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great crisis of her fortunes as is still painful to contemplate." Pitt rescued his country from the degradation, taught all Europe to respect her, carried her flag triumphantly on every sea and continent, only to leave the wretched court favourite, Bute, “ravenous of peace," “ whom the satirical fates had appointed to crown and finish off his heroic day's work” by a treaty which irritated and alienated his ally and dishonoured the fair name of his country. Still, while fully recognizing Pitt's extraordinary powers, it is a serious question whether, despite the glory he won, and the immense accessions of territory he gained, his policy was a real blessing to his country. The expulsion of the French from the American Continent, by freeing the colonists from the fear of a powerful neighbour, and thus rendering them less dependent on the mother country, undoubtedly hastened the period of independence, to the injury of both—the enormous and often profligate expenditure of his warlike enterprizes aggravated the burdens of the people and largely increased our debtand his example and powerful influence confirmed that mistaken practice of interference in Continental politics which wrought sufficient evil in his own, but which was further developed, and with still more fatal effect, in the succeeding generation.
These are some of the considerations that need to be carefully weighed in forming a just estimate of the effects of Lord Chatham's great career. That Mr. Carlyle would condescend to enter into them was not to be expected. With him, Pitt's unbending resolve, haughty scorn of the petty imbecility and intrigue by which he found himself surrounded, keen perception in seeing the work needing to be done, and sagacity in selecting the instruments best fitted to do it, would be sufficient to atone for many faults, even if he were disposed to admit them. He is “a king really of the Friedrich type," and that is an answer that must silence every objector. Nor is it to be denied that it is just such a man who is fitted to rule. “In this world it much beseems the brave man, uncertain about so many things, to be certain of himself for one thing." Especially in war is it necessary that at the helm of the state there should be one of iron will and of something like despotic power, and if England were to enter into the fray it was happy for her that Pitt became her king. “ The difference between an England, guided by some kind of Friedrich (temporary Friedrich, absolute, though of insecure tenure), and by a Newcastle and the clack of tongues, is very great. But for Pitt, there had been no Wolfe, no Amherst, Duke Ferdinand had been the Royal Highness of Cumberland,—and all things going round him, in St. Vitus, at their old rate.” Nevertheless, the question arises, would not England have been luckier still if her Pitt, with his matchless eloquence (which, however, we fear would in such case have been reckoned by Mr. Carlyle in “the clack of tongues'), sought to rouse the people to a higher sense of national greatness, warned them of the folly and peril of these Continental alliances, which were at once so costly and unproductive, and if unprepared, which was certainly not to be expected, for the more enlightened views of policy which are regarded with general favour in our own time, had protested against subordinating the interests of England to those of Hanover. Mr. Carlyle's narrative itself is quite sufficient to show the mischief which resulted from our habit of meddling with German politics. In the first instance Maria Theresa was our ally, and it was supposed necessary to the security of England that Friedrich should be humbled and the House of Austria maintained in the secure enjoyment of all her possessions. What was the result ? No sooner was the war over than our ally began to intrigue with France, and when required to fulfil her engagements by defending Hanover against attack, “ Altogether cold on that subject, her Imperial Majesty seems, regardless of Excellency Keith's remonstrances and urgencies; and, in the end, is flatly negatory.” “ Cannot do it, your Excellency; times so perilous, bad King of Prussia so minatory,"--not to mention, sotta voce, that we have turned on our axis, and the wind (thanks to Kaunitz) no longer hits us on the same cheek as formerly! “ Cannot? Will not ?" Britannic Majesty may well stare, wide-eyed ; remembering such gigantic subsidings and Alcides labours, Dettingens, Fontenoys, on the per contra side. But so stands the fact. “No help from an ungrateful Vienna ;-quick, then, seek elsewhere!" Then came the years of alliance with Friedrich, involving more subsidies, more, and many of them unfortunate, expeditions, debt piled upon debt, all to maintain English interests in Germany. And with what consequences ? Simply that Friedrich himself seems from this time forth to have cherished nothing but bitter contempt for the nation whose alliance had stood him in such good stead in his own hour of adversity. In short, millions had been wasted in supporting one or other of the combatants, whose wars had for years been desolating Germany, and at the end it was difficult to say which of the two hated England most. It would surely have been better if England had quietly pursued her own course, and left these continental magnates to settle their differences without her intervention.
