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and sound writer. The best and almost perfect instance of this in English is Scott. Homer was perfect in it, as far as we can judge; Shakespeare is often perfect in it for long together, though then, from the defects of a bad education and a vicious age, all at once he loses himself in excesses. Still, Homer, and Shakespeare at his best, and Scott, though in other respects so unequal to them, have this remarkable quality in commonthis union of life with measure, of spirit with reasonableness.
In action it is equally this quality in which the English-at least so I claim it for them—excel all other nations. There is an infinite deal to be laid against us, and as we are unpopular with most others, and as we are always grumbling at ourselves, there is no want of people to say it. But, after all, in a certain sense, England is a success in the world; her career has had many faults, but still it has been a fine and winning career upon the whole. And this on account of the exact possession of this particular quality. What is the making of a successful merchant? That he has plenty of energy, and yet that he does not go too far. And if you ask for a description of a great practical Englishman, you will be sure to have this, or something like it, “Oh, he has plenty of go in him; but he knows when to pull up.' He may have all other defects in him; he may be coarse, he may be illiterate, be may be stupid to talk to; still this great union of spur and bridle, of energy and moderation, will reinain to him. Probably he will hardly be able to explain why he stops when he does stop, or why he continued to move as long as he, in fact, moved; but still, as by a rough instinct, he pulls up pretty much where he should, though he was going at such a pace before.
There is no better example of this quality in English statesmen than Lord Palmerston. There are, of course, many most serious accusations to be made against him. The sort of homage with which he was regarded in the last years of his life has passed away; the spell is broken, and the magic cannot be again revived. We may think that his information was meagre, that his imagination was narrow, that his aims were shortsighted and faulty. But though we may often object to his objects, we rarely find much to criticise in his means. He went,' it has been said, 'with a great swing ;' but he never tumbled over; he always managed to pull up before there was any danger.' He was an odd man to have inherited Hampden's motto; still, in fact, there was a great trace in him of mediocria firma -as much, probably, as there could be in anyone of such great vivacity and buoyancy.
It is plain that this is a quality which as much as, if not more than, any other multiplies good results in practical life. It enables men to see what is good; it gives them intellect enougʻi for sufficient perception; but it does not make men all intellect; it does not sickly them o'er with the pale cast of thought;' it enables them to do the good things they see to be good, as well as to see that they are good. And it is plain that a government by popular discussion tends to produce this quality. A strongly idiosyncratic mind, violently disposed to extremes of opinion, is soon weeded out of political life, and a bodiless thinker, an ineffectual scholar, cannot even live there for a day. A vigorous moderateness in mind and body is the rule of a polity which works by discussion; and, upon the whole, it is the kind of temper most suited to the active life of such a being as map in such a world as the present one.
These three great benefits of free government, though great, are entirely secondary to its continued usefulness in the mode in which it originally was useful. The first great benefit was the deliverance of mankind from the superannuated yoke of customary law, by the gradual development of an inquisitive originality. And it continues to produce that effect upon persons apparently far remote from its influence, and on subjects with which it has nothing to do. Thus Mr. Mundella, a most experienced and capable judge, tells us that the English artisan, though so much less sober, less instructed, and less refined than the artisans of some other countries, is yet more inventive than any other artisan. The master will get more good suggestions from him than from any other.
Again, upon plausible grounds-looking, for example, to the position of Locke and Newton in the science of the last century, and to that of Darwin in our own-it may be argued that there is some quality in English thought which makes them strike out as many, if not more, first-rate and original suggestions than nations of greater scientific culture and inore diffused scientific interest. In both cases I believe the reason of the English originality to be that government by discussion quickens and enlivens thought all through society; that it makes people think no harm inay come of thinking ; that in England this force has long been operating, and so it has developed more of all kinds of people ready to use their mental energy in their own way, and not ready to use it in any other way, than a despotic government. And so rare is great originality among mankind, and so great are its fruits, that this one benefit of free government probably outweighs what are in many cases its accessory evils.
Of itself it justifies, or goes far to justify, our saying with Montesquieu, “Whatever be the cost of this glorious liberty, we must be content to pay it to heaven.
PERIFIABLE PROGRESS POLITICALLY CONSIDERED.
The original publication of these essays was interrupted by serious illness and by long consequent ill-health, and now that I am putting them together I wish to add another which shall shortly explain the main thread of the argument which they contain. In doing so there is a risk of tedious repetition, but on a subject both obscure and important, any defect is better than an appearance of vagueness.
In a former essay I attempted to show that slighter causes than is commonly thought may change a nation from the stationary to the progressive state of civilisation, and from the stationary to the degrading. Commonly the effect of the agent is looked on in the wrong way. It is considered as operating on every individual in the nation, and it is assumed, or half assumed, that it is only the effect which the agent directly produces on everyone that need be considered. But besides this diffused effect of the first impact of the cause, there is a second effect, always considerable, and commonly more potent-a new model in character is created for the