Descriptive poetry also lends itself with comparative ease to translation. Nothing can be better than the translation made by Mr. Gladstone of Iliad iv. 422-32. The original Greek runs thus:
[Greek: hos d' hot' en aigialo polyechei; kyma thalasses ornyt' epassyteron Zephyrou hypo kinesantos; ponto men te prota koryssetai, autar epeita cherso rhegnymenon megala bremei, amphi de t' akras kyrton eon koryphoutai, apoptyei d' halos achnen; hos tot' epassyterai Danaon kinynto phalanges nolemeos polemonde. keleue de oisin hekastos hegemonon; oi d' alloi aken isan, oude ke phaies tosson laon hepesthai echont' en stethesin auden, sige, deidiotes semantoras; amphi de pasi teuchea poikil' elampe, ta eimenoi estichoonto.]
Mr. Gladstone, who evidently drew his inspiration from the author of "Marmion" and "The Lady of the Lake," translated as follows:
As when the billow gathers fast With slow and sullen roar, Beneath the keen north-western blast, Against the sounding shore. First far at sea it rears its crest, Then bursts upon the beach; Or with proud arch and swelling breast, Where headlands outward reach, It smites their strength, and bellowing flings Its silver foam afar— So stern and thick the Danaan kings And soldiers marched to war. Each leader gave his men the word, Each warrior deep in silence heard, So mute they marched, them couldst not ken They were a mass of speaking men; And as they strode in martial might Their flickering arms shot back the light.
It is, however, in dealing with poetry which is neither didactic nor descriptive that the difficulty—indeed often the impossibility—of reconciling the genius of the two languages becomes most apparent. It may be said with truth that the best way of ascertaining how a fine or luminous idea can be presented in any particular language is to set aside altogether the idea of translation, and to inquire how some master in the particular language has presented the case without reference to the utterances of his predecessors in other languages. A good example of this process may be found in comparing the language in which others have treated Vauvenargues' well-known saying: "Pour executer de grandes choses, il faut vivre comme si on ne devait jamais mourir." Bacchylides put the same idea in the following words:
[Greek: thnaton eunta chre didymous aexein gnomas, hoti t' aurion opseai mounon haliou phaos, choti pentekont' etea zoan bathyplouton teleis.]
And the great Arab poet Abu'l'Ala, whose verse has been admirably translated by Mr. Baerlein, wrote:
If you will do some deed before you die, Remember not this caravan of death, But have belief that every little breath Will stay with you for an eternity.
Another instance of the same kind, which may be cited without in any way wishing to advance what Professor Courthope very justly calls "the mean charge of plagiarism," is Tennyson's line, "His honour rooted in dishonour stood." Euripides expressed the same idea in the following words:
[Greek: ek ton gar aischron esthla mechanometha.]
To cite another case, the following lines of Paradise Lost may be compared with the treatment accorded by Euripides to the same subject:
Oh, why did God, Creator wise, that peopled highest Heaven With spirits masculine, create at last This novelty on Earth, this fair defect Of Nature, and not fill the World at once With men as Angels, without feminine; Or find some other way to generate Mankind?
[Greek: o Zeu, ti de kibdelon anthropois kakon, gynaikas es phos heliou katokisas? ei gar broteion etheles speirai genos, ouk ek gynaikon chren paraschesthai tode.]
Apart, however, from the process to which allusion is made above, very many instances may, of course, be cited, of translations properly so called which have reproduced not merely the exact sense but the vigour of the original idea in a foreign language with little or no resort to paraphrase. What can be better than Cowley's translation of Claudian's lines?—
Ingentem meminit parvo qui germine quercum Aequaevumque videt consenuisse nemus.
A neighbouring wood born with himself he sees, And loves his old contemporary trees,
thus, as Gibbon says, improving on the original, inasmuch as, being a good botanist, Cowley "concealed the oaks under a more general expression."
Take also the case of the well-known Latin epigram:
Omne epigramma sit instar apis: sit aculeus illi; Sint sua mella; sit et corporis exigui.
It has frequently been translated, but never more felicitously or accurately than by the late Lord Wensleydale:
Be epigrams like bees; let them have stings; And Honey too, and let them be small things.
On the other hand, the attempt to adhere too closely to the text of the original and to reject paraphrase sometimes leads to results which can scarcely be described as other than the reverse of felicitous. An instance in point is Sappho's lines:
[Greek: kai gar ai pheugei, tacheos dioxei, ai de dora me deket', alla dosei, ai de me philei, tacheos philesei kouk etheloisa.]
So great a master of verse as Mr. Headlam translated thus:
The pursued shall soon be the pursuer! Gifts, though now refusing, yet shall bring Love the lover yet, and woo the wooer, Though heart it wring!
Many of Mr. Headlam's translations are, however, excellent, more especially those from English into Greek. He says in his preface: "Greek, in my experience, is easier to write than English." He has admirably reproduced the pathetic simplicity of Herrick's lines:
Here a pretty baby lies, Sung to sleep with Lullabies; Pray be silent and not stir The easy earth that covers her.
[Greek: meter baukaloosa m' ekoimisen; atrema baine me 'geires kouphen gen m' epiessomenon.]
Many singularly happy attempts to render English into Latin or Greek verse are given in Mr. Kennedy's fascinating little volume Between Whiles, of which the following example may be quoted:
Few the words that I have spoken; True love's words are ever few; Yet by many a speechless token Hath my heart discoursed to you.
[Greek: oida paur' epe lalesas; paur' eros lalein philei; xymbolois d' homos anaudois soi to pan enixamen.]
The extent to which it is necessary to resort to paraphrase will, of course, vary greatly, and will largely depend upon whether the language into which the translation is made happens to furnish epithets and expressions which are rhythmical and at the same time correspond accurately to those of the original. Take, for instance, a case such as the following fragment of Euripides:
[Greek: ta men didakta manthano, ta d' eureta zeto, ta d' eukta para theon etesamen.]
There is but little difficulty in turning this into English verse with but slight resort to paraphrase:
I learn what may be taught; I seek what may be sought; My other wants I dare To ask from Heaven in prayer,
But in a large majority of cases paraphrase is almost imposed on the translator by the necessities of the case. Mr. William Cory's rendering of the famous verses of Callimachus on his friend Heraclitus, which is too well known to need quotation, has been justly admired as one of the best and most poetic translations ever made from Greek, but it can scarcely be called a translation in the sense in which that term is employed by purists. It is a paraphrase.
It is needless to dwell on the difficulty of finding any suitable words capable of being adapted to the necessities of English metre and rhythm for the numerous and highly poetic adjectives in which the Greek language abounds. It would tax the ingenuity of any translator to weave into his verse expressions corresponding to the [Greek: halierkees ochthai] (sea-constraining cliffs) or the [Greek: Mnamosynas liparampykos] (Mnemosyne of the shining fillet) of Pindar. Neither is the difficulty wholly confined to poetry. A good many epithets have from time to time been applied to the Nile, but none so graphic or so perfectly accurate as that employed by Herodotus, who uses the phrase [Greek: hupo tosoutou te potamou kai outo ergatikou]. The English translation "that vast river, so constantly at work" is a poor equivalent for the original Greek. German possesses to a greater degree than any other modern language the word-coining power which was such a marked characteristic of Greek, with the result that it offers special difficulties to the translator of verse. Mr. Brandes quotes the following lines of the German poet Buecher:
Welche Heldenfreudigkeit der Liebe, Welche Staerke muthigen Entsagens, Welche himmlisch erdentschwungene Triebe, Welche Gottbegeistrung des Ertragens! Welche Sich-Erhebung, Sich-Erwiedrung, Sich-Entaeussrung, voell'ge Hin-sich-gebung, Seelenaustausch, Ineinanderlebung!
It is probable that these lines have never been translated into English verse, and it is obvious that no translation, which did not largely consist of paraphrase, would be possible.
Alliteration, which is a powerful literary instrument in the hands of a skilful writer, but which may easily be allowed to degenerate into a mere jingle, is of less common occurrence in Greek than in English, notably early English, literature. It was, however, occasionally employed by both poets and dramatists. Euripides, for instance, in the Cyclops (l. 120) makes use of the following expression, which would serve as a good motto for an Anarchist club, [Greek: akouei d' ouden oudeis oudenos]. Clytemnestra, also, in speaking of the murder of her husband (Ag. 1551-52) says:
[Greek: pros hemon kappese, katthane, kai katathapsomen.]
That Greek alliteration is capable of imitation is shown by Pope's translation of the well-known line:
[Greek: polla d' ananta katanta paranta te dochmia t' elthon;]
O'er hills, o'er dales, o'er crags, o'er rocks, they go.
Pope at times brought alliteration to his aid in cases where no such device had been adopted by Homer, as when, in describing the labours of Sisyphus, he wrote:
With many a weary step, and many a groan, Up the high hill he heaves a huge round stone.
On the whole, although a good deal more than is contained in this article may be said on either side, it would appear that, broadly speaking, Dryden's principle holds good for prose translations, and that experience has shown, in respect to translations in verse, that, save in rare instances, a resort to paraphrase is necessary.
The writer ventures, in conclusion, to give two instances, in one of which there has been comparatively but slight departure from the text of the original Greek, whilst in the other there has been greater indulgence in paraphrase. Both are taken from the Anthology. The first is an epitaph on a shipwrecked sailor by an unknown author:
[Greek: Nautile, me peuthou tinos enthade tumbos hod' eimi, all' autos pontou tunchane chrestoterou.]
No matter who I was; but may the sea To you prove kindlier than it was to me.
The other is by Macedonius:
[Greek: Aurion athreso se; to d' ou pote ginetai hemin ethados ambolies aien aexomenes; tauta moi himeironti charizeai, alla d' es allous dora phereis, emethen pistin apeipamene. opsomai hesperie se. ti d' hesperos esti gynaikon? geras ametreto plethomenon rhytidi.]
