The hatred of England
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The North American Review. / Volume 150, Issue 402. Publisher: University of Northern Iowa Publication. Date: May 1890. City: Cedar Falls, Iowa, etc.
THE HATRED OF ENGLAND.
BY GOLDWIN SMITH, LL.D.
There is little use in deprecating dislike, especially when you have the ill-luck to be identified with the objects of it. You will probably get at most a hollow disclaimer, and you will run some risk of adding to dislike contempt. Appeals to cousinhood are equally futile, because cousins, and people nearer of kin than cousins, often hate each other very dearly. I know well that there is a bad side to British character, and that there is a dark side to British history, as there must be to every history of adventure and achievement. On that point one can only say that it is one of the strangest phenomena in ethnology if, in a single century, the two branches of the same race have become radically different in character from each other, and the strangest fact in history if, when a race was suddenly cut in two, all the good went to one side and all the evil to the other.
When, however, an antipathy springs from supposed wrongs, it may not be altogether futile to look into its sources. There are practical reasons for allaying Anglophobia, if it can be done. We are always told that a war between the kindred nations is inconceivable. We may hope that it is very unlikely; but there has not only been a good deal of hatred, there has been a good deal of fighting, between kinsmen since Cain and Abel. A leading American journal said the other day that the American people could not help rejoicing in any reverse that might befall England. It may well be so, considering what the journals, which are the only teachers of the masses, every morning and evening tell them; and when you are in a mood to rejoice in a man s misfortunes, you are not very far from being ready to do that which, if he has any pugnacity, will lead to trouble. A war between England and France, which is the subject of constant speculation, would furnish plenty of opportunities for embroilment. Is there any limit to the affronts which American legislatures and Presidents may offer to Great Britain when they are in urgent need of the Irish vote? Is there no limit to the quiet sufferance of those affronts by a proud and powerful nation? However, apart from the danger of war, on which it is odious to dwell. Anglophobia does mischief in more ways than one. It drives British emigration from American shores to Australia at a time when the self-governing element in this country is in danger of being swamped by alien elements, and stands in need of reënforcement. It long prevented the British domiciled here from being naturalized, and still estranges their hearts from their adopted country. It stands seriously in the way of any attempt to effect a reunion of the English-speaking race upon this continent. British Canadians love a mother-country which has never wilfully given them cause for complaint, and they take hostility to her as hostility to them.
It is only with genuine Anglophobia that we deal. There are two spurious varieties, about which nothing can or need be said. One is the Anglophobia put on to win the Irish vote. The governments of Russia, Germany, Austria, Spain, France, of all the European countries, in short, in which there are disunionist, rebellious, or ultra-revolutionary forces at work, have in their turn to resort to measures of repression; but it is only in the case of Ireland that the hearts of American politicians are wrung with generous pity for the oppressed, and that they find themselves morally constrained to break through international rules and pass resolutions of sympathy with disaffection and secession. Those against whom the resolutions are directed cannot help seeing this fact. I think we remember that an American politician of mark once explained his vote to the British ambassador, and I have myself heard a politician say that he knew it was wrong to interfere with the domestic affairs of another country, but that when a man had thousands of Irishmen in his constituency he could not help himself. All tyrannies are bad, but of the two would you not prefer a tyranny which forces you to pay a small tea-tax to a tyranny which forces you to do wrong? Surely this subjection of American politics, of the American press, and sometimes even of American taste, to the Irish vote, will some day cut a strange figure ha history.
The other kind of factitious Anglophobia is that which is got up by the Protectionists. Protectionists and their organs always appeal to the patriotism of the people against the admission of British goods. Whether protectionism is the parent of prosperity we do not inquire here. It is certainly not the parent of international amity. It will always be the policy of Protectionists to obtain the support of patriotism by keeping up ill-will against the country whose competition they fear. A great prophet of protectionism in this country whom I used to meet was the bitterest of Anglophobes.
But it is too certain that there is a genuine, as well as a factitious, Anglophobia; and this has its source, to some extent, in traditional versions of historical grievances, with which, if people have any regard for historical justice, it may be possible and not altogether bootless to deal. I had, not long ago, a letter from an American asking me whether it was true, as a history book used in his section of country said, that the British government had counterfeited the greenbacks for the purpose of ruining the credit of the United States. A thorn of this kind may be plucked out. Nor would it seem hopeless to relieve any candid mind of the belief, which I find still prevalent, that the “Alabama” was armed in a British port with the connivance of the British government and manned by the seamen of the Royal Naval Reserve.
