« ForrigeFortsett »
is in the way to be adopted amongst ourselves. The “Caucus,” or the submission of great questions beforehand to the People's initiative and will, and the discipline of parties and instruction of members accordingly, is becoming established here.
If the forms of the past and the power of the present point to the opinion of the majority as our future master, there is only the greater reason for educating “the royal infant, the People,” while we
To be a politician, it is necessary to believe and to know
To believe what? The Ideal and the Infinite, towards which the People always advance.
To know what? The People. Men and things. The practicable. The circumstantial. The actual. Human nature, which always advances towards the Infinite, which it will never reach.
The man who believes not is scarcely a man,certainly not a Statesman.
He who cannot adjust belief to knowledge, the ideal to the actual, may be a poet or a lunatic, a madman or a demagogue, but he knows not Politics. “The perfect lawgiver," says Macaulay, “is a just temper between the mere man of theory who can see nothing but general principles, and the mere man of business who can see nothing but particular circumstances.'
The science of Politics is a science of adjustment—the People and the System. “How much Reason is there in this nation, and in what classes and proportions does it exist ?” is the question upon which all reform bills must be based. Or, to pass from Hegel to Mill, the equal objects in legislation are not only to take the “next step” rightly, but to prepare the way for “all future steps.
For “Constitutions,” says Macaulay, “are in Politics what paper money is in commerce. They afford great facilities and convenience. They are not power, but symbols of power.” And the power is in the quantity and quality of national manhood.
Thus a Statesman knows the People. What they want. Wherein they fail. What they have. How they will rise, and by what steps. And that as a whole they will rise,—if not in this country, in that.
Thus a man may be a Bonapartist in France, an Imperialist in Russia, a Constitutionalist in England, a Republican in America, and a Revolutionist in some places,-not for want of, but by reason of political intelligence and consistency.
The term “ Radical,” used as a party epithet, means a man who cannot adjust the ideal to the actual. His theories are too fine for facts.
The term “ Tory" means a man who cannot adjust the actual to the ideal.
The first believes in the catholic and the absolute (comprehends, as some would put it, the
subjective” only), but knows not the People : the last knows only and certainly, what the People
The first may be light, but he is not base. He believes in the angel, though his theories will not fit the ape. The last imputes his own nature to the People, and naturally refuses to believe in them.
The People! capable of all, realising what ? The People, demoniac and angelic,—their Ignorance and Light, Brutality and Intellect, their nature, condition, rights, wrongs, wants, wishes, demands, and preparedness,—the Statesman must know all this, their present, and believe in all that, their future,-must rise to all their Heights, and measure all their Depths,--must at once believe and disbelieve in the People.
And this thoroughness and clearness of vision will especially avoid and condemn a trait which has become almost characteristic of English politics.
6. There is in the English mind a highly salutary shrinking from all extremes. But as this shrinking is rather an instinct of caution than a result of insight, it is too ready to satisfy itself with any medium, merely because it is a medium, and to acquiesce in a union of the disadvantages of both extremes in
the three powers was got up, which made the excellence of our constitution consist in doing less harm than would be done
by any other form of Government.”-Mill's “Dissertations," v. i, pp. 430-3.
Statesmanship is always catholic in conception, but conservative in action.
It is necessary ever to bear in mind the twin Principles of Politics,—that Human nature always advances, and that if any succeed in withholding the rudiments of Development from a given nation, they cannot obstruct Human nature, but may destroy the material, mental, and moral greatness of that particular country.
Some forms of freedom may, it is argued, be dangerous without the others. Government education, for instance, may be objected to where the State could instil servile ideas by means of it, or where freedom so little prevails, that a fixity or sameness of type might be communicated to the national mind by school forms. And this last was Baron W. von Humboldt's objection.
In reference to the present state of preparedness of England for political equality, I see in our Institutes of Feudality, and in corporate antipopular interests both in Church and State, abundant elements wherewith to “temper” the advance of Democracy, and to neutralise for ages any possible or impossible “ class preponderance of an equal voting Demos. But no possible obstructions can resist its ultimate triumph.
" Bearing in mind, therefore, the educational preparedness of England, nor forgetting how our Democracy is handicapped, and the strength and onesidedness of our upper class rule and system, I conclude that the equal voting representative power of all adult males having a fixed and registered residence, and not being paupers, lunatics, or criminals, is the goal towards which the advanced guard of liberalism may safely press.
This is not “ Manchester meat for roughs,” on the one hand, nor do I suppose, that according to Mr. Lowe's exquisite illustration, Democracies, , when educated, require to be “held together like a piece of coal by a pair of tongs.” This is a requirement, not of Democracy, but of vast size.
There is with us the Sovereign, the symbol and centre of unity.
There is the true aristocracy of all ranks; an aristocracy of culture, intellect, genius, leisure, earnestness, or power. This class leads the van of the nation's manhood, organises its opinion, and always, sooner or later, commands its Will.
This is the “ class” that with us always "preponderates."
Of it England breeds more than all other nations besides,—but it is, I say, handicapped.
For there is amongst us another class, also recruited from all ranks, except the lowest. They are sometimes called the great middle-class, but differ far from the middle-class of former years.