Imatges de pÓgina


Traits" of the Philosopher of Concord, morals and morality. In an order of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1856). Here, ideas with which, in my character of at all events, is one more reason for professional critic, I am quite familiar, the prevalent feeling against England. it is not the novels of Tolstoi and Dos

Certainly we have all admired, during toievsky, nor those of George Sand, the last six months, the firmness with but the romances of Dickens, Thackwhich England has met her initial re- eray, Elizabeth Gaskell, Charlotte verses in the South African war. We Brontë, George Eliot and Mrs. Humhave all done homage to her tenacity phry Ward, it is the strictures of Carand perseverance, though we knew all lyle and the æsthetics of Ruskin which the time that it was a mere question of have brought in humanitarian and somoney. I use the expression in its cialistic ideas. Can it be that it is all best sense, and am far from desiring to only decoration and stage-setting? This re-echo any calumnious personal accu- is what the enemies of England saysation. But I do mean to say that it the people who do not love her, though was perfectly clear, from the begin- without knowing why. For my own ning, to the European mind that Eng. part, I do not believe anything of the land did not intend to allow the Trans- kind. It is, if I am not mistaken, only vaal to escape from her politico-eco- another form of that Anglo-Saxon pride nomical “sphere of influence;" and that which seems to be the groundwork of she did intend to keep hold, if not pre

the race. The personal morality of cisely of the gold mines of the Rand, Englishmen and the political immor. at least of the “plant which they repre- ality of England spring from the same sent.” Really and truly, if there had been no gold mines, the English would Protected by his geographical isolahave left the Boers alone. They have tion and, as it were, intrenched in his merely undertaken to seize by force a island; intoxicated by that great prossource of riches which, for the last perity in which, if temperament, sagactwenty years, they have tried in vain ity, good sense and national moderation to get by diplomacy, by intrigue and by have their part, circumstances also endeavoring to swamp the Boer ele- have surely gone for something; imment in the foreign one. I do not know bued with that feeling of security when, or to what extent, they will suc- which results from the possession of ceed in this enterprise. But their suc- wealth, but which also degenerates so cess will not alter the fact that they easily into a sense of personal imporhave acted in exact opposition to all tance; accustomed to a manner of liv. which Europe has been trying to do in ing which differs in many respects the present century by way of intro- from ours, and which glories, under ducing into international relations a the name of eccentricity, in defying justice more in accordance with that our customs; all these discrepancies which individuals practise among them- and peculiarities have passed, insenselves, in exact opposition also to that sibly, among the English of our day, which England is justly proud of hav. into a consciousness and conviction ing realized upon her own soil.

of the superiority of their race. Origins Whence comes this contradiction? It and idiosyncrasies go for little. Brachycertainly seems, we say again, as cephalous or dolichocephalous, blonde though the conscience of the individual or brown, Celt or Saxon, Norman or was nowhere more delicate, more anx- German, Manchester manufacturer or ious, more scrupulous than in England. city merchant, governor at the Cape or Nowhere else are folk so anxious about peer of England, the contemporary Eng.

lishman is, in his own eyes, a man years had elapsed, after the conquest apart, the product of a unique process of Spain and Gaul, those countries of selection, the aristocratic variety, were entirely Roman. The ancient so to speak, of the human race. We world had its Syrian and its Thracian continentals have sometimes spoken of emperors. But the English in India, this temper of mind as the English- not to mention Australia, New Zeaman's insolence; but the expression is land, the Cape or the Congo-guard not wholly just. Other people's inso- themselves in the most jealous manner lence is deliberate; the Englishman's from all contact, intermingling, or comappears to be involuntary and almost munity of race. I shall be told that unconscious. He cannot exactly be there are exceptions, but I speak of the said to despise other men. He ignores general rule. I am even willing to adthem. But from this ignorance or in- mit that there are strong reasons in solence, whichever it be, one thing re- favor of such a policy. It is a serious sults. An Englishman does not apply question whether the mixture of races the same rule to his own actions as to in South America, and even in India those of other men. He overlooks in itself, has not been disastrous upon the others certain things which he would whole. The Portuguese could tell us never permit himself to do, that is his something on this head. Nevertheless, self-respect; but he also permits himself it is undeniable that the haughty isolato do to others what he would never tion of the Englishman amid a suboverlook if they did it to him, and ject population has had the effect of there we have the principle of his for- transforming his practical sovereignty eign policy!