It appears ridiculous to suppose that any sane American can now hate the English people or wish them evil on account of anything done by the British monarchy and aristocracy in the last century. You might just as well visit the sins of the Bourbons on the French Republic. And yet the unrevised version of these events enshrined in histories, and especially in the school histories,* does still exercise a malignant influence; for the historian seldom, if ever, points out that the England of these days is not the England of those days, and the child or the uneducated reader goes away with the impression that she is. Colonial dependence was a false relation from the beginning. It had its source in the superstition of personal and indefeasible allegiance which, handed down from the feudal times, possessed the minds of the colonists, as it did the mind of everybody in those days. The separation had to come, but most men whose judgment is not shaken by the throb of historic war-drums will probably say that it had better have come in a peaceful form. The advantages of Australian democracy, its comparative freedom from the dominion of Tom Paine, Elijah Pogram, Tammany, and people-worship, its comparative moderation and mildness, may certainly be ascribed in part to its not having been born of revolution. That the wrong was not all on one side, Americans who prefer history to rhetoric are beginning to admit. If there were perversity and obstinacy on one side, there was demagogism, eager to foment a quarrel and to bring about a revolution, on the other side. There were also special elements of disaffection, such as the Irish Presbyterians who had fled to America from the tyranny of the State Church of Ireland, and whose feud, it may be supposed, is now buried in the grave of the State Church itself. The action of the government, though neither wise nor just, was lawful: the colonists themselves had just acquiesced in the declaration appended to the repeal of the stamp-duty, and drawn probably by the hand of Burke, that Parliament had in all things supreme power over the colonies. A constitutional remedy was open, as it had been in the case of the stamp-tax, and one unclouded hour of Chatham would have redressed the grievance. Grenville himself, in spite of his pedantic obstinacy, had shown a strong desire to conciliate.
* In the tone and sentiment of the school histories, or of such of them as have come into my hands, there has been, as I gratefully acknowledge, what to an Englishman seems a marked change for the better.
The cause of quarrel was not such as to justify civil war. No government, if it has any sense of dignity or of duty, will allow a constitutional question to be settled by mobs—even Boston mobs—or by insulting its officers, wrecking their houses, and flinging the goods of merchants trading under its flag into the sea. Governments in those days were not so enlightened as they are now: believing in protectionism, they shackled colonial trade, while they gave the colonies what they supposed to be countervailing privileges. But that the British government was not tyrannical, or for those times a bad government, that the colonists enjoyed under it the substantial benefits of freedom, is proved by the testimony of the Revolutionary leaders themselves, all of whom, including Samuel Adams and Washington, found it necessary, in order to carry the people with them, to protest that they did not mean separation. It is proved by the immense number of the colonists who, in spite of all the burdens of the government, continued to adhere to it and sacrifice everything to their loyalty. It is proved by the half-heartedness and feebleness with which, as Washington’s letters tell us, the war was carried on, and which strongly contrast with the desperate energy put forth by the Netherlanders in fighting against a real tyranny. These to the well-informed are commonplaces; but the mass of the people are not well informed: they read the old story and imbibe the old hatred. When shall we have a thoroughly truthful and at the same time readable history of the American Revolution and the period which followed? The materials for it are fast being provided in a number of biographies and monographs written since the spirit of history has been abroad, such as the admirable series of “American Statesmen,” published by Messrs. Houghton. But the history is not yet written. Hildreth was an Abdiel of truthfulness: unluckily Abdiel is dull.
