24 MARCH 1866, Page 9


WE have no need now to justify the course we pursued iu- regard to the Jamaica cruelties. As in the matter of the American war, so in this, the " audacity " of the Spectator in. facing public opinion has been justified by the result. Slowly andi unwillingly, but decisively, the House of Commons, the journals, and even the middle class, have swung round to the side originally so unpopular, have renounced their Philistine belief that the. Englishman abroad can do no wrong, and have admitted that there is a principle higher even than the defence of the divine right of white authority. There is still evidence of the feeling that a murder' committed by a half civilized black is a crime infinitely worse than a murder committed by a highly civilized white, of the belief that 'ignorance, and squalor, and savagery increase the moral responsibility for crime. There is still of course a great talk about the exaggerations of negro evidence, as if the educated Europeans of India had not sent home monstrous stories of mutilations, or as if a reign of terror were a regime cal- culated to elicit truthfulness, and there will yet be a determined attempt to shield Mr. Eyre from the consequences of his abuse of authority, but the substantial object has been attained. No. colonial Governor in this generation will ever again venture to let loose the dominant race upon an inferior people, or surrender his claim to guide and moderate that irresistible and almost inexplic- able energy which, in Jamaica as in India, enables a few thousand half organized Englishmen not only to defeat adversaries who out- number them as forty to one, but to move among hostile mul- titudes like the knights of the middle ages among peasants, slaughtering till they are weary, but without a wound themselves. It remains only to discuss a fact which Englishmen at home often deny, but which to all who have lived either in Asia or South America is patent, though still puzzling, the terrible ferocity which the Anglo-Saxon—a bad word, but no other includes even roughly the whole English speaking family—when once released from the conventional bonds almost invariably displays. That ferocity is not of course exceptional among mankind. The Athenian slaughtered more pitilessly than the Englishman has ever done or will do, Frenchmen did acts both under the Red and the White Terror which in their sustained cruelty were almost with- out pagan parallel, and the Spanish treatment of subject Indians called forth the indignant remonstrances of men who deemed the Holy Inquisition a tribunal acceptable to God. But the Athenian had no article in his creed teaching respect for human life, the Spaniard believed he was slaying soulless men, and the Frenchman admits that there is in him an element of the tiger. But the Englishman is at bottom good-natured, is at home a law- abiding man, credits himself justly enough with an instinctive preference for fair play. No race seems to have overcame so coin- ihtely the love of cruelty for its own sake, none, except perhaps the Arab in his best aspect, has ever admitted so fully in theory and practice the duty of benevolence towards the whole animated creation, foxes alone excepted. None stands up so steadily and persistently against official oppression, or pleads so earnestly for the " rights" of the weaker in a dispute. What makes him of all mankind, this good-baunoured, just, and law-bound individual, once let loose against a race he intends to rule, so exceptionally ferocious? Race hatred? Partly perhaps, but that only pushes the analysis one step back, and the records of his action in Ireland and the Highlands are too deeply stained for. that explanation to be accepted as complete. Nothing related even of, this last exhibition in Jamaica exceeds in horror the little known but demonstrable atrocities committed under the Duke of Cumberland after Culloden, atrocities which but for a strange concurrence of favourable circumstances would have fixed a deep gulf between the Highlander and the Englishman. The horrors committed in the great Irish Rebellion were almost surpassed by the horrors committed in its repression, and all that genius and popular sympathy can effect have failed to efface from the character of Cromwell the terrible stain of Drogheda. The motive must be sought deeper yet in the national character even than that strange pride which, with a cool contempt for ethnological facts, we term the sentiment of race, and we believe it will be found in this.