Before the narrative closes, the scene changes once more. The old enemies become fast friends, united (as many robbers have been before and since) by the common hope of plunder, and
Great Britain can only stand by and frown disapproval of their nefarious proceedings. The partition of Poland is one of those grand crimes against justice and humanity on which a perfectly unanimous verdict has been pronounced, and even Mr. Carlyle, with all his desire to glorify his hero, one of the chief actors, hesitates to enter his protest. Of course, he tries to make out the best case possible for Friedrich. He starts with the assertion which, with the seizure of Silesia fresh in their memories, his readers will be slow to accept, “that hardly any sovereign known to us did, in his general practice, if you will examine it, more perfectly respect the boundaries of his neighbours, and go on the road that was his own, anxious to tread on no man's toes if he could avoid it; a sovereign who at all times strictly and beneficiently confined himself to what belonged to his real business and him.” Unprejudiced students of the facts would rather say that never was sovereign who cared less on whose toes he trod, or who followed the path of his own ambition wherever it led, indifferent to the rights of others, or respecting them so far only as they sustained themselves by strong battalions. Mr. Carlyle's notion, however, is, that the man who appropriated Silesia and joined in the partition of Poland was a sovereign distinguished by the moderation of his policy and his abstinence from any violation of his neighbour's right, and, therefore, that he must have regarded Poland as an "exceptional case, unique in his experience; case of a moribund anarchy, fallen down as carrion on the common highways of the world, belonging to nobody iv particular,” and of which, therefore, he might as well have a share as any one else.
" Whether his notion was scientifically right and conformable to actual fact is a question I have no thought of entering on; still less whether Friedrich was morally right, or whether there was not a higher rectitude, granting even the fact, in putting it in practice. These are questions on which an editor may have his opinion partly complete for a long time past, partly not complete, or in human language, completable or pronounceable at all, and may carefully forbear to obtrude it on his readers ; and only advise them to look with their own best eyesight, to be deaf to the multiplex noises which are evidently blind, and to think what they find think ablest on such a subject. Were it never so just, profitable, and needful, this is by nature a case of Lynch Law; upon which, in the way of approval or apology, no spoken word is permissible. Lynch being so dangerous a lawgiver, even when an indispensable one!
" For, granting that the nation of Poland was for centuries past an anarchy doomed by the eternal laws of Heaven to die, and then of course to get gradually buried, or eaten by neighbours, were it only for sanitary reasons, it will by no means suit to declare openly on behalf of terrestrial neighbours who have taken up such an idea (granting it were a just one, and a true reading of the silent but inexorably certain purposes of Heaven), that they, those volunteer terrestrial neighbours, are justified in breaking in upon the poor dying or dead carcass, and flaying and burying it, with amicable sharing of skin and shoes! If it even were certain that the wretched Polish nation, for the last forty years hastening with especial speed towards death, did in the present circumstances, with such a howling canaille of Turks, Janizzaries, and vultures of creation busy round it, actually require prompt surgery, in the usual method by neighbours, the neighbours shall and must do the function at their own risk. If Heaven did appoint them to it, Heaven, for certain, will justify them; in the meanwhile, for a generation or two, the same Heaven (I can believe) has appointed that earth shall pretty unanimously condemn them. The shrieks, the foam-lipped curses of mistaken mankind, in such cases, are mankind's one security against over-promptitude (which is so dreadfully possible) on the part of surgical neighbours."
