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litter of these Jingoes need not surprise us; what was her craving to cut a figure in the world but Jingoism ill concealed? It had led her to imitate her neighbors in organizing a great army; it led her likewise to yield to another temptation. One evidence of being a great power," according to the political standard of the time, consists in ability to establish colonies, or at least a protectorate, in distant lands; therefore, Italian Jingoes goaded their government on to plant the Italian flag in Africa. France was already mistress of Algiers; Spain held a lien on Morocco; Italy could accordingly do no less than spread her influence over Tunis. For a few years Italy complacently imagined that she was as good as her rivals in the possession of a foreign dependency. Then a sudden recrudescence of Jingoism in France caused the French to occupy Tunis. The Italians were very angry; but when they sounded the situation, they realized that it would be folly to go to war over it. The fact that Bismarck consented to the French seizure, and refused to listen to any plea for restitution, taught the Italians prudence. They also learned thereby the terms on which their friendship with Germany rested. Bismarck conniyed at French adventures in Africa and elsewhere, because he saw that they would divide the attention of French politicians, and require the withdrawal of French troops from France; he cared not a whit that Italy's pride suffered in the process.
Not warned by this experience, Italy, a few years later, plunged yet more deeply into the uncertain policy of colonization. England and France having fallen out over the control of Egypt, then England, having virtually made the Khedive her vassal, suggested that it would be a very fine thing for Italy to establish a colony far down on the coast of the Red Sea, whence she could command the trade of Abyssinia. Italian Jingoes jumped at the suggestion, and for ten years the red-white-and-green flag has
waved over Massaua. But the good that Italy has derived from this acquisition has yet to appear. Thousands of her picked troops, stationed in that most unhealthy tropical region, have died of dysentery or sunstroke, or have been killed in unequal combat by the warriors of Ras Alula. Millions of money have been wasted in an enterprise almost as foolish as would be the attempt to plant an orange orchard on an iceberg. Yet the Jingo pride which involved Italy in this folly prevents her from abandoning it. I remember saying to an Italian officer, shortly after the massacre of a whole battalion of brave soldiers at Dogali, in 1887, that the time had come for Italy to get out of Africa. "We cannot," he replied; "all Italy would howl at an administration which proposed to back out. England might retreat from a blunder, and the world would not accuse her of cowardice; but we cannot; every one would laugh at us." The essence of Jingoism breathed in my friend's confession.
Equally slow have they been to learn that their partnership in the Triple Alliance has entailed upon them sacrifices out of all proportion to the benefits. To associate on apparently even terms with Germany and Austria was doubtless gratifying to national vanity, and an Italian premier might be pardoned for welcoming an arrangement which seemed to bring him into intimate relations with Prince Bismarck and Count Kálnoky; but who can show that Italy has been more secure from attack since she entered that league than she was before? If our analysis is correct, she ran no risk from Austria, because Austria was pledged to a Teutonic policy which bespoke for her protection from Russia, and the chance to expand south of the Danube; likewise Italy had the strongest guarantee that France would not assail her, for such an assault would have let loose the German war - dogs against France. For the sake, then, of a delusive honor,
the honor of posing as the partner of the arbiters of Europe, Italy has, since 1882, seen her army and her debt increase, and her resources proportionately diminish. None of her ministers has had the courage to suggest quitting a ruinous policy; on the contrary, they have sought hither and thither to find means to perpetuate it without actually breaking the country's back. No doubt many of them have honestly believed the Triple Alliance to be indispensable to Italy's welfare; no doubt, also, that others, Jingoes themselves, have encouraged the spread of conditions in which, under a veil of patriotism, roguish politicians can advance most comfortably their selfish schemes. One of the first tricks discovered by wily ministers after government by cabinets was established in Europe was that of diverting attention from maladministration at home by fomenting a quarrel, if not a war, with their neighbors; for internal needs and the incompetence of public servants cannot be discussed in the presence of foreigners. This also is Jingoism. Transparent though the trick is, we have seen it successfully played during the past decade by Ferry in France, by Blaine in the United States, and by Crispi in Italy.
In forming this diagnosis of Italy's maladies, I have fixed the attention on her army system to the exclusion of her other diseased parts, both because that is the most easily verified, and because her other ills proceed largely from that; unless it be more precise to say that the national weakness of character which allowed her to yield to the military temptation predisposed her to succumb to other evils. An examination of any one of these her high tariff craze, for instance, with the resultant loss of trade with France, or her insincere financial system would lead to a similar conclusion. We may grant that it was expedient for her to create a large navy to protect her long seacoast and her many opulent ports; but the maintenance
of a great army besides has been justified neither by her needs nor by her resources. The German army since 1870 has been Italy's strongest protector, and it afforded her the best protection gratis. In old days Italy complained of being the prey of eight or nine score thousand of idle, able-bodied priests and friars; was it consistent in her to add twice as many conscripts to the multitude of idlers? Or is the military goose-step a more productive form of labor than are monkish genuflections? Since 1870, an army of one hundred thousand men would more than have sufficed to put down the brigands incited by the Pope and the Bourbons, to maintain order in her most lawless regions, to garrison her frontier outposts and her harbors, and to have fostered a reasonable military spirit. Her excess has revealed not only the weakness of her resources, but and this is more regrettable - her lack of judgment and her dangerous vanity. Merely as a matter of business, it is foolish to hire special watchmen when your nextdoor neighbor keeps a dozen.
