10 DECEMBER 1859, Page 11

J. S. MILL, M.P.

WHY does not John Stuart Mill enter Parliament? We can imagine strong reasons why he should shrink from that arena of wasteful discussion, but the reasons why he should accept are as obvious, and more cogent. There is no man so able to bring the plain abstract reasoning of a question before a muster of represen- tative En,,lishmen. The only statesmen in Parliament who already perform such an office at all are Gladstone and Bulwer Lytton ; but Mr. Gladstone refines too much to make the rationale of the subject he expounds perfectly clear for the vulgar ; and Sir Ed- ward Lytton cannot cast off the imaginative aspect of a question, sometimes disguising the strongest argument in a picturesque garb of party feeling, just as Waife, the sweetest character in contemporary fiction, comes before the reader as a lax and purposeless adventurer. The whole tendency of this "prac- tical" day is to render statesmanship empirical,—just at the period when other sciences and arts, from mechanics to astronomy, are becoming daily less dogmatic and empirical. There is, In- deed, an apparent set of the intellectual tide in the opposite direc- tion, towards more elevated principles ; and nothing could assist the changeful flow more powerfully than the stimulus imparted to discussion by the aid, and, even the presence, of a man like John Mill.

We are reminded of a service to his country which he is now free to perform, by his paper in Fraser's Magazine "On Non- intervention. It is a masterly exposition of the fallacy of isola- tion which this country has affected to adopt. Few countries have so utterly broken that rule of self-profit, yet few so absurdly pretend to observe it,—none. We have stood by many a people in their struggle for independence,—Spain, Greece, Belgium, Turkey, Portugal ; we have poured our blood upon the Continent to vin- dicate Europe against individual dominion ; we have incurred the largest debt ever known, in paying for the defence and freedom of other States. We have opened our trade to those who keep theirs closed. England is the asylum of patriots, who find no refuge elsewhere from the revenge of faction. But while we have been thus guided to national development, to greatness, and even wealth, by so often vindicating the larger interests against the smaller, we affect to move only in pursuit of our own interests, and disguise a truly chivalrous purpose under a foppish costume of selfishness. So gross a mistake could not originate in a good motive ; and in spite of the rebuke which Mill justly administers to that self-disparagement which forces other and less humbly'- minded nations to think the worst of us, we must affirm that the gross blunder in statesmanship originates in nothing less than Ignorance.

"Nations, like individuals, ought to suspect some fault in themselves when they find they are generally worse thought of than they think they deserve; and they may well know that they are somehow in fault when almost everybody but themselves thinks them crafty and hypocritical. It is not solely because England has been more successful than other nations in gaining what they are all aiming at, that they think she must be following after it with a more ceaseless and a more undivided chase. This indeed is a powerful predisposing cause. inclining and preparing them for the belief. It is a natural supposition that those who win the prize have striven for it ; that superior success must be the fruit of more unremitting endeavour ,• and where there is an obvious abstinence from the ordinary arts employed for distancing competitors, and they are distanced nevertheless people are fond of believing that the means employed must have been arts still more subtle and profound. This preconception makes them look out in all quar- ters for indications to prop up the selfish explanation of our conduct. If our ordinary course of action does not favour this interpretation, they watch for exceptions to our ordinary course, and regard these as the real index to the purposes within. They moreover accept literally all the habitual expres- sions by which we represent ourselves as worse than we are ; expressions often heard from English statesmen, next to never from those of any other country—partly because Englishmen, beyond all the rest of the human race, are so shy of professing virtues that they will even profess vices instead; and partly because almost all English statesmen, while careless to a degree which no foreigner can credit, respecting the impression they produce on foreigners, commit the obtuse blunder of supposing that low objects are the only ones to which the minds of their non-aristocratic fellow-countrymen are amenable, and that it is always expedient, if not necessary, to plate those objects in the foremost rank."

To this explanation we can bear the strongest testimony. The Ministerial resolve to declare war against Russia was delayed from an unfounded doubt whether the English people, the middle class especially, were prepared for a chivalrous vindication of right, where avowedly nothing for ourselves was to be gained ; and our riding class had a lesson in the sequel, from the cordial support of the English public, which ought to show at once that the national spirit is shared by every class, and that in assuming a higher and more chivalrous position before the nations, our statesmen will be vigorously supported..

John Mill sets himself to the task of defining where the rule of non-intervention applies, and where its, wisdom, and therefore its virtue, ceases. The section which explains why civilized nations cannot always abstain from controlling barbarous races,—the bar- barians being incapable of reciprocating the obligations of mutual respect and forbearance,—is cogently applied to Algeria and India. The impolicy, and mostly the futility, of attempting to hold the tegis over a foreign nation which cannot vindicate its own liberties at -home, or to sustain the authority of a Government which cannot command the allegiance of its own subjects, are admirably expounded. "But the ease of a people struggling against a foreign yoke, or against a native tyranny upheld by foreign arms, illustrates the reasons for non- intervention in an opposite way, for in this case the reasons themselves do not exist. A people the most attached to freedom, the most capable of de- fending and of making a good use of free institutions, may be unable to con- tend successfully for them against the military strength of another nation much more powerful. To assist a people thus kept down is not to disturb the balance of forces on which the permanent maintenance of freedom in a country depends, but to redrew that balance when it is already unfairly and violently disturbed. The doctrine of non-intervention to be a legitimate principle of morality must be accepted by all governments. The despots must consent to be bound by it as well as the free States. Unless they do, the profession ofit by free countries comes but to this miserable issue, that the wrong side may help the wrong, but the right must not help the right. Intervention to enforce non-intervention is always rightful, always moral, if not always prudent. Though it be a mistake to giro freedom to a people who do not value the boon, it cannot but be right to insist that if they do value it, they shall not be hindered from the pursuit of it by foreign coercion. * * * * The first nation which, being powerful enough to make its voice effectual, has the spirit and courage to say that not a gun shall be fired in Europe by the soldiers of one Power against the revolted subjects of another, will be the idol of the friends of freedom throughout Europe. That decla- ration alone will ensure the almost immediate emancipation of every people which desires liberty sufficiently to be capable of maintaining it ; and the nation which gives the word will soon find itself at the head of an alliance of free peoples, so strong as to defy the efforts of any number of confederated despots to bring it down. The price is too glorious not to be snatched sooner or later by some free country ; and the time may not be distant when Eng- land, if she does not take this heroic part because of its heroism, will be compelled to take it from consideration for her own safety."

At present public law subsists on sufferance, without any inter- national tribunal to enforce it, any international legislature to amend and develop it ; in this respect we have not yet advanced a single stride beyond the dark ages,—unless an agreement on some such principles as these, and the more systematic use of Congresses, can be regarded as a step now made towards better order in the civilized world. Such a consummation will be brought about the sooner if the councils of any leading and inde- pendent country arc more clearly and consciously informed as to the commanding and guiding principle ; and hence is it that we challenge the accession of a man like Mill to the Parliament as a good for foreign nations not less than our own. We do not forget the services already done in the library ; but we hold that their effect would be expedited and enlarged, even before we, who live now, close our eyes on the scene, if philosophy were thus induced to step out of the Library into Parliament.