Puslapio vaizdai

constable's staff, only of a somewhat larger kind, that our Author would call back the nations, as well as the people, when he cries out for his "Man." The nations have learnt, and wisely, not to trust in these "Men," who have generally loved themselves far better than the blood, and virtues, and happiness of the people whom they swayed. And yet practically for this Man and these Men we are always looking out; not, indeed, waiting for two or three centuries for some Cromwell, but taking the best man or men we can find for the times we are most concerned in. Our author himself is doing this. His Man is Sir Robert Peel-the Man of others is Lord John Russell (who, to Mr. Carlyle, is only a child)—and the Man, again, of others, is Lord Stanley. There is a great amount of pretence in our Author's admonitions, which, if stripped of their forceful diction and grandiloquence, contain very sensible, but common every-day notions, on which we are all acting as hard as we can every day. Doubtless there are ideal men, possible men, perhaps even real men, better than those we actually do get to govern for us. But why don't we get them? Our author might as well raise a cry for a man to obtain a man, as for the Man himself. He, for one, does his best. He has told us his Man-the only one he knows how to find at present. He is very small, it is true, by the side of Oliver Cromwell, but still he is the best that he can find (it is not a very original and overlooked idea)-it is Sir Robert Peel. Our author takes his stand among ordinary people, and does his best, by means of Pamphlet No. 3, on Downing Street, to cry down Lord John, and to cry up Sir Robert. To such common uses must we return, Horatio.

Abuses in Downing Street, as elsewhere, there are in abundance and a good rough hand among them is to be welcomed. Few could be rougher or truer than this, which does its work with such an irresistible pleasantry, that the handled themselves must laugh.

"Every colony, every agent for a matter colonial, has his tragic tale to tell you of his sad experiences in the Colonial Office; what blind obstructions, fatal indolences, pedantries, stupidities, on the right and on the left, he had to do battle with; what a world-wide jungle of red tape, inhabited by doleful creatures, deaf, or nearly so, CHRISTIAN TEACHER.-No. 48.


to human reason or entreaty, he had entered on; and how he paused in amazement, almost in despair, passionately appealed, now to this doleful creature, now to that, and to the dead red tape jungle, and to the living Universe itself, and to the Voices, and to the Silences; and, on the whole, found that it was an adventure, in sorrowful fact, equal to the fabulous ones by old knights errant against dragons and wizards in enchanted wildernesses and waste howling solitudes; not achievable except by nearly superhuman exercise of all the four cardinal virtues, and unexpected favour of the special blessing of heaven. This adventure achieved, or found unachievable, he has returned with experiences new to him in the affairs of men. What this Colonial Office, inhabiting the head of Downing Street, really was, and had to do, or try doing, in God's practical earth, he could not, by any means, precisely get to know; believes that it does not itself, in the least, precisely know. Believes that nobody knows; that it is a mystery, a kind of heathen myth: and stranger than any piece of the old mythological Pantheon; for it practically presides over the destinies of many millions of living

[merged small][ocr errors]

Our author-and in this, as in other things, he is extraordinary only in the marvellous power with which he expresses the wish-is of course for cleansing the "stable of Augeas," getting down through "the high-piled" dung "droppings of two hundred years," to the pavement, and letting it be seen-for he has no doubt that the thing has not grown up without some foundation-which it is now time to re-discover. As was to be expected, Mr. Carlyle lifts his voice again for "Men." "Can we, by no industry, energy, utmost expenditure of human ingenuity, and passionate invocation of the Heavens and the Earth, get to attain some twelve, or ten, or six men to manage the affairs of this nation in Downing Street, and the chief posts elsewhere?" No worse men (and then no matter if no better) could be got for the purpose than the present, if you fling an orange-skin into St. James's Street; "let the man it hits be your man;" "breed him a little to it," and "tie the due official bladders to his ankles," and he will do as well as his foregoers.

There is a time of life when one means to reform the world—when, believing that men are like nine-pins, to be put up and knocked down as we please—and not yet knowing, by experience, that the hardest thing in the world to drive is a team of different human wills-we can

see so well what ought to be done, that we have not the slightest conception why it is not done. Nor shall we have, until we learn that the prime difficulty is not in ascertaining what is well to be done, but in subduing so many potent, individual human wills to do it. At length learning this, we learn to utter our best individual word of wisdom, and do our best individual deed of strength-subduing what wills we can to this advisable purpose; but having rather more consideration for those who, in larger spheres, with more numerous and more opposed wills more fiercely to contend with, do not acccomplish so quickly as we outside could desire, the objects they and we approve. We become wearied with simple railing, often arising from the merest ignorance-ignorance so deep that it would be impossible to enlighten. We prefer distinct convicting of wrong, distinct proposing of right, and distinct modes of doing it. These we listen to with respect-all else is stamped with a wearisome, monotonous self conceit, that becomes insufferable to us. At length we are disgusted with any fault-finding, and are disposed to take the side of the badgered Minister, who we know is often giving his days and nights to his work, whether he do it in the best conceivable fashion or not, while our friends talk their hour, eat their dinner in comfort, and sleep the night through getting up in the morning to rail at those who were awake when they were resting, and have finished again their sleep before the others are awake. With all the general truth of Mr. Carlyle's laments about actual corruptions, negligences and omissions, we wish he had more laid to heart one of his own sentences, which would have tied his tongue a little closer to his mouth as regarded actual workers, whether it had stopped it as regards actual evils or not—" to me individually these branches of human business are little known." This is probably the truest sentence in the three Pamphlets.