But Jingoism, or national swagger, infects great nations as well as small. Vanity and false pride are its seeds, vanity and humiliation are its fruits. Happy is the land which, when this mania becomes epidemic, has a statesman with wisdom to perceive the evil, with courage to denounce it, and with strength to turn his countrymen against their wishes to a policy that is sober and just. Italy has had many earnestly patriotic public men during the past generation, but since Cavour died she has had no statesman who could do these things. Yet not on this account shall we despair of a country which, in spite of folly, has achieved much against great odds, and which has shown a wonderful capacity for sloughing off her past. Hardship itself, though it be the penalty of error, may, by restricting her ability to go astray, lead her back to the path
William R. Thayer.
IT has been occasionally remarked by people who are not wholly in sympathy with the methods and devices of our time that this is an age of keen intellectual curiosity. We have scant leisure and scant liking for hard study, and we no longer recognize the admirable qualities of a wise and contented ignorance. Accordingly, there has been invented for us in late years a via media, a something which is neither light nor darkness, a short cut to that goal which we used to be assured had no royal road for languid feet to follow. The apparent object of the new system is to enable us to live like gentlemen or like gentlewomen on other people's ideas; to spare us the labor and exhaustion incidental to forming opinions of our own by giving us the free use of other people's opinions. There is a charming simplicity in the scheme, involving as it does no effort of thought or mental adjustment, which cannot fail heartily to recommend it to the general public, while the additional merit of cheapness endears it to its thrifty upholders. We are all accustomed to talk vaguely about "questions of burning interest," and "the absorbing problems of the day." Some of us even go so far as to have a tolerably clear notion of what these questions and problems are. It is but natural, then, that we should take a lively pleasure, not in the topics themselves, about which we care very little, but in the persuasions and convictions of our neighbors, about which we have learned to care a great deal. Discussions rage on every side of us, and the easy, offhand, cock-sure verdicts which are so frankly confided to the world have become a recognized source of popular education and enlightenment.
I have sometimes thought that this feverish exchange of opinions received a fatal impetus from that curious epidemic VOL. LXXIII.- NO. 438.
rife in England a few years ago, and known as the "Lists of a Hundred Books." Never before had such an admirable opportunity been offered to people to put on what are commonly called "frills," and it must be confessed they made the most of it. The Koran, the Analects of Confucius, Spinoza, Herodotus, Demosthenes, Xenophon, Lewis's History of Philosophy, the Saga of Burnt Njal, Locke's Conduct of the Understanding, such, and such only, were the works unflinch ingly urged upon us by men whom we had considered, perhaps, as human as ourselves, whom we might almost have suspected of solacing their lighter moments with an occasional study of Rider Haggard or Gaboriau. If readers could be made by the simple process of deluging the world with good counsel, these arbitrary lists would have marked a new intellectual era. As it was, they merely excited a lively but unfruitful curiosity. "Living movements," Cardinal Newman reminds us, "do not come of committees." I knew, indeed, one impetuous student who rashly purchased the Grammar of Assent because she saw it in a list; but there was a limit even to her ardor, for eighteen months afterwards the leaves were still uncut. It is a striking proof of Mr. Arnold's inspired rationality that, while so many of his countrymen were instructing us in this peremptory fashion, he alone, who might have spoken with authority, declined to add his name and list to the rest. It was an amusing game, he said, but he felt no disposition to play it.
Some variations of this once popular pastime have lingered even to our day. Lists of the best American authors, lists of the best foreign authors, lists of the best ten books published within a decade, have appeared occasionally in our journals, while a list of books which promi
nent people intended or hoped to read "in the near future" filled us with respect for such heroic anticipations. Tenvolume works of the severest character counted as trifles in these prospective studies. At present it is true that the World's Fair has given a less scholastic tone to newspaper discussions. We hear comparatively little about the Analects of Confucius, and a great deal about the White City and the Department of Anthropology. Perhaps it is better to tell the public your impressions of the Fair than to confide to it your favorite authors. One revelation is as valuable as the other, but it is possible, with caution, to talk about Chicago in terms that will give general satisfaction. It is not possible to express literary, artistic, or national preferences without exposing one's self to vigorous reproaches from people who hold different views. I was once lured by a New York periodical into a number of harmless confidences, unlike ly, it seemed to me, to awaken either interest or indignation. The questions asked were of the mildly searching order, like those which delighted the hearts of children, when I was a very little girl, in our "Mental Photograph Albums : "Who is your favorite character in fic tion?"
