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of imagination-the literary; the poetic and romantic; not of the earth; all of the skies; glamorous and not enlightening; and this they enthusiastically choose for guidance in the business going on at The Hague. Now, in following out the old line of treatment that is to say, while closely inquiring into what the peace proposals spring from, what is intended by them, what is likely to come of them with or without intention-it is good and pleasant to indulge the hope that all's right, and that the door is about to be opened to a better state of things. Carry the hope into expectation, and all you risk is disappointment as long as you withhold no test where there is every reason for wariness, no glory in self-deception, no advantage in being deceived.
But that is just where the Utopians rise in opposition, again finding moral grounds for disagreement and denunciation. I have just said that there is every reason for wari
The word should have been, every warrant for suspicion; but the sentimental terror makes cowards of us all. There is every warrant for suspicion, and it is as much a right and a duty to act upon it as when a lawyer scrutinises a statement drawn up by the other side. Not to do so would be wrong, and ridiculously wrong. But competing with the millennium itself and anticipating it, our sentimentalists set up a new code of morals in these affairs, and damn us by it just as if we were not under the old dispensation. In
nocent and indispensable as they are under this régime, the whole proceedings of the political imagination are condemned as offensive to fine feeling and obnoxious to human progress. It is base to raise any doubt about the gifts of the Greeks-base to investigate Russian peace-proposals from the ground upward. For even in diplomacy suspicion itself is here. It irritates; it annoys. If English, it damages the character of the nation that harbours it, and fixes upon that nation the guilt of postponing the reign of universal trust,which will not begin unless some great country begins it. It is clear to the literary imagination that England is the country that should trust, and that Russia is the country to be trusted; clear also that what stands in the way of this being done is not what we suppose it to be. We fancy it the usual difficulty of trusting a rival who agrees that all's fair in love and war, and has ever acted on that sufficiently tenable view. But no. What we take for reasonable caution, practised everywhere and everywhere necessary, is in great part a peculiar British weakness for making a "bogey" of a particular nation abroad! For the rest, it is nothing else than hate.
We hate Russia we know we do; and our hate is the hate of a selfish and baseless fear.
All this is in some ways ridiculous and in every way wrong. There is nothing strange, or even unusual, in the relations of Russia and England, which repeat what
has been seen so many times on earth that it may almost be regarded as a continuous spectacle. It is the rivalry which, in one shape or another, goes on everywhere in the living world, and has correlatives even in the innocent "vegetable kingdom." There is no particular reason for complaint on the one side or the other when this rivalry is understood for what it is; the "baseless fear, what there is of it, is that which always comes true at last the fear of being beaten down in the fight; and the talk of "hate" to which we are subjected is the introduction of domestic moral principles into regions where they have never yet existed, and where they cannot be practised without an even ridiculous amount of risk -principles, too, which certainly should not be of partia and particular application.
All this is so plain that there ought to be no difficulty in making a stand upon it; and its assertion is so important that the stand ought to be made in a positive, outspoken, uncompromising way. But what happens? Common-sense does make some protest on its own behalf, and on behalf of immutable facts, unvarying experience, and the only expectations that can be deduced from them reasonably and safely. But so forbidding is the sentimental Terror that this is done in the feeblest, most timorous, and apologetic way. In deprecation of the Terror and its handling of our morals, we pretend half-beliefs where we know that credulity is dangerous, in
order to insinuate half a doubt. We admit that it is wrong to be suspicious where there is nothing more blameless as a matter of fact, and nothing more necessary according to our most anxious convictions. We hardly dare whisper the most probable motives in the mind of the Russian Government (the Government not the Czar, of course), though one of them is cash accommodation from England, with leisure to spend at large on fortifications, military roads, military colonies, and other purposes not portentous of peace; or if of peace, the peace that is the dream of most conquering nations. But how is this timidity to be described? It is in part a very miserable kind of hypocrisy, and in all deplorable cowardice: which, in their general effect, and apart from this matter, are far from being wholesome occupants of the public mind.
As to that, however, the more immediate concern is that the tyranny of sentiment may assert itself over the mind of the Government as well as of the public. Were I asked to state in what way there is any likelihood of of that, I doubt whether I should venture to reply; for the answer is, on the arbitration point. On some of the minor points good will be done, no doubt: the others, their impracticability or their danger coming out, may drop without irremediable disappointment; but not if arbitration is included amongst them. It seems to be determined both within and without the circle of competitive sentimentalism
that there must be some established formula for arriving at compulsory arbitration; and the word has taken so much charm that it is doubtful whether the Government can afford to resist any scheme that comes under it. The truth meanwhile is that every conceivable cause of quarrel, of whatever magnitude, of whatever character, can be submitted to arbitration if the Governments concerned choose to resort to it; that compulsion upon one or both would be intolerable, unless where claims for damages are advanced or in such other disputes as are commonly settled by private arbitration; and that engagements approaching to obligation are not unlikely to have all the effect of a snare. Be it
also remembered that if they are likely to have that effect for one Government more than another, it is the one that makes no alliances and is least given to private understandings. Much I wish that our sentimentalists had fixed their hearts on some other point in the conference programme instead of on this; for, seeming the most promising, it is likely to import as long a train of embarrassments as any. If only less pains were taken to bring the millennium to premature birth, if only the friends of progress could be more content with such sure means of advancement as are acknowledged at the beginning of this article, how much more hope there would be of "getting forrarder."