Successful autocracy requires submissive obedience. The first is demanded by our Author, but he is not disposed himself to accord the other, and his own discontented and disobedient spirit is for the most part the spirit of the people for whose benefit he writes-a spirit which fortunately chiefly manifests itself in both cases by ungoverned talk, rather than by rebellious act. And though it is

neither picturesque nor agreeable, this spirit in our authors and our people is more likely to secure good government in Downing Street, than trying to "weather Cape Horn" with an autocratic Captain and a passively obedient crew. These are the two elements of old Toryism-command and obedience the old Tory preaches chiefly the last, Mr. Carlyle chiefly the first: but he who preaches either, in fact, preaches the other. Our Author may find a Captain willing to obey the elemental laws, and without consulting hands above or below, be able to get us round Cape Horn -but of course this implies absolute, nay, blind unquestioning obedience in the crew-in which case we sincerely hope Mr. Carlyle will not be on board. This perpetual trumpeting then of the coming Man-and perpetual demand for a Captain to give us all the word of command, is absolute nonsense. As for the rest, we believe that we are in truth usually looking out for the ablest men, and finding them and as a point of fact, among men willing to govern, the ablest commonly are those who do govern― and if they don't govern in the best way at all times, we must help to make them. Among our other reverences for Power, we have the reverence not only for the Power that governs well, but for the Power which makes that Power govern well. Finally, therefore, we dissent from our Author's universal contempt of the present, and single aspiration for the future-his despisings of the people, and his longings for a strong-armed Despot-and fancying ourselves born a little too late in the day of human history for this, we are well content to let national conviction precede, or at least accompany all national action.

Notwithstanding these our earnest and sincere objections to the character and tendency of many of the positions assumed in these Pamphlets, we are most truly ready to declare that, like everything else that Mr. Carlyle writes, the present publication is superlatively cleverirresistibly humorous and amusing, full of odd yet apt analogies-rich (when discriminatingly read), with a wise suggestiveness and echoing with solemn notes of warning on the excess of some tendencies of our times. The passage, part of which we now give as a concluding quotation from No. 1, is conclusive on the worth of the experiment of a Republic in the United States; though we do

not of course commit ourselves to Mr. Carlyle's jokes on his American callers. In reply to the question, “Why should not all Nations subsist and flourish on Democracy, as America does ?" our Author replies:


"Of America it would ill beseem any Englishman, and me perhaps as little as another, to speak unkindly, to speak unpatriotically, if any of us even felt so. Sure enough, America is a great, and in many respects a blessed and hopeful phenomenon. Sure enough these hardy millions of Anglo-Saxon men prove themselves worthy of their genealogy, and with the axe and plough, and hammer, if not yet with any much finer kind of implements, are triumphantly clearing out wide spaces, seed-fields for the sustenance and refuge of mankind, arenas for the future history of the world;—doing, in their day and generation, a creditable and cheering feat under the sun. But as to a model Republic, or a model anything, the wise among themselves know too well that there is nothing to be said.""I foresee too that long before the waste lands are full, the very street-constable on these poor terms, will have become impossible: without the waste lands, as here in our Europe, I do not see how he could continue possible many weeks. Cease to brag to me of America, and its model institutions and constitutions. To men in their sleep there is nothing granted in this world: nothing, or as good as nothing, to men that sit idly caucasing and ballot-boxing on the graves of their heroic ancestors, saying, 'It is well, it is well.' Corn and bacon are granted, not a very sublime boon on such conditions ! a boon, moreover, which on such conditions cannot last. No! America too will have to strain its energies, in quite other fashion than this; to crack its sinews and all but break its heart as the rest of us have had to do, in thousand-fold wrestle with the Pythons and mud-demons, before it can become a habitation for the gods. America's battle is yet to fight, and we, sorrowful though nothing doubting, will wish her strength for it."-" My friend, brag not yet of our American cousins! Their quantity of cotton, dollars, industry and resources, I believe to be almost unspeakable, but I can by no means worship the like of these. What great human soul, what great thought, what great noble thing that one could worship, or loyally admire, has yet been produced there? None; the American cousins have yet done none of these things. What have they done?' growls Smelfungus, tired of the subject. They have doubled their population every twenty years. They have begotten with a rapidity beyond recorded example, eighteen millions of the greatest bores ever seen in this world before :-that, hitherto, is their feat in History!' And so we leave them for the present; and cannot predict the success of Democracy on this side of the Atlantic, from their example."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« AnkstesnisTęsti »