Then there is the supposed behavior of “England” after the war. I feel all along the absurdity of going so far back, but the angry stories about this period also are continually reappearing, and tell on sentiment. England was sore—at least the Tory portion of her was sore; and the North would have been sore, and probably gruff, if the South had succeeded in the Civil War. But George III. was perfectly courteous and generous, though nothing could make him adroit. Pitt and Shelburne were sincerely bent on healing the family quarrel and dividing the family inheritance in a friendly way. Hildreth, though he alone, records that the flags of the great British fleet of sixty sail of the line were half-masted at the death of Washington: one may be permitted to doubt whether, if the Confederates had won, greater honors would have been paid by the North to the memory of Davis or Lee. It is surely possible that victorious Republicans, visiting England may not always have borne themselves meekly. Nor had they always a right to expect a cordial welcome. The biographer of Gouverneur Morris complains that Morris, though well received at first by Pitt, was afterwards treated with coldness, and exults in the republican snub which he gave the Duke who was Foreign Minister. But turn the page, and you find Gouverneur Morris trying at Paris to get up a European war against Great Britain, and conferring with Paul Jones about plans for cutting up English commerce in the Indian seas. Moreover, if the bitterness was prolonged, the fault lay partly in the Americans themselves, who, instead of closing the war with an amnesty, drove the vanquished by thousands into exile, and sent them to tell the tale of their wrongs and stir generous hearts to pity and indignation wherever the English tongue was spoken.
Then we come to 1812. Once more I must say it seems preposterous to go back so far, as though any man of sense would allow himself now to be influenced by things which happened eighty years ago. But the wound still bleeds in the popular histories, which form the sentiments of the people. Industrial and pacific communities are of all communities the most easily touched by military glory, as the line of American Presidents and candidates for the Presidency shows; and, unluckily for England, it happens that she is the only foreign nation of any consequence with whom the American Republic has had a war. The fact is coming to light now, thanks to the candor of American writers, that the War of 1812 had other causes than the orders in council on the impressment of seamen; that Clay and Young America wanted a patriotic war; that they felt sure of taking Canada; and that they hoped, to share the expected triumph of Napoleon over the nations of Europe then struggling against him for their independence. Nothing was said at Ghent about impressment. The orders in council were wrong, and were, in fact, withdrawn when it was too late. But it must be remembered that England was fighting almost singlehanded, not only for her own life, but for that of all the nations, and that her sole chance of victory lay in her power of distressing the enemy at sea. America came in to ruin that chance by her exercise of neutral privileges. Randolph, in his frank mood, said about the character of the traffic what will not be easily gainsaid. When I am struggling for my life with a desperado, if you come along the sidewalk in such a way as to cover him from my shot and I push you rudely aside, perhaps I am wrong,—you have a right to use the public sidewalk; but I am not an execrable villain. Americans surely must sometimes feel that, if the common tyrant had succeeded in crushing the liberties of Europe with their help, it would not have been altogether a bright episode in Republican history.
Lastly we come to 1861. I shared Federal feeling, perhaps even Federal passion, during the Civil War, as intensely as was possible for a foreigner. But we ought now to take a reasonable view of the matter. Parties were divided in England much as they were divided here. You had nursed a slave-owning aristocracy, and with that aristocracy the aristocracy on the other side of the water sympathized, while the democracy there sympathized with the democracy here. So it will be as long as political parties and their passions exist. If there were partisans of the South in England, there were Copperheads here, and McClellan ran for President and polled a heavy vote on the platform that the war was a failure. You say we were bound, all of us, to sympathize with a struggle against slavery. But you had declared that it was not against slavery that the war was made. You had declared that the object was not to abolish slavery, but to restore the Union. Your actions corresponded with your words. Congress invited slavery back into the Union with increased guarantees; it showed itself ready, if the South would return, to fix slavery in the Constitution immutably and forever. William Lloyd Garrison saw how much allowance had, after this and other darkenings of the issue, to be made for British hesitation or error.
It is useless to talk of the secession as a rebellion, or to contend that foreign nations ought to have regarded it in that light. It does not belong to that class of events. The South was not an insurgent party, nor did it seek to overthrow or change the Federal government. Two groups of States, radically different in social structure and consequently in political requirements, had been long yoked together in ill-assorted and uneasy union. At last they fell apart. The seceding group became at once de facto a nation, with a distinct territory of its own, and a regular government, which through the whole of that territory was perfectly recognized and obeyed. In invading and reannexing the Southern Confederation, the North, though it might only be doing what power has always done, could have no title to general sympathy on any other ground than that it was executing the ban of humanity against slavery; and this title it had expressly disclaimed. William Lloyd Garrison had always been saying, “Part in peace.” Might not Englishmen say the same thing without breach of principle or hostility to the American people? Is it absolutely self-evident even now that they were far wrong in what they said, so far as the interest of the free States was concerned? Is it yet proved beyond doubt that the reincorporation of the black States was a gain?
