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while her soldiers might slay without the guilt of blood, denounces Colonel Bullock as a felon, because he defended himself with a revolver against the attacking Boers. And if you would like to discover the real cause of the war, you may find it in the blatancy of Lord Salisbury, against which the courteous manners of President Kruger fought in vain. This gentleman reminds us of that other writer, equally well informed, who assured a credulous world that Lord Salisbury was the son of Benjamin Disraeli!
Now, this habit of lying is not bred of inadvertence; it is ingrained in the French character. Twenty times a-week the halfpenny press of Paris prints false news, whose falsity is demonstrable in an hour. For example, our ambassador lately left Paris for a holiday. Instantly a dozen sensationmongers saw a chance of a scare. Sir Edward Monson was disgusted, said one, at the decoration of M. Léandre, the libeller of our Queen. Of course he was not disgusted. Why should he be? France may decorate whom she pleases; and we know no one more fit in taste and talent to wear the red ribbon of the Légion d'Honneur than M. Léandre. He is as little influenced by truth or manners as the rest; and his calumnies, exquisitely suited to the temper of Paris, are worthy of the reward they have won. At last, then, he is the colleague of the late Colonel Henry and of M. Judet. But that is not our point. Our point is this, that the journalists who falsely said
that Sir Edward Monson was breaking our diplomatic relations with France, or had gone to Italy to beg for aid, knew, or could have known, that they lied. But the chance of knowledge does not deter them from their daily task. They still wander up and down the streets, as they did in Cæsar's day, buttonholing any loafer who will tell them the tale they would like to believe. And when the tale is told, they deem correction unnecessary. They neither regret nor excuse their falsehood, and possibly they are not even now conscious that they have been guilty of dishonourable conduct.
Such is the attitude of France; and it is for us to accept that attitude in all thankfulness of heart. That our neighbours, who love us not, should be convinced of our decadence is worth an army corps, and England has taken a far too serious view of a merely peevish habit. On the one hand we have heard a great deal about the ingratitude of France. We have been reminded that when the French lost in a single day 173,000 soldiers, 6000 officers, three marshals of France, 56 eagles, 622 pieces of field- and 876 of garrison - artillery, 72 mitrailleuses, 137,420 chassepots, and 132,326 other small-arms, we displayed a fervent and sincere sympathy. It has been recalled to our memory that when Paris was starving, we who, teste the 'Figaro,' decline to feed the famished Indians, brought food and comfort to the hungry. These things are
true: we did show France a dignified courtesy when she was in distress; we have never congratulated ourselves on her misfortunes in her own country, in Tonquin, in Madagascar-on the contrary, we have fed her hungry and tended her sick. But these truths do not affect the question at issue. It is misunderstanding the French character to expect gratitude. Suspicion is the answer which our neighbours give to kindness, and we have not the smallest right to resent the unfriendliness of those who have for two thousand years fed upon rumours. On the other hand, our statesmen have gravely discussed the animosity of France, and one Minister has gone so far as to administer a reproof. He might as well have reproved a blizzard or an unstopped drain. The falsehood of France deserves no reprobation from us. After all, a lie does not last longer than twenty-four hours, and it is never worth while to complain of a blind man because he cannot see. The French, so far as the truth is concerned, are blind-eyed. You can hardly call their habit a vice. It is rather a moral obliquity of vision. It is not that they weigh truth and falsehood in a balance, and compel truth to kick the beam; it is that their hand is physically incompetent to hold the scales, and that France will never conquer a place in the world until she can steady her trembling fist. We should not be surprised even if M. Rochefort worshipped truth in secret; we can even believe
that M. Drumont is in his own eyes an honest man; we might be persuaded that M. de Cassagnac, when he urged President Kruger to slaughter the British prisoners, regarded himself as a modern Bayard. Such freaks of chance and nature are nothing to us. They are the effect of one cause-that love of false news which dominates France more efficiently than Government or intelligence.
From France, then, we have nothing to fear, save falsehood, which breaks no bones, and which need evoke no other sorrow than contempt. But when the apologists of France insist that she has nought in common with her press, a modest protest must be uttered. A press lives only on the approval of the people, and MM. Rochefort and Millevoye would not mark every day with a black lie if they were not paid to do so. So that France cannot but share the pitiable disgrace of her journals. What, then, does it all mean? Nothing whatever. There may be a suggestion of the jealousy which a dying race feels for the race which rides upon the wave of progress. But we don't believe it, because France is not even half-conscious of decay. No; it is idle to seek for serious causes. It is enough that France is never likely to fight us again, unless she fights, as she attempted to fight at Fashoda, under the standard of somebody else. Not only is her Exhibition imminent, which ensures peace for six months, but a war with England would be a war by sea, which will neither
set General Mercier upon a he said: "It is only Germany
dictator's throne nor give the General Staff a chance of rehabilitation. France, indeed, is as dangerous as Switzerland or Belgium, and it is only the accident of a free untrammelled press that brings home to us in England the immaterial fret of her animosity.
