Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

were quite inapplicable to its circumstances. It was due to the Liberals, for instance, that the corporations which have so largely promoted disaffection in the present day, received so full a measure of municipal powers, which they have certainly not shown themselves able to use as loyal subjects. Very much the same may be said of the conduct of the Whigs with regard to the Irish tithes. They treated the subject purely as a party measure, deserting their own special cause of religious equality, and "the result was a settlement, neither as conservative nor as suitable to the real interests of Ireland" as certainly would have been arrived at sooner but for their political conduct. "Ireland has to thank Lord Melbourne, Lord John Russell, Lord Palmerston, and their political friends for the fact that her ecclesiastical endowments, instead of being rearranged and redistributed

on some reason

able basis, have been utterly destroyed."

Sir Rowland Blennerhassett's narrative of the development of disaffection, until its culmination in a dangerous conspiracy against the maintenance of English rule, is somewhat imperfect in its leading facts, but extremely fair and trustworthy so far as it goes. Two causes exist, he says, for the continuance of disorder, both of which we ought to be able to deal with in a practical spirit. The first is dual ownership in the land, "confirmed and consecrated by the Land Act of 1881." The second is want of government—the old system having been destroyed, and no new organisation having as yet been placed in its stead. Should patriotism continue to maintain itself in the place of party, should the Liberal Unionists adhere loyally

to their present alliance, we should unquestionably be able to remedy both these evils. That the work will require time, longer time than Sir Rowland seems to imagine, we may feel assured; but it is a work that, if successfully carried out, will rank with the best efforts of British administration.

"If her Majesty," says Sir Rowland Blennerhassett, "who has seen the destruction of the old Government of Ireland, should live to witness the establishment of a powerful and centralised administration in that coun

try, with wide attributes suited to the requirements of modern life, and carrying on the daily government with impartial firmness and intelligent sympathy, it is safe to predict that her reign will be remembered in Irish history for its solid and enduring splendour. The evil spirits which vanish, confidence will be restored, have so long tormented the land will enterprise encouraged, the interests created by remedial legislation must become daily more powerful, and no Irish agitator will find it possible to raise a cry against the Legislative Union."

Next in interest is Sir Henry Maine's article on India, for which the marvellous progress of the past half-century furnishes a striking text. Sir Henry's remarks also show by implication how rapid is the rate of that progress, and how difficult it is for any writer not upon the spot to keep pace with it, for although it is not a very long period since he returned to this country, some of his observations seem to us to savour somewhat of

the views of a past or passing generation of Anglo-Indians. Different as the many races of India are from each other, it is possible to make too much of their want of uniformity; and the fact that we are making successful efforts at assimilation deserves to be more generally taken into account. The evenness of our administration and

[ocr errors]

The

the great educational work which is going on are making very decided steps towards a fusion of races; and Indian rulers have succeeded in tiding over the race difficulty with far less trouble than it has given to many European Powers our own home Government among the number. great obstacle to an approach to wards a fusion of races in India has been diversity of religion, which Sir Henry Maine rightly characterises as having been, on the whole, in that country a disintegrating rather than unifying force." The effect of our educational systems in India is, however, tending to destroy all the Hindoo forms of belief without substituting any definite creed in their place, unless it leaves perhaps a residuum of theism. Between the Bengalee B.A. and the Mahratta graduate of Bombay, the difference in their ideas and aims is now very much fined away; and we can scarcely accept Sir Henry Maine's dictum that "the most powerful of unifying agencies has been the administration of justice by English courts." Twenty or even ten years back, the statement might have been safely subscribed to; but a closer glance at the more recent aspects of Indian progress must satisfy us that education is the influence which is destined to make a homogeneous people out of the different races of British India. Sir Henry Maine rather surprises us by the weight which he lays upon the caste theory of the Indian Mutiny, in his brief account of the rebellion of 1857. When we have given every consideration to the alarm with which the Sepoys regarded the carefully disseminated assurances that their caste was doomed to destruction, whether by greased cartridges or by some other not

less offensive innovation, we must still take into account that there was much disappointed political ambition at work, that our annexations, however necessary and justifiable, had roused a very considerable amount of hostility and disaffection, and that an underground current of intrigue had been for some years before steadily working in the direction of a revolt. The greased cartridges may have been the match, but the train for rebellion was already laid, while the blind confidence of the Indian authorities had done nothing to prepare for the explosion.

It is interesting to find so close and able an observer of societies seeking a comparison to place alongside of the India of the present day, but his parallel between the country as a whole and the Europe of the middle ages does not seem to us a particularly apt

one.

"Take any century of the West," says Sir Henry, "from the tenth to the fourteenth, select those of its ideas and beliefs, forms of government, social divisions and institutions which are most repugnant to the modern spirit, and especially to the modern democratic spirit, and I believe that you can find the counterparts of all of them vigorously surviving in India. The vast and populous India which has no share in an education of foreign origin, is in fact a chaos of survivals moral, social, political, and economical, circumscribed, no doubt, and limited in their practical operation by the British authority and the British laws, but, on the other hand, rendered more tenacious of life than they were in other countries by an intense conviction of their supernatural origin and divine ordination."