As to breaches of neutrality, I belonged to an association formed expressly to watch against them, and. I assert with confidence that the only one for which the British government was otherwise than technically responsible was the failure to detain the “Alabama,” for which ample atonement has been made. Even the failure to detain the “Alabama” arose from the sickness of the law officer before whom the papers had been laid, and the vessel escaped without a clearance and unarmed; facts which it would be needless, as it is wearisome, to repeat if the false version of the affair were not still current. The French Emperor invited England to joint intervention. Had she accepted the offer, she might at once have weakened an enemy, made a lasting friend, and enjoyed a most historic revenge. But the offer was at once rejected. By the party journals in England which were on the side of the South most irritating and offensive language was used; but it was answered by the journals of the other party, as well as by the American press. At the time of the American Revolution an enthusiastic Republican proposed that you should give up speaking English and adopt Latin, as the language of Scævola and Brutus. I have sometimes wished that he could have had his way, because then wrangling would have been impossible.
It is not the object here to frame a comparative list of wrongs; otherwise something might be said about American sympathizers with Canadian rebellion and about Fenian raids.
The Fourth-of-July treatment of history is now visibly going out of fashion among the higher class of American writers, and all these things are beginning to be treated with critical veracity and justice. The spirit of science, in fact, is making itself felt in the historical field, and passion is descending from its usurped throne. But a generation at least will probably pass before the popular version will conform itself to the scientific version, and before Americans who read no annals but their own will cease, historically at least, to identify patriotism with hostility to Great Britain. I am not saying that in any of the cases that have been mentioned there was not wrong on the part of the British people, or a section of it; but I say that the wrong has in all cases been more or less overstated; that the provocations or extenuating circumstances have been left out of sight; and, above all, that it is unreasonable to allow your feeling towards the British people of to-day to be affected by the acts of their monarchical and aristocratic government a century ago.
A special source of the Anglophobia in American literature, I have learned to think, is literary rivalry. Probably this feeling has been intensified by the unfair competition to which American writers have been exposed through the absence of international copyright, and which has at the same time had the effect of keeping American literature in thraldom to that of England. I could mention American authors whose writings would be charming to me if the taste of Anglophobia were not always coming, like the taste of garlic in Italian cookery, to offend the palate of the English reader. I was reading, the other day, a work the writer of which had evidently taken his seat in the chair of Matthew Arnold as a calm and cosmopolitan critic. Perhaps he might have been worthy of that chair; but, unhappily, whenever the British character came before him, he bounced off the judgment-seat and became anything but cosmopolitan. In England we have had adverse criticisms of America such as that of Sir Lepel Griffin, which was too rampant to produce a serious effect. We have had caricatures like that by Dickens, who, however, caricatured his own countrymen too. But there is no pervading antipathy to America in British literature; no Americanophobia, if one may coin so uncouth a word. Nor in the English press is there anything corresponding to the anti-British tone—I use a very mild expression—of American journalism. Only in special Tory or Jingo journals do we find vestiges of national ill-feeling.
Then there is social friction. Here I touch a subject of which, as it concerns the social character and manners of Englishmen, an Englishman is a very bad judge. But I suspect something is due to the sensitiveness of Americans who, when they visit England, fancy that English society is prejudiced against them and secretly contemptuous. More than once I have seen bitter allusions to the supposed arrogance of Englishmen in telling an American, by way of compliment, that they should not know him from one of themselves. I am convinced that this, though it might as well have been left unsaid, may have been said from perfectly genuine and perfectly innocent surprise at finding that, where they had been taught to believe some great difference existed, there was really no difference at all. Some Americans seem to be haunted by the belief that Englishmen are always in their own minds disparaging America, and that beneath everything they say, especially in praise of their own country, an insinuation of that kind lurks, when probably the Englishman is not thinking about America at all.
“Of all the sarse thet I can call to mind,
England doos make the most onpleasant kind:
It ’s you ’re the sinner oilers, she ’s the saint;
Wut ’s good ’s all English, all thetis n’t ain’t;
Wut profits her is ollers right an’ just,
An’ ef you don’t read Scriptur so, you must;
She ’s praised herself ontil she fairly thinks
There ain’t no light in Natur when she winks;
Hain’t she the Ten Comman’ments in her pus?
