16 SEPTEMBER 1876, Page 7


'A/R. LOWE at Croydon was Mr. Lowe in his most char-

.31 form,—Mr. Lowe at his luckiest, cleverest, most positive, most negative, most combative, and most de- structive point. No one else could have illustrated the respon- sibility of England for Turkish misrule better, and no one else could have drawn such an erroneous inference from it. Some- thing in the very genius of the man makes him always take the destructive side, even when he has carefully laid the foundations for a constructive duty. How clever he was about the responsibility of a man who keeps a dangerous dog for any damage which it may have done The only con- ditions of such responsibility are, he says, the owner's knowledge of the ferocity of the beast, and his power to re- strain the beast. In the case of Turkey,—the ferocious dog which England advisedly protected, because she thought it useful to set at the Russians,—we were well acquainted by a long course of tradition with his ferocious character, and we had ample power to restrain him, for we were his only active friends, who had just refused to put on him a very inefficient muzzle manufactured by the three Northern Powers, and our refusal had been fatal to the proposal. After such an opening to his speech, what would not one expect from Mr. Lowe ? Of course the inference that, being both well acquainted with the temper of this ferocious dog, and having sufficient power over him, which we had not exerted at the right time to save others from mutilation and destruction, we owe them all the reparation in our power, and espeniAlly the pro- tection which would result from our taking active and immediate steps to tie him up and muzzle him efficiently now. But is that Mr. Lowe's conclusion ? Quite the contrary. If Mr. Lowe means at all what he says, he does not mean to support Mr. Gladstone's proposals in any real way, though he gave them his abstract approbation. Laissez- fairs is what he recommends. We are to wash our hands of the Turks,—though from Pilate's time, washing the hands of a responsibility once incurred has never been held to set you really free from it. "I do not suppose that they [the people of England] would wish to enter on a new crusade, or so to return evil for evil, but I believe they do wish to wash their hands of the transaction altogether, and that Turkey shall subsist, if she does subsist, as she did of yore, by her own power of fighting any or all who come against her, and that the name of England shall not be mixed up with her any more." In other words, having established our full responsibility for this ferocious dog, which has been destroying and mutilating at his own pleasure, we are not to help to muzzle him, not to join in tying him up, but to let him loose, as far as we are concerned, and declare to all and several that if, after this, the dog does any further mischief by his own power of tooth and limb, we have washed our, hands of him, and have not to answer for his offences. True, for many a year we fed, and guarded, and almost housed him ; but now having withdrawn from feeding, or guarding, or housing him, we have no further concern with him, and may fairly leave him to be hunted down

or shot, if he can be hunted down or shot, by others. If, on the contrary, he can so defend himself by the terror his savage temper inspires as to go on with his successful raids on in- fancy, timidity, and weakness, that is not our affair. We have advertised ourselves out of the responsibility, and need do no more. That is what Mr. Lowe calls "breaking off all com- munication with Pandemonium," and ceasing "to keep the door of Sin and Death any longer."

Now we submit that we do not break off all communication with Pandemonium, if we simply cut ourselves loose from the consequences of what was done while we were in alliance with Pandemonium. Or to drop Mr. Lowe's metaphor, there cannot be a course of action much more culpable than suddenly do.. daring off from a mischievous policy, without taking our full share of the responsibility of substituting for that mischievous policy one which, without continuing its evils, shall guard against the probably equal danger of suddenly dropping all concern with the matter. Responsibility for an evil implies the duty of removing the evil, and removing it in the most effective way. But Mr. Lowe has nothing to advise, except, " Let us break, once for all, our near and intimate connection with Turkey." Now, if ever there were a situation in which laissez-faire is morally indefensible, it is this. England has been one of the most powerful of all the agents in bringing about the state of affairs under which theft mischiefs have occurred. Is it for the chief surety, for the most trusted counsellor of Turkey, suddenly to throw the Turkish Question on the hands of Europe, without accepting a particle of the responsibility of solving it ? What should we say if a municipality, after poisoning the blood of its citizens with an ill-chosen cemetery, suddenly cut itself loose from the question, and "washed its hands" of all further responsibility for it? Great Britain can only free herself from her responsibility for what has happened by a thoughtful, disinterested, and anxious participation in the great problem how to dissolve the rapidly decomposing Turkish Empire in Europe, with least violence and least risk to those who have suffered most from it hitherto. It seems to us thoroughly ignoble to leave the responsibility of this task on other Powers, after taking so large a part in creating the situation which makes the task at once difficult and perilous. We must be prepared to have a policy of our own, to discuss it with the other Powers, to accept modifications of it from the suggestions of those Powers, to sustain vigorously whatever seems for the benefit of all in conjunction with them, and not to shrink from the necessity of supporting, even by force, if needful, the coun- sels of united Europe. This, and this alone, satisfies that sense of responsibility for what has happened which Mr. Lowe has so well expounded, but which, with his usual incoherence of mind, he interpreted to involve nothing but retreating from our false position in the past, without attempting to take up a better position for the future.

What is it that makes Mr. Lowe delight to enforce with all his peculiar wit and vigour the destructive side of every political problem, and evade, if he can, the constructive side'? Ilia most eloquent speeches are all sure to end, in effect at least, with the counsel with which he concluded his speech on the Irish Church,—" Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground ?" You should not enfranchise a democracy, you should not give the suffrage to the agricultural labourer, you should not give money to an Arctic expedition, you should not endow research, you should not try to keep a great colonial empire, you should not protect animals from scientific torture, you should not support Turkey ; such are a few of the negative creeds which Mr. Lowe has in recent years most vigorously and most positively defended. But how seldom he tells us what we should do,—even when, as in this speech, the exhortation to leave off doing evil really implies, in the name of every principle of moral responsibility, learning to do well. Mr. Lowe has yet to learn that there are very few things in life, however bad, which you can simply leave off doing, without causing almost as much mischief as by continuing to do them. If you leave off digging a pit, and do not fill it up again, your neighbours will tumble into the hole, or break their heads against the deserted mound of excavated earth. And some- thing analogous would result from our merely breaking with "Pandemonium," and refusing to join in any league to keep Pandemonium from breaking loose.