THE NEGATIVE RULER OF FRANCE.
FIVE years ago an obscure artillery captain, of whom although he had a good professional record-no one outside a very limited circle had ever heard, was deported from France to the other side of the world and placed in circumstances of isolation so appalling in their suggestion of hopeless cutting off from all that a man holds dear, that the words "living death" are weak to describe them. In going to his place of despair he had to carry with him the memory of a day of torture, not indeed physical, but more unbearable to one worthy to be called a man than the rack or the boot of Middle Age cruelty. For an officer who had served his country, and gained a good repute for zeal, ability, and diligence, to be made a spectacle of degradation to his army comrades,-his insignia of rank stripped from his clothing, his sword taken off him, broken, and thrown at his feet, and the name "traitor" loudly proclaimed over him, must be an ordeal almost beyond the bounds of human endurance. It is to inflict upon him that which, whether he be guilty or not, must fill him with an anguish such as mere physical torture could never cause to wring the spirit of a man of courage. The more brave the man, the more terrible the horror of the trial, the more deep and lacerating the penetration of the iron into the soul. No one read the story of it without a shudder of
pain, no soldier who stood on duty when the dread sentence was executed can have been unmoved. That the unspeakably wretched performer of the title-rôle in the ghastly drama was a brave man none can doubt. For, guilty or innocent, he went through his part as only a man brave beyond most of his fellow - creatures could do. One of our countrymen who was present has testified that in that scene on the Champ de Mars the degraded officer" was the single actor who behaved himself with dignity"-a dignity so marked that the spectator left the scene with a profound conviction in his heart, and full of foreboding. The memory of it all to the unfortunate sufferer must have been-must be now, and as long as what was done shall not have been officially undone a a memory without alleviation. No time could weaken, far less efface, the lines cut deep into the being who had endured that awful quarter of an hour, into which everything of shame that man can inflict upon his brother man had been unsparingly meted out to the helpless and hopeless prisoner.
Picture him, then, on his barren islet in a tropical sea, with no relief from the deadly monotony of his palisaded patch of ground, exposed to a deadly climate and a burning sun, watched by silent guards, learning nothing of the world's doings, having no communi
cation with those dear to him except under official censorship, dragging out the best years of his manhood in silent agony, haunted ever by the bitterness of that scene which stamped him as the basest of men. Five years gone, and it may be many years still to come. Could any hell that imagination can figure be worse? Could ingenuity the most refined invent—within the per.mitted limits of civilised punishment-a more awful doom, surely worse than death?
Doubtless those who contributed to bring about this consigning of a disgraced man to a living tomb, whether they were honest or dishonest in their motives and actions, thought that, when all was done, the man and all that concerned him would be forgotten, that the waters of Lethe, the River of Oblivion, would close over him, and smooth themselves out from all ruffling that told of agitation. All others had, after a horror mingled with a pity that none could refuse where the expiation of crime was so shocking to every human disposition, ceased to think of one to whom, presumably, justice had been meted out, an awful justice, but scarce too awful for crime so base, made more base by the criminal being a soldier of the State. The wretch was as good as dead, save to those, his own loving ones, who had to bear their share of the shame of all the dreadful past.
Here, then, if ever there was a man who was blotted out of the world's book of life, was that man all hope taken from him of being an influence in his day and generation, and
VOL. CLXV.—NO. MIV.
still worse, of ever enjoying the sweetness of domestic love and peace: no rôle left to him but the negative one of being a hateful example to warn others, as degraded before his race and helpless as the slave made drunk to be a spectacle of warning to the Athenian youth; loathed and incapable. Yet he has lived for these long five years, he has borne his awful punishment manfully: again the brave man among men, whether he be guilty or innocent.
But what is it that has come
pass in the country that condemned him, and in the army that degraded him? Is it oblivion? Is he in his own country as if he had never been? Outcast as he is, and transported across the seas, isolated from all social intercourse, is his country free of him? Does the State move on its even way as if he had never disturbed its peace? Is the condition of the army to which he belonged like that of one from whom a malignant growth has been excised, and to whom a healthy and strong condition has returned? Is he but a nauseous memory, which if not dead is dying, a recollection which, if it force itself into activity at all, leads to no thought that can disturb the present or cause misgivings as to the future? Has the world even outside France been able to forget all about the tragedy? Have the great affairs of State, which at intervals agitated the political waters during the last five years, washed out its traces on the sands of time?
The true answers to these questions present to mankind 3 Y