Ever "To-morrow" thou dost say; When will to-morrow's sun arise? Thus custom ratifies delay; My faithfulness thou dost despise. Others are welcomed, whilst to me "At even come," thou say'st, "not now." What will life's evening bring to thee? Old age—a many-wrinkled brow.
Dryden's well-known lines in Aurengzebe embody the idea of Macedonius in epigrammatic and felicitous verse:
Trust on, and think to-morrow will repay, To-morrow's falser than the former day.
[Footnote 24: Morley's Life of Gladstone, vol. iii. p. 467.]
[Footnote 25: Weise, 1841, vol. ii. p. 303.]
[Footnote 26: Loci Critici, p. 40.]
[Footnote 27: History of Greece, vol. ii. p. 326.]
[Footnote 28: The use by Pericles of this metaphor rests on the authority of Aristotle (Rhet. i. 7. 34). Herodotus (vii. 162) ascribes almost the identical words to Gelo, and a similar idea is given by Euripides in Supp. 447-49.]
[Footnote 29: Memoirs, vol. i. p. 328.]
[Footnote 30: On the Sublime, xxx.]
[Footnote 31: Literature of the Victorian Era, p. 382.]
[Footnote 32: On the Sublime, c. v.]
[Footnote 33: Aristotle's Theory of Poetry and Fine Art, p. 398.]
[Footnote 34: Miscellaneous Writings, Conington, vol. i. p. 162.]
[Footnote 35: iii. 1045 ff.]
[Footnote 36: Mr. Gladstone's merits as a translator were great. His Latin translation of Toplady's hymn "Rock of Ages," beginning "Jesus, pro me perforatus," is altogether admirable.]
[Footnote 37: Od. iii. 78-82.]
[Footnote 38: "As a mortal, thou must nourish each of two forebodings—that to-morrow's sunlight will be the last that thou shalt see: and that for fifty years thou wilt live out thy life in ample wealth."]
[Footnote 39: History of English Poetry, iii., 394.]
[Footnote 40: Hipp. 331.]
[Footnote 41: "Great Zeus, why didst thou, to man's sorrow, put woman, evil counterfeit, to dwell where shines the sun? If thou wert minded that the human race should multiply, it was not from women they should have drawn their stock."—Hipp. 616-19.]
[Footnote 42: Decline and Fall, v. 185.]
[Footnote 43: Book ii. c. 11.]
[Footnote 44: Eighteenth Century Literature, vol. vi. p. 331.]
[Footnote 45: "By us he fell, he died, and we will bury him."]
[Footnote 46: Il. xxiii. 116.]
[Footnote 47: Od. xi. 733.]
"THE QUARTERLY REVIEW"
SIR ALFRED LYALL
"Quarterly Review," July 1913
After reading and admiring Sir Mortimer Durand's life of Alfred Lyall, I am tempted to exclaim in the words of Shenstone's exquisite inscription, which has always seemed to me about the best thing that Shenstone ever wrote, "Heu quanto minus est cum reliquis versari quam tui meminisse!" He was one of my oldest and best of friends. More than this, although our characters differed widely, and although I should never for a moment think of rating my intellectual attainments on a par with his, at the same time I may say that in the course of a long life I do not think that I have ever been brought in contact with any one with whom I found myself in more thorough community of opinion and sentiment upon the sundry and manifold questions which excited our common interest. He was a strong Unionist, a strong Free Trader, and a strong anti-suffragist. I am, for good or evil, all these things. He was a sincere Liberal in the non-party sense of that very elastic word. So was I. That is to say, there was a time when we both thought ourselves good mid-Victorian Liberals—a school of politicians whose ideas have now been swept into the limbo of forgotten things, the only surviving principles of that age being apparently those associated with a faint and somewhat fantastic cult of the primrose. In 1866 he wrote to his sister—and I cannot but smile on reading the letter—"I am more and more Radical every year"; and he expressed regret that circumstances did not permit of his setting up as "a fierce demagogue" in England. I could have conscientiously written in much the same spirit at the same period, but it has not taken me nearly half a century to discover that two persons more unfitted by nature and temperament to be "fierce demagogues" than Alfred Lyall and myself were probably never born. In respect to the Indian political questions which were current during his day—such as the controversy between the Lawrentian and "Forward" schools of frontier policy, the Curzon-Kitchener episode, and the adaptation of Western reforms to meet the growing requirements to which education has given birth—his views, although perhaps rather in my opinion unduly pessimistic and desponding, were generally identical with my own.
Albeit he was an earnest reformer, he was a warm advocate of strong and capable government, and, in writing to our common friend, Lord Morley, in 1882, he anathematised what he considered the weakness shown by the Gladstone Government in dealing with disorder in Ireland. Himself not only the kindest, but also the most just and judicially-minded of men, he feared that a maudlin and misplaced sentimentalism would destroy the more virile elements in the national character. "I should like," he said, in words which must not, of course, be taken too literally, "a little more fierceness and honest brutality in the national temperament." His heart went out, in a manner which is only possible to those who have watched them closely at work, to those Englishmen, whether soldiers or civilians, who, but little known and even at times depreciated by their own countrymen, are carrying the fame, the glory, the justice and humanity of England to the four quarters of the globe.
The roving Englishman (he said) is the salt of English land.... Only those who go out of this civilised country, to see the rough work on the frontiers and in the far lands, properly understand what our men are like and can do.... They cannot manage a steam-engine, but they can drive restive and ill-trained horses over rough roads.
He felt—and as one who has humbly dabbled in literature at the close of an active political life, I can fully sympathise with him—that "when one has once taken a hand in the world's affairs, literature is like rowing in a picturesque reach of the Thames after a bout in the open sea." Yet, in the case of Lyall, literature was not a matter of mere academic interest. "His incessant study was history." He thought, with Lord Acton, that an historical student should be "a politician with his face turned backwards." His mind was eminently objective. He was for ever seeking to know the causes of things; and though far too observant to push to extreme lengths analogies between the past and the present, he nevertheless sought, notably in the history of Imperial Rome, for any facts or commentaries gleaned from ancient times which might be of service to the modern empire of which he was so justly proud, and in the foundation of which the splendid service of which he was an illustrious member had played so conspicuous a part. "I wonder," he wrote in 1901, "how far the Roman Empire profited by high education."
Lyall was by nature a poet. Sir Mortimer Durand says, truly enough, that his volume of verses, "if not great poetry, as some hold, was yet true poetry." Poetic expressions, in fact, bubbled up in his mind almost unconsciously in dealing with every incident of his life. Lord Tennyson tells us in his Memoir that one evening, when his father and mother were rowing across the Solent, they saw a heron. His father described this incident in the following language: "One dark heron flew over the sea, backed by a daffodil sky." Similarly, Lyall, writing with the enthusiasm of a young father for his firstborn, said: "The child has eyes like the fish-pools of Heshbon, with wondrous depth of intelligent gaze." But, though a poet, it would be a great error to suppose that Lyall was an idealist, if by that term is meant one who, after a platonic fashion, indulges in ideas which are wholly visionary and unpractical. He had, indeed, ideals. No man of his imagination and mental calibre could be without them. But they were ideals based on a solid foundation of facts. It was here that, in spite of some sympathy based on common literary tastes, he altogether parted company from a brother poet, Mr. Wilfrid Blunt, who has invariably left his facts to take care of themselves. Though eminently meditative and reflective, Lyall's mind, his biographer says, "seemed always hungry for facts." "Though he had an unusual degree of imagination, he never allowed himself to be tempted too far from the region of the known or the knowable." The reason why he at times appeared to vacillate was that he did not consider he sufficiently understood all the facts to justify his forming an opinion capable of satisfying his somewhat hypercritical judgment. He was, in fact, very difficult to convince of the truth of an opinion, not because of his prejudices, for he had none, but by reason of his constitutional scepticism. He acted throughout life on the principle laid down by the Greek philosopher Epicharmus: "Be sober, and remember to disbelieve. These are the sinews of the mind." I have been informed on unimpeachable authority that when he was a member of the Treasury Committee which sat on the question of providing facilities for the study of Oriental languages in this country, he constantly asked the witnesses whom he examined leading questions from which it might rather be inferred that he held opinions diametrically opposed to those which in reality he entertained. His sole object was to arrive at a sound conclusion. He wished to elicit all possible objections to any views to which he was personally inclined. It is very probable that his Oriental experience led him to adopt this procedure; for, as any one who has lived much in the East will recognise, it is the only possible safeguard against the illusions which may arise from the common Oriental habit of endeavouring to say what is pleasant to the interrogator, especially if he occupies some position of authority.
Only half-reconciled, in the first instance, to Indian exile, and, when once he had taken the final step of departure, constantly brooding over the intellectual attractions rather than the material comforts of European life, Lyall speedily came to the conclusion that, if he was to bear a hand in governing India, the first thing he had to do was to understand Indians. He therefore brought his acutely analytical intellect to the task of comprehending the Indian habit of thought. In the course of his researches he displayed that thoroughness and passionate love of truth which was the distinguishing feature of his character throughout life. That he succeeded in a manner which has been surpassed by none, and only faintly rivalled by a very few, is now generally recognised both by his own countrymen and also—which is far more remarkable—by the inhabitants of the country which formed the subject of his study. So far as it is possible for any Western to achieve that very difficult task, he may be said to have got to the back of the Oriental mind. He embodied the results of his long experience at times in sweeping and profound generalisations, which covered the whole field of Oriental thought and action, and at others in pithy epigrammatic sayings in which the racy humour, sometimes tinged with a shade of cynical irony, never obscured the deep feeling of sympathy he entertained for everything that was worthy of respect and admiration.
