網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

try the endurance of foreigners in the South. Can it be expected that the Old World will become a meek convert to the gospel of “ destiny” so current in the New ?—that for its sake Europe will renounce the law of nations and the guarantees of Right?—that England in particular will repent of her repentance towards the African race, betray to a new oppressor the people she had ceased to oppress, and permit her language, framed for free men's lips, to be corrupted by her own sons, at the very heart of her colonial empire, into the dialect of universal slavery? Upon what ground can the statesmen at Washington claim exemption for their country from the restraints of justice and mutual respect which other nations own, and indulge themselves with an international morality worthy the deck of an Algerine ? With a class of men who could seriously embrace and apply the principle of the Ostend manifesto, negotiation and compact would be a mockery : for the only right it asserts is the right to do wrong. If Spain should refuse to sell the sovereignty of Cuba to the United States, then," say Mr. Buchanan and his associates, by every law, human and divine, we shall be justified in wresting it from Spain, IF WE HAVE THE POWER !” Had the recklessness of the Southern policy confined itself to the continent, it might perhaps have long evaded the chances of arrest. But if it will insist on putting to sea, it directly invokes European war and interrupts its own secure development by enormous and gratuitous hazards. Through even this danger (though it were dishonour) we believe, however, the Northern States would suffer themselves to be drawn, rather than relinquish the Union so sacred in their eyes. But there is one extremity and anachronism of crime which would conclusively alienate both the free States and the European nations, and heartily unite New and Old England against an apostate South : we mean, the re-opening of the African Slave-trade. That is a question which Christendom will not condescend to argue over again : it has been flung into the deadhouse where a thousand grim barbarities lie ; and those horrid chains are rusting with the sword of the gladiator and the rack of the Inquisition. Yet, at this very hour, a Special Committee of the South-Carolina legislature is in session on this matter, with instructions to report on the expediency of reviving the Slave-trade; and, in order to render the investigation more complete, has asked permission to sit continuously through the parliamentary recess. The committee was appointed on the recommendation of the governor: and as it must be drawn from the class of persons who returned the Hon. Preston S. Brooks to Congress in express approval of his dealings with Mr. Sumner's head, it is not doubtful in what spirit the investigation will be made.

The gentlemen of South Carolina are accustomed to be "a law unto themselves,” and are little likely to regard the scruples of any other law. And being far too " chivalrous” for prudence, there may perhaps be a special charm for them in any measure that has so strong a name as Piracy, and defies the indignation of the civilised world.

There are doubtless a few European statesmen who are aware of the gravity of the present crisis in American society: but its fearful significance seems hidden from the mass of even our cultivated and thoughtful men. If we read it aright, the time has gone by for discussing the removal of slavery ;-the only problem now is, whether it is possible to arrest its extension. The oligarchy which protects it not only possesses every South State-legislature, where alone its severity could be mitigated or its term of existence abridged; but has a firm grasp of the Federal government, which rules the Territories and predetermines the conditions for future States. Not the faintest symptom appears in any slave State of a desire to wipe out the blot. Henry Clay himself is mentioned as “that black-hearted traitor:” and did any member of the House at Richmond or Charleston propose to substitute prædial serfdom for personal bondage, to prevent the separation of families, and to educate the planters' people, he would pay the penalty of exile and ruin. The only plan of amelioration, the mention of which is ever tolerated, is the colonisation to Liberia ; and that, only because it is too innocent to be of any avail, and soothingly occupies the conscience of weak-minded clergymen, who might else grow benevolent and troublesome. At Washington, where alone the sentiment of the free States can be brought to bear, the Constitution limits discussion and legislation on the subject to its Federal relations,—within the District of Columbia and on the unsettled lands: which last the victory of the democratic party has now withdrawn from the favourable action of Congress. That the curse should recede seems impossible : and the only practical question concerns its mode and direction of advance. If it becomes aggressive on the peculium of the North, the Union will break if on the islands of the tropical seas, foreign war will ensue :- if on the African coasts, both these disasters will follow. And in any of these cases, it would need a bold prophet to name the next step: but the strain put upon the South would be so great, that in some way or other, more or less terrible, the "institution" for which the storm was braved would probably have vanished ere the clouds were gone.

There is one case which might possibly open a more favourable prospect. Should Mexico verify the rumours of her mineral wealth, and prove another California, she must remain a land of free labour, and become a final limit to the slave-extension which her fertility and weakness now invite. Annexed or unannexed, she would interpose a bar between Texas and Central America, and present to the fugitive a Southern Canada at the very gate of his house of bondage. Once encircled with a cordon of free soil, the slave-land would have its fee-simple reduced to a lease. The term might still not expire for generations : but the freehold of the oppressor would be gone.

It is little that England can do towards solving the domestic problems of a susceptible people, not yet forgetful of old injuries, and avowedly preferring even Russian sympathies to her own.

The negative policy of abstinence and forbearance, a careful avoidance of every untenable pretension, an ungrudging allowance of free scope to the energies of a kindred nation, so long as they are true to the institutions they inherit and the liberties they won from us, seem to constitute the essence of our duty and our power. In drawing as closely as possible the ties which unite us with America, it is, however, incumbent on us to affect no disguise of our real and universal sentiment on the great question which agitates the country. The question is a world-question, on which we have pronounced : and our sympathies are with the group of States whose voice is with our own, whose action was before our own Let it be clearly understood, that though we institute no propaganda of freedom, we mean to protect lands and people intrusted to us from any crusade of slavery. Our history, God knows, has many blots of shame : and among the darkest are those with which the New World has a right to reproach us. So much the less can it be expected that we shall recede from the one act of reparation we have stretched an arm over the Atlantic to achieve ; and shall not jealously watch the reactionary wave thrown off from the slave-bound coast towards the liberated islands of the West. We naturally wish for every thing that may embarrass the schemes of slavery-extension : and it would be folly to make any secret of the wish. We wish that Spain would hasten emancipation in Cuba : so as to discourage invaders by the double task of conquest of the land and of subjugation of the people. We wish that our Indian authorities may stimulate to the utmost the growth and preparation of cotton in the East : so as to relax the tension of production and the rush into fresh fields in the tropical States of America, and to set free the moral sympathies of our -mercantile classes at home from an oppressive reciprocity with the planters' interest. Should democratic impetuosity precipitate a struggle between the conflicting elements in America, we are bound in heavy and not ignoble securities to give our word of hope to liberty and right: and would fain be without too tempting a stake in the continuance and prosperity of slavery and wrong.

