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Prussian positions. Which of the two powers was most in the right, or, more correctly speaking, least in the wrong, is a question I leave to others to decide. All I wish to point out is the exact character of the issue which was all but plunging-which, even yet, may still plunge - Europe into the horrors of war. The subject-matter in dispute belonged to the category of infinitesimal quantities. With the exception of a few superannuated believers in the defunct science of strategy, no rational person ever supposed for a moment that the possession of the citadel of Luxemburg was of vital importance to either France or Germany. If the Emperor Napoleon desired to seize the left bank of the Rhine, or to march on Berlin, he most assuredly would not be deterred by the consideration that a few thousand Prussian troops were locked up in Luxemburg; if King William I. determined to occupy Paris, and restore Alsace to the Fatherland, he would not surrender his project in deference to the presence of a French garrison in this contested stronghold. It is even more absurd to suppose that the acquisition of the two hundred and odd thousand Luxemburgers could be essential to the dignity or safety of great empires like France or Germany. Probably, if by some strange convulsion of nature, the Grand Duchy, fortress and all, could vanish from the face of the earth, there are not a thousand square miles in Europe which would be less keenly missed than the area in question. I quite admit that very grave and weighty interests were more or less directly involved in the settlement of this controversy. But the actual issue was one of abstract honour. In the whole history of the dynastic wars which desolated Europe for centuries, I doubt if you would find one undertaken on so small and insignificant a pretext as that which all but furnished a casus belli between the two chief branches of the Latin and Teuton races.
the jealousies of rival dynasties. No candid observer can suppose that either Napoleon III. or his Prussian Majesty was desirous of war personally. both are men who, either from years or failing health, are no longer in the prime of life; they are neither of them men with whom war is a passion; they have both the most powerful and obvious motives for desiring the continuance of peace, in order to consolidate the enterprises their lives have been spent in prosecuting, with a more or less successful result.
Nor has it ever been even surmised that there existed between the two sovereigns any of those private animosities which influence crowned equally with uncrowned heads. On the contrary, there is every reason to suppose that the personal relations between the Courts of Potsdam and the Tuileries have been exceptionally amicable. the question of peace or war was one which the two sovereigns or their respective Governments could decide without any reference to anything except their own wishes, there can be no reasonable doubt that peace would be preserved. The one real danger of war arose, and still arises, from the popular feeling in favour of war which exists throughout the two countries. Accepting this view of mine-a view whose truth will, I believe, be acknowledged by every one at all acquainted with French and German feeling I am forced to this conclusion: that the two most civilized and cultivated nations of the Continent were within an ace of going to war, only the other day, on a question of as little practical importance
and that is saying a good deal—as any of those concerning which tens of thousands of human lives have been sacrificed in the semi-barbarous times.
This conclusion leads me to the reflection-which recent events must have forced ere now on the minds of most thinking men—whether progress war are so antagonistic as we used to imagine. In the days that preceded 1848, it used to be almost an axiom of tuition that the spread of enlightenment the ambitions of despotic sovereigns, or and commerce and civilization were in
And what is more noteworthy still, the danger to peace did not arise from
themselves fatal to the existence of war, in much the same way as the free introduction of fresh air is fatal to the prevalence of noxious odours. To have denied that civilization exercised a pacific influence over mankind would then have been esteemed as gross a heresy as to assert that education did not elevate the moral character. Nor was this dogma merely an article of abstract faith. Twenty years ago people really did believe that the era of war, if not over, was approaching its termination. In those days, when the marvels of steam and electricity were still novelties among us, we were prone perhaps to exaggerate the immediate effect of their influence. Certainly the last thought which suggested itself to ordinary itself to ordinary people was, that these very agencies would be employed to render the destruction of human life by war more easy of accomplishment, more wholesale, and more speedy. It seems too, now, as if we used to over-calculate, or, at all events, to mis-estimate, the power of popular education. That the schoolmaster was abroad was the stock platitude of the hour; and few of us doubted but the first mission of the schoolmaster would be to convince mankind of the absurdity, uselessness, and wickedness
High as our expectations were of the ensuing triumphs of industry and culture, it can hardly be said that in the main they have not been realized. Within the last quarter of a century we have certainly made more progress in general education and material prosperity than we had done since the close of Marlborough's wars. All through Europe, too, public opinion has grown in power and authority. Whatever may be the changes in individual forms of government, it cannot be doubted that in any European country the public commands far more of hearing than it did in the period which terminated with the Congress of Vienna. Yet in spite of these two unquestionable facts, that civilization has made rapid progress, and that the popular element is every day becoming more influential in the direction of public affairs, we have the still more
indubitable fact that wars, far from ceasing to exist, have been unusually frequent, and that every nation in Europe is exhausting its strength and impoverishing its resources in the attempt to raise its military power to a pitch never even contemplated in the old time-so near in distance, so far away in recollection.