Again, this description would have been more truly applicable to the India of five-and-twenty years ago than to that of to-day. We can scarcely lay our finger upon a

corner of India into which the rapid current of Anglo-Indian progress has not burst, and carried with it, more or less fully, and possibly after more or less of a struggle, natives of all castes and classes. It is quite true that what has been done is as nothing compared with what remains to be done; but meanwhile the quickening influences of Western civilisation are, in one or other of its forms, brought to the doors of the masses. The analogy we have quoted makes too much, also, of the resistive strength of oriental conservatism. Except where the sacrifice of privilege or interests intervened, the natives have shown no remarkable reluctance to meet

the spirit of their rulers; while the evidences we possess of an enlightened desire to accept Western ideas and institutions are so general and manifold that it is needless to cite them.

[blocks in formation]

he quite admits the inadequacy of its strength for purposes of imperial defence. Many of his remarks on the military régime from Waterloo down to the Crimean war will scarcely be read with pleasure, for they are coloured with criticisms on both the men and the system that it would be very difficult to bear out. His demonstration of the haphazard manner in which both Parliament and the nation treat our military requirements deserves, however, the amplest consideration, and too much publicity cannot at this time be given to the words in which he sums up the subject :—

"If the necessary means are furnished, the nation may depend upon having all it wants. If, however, all this be neglected, and the army fails the nation when the emergency arises, then

'Not ours the folly or the sin Of golden chances spurned.' to blame; on their heads be the conThe people will have themselves alone sequences. They would not take the trouble to define the military requirements of their country, and withheld the supplies which military efficiency demanded; they left us soldiers in fortifications deemed essential for the uncertainty as to the extent of the protection of the empire, and refused us straw for the bricks required for their construction."

THE DIVER.

BY FRIEDRICH SCHILLER.

"Ho! where is the knight or the squire so bold,
Will dive through yon whirling eddy?
Within it I fling this goblet of gold,

The black maw has gulphed it already.
He that brings it me back from yon yeasty deep,
That goblet all for his own may keep."

Spoke the king, and the goblet down he flung
From the edge of the cliff, that o'er

The limitless ocean high-beetling hung,

To the whirlpool's frenzied roar.

"Who, again I ask, has the nerve, will dare

To dive through the deeps that are surging there?"

Of the knights and the squires that were standing near On the silence not one breaks in;

Down into the raging flood they peer,

But the goblet none cares to win.

And again the king asks, as no sign they make,

"Is there no one will venture that plunge to take?”

Still all is hushed as before; but now

From the band of squires that stood quaking broke A youth, meek of mien, but with fearless brow, And he flung down his belt and his cloak ; And the lords and the ladies round all gaze On the shapely youth with eager amaze.

And as to the edge of the cliff he goes,
And looks down into the chasm,

Aloft with a roar the Charybdis throws

The flood it had sucked down with furious spasm,
And up, as its black breast parts in sunder,
Foams the flood with a din as of distant thunder.

And it boils and it bubbles, it hisses, it booms,

As when water meets fire, and together they rush; The drenching spray to the welkin spumes,

Torrents endless on torrents crowd on and crush, And still they pour onwards, and never are spent, As though ocean on spawning new oceans were bent.

But at last the mad turmoil grows still, and between The snow-white flakes of the weltering swell,

A black wide fathomless chasm is seen,

That looks as it led to the vaults of Hell,

And into that swirling crater vast

The wild waves are swept down fiercely and fast.

Now swift, while the chasm is still gaping there,
Does the youth unto God his soul confide,
And- -a shriek of horror rings through the air—
He is swept away in the whirling tide,
And in wondrous wise its jaws close o'er
That swimmer bold: he is seen no more.

A hush came over the watery abyss,

Far down hollow moanings were heard to swell;
Men whispered in fear, and their words were this :
"Brave youth! gallant heart! farewell, farewell! "
And hollower grew the strange moanings they heard,
And their hearts sank with terror, but no one stirred.

Thy crown if yonder thou wert to fling,

And said, that crown who shall bring me here,

"Tis his to wear, and to wear as king,

Not me would it tempt, that guerdon dear. What the howling abysses down there conceal May the lips of no man that lives reveal.

In yon whirlpool's gripe barks many and tall
Sheer down into fathomless deeps have shot,
But mast and keel, rent and shattered, are all

Which up from that fell grave their way have wrought. And clear, like a tempest's rush, and clearer,

They hear the roar driving on nearer and nearer.

And it boils and it bubbles, it hisses, it booms,

As when water meets fire, and together they rush

The drenching spray to the welkin spumes,

Torrents endless on torrents crowd on and crush,
And up, as its black breast parts in sunder,
They rush with a din as of distant thunder.

And see! from that black breast's weltering flow
Something white as a swan uprears,
And an arm is bared, and a shoulder of snow,
And stoutly with spirit unflagging it steers.
""Tis he!" and aloft in triumph he swings
In his left hand the goblet which was the king's.

A deep, deep breath and a long drew he,
And he hailed the glad light of day,

And each to the other cried out in glee,

"He lives! it is he! it has missed its prey! From the mælstrom's clutch, from the very grave, He has saved his soul alive! Oh brave!"

« AnteriorContinuar »