not endow her with all his worldly uncles and all his worldly aunts, and does not agree to be endowed with hers. Any such arrangement would not merely be unwise, but in nine cases out of ten would be impracticable. At the time when people marry, and especially when men marry, tliey have arrived at an age when new friendships are not so easily made, and when difference of education and of tastes constitutes an insurmountable obstacle wherever it exists. The happy-family system ignores all this, and proceeds upon the assumption that admiration for a beautiful young woman entails the necessity of feeling and affection for every one who is connected with her. All of us whose experience of life has not been unfortunate know many instances where both may easily go together. But domestic theories ought to be framed not for exceptional instances, but with reference to their probabilities of average success; and it is mathematically clear that the chances of a man's happening to love both his wife and his wife's relations are less than the chanceof his loving his wife only. The happy-family principle would be a triumphant success in any ideal region where characters were all perfect and tempers all equable; but under less Utopian conditions it may be demonstrated to be a blunder. It makes a woman's future welfare depend not only on the disposition of her betrothed, but on the difficult and insoluble problem whether every single member of his and her home circle will turn out for years together to be pleasant and good-tempered companions in family life. If marriage under present conditions is a lottery, what would marriage be under conditions such as these? Matrimonial felicity is supposed by the sceptical to be as it is, a rare spectacle, but it would become rare indeed if it were capable of being imperilled by incompatibility of temper or tastes between the married pair on the one hand, and their new connections on the other.

There is, indeed, one sort of happy family which always will continue to exist, and to merit, if not to command, respect. Long before the Christian era it was a by-word among poets, and it is not yet relieved from an unjust reproach. It is_ the happy family formed by a stepmother and her husband's former children; and if we are to believe books, nothing can be more wretched; while, if we trust to common experience of life, nothing has ever been more undeservedly abused. Occasional cases, where interests have conflicted or jealousies been aroused, are overbalanced by a vast number of happier histories; yet poets and philosophers have professed to dwell on the dramatic interest that belongs to the exception, rather than to acknowledge the less romantic but more invariable rule. It is to be observed that the elements of disturbance which might threaten the unanimity of other happy families in this one instance seldom exist. The stepmother is not planted, on her arrival, in the centre of an adult group with trained and formed characters or developed tastes, and bidden to get on with them as best she can. Usually she may mould her adopted offspring as she pleases, and at any rate she is not parted from them by any barrier of previous education and habit. When the reverse happens, the ordinary rule revives, and it turns

out, as elsewhere, that it is not so simple a matter to ingraft oneself happily on a strange and grown-up household. The failure, under such circumstances, of the exception, proves the soundness, under similar circumstances, of the rule.

From The Examiner.
MR. PEABODY'S NEW GIFT. %

To his gift of 150,000^ for the poor of London, of which we lately showed how the Trustees were making the best use, Mr. Peabody now adds a sec«nd gift of 100,000/. raising the fund thus furnished to a quarter of a million, of which only 80,000/. are yet spent. As we pointed out the other day, the manner of investment chosen by the Trustees establishes perpetual enlargement of the benefit conferred. Magnificent as the gift is, and great as are the immediate advantages secured by it, the administration of it promises that it may be a leaven leavening in course of time the whole lump of our ill-housed London poverty, and making decent and well-ordered homes, with the amended character their wholesome in- • fluence produces, not the exception but the rule with our poor population. The Trustees will doubtless hold by their present scheme, and spend their resources to the utmost on the business of doing one thing well. Mr. Pe,abody's noble generosity has not benefited London only. America has reason to be grateful to him as well as proud of his good deeds. But for hi* benefaction to London Mr. Peabodv's name is destined, we believe, to grow in honour with every succeeding generation of Englishmen. The quarter of a million invested for perpetual advantage of the London poor is so substantial a capital, that by the time it has been all invested in pleasant homes for poor tenants in different districts of the town, the income from those first built will have accumulated into a new building fund. So there will probably be no year to the end of our future history in which the ring of the bricklayer's trowel will not be heard in some quarter of London as Peabody Buildings rise continually to take the place of the wretched habitations which, by their own material growth and by the growing influence of their example, such well-ordered homes may at last wholly supersede.

« PreviousContinue »