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caterer for popular favour. True, it is answered, but there his pecuniary interests were at stake, and, with strange inconsistency, the men who charge him with recklessly exciting a revolution, amid whose commotion his property must be imperilled, insinuate that he was content to risk that popular influence which, to a mere demagogue, is so sweet, rather than suffer a brief curtailment of the hours of labour in his factory. The notion is altogether too absurd. He may have been, probably was, mistaken. Like all the advocates of economic science, he may possibly have pushed his conclusions too far, and neglected to take into account those other considerations by which its hard reasonings need to ba qualified. But it is ridiculous to suppose that regard to the paltry losses which he might fear would be the result of the changes contemplated by the law could induce him to place himself in determined defiance to the strongly-pronounced popular sentiment of the times. In the case of the Crimean war, however, no such explanation can be suggested of the manly and generous course which he pursued. The people were all but unanimously on one side; he did not hesitate to place himself on the other, and, with an eloquence that cannot soon be forgotten, to denounce what he regarded as the follies and crimes of the Government. By this he exposed himself to a perfect storm of popular indignation, and had to endure an amount of opprobrium which has rarely fallen upon any statesman. We do not ask for any verdict in his favour on the particular points at issue. All that we ask is that he should be honoured for an independence and a courage never found in the professional demagogue.
But we are told that Mr. Bright is not a statesman. If he is not, it surely must be a grievous fault, for grievously hath he answered it. But where is the proof of the confident assertions made on this point by the exquisite journalists of the “Pall Mall,” and “Saturday," and so freely and dogmatically repeated by their admirers in society? It is certainly enough sometimes to rouse one's indignation, to hear some conceited young sprig of fashion, who has not an idea of his own, but who, by virtue of retailing something he has found in the last leading article, passes muster with some people, and above all, with himself, as a very clever fellow, drawling out with ineffable self-complacency, the assertion, “John Bright is no statesman.” With such men it is no use to argue; they are simply reflecting the opinion of the “Times," or the “ Pall Mall," or the little coterie in which they move, and if you were to ask them for a definition of their term, or a defence of their opinions, it would be an act of cruelty to innocents, of which a humane man would not willingly be guilty.
But apart from these poor snobs, whose miserable Tory cant infests almost every circle into which we enter, there are men of intelligence and judgment who have got hold of the notion that, though a very great orator, John Bright is no statesman, and who suppose that they have triumphantly established their point when they have challenged us to produce any great measure which is associated with his name. It might be sufficient, perhaps, to name the Repeal of the Corn Laws, for, though others passed the Bill through the Legislature, to him, as much as to any other man, living or dead, belongs the honor of organizing and conducting that great movement, which, in the end, enforced this Parliamentary action. But we do not stop here, although it would be somewhat paradoxical to assert that the man who got so firm a grasp of grand principles, in which everybody believes, now that experience has demonstrated their truth, but in which hardly anyone believed when John Bright espoused them, and, by his glorious eloquence, so greatly advanced them, has not a statesmanlike mind. Very likely there is not in him that balance of contending forces which some deem so necessary to the idea of a statesman, but the real result of which is to quench all enthusiasm, and to render a man incapable of doing a great and noble thing. Or if Lord Palmerston be the model statesman, and if the qualities which he possessed were essential to statesmanlike character, then John Bright will certainly never have that distinction. He is not the man to trim his sails to every breeze; to please every party; to disarm opposition by consenting to do nothing; to play off contending factions against each other, and so provide that, though truth may be sacrificed and progress hindered, he himself shall be glorified. But a man may be a very poor manager of the House of Commons, and yet a really great statesman. A statesman is one who understands his country's true interest, and sees the way in which it can best be promoted—whose measures are based on sound principles, and directed to noble ends—who is not needlessly hampered by theory, but has undoubting faith in the policy of righteousness and truth-who is not madly rash nor cooly diffident, but who knows both when to dare great and bold things, and when to be content with a more quiet mode of action. In his proposals to the Government of India, in his great speech on the grievances of Ireland last year, and in his whole conduct during the late Reform discussions, Mr. Bright has shown the power of a great statesman. His recent proposition for the treatment of Ireland has been severely criticized, but when we find that a humane Irish landlord, like Lord Dufferin, has no better remedy to suggest than an extensive emigration of the peasantry, perhaps it may come to be thought that Mr. Bright's notions are not so utterly devoid of practical wisdom
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as was at first sight supposed. It may very probably be true that, from lack of official experience, his plan may be very objectionable in details, but there can be little doubt that the end which he contemplates, which is the creation of a powerful middle-class having an interest in the land, would be of the very highest benefit to Ireland. To object that he has never passed a measure is to object to his advanced principles, not to his statesmanship. In truth, he has never had an opportunity of displaying any statesmanlike capacities he may possess, simply because he has never been able to command a majority in support of his views.
We do not care to notice at length the charges so freely and so unjustly brought against Mr. Bright of exciting to deeds of violence, for we can hardly think that even those who advance them can themselves believe them. He was charged with agitating for changes in which the people themselves had no interest. He replied in the only possible way by calling on the people to express their own opinions, and now be is charged with being a teacher of sedition and a leader of rebellion. It is the old story of the fate which has attended all really earnest and decided Reformers. We are far from asserting his infallibility, but we do earnestly maintain his incorruptible patriotism, his high honour, and his generous confidence in the people. Had he had fewer of these qualities; had he been more accessible to the flatteries by which so many demagogues have been cajoled; had he been of less strong and decided character, he would have found a different reception. It is because he can neither be bought nor silenced—because he commands that great moral strength, which nothing but lofty principles can secure, that he is assailed with such bitterness. He is essentially a true man, and unfortunately for him a true man who has a faith, and will maintain it at all costs, is especially offensive to large sections of the political world.
