صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني



that time, the mass of the people have sunk down in uncomplaining silence: "Now and then, indeed, they have bustled about and shook their chains," but to little purpose.


HE nation has increased in power, wealth, arts and learning; but the progress has been confined to the higher orders. The mass have been below the current of advancement-busy in toiling for bread. What has England's prosperity been to the poor? Machinery has only lessened the value of their honest labor; commerce only increased the luxuries of the rich; books, though abundant as the productions of the earth, have done nothing for the toil-worn craftsman, whom drudgery has left no time to read. The world has moved on, but brought to him none of the blessings civilization should profusely scatter in her progress; and while every other land is filled with the elegant productions of English art, the poor enjoy none of the abundance they so liberally dispense. Commerce, which in our times seems to unite with Christianity in achieving the world's redemption, is to him a bitter curse.

Is this the nation once the freest on earth? It is now more polished, opulent, and splendid than ever; but it has also within its bounds, deeper suffering and more crying wrong than it ever had in the days of its ancient obscurity; and this suffering and wrong seem the more intense and unnatural, in contrast with the spirit of the age.


UT there is a point where degradation passes the bounds


of endurance; and England's people, who have so long bowed down in silent sorrow to the cruel arm of tyranny, are starting from their dream-like stupor. The sun of liberty, now advancing high in the heavens, begins to throw some glancing



beams through the gratings of their prison; they are looking anxiously abroad to find the occasion of their miseries; and wo to those from whom they conceive their miseries to flow. They drop the hammer upon the anvil; they pass from the clank of the factory, and ask for bread; it is not given: they will know why it is the English laborer must starve in a world of plenty. Once deeply stirred to a sense of injury and wrong, these men will not be silenced:

"Not poppy, nor mandragora,

Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world,

Shall ever medicine them to silence."

English legislators begin to feel this; and ever and anon Committees are appointed, Reports made, so charged with human wo that they almost drive the reader's brain to madness; and bills are passed ostensibly for relief; but the evil is not reached it is all shallow legislation.

Says Carlyle: "You abolish the symptom to no purpose, if the disease is left untouched. Boils on the surface are curable or incurable; small matter, while the virulent humor festers deep within, poisoning the sources of life; and certain enough to find for itself new boils and sore issues; ways of announcing that it continues there, that it would fain not continue there."

Thus England's wise men cheat themselves, and—the people for a while, by passing laws to quiet their discontent, grown fierce and mad. It is a silly expedient to play this game. "It is the resource of the ostrich, who, hard hunted, sticks his foolish head in the sand, and thinks his foolish unseeing body is unseen too."



HOME men think England now more powerful than ever; but such persons forget the wild boiling sea of smothered discontent, which is heaving under the throne and the aristocracy.



It is as certain that the English Government will be overthrown, as that it is God's sublime purpose to emancipate a long-fettered world, unless she shall cease her obstinate and blind opposition to the progress of freedom, and grant the people justice. No man who feels in his own soul the lofty spirit of the age, and tracks the progress of the car of Liberty as it rolls among the nations, can believe that England will be able much longer to breast herself up against the advancement of humanity: the majestic movements of God's Providence can be clearly seen; a train of causes are in operation too mighty to be resisted by the crumbling thrones of despotism. No; England can do all mortal man can do; she never vacillates, is never faint-hearted: but she cannot successfully oppose the spirit of the age. She has rife within herself the fiercest elements of disorder, revolution, and decay. These are her internal foes.



[ocr errors]

UT, more than this, a deep-seated indignation against her is manifesting itself throughout the world. Ambition and injustice have made up the history of her diplomacy for centuries past; and her navy has been the grand executor of her will. By it, she has acquired her foreign power; and through it, for nearly three centuries, she has possessed facilities for visiting every country to which wind and wave can bear; and these facilities have been most actively improved. She has become familiar with every point of great commer cial advantage, and appropriated to herself all the solitary and unclaimed islands, and many of the claimed ones, she has found straggling at a convenient distance from the mainland. By discovery, conquest, and usurpation, she has reared an empire upon which the sun never goes down; and this she has accomplished by being able to traverse the ocean without fear or molestation.

Distance had hitherto formed a limit for conquest; and Alexander himself would have been a harmless assailant



against an island standing off a few leagues at sea. A few months have sufficed to transport her armies to the most distant countries; and that, too, frequently in an unexpected hour for her enemies. The naval supremacy of England once established, her political supremacy followed as a matter of course. By various devices she has extended her acquisitions alike in peace, and in war; and whatever she has acquired she has steadily retained. Thus, by discovery, silent assumption, or conquest, her claims have continued to grow; and when open plunder would not do, she has tried her hand at private filching. Accordingly, we see her asserting some new pretensions almost every day.



UT her navy can no longer secure to Britain, the same supremacy as in former times. The rivalships of nations are not now, as once, of a warlike character-they are struggling for the mastery in commerce. The motive of national glory has in a measure given way to that of interest; and the acquisition of wealth is the principal advantage a nation now promises to itself in diplomacy. A great struggle has commenced in those arts which humanize mankind. This, it is true, is not yet the full result; it is only the tendency of affairs. Preparations for war are still made; national antipathies are still indulged; but these are hourly growing feebler and less rancorous. Such enterprises are looked upon with coldness and disapprobation; and the madness of plunging nations into war for trivial causes, is constantly becoming more and more palpable.

It is therefore to be hoped, that the extensive possessions of Britain will be made only the means of extending civilization, and enhancing her commercial importance; that they will no longer be turned into pretexts for quarrels and wars; that her grasping ambition will stop before she shall have kindled against her universal exasperation. The political equality of



nations, was recognized long before the political equality of men; and in attempting, therefore, to overshadow and trample upon the kingdoms around her, England is violating an older and longer established principle, than when she dresses one man in gold and sends him to the House of Lords, and another in rags and sends him to the workhouse. But this last practice may prove sufficiently dangerous, as the first may prove sufficiently fatal.



NGLAND is glorious by reason of her age, her ruins, her power; her commerce, which has extended over the world; her Christian missionaries, who are calling the pagans from their idols; and her bards and orators, whose names. stand bright on the records of mankind. But we cannot admire the spirit of that policy which, in giving the nation power and consideration abroad, leaves it weakened and wretched at home; which, in providing the rest of the world with the elegancies and luxuries of civilized life, leaves the crowded masses of its own poor, in ignorance and starvation; which, in its efforts to keep up the nation's outward pomp and display, takes no heed of its sickness and suffering within.

Let her remember that no sadder aspect in the decay of civic society can be presented, than when honest laborers, by millions, are perishing with want, while an aristocracy around them are rolling in voluptuousness; that while the great middle class of her citizens are clamorous for their political rights, the lower classes at the same time are clamorous for bread; that her provinces are held by a frail tenure; that the branches of her power are already grown too large for the parent tree that the heart of an empire may decay, while a distant dependency continues to flourish. Let her remember, too, that a Power greater than her own, has left no traces of its political existence in Italy; and that the barbarian's steed long ago made his manger in the Golden House of Nero!

« السابقةمتابعة »