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find it easy to be sure that he sees the limits of what was meant and the limits of what was not meant. The limpid flow of delicate words takes him steadily on; but where at any precise instant he is, he cannot be very confident. For the former intercourse of foreign Courts this sort of style had immense advantages; it gave no offence, and, having no marked sentences, left no barbed words for after irritation. And in Lord Russell we had a warning of the evils of the opposite style. He wrote as he used to speak in the House of Commons. With a certain cold acumen he pitched' (there is no less familiar word adequate) into' the foreign Courts, as he used to 'pitch into 'Sir Robert Peel; and not being used to Parliamentary plainness, the foreign Courts did not like it. Lord Russell hardly conducted a foreign controversy in which the extreme intelligibility of his words did not leave a sting behind them. Of Lord Clarendon the very contrary may be said-he scarcely ever left a sting, never an unnecessary one. But, on the other hand, Lord Russell's despatches, hard and unpleasant as they often are, never left anyone in doubt as to their precise meaning. If they did mislead some foreign Courts it was because they could not understand that a Minister would blurt out all his meaning in that gauche manner; but to a common reader they are as plain as words can make them. And, as in the present day, great despatches, being published, are really addressed to whole nations of common readers as well as to small Courts of special training, they ought to be so written as to combine the gentle suavity that suits the one with the unmistakeable plainness which is essential to the other. It was exactly the gliding urbanity of Lord Clarendon's style which pleased the Courts while it perplexed the common people.
But we do not need now to dwell at length on a point so subordinate. It is much for a man of Lord Clarendon's standing to have written nearly perfectly in the old style ; it is no ground for serious blame to him that he did not invent a new style. He will be remembered by posterity as a Minister singularly suited to the transition age in which he lived, and, as possessing both the courtly manners which are going out and also the commercial tastes and the business knowledge which are coming in. Some critics will, as we have said, find fault with his want of special designs and of a far-reaching policy. But to this generation of Englishmen this was no fault at all. We wish that foreign nations should, as far as may be, solve their own problems; we wish them to gain all the good they can by their own exertions, and to remove all the evil. But we do not wish to take part in their struggles. We fear that we might mistake as to what was best; we fear that in so shifting a scene we might find, years hence, when the truth is known, that we had in fact done exactly the reverse of what we meant, and had really injured what we meant to aid. We fear that, amid the confusion, our good might turn to evil, and that our help would be a calamity and not a blessing. And for an age like this Lord Clarendon was a fitting Minister, for he had a wise sagacity which taught him to interfere as little, and to refrain from acting as much, as prudence rendered possible.
MR. LOWE AS CHANCELLOR OF THE
An oak,' said a great Irish orator, who did not succeed so well as he expected in England, an oak should not be transplanted at fifty.' And we believe that to be the reason why Mr. Lowe —though in many respects he has shown great ability as Finance Minister-upon the whole has not, as yet, succeeded better than many much stupider men, nor as well as his genius deserved. Mr. Lowe, before he began his finance studies, had already invested' so much mind that most men would have had no more left. His career at Oxford was unusually long ; he was not a mere student who took high honours. After that he stayed several years as a working tutor, and has described to a Royal Commission how steadily he worked for ten hours a day as a 'coach,' and how little in consequence he accepts the
romance of tuition. And the inevitable result has been that Mr. Lowe has become a scholar, not only as young students become such, but as men of maturer years, who mean to earn money by it, become scholars. A certain part of the substance of his mind is embarked in that pursuit, and cannot now be transferred to any other. After leaving Oxford, Mr. Lowe made himself not only an excellent English lawyer, but an admirable general jurist. He is acquainted not only with the technicalities of English law, but with the structure of other systems of law, and with the principles of scientific jurisprudence. He has studied what Bentham said law 'ought' to be, and what Austin said law must' be. And this too is a very exhausting study, requiring, if the knowledge is really to be acquired as Mr. Lowe has acquired it, and retained as he retains it, a great capital' of mind. No one can wonder that, when on the verge of threescore, he was suddenly made Finance Minister, he should not possess or display so much free and applicable mind as some younger men.
Great mind he must always display. But he has not displayed proportionate mind-proportioned, we mean, to the immense abilities which everyone knows he has. After all, there is only room in even the largest head for a certain number of thoughts, and Mr. Lowe had crowded his, long before he had tried finance, with many dissimilar and occupying ideas.
It is true that under our Parliamentary system, Ministers of as mature an age as Mr. Lowe are not unfrequently transferred from post to post, and are placed in charge of offices with whose subjects they have no knowledge. No one supposes that Mr. Cardwell knew much of military business before he was made Secretary for War; and yet unquestionably he has pulled the Army Regulation Bill better through Parliament than the planners who contrived it, or the soldiers who will act on it. But these transferable statesmen commonly belong to a different class from Mr. Lowe. Like Mr. Cardwell, they are trained Parliamentary advocates. They have learned to know the House of Commons, and the way of putting an argument so as to suit the House of Commons, as a long-practised advocate knows the sort of arguments which suit a jury, and the most telling way in which to state them to a jury. Sir Robert Peel was once said to know how to dress up a case for Parliament' better than anyone else. And in this art there are two secrets, of which Mr. Cardwell is an eminent master. The first is always to content yourself with the minimum of general maxims which will suit your purpose and prove what you want. By so doing, you offend as few people as possible, you startle as few people as possible, and you expose yourself to as few retorts as
possible. And the second secret is to make the wohle discussion very uninteresting--to leave an impression that the subject is very dry, that it is very difficult, that the department had attended to the dreary detail of it, and that on the whole it is safer to leave it to the department, and a dangerous responsibility to interfere with the department. The faculty of disheartening adversaries by diffusing on occasion an oppressive atmosphere of business-like dulness is invaluable to a Parliamentary statesman.
But these arts Mr. Lowe does not possess. He cannot help being brilliant. The quality of his mind is to put everything in the most lively, most exciting, and most startling form. He cannot talk that monotonous humdrum which men scarcely listen to, which lulls them to sleep, but which seems to them the sort of thing you would expect, which they suppose is all right.' And Mr. Lowe's mode of using general principles not only is not that which a Parliamentary tactician would recommend, but is the very reverse of what he would advise. Mr. Lowe always ascends to the widest generalities. The axiomata media, as logicians have called them the middle principles, in which most minds feel most reality and on which they find it most easy to rest—have no charms for him. He likes to go back to the bone, to the abstract, to the attenuated, and if he left these remote principles in their remote unintelligibility, he would not suffer so much. But he makes the dry bones live. He wraps them in illustrations which Macaulay might envy. And he is all the more effective, because he uses our vernacular tongue. The phrases that “the money market must take care of itself,' and that it was not the business of the Treasury to cocker up the Bank of England, will long be remembered, and will longer impair his influence with grave, quiet, and influential persons. Mr. Lowe startles those who do not like to be startled, and does not compose those who wish to be composed- those who need a little commonplace to assure them that they are acting on safe principles