Lyall had read history to some purpose. He knew, in the words which Gregorovius applied to the rule of Theodosius in Italy, that "not even the wisest and most humane of princes, if he be an alien in race, in customs and religion, can ever win the hearts of the people." He had read De Tocqueville, and from the pages of an author whose habit of thought must have been most congenial to him, he drew the conclusion that "it was the increased prosperity and enlightenment of the French people which produced the grand crash." He therefore thought that "the wildest, as well as the shallowest notion of all is that universally prevalent belief that education, civilisation and increased material prosperity will reconcile the people of India eventually to our rule." Hence he was prepared to accept—perhaps rather more entirely than it deserved to be accepted—the statement of that very astute Brahmin, Sir Dinkur Rao, himself the minister of an important native State, that "the natives prefer a bad native Government to our best patent institutions." These, and similar oracular statements, have now become the commonplaces of all who deal with questions affecting India. That there is much truth in them cannot be gainsaid, but they are still often too much ignored by one section of the British public, who, carried away by home-made sentiment, forget that of all national virtues gratitude for favours received is the most rare, while by another section they are applied to the advocacy of a degree of autonomous rule which would be disastrous to the interests, not only of India itself, but also to the cause of all real civilised progress.
The point, however, on which in conversation Lyall was wont to insist most strongly was that the West was almost incomprehensible to the East, and, vice versa, that the Western could never thoroughly understand the Oriental. In point of fact, when we talk of progress, it is necessary to fix some standard by which progress may be measured. We know our Western standard; we endeavour to enforce it; and we are so convinced that it gives an accurate measure of human moral and material advancement that we experience a shock on hearing that there are large numbers of even highly educated human beings who hold that the standard is altogether false. Yet that, Lyall would argue, is generally the Oriental frame of mind. Fatalism, natural conservatism and ignorance lead the uneducated to reject our ideas, while the highly educated often hold that our standard of progress is too material to be a true measure, and that consequently, far from advancing, we are standing still or even retrograding. Lyall, personifying a Brahmin, said, "Politics I cannot help regarding as the superficial aspect of deeper problems; and for progress, the latest incarnation of European materialism, I have an incurable distrust." These subtle intellectuals, in fact, as Surendranath Banerjee, one of the leaders of the Swadeshi movement, told Dr. Wegener, hold that the English are "stupid and ignorant," and, therefore, wholly unfit to govern India.
I remember Lyall, who, as Sir Mortimer Durand says, had a very keen sense of humour, telling me an anecdote which is what Bacon would have called "luciferous," as an illustration of the views held by the uneducated classes in India on the subject of Western reforms. The officer in charge of a district either in Bengal or the North-West Provinces got up a cattle-show, with a view to improving the breed of cattle. Shortly afterwards, an Englishman, whilst out shooting, entered into conversation with a peasant who happened to be passing by. He asked the man what he thought of the cattle-show, and added that he supposed it had done a great deal of good. "Yes," the native, who was probably a Moslem, replied after some reflection, "last year there was cholera. This year there was Cattle Show. We have to bear these afflictions with what patience we may. Are they not all sent by God?"
But it was naturally the opinions entertained by the intellectual classes which most interested Lyall, and which he endeavoured to interpret to his countrymen. The East is asymmetrical in all things. I remember Lyall saying to me, "Accuracy is abhorrent to the Oriental mind." The West, on the other hand, delights beyond all things in symmetry and accuracy. Moreover, it would almost seem as if in the most trivial incidents in life some unseen influence generally impels the Eastern to do the exact opposite to the Western—a point, I may observe, which Lyall was never tired of illustrating by all kinds of quaint examples. A shepherd in Perthshire will walk behind his sheep and drive them. In the Deccan he will walk in front of his flock. A European will generally place his umbrella point downwards against the wall. An Oriental will, with far greater reason, do exactly the reverse.
But, in respect to the main question of mutual comprehension, there are, at all events in so far as the European is concerned, degrees of difficulty—degrees which depend very largely on religious differences, for in the theocratic East religion covers the whole social and political field to a far greater extent than in the West. Now, the religion of the Moslem is, comparatively speaking, very easy to understand. There are, indeed, a few ritualistic and other minor points as to which a Western may at times have some difficulty in grasping the Oriental point of view. But the foundations of monotheistic Islam are simplicity itself; indeed, it may be said that they are far more simple than those of Christianity. The case of the Hindu religion is very different. Dr. Barth in his Religions of India says:
Already in the Veda, Hindu thought is profoundly tainted with the malady, of which it will never be able to get rid, of affecting a greater air of mystery the less there is to conceal, of making a parade of symbols which at bottom signify nothing, and of playing with enigmas which are not worth the trouble of trying to unriddle.... At the present time it is next to impossible to say exactly what Hinduism is, where it begins, and where it ends.
I cannot profess to express any valuable opinion on a subject on which I am very imperfectly informed, and which, save as a matter of political necessity, fails to interest me—for, personally, I think that a book of the Iliad or a play of Aristophanes is far more valuable than all the lucubrations that have ever been spun by the subtle minds of learned Hindu Pundits—but, so far as I am able to judge, Dr. Barth's description is quite accurate. None the less, the importance to the Indian politician of gaining some insight into the inner recesses of the Hindu mind cannot for a moment be doubted. Lyall said, "I fancy that the Hindu philosophy, which teaches that everything we see or feel is a vast cosmic illusion, projected into space by that which is the manifestation of the infinite and unconscious spirit, has an unsettling effect on their political beliefs." Lyall, therefore, rendered a very great political service to his countrymen when he took in hand the duty of expounding to them the true nature of Hindu religious belief. He did the work very thoroughly. Passing lightly by the "windy moralities" of Brahmo Somaj teachers of the type of Keshub Chunder Sen, whom he left to "drifting Deans such as Stanley and Alford," he grasped the full significance of true orthodox Brahmanism, and under the pseudonym of Vamadeo Shastri wrote an essay which has "become a classic for the student of comparative religion, and for all who desire to know, in particular, the religious mind of the Hindu." In the course of his enquiries Lyall incidentally performed the useful historical service of showing that Euhemerism is, or very recently was, a living force in India, and that the solar myth theory supported by Max Mueller and others had, to say the least, been pushed much too far.
I turn to another point. All who were brought in contact with Lyall speedily recognised his social charm and high intellectual gifts, but was he a man of action? Did he possess the qualifications necessary to those who take part in the government of the outlying dominions of the Empire? I have often been asked that question. It is one to which Sir Mortimer Durand frequently reverts, his general conclusion being that Lyall was "a man of action with literary tastes." I will endeavour briefly to express my own opinion on this subject.
There have been many cases of notable men of action who were also students. Napier said that no example can be shown in history of a great general who was not also a well-read man. But Lyall was more than a mere student. He was a thinker, and a very deep thinker, not merely on political but also on social and religious subjects. There may be some parallel in the history of our own or of other countries to the peculiar combination of thought and action which characterised Lyall's career, but for the moment none which meets all the necessary requirements occurs to me. The case is, I think, almost if not quite unique. That Lyall had a warm admiration for men of action is abundantly clear. His enthusiasm on their behalf comes out in every stanza of his poetry, and, when any suitable occasion offered, in every line of his prose. He eulogised the strong man who ruled and acted, and he reserved a very special note of sympathy for those who sacrificed their lives for their country. Shortly before his own death he spoke in terms of warm admiration of Mr. Newbolt's fine lines:
Qui procul hinc—the legend's writ, The frontier grave is far away— Qui ante diem periit Sed miles, sed pro patria.
But he shared these views with many thinkers who, like Carlyle, have formed their opinions in their studies. The fact that he entertained them does not help us to answer the question whether he can or cannot be himself classed in the category of men of action.
As a young man he took a distinguished part in the suppression of the Mutiny, and showed courage and decision of character in all his acts. He was a good, though not perhaps an exceptionally good administrator. His horror of disorder in any form led him to approve without hesitation the adoption of strong measures for its suppression. On the occasion of the punishment administered to those guilty of the Manipur massacres in 1891, he wrote to Sir Mortimer Durand, "I do most heartily admire the justice and firmness of purpose displayed in executing the Senapati. I hope there will be no interference, in my absence, from the India Office." On the whole, the verdict passed by Lord George Hamilton is, I believe, eminently correct, and is entirely in accordance with my own experience. Lord George, who had excellent opportunities for forming a sound opinion on the subject, wrote:
Great as were Lyall's literary attributes and powers of initiation and construction, his critical faculties were even more fully developed. This made him at times somewhat difficult to deal with, for he was very critical and cautious in the tendering of advice as regards any new policy or any suggested change. When once he could see his way through difficulties, or came to the conclusion that those difficulties must be faced, then his caution and critical instincts disappeared, and he was prepared to be as bold in the prosecution of what he advocated as he had previously been reluctant to start.
The mental attitude which Lord George Hamilton thus describes is by no means uncommon in the case of very conscientious and brilliantly intellectual men, such, for instance, as the late Lord Goschen, who possessed many characteristics in common with Lyall. They can cite, in justification of their procedure, the authority of one who was probably the greatest man of action that the world has ever produced. Roederer relates in his journal that on one occasion Napoleon said to him:
Il n'y a pas un homme plus pusillanime que moi quand je fais un plan militaire; je me grossis tous les dangers et tous les maux possibles dans les circonstances; je suis dans une agitation tout a fait penible; je suis comme une fille qui accouche. Et quand ma resolution est prise, tout est oublie, hors ce qui peut la faire reussir.