into a confused but obstinate and powIt has often been compared with that erful sentiment of the heterogeneity of of the ancient Romans, and, allowing the Anglo-Saxon race. The conditions for two thousand years' distance of of English supremacy all over the time, there are certainly some analo- world are such as to intensify the pride gies between them. Neither an Eng- of blood. Like the Pharisee in Scriplishman nor a Roman ever doubted for ture, the Englishman, in all his acts, one moment his right, or even his duty, thanks God that he is not as other men to do anything whatsoever for the are. Could anything be more opposed greatness of Rome or the enrichment to that broad sentiment of humanityof England. This fact was eloquently caritas humani generis — which the set forth only a short time ago in the genius of the Latin race displayed in Revue des Deux Mondes, by Dr. Kuy- the universe conquered by its arms? per, deputy to the General Assembly In this respect the English are no Roof Holland. But there are differences mans. If their prototype is to be sought as well, important ones, too; and with- in history--a fanciful proceeding in any out attempting to rehearse them all, case-I should find it in the Carthawhich would be tiresome, beside savor- ginians. ing of a rhetorical exercise, we may Now, suppose this feeling transferred emphasize as the chief difference of to international relations, and how can all, this:-that while the Romans the English themselves wonder if the adapted themselves readily to the peo- pride of other nationalities is outraged? ples whom they conquered and adapted Every race has its qualities. Neither those populations to themselves, the the Frenchman, the Dutchman, the English never assimilate a subject German, the Spaniard or the Italian people, and still less do they assimilate has any occasion to regard himself as themselves to it. Before a hundred inferior to the Anglo-Saxon. The su

periority of the latter is a mere matter of our race have learned this truth by of circumstance, and it looks as though cruel experience. the English, with all their pride, were We shall be reminded, perhaps, that beginning to get an inkling of the fact. all this is mere pettifogging; and, apart Have they not shown considerable from any question of the superiority of alarm in these late years at the progress race, we shall be asked if we presume of French colonization, Russian expan- to deny, however the fact may be exsion and German commerce? How, plained, the superiority of Anglo-Saxon then, would it be with them if they had civilization. A comparison will be also to bear the military burdens of drawn between English and Boers, and Germany, Russia and France, and we shall be requested to say whether keep four or five hundred thousand or no we think that the substitution of men on a war-footing every year? We the former for the latter, -of that greatly admire, as I said before, the mighty nation of merchants, artisans, cool and steadfast valor with which warriors, statesmen, savants, thinkers, the British have met their reverses in artists and men of letters for a handful South Africa. This may have been an of farmers, huntsmen and shepherds, affair of temperament, but is it not would be favorable to the progress of possible that the disasters in question, humanity. humiliating though they were, and mor- We reply in the first place that we tifying to the pride of the whole nation, know nothing about it; and in the secactually decimated only armies of mer- ond, that even if we did know, or cenaries? It was only officers belong- thought we knew, we are forbidden by ing to an aristocracy which is now a the principles of political economy to small minority, or soldiers by trade, for put upon anything a higher value than whom death on the battle-field is but it will bear. Let us endeavor, just a "professional risk,” calculated and here, to define what may be called the paid for in advance, who were touched "colonial sophism." Where we are really in their personal and family relations. only striving to place our ironmongery, Moreover, the war, even in the most our cotton and woollen fabrics, our felt unfavorable event, would neither have hats and other millinery, we flatter ourthreatened London with a siege nor selves that we are diffusing the blessLiverpool with bombardment. What, ings and the light of civilization. Not one asks, would become of British merely has the greed of gain often "sang-froid" should such a case really blinded us (nay, it does so still, and arise? God forbid that we should de- every day of our lives) to the immorsire it; but the fact is that when we ality of trade, as when we opened up come to look closely into what English China, at the cannon's mouth, as vanity so readily describes as the re- market for our opium and deluged the sult of natural superiority, we find it Kanak and the Moori with the poison to be the product of a combination of of our alcohol, but we have come to circumstances, possibly provisional, but confound what we call "progress" with certainly contingent. And who does an increase of business. Nay, more, not know that in international, no less we have actually persuaded ourselves than private relations, there is nothing that any kind of violence is permissible which the mass of men bear less pa- for the attainment of such a result. The tiently than the pride of those who English hold the same belief, and after take credit to themselves for the favors four hundred years, during which their of fortune. The Philip Seconds, the historians have been eloquently revilLouis Fourteenths and the Napoleons ing the Spaniards for the cruelties

[ocr errors]

which accompanied the conquest of of corporal punishment. What is the Mexico and Peru, their statesmen find conclusion, if not that there is as yet it perfectly right and natural to anni- no adequate sense in England of the bilate, in the name of Anglo-Saxon civ. degradation involved in bodily chastiseilization and its “superiority," a small ment, alike to the wretch who endures, nation of the same race, the same re- the executioner who inflicts and the ligion, the same communion even, as society that tolerates it? theirs.