We have given this passage at full length, not simply because of its bearing on the Polish question, but because it serves to illustrate the most objectionable feature of Mr. Carlyle's teaching. Of course he is bitter as ever against Utilitarianism, contemptuous of Constitutional Government, and loud in his “shrieks," to use his own words, against Parliaments and their doings, although he seems to forget that in England Newcastle and Bute had authority, and Pitt was hurled from power, his “QuasiOlympian house made of glass ” laid in shreds, not because the popular voice was too powerful, but because it could not find its legitimate expression in Parliament. But these are minor faults compared with his scornful contempt of every consideration resting on a pure sense of right. It is doubtless true that there was little in the condition of the Polish monarchy entitled to admiration, and that the sympathy elicited on behalf of that unfortunate country has been awakened rather by the gallant stand she made in defence of her liberties, and the sufferings to which her sons have been doomed, than by any merit belonging to her government. Possibly, too, there has been the expenditure of a great deal of mere empty sentiment on her cause, but the verdict of mankind upon her oppressors is right, and we should have been glad to have had it thoroughly endorsed by Mr. Carlyle. But what was an unfortunate philosophic historian to do who had got in hand so intractable a subject as Friedrich? To adopt a high moral standard, at least what would be esteemed such by men in general, would simply be to condemn him at once, and it is necessary, therefore, to ignore all such tests, and talk about some “higher rectitude," “ demands of eternal justice," "surgical operations,” and the like.
“If the laws and judgments are verily those of God, there can be no clearer merit than that of pushing them forward, regardless of the barkings of gazetteers and wayside dogs, and getting them at the earliest turn possible made valid among recalcitrant mortals.” Aye, if, indeed; but then how much lies in that if? Who is to obtain this insight into the Divine purposes ? Who is to decide whether a man in carrying out some deed of spoliation is executing Divine vengeance, or gratifying his own ambition ? What are the signs by which we may discover an operation of Almighty Providence, and of the eternal laws of nature, and discriminate between it and a mere deed of human violence, and, further, are these principles tobe applied only to nations, or do they extend also to individual life? May the strong man plunder his wealthy neighbour, who is either a miser who hoards his money, or a profligate who wastes it, on the plea that he can himself employ it to much better advantage, and having succeeded in his purpose will he be warranted in describing himself as an instrument of Divine Providence, which never designed that such wealth should lie unproductive, or be so shamelessly wasted. It is to this really that Mr. Carlyle's theory comes. He dresses it up in very grand phraseology, he talks largely of course against all shams and unveracities, he treats men in general as unworthy to sit in judgment upon his exalted philosophy, but stript of its fair coverings this is really the gist and tendency of his teachings. Of course he would tell us that it is only the best and wisest, the heroes among men, who are entitled to deal with others after this despotic fashion, but for ourselves we fail to recognize the foundation of this right, and prefer rather to accept the old-fashioned principle, that there is a fixed standard of right and wrong whose laws are to bind the greatest as well as the humblest of the race. Massacres at Treda are not less guilty because they are ordered by a Cromwell, nor is the partition of Poland less of a crime because a Friedrich was one of the perpetrators. As to the introduction of "Almighty Providence," and the decrees of Heaven in such connection, it sounds in our ears as little short of profanity.
In conclusion, we can only say that we rejoice as heartily as any of Mr. Carlyle's most fervent admirers to find that he has lost nothing of his ancient vigour. His philosophy is altogether too cynical, too strong in self-assertion, too sublime in its depreciation of all ordinary modes of thought and feeling, to commend itself to our judgment. Nor do we believe that the world will be at all improved by the attempt to exalt the character of Friedrich, or still more of that wretched old tyrant his father. Many as are the evils of the commercial mammon-worshipping spirit, they are less than those engendered by that warlike spirit which Mr. Carlyle would by a book like this encourage. That certain quasi-heroic qualities are developed by war, and that, on the contrary, there is not a little meanness which taints commercial pursuits, we at once admit. But there is another side of the