Within reasonable limits, caution is, indeed, altogether commendable. On the other hand, it cannot be doubted that, carried to excess, it is at times apt to paralyse all effective and timely action, to disqualify those who exercise it from being pilots possessed of sufficient daring to steer the ship of state in troublous times, and to exclude them from the category of men of action in the sense in which that term is generally used. In spite of my great affection for Alfred Lyall, I am forced to admit that, in his case, caution was, I think, at times carried to excess. He never appeared to me to realise sufficiently that the conduct of public affairs, notably in this democratic age, is at best a very rough unscientific process; that it is occasionally necessary to make a choice of evils or to act on imperfect evidence; and that at times, to quote the words which I remember Lord Northbrook once used to me, it is even better to have a wrong opinion than to have no definite opinion at all. So early as 1868, he wrote to his mother, "There are many topics on which I have not definitely discovered what I do think"; and to the day of his death he very generally maintained in respect to current politics the frame of mind set forth in this very characteristic utterance. Every general has to risk the loss of a battle, and every active politician has at times to run the risk of making a wrong forecast. Before running that risk, Lyall was generally inclined to exhaust the chances of error to an extent which was often impossible, or at all events hurtful.
Sir Mortimer Durand refers to the history of the Ilbert Bill, a measure under which Lord Ripon's Government proposed to give native magistrates jurisdiction over Europeans in certain circumstances. I was at the time (1882-83) Financial Member of the Viceroy's Council. After a lapse of thirty years, there can, I think, be no objection to my stating my recollections of what occurred in connexion with this subject. I should, in the first instance, mention that the association of Mr. (now Sir Courtenay) Ilbert's name with this measure was purely accidental. He had nothing to do with its initiation. The proposals, which were eventually embodied in the Bill, originated with Sir Ashley Eden, who was Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, and who certainly could not be accused of any wish to neglect European opinion, or of any desire to push forward extreme liberal measures conceived in native interests. The measure had been under the consideration of the Legislative Department in the time of Mr. Ilbert's predecessor in the office of Legal Member of Council, and it was only the accident that he vacated his office before it was introduced into the Legislative Council that associated Mr. Ilbert's name with the Bill.
As was customary in such cases, all the local Governments had been consulted; and they again consulted the Commissioners, Deputy-Commissioners, Collectors, etc., within their respective provinces. The result was that Lord Ripon had before him the opinions of practically the whole Civil Service of India. Divers views were held as to the actual extent to which the law should be altered, but, in the words of a despatch addressed by the Government of India to the Secretary of State on September 9, 1882, the local reports showed "an overwhelming consensus of opinion that the time had come for modifying the existing law and removing the present absolute bar upon the investment of native magistrates in the interior with powers over European British subjects." Not one single official gave anything approaching an indication of the storm of opposition that this ill-fated measure was about to raise. I do not think that this is very surprising, for the opposition came almost exclusively from the unofficial Europeans, who for the most part congregate in a few large commercial centres, with the result that the majority of the civilians, who are scattered throughout the country, are not much brought in contact with them. Nevertheless, the fact that so great a miscalculation of the state of public opinion could be made left a deep impression on my mind. The main lesson which I carried away from the Ilbert Bill controversy was, indeed, that in spite of their great merits, which no one recognises more fully than myself, it is possible at times for the whole body of Indian civilians, taken collectively, to be somewhat unsafe guides in matters of state policy. Curiously enough, the only danger-signal which was raised was hoisted by Sir Henry Maine, who had been in India as Legal Member of Council, but who did not belong to the Indian Civil Service. He was at the time a member of the India Council. When the despatch of the Government of India on the subject reached London, Sir Henry Maine was travelling on the Continent. The papers were sent to him. He called to mind the bitter controversy which arose over what was known as "the Black Act" in Lord William Bentinck's time, and wrote privately a few words of warning to Lord Hartington, who was at the time Secretary of State for India. Lord Hartington put the letter in his great-coat pocket, went to Newmarket, and forgot all about it, with the result that Sir Henry Maine's warning never reached Lord Ripon.
I well remember being present when Mr. Ilbert introduced the measure into the Legislative Council. It attracted but little attention and led to only a very brief discussion, in which I took no part. The papers had been circulated to all Members of Council, including myself. When I received them I saw at a glance that the subject was not one that concerned my own department, or one as to which my opinion could be of any value. I, therefore, merely endorsed the papers with my initials and sent them on, without having given the subject much attention. In common with all my colleagues, I was soon to learn the gravity of the step which had been taken. A furious storm of opposition, which profoundly shook the prestige and authority of the Government of India, and notably of the Viceroy, arose. It was clear that a mistake had been made. The measure was in itself not very important. It was obviously undesirable, as Lyall remarked, to "set fire to an important wing of the house in order to roast a healthy but small pig." The best plan, had it been possible, would have been to admit the mistake and to withdraw the measure; and this would certainly have been done had it not been for the unseemly and extravagant violence of the European unofficial community, notably that of Calcutta. It should, however, in fairness be stated that they were irritated and alarmed, not so much at the acts of Lord Ripon's Government, but at some rather indiscreet language which had at times been used, and which led them, quite erroneously, to suspect that extreme measures were in contemplation, of a nature calculated to shake the foundations of British supremacy in India. This violent attitude naturally led to reprisals and bitter recriminations from the native press, with the result that the total withdrawal of the measure would have been construed as a decisive defeat to the adoption of even the most moderate measures of liberal reform in India. The project of total withdrawal could not, therefore, be entertained.
In these circumstances, the duty of a practical rough-and-ready politician was very clearly indicated. However little he might care for the measure on its own merits, political instinct pointed unmistakably to the absolute necessity of affording strong support to the Viceroy. Lyall failed to realise this fully. He admired Lord Ripon's courage. "We must," he said, "all do our best to pull the Viceroy through." But withal it is clear, by his own admission, that he only gave the Viceroy "rather lukewarm support." "I have intrenched myself," he wrote in a characteristic letter, "behind cautious proposals, and am quoted on both sides." This attitude was not due to any want of moral courage, for a more courageous man, both physically and morally, than Lyall never lived. It was simply the result of what Lord Lytton called "the Lyall habit of seeing both sides of a question," and not being able to decide betimes which side to support. That a man of Lyall's philosophical and reflective turn of mind should see both sides of a question is not only natural but commendable, but this frame of mind is not one that can be adopted without hazard by a man of action at the head of affairs at a time of acute crisis.
There is, however, a reverse side to this picture. The same mental attributes which rendered Lyall somewhat unfit, in my opinion, to deal with an incident such as the Ilbert Bill episode, enabled him to come with credit and distinction out of a situation of extreme difficulty in which the reputation of many another man would have foundered. I have no wish or intention to stir up again the embers of past Afghan controversies. It will be sufficient for my purpose to say that Lord Lytton, immensely to his credit, recognised Lyall's abilities and appointed him Foreign Secretary, in spite of the fact that he was associated with the execution of a policy to which Lord Lytton himself was strongly opposed, and which he had decided to reverse. Lyall did not conceal his opinions, but, as always, he was open to conviction, and saw both sides of a difficult question. In 1878, he was "quite in favour of vigorous action to counteract the Russians"; but two years later, in 1880, after the Cavagnari murder, he records in a characteristic letter that he "was mentally edging back towards old John Lawrence's counsel never to embark on the shoreless sea of Afghan politics." On the whole, it may be said that Lyall passed through this supreme test in a manner which would not have been possible to any man unless endowed not merely with great abilities, but with the highest degree of moral courage and honesty of purpose. He preserved his own self-esteem, and by his unswerving honesty and loyalty gained that of the partisans on both sides of the controversy.
It is pleasant to turn from these episodes to other features in Lyall's career and character, in respect to which unstinted eulogy, without the qualification of a shade of criticism, may be recorded. It was more especially in dealing with the larger and more general aspects of Eastern affairs that Lyall's genius shone most brightly. He had what the French call a flair in dealing with the main issues of Oriental politics such as, so far as my experience goes, is possessed by few. It was very similar to the qualities displayed by the late Lord Salisbury in dealing with foreign affairs generally. I give an instance in point.
In 1884, almost every newspaper in England was declaiming loudly about the dangers to be apprehended if the rebellion excited by the Mahdi in the Soudan was not promptly crushed. It was thought that this rebellion was but the precursor of a general and formidable offensive movement throughout the Islamic world. "What," General Gordon, whose opinion at the time carried great weight, had asked, "is to prevent the Mahdi's adherents gaining Mecca? Once at Mecca we may look out for squalls in Turkey," etc. He, as also Lord Wolseley, insisted on the absolute necessity of "smashing the Mahdi." We now know that these fears were exaggerated, and that the Mahdist movement was of purely local importance. Lyall had no special acquaintance with Egyptian or Soudanese affairs, but his general knowledge of the East and of Easterns enabled him at once to gauge correctly the true nature of the danger. Undisturbed by the clamour which prevailed around him, he wrote to Mr. Henry Reeve on March 21, 1884: "The Mahdi's fortunes do not interest India. The talk in some of the papers about the necessity of smashing him, in order to avert the risk of some general Mahomedan uprising, is futile and imaginative."
I need say no more. I am glad, for the sake of Lyall's own reputation, that the offer of the Viceroyalty was never made to him. Apart from the question of his age, which, in 1894, was somewhat too advanced to admit of his undertaking such onerous duties, I doubt if he possessed sufficient experience of English public life—a qualification which is yearly becoming of greater importance—to enable him to fill the post in a satisfactory manner. In spite, moreover, of his splendid intellectual gifts and moral elevation of thought, it is very questionable whether on the whole he would have been the right man in the right place.
Lyall's name will not, like those of some other Indian notabilities, go down to posterity as having been specially connected with any one episode or event of supreme historical importance; but, when those of the present generation who regarded him with esteem and affection have passed away, he will still deserve an important niche in the Temple of Fame as a thinker who thoroughly understood the East, and who probably did more than any of his contemporaries or predecessors to make his countrymen understand and sympathise with the views held by the many millions in India whose destinies are committed to their charge. His experience and special mental equipment eminently fitted him to perform the task he took in hand. England, albeit a prolific mother of great men in every department of thought and action, has not produced many Lyalls.
