Billeder på siden

who, finding that their cherished hopes effete race of the Valois, poisoned by her were destroyed, chose the cruellest and union with it! Down to the luckless days most senseless means within their power of Marie Antoinette, it was a haunt of of allaying their disapointment. But, royal vice, and a centre of corruption for whoever lit the fires, their real causes must French society, and when the First and not be sought in the Paris of to-day. The the Third Napoleons added to its splenworst that the immediate offenders have dour, they imported into it no virtue. We done has been to apply a match to fuel need not marvel that the most infuriated that other and greater culprits have been of the enemies of the old order of things carefully preparing during many genera- should have resolved to destroy for ever tions. The whole French nation is to the centre of so much mischief, a structure blame; and the blame must chiefly fall on which, in spite of its artistic beauties, was those who have been entrusted with its morally almost as hideous as that Bastile leadership and guidance. The spoliation which their forerunners destroyed in the of M. Thiers's house was a crime ; but was time of the First Revolution. And those it not a proper retribution for the criminal other buildings that they have set on fire way in which M. Thiers in time past, pan- are only whited sepulchres. We cannot dered to the national vanity by his pane- palliate the offence of this Vandalism. gyrics of the First Empire, and, in the They who have most at heart the regenpresent, has sought to build up a new eration of France will most strongly deptyranny for France, under the name of Re-recate the temper which has burst out in publicanism ? The pulling down of the wanton incendiarism this week, seeing that Vendôme Column was a greater crime ; i perhaps its most immediate effect will be but was it not a proper retribution for the to delay the advent of new life to the nagreater criminality of the bad man whose tion, and to strengthen a revival of the statue was at its summit, and whose wrong-hold tyranny. But it is necessary to redoing during his lifetime was intensified member that the wanton incendiarism is by the vicious folly with which it was car- only a natural consequence of the treatment ried on by his nephew and successor? to which France has been subjected by The burning of the Tuileries, the Hôtel de Valois and Bourbons alike, and hardly less Ville, and the other buildings, is a far by the weak kings and false emperors who more monstrous crime; but is it not a have succeeded them; and the hideous proper retribution for the long train of spectacle of Wednesday will not have been oppression which long lines of tyrants have wholly deplorable if, by-and-by, when the laid upon France ? It is silly. It is wicked. passions of the moment are appeased, the The heart sickens as it hears of the spolia- stern teachings of history are apprehended, tion of these gay trophies of civilization in and a new France can be created out the centre of European civilization, and of the old France that now writhes in yet more of the vicious temper shown in agony. their destruction, and, most of all, of the waste of life and provocation of deadly passions that are attendant upon it. But the men who have done these deeds are not the causers of them, any more than

From The Spectator. they are the causers of the degradation

BELGIAN POLITICS. that now weighs heavily on the whole of ALTHOUGH the recent war seemed at France. The Nemesis has been working the outset full of peril for Belgium, one of this week in Paris. The seeds of ruin have its indirect results has apparently been to been sown in other generations, and this place that country in a more secure posigeneration is forced to reap the bitter tion than it previously occupied. The apfruit.