Could the world stir ’thout she went, tu, ez nus?
She ain’t like other mortals, thet ’s a fact:
She never stopped the habus-corpus act;
She don’t put down rebellions, lets ’em breed,
An ’s ollers willin’ Ireland should secede;
She ’s all thet ’s honest, honnable, an’ fair,
An’ when the vartoos died they made her heir.”
The writer of these lines, going afterwards to England, would not be prepared to put very kind constructions on anything that Englishmen said or did, and an increase of social friction might well be the result of his visit. However, he did go to England, and has not, it is believed, written anything in the same strain since.
In international courtesy Great Britain can hardly be said, in recent times, to have been wanting. It seems possible even that her civility may at times have appeared to Americans a little overstrained. It must be left to Americans to say whether there has been anything overstrained in the civility towards Great Britain of American legislatures and politicians, or even of American Presidents, when elections were likely to turn on the Irish vote. The American Constitution itself, by submitting treaties to discussion in the Senate after negotiation with the President, gives an opening for breaches of diplomatic courtesy which, when Great Britain is concerned, are seldom allowed to go unimproved. To have, after framing a treaty with the President, to wait in the anteroom of the Senate, and then to be publicly dismissed with contumely, can never be agreeable to a government accustomed to the diplomatic etiquette and amenities of the old world.
Jealousy waits upon success. But of the success of England a great part has been of such a kind that it ought to excite no sort of ill-feeling. You could not hate a nation for achievements in science or literature, for having produced the “Principia,” the “Origin of Species,” or the theologians, philosophers, historians, poets, and novelists of England. It is strange to hear people reviling British character while in their book-cases and in the hands of their children are books which, by their influence on those whose intellectual food they form, must cast character in the British mould. Again, Great Britain, thanks largely, no doubt, to her happy insular position, has been the foster-mother of free institutions, both political and judicial. The constitution of every free nation in the world at the present day is clearly traceable to hers as its source, and most of them are direct imitations. I do not say that parliamentary monarchy, or parliamentary government at all, that of which the seat is Washington any more than that of which the seat is Westminster, is likely to be final; I cannot conceive any form of government being final which seems to involve the necessity of party and of pledges, or which bases itself on will, be the will that of a despot or that of the sovereign people. But, at all events, parliamentary government has supplied the universal need as a bridge between that which has been and that which is to be. Nor can we doubt that it embodies principles which hereafter, as advancing science casts out passion from the domain of politics and installs reason in its place, may take a more rational and enduring form. To success in such a field there is no dark shadow, any more than there is to success in the field of science itself.
To success in the field of war and conquest there is a very dark shadow. Not only is it natural that jealousy should wait upon aggrandizement; it is right, because otherwise aggrandizement would have no limit. But remember that in these subjects morality is new-born. Who applauded Chatham more loudly or followed him more ardently in the path of conquest than the people of those British colonies which are now the United States? If England has fought for aggrandizement, as beyond doubt she has, she has also fought for better things—for human liberty against Philip II., for the freedom and independence of the nations against the Bourbon despotism and the tyranny of Napoleon. The notion that she has now a settled policy of aggrandizement, and is always carrying it forward by a union of far-reaching fraud with force, though it constantly appears in the American press, is plainly baseless. A series of despots may, in their dark councils, hand on and continuously carry out a policy like that embodied in the legendary will of Peter the Great. But how can this be done by a parliamentary government which is changed about every four years, being that of Beaconsfield one day and that of Gladstone and Bright the next, which can hardly exercise even the most necessary forecast, which has constantly to explain its diplomatic action before a public assembly, and is unable to make any preparations for war without going to the House of Commons for supplies and disclosing the grounds of the demand?