[Footnote 48: Nineteenth Century, May 1913, p. 972.]
[Footnote 49: When I was at Delhi in 1881, a Nikolsaini, i.e. a worshipper of John Nicholson, came to see me. He showed me a miniature of Nicholson with his head surrounded by an aureole.]
[Footnote 50: Memoirs of Henry Reeve, ii. 329.]
"THE NINETEENTH CENTURY AND AFTER"
"The Nineteenth Century and After," February 1904
The autobiography of my old and highly esteemed friend, Lord Wolseley, constitutes an honourable record of a well-spent life. Lord Wolseley may justifiably be proud of the services which he has rendered to his country. The British nation, and its principal executive officials in the past, may also be proud of having quickly discovered Lord Wolseley's talents and merits, and of having advanced him to high position.
Obviously, certain conclusions of public interest may be drawn from the career of this very distinguished soldier. Sir George Arthur, in the December number of the Fortnightly Review, has stated what are the special lessons which, in his opinion, are to be derived from a consideration of that career.
Those lessons are, indeed, sufficiently numerous. I propose, however, to deal with only two of them. They are those which, apparently, Lord Wolseley himself wishes to be inculcated. Both involve questions of principle of no little importance.
In the first place, Lord Wolseley, if I understand rightly, considers that the army has suffered greatly from civilian interference. He appears to think that it should be more exclusively than heretofore under military control.
In the second place, he thinks that, in certain cases, the political and diplomatic negotiations, which generally follow on a war, should be conducted, not by a diplomatist or politician, but by the officer who has conducted the previous military operations.
As regards the first point, I am not now dealing with Lord Wolseley's remarks in connection with our general unpreparedness for war, nor with those on the various defects, past or present, of our military organisation. In a great deal that he has said on these subjects, Lord Wolseley carries me heartily with him. I confine myself strictly to the issue as I have defined it above.
Possibly, I have mistaken the significance of Lord Wolseley's words. If so, my error is shared by Sir George Arthur, who, in dealing with the War Office, dwells with emphasis on the occasions when "this great war expert was thwarted in respect of his best considered plans by the civilian element in that citadel of inefficiency," and speaks with approval of Lord Wolseley's "severe strictures on blundering civilian interference with the army," as also of the "censure reserved for the criminal negligence and miserable cowardice of successive Cabinets."
It seems to me that Lord Wolseley is rather hard on civilians in general—those "iconoclastic civilian officials who meddle and muddle in army matters"—on politicians in particular, who, I cannot but think, are not quite so black as he has painted them; and most of all on Secretaries of State, with the single exception of Lord Cardwell, to whom generous and very well deserved praise is accorded.
It is not quite clear, from a perusal of these volumes, what is the precise nature of the change which Lord Wolseley wishes to advocate, although in one passage a specific proposal is made. It is that "a certificate should be annually laid before Parliament by the non-political Commander-in-Chief, that the whole of the military forces of the Empire can be completely and effectively equipped for war in a fortnight." The general tendency of the reform which commends itself to Lord Wolseley may, however, readily be inferred. He complains that the soldiers, "though in office, are never in power." Nevertheless, as he explains with military frankness, "the cunning politician," when anything goes wrong, is able "to turn the wrath of a deceived people upon the military authorities, and those who are exclusively to blame are too often allowed to sneak off unhurt in the turmoil of execration they have raised against the soldiers." I may remark incidentally that exception might perhaps reasonably be taken to the use of the word "exclusively" in this passage; but the main point to which I wish to draw attention is that clearly, in Lord Wolseley's opinion, the soldiers, under the existing system, have not sufficient power, and that it would be advisable that they should, under a reformed system, be invested with more ample power. I dare say Lord Wolseley is quite right, at all events to this extent, that it is desirable that the power, as also the responsibility, of the highest military authorities should be as clearly defined as is possible under our peculiar system of government. But it is essential to ascertain more accurately in what manner Lord Wolseley, speaking with all the high authority which deservedly attaches itself to his name, thinks that effect should be given to the principle which he advocates. In order to obtain this information, I turn to vol. i. p. 92, where I find the following passage: "A man who is not a soldier, and who is entirely ignorant of war, is selected solely for political reasons to be Secretary of State for War. I might with quite as great propriety be selected to be the chief surgeon in a hospital."
I would here digress for a moment to deal with the argument advanced in the latter part of this sentence. It is very plausible, and, at first sight, appears convincing. It is also very commonly used. Over and over again, I have heard the presumed analogy between the surgeon and the soldier advanced as a proof of the absurdity of the English system. I believe that no such analogy exists. Surgery is an exact science. To perform even the most trifling surgical operation requires careful technical training and experience. It is far otherwise with the case of the soldier. I do not suppose that any civilian in his senses would presume, on a purely technical matter, to weigh his own opinion against that of a trained soldier, like Lord Wolseley, who is thoroughly versed in the theory of his profession, and who has been through the school of actual war. But a large number of the most important questions affecting military organisation and the conduct of military affairs, require for their solution little or no technical knowledge. Any man of ordinary common sense can form an opinion on them, and any man of good business habits may readily become a capable agent for giving effect to the opinions which he, or which others have formed.
I may here perhaps give a page from my own personal experience bearing on the point under discussion.
The Soudan campaign of 1896-98 was, in official circles, dubbed a "Foreign Office war." For a variety of reasons, to which it is unnecessary to allude in detail, the Sirdar was, from the commencement of the operations, placed exclusively under my orders in all matters. The War Office assumed no responsibility, and issued no orders. A corresponding position was occupied by the Headquarters Staff of the Army of Occupation in Cairo. The result was that I found myself in the somewhat singular position of a civilian, who had had some little military training in his youth, but who had had no experience of war, whose proper functions were diplomacy and administration, but who, under the stress of circumstances in the Land of Paradox, had to be ultimately responsible for the maintenance, and even, to some extent, for the movements of an army of some 25,000 men in the field.
That good results were obtained under this system cannot be doubted. It will not, therefore, be devoid of interest to explain how it worked in practice, and what were the main reasons which contributed towards success.
I have no wish to disparage the strategical and tactical ability which were displayed in the conduct of the campaign. It is, however, a fact that no occasion arose for the display of any great skill in these branches of military knowledge. When once the British and Egyptian troops were brought face to face with the enemy, there could—unless the conditions under which they fought were altogether extraordinary—be little doubt of the result. The speedy and successful issue of the campaign depended, in fact, almost entirely upon the methods adopted for overcoming the very exceptional difficulties connected with the supply and transport of the troops. The main quality required to meet these difficulties was a good head for business. By one of those fortunate accidents which have been frequent in the history of Anglo-Saxon enterprise, a man was found equal to the occasion. Lord Kitchener of Khartoum won his well-deserved peerage because he was a good man of business; he looked carefully after all important detail, and he enforced economy.
My own merits, such as they were, were of a purely negative character. They may be summed up in a single phrase. I abstained from mischievous activity, and I acted as a check on the interference of others. I had full confidence in the abilities of the commander, whom I had practically myself chosen, and, except when he asked for my assistance, I left him entirely alone. I encouraged him to pay no attention to those vexatious bureaucratic formalities with which, under the slang phrase of "red tape" our military system is overburdened. I exercised some little control over the demands for stores which were sent to the London War Office; and the mere fact that these demands passed through my hands, and that I declined to forward any request unless, besides being in accordance with existing regulations—a point to which I attached but slight importance—it had been authorised by the Sirdar, probably tended to check wastefulness in that quarter where it was most to be feared. Beyond this I did nothing, and I found—somewhat to my own astonishment—that, with my ordinary staff of four diplomatic secretaries, the general direction of a war of no inconsiderable dimensions added but little to my ordinary labours.
I do not say that this system would always work as successfully as was the case during the Khartoum campaign. The facts, as I have already said, were peculiar. The commander, on whom everything practically depended, was a man of marked military and administrative ability. Nevertheless, I feel certain that Lord Kitchener would bear me out in saying that here was a case in which general civilian control, far from exercising any detrimental effect, was on the whole beneficial.
To return to the main thread of my argument. The passage which I have quoted from Lord Wolseley's book would certainly appear to point to the conclusion that, in his opinion, the Secretary of State for War should be a soldier unconnected with politics. Even although Lord Wolseley does not state this conclusion in so many words, it is notorious to any one who is familiar with the views current in army circles that the adoption of this plan is considered by many to be the best, if it be not the only, solution of all our military difficulties.
I am not concerned with the constitutional objections which may be urged against the change of system now under discussion. Neither need I dwell on the difficulty of making it harmonise with our system of party government, for which it is quite possible to entertain a certain feeling of respect and admiration without being in any degree a political partisan. I approach the question exclusively from the point of view of its effects on the army. From that point of view, I venture to think that the change is to be deprecated.
In dealing with Lord Cardwell's attitude in respect to army reform, Lord Wolseley says: "Never was Minister in my time more generally hated by the army." He points out how this hatred was extended to all who supported Lord Cardwell's views. His own conduct was "looked upon as a species of high treason." I was at the time employed in a subordinate position at the War Office. I can testify that this language is by no means exaggerated. Nevertheless, after events showed clearly enough that, in resisting the abolition of purchase, the formation of a reserve, and the other admirable reforms with which Lord Cardwell's name, equally with that of Lord Wolseley, is now honourably associated, the bulk of army opinion was wholly in the wrong. I believe such army opinion as now objects to a civilian being Secretary of State for War to be equally in the wrong.