prehensions which were excited by the There is cruel fitness in the catastrophe, publication of the Secret Treaty were cerand in the special shape which it has taken. tainly not without foundation, and it is The palace of the Tuileries was the great easy to conceive that, if the conflict had ornament of Paris, the pride of France, been for a time more evenly balanced, the the admiration of all the pleasure-seekers Germans might have been tempted to sacwho sought their pleasure in the capital rifice Belgium to France as the price of of gaiety and folly. But how many foul territorial concessions to themselves. As scenes have been enacted within its walls matters have turned out, the Power from since the day when it was built by Cath- which Belgium had always most to fear erine de Medici, to be a favourite abode has been utterly overthrown, while at the of the Bourbon line which superseded the same time the other belligerent is now bound by the strongest ties of interest to countenance to these complaints. The prudefend the independence of the little king- dence and loyalty of the Belgian Governdom. It is not improbable that, if the ment have hitherto preserved them from French could get over their present the consequences of this irritation, withtroubles, they would seek some means of out any infringement of the liberal princirecovering their military prestige and ples of their Constitution. But their task making good their losses. In that case is obviously one of great delicacy and difprudential considerations would doubtless ficulty, and there are symptoms of a disdirect attention to their Northern rather position on the part of some of their guests than their Eastern neighbour. A little to abuse the hospitality accorded to them. reflection, however, should convince them Moreover, though the Belgians themselves that the whole conditions of an attack on are naturally a slow and stedfast people, Belgium have been changed, greatly to it is impossible that they can altogether their disadvantage. No bribe can now be resist the moral influences of such an invaoffered to procure the acquiescence of sion of political agitators and propaganPrussia, who not desiring Belgium for her-dists. self, has quite as cogent reasons as Eng- Two strong currents may be traced in land for keeping France out of it. Even the recent


of Belgian politics. a strong Power would think twice before While, on the one hand, fear and abhorassailing a country which could promptly rence of democratic excesses have of late array such a force as Belgium placed on years been strengthening the position of her frontier last summer, with the citadel the Clerical party, on the other hand the of Antwerp as a base, and such an allay open ascendency of that party is now proas England, to say nothing of Prussia, in ducing a partial reaction the other way. the background. The peculiar position The Liberals are divided into two camps of Belgium exposes her, however, to - the moderate Liberals, who were last greater dangers from within than from year driven from office by the Clerical without. It is her curious fate to oscillate party; and the Democrats, who by their between the happiness of a country which violence contributed in a large measure has no history of its own, and the unhap- to the downfall of the late Governpiness of being unable to keep clear of the ment, and the elevation of the Clericals historical developments of other countries. in their place. The relation of the variIn one way or another this most quiet and ous parties to each other and to the public unobtrusive of States seems to get entan- is very clearly illustrated in the debates gled in almost every great Continental on the Reform Bill lately introduced by movement. While its geographical situa- the Ministry. It would appear to be a law tion made it at one time the fighting of nature that Conservative Goverments ground of Europe, its free constitution should produce democratic Reform Bills. now renders it the favourite resort of all M. D'Anethan, the chief of the Clerical classes of political agitators. Republican party, who are the Conservatives of Belconspirators against the Empire and Im- gium, has taken advantage of being in perialist conspirators against the Republic, office to effect a manipulation of the proSocialists, Democrats, and Ultramontanes, vincial and communal constituencies so as alike flock thither to concert their plans, to bring them more completely under the and to establish on safe neutral soil the control of the priests. With this view he head-quarters of their respective organiza- proposed a sweeping reduction in both tions. Much of the unpopularity of our those franchises which, like the Parliamentown country abroad is due to the diver- ary franchise, are based on annual paygence between our political system and ments of direct taxes. The qualification the more or less rigid despotisms of the for votes at the election of Provincial Continent; and this feeling is naturally Councils (akin to our Quarter Sessions) intensified in the case of Belgium, from was lowered from 42 francs 32 centimes to the mere fact of contiguity of frontier. 20 francs; while in the case of elections The maintenance of free constitutional for the Communal Council or Local Board government by a small State under such a uniform qualification of 10 francs was circumstances is an enterprise of consider- substituted for the graduated scale accordable hazard. Prince Bismarck a few years ing to population, running from 15 francs ago denounced the “nest of democrats up to 42 francs 32 centimes, which has at Brussels; the late Emperor Napoleon hitherto been established. This measure repeatedly protested against the liberty was opposed by the whole body of Liberals, accorded to the Belgian press; and even but on entirely different and indeed anan English Minister once gave equivocal 'tagonistic grounds. While the Democrats