Take another case, the way in which Did not Mr. Chamberlain himself say, England recruits her armies. What totidem verbis, in the House of Com- Frenchman, German or Russian would mons on the 5th of February, 1900: not blush for the human race were he "The differences between ourselves to see the coarse bait offered to the and the Transvaal are not the work of soldiers of the Queen in the regions any government. They are the product about St. Martin's Lane and Trafalgar of circumstances, of the deep dispari. Square in this year of grace 1900? Not ties existing between Boer character only is British civilization in no respect and English character, Boer civiliza- superior to the German or French artion and English civilization, Boer edu- ticle, but I do not believe there is to cation and English education. These be found at the present time any other are the true causes of the present state great nation where popular customs of things.” Exactly so! and Mr. Cham- are so bound up in a network of traberlain has, at least, the merit of frank- dition and habit, and of prejudices ness. Let Boer civilization, education, which elsewhere it is the glory of modcharacter even, perish if they are in- ern civilization definitely to have abcompatible with those of the English. jured. Rigidly economic, ManchesThe world has got to be Anglicized, terian and liberal, Darwinian also and and not merely “moralized,” as a con

individualistic, the civilization of Eng. dition of its future progress! The only land is adapted to England only; and thing which Mr. Chamberlain has for- it is because the world is beginning at gotten, or neglected to tell us, is what last to suspect as much, because the the disparities in question are, and importation of English fashions threatwhat the signs whereby the superiority ens to destroy, in other European naof a civilized nation is recognized. tions, the feeling of their own person

What is there, in fact, so "superior" ality, because this much vaunted “suabout the civilization so extravagantly periority” will frequently be found to lauded? Setting aside the Boers, of lie solely in the facilities which Engwhose customs, character and educa- lish customs offer for the gratition I must confess that I know very fication of a selfish spirit,-it is for little, what vast advantage would ac- these reasons, and such as these, that crue to the rest of the world by accept England has found the opinion of Euing the English standard in these mat- rope almost unanimously hostile to herters? A motion was introduced into self. the House of Commons recently for ex- Need we add that in no case would tending the penalty of flogging to vari- “superiority" of civilization create ous crimes and misdemeanors, at pres- what is called a "right"? It may in. ent punished by imprisonment only.

volve duties, but it is no more authori. The motion was not carried, but the tative than superiority of intellect or of Times was quite disgusted by its fail- strength. This is a point which ure, and took the opportunity to set mighty England has too often overforth at length the great penal efficacy looked during the century now nearly

ended. Being unable, in the words of contribute in ever so slight a degree to Pascal, to establish the fact that jus- this result, I should be only too happy. tice is synonymous with strength, she I should not regret, and I would offer has forgotten that the problem is not no apology for whatever in it may be solved by decorating strength with the displeasing to a good many Englishname of justice. But sooner or later men. It is an old proverb which says she will have to acknowledge the truth. that our flatterers are our worst ene. Whatever may be the issue of the war mies, and the highest mark of esteem in the Transvaal, England is beginning one can offer to a great people, as to to be enlightened about the attitude of an honest man, is loyally to point out Europe. If these words of mine might an error as soon as it is descried.

F. Brunetière. The Quarterly Review.


The white sheep of Norway are coming to the fold,
The white sheep of Norway, with fleeces dank and cold;
The fold that they are homing to is rough with ridged rock,
And he's a mighty shepherd that has them for his flock.

O he's a mighty shepherd, and no one knows his name,
But he walks the pathless waters, as if on grass he came.
His hair is like the night-rack, his eyes are like the sea,
The whole world holds no shepherd so strong of hand as he.

For he can race the east wind, and leash and lead the storm;
He can bid rise the south wind, and the west wind wet and

He can break a ship asunder, as a boy a clot of mould,
And the white sheep of Norway he brings into the fold.

The white sheep of Norway-they are the charging waves,
And in their ocean pastures the sailors find their graves.
But their shepherd leads them onward, and, at his feeding-call,
Humble to his bidding come the great waves all.

The shipmen and the merchants that go down to the sea,
Have heard the shepherd call them, to the port where they

would be;
And have seen gray in the moonlight, or splashed with noon.

day gold,
The white sheep of Norway coming back to the fold.

Nora Hopper.
The Leisure Hour.

« AnteriorContinua »