There would appear, indeed, to be some inconsistency between Lord Wolseley's unstinted praise of Lord Cardwell—that "greatest" of War Ministers, who, "though absolutely ignorant of our army and of war," responded so "readily to the demands made on him by his military advisers," and "gave new life to our old army"—and his depreciation of the system which gave official birth to Lord Cardwell. There would be no contradiction in the two positions if the civilian Minister, in 1871, had been obliged to use his position in Parliament and his influence on public opinion to force on an unwilling nation reforms which were generally advocated by the army. But the very contrary of this was the case. What Lord Cardwell had principally to encounter was "the fierce hatred" of the old school of soldiers, and Lord Wolseley tells us clearly enough what would have happened to the small band of army reformers within the army, if they had been unable to rely on civilian support.
"Had it not been," he says, "for Mr. Cardwell's and Lord Northbrook's constant support and encouragement, those of us who were bold enough to advocate a thorough reorganisation of our military system, would have been 'provided for' in distant quarters of the British world, 'where no mention of us more should be heard.'"
There can be no such thing as finality in army reform. There will be reformers in the future, as there have been in the past. There will, without doubt, be vested interests and conservative instincts to be overcome in the future, as there were at the time when Lord Wolseley so gallantly fought the battle of army reform. What guarantee can Lord Wolseley afford that a soldier at the head of the army will always be a reformer, and that he will not "provide for" those of his subordinates who have the courage to raise their voices in favour of reform, even as Lord Wolseley thinks he would himself have been "provided for" had it not been for the sturdy support he received from his civilian superiors? I greatly doubt the possibility of giving any such guarantee.
But I go further than this. It is now more than thirty years since I served under the War Office. I am, therefore, less intimately acquainted with the present than with the past. But, during those thirty years, I have been constantly brought in contact with the War Office, and I have seen no reason whatever to change the opinion I formed in Lord Cardwell's time, namely, that it will be an evil day for the army when it is laid down, as a system, that no civilian should be Secretary of State for War. My belief is that, if ever the history of our military administration of recent years comes to be impartially written, it will be found that most of the large reforms, which have beneficially affected the army, have been warmly supported, and sometimes initiated, by the superior civilian element in the War Office. Who, indeed, ever heard of a profession being reformed from within? One of the greatest law reformers of the last century was the author of Bleak House.
It may, indeed, be urged—perhaps Lord Wolseley would himself urge—that it is no defence of a bad system to say that under one man (Lord Cardwell), whom Lord Wolseley describes as "a clear-headed, logical-minded lawyer," it worked very well. To this I reply that I cannot believe that the race of clear-headed, logical-minded individuals of Cabinet rank, belonging to either great party of the State, is extinct.
I have been induced to make these remarks because, in past years, I was a good deal associated with army reform, and because, since then, I have continued to take an interest in the matter. Also because I am convinced that those officers in the army who, with the best intentions, advocate the particular change now under discussion, are making a mistake in army interests. They may depend upon it that the cause they have at heart will best be furthered by maintaining at the head of the army a civilian of intelligence and of good business habits, who, although, equally with a soldier, he may sometimes make mistakes, will give an impartial hearing to army reformers, and will probably be more alive than any one belonging to their own profession to all that is best in the outside and parliamentary pressure to which he is exposed.
I turn to the second point to which allusion was made at the commencement of this article.
Speaking of the Chinese war in 1860, Lord Wolseley says: "In treating with barbarian nations during a war ... the general to command the army and the ambassador to make peace should be one and the same man. To separate the two functions is, according to my experience, folly gone mad." Lord Wolseley reverts to this subject in describing the Ashantee war of 1873-74. I gather from his allusions to Sir John Moore's campaign in Spain, and to the fact that evil results ensued from allowing Dutch deputies to accompany Marlborough's army, that he is in favour of extending the principle which he advocates to wars other than those waged against "barbarian nations."
The objections to anything in the nature of a division of responsibility, at all events so long as military operations are in actual progress, are, indeed, obvious, and are now very generally recognised. Those who are familiar with the history of the revolutionary war will remember the baneful influence exercised by the Aulic Council over the actions of the Austrian commanders. There can, in fact, be little doubt that circumstances may occur when the principle advocated by Lord Wolseley may most advantageously be adopted; but it is, I venture to think, one which has to be applied with much caution, especially when the question is not whether there should be a temporary cessation of hostilities—a point on which the view of the officer in command of the troops would naturally carry the greatest weight—but also involves the larger issue of the terms on which peace should finally be concluded. I am not at all sure that, in deciding on the issues which, under the latter contingency, must necessarily come under consideration, the employment of a soldier, in preference to a politician or diplomatist, is always a wise proceeding. Soldiers, equally with civilians, are liable to make erroneous forecasts of the future, and to mistake the general situation with which they have to deal. I can give a case in point.
When, in January 1885, Khartoum fell, the question whether the British army should be withdrawn, or should advance and reconquer the Soudan, had to be decided. Gordon, whose influence on public opinion, great before, had been enhanced by his tragic death, had strongly recommended the policy of "smashing the Mahdi." Lord Wolseley adopted Gordon's opinion. "No frontier force," he said, "can keep Mahdiism out of Egypt, and the Mahdi sooner or later must be smashed, or he will smash you." These views were shared by Lord Kitchener, Sir Redvers Buller, Sir Charles Wilson, and by the military authorities generally. Further, the alleged necessity of "smashing the Mahdi," on the ground that his success in the Soudan would be productive of serious results elsewhere, exercised a powerful influence on British public opinion at this period, although the best authorities on Eastern politics were at the time aware that the fears so generally entertained in this connection were either groundless or, at all events, greatly exaggerated. Under these circumstances, it was decided to "smash the Mahdi," and accordingly a proclamation, giving effect to the declared policy of the British Government, was issued. Shortly afterwards, the Penjdeh incident occurred. Public opinion in England somewhat calmed down, having found its natural safety-valve in an acrimonious parliamentary debate, in which the Government narrowly escaped defeat. The voices of politicians and diplomatists, which had been to some degree hushed by the din of arms, began to be heard. The proclamation was cancelled. The project of reconquering the Soudan was postponed to a more convenient period. It was, in fact, accomplished thirteen years later, under circumstances which differed very materially from those which prevailed in 1885. In June 1885, the Government of Lord Salisbury succeeded to that of Mr. Gladstone, and, though strongly urged to undertake the reconquest of the Soudan, confirmed the decision of its predecessors.
Sir George Arthur, writing in the Fortnightly Review, strongly condemns this "cynical disavowal" of Lord Wolseley's proclamation. I have nothing to say in favour of the issue of that proclamation. I am very clearly of opinion that, as it was issued, it was wise that it should be cancelled. For, in truth, subsequent events showed that the forecast made by Lord Wolseley and by Gordon was erroneous, in that it credited the Mahdi with a power of offence which he was far from possessing. No serious difficulty arose in defending the frontier of Egypt from Dervish attack. The overthrow of the Mahdi's power, though eminently desirable, was very far from constituting an imperious necessity such as was commonly supposed to exist in 1885. In this instance, therefore, it appears to me that the diplomatists and politicians gauged the true nature of the situation somewhat more accurately than the soldiers.
More than this, I conceive that, in all civilised countries, the theory of government is that a question of peace or war is one to be decided by politicians. The functions of the soldier are supposed to be confined, in the first place, to advising on the purely military aspects of the issue involved; and, in the second place, to giving effect to any decisions at which the Government may arrive. The practice in this matter not infrequently differs somewhat from the theory. The soldier, who is generally prone to advocate vigorous action, is inclined to encroach on the sphere which should properly be reserved for the politician. The former is often masterful, and the latter may be dazzled by the glitter of arms, or too readily lured onwards by the persuasive voice of some strategist to acquire an almost endless succession of what, in technical language, are called "keys" to some position, or—to employ a metaphor of which the late Lord Salisbury once made use in writing to me—"to try and annex the moon in order to prevent its being appropriated by the planet Mars." When this happens, a risk is run that the soldier, who is himself unconsciously influenced by a very laudable desire to obtain personal distinction, may practically dictate the policy of the nation without taking a sufficiently comprehensive view of national interests. Considerations of this nature have more especially been, from time to time, advanced in connection with the numerous frontier wars which have occurred in India. That they contain a certain element of truth can scarcely be doubted.
For these reasons, it appears to me that the application of the principle advocated by Lord Wolseley requires much care and watchfulness. Probably, the wisest plan will be that each case should be decided on its own merits with reference to the special circumstances of the situation, which may sometimes demand the fusion, and sometimes the separation, of military and political functions.
I was talking, a short time ago, to a very intelligent, and also Anglophile, French friend of mine. He knew England well, but, until quite recently, had not visited the country for a few years. He told me that what struck him most was the profound change which had come over British opinion since the occasion of his last visit. We had been invaded, he said, by le militarisme continental. In common with the vast majority of my countrymen, I am earnestly desirous of seeing our military organisation and military establishments placed on a thoroughly sound footing, but I have no wish whatever to see any portion of our institutions overwhelmed by a wave of militarisme continental. It is because I think that the views advocated by Lord Wolseley tend—although, I do not doubt, unconsciously to their distinguished author—in the direction of a somewhat too pronounced militarisme, that I venture in some degree to differ from one for whom I have for many years entertained the highest admiration and the most cordial personal esteem.
[Footnote 51: The Story of a Soldier's Life. Field-Marshal Viscount Wolseley. Constable.]
[Footnote 52: After carefully reading the book, I am in doubt as to the specific occasions to which allusion is here made.]
[Footnote 53: This expression is used with reference to a warning to civilians that they should "keep their hands off the regiment." I do not know if any recent instances have occurred when civilians have wished to touch the essential portions of what is known as the "regimental system," but I have a very distinct recollection of the fact that this accusation was very freely, and very unjustly, brought against the army reformers in Lord Cardwell's time. Of these, Lord Wolseley was certainly the most distinguished. I think he will bear me out in the assertion that it was only by civilian support that, in the special instances to which I allude, the opposition was overcome.]