coinplained that it did not go far enough their influence in a pecuniary sense. The in the reduction of the franchise, the mod- misfortunes which have befallen the erate Liberals or Whigs resisted it because Church in Spain, Italy, and France have it went too far. Nothing would satisfy led to a vast accumulation of clerical propthe former but universal suffrage, qualified erty in Belgium, as well as a large clerical only by an educational test as to reading immigration. Belgium, in short, has beand writing. M. Frère Orban and the come the strong-box of the Church, and moderate Liberals were equally opposed the head-quarters of Ultramontane acto this democratic project and to the Gov- tivity. But already this has given rise to ernment Bill - to the one because it a considerable amount of irritation, and amounted practically to an unrestricted it will be strongly resented by certain suffrage, the condition as to reading and classes if carried much further. The outwriting being illusory and inoperative, and cry which was raised a few years ago in to the other because it must lead directly Ghent and some other Belgian cities and inevitably to the same result. M. against the great estates of the Church Frère Orban borrowed Mr. Lowe's argu- and the monopoly of the soil which it was ments, and almost his words, in deprecating alleged to be bent on acquiring, should any departure from the established system. serve as a warning of the danger of too If a reduction were once commenced it conspicuous a parade either of wealth or could not, he contended, be arrested short influence. It may be assumed, however, of universal suffrage; and he pointed to that the Ministry would not have been France as an illustration of the fatal effects at the pains to strengthen their posiof that “ gangrene” of national life. The tion, and to secure the command of a large Ministry resented the proposed educa- body of voters, unless they had some detional condition, which, however insufficient signs in view for which this force was as a genuine test of intelligence and integ- wanted; and in any case the consciousness rity, would at least have had the effect of of power supplies a constant temptation to cutting off a good many of the ignorant exert it. Moreover, the waning influence peasants on whom they reckoned to coun- of the Church in other countries, and the teract the influence of the middle classes; open mutinies which have followed the but they were perhaps not particularly proclamation of the Infallibility dogma, afraid of universal suffrage if separated may be supposed to require some striking from this invidious test. At any rate, con- manifestation of strength and vitality as a fident of their power to reduce the suffrage counterpoise. It is not the loss of the just so far as and no further than they mere temporal revenues of the Papal pleased, they disregarded M. Frère Orban's States which the Church laments, but the warning and carried their Bill.

loss of the subjects over whom it could Ther: can be no doubt that for the rule with that direct temporal authority present the Clericals are triumphant, and which it still claims to exercise throughout that under the new law they will be able the world. It will not perhaps be surto beat up an overwhelming majority in prising if an attempt is made to get up a the polling-booths. If they are content visible and emphatic demonstration of this to exercise their power moderately, they authority in Belgium, as some compensamay probably continue in office for several tion for the falling away of Rome. There years to come. Recent events in France can hardly be a doubt as to the ultimate have strongly confirmed the hostility of result of any movement in this direction. the great body of the people to democratic The great body of the people of Belgium, principles, while the entry of the Italians though leaning for the moment towards into Rome has excited sympathy for the the Church, are not disposed to be ranged Pope. It is, however, extremely improba- as vassals at its heels. If the clericals ble that the dominant party will exercise have discernment, they will understand the self-denial which discretion would ad- that it is not love for them, but abhorrence vise. The vivid description which M. of democratic excesses, which has placed Prevost-Paradol drew in one of his lec- them in office, and that the only condition tures of the hold of the Church — not on which they can keep their power is not merely the spiritual but the material hold to use it to freely. If they attempt to

on the provincial towns of France, is push their victory too far, they will only still more applicable to Belgium. A large be playing the game of the Democrats, part of the whole fee simple of the country just as the Democrats have of late been belongs to the Church. A still larger pro- playing the game of the Church. The portion of the population is directly or in- best hope for Belgium is apparently, that directly dependent on the clergy or under the moderate Liberals may regain office in order to mediate between the two ex- | be found to be no unapt pupils in the tremes.

