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it was prepared long since by the phrase-enslaved, phrase-enslaving emotionalism which has no effective existence elsewhere. And ask this question, which recent incidents renew: What other great country in the world - France, Germany, Austria, the United States-has any experience of the tongue-in-cheek insolences with which Russian diplomacy amuses itself in China? There is no other. Upon no other would they be attempted; and should ever our millennial sentimentalists understand their own works and ways, they will learn how much their unearthly credulousness contributed to give their mother country this particular distinction.
In the foregoing paragraph we do but name a few of the injuries which good sense and good policy are made to suffer by England's worst enemy of all-this of her own household. Were we to trace out their natural working, and follow their natural consequence in all its branches, it would be such an indictment as no individual traitor to the public good has ever been confronted with. Traitor, however, is not the right word for use in speaking of this little world of treason, but dupe rather; with whatever qualifications may best describe humane fanaticism, the faithhealing superstition, the weakness for broad phylacteries, love of singularity, impatience with the limitations of wellbeing on this earth, and other idiosyncrasies that all come to the same thing at bottom: which same thing may be more than
pardonable or less than respectable, but which is not sanity in any case. But if we cannot enter into the detail of exposition and analysis, there is the comfort (such as it is) of knowing that there is little need of doing so.
There, indeed, we approach the most remarkable thing about the whole matter, and the most formidable. Though endured, this prodigious affliction is well understood. A not too sweeping assertion would be that it is even understood, in the worst of it, by those who practise its follies upon the body politic. They, too, are conscious that what they urge upon their fellow-countrymen as wise and righteous guidance in the conduct of public affairs can only be wise and righteous in a better world than this. Their error lies (wherever their millennial strivings are anything but a pose) in the desperate and desperately hopeless idea that this world may be turned into a better one by intense make-believe that it is so already: and this error they chance on the strength of the faith-healing principle and its miraculous virtues. But whatever their state of mind, there is no mistake among the rest of us as to the fatuity of assumption upon which they build; the destructive operation of their teaching on opinion ("boning" it might be called), wherever that teaching is admitted; its lamentable effect upon Governments at home, who love disembodied policies too well already, and would practise none but post- obit
diplomacy; and the advantage not gainsaid. It is plain that it gives to Governments abroad, there can be but one explanawho make use of it and its pro- tion of these unnatural manifessors for rescript purposes and festations of timidity-terrorthe like. Of all this mischief ism, and that of the most peneand more the country at large trating and victorious quality. is so well aware that further instruction is quite unnecessary; and yet it endures all in the spirit of a dumb domestic creature.
Then why? For the strange reason that a sentiment fruitless of everything but mischief and disappointment succeeds in imposing a tyrannical silence on the better sense of the country. The whole number of the willo'-wisp New Lights is comparatively small; easily divided up by the naked eye, large subtractions of the calculating from the sincere, the bemused from the convinced, the volunteers from pressed men, or such as are forced upon the roll at the point of the pen, reduce the effective strength of this small number very considerably; and yet it makes afraid the majority which understands all this. As we have already said, it is equally well seen that the feet of these that are convinced stand not upon firm ground, but wade in very beautiful but unsustained and unsustaining moonshine; yet they are not withstood. Since their first appearance in strength, the harm they are so manifestly capable of doing has been actually done on various occasions; again and again their brilliant delusions, shot into the skies where they were to burn for ever as fixed stars, have come down immediately as charred sticks; yet they are
So to describe it is to name it. It is moral terrorism that performs these wonders, and it does so both in detail and in the gross. The most pardonable occasion was supplied by the butcherly suppression of the Armenian revolt. There were horrors enough in that to match a blind rage of pity with the blind fury of "the Turk"; but a blind rage it truly was, with the distinction peculiar to millennial sentiment that it exulted in putting out its eyes. That was its grand merit. That was its glory. This was the sign that God had made its disciples not like these others, who detestably employed their ignoble vision in looking out the cost and consequences of a war of vengeance. After a few weeks of this high assertion, with corresponding outpourings of shame and scorn on base calculation and callousness of heart, the man who wished to be thought decent was dumb before the agitation and the agitators. True, a day came when most of these allowed Lord Rosebery to put back their eyes, and suffered themselves to see; but meanwhile the wisdom of the country (which was also righteousness) was so terrorised that it hardly dared to open its mouth in public, or when it did so, was forced to protect its character for humanity by hypocritical deprecation and needless and unfelt apology.
Thus were freedom and morals promoted in the gross. The terrorism by detail, which first came into use at that time, I fancy, is yet more afflicting. By this process the refuge of silence is not allowed. Professional men, especially bishops, deans, doctors, and others such as dare not jeopardise their character for goodness and kindness, are singled out and so addressed that they have only this choice either to declare themselves heart and soul with a fevered, hopeless, hazardous cause, or else run the risk of description as pronounced indifferents to everlasting hate and slaughter. Yet all the while their worst meaning may be no more un-Christian than Lord Rosebery's when he expounded the wickedness of setting the world on fire (including our own share of it and its population) to burn a Sultan and his myrmidons a little before their time.