TOPICS OF THE MONTH.
"The key of modern politics,” says Mr. Gladstone, “ is to be found at Rome," and so indeed it has been throughout the history of modern Europe, but it is not on that account a whit the more true that the Pope has the Power of the Keys. There is not at this moment a so-called potentate in the world so powerless to influence public events, nor less able to determine even his own destiny, than Pius the Ninth. Other people beside the believers
in Doctor Cumming, look eagerly to the telegrams in the morning papers to see what has happened to him; whatever our theory of prophetical interpretation, it is impossible not to feel an interest in the denouement of the drama at Rome. On the 11th of December, the day fixed for the execution of the Convention between France and Italy, the French flag was hauled down from the Castle of St. Angelo, the last French soldier marched out of the Eternal City, and not only did the protectorate of eighteen years cease, but the liberation of Italy was accomplished. For more than a thousand years the soil of Italy had been trodden by foreign troops, and now there was not one left in the land-except it might be the lingering regiment, waiting at Civita Vecchia for a transport. The Pope and his Cardinals had not been able to believe that the Eldest Son of the Church would be honest, would keep his word and leave them to the mercies of the Italians. The Pontiff's anger with Louis Napoleon, the oscillation of his mind between earthly dread and heavenly faith, his terror at the revolution which he saw "coming to the gates of Rome,” his struggle to be confident in heavenly protection, his perplexity and inability to decide whether to run away as the Neri counselled him, or stay as his own judgment would suggest, were most naively expressed in the farewell speech which he addressed to the officers of the French army. He sobbed over his forlorn and abandoned lot~"I repeat, the revolution may come. What am I to do? I have no resources on earth," and then, with bitter irony, he added, “Go, with my blessing. Tell your Emperor, if you see him, that I pray for him. It is said his health is not good; I pray for his health. It is said his soul is not at peace; I pray for his soul. The French nation is Christian ; its chief ought to be Christian also.” In the “authorized version" of the speech, the words are somewhat softened. There may be a doubt whether the old man could have been so smart and epigrammatic, but his meaning cannot be mistaken. Louis Napoleon is too sensitive not to feel the insult, and he no doubt thinks it a very ungrateful return for so many years' unpopular service. Whatever disturbances may now arise in Rome, he will not march his troops back to the Pope's rescue, and it will be strange if he allows the Empress to fulfil the vow she is said to have made of a pilgrimage to Rome. Some political advantage might be expected to result from such a visit; the Pope's ruffled temper might be calmed down, and the French priests might be quieted, but the Emperor would see in it fresh dangers to that "peace of soul" for which his Spiritual Father is so tenderly concerned. So the Pope is now left face to face with his loving subjects. He has the Papal Zouaves it is true, but their appearance in public is much more likely to pro
voke disturbance than to prevent it. The people of Rome instead of rising upon the priests or even making any demonstration of gladness at the departure of the Frenchmen have remained perfectly still; affairs have gone on just as if there had been no change. But it is impossible to say how long the quiet may last, and not even Sir George Bowyer will venture to quote it as a proof of the satisfaction of the Romans with the Papal rule. They know that disorder will serve the purposes of the priests, that their wishes are certain to be realized if they have a little patience, and they are content to let the King of Italy negotiate for them. The terms, which are offered to the Pope by the Court of Florence are sufficiently humiliating. The inhabitants of the Pontifical territory outside Rome are to say whether they would like to remain subject to the Pope or go over to Victor Emmanuel. Rome is to be declared "a religious city," in which the Pope is still to reign, yet the real governance of its affairs will be entrusted to a Municipal Council, to be eleeted by its citizens, and all the Pontifical troops are to be sent away. Pio Nino will thus retain nothing but the virtual sovereignty of Rome, and when he dies even this shadow of "temporal power” will pass away from the occupant of St. Peter's Chair. Besides this the Pope is to acknowledge Victor Emmanuel as King of Italy, and go to Florence to crown the very man who, a few months since, he excommunicated. Apparently the Papal Court is to be compensated for these concessions by a blunt money payment-the Cardinals will be declared princes of the kingdom, and will get from the Italian Treasury double the salary they now receive, while Italy will contribute its quota, as a Catholic power, to the Pope's civil list. Thus the position which Archbishop Manning loudly declares is necessary for the independence and authority of the Catholic Church is to be bartered for some pieces of silver. If the Cardinals kick at the offered conditions, or hesitate about accepting them, the people will soon settle the matter. They will not wait to be asked. They will summon their own plebiscite, and release themselves from allegiance to the Pope-King. “All idea of flight,” says the Italia, “has been abandoned,” but there is no telling what sudden impulse or access of terror may send Pio Nino on his travels. We only hope he will not roost on any territory belonging to Great Britain.
Another potentate, if report is to be believed, is also kept from running away against his will. Maximilian, by the grace of Louis Napoleon, Emperor of Mexico, is detained, so it is said, in his kingdom, till it may suit the French Emperor to let him come home. The collapse of Louis Napoleon's pet scheme for founding a Latin empire in the Western world has inevitably followed the