:

RECENT WORKS SUITABLE FOR BOOK-SOCIETIES.

[ocr errors]

The Gospel of St. John; a Series of Discourses. By Frederick Denison Maurice, M.A. Macmillan. [This volume has only just come into our hands ; but we can even

now say that it is full of characteristic beauty and insight.] Mediaeval Philosophy, between the 4th and 14th centuries. By Rev. F. D. Maurice. Griffin and Co.

[Something much more than a “Manual for the use of Students."

Mr. Maurice does not carefully sketch systems; but gives at a few points some living insight into the deeper thoughts that worked in the hearts of the greatest mediæval philosophers. More than any book we know it realises the intellectual pro

blems of the middle ages.] The Office and Work of Universities. By J. H. Newman, D.D. Longman and Co.

[With all the charm that belongs to most of its author's writings,

this book does not always adhere very closely to its subject. It ranges away from the history of Universities into universal history. It is strong in its Roman-Catholic virtue of “ detach

ment” from all but ecclesiastical interests. ] Lectures on Shakspere and Milton. By S. T. Coleridge. With a List

of all the Ms. Emendations in Mr. Collier's folio, 1632 ; and an Introductory Preface, by J. Payne Collier, Esq. Chapman and Hall.

[This is far the pleasantest literary product of the present quarter. Milton's name,

however, has no business in the title ; all the lectures upon him having been lost. The recovery of these lectures is the recovery of a little of Coleridge's very best criticism.

Mr. Collier’s recollections of his conversation are good; and the complete list of the “ emendations” has long been

wanted.] The English of Shakspere illustrated, in a Philological Commentary on his Julius Cæsar. By George L. Craik. Chapman and Hall. [A very good unpretending book. It professes to be meant only

for the unlearned; but few who have not devoted much time to the philological study of English, and of Shakspere's Eng

lish, will find it unprofitable reading. ] Critical and Imaginative Essays. By Professor Wilson. Vol. 2.

Blackwood.
Aurora Leigh. By Elizabeth B. Browning. Chapman and Hall.

[A modern novel in verse, in which the full riches of the author's

genius are employed in illustrating the capacities of women, and the existing conditions of their life in England. Extreme things find an extreme utterance; and vigour sometimes dege

nerates into spasm.] Dramatic Scenes. By Barry Cornwall. Chapman and Hall.

[This is a handsome and lavishly illustrated drawingroom-table book.

Some of the illustrations by Birket Foster are very pretty and even poetical. The new poems are not such as will add to Mr. Procter's reputation as a poet.]

[ocr errors]

a

Poetry from Life. By C. M. K. Smith, Elder, and Co.

[Many of these verses have a certain quiet beauty, though they are

very deficient in strength. The little flower-vignettes at the

end of each piece are remarkably fresh and pretty.] Modern Manicheism, Labour's Utopia, and other Poems. J. W. Parker.

[There is a distinctly intellectual cast about most of these poems,

and now and then considerable vigour. The poems from which

the volume is named seem to be the poorest.] Letters of Queen Henrietta Maria. By Mrs. G. P. Everett Green. Richard Bentley.

[An exceedingly valuable book. It is the fruit of much labour in

the difficult task of deciphering, and more than repays that labour. It throws some quite new gleams of light on the his

tory of the period.) Queens of Scotland. By Agnes Strickland. Vol. 6. William Black

wood. The Girlhood of Catherine de Medici. By T. Adolphus Trollope. Chapman and Hall.

[The work of an accomplished student of Italian history. The

nominal subject is rather a peg, on which to hang a disquisition

on the times, than the author's real theme.] Memorials of James Watt. By George Williamson, Esq. Printed for the Watt Club. Constable.

[These memorials have an antiquarian cast; and will be especially

welcome to the inhabitants of Greenock, the birthplace of Watt. Nevertheless they have much general interest; and the fine engravings of Watt, and other valuable plates which enrich the book, contribute to make it a work of great value. The memoir on the application of steam-power to the navigation of the

Clyde is new and curious.] Life and Correspondence of Sir John Malcolm. By J. W. Kaye. Smith, Elder, and Co. [One of the most interesting of the recent biographies of our great

Indian statesmen. Malcolm has a buoyancy of nature which gives perhaps more personal interest to his life than to that of either Munro or Metcalfe ; and there is rather more variety

in the scene of action.] Life of Cornelius Agrippa. By Henry Morley. Chapman and Hall.

[A book founded on careful and conscientious investigation: it has

been less thoroughly worked up, however, into its author's

imagination than his earlier biographies.] The Discovery of the North-West Passage. By Captain R. M-Clure. Edited by Commander Sherard Osborn. Longman and Co.

[A clear and spirited narrative. Its fault, if any, lies in drawing

attention too frequently to a gallantry that is sufficiently con

spicuous to every reader on a bare recital of the facts.] Arctic Explorations. By Dr. Kane. 2 vols. Trübner.

:

« 上一頁繼續 »