I know that there is a school of thinkers who attribute this contest between the tendency of the age and the spirit of progress simply and solely to the existence of the French empire under Napoleon III. This solutionmuch in favour as it is with men whose opinions I respect--always reminds me of the Hindoo theory to account for the earth being supported in mid-space, that it stands upon the back of a tortoise. Imperialism may be the parent of the war fever which has sprung up together with our modern progress; but then Imperialism itself is the product and offspring of that very progress, to whose essence and spirit all war is supposed ex hypothese to be antagonistic. Moreover, even if we regard Cæsarism as the incarnation of all evil, it is very difficult to see how in any sense, except the broad one that all sin is connected with every other, it can be held responsible for the majority of the wars that of late have marked the era of progress. It was not Cæsarism which gave birth to the civil war in America, or induced Germany to attack Denmark, or sowed lifelong enmity between Austria and Italy, or split up Germany into two hostile camps. And, most assuredly, if the impending war be averted, it certainly will be due to the power that Cæsarism confers on the French Government of disregarding for a time the voice of public opinion in France.
I think, therefore, that all people who are content to look at facts, and then ground their theories upon them --a converse process to that adopted by doctrinaires of every persuasioncannot avoid the confession that progress, in our modern sense of the term, is not directly antagonistic to war. the contrary, I incline to the opinion,
that popular governments, based, as all governments must be increasingly, on democratic principles, are quite as prone to war as despotic or oligarchie ones,- possibly more so. I can remember having learned as a child the song of Blenheim, and having it impressed upon my youthful mind that the burden of "But 'twas a famous victory," conveyed the truth that there would be no fighting if people only were taught to think what they were asked to fight for. Mature experience, however, has not confirmed my belief in the truth of this moral. No doubt it is very easy to discourse about the absurdity of all war; to ask what possible satisfaction Jack White can derive from the fact that Jean Leblanc, whom he has never seen or heard of, is cut to pieces by a shell; to dilate upon the monstrosity of poor Müller being crippled for life, of his cottage being burnt down, his children being turned upon the streets, in vindication of the claim of the high and mighty House of Pumpernickel to the disputed Sovereignty of the State of Lilliput. These, or similar sarcasms, have been uttered concerning every war that has ever yet been fought since men ceased to look on fighting as the normal condition of the human race; and yet I cannot discover that they ever prevented the occurrence of a single conflict. I am driven to the conclusion that there is some flaw in the logical force of this reasoning. In the first place the "Cui bono?" argument is eminently unsatisfactory. If men are only to be interested in what immediately and tangibly concerns their own position or prospects or fortunes, we find that the vast majority of human actions cannot be rationally accounted for. We assume that every man, worthy of the name, must care for the prosperity of his own country. Yet, if you look at the matter philosophically, what conceivable practical difference does it make to my daily life or comfort that marshes are drained in Essex, or rich harvests grown in Kent, or new factories established in Lancashire? In
a very vague and indirect way the general prosperity of the country may be thought to improve my individual fortunes; but this improvement, if tested by a utilitarian or money standard, is too small in value to influence a rational man's thoughts, still less his actions. 1 should have been deemed a fool, as well as a brute, if, at the time of the Cotton Famine, 1 had said it was a matter of absolute indifference to me whether the mills stopped work or not. Yet I cannot see that my own personal commerce or comfort was affected in the remotest degree by the suspension of a trade with which, as with the persons concerned in which, I am not even remotely connected. If I were asked why I cared about the matter at all, I could only answer in the style of the grandfather in the song I have spoken of, "But 'twas a great calamity." The same remark applies to the discoveries of science. Speaking of myself, as a representative of the great public, as M. or N. of the Catechism, as a Signor "Nossuno Nome" of the great life-drama, what possible difference does it make to me whether Le Verrier does or does not discover a planet; whether Darwin does or does not put forth the theory of natural selection! In fact, if we once lay down the rule, that nobody who has nothing to get by it can reasonably make sacrifices for war, we are driven logically to the startling conclusion, that nobody ought to take an interest in anything which does not somehow touch his own bodily comforts or enjoyments.