[Footnote 54: Much the same proceeding appears to have been adopted in the Red River expedition, which was conducted with such eminent success by Lord Wolseley in 1870. But there was a difference. Lord Wolseley, in describing that expedition, says: "The Cabinet and parliamentary element in the War Office, that has marred so many a good military scheme, had, I may say, little or nothing to do with it from first to last. When will civilian Secretaries of State for War cease from troubling in war affairs?" In the case of the Soudan campaigns, on the other hand, Lord Kitchener and I had to rely—and our reliance was not misplaced—on the Cabinet and on the parliamentary elements of the Government, to prevent excessive interference from the London offices.]
[Footnote 55: I was present for a few weeks, as a spectator, with Grant's army at the siege of Petersburg in 1864, but the experience was too short to be of much value.]
[Footnote 56: Art of War, Jomini, p. 59.]
[Footnote 57: I think I am correct in saying that Sir Evelyn Wood was of a contrary opinion, but I have been unable to verify this statement by reference to any contemporaneous document.]
[Footnote 58: On the 21st of March 1884 Sir Alfred Lyall wrote to Mr. Henry Reeve: "The Mahdi's fortunes do not interest India. The talk in some of the papers about the necessity of smashing him, in order to avert the risk of some general Mahomedan uprising, is futile and imaginative."—Memoirs of Henry Reeve, vol. ii. p. 329.]
THE INTERNATIONAL ASPECTS OF FREE TRADE
PAPER READ AT THE INTERNATIONAL FREE TRADE CONGRESS AT ANTWERP, August 9-21, 1910
I have been asked to state my opinion on the effect of Free Trade upon the political relations between States. The subject is a very wide one. I am fully aware that the brief remarks which I am about to make fail to do justice to it.
A taunt very frequently levelled at modern Free Traders is that the anticipations of their predecessors in respect to the influence which Free Trade would be likely to exercise on international relations have not been realised. A single extract from Mr. Cobden's writings will suffice to show the nature of those anticipations. In 1842, he described Free Trade "as the best human means for securing universal and permanent peace." Inasmuch as numerous wars have occurred since this opinion was expressed, it is often held that events have falsified Mr. Cobden's prediction.
In dealing with this argument, I have, in the first place, to remark that modern Free Traders are under no sort of obligation to be "Cobdenite" to the extent of adopting or defending the whole of the teaching of the so-called Manchester School. It may readily be admitted that the programme of that school is, in many respects, inadequate to deal with modern problems.
In the second place, I wish to point out that Mr. Cobden and his associates, whilst rightly holding that trade was to some extent the natural foe to war, appear to me to have pushed the consequences to be derived from that argument much too far. They allowed too little for other causes which tend to subvert peace, such as racial and religious differences, dynastic considerations, the wish to acquire national unity, which tends to the agglomeration of small States, and the ambition which excites the desire of hegemony.
In the third place, I have to observe that the world has not as yet had any adequate opportunity for judging of the accuracy or inaccuracy of Mr. Cobden's prediction, for only one great commercial nation has, up to the present time, adopted a policy of Free Trade. It was, indeed, here more than in any other direction that some of the early British Free Traders erred on the side of excessive optimism. They thought, and rightly thought, that Free Trade would confer enormous benefits on their own country; and they held that the object-lesson thus afforded might very probably induce other nations speedily to follow the example of England. They forgot that the special conditions which existed at the time their noble aspirations were conceived were liable to change; that the extraordinary advantages which Free Trade for a time secured were largely due to the fact that seventy years ago England possessed a far larger supply of mechanical aptitude than any other country; that her marked commercial supremacy, which was then practically undisputed, could not be fully maintained in the face of the advance likely to be made by other nations; that if those nations persisted in adhering to Protection, their progress—which has really been achieved, not by reason of, but in spite of Protection—would almost inevitably be mainly attributed to their fiscal policy to the exclusion of other contributory causes, such as education; and that thus a revived demand for protective measures would not improbably arise, even in England itself. These are, in fact, the results which have accrued. Without doubt, it was difficult to foresee them, but it is worthy of note that, in spite of all adverse and possibly ephemeral appearances, symptoms are not wanting which encourage the belief that the prescience of the early Free Traders may, in the end, be tardily vindicated. It is the irony of current politics that at a time when England is meditating a return to Protection—but is as yet, I am glad to say, very far from being persuaded that the adoption of such a policy would be wise—the most advanced thinkers in some Protectionist states are beginning to turn their eyes towards the possibility and desirability of casting aside those swaddling-clothes which were originally assumed in order to foster their budding industries. Many of the most competent German economists, whilst advocating Protection as a temporary measure, have for many years fully recognised that, when once a country has firmly established its industrial and commercial status in the markets of the world, it can best maintain and extend its acquired position by permitting the freest possible trade. Even Friedrich List, though an ardent Protectionist, "always had before him universal Free Trade as the goal of his endeavours." Before long, Germany will have well-nigh completed the transition from agriculture to manufactures in which she has been engaged for the last thirty or forty years; and when that transition is fully accomplished, it may be predicted with some degree of confidence that a nation so highly educated, and endowed with so keen a perception of cause and effect, will begin to move in the direction of Free Trade. Similarly, in the United States of America, the campaign which has recently been waged against the huge Trusts, which are the offspring of Protection, as well as the rising complaints of the dearness of living, are so many indications that arguments, which must eventually lead to the consideration—and probably to the ultimate adoption—if not of Free Trade, at all events of Freer Trade than now prevails, are gradually gaining ground. Much the same may be said of Canada. A Canadian gentleman, who can speak with authority on the subject, recently wrote:
The feeling in favour of Free Trade is growing fast in Western Canada, and I believe I am right in adding the United States.
We have our strong and rapidly growing farmers' organisations, such as the United Farmers of Alberta, and of each Western province, so that farmers are now making themselves heard and felt in politics, and farmers realise that they are being exploited for the benefit of the manufacturer. Excellent articles appear almost weekly in the Grain Growers' Guide, published in Winnipeg, showing the curse of Protection.
A Canadian Free Trade Union, affiliated with the International Free Trade League, has just been formed in Winnipeg, and many prominent business and professional men are connected with it.
It ought to be better known among the electors of Great Britain how Free Trade is growing in Canada, that they may be less inclined to commit the fatal mistake of changing England's policy. Canada is often quoted in English politics now, and the real facts should be known.
No experience has, therefore, as yet been acquired which would enable a matured judgment to be formed as to the extent to which Free Trade may be regarded as a preventive to war. The question remains substantially much in the same condition as it was seventy years ago. In forming an opinion upon it, we have still to rely largely on conjecture and on academic considerations. All that has been proved is that numerous wars have taken place during a period of history when Protection was the rule, and Free Trade the exception; though the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy would, of course, be involved, if on that account it were inferred that the protection of national industries has necessarily been the chief cause of war.
Without indulging in any utopian dreams as to the possibility of inaugurating an era of universal peace, it may, I think, be held that, in spite of the wars which have occurred during the last half century, not merely an ardent desire for peace, but also a dislike—I may almost say a genuine horror—of war has grown apace amongst the civilised nations of the world. The destructiveness of modern weapons of offence, the fearful personal responsibility devolving on the individuals who order the first shot to be fired, the complete uncertainty which prevails as to the naval, military, and political results which will ensue if the huge armaments of modern States are brought into collision, the growth of a benevolent, if at times somewhat eccentric humanitarianism, possibly also the advance of democracy—though it is at times somewhat too readily assumed that democracies must of necessity be peaceful—have all contributed to create a public opinion which holds that to engage in an avoidable war is the worst of political crimes. This feeling has found expression in the more ready recourse which, as compared to former times, is now made to arbitration in order to settle international disputes. Nevertheless, so long as human nature remains unchanged, and more especially so long as the huge armaments at present existing are maintained, it is the imperative duty of every self-respecting nation to provide adequately for its own defence. That duty is more especially imposed on those nations who, for one reason or another, have been driven into adopting that policy of expansion, which is now almost universal. Within the last few years, the United States of America have abandoned what has been aptly termed their former system of "industrial monasticism," whilst in the Far East a new world-power has suddenly sprung into existence. Speaking as one unit belonging to a country whose dominions are more extensive and more widely dispersed than those of any other nation, I entertain a strong opinion that if Great Britain continues to maintain her present policy of Free Trade—as I trust will be the case—her means of defence should, within the limits of human foresight, be such as to render her empire impregnable; and, further, that should that policy unfortunately be reversed, it will be a wise precaution that those means of defence should, if possible, be still further strengthened. But I also entertain an equally strong opinion that an imperial nation should seek to fortify its position and to provide guarantees for the durability of its empire, not merely by rendering itself, so far as is possible, impregnable, but also by using its vast world-power in such a manner as to secure in some degree the moral acquiescence of other nations in its imperium, and thus provide an antidote—albeit it may only be a partial antidote—against the jealousy and emulation which its extensive dominions are calculated to incite.
I am aware that an argument of this sort is singularly liable to misrepresentation. Militant patriotism rejects it with scorn. It is said to involve an ignoble degree of truckling to foreign nations. It involves nothing of the kind. I should certainly be the last to recommend anything approaching to pusillanimity in the conduct of the foreign affairs of my country. If I thought that the introduction of a policy of Protection was really demanded in the interests of the inhabitants of the United Kingdom, I should warmly advocate it, whatever might be the effect produced on the public opinion of other countries. British Free Traders do not advocate the cause which they have at heart in order to benefit the countries which send their goods to Great Britain, but because they think it advantageous to their own country to procure certain foreign products without any artificial enhancement of price. If they are right in coming to this conclusion, it is surely an incidental advantage of much importance that a policy of Free Trade, besides being advantageous to the United Kingdom, tends to give an additional element of stability to the British Empire and to preserve the peace of the world.
