Abbildungen der Seite

It was

for settlement ; — but it was impossible. impossible, because you offer nobody with whom a serious statesman can deal seriously. You offer a Government, with men in it eminent and able no doubt, but they do not make your policy; and their eye is always turning back to the power behind them which does make it. That power is the British Philistine. Was Russia, at a critical moment, to lose precious time waiting for the chance medley of accidents, intrigues, hot and cold fits, stock-jobbing, newspaper articles, conversations on the railway, conversations on the omnibus, out of which grows the foreign policy of a self-governing people, when that self is the British Philistine? Russia thought not, and passed on to its object.

For my part, I cannot call this faithless, though I admit it may be called rude. But it was a rudeness which Governments with a serious object before them cannot well help committing when they are dealing with you. The question is: Will you at all better yourselves by having now one of your hot fits, speaking "with promptitude and energy,” and, in fact, going to war with Russia for what she has done? Alas, my dear friend, this would be throwing the handle after the blade with a vengeance! Because your governing part, your Philistine middle class, is ignorant and impracticable, Russia has unceremoniously taken a step in the Eastern question without you. And what does your going to war with Russia in the present posture of affairs mean ?

It means backing up the Porte to show fight; going in, in

Lord Palmerston's old line, for upholding and reno vating the Grand Turk ;-it means fighting against nature. This is how the ignorant and impracticable get punished; they are made to smart for being ignorant and impracticable, and they can only resent being made to smart by showing themselves more ignorant and impracticable still. Do not do so, my dear friend! Russia has no wish to quarrel with you ; she had a serious object to gain, and, as time pressed, she did what she had to do without entering into an interminable and possibly fruitless conversation with your “young man from the country.” But she does not mean more than her avowed object, which was really indispensable to her; she will try to make things now as pleasant as she can (consistently with getting her object) for your young man from the country; and the moment the young man has clear ideas she will ask nothing better than to deal with him seriously and respectfully.

All turns upon that, my dear friend !—the improving your young man and giving him clear ideas. At present he is vulgar, ignorant, and consequential; and because he is vulgar, he is ignoble; because he is ignorant, he is unstable ; because he is consequential, he is on the look-out for affronts and apt to fly into a heat.

With these qualities he cannot but bring mortifications upon you and himself, so long as he governs or tries to govern. All nations have their young man of this sort, but with

alone he

governs, and hence the European importance of him and his failings. You know how I dislike the Junkerism

and militarism of my own Prussian country and its government; all I say is, that the self-government of your Philistines is as bad, or even worse. There is nothing like it anywhere ; for America, which in some respects resembles you, has not your necessary relations with Europe; and besides, her Philistines, if they govern, administer also, and get the training which great affairs give. With you the Barbarians administer, the Philistines govern; between them your policy is made One.class contributes its want of ideas, the other its want of dignity ;-an unlucky mixture for you, my dear friend, it must be confessed.

The worst of it is, I do not see how things are to get better with you at present. The Philistines rule and rule abominably, but for the moment there is no remedy. Bismarck would say, "Muzzle them;" but I know well this cannot, nay, should not be. I say, “Improve them ;” but for this time is needed. Your Government might, no doubt, do something to speed the improvement, if it cared a little more, in serving the Philistines, for what might do them good, and a little less for what might please them ; but perhaps this is too much to expect from your

Government. So you must needs have, my dear friend, I am afraid, what these poor wretched people here call a mauvais quart d'heure, in which you will be peculiarly liable to mistakes, mortifications, and troubles. While this period lasts, your strength, forgive me for saying so, is to sit still. What your friends (of whom I am one) must wish for you is that you may keep as quiet as possible ; that the British Philistine may not be moved much to speak to Europe “with promptitude and energy ;” that he may get out of his hot fits always as soon as possible. And perhaps you are getting out of your recent hot fit already ; perhaps, even while I write, you have got into one of your cold fits, and are all for pacific solutions and moral suasion. !

I say, Heaven grant it! with all my heart. . And, meanwhile, how are my friends in England! I think I see Bottles by the Royal Exchange at this moment, holding forth, with the Times in his hand, on “the perfect unanimity of opinion among the mercantile community of the City of London!” I think I hear poor Mr. Matthew Arnold's platitudes about “the two great conquests of English energy, liberty and publicity !Liberty, my dear friend, to make fools of yourselves, and publicity to tell all the world you are doing so.

Forgive my ur-deutsch frankness, and believe me, your sincere friend,






GRUB STREET, November 25, 1870. I KNOW by experience how hard it is to get my bald, disjointed chat, as Arminius calls it, into the newspapers in these stirring times, and that was why I did not attempt to complain of that extraordinary effusion of his which you published in August last. He must have written that letter, with its unhandsome remarks at my expense, just after I had parted with him at his lodgings in Chequer Alley, with expressions of the tenderest concern, before he went off to the war. Since then, I have discovered that he had referred nearly all his tradespeople to me for payment; I am daily besieged in my garret by his tobacconist, and when I get out, the street is made quite intolerable to me by the violence of his washerwoman, though I am sure Arminius, like all foreigners, always gave his washerwoman as little trouble as possible. These things have nettled me a good deal; and now there comes this new letter of his from Paris, in which, besides totally uncalled-for sneers at Mr. Bottles and me, Arminius indulges in an outrageous

« ZurückWeiter »