Great Britain has in her empire three hundred millions of people, with a standing army of 200,000 British and 130,000 Sepoys; so that she is really by far the least military of all the old-world powers. Read any one of the countless treatises on the defence of her empire, and you will see how far she is from being in a state to cherish projects of aggression. Her colonial dependencies are, in a military point of view, mere sources of weakness. She has a world-wide commerce: she has the carrying trade which American legislation, by discouraging the maritime pursuits in which Americans were once predominant, has thrown into her hands. For the protection of these she is obliged to keep up a large fleet and to occupy and guard coaling-stations, though, after all, experts are perpetually shrieking that the fleet is not nearly large enough for safety, and that the coaling-stations are unguarded. Depend upon it, the counsels of England, whatever they may have been in the days of Henry V. or of Chatham, are now, and must be, counsels of peace and moderation. No one doubts this who has seen anything of English statesmen. There is in Englishmen a spirit of adventure which has marked their whole history and which forms its romance. But this, instead of embodying itself in heroic corsairs, such as Drake, Raleigh, and Cavendish, or their later counterparts in land enterprise who won the Indian Empire, now takes the forms of Gordon, Rajah Brooke, and Livingstone, who have their American comrade in Stanley. The cession of the Ionian Islands by England to Greece is, I believe, an almost unique instance of a perfectly voluntary cession. Over the colonies England has resigned all real power: they are substantially so many independent nations. The only empire, properly so called, which she now has is India.
The Indian Empire is the regular theme of Anglophobists. They never mention it without giving utterance to burning words about the oppression of the Hindoo. For my part, not being a Jingo, but enjoying the worst possible reputation in that quarter, I will freely confess that, notwithstanding all the grandeur and all the romance of the Indian Empire, which no British heart can help feeling, I believe England would have been better without India. I believe it would have been better for her if, as the wisest of her statesmen and diplomatists counselled her in the early days, she had abjured dominion and confined herself to securities for trade. It is very doubtful whether dominion has added to her wealth, for she draws no tribute, and against the salaries and pensions have to be set the armaments and wars. The Crimean War was really a war for India; so were the wars with China; so is the war in Egypt. Dominion has certainly not added to her strength, for it has destroyed her insular security, making her a continental power on the largest scale in a continent far remote from the centre of her force, with the most aggressive of military monarchies for her neighbors.
England’s Indian Empire is not a proof of her special rapacity. It is a gigantic survival from a general era of conquest. France, Holland, or Portugal would have taken it and kept it if she could. France had all but got it into her hands when a young commercial clerk got off his stool and said to the British Governor, “Give me your last reserves and I will save your dominion.” The boy had faults, vices; once at least ambition led him into a crime; and yet it is hard for the unregenerate Englishman, perhaps even for the unregenerate Anglo-Saxon, to read that marvellous story and not to feel some pride in belonging to the race of Robert Clive. The break-up, amidst blood, havoc, and confusion, of the Mogul Empire, made conquest from some quarter inevitable, and as a conqueror the Englishman was probably better than the Frenchman or the Dutchman, certainly better than the Portuguese, and very far better than the Afghan or the Mahratta. The first days, before the empire was organized, were bad, though not so bad as they have been painted by the reckless rhetoric of Macaulay, the critical examination of whose essay on Warren Hastings by Sir James Stephen, in his “Story of Nuncomar,” it will do everybody good to read.
But now a string of impartial or even adverse witnesses, French, German, Austrian, and American, might be cited to prove that the British Empire in India is by far the greatest effort ever made to render conquest an instrument of civilization. The country, with its two hundred and fifty millions of inhabitants, is held by seventy thousand British soldiers, and, though there have been military mutinies, there has never been a political revolt. Such an empire cannot be merely an empire of force. Under the peace which British rule has imposed, where before raged constant and murderous war, the population has increased immensely, and the pressure of its numbers on the means of subsistence—not British extortion—is the main cause of the ryot’s poverty. There has been a similar growth of population in China, followed by a similar pressure on the means of subsistence. There seems to be no doubt that British enterprise and the security afforded to property have vastly developed wealth. Agriculture has been encouraged by the government; railroads have been built; and by the increased facilities of transport local famines, which Anglophobists preposterously ascribe to the British government, have been abated. Evil and criminal customs, such as suttee, have been put down, and a good deal has been done for education. Haughty, cold, and exclusive, unhappily, the conquerors are: the social relation between them and the government is the weak point. Unluckily, the more amiable and sociable temper seldom goes with the power of command. After all, there is no exclusiveness of race like the exclusiveness of Hindoo caste, as any one will see who will read what the Sacred Books say about the relations between the Brahmin and the Sudra. There is no trampling on Indian nationality, for in that vast medley of races and religions, in which conquest has been superposed upon conquest, no such thing as nationality exists. The Hindoo press is free, and abuses the government without stint. Some time ago there appeared in this Review a fierce arraignment of the rulers of India by a Hindoo writer. The answer was the article itself. What conqueror before the British conqueror of India could ever afford to allow the conquered freely to arraign his government? The writer himself and the class cultured like him are products of the empire, and would be crushed like egg-shells in the murderous chaos which would follow if the shelter of the empire were withdrawn. Nor does England selfishly keep Hindostan to herself; its ports are open to the trade of the whole world.