From the dawn of history, uncontrolled commercialism has been one of the principal causes of misgovernment, and more especially of the misgovernment of subject races. The early history of the Spaniards in South and Central America, as well as the more recent history of other States, testify to the truth of this generalisation. Similarly, Trade—that is to say exclusive trade—far from tending to promote peace, has not infrequently been accompanied by aggression, and has rather tended to promote war. Tariff wars, which are the natural outcome of the protective system, have been of frequent occurrence, and, although I am not at all prepared to admit that under no circumstances is a policy of retaliation justifiable, it is certain that that policy, carried to excess, has at times endangered European peace. There is ample proof that the Tariff war between Russia and Germany in 1893, "was regarded by both responsible parties as likely to lead to a state of things dangerous to the peace of Europe." Professor Dietzel, in his very remarkable and exhaustive work on Retaliatory Duties, shows very clearly that the example of Tariff wars is highly contagious. Speaking of the events which occurred in 1902 and subsequent years, he says: "Germany set the bad example.... Russia, Austria-Hungary, Roumania, Switzerland, Portugal, Holland, Servia, followed suit.... An international arming epidemic broke out. Everywhere, indeed, it was said: We are not at all desirous of a Tariff war. We are acting only on the maxim so often proclaimed among us, Si vis pacem, para bellum."
Can it be doubted that there is a distinct connection between these Tariff wars and the huge armaments which are now maintained by every European state? The connection is, in fact, very close. Tariff wars engender the belief that wars carried on by shot and shell may not improbably follow. They thus encourage, and even necessitate, the costly preparations for war which weigh so heavily, not only on the industries, but also on the moral and intellectual progress of the world.
Mr. Oliver, in his interesting biography of Alexander Hamilton, gives a very remarkable instance of the menace to peace arising, even amongst a wholly homogeneous community, from the creation of hostile tariffs. The first step which the thirteen States of America took after they had acquired their independence was "to indulge themselves in the costly luxury of an internecine tariff war.... Pennsylvania attacked Delaware. Connecticut was oppressed by Rhode Island and New York.... It was a dangerous game, ruinous in itself, and, behind the Custom-House officers, men were beginning to furbish up the locks of their muskets.... At one time war between Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York seemed all but inevitable."
To sum up all I have to say on this subject—I do not for a moment suppose that Universal Free Trade—even if the adoption of such a policy were conceivable—would inaugurate an era of universal and permanent peace. Whatever fiscal policy be adopted by the great commercial nations of the world, it is wholly illusory to suppose that the risk of war can be altogether avoided in the future, any more than has been the case in the past. But I am equally certain that, whereas exclusive trade tends to exacerbate international relations, Free Trade, by mutually enlisting a number of influential material interests in the cause of peace, tends to ameliorate those relations and thus, pro tanto, to diminish the probability of war. No nation has, of course, the least right to dictate the fiscal policy of its neighbours, neither has it any legitimate cause to complain when its neighbours exercise their unquestionable right to make whatever fiscal arrangements they consider conducive to their own interests. But the real and ostensible causes of war are not always identical. When once irritation begins to rankle, and rival interests clash to an excessive degree, the guns are apt to go off by themselves, and an adroit diplomacy may confidently be trusted to discover some plausible pretext for their explosion.
In a speech which I made in London some three years ago, I gave an example, gathered from facts with which I was intimately acquainted, of the pacifying influence exerted by adopting a policy of Free Trade in the execution of a policy of expansion. I may as well repeat it now. Some twelve years ago the British flag was hoisted in the Soudan side by side with the Egyptian. Europe tacitly acquiesced. Why did it do so? It was because a clause was introduced into the Anglo-Egyptian Convention of 1899, under which no trade preference was to be accorded to any nation. All were placed on a footing of perfect equality. Indeed, the whole fiscal policy adopted in Egypt since the British occupation in 1883 has been based on distinctly Free Trade principles. Indirect taxes have been, in some instances, reduced. Those that remain in force are imposed, not for protective, but for revenue purposes, whilst in one important instance—that of cotton goods—an excise duty has been imposed, in order to avoid the risk of customs duties acting protectively.
Free Trade mitigates, though it is powerless to remove, international animosities. Exclusive trade stimulates and aggravates those animosities. I do not by any means maintain that this argument is by itself conclusive against the adoption of a policy of Protection, if, on other grounds, the adoption of such a policy is deemed desirable; but it is one aspect of the question which, when the whole issue is under consideration, should not be left out of account.
[Footnote 59: Subsequently published in The Nineteenth Century and After for September 1910.]
[Footnote 60: Life of Cobden, Morley, vol. i. p. 231.]
[Footnote 61: Sir Robert Peel, as is well known, did not fall into this error, and even Mr. Cobden appears to have recognised so early as 1849 that his original forecasts on this point were too optimistic. Speaking on January 10, 1849, he said: "At the last stage of the Anti-Corn Law Agitation, our opponents were driven to this position: 'Free Trade is a very good thing, but you cannot have it until other countries adopt it too.' And I used to say: 'If Free Trade be a good thing for us, we will have it; let others take it if it be a good thing for them; if not, let them do without it.'"]
[Footnote 62: Hirst, Life of Friedrich List, p. 134.]
[Footnote 63: Essay on the Influence of Commerce on International Conflicts; F. Greenwood, Ency. Brit. (Tenth Edition).]
[Footnote 64: In connection with this branch of the question, I wish to draw attention to the fact that Professor Shield Nicholson, in his recent brilliant work, A Project of Empire, has conclusively shown that it is a misapprehension to suppose that Adam Smith, in advocating Free Trade, looked merely to the interests of the consumer, and neglected altogether those of the producer. Mr. Gladstone's statement on this subject, made in 1860, is well known.]
[Footnote 65: Reports on the Tariff wars between certain European States, Parliamentary paper, Commercial, No. 1 (1904), p. 46.]
"The Nineteenth Century and After," May 1913
Mr. Bland's book, entitled Recent Events and Present Policies in China (1912), is full of instruction not only for those who are specially concerned in the affairs of China, but also for all who are interested in watching the new developments which are constantly arising from the ever-increasing contact between the East and the West.
The Eastern world is at present strewn with the debris of paper constitutions, which are, or are probably about to become, derelict. The case of Egypt is somewhat special, and would require separate treatment. But in Turkey, in Persia, and in China, the epidemic, which is of an exotic character, appears to be following its normal course.
Constitutions when first promulgated are received with wild enthusiasm. In Italy, during the most frenzied period of Garibaldian worship, my old friend, Lear the artist, asked a patriotic inn-keeper, who was in a wild state of excitement, to give him breakfast, to which the man replied: "Colazione! Che colazione! Tutto e amore e liberta!" In the Albanian village in which Miss Durham was residing when the Young Turks proclaimed their constitution, the Moslem inhabitants expressed great delight at the news, and forthwith asked when the massacre of the Giaours—without which a constitution would wholly miss its mark—was to begin. Similarly, Mr. Bland says that throughout China, although "the word 'Republic' meant no more to the people at large than the blessed word 'Mesopotamia,' men embraced each other publicly and wept for joy at the coming of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity."
These ebullitions provoke laughter.
Sed facilis cuivis rigidi censura cachinni.
We Europeans have ourselves passed through much the same phases. Vandal and others have told us of the Utopia which was created in the minds of the French when the old regime crashed to the ground. Sydney Smith caricatured the delusive hopes excited by the passing of the Reform Bill of 1832, when he said that all the unmarried young women thought that they would at once get husbands, and that all the schoolboys expected a heavy fall in the price of jam tarts. A process of disillusionment may confidently be anticipated in Ireland if the Home Rule Bill becomes law, and the fairy prospects held out to the Irish people by Mr. Redmond and the other stage managers of the piece are chilled by the cold shade of reality.
We English are largely responsible for creating the frame of mind which is even now luring Young Turks, Chinamen, and other Easterns into the political wilderness by the display of false signals. We have, indeed, our Blands in China, our Milners in Egypt, our Miss Durhams in the Balkan Peninsula, and our Miss Bells in Mesopotamia, who wander far afield, gleaning valuable facts and laying before their countrymen and countrywomen conclusions based on acquired knowledge and wide experience. But their efforts are only partially successful. They are often shivered on the solid rock of preconceived prejudices, and genuine but ill-informed sentimentalism. A large section of the English public are, in fact, singularly wanting in political imagination. Although they would not, in so many words, admit the truth of the statement, they none the less act and speak as if sound national development in whatsoever quarter of the world must of necessity proceed along their own conventional, insular, and time-honoured lines, and along those lines alone. There is a whole class of newspaper readers, and also of newspaper writers, who resemble that eminent but now deceased Member of Parliament, who told me that during the four hours' railway journey from Port Said to Cairo he had come to the definite conclusion that Egypt could not be prosperous because he had observed that there were no stacks of corn standing in the fields; neither was this conclusion in any way shaken when it was explained to him that the Egyptians were not in the habit of erecting corn stacks after the English model. All these classes readily lend an ear to quack, though often very well-intentioned politicians, who go about the world preaching that countries can be regenerated by shibboleths, and that the characters of nations can be changed by Acts of Parliament. This frame of mind appeals with irresistible force to the untrained Eastern habit of thought. T'ang—a leading Chinese Republican—Mr. Bland says, "like all educated Chinese, believes in the magic virtue of words and forms of government in making a nation wise and strong by Acts of Parliament." And what poor, self-deluded T'ang is saying and thinking in Canton is said and thought daily by countless Ahmeds, Ibrahims, and Rizas in the bazaars of Constantinople, Cairo, and Teheran.