school of destruction. Hongkong and Shanghai advices bear witness to hostile preparations very different from the old theatric barbarism. Arsenals are being

founded. The Imperial artillery are being From The Examiner.

armed with European field-pieces. The AFFAIRS IN CHINA.

infantry are being exercised in the use of ACCORDING to the usually well-informed breech-loading rifles. The instructions of Bank und Handels Zeitung of Berlin, a

a Gordon have not been thrown away. courier has just been despatched from When we look to a kindred people, the London to India with instructions to make Japanese, and see the progress already ready an army of 20,000 men for eventual- made in armaments and discipline, the ities in China. The same authority adds forts, the ironclads, the multitude of wellthat negotiations have been opened be-armed battalions, and the precision of the tween the British Government and the military maneuvres ; when we remember Khedive on the subject of the despatch of the stubborn valour displayed before now reinforcements from England, in case of by Chinese troops at the Taku forts and necessity, by way of the Suez Canal. We elsewhere; we can understand that the do not know how far the Berlin journal is enormous empire of Eastern Asia may warranted in its intelligence by facts which shortly cease to be the huge mass of helphave not reached the British public; and lessness to which we have accustomed ourit is to be hoped that some member of selves. It is true that we are, as yet, Parliament will probe the mystery, if assisting at a very early stage of the transmystery there be. The fact that our re- formation. It will be years before the lations with China have, for some time million of soldiers or militia-men who, past, had a warlike appearance makes it under the designation of “ the Army of the doubly important that we should know Eight Banners," form the main force of -whether the storm-clouds have, at length, the Chinese Government are even tolerapassed away; or whether, in the opposite bly provided with the new arms. For the

quisite measures have been present we shall have to deal only with taken.

the picked troops, - the corps of guards For months past, the best-informed as they would be called in Europe. It is Asiatic journals have been filled with evident, however, that a change has been warnings of the course that events are inaugurated. What the Chinese have taking in the Celestial Empire. The af- wanted, up to this, has been not the cafair at Tientsin, which cost the lives of so pacity of imitation, but the knowledge of many unoffending Europeans, is an in- what to imitate. Were even the wild stance of popular fanaticisin and Mandarin hill-tribes of Hindustan armed with Snider indifference, or worse, which calls for the rifles, we should find it hard to hold our most serious consideration. The attacks own with our sixty thousand European on European policy and European morali- troops and our innumerable difficulties of ty which form, at the present hour, the every sort. We suspect it will be a far staple of Chinese periodical and pamphlet more difficult task to curb the enmity of a literature, and which enter so largely into nation of 400,000,000 when it gives up the official acts and proclamations of the bows and arrows, and takes to arms of Chinese Government, are evidences of a precision. That the Chinese consider hostility as systematic as it is inveterate. themselves already pretty far advanced in Hitherto a certain consciousness of inferi- their military reforms may be seen in the ority in such military appliances as cannon fact that they are paying great attention and rifles has, in spite of the national self- to the commissariat department. The conceit, materially influenced the reflec- Mandarins have caused it to be made tions of the warlike Tartars. Repeated known that rice-nerchants will find ample lessons of progressively increasing severity custom for their commodity, - an indishave taught them that the short sword was pensable item in the rations of a Chinese unequal to contests with the western bay- soldier, - at the Bureaux of the Governonet