Deep in the Anglo-Saxon heart, as in the heart of every people, save the Arab, which has ever achieved domination, lies the instinct of masterfulness, the thought seldom formulated, but never absent, that he has by innate right, by a privilege beyond or above all human and most divine laws, the prerogative of sway. Alone among mankind the Anglo-Saxon has never con- sented to settle in any land ruled by another law or administered through another language than his own. Spread abroad over the whole world, he settles nowhere where he has not dominion, and there is not on earth at this moment a group of five thousand Eng- lish-spellting men who obey a foreign rule. They cannot do it. Sooner or later they and the native authority claah, and then, bickering eternally among themselves, the haughty insular, people, whose one idea is to create an England or a New England in every land, stand back to back as organized. as an army, and in their cold determination to be at the top conquerable only by extermi- nation. The sergeant who when ordered to kotow to a Chinese Prince under penalty of death quietly took the death as a prefer- able injury, expressed the feeling of his entire people. The root of the frightful massacres of Englishmen in India was the native conviction that while there was a white man alive he would want to be at the top, and that sooner or later, by wile or force, he would get there. This instinct of dominion, in itself the most valuable of qualities, for without it we could not do our destined work of ploughing up the sun-baked civilizations of the East, pro- duces naturally an overwhelming impatience of resistance. Rebel- lion to such a race is as insult. We would ask any Anglo-Indian whether, during the entire mutiny, the struggle was not embittered by the intense feeling of every member of his caste, that he was insulted by the rising of a subordinate race, insulted much more than alarmed by the menace of massacre? It is that feeling, and not race hatred, which produced the horrible incident recorded this week by the Jamaica correspondent of the Daily News, a white man treading down the new earth above Gordon's grave, avowedly that he might enjoy the feeling of " trampling that fellow under his feet." Taken together, the two feelings make the Englishman in time of rebellion the most logically pitiless of human beings. He will go any length rather than hear of compromise, would, we believe, have depopulated India rather than surrender a province or a district. Those who have risen must bend again, be the con- sequences what they may Our principal motive in supporting Government in its recent exercise of power in Ireland,—an exercise on many points, such as the seizure of the Irish People, at variance with Liberal principles—was the fear lest, if Feuians once descended into the streets, we should witness one of those awful bursts of fury with which Anglo-Saxons respond to insurrection against themselves. We all know, who know ourselves, that to. retain Ire- land the nation would in the long run stop at nothing, would, if the insurrection began with massacre, sweep the Celt from the face of earth sooner than yield. Anything, even a sentence to Pentonvillefor keeping a green coat, is better than to let loose that awful passion of domination which has over and over again written such records against the English people. Bad enough even in Europe, that passion is among inferior races exasperated by the pride of colour, by the necessity for energy involved in excessive disproportion of numbers, and by the belief that it is morally better for the dark man to be ruled by the white, into a Berserker frenzy, producing at once the noblest heroism and the most hideous cruelty. One man will contend to the death against a thousand, and then after conquering slay on, as if Heaven had issued, as the Jews ima- gined, a decree against the Canaanites. Numbers, weapons, cir- cumstances make no difference. The Englishman so situated would fight on if the spirits of the air were visibly assailing him, aye, and feel while fighting that a warlike nation of thirty millions were insolent in daring to try conclusions of battle with eighteen thousand of "the hereditary nobility of mankind," and after win- ning as he invariably wins, would scatter death as if he were still fighting. The cry against Lord Canning's clemency was bitterest from men who were hourly engaged in, combat, and in Jamaica it was the actual fighting men, men who like Ramsay had seen service, or- like Mr. Ford turned out from civil life to the conflict, who were most relentless. This very man Ramsay, whom even Jamaica condemns, would, we doubt not; have stood up alone against a parish of armed blacks sooner than acknowledge for a second that his race was not entitled to rule. The axiom which associates cruelty with cowardice is as false now as it was in the days of Alva, or Tilly, or Claverhouse, each of them monsters of cruelty, who yet knew no fear. Fearless, - insulted, and pitilessly logical in his resolve to rule, the Englishman in the struggle is apt, as the Sep- tembrisers said, to " get blood in his eyes," to yield to that hor- rible feeling which comes over some men in action—a mad crave to destroy, an anger which nothing except slaughter can appease, a lust of bloodthirstiness such as towards the end of a battle it has often perplexed English Generals to control. They are then just as dangerous as wild beasts, and almost, we trust, as irresponsible. Nothing but discipline, or its equivalent, the strong control of the only man they will obey, the representative of the national autho- rity, will then hold them in, and it is for letting the reins go, as much as for what he did himself, that Mr. Eyre is responsible to the country.

This is, we believe, the tine explanation of the slaughter; for the flogging there is a different one. Something is probably due in Jamaica to the old slaveholding tradition—the astounding case of the planter, for example, who is said to have flogged all his creditors—but many of the chief actors, Ramsay included, had no connection with slavery, had probably never seen the institution at work. The ready resort to the lash is due, we fear, to the tinge of barbarism which still infects our discipline. Men who have seen fifty lashes given for an insolent expression, as in Ireland this week, cannot realize the full barbarity of the punishment as men realize it who, like Frenchmen and the English cultivated classes, have absolutely surrendered its use, object to its infliction even on the most violent class of criminals. Failing prisons, such men fall back on the lash by the instinct of custom, and inflict it with a recklessness which suggests the strange doubt whether they do not secretly deem the punishment a merciful alternative to death. The flogging of women was exceptional, and is perhaps the very worst feature of the frightful scenes in Jamaica, as being the one of which the executioners best knew the horror. Not one such case occurred in India, and indeed the very opinion which was hungering for slaughter -condemned every form of torture as un- warranted even by recent massacre, and to be defended only by demonstrable military necessity. There was cruelty in those ads, cruelty in the use of wire, cruelty in using human beings as targets which was foreign to the English Berserker rage, and explicable only by the existence in the colony of an absolutely bad feeling, that ulceration of hate which arises when hatred has been indulged for years. That hate was peculiar to Jamaica, but everywhere in the world, in Ireland as in India, among Cheyenne Indians as among Tasmanians, the most awful responsibility a governing man can incur is to let loOse, loose from conventional bonds and external discipline, the Anglo-Saxon lust for a dominion which, when acknowledged, he can use more leniently than any other race on earth.