Moreover, though France knows it not, the fall of England is the sole incident needed to finish her existence. And, though the press of the Boulevard is all ignorant of this elementary truth, the statesmen of France have a just perception of its importance. M. Delcassé, for instance, is far too wise to risk a rupture with the only Power whose friendship is useful to his his country. When Prussia broke the power of Austria at Sadowa, France, as M. Hervé said, suffered her severest check since Waterloo without striking a blow. Yet the journals of Paris applauded vociferously the victory of Prussia. So to-day the loud voice of France clamours for the extinction of England, and the brain which is behind that loud voice does not understand that if the Boers were victorious in South Africa, the curtain would be drawn up on the last act of France's tragedy. But if the people fail to penetrate the obvious, M. Deschanel has a clear vision of the truth. The speech which he made just a month ago, when he was received into the Academy, proved, in spite of itself, the folly of the Boulevards. Quoting M. Hervé, whose eulogy it was his fortune to pronounce,
that has an interest in a quarrel between England and France. To make a campaign against English policy, is to make a campaign in favour of German policy. . . If we take sides with Berlin against London, we commit a great folly, especially as we should only tempt London to come to an agreement with Berlin at our expense. What was true then is still true to-day. The one chance that France has for the future —vague enough, to be sure-is an alliance with England, and M. Deschanel was acting the part of a true patriot when he bade his countrymen forget for a while the bite of the mad dog, and look upon politics with a cold eye.
But there is another side to the argument. An alliance implies a benefit on either hand. France, no doubt, would find it very much to her advantage if she could obtain the support of the perfidious and vilified Albion. But Albion has still much to say in dispraise of a sudden reconciliation. If we could help France, France is powerless to help us, and until she restores unto herself a stable system of justice and a firm method of government, her alliance is absolutely worthless. At present her energy seems lost in intrigue -with Menelik, with Mahdism, with Dr Leyds. But intrigue is the antithesis of statesmanship, and it is not likely that an English statesman will ever again deem it prudent to hold out the hand of close fellowship to France. Nor shall we regret the inevitable breach.
A nation which envies the ex- is certain-England is ruined; pansion of her neighbour, and nor has he yet discovered that yet has not the energy to the wish is father to the occupy effectively the African thought. He is only anxious territory which her diplomatists to explain the welcome destrucwon for her a brief year ago, is tion. Now he would saddle not a valuable ally. And what Lord Rosebery's racing-stable need have we of allies, who be- with the responsibility; now he hold "this Britannick Empire finds that our universities are built to a glorious and enviable at fault. Were he gifted with height, with all her daughter reason, he might reflect that islands about her"? Would we something more than a racingdare to hint for a moment that stable is necessary to kill the we shall not be "stayed in this British empire, and that post felicity"? hoc is not always propter hoc. But malice is not reason's best encouragement, and so our cannibal shows his teeth aimlessly, until the news of his country's triumph will plunge him in grief.
The abuse of the French we may bear with a calm pleasure. The abuse of our own countrymen is not so easily supported. But, after all, the modern cannibal is a harmless beast, who would devour his fellows not with his teeth but with his tongue. His worst trait is his anxiety to solace your dying hours (as he esteems them) with inaccurate information. He says, in effect: "Thank God, the country which is yours and mine has fallen upon ruin ;" and then, to improve the occasion, straightway explains how he would have averted an impending disaster. So he has established an "association" which shall spread the truth about South Africa. He should, of course, begin with the instruction of his own committee; but here modesty steps in, and he shrinks from a task which even his sanguine temper finds insurmountable. Wherefore he distributes the vague opinions of his country's enemies among the sound patriots who know their worthlessness. Of one thing he
And pat to the argument comes Mr J. W. Clark's 'Old Friends at Cambridge,'1 a work which should instantly reassure the waverers. There is many
an English institution which
1 London: Macmillan & Co. 1900.
practical aim. It is thrown at them for a reproach that they fit their pupils for no profitable career. A young Englishman does not come down from his university a lawyer, or a soldier, or a doctor. But he comes down with a far better equipment than a mere diploma: he comes down able to master most situations into which he may be thrust. And it is for this reason that our Government has been for centuries in the hands of graduates from our universities.
When the question is thus put to our enemies, their reply is obvious, and obviously irrelevant. Time was, they say, when the universities of England did breed a race of strong men; but strength has gone from us long since, and they who descend every year from Cambridge and Oxford with the useless right of using a degree are poor pampered minions. That this is untrue is demonstrable despite the attacks of
women, democrats, headmasters, and other faddists, our universities have lost precious little of their ancient character. Their worst enemy has always been the architect, who is far more dangerous even than the reformer, and the architect's triumph is undisputed.
flannels who is not only a capable scholar but a real live man, is not elsewhere a common experience; and if our universities have made this experience possible, let us turn a deaf ear to the envious critics who dislike an unshared privilege, and give our universities full credit for the work they have accomplished in the world.
But our universities accomplish another work within their own borders. After all, while it is their general duty to make men, it is their particular duty to make scholars. And herein lies the interest of Mr J. W. Clark's book. The Cambridge men whom he celebrates are, with one or two splendid exceptions, unknown to the larger world which lies far from the Cam. But for all that they are men who performed their allotted tasks with admirable skill and courage. We cannot all be generals or saviours of our country; on the other hand, it is not every man who can prove himself the distinguished Head of a House, and William Whewell may certainly claim without at least some of the glory which was his within the walls of Trinity College. For there is no doubt that Dr Whewell was, within the limits of his profession, a very great man. He was not a great scholar: at his death his copyrights were worthless, and we do not suppose that any person will ever again consult his masterpieces. His own account of his scientific position is perfectly just and true. "I did but systematise," said he, "portions of knowledge which the