, and that clumsy and ineffective bows ment. It is urged that stores of this and arrows, jingalls, and matchlocks, could nature are not accumulated for nothing. lead to but one result when pitted against Perhaps it may be said that the execuArmstrong guns and Enfield muskets. tion of the fifteen coolies accused of parThe Chinese have been reproached with ticipation in the Tientsin massacre inditheir stationary proclivities. They will 'cates a pacific disposition on the part of

case, the

the Pekin Government. But the universal, ings with China. We need not be suropinion of the European community in prised to find that selfishness — often China directly contradicts this view. The short-sighted selfishness — and dishonesty execution is regarded as merely a trick. have been our requital. The Chinese Government is still engaged The epigram about England, “ with in its preparations. It does not choose to opium in the one hand, and the Bible in throw off the mask just yet; and what are the other,” is truer than most epigrams. the lives of fifteen, or fifty times fifteen, The Catholic missionaries in China have of the common people? In the mean- made many converts, if they have not while the real culprits, the Tientsin Man- taught them much. But the Protestant darins, have escaped unpunished, and, in missionaries have failed in the work for temporary and honourable exile at the which they are sent out, and have only military settlements on the Amoor, await succeeded in breeding mischief. A rethe moment when a grateful country will markable instance of their mode of probe able to reward their services against cedure is afforded by their conduct during “the foreign devils."

the Taiping rebellion. It appeared that But are the Europeans entirely unac- Tien-wan, the leader of that movement, countable for the present situation? Are had attended a Baptist school in Canton. the Mandarins alone to blame? It must Of course the Scriptures had been placed be admitted that our hands are not quite in his hands. Nothing more was necesso clean in this matter as could be wished, sary to persuade the various Protestant and that it is from our having previously missionaries that, when this precious Tiensown the wind that we are now threatened wan took up the role of an insurgent with having to reap the whirlwind. The chief, they had discovered a veritable one word, opium, sums up half the diffi- champion of the faith in the long-haired culties which have beset the foreigner in barbarian. Meantime, while they were China. Here in England we are expend-inditing unctuous epistles to credulous ing a vast quantity of virtuous indignation souls in England, and endeavouring to on the liquor traffic. There can be no procure intervention on behalf of Tiendoubt that the liquor traffic is, in many re- wan, that interesting apostle was reducing spects, baneful, that it impoverishes the flourishing provinces to deserts, decapitatnation as well as the individual, that it ing men and violating women, and, though saps the strength and the morality of large abandoned to every brutal excess of feroclasses of our population, that it brings cious sensuality, was announcing himself misery and ruin to many an English home. as the new Messiah, the brother and sucAnd yet we have forced a still more be- cessor of Christ. The hostile attitude of sotting drug than alcohol upon the temper- the Protestant missionaries has not been ate and abstemious Chinese. Having first forgotten by the Chinese Government. taught them to use it, we battered down It will be allowed that, between the their walls when their Government at- opium policy of our mercantile relations tempted to interpose between its subjects and the Taiping policy of our missionary and" bestialization. At the present mo- enterprises, the hostility of the Chinese is ment, the second greatest source of the not altogether inexplicable. The unfortuIndian revenue consists of the opium nate barbarians refuse to believe that our traffic with China. In the financial year commerce and our creed, our drugs and 1869-70, the revenue from this drug, ex- our Bibles, are all sent out for their good. clusively cultivated for the Chinese market, In the meanwhile what is to be done ? exceeded 8,000,0001. We can conceive China contains a population half as large what must be the feelings of all the best again as the united populations of the and highest minds of China, in face of this continent of Europe. The annual revenue wholesale debauching of their countrymen of the central government is estimated, for the profit of a foreign Power. Such even in its present backward condition, at conduct on the part of a civilized and 200,000,000 taels, or more than 66,000,0001., Christian State is certainly ill calculated little short, in fact, of the annual reveto awaken esteem for Christianity and civ- nue of the United Kingdom. It is surely ilization. From the radical suspicion with the wisest, as well as the noblest, policy which the Chinese Government-- and not to seek to gain the friendship instead of only the Government, but the whole edu- the hatred of such a nationality. If war cated class — have come to regard for- be a necessity at present, we can only hope eigners, it is easy to trace the conse- that its satisfactory termination will be quences. We have never shown much the starting-point for better things in generosity, or even honesty, in our deal-'the time to come.

« ForrigeFortsæt »