The occupation of Egypt, which forms the latest theme of Anglophobic denunciation, is a consequence of the possession of India. That it was a mistake John Bright had good grounds for saying; but the object was not, as American journals always say, to collect interest for the bondholder, but to guard the Suez Canal. England did not want to go alone, but France at the last moment refused to go with her. I had a letter the other day from an American friend who was visiting Egypt for the second time. He is a trustworthy observer, and he spoke with rapture of the improvement which British administration had wrought.
One does not like to touch on the weary Irish question. But surely Americans will find difficulty in believing either that John Bright did not know oppression when he saw it, or that he wilfully upheld it. That Irish Catholics had terrible wrongs in former days nobody doubts: French Huguenots and Spanish heretics had more terrible wrongs than theirs at the same time. But what is their political grievance now? They have not named one except the union; and that the union is not a blighting curse seems to be proved by the prosperity of the Protestant North, which stands in exactly the same relation to Great Britain and is under the same laws and institutions as the rest of the island. Surely the Draft Riots, the Molly-Maguire outrages, Tammany, and the Clan-na-Gael must sometimes suggest to American Anglophobists that Irish character is, at all events, a factor in this unhappy problem. That character is just the same in Australia that it is in Ireland and in the United States. The overbreeding of a very amiable, but not very energetic or thrifty, race, on a soil which will not support them, is what no government can prevent; nor can any government, whether in French Canada or in Ireland, annul the effects of ecclesiastical domination on industrial progress. Yet Ireland was making headway under the union when this agitation broke out.
“Amongst the scenes that are now unhappily being enacted in Ireland by certain persons we may lose sight of the great and unquestionable progress of that country. It has achieved material progress in a degree most remarkable for a country with little variety of pursuit. I do not believe there is a laboring population in all Europe—although the condition of the Irish laborer leaves much to desire—which in the course of the last twenty years has made a progress equal to that of the laboring population in Ireland. Let me look at the farming class, which, as you know, may be said almost to constitute the body of the nation, understood as the term is understood in Ireland—let me look at the indication of their surplus wealth. Forty years ago the deposits in the Irish banks, which are the indication of the amount of their free savings, were about five millions. Some fifteen years later than that, I think they had risen to some eleven or twelve millions. There is now, of deposits in the Irish banks, which represent almost wholly the honest earnings and savings of Irish farmers, a sum of nearly thirty millions of money. Of course I don’t mean to say that the whole of these are agricultural savings, but an enormous proportion is of agricultural savings, and, at any rate, you cannot mistake the meaning and the force of the comparison between the thirty millions, in round numbers, of the present day and the five millions which were in the Irish banks forty years ago. If I am to speak of moral progress in Ireland, I say that it has been remarkable, and it is associated with legal progress in regard to every class of legal offences but one. There is still one painful and grievous exception—the exception of the agrarian offences.”
Such were the words uttered by Mr. Gladstone nine years ago and cited the other day by Lord Hartington. That Mr. Gladstone, when he spoke thus as Prime Minister, had not considered the Irish question, and was merely repeating without reflection the “classical” version of it, is more than anybody can believe. Americans know what party is when out of power, and how it can not only assail the government, but traduce the country. To suppose that the people of Great Britain will allow the other island to be made the seat of a hostile power is preposterous, and those who abet disunion are only preparing for Ireland the miseries of reconquest. But I am straying beyond my subject and into the most hateful of discussions.
I have said that there is no pervading antipathy to America in British literature or in the British press. I may extend the remark and say that nowhere in Great Britain, except, perhaps, in the mansion of some ultra-aristocrat and ultra-Tory club, would the display of the American flag excite any but kindly feelings. Therefore whatever warrant or dignity hatred may derive from reciprocation is certainly wanting in this case.