We are not obliged to seek examples of this tyranny in such mind - stirring events as the Armenian massacres alone. Our quietest domestic affairs supply them also; and I will take my chance with the sentimental Vehmgericht by mentioning two of them. Just as we all hate war, so we all love education; and just as men who are wise as well as gentle know and are sure that war is the only physic for more intolerable ills, so other men of equal repute for benevolence and wisdom fear that popular education may be misdirected, forced, overdone, to the damage of the people themselves. I do not formulate their apprehen
sions, nor repeat their arguments, nor say anything about them but this: that the man who urged them boldly on public attention would not be answered as an erring reasoner should be, but as reactionist, cynic, dark-minded bigot whose real meaning is that his profits, pleasures, dignities, are best maintained by perpetuating the degradation of the poor. He may say, if he pleases, that the sons of fortuneless obscure gentlemen are more often ruined than not by a university schooling ; but to read that lesson into the case of workmen's sons and their education would be his own ruin if he spoke as a public man. He and ten thousand other men considerate of the public good may be right or wrong; but, whether or no, they are silenced, under penalties more telling than fine and imprisonment.
And so it is very much in the matter of old-age pensions, as conceived by Mr Booth and promised by Mr Chamberlain. Here the end in view is as flattering to desire as universal and unending peace. It is that every steady, honest, industrious man, but not every idler, drunkard, pilferer, parasite, shall be able to look without dread to the time when work cannot be had, nor bread be won. Since the idea of achieving this end by State provision was taken up, hundreds of the most capable minds in the country, equipped with all the knowledge at command, have been engaged in inventing a plan for the purpose. Years have been so
employed, though if success ever comes it will be at the inspiration of a moment. Scores of projects have been committed to paper and made known, besides those that were despairingly burnt unseen; and at the end of all this cudgelling of brains no scheme promising of less harm than good has come to light. And remember that this is a matter in which the words "harm" and "good"
both to be used in the superlative degree. The good proposed is immense. The
harm that moves in the train of every remedy yet propounded is enormous; and though the worst of it is no doubt invisible to the sentiment which puts out its eyes and mounts the inner light of faith, enormous it remains. Yet even now no man of mark can speak of it outright, showing plainly what it is in all particulars, unless he is prepared for the denunciation that destroys usefulness and ends ambition. Silence is commanded by a sentimentalism which has no conception of its own malignancy, and because of its malignancy it is obeyed.
It may be found in the end that these mere domestic instances of the sentimental Terror are of graver import than when it is concerned with such grand affairs as universal peace-agreements, meetings at a round table for the reciprocal pulling out of teeth, or brotherly compacts with a kindred people to discipline excessive ambitions. There is more of reality, perhaps, in the first-named affairs than in
the rest; but they certainly make no such appeal to imagination, and seem far less important in themselves.
The appeal to imaginationthat is the first mischief of the Czar's encyclical, and there the similar consequence of the American awakening; though it was not to work upon our feelings that the people of the United States marched out upon the path of conquest. And even as to the famous rescript, it is not so much the appeal that troubles me as the sort of imagination that responded to it. The responsive imagination in such a case was thought to be of one kind only the one that was in use at all times and in all countries till the other day, and that still has no competitor in any other nation than our own. It is called political imagination, but it has its exact counterpart in business and in science. In the natural order of things, when a Czar's rescript appears the political imagination takes hold on it for inquiry, its method being to investigate from the ground upward. It starts from the assumption that, like everything else of the kind that has ever preceded it, the rescript is an earthly production. As such it may be good in the highest degree or bad in the lowest, or anything between those extremes. However that may prove, to make out its origin, its purpose, its designed or undesigned consequences, political imagination works from the ground, where its bases are things known and
found in the ordinary calculations of world-conquering Governments. What that influence is, or is supposed to be, need not be stated; enough to say that, investigating from the ground upward, the right imagination must look into that also. Why not? In cognate business affairs it would certainly be done, and science is believed to be right in taking nothing for granted. It happens, however, that the sacred question of the Czar's goodness of heart and sincerity of purpose need not be disturbed much. But it is impossible that a sane political imagination should not dwell upon the dubious autocracy of the Czar, the extent to which he is managed by Ministers even in this matter, his ultimate and perhaps but half-conscious control by the "machine," which in Russia is more powerful, more unvarying and mysterious, than anywhere else out of the Vatican. Even the fact that the Czar is mortal cannot be excluded when engagements are discussed which, if they do proceed from his sole initiative, may depend altogether on his existence for their validity where they are proposed.
In a case like this, it surveys the actual conditions in which the Russian Government stood when the rescript was issued. What the domestic outlook; what the financial situation relative to it, and to the demands of a prodigious expansion scheme; at what stage that scheme now stands; what the facts as to armaments whether complete in Russia and whether as complete elsewhere; what the Russian need (or no-need) of rest, cash accommodation, and the confidence of other countries,—such foundation-facts as these being arrayed as fully and clearly as may be, the business of political imagination is to trace their natural effect upon the mind of any Government, and then of the Russian Government as known by experience. By that effect the meaning of the rescript is then judged; but not till imagination takes account of possible new influences, powerful enough (though not, perhaps, so readily estimated) to give the rescript an independent, a different, or a modified meaning. In most cases of a like character the Thus may the political impossibility that new, strange, agination be described in its unseen influences be at natural processes. may It is not, work is admitted, and searchlights are thrown out into the dark accordingly.
Here appearances are more simple and explicit. The incursion of a very remarkable influence is alleged, and it is said to give the rescript an origin and a meaning of its own, entirely independent of
of course, the only kind to which the Czar's rescript would appeal; but, wherever politics keep their sanity, it is thought to be the only one that is capable of dealing with such matters usefully and without danger. Our competitive sentimentalists are of a different opinion. There is another sort