25 JUNE 1864, Page 4

patience, and even with irritation. He shares vividly with the

great manufacturing class an annoyance especially natural to producers on so large a scale, that the sensitive nerves, so to say, which relate our nation with the nations of the Continent are always interfering with the play of our own greatest and most characteristic energies; and, like a man of sensitive genius who longs to retire from the jar of the world in order to work out his own conceptions in solitary peace, Mr. Gladstone at the head of the producing classes is almost always feeling, and often indulging, the wish that we could so far isolate ourselves from Europe as to let the selfishnesses of mankind battle together on the great field of the Continent, while England sends her cottons and her coals impartially to the just and the unjust, and elaborates in peace the reforms for which society is craving. We can fully understand this temperament of Mr. Glad- stone's, and see that it represents many very noble elements of character. Nevertheless we fear that it may greatly mislead him in the crisis which is now impending. The imaginative view of the British nation, as we may call it,—that view of it which cares for its position and duties in relation to the other nations amongst whom we live, is the predominant one both in the genuinely aristocratic and the genuinely popular politics. If Mr. Gladstone cannot learn to feel the importance of that view, and to subordinate even the most warmly cherished of his plans to the vindication of the country's international honour and the fulfilment of her international obligations, he must sink from the first rank of English statesmen into the mere gifted representative of a single section of English society. He may be sure that the more influence is gained by the working class in the Government of the country, the more powerfully will

the aristocratic feeling as to the prominence of our foreign policy be re-enforced, and the more difficulty will the aristo- cratic leaders find in the practice of that anxious sobriety and self-restraint which almost always guides them in really critical times. The true policy of the pacific capitalist-party which Mr. Gladstone represents is not to irritate public feel- ing by showing indifference to the international obligations of England, but to throw their influence into the scale of long- suffering and sober mediation while it is possible, into that of sharp and efficient action when the possibilities of mediation are exhausted. The capitalist peace party, as we may call Mr. Bright and his friends, out of their grudge towards the aristocratic statesmen, and especially towards the Foreign Office, which is always and necessarily more identified than any other with the aristocratic tone of thought, have habitually, up to the present time, made the decisive blunder of attacking bitterly the management of our foreign policy, under the notion that they could make it more pacific. They may succeed eventually in getting a more thoroughly popular element into the administration of that office, but if they do, the change will assuredly not be in the direction they wish. The producing classes would find that they would secure the maximum of peace and of pacific policy, if instead of attempting to detach England from her foreign relations and duties, they simply endeavoured to strengthen the hands of such leaders as Lord Palmerston. The aristo- cratic foreign policy is at once sufficiently sensitive to national honour to satisfy the pride and appease the national conscience of England, and sufficiently alive to the terrible responsibility and calamity of war to exhaust all, and sometimes more than all, honourable expedients to keep the peace. But if we ever have a genuinely democratic or working-class foreign policy, we believe it would be far more sensitive to national honour, and far more passionate and pertinacious in pushing its ends. Were Mr. Gladstone far-sighted, he would feel that England's best chance of long peaces and short wars lies in supporting the aristocratic statesmen, not in resisting them. He may embarrass, he may defeat them, but he cannot embarrass and defeat them, when once war has begun, except by the aid of a popular feeling which will be far more slow to make peace and far more eager to achieve victory.

And now is the decisive moment for Mr. Gladstone to choose his future course. He may, seeing that the cause of Denmark is at least the cause both of justice and of English honour,—suppress the disgust, both moraland aasthetic,which he feels for a war policy, and make up his mind to lend his great powers to the service of Lord Palmerston's Ministry, if the latter declares for war, (as we suppose he will,) without conditions which will paralyze and ultimately defeat that policy. If he does so, and continues to do so, nothing can prevent Mr. Glad- stone from occupying the first place not only among Liberal statesmen, but among English statesmen, whenever Lord Palmerston retires. It will be, we may almost say, a great and needful discipline to Mr. Gladstone to have so far identified

his own mind with that of the nation, and suppressed the flow of his teeming administrative conceptions, as to manage the country's finance during a period of commercial depression, postponed reforms, perhaps great loans and heavy taxation, only for the sake of doing English justice and redeeming English faith. Such a discipline is what he really wants to raise him from a great English financier into a great English statesman. Or he may,—and this is what we fear,—adopt the vacillating policy which he pursued in the Crimean War. He may agree to continue with Lord Palmerston on conditions, say on condition that the war be localized, and that we refuse to sanction any attempt to weaken Germany by attacking Austria on her weakest side in the Adriatic. And then, when this half-and-half policy fails, as fail it will, he may let loose the fermenting impatience of months of reluctant acquiescence by going into opposition, and using all his powerful rhe- toric to weaken the Government, and undo the result of what he had himself done. This is a line we greatly fear, and there is certainly none which would so effectually disgust the nation with Mr. Gladstone's statesmanship. It was long before his defection during the Crimean War was forgotten or forgiven ; indeed we doubt whether it will be ever fully for- gotten or forgiven by the people, unless he seize this great opportunity to show that he can sacrifice individual crotchets at the call of a great national duty. It were far better for him to retire at once than to go half-way and then desert the war-party. In the former case his consistency in acting upon his own conviction of duty, however narrow, will command respect. In the latter he will get the credit neither of a self- sacrifice for the sake of a strong conviction, nor of a sacrifice of vague individual wishes and leanings for the sake of the nation. No statesman who embarrasses the Government for the second time by deserting it in the midst of a great war can ever expect to command English confidence. If Mr. Gladstone does feel it seriously against his conscience to lend his aid to a war policy, of course it will become his duty to resign. But even then it would be his duty to abstain as much as possible from anything like opposition, and defer to the national policy until a reasonable

opportunity came of promoting the restoration of peace. But this, we may fairly say, is a position in which it is

nearly morally impossible for Mr. Gladstone to remain long. That inventive, debating understanding, that restless and elastic intellect, could not long remain passive under the silent torture of observing a coherent scheme of policy, with damag- ing criticisms on which Mr. Gladstone felt himself bubbling up and overflowing. No man of his temperament could endure to bottle up long so much moral carbonic acid gas as there would soon be in his mind, conscience, and heart.

On the whole, therefore, we look with very great anxiety to the probation through which Mr. Gladstone is certainly about to pass. Wo trust he will find it possible to sub- mit to the dispensation of war with resignation, and turn all the resources of his fertile and ingenious intellect to lighten its financial pressure and soften its political gloom. If he can do this he will come out of the war a very different states- man from him who now goes into it. For having once entered heartily into that tenacious but not ungenerous mood in which England pursues an end she has once set herself to gain, we doubt if he can ever again even appear to identify himself in foreign policy with the narrow views of the capitalist-Radi- cals. Mr Gladstone wants as a statesman nothing so much as simplicity of intellect,—sympathy, that is, with the broader ideas of national purpose and duty which are the life of all popular politics. A great war is full of frightful evil,—but the alliances it demands, the compromises it suggests, the negotiations which suspend or conclude it, are at least a great school for the imagination of statesmen. Let us hope that among the many heavy calamities which the discharge of a grave national responsibility involves, we may at last find this minute drop of consolation, that it disciplines for the country's service the mind of the only great statesman to whom Liberals can -look with even tolerable satisfaction as their leader through the struggles of the next political generation.