Moreover, I am seriously afraid that, as men grow more and more intelligent, they learn to appreciate less highly the absolute and immediate disadvantages of war. In spite of all the popular commonplaces on the subject, it is very hard to specify how ninety-nine persons out of a hundred are inaterially affected by the fact, that the armies of their country are fighting in a foreign country. In any war, one of the combatants, if not each of them, expects that the contest will be waged in his enemy's terri
tories, not in his own; and the result is, that the apprehension of war being brought home to their own dwellings cannot influence both parties alike. The inventions of modern science and the increasing division of labour have rendered war far less onerous to communities, taken as wholes, than it was in past days; and the tendency to diminish the horrors of war, and to exempt private persons from its sufferings, which forms one of the most marked triumphs of modern progress, renders the idea of war far less appalling to the nations of Europe than it used to be. Then, too, I think I am not committing myself to a paradox when I assert that the spread of education, the growth of popular intelligence, tend, in the first instance, to increase the risk of war. All the wars of the last half-century have been mainly carried on for an idea. Neither love of plunder nor greed of territory has led to their inception; but the desire either to promote or check the growth of some abstract principle. And the more intelligent a nation becomes, the larger is the number of its citizens who can realize an idea, or become enthusiastic in its defence or attack. It is common enough to treat patriotism as an instinct of humanity, but I doubt the truth of the assertion. Savage and barbarous nations hardly possess the instinct at all; the most highly cultivated ones possess it in the most developed form. The truth is, that patriotism, in our modern sense of the term, presupposes intelligence. In America the war passion seized upon the whole people to an extent never witnessed in the world before, because everybody well nigh understood more or less of the cause for which, rightly or wrongly, North and South were fighting. But,
as a matter of fact, not of sentiment, what interest would our own agricultural population feel in a war carried on for an idea? No doubt if the French were to invade England, that great multitude of whom John Cross, with his nine children and his eight shillings a week, may be taken as a type, would exhibit a very distinct, if a low,
form of patriotism. They are intelligent enough to dislike a foreigner, and to feel that being ordered about by men who could not speak the English tongue was a personal pain and humiliation. But does any one suppose John Cross and his fellow Dorsetshire hinds would feel personally aggrieved if they learnt that Spain had conquered Gibraltar, or that England was powerless to protect India against the advance of Russia? Imperial supremacy, national influence, and popular greatness are to them terms conveying as little meaning as the differential calculus or the conservation cf forces. But, on the other hand, any educated Englishman must feel that the power and grandeur and empire of his country are to him among his most cherished personal possessions. I can understand thinkers like Mr. Goldwin Smith arguing that the greatness of our empire does not add to our real strength, and that in the interests of right and equity we should abandon our transmarine territories. But even the most ardent disciple of this self-denying ordinance would admit, if he were honest, that the sacrifice he proposed to make was to him a very real one. I should think, from what I have seen, that the Dutch of the present day were individually as rich, happy, and prosperous as the average of Englishmen, and far more so than their ancestors were in the bygone time of Holland's greatness. But yet what Englishman would not allow that to see his country reduced to the political and national insignificance of Holland would be a calamity he would feel as a private and peculiar grief? The more cultivated we grow, the more we value our position as part and parcel of that grand entity which we call a nation. When we have, as ere long I trust we may have, common schools where all Englishmen can read and write, and know something of England's history, then the passion of the British Empire will, I believe, become as universal amongst Englishmen as the fervour of the Union is to the citizens of the United States. Our capacity for patriotism I believe to be immense.
In our present state of national culture we should rise like one man to repel any attack upon English soil; and as our views grow wider with education, we shall extend the same passion over a larger area, and apply it to a greater variety of subjects. I speak of Englishmen, because to us they afford the best illusbration of my theory; but its application I take to be universal. What I have said is true not only of Britons, but in a more or less marked degree of Frenchmen, Germans, Italians, Russians,-of every nation, in fact, rising in prosperity, growing in culture. And if my view be correct, it is, to say the least, doubtful whether the spread of material prosperity, the growth of mental culture, with their consequent development and extension of the patriotic passion, are in themselves favourable to the maintenance of peace. Increased intercommunication between nations augments the number of questions on which their prejudices or principles are likely to differ; and the wider diffusion of national sentiment renders it more probable that these differences will commend themselves to the national instinct as matters worth insisting on at all costs and all hazards.
Thus I am apparently landed at the melancholy conclusion that progress promotes war, which is destructive of progress, -that in fact humanity is condemned to tread a vicious circle, by which the very efforts it makes towards its own elevation bring it back to barbarism. My escape from this dilemma consists in the belief that the gradual result of civilization, in the highest meaning of the term, will be first to modify, and then to change, the whole character of the instinct we call patriotism, for want of a better word. Patriotism is not an absolute and positive virtue like temperance, but a relative one like loyalty. Dr. Johnson defines a patriot as a man whose ruling passion is love of his country; and if this definition be correct, it follows that patriotism may be either a merit or a fault, according as the love evoked by the passion be wise or unwise. Put in this form, the statement sounds like a truism; yet
the truth is constantly disregarded, if not denied, in current language and literature. Possibly from our insular position, and our isolation from the wider currents of European thought, we carry our worship of patriotism as an abstract virtue somewhat higher than other countries, just as to my mind we exaggerate the positive merit of domestic virtues. Still in every land there is a general coincidence of opinion to the effect that anybody who loves his own country has fulfilled the whole duty of man. Now I have not the faintest wish to decry the virtue of patriotism. For many generations, possibly for many centuries to come, it will, I believe, be the highest form of self-abnegation of which the bulk of mankind can be capable. To love the community of which by chance you are a member better than your own individual care, safety, comfort; to make the welfare of the unknown millions who speak your language, and belong to your own race, the object of your efforts and exertions; to place the honour, happiness, and prosperity of the section of the human race to which you belong above all personal and private considerations-this is surely one of the noblest of human efforts. All I contend for is, that it is not the noblest. No man who is not devoid of the ordinary instincts of mankind, can deny that he felt a sympathy with Roebuck when he said that his one rule in life was to think what was good for England; or with the Americans, when they wrote upon their banners, "The Union: right or wrong, it must be preserved;" or with M. Thiers, when he declared the other day that to him France was everything; and yet no thinking man can help feeling that, in these and the hundred similar outbursts of patriotic zeal which each country treasures up amidst its annals, there is an element of selfish