"Who is your favorite character in history?" "What do you consider the finest attribute of man?" Having amiably responded to a portion of these inquiries, I was surprised and flattered, some weeks later, at seeing myself described in a daily paper-on the strength, too, of my own confessions- as irrational, morbid, and cruel; excusable only on the score of melancholy surroundings and a sickly constitution. And the delightful part of it was that I had apparently revealed all this myself. "Do not contend in words about things of no consequence," counsels St. Teresa, who carried with her to the cloister wisdom enough to have kept all of us poor worldlings out of trouble.
The system by which opinions of little
or no value are assiduously collected and generously distributed is far too complete to be baffled by ignorance or indifference. The enterprising editor or journalist who puts the question is very much like Sir Charles Napier; he wants an answer of some kind, however incapable we may be of giving it. A list of the queries propounded to me in the last year or so recalls painfully my own inexperience and simplicity. These are a few which I remember: What was my opinion of college training as a preparation for literary work? What was my opinion of Greek comedy? Was I a pessimist or an optimist, and why? What were my fa vorite flowers, and did I cultivate them? What books did I think young children ought not to read? At what age and under what impulses did I consider children first began to swear? What especial and serious studies would I propose for married women? What did I consider most necessary for the all-around development of the coming young man? It appeared useless to urge in reply to these questions that I had never been to college, never read a line of Greek, never been married, never taken charge of children, and knew nothing whatever about developing young men. I found that my ignorance on all these points was assumed from the beginning, but that this fact only made my opinions more interesting and piquant to people as ignorant as myself. Neither did it ever occur to my correspondents that if I had known anything about Greek comedy or college training, I should have endeavored to turn my knowledge into money by writ ing articles of my own, and should never have been so lavish as to give my information away.
That these public discussions or symposiums are, however, an occasional comfort to their participants was proven by the alacrity with which a number of writers came forward, some years ago, to explain to the world why English fiction was not a finer and stronger arti
cle. Innocent and short-sighted readers, wedded to the obvious, had foolishly supposed that modern novels were rather forlorn because the novelists were not able to write better ones. It therefore became the manifest duty of the novelists to notify us clearly that they were able to write very much better ones, but that the public would not permit them to do it. Like Dr. Holmes, they did not venture to be as funny as they could. "Thoughtful readers of mature age," we were told, "are perishing for accuracy." This accuracy they were, one and all, prepared to furnish without stint, but were prohibited lest "the clash of broken commandments should be displeasing to polite female ears. A great deal of angry sentiment was exchanged on this occasion, and a great many original and valuable suggestions were offered by way of relief. It was an admirable opportunity for any one who had written a story to confide to the world "the theory of his art," to make self-congratulatory remarks upon his own "standpoint," and to deprecate the stupid propriety of the public. When the echoes of these passionate protestations had died into silence, we took comfort in thinking that Hawthorne had not delayed to write The Scarlet Letter from a sensitive regard for his neighbors' opinions; and that two great nations, unvexed by "the clash of broken commandments," had received the book as a heritage of infinite beauty and delight. Art needs no apologist, and our great literary artist, using his chosen material after his chosen fashion, heedless alike of new theories and of ancient prejudices, gave to the world a masterpiece of fiction which the world was not too stupid to hold dear.
The pleasure of imparting opinions in print is by no means confined to professionals, to people who are assumed to know something about a subject because they have been more or less occupied with it for years. On the contrary, the
most lively and spirited discussions are those to which the general public lends a willing hand. Almost any topic will serve to arouse the argumentative zeal of the average reader, who rushes to the fray with that joyous alacrity which is so exhilarating to the peaceful looker-on. The disputed pronunciation or spelling of a word, if ventilated with spirit in a literary journal, will call forth dozens of letters, all written in the most serious and urgent manner, and all apparently emanating from people of rigorous views and limitless leisure. If a letter here or there a u, perhaps, or an l— can only be elevated to the dignity of a national issue, then the combatants don their coats of mail, unfurl their countries' flags, and wrangle merrily and oft to the sounds of martial music. If, on the other hand, the subject of contention be a somewhat obvious statement, as, for example, that the work of women in art, science, and literature is inferior to the work of men, it is amazing and gratifying to see the number of disputants who promptly prepare to deny the undeniable, and lead a forlorn hope to failure. The impassive reader who first encounters a remark of this order is apt to ask himself if it be worth while to state so explicitly what everybody already knows; and behold! a week has not passed over his head before a dozen augry protestations are hurled into print. These meet with sarcastic rejoinders. The editor of the journal, who is naturally pleased to secure copy on such easy terms, adroitly stirs up slumbering sentiment; and time, temper, and ink are wasted without stint by people who are the only converts of their own eloquence. "Embrace not the blind side of opinions," says Sir Thomas Browne, who, born in a contentious age, with "no genius to disputes," preached mellifluously of the joys of toleration and of the discomforts of inordinate zeal.
Not very long ago, I was asked by a sprightly little paper to please say in its