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Full text of "Montalembert on constitutional liberty : a picture of England, painted by a Frenchman ; a complete translation of the memorable article entitled "A debate on India in the English Parliament," which has subjected the author to [t]he now pending state prosecution"

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" A work which is destined to be remarkable. It is a noble 
and passionate eulogy of English freedom; the language of 
which extraordinary composition is a stream of unpausing 
eloquence." THE TIMES. 





I. THERE are ill-constituted minds for which repose and silence 
are not the supreme good. There are people who experience, 
from time to time, a want to quit the tranquil uniformity of their 
ordinary existence. There are soldiers who, conquered, wounded, 
in chains, condemned to a fatal inaction, console themselves and 
become invigorated at the sight of the struggles and dangers of 
others. It is not that they find any attraction in the vile and 
wretched sentiment of secure selfishness portrayed in the famous 
lines of Lucretius: 

" Suave, mari magno, turbantibus sequora ventis, 
E terrS, magnum alterius spectare laborem. 
Suave etiam belli certamina magna tueri 
Per campos instructa, tua sine parte pericli." 

No, it is a purer and higher motive; it is the effort of the un- 
armed gladiator, an interested spectator of the arena where he is 
not destined again to figure, who applauds the exploits of his 
happier rivals, and encourages the combatants with a sympa- 
thetic cheer, drowned, but not altogether lost, amid the enthusiastic 
cries of the attentive spectators. 

I candidly confess, that I may be classed in the number of 
such men ; and, I will add, that I have found a remedy for this 
disease, from which it is so little admitted that people suffer just 
now. When I feel myself attacked by the malady, when my 
ears tingle, now with the buzzing of the newsmongers of ante- 

chambers, and again with the din of fanatics who fancy them- 
selves our masters, and of hypocrites who think us their dupes, 
when I am stifling in an atmosphere loaded with the exhala- 
tions of servility and corruption, I set forth to breathe a purer 
uir, and to take a life-bath (bain de vie) in free England. 

The last time that I availed myself of this relief, fortune 
favoured me; I was thrown into the midst of one of those great 
and glorious struggles in which we see brought into play all the 
resources of the intelligence, and all the emotions of the con- 
science of a great people; where the greatest problems that can 
interest a nation out of its minority are solved in open day by 
the intervention of the greatest minds; where men and things, 
parties and individuals, orators and writers, the possessors of 
power, and the organs of opinion, are called upon to reproduce, 
in the midst of a new Rome, the picture drawn by a Roman 
of the olden time, under the influence of the emotions of the 
Forum : 

" Certare ingenio, contendere nobilitate, 
Noctes atque dies niti prsestante labore, 
Ad summas emergere opes rerumque potiri." 

At these words, I see certain brows darken, and behold traced 
upon them the repugnance with which all that may seem a 
remembrance or a regret of political life inspires the votaries 
of the fashion of the day. If, among those who have opened 
these pages there should be some who are the slaves of that 
fashion, I say to them without ceremony, " Stay where you 
are ; do not go any further. Not a particle of what I am about 
to write can prove agreeable or interesting to you. Go, 
ruminate in peace amid the rich pastures of your thrice happy 
retirement, and do not envy the right of those who envy you in 
nothing, to remain faithful to their past, to the solicitudes of the 
intellect, and the aspirations for liberty." 

Every one is happy after his own fashion ; people must be in a 
way, I cannot say of understanding one another, but, at least, 
of not disputing with each other, when they have no longer 
any incentive to ambition or affection in common, and when 
they do not agree in opinion with respect either to happiness 
or honour. 

I grant, besides, that there is nothing, absolutely nothing in 
the nature of the institutions or of the political personages of our 
time, which can resemble the men and things forming the subject 
of this rapid sketch. It will be understood, as a matter of 
course, that I do not in any way pretend to convert those 
progressive minds, who consider that Parliamentary Government 
has been advantageously replaced by universal suffrage, or those 
politicians of the Optimist school who assert that the crowning 
victory of democracy consists in handing over to a sole sovereign, 
the exclusive direction of the foreign and domestic affairs of a 
nation. I write for my own satisfaction, and for that of a small 
number of invalids, of prying, curious people, of maniacs, if 
you will have it so, like myself. I study contemporary institu- 
tions which are no longer ours, but which once have been, and 
which still seem worthy of admiration and envy to my mind, 
behind-hand as it is. Might not the sympathy and attention 
which men of high talent have awakened in favour of the fine 
ladies of the Fronde, of the equivocal personages of the great 
rebellion of England, or of the obscure and sterile agitations of 
our ancient Communes, be sometimes directed towards the deeds 
of a nation which lives and moves in its strength and its great- 
ness at seven leagues from our northern shores? I do think that 
they might, and, what is more, I imagine that this study of 
foreign statistics, or, to speak more correctly, of contemporary 
archaeology, may prove as agreeable in our leisure hours as a 
commentary on the comedies of Plautus, or a narrative of the 
exploration of the sources of the Nile. 

II. At the end of last spring the state of Hindostan, and the 
issue of the insurrection which had for a whole year been raging 
in the Northern Provinces of that extensive region, still formed 
the principal subject of attention in England. How could it 
have been otherwise? As for me, I was astonished and alarmed 
that the English people, after the consternation and anger of 
the first few months, had so speedily abandoned itself, not, cer- 
tainly, to a criminal carelessness, but to a premature confidence 
in the issue of the struggle. I felt desirous to discover, in the 
society of the most competent judges, the true causes for the 


insurrection, as well as the means which were intended to be 
employed in order to triumph finally over a danger so formidable, 
so little foreseen, and aggravated to such a pitch by threatening 
complications, which from day to day might appear on the stage 
of European politics. I offered in that investigation an ardent 
and profound sympathy towards the great, free, and Christian 
nation, from which God exacted so terrible a trial; and I felt 
that sympathy redoubled in presence of the inhuman fury of so 
many of the organs of the Continental press, and, unfortunately, 
of the soi-disant Conservative and religious journals against the 
victims of the Bengal massacres. I should have wished to inform 
every individual Englishman whom I met that I had no con- 
nexion whatever with the parties whose journals applauded and 
justified the cut-throats, and whose earnest vows are still daily 
offered up for the triumph of the Mussulman and Pagan hordes 
over the heroic soldiers of a Christian people, the ally of 

I felt, besides, what every intelligent liberal feels and knows, 
that the attitude of the Continental press with respect to the 
Indian question, demonstrates once again the great fact which 
constitutes the immortal honour of contemporary England. All 
the apologists of absolutism, whether ancient or modern, monar- 
chical or democratic, take part against her ; with her, on the 
contrary, are to be seen all those who still remain faithful to that 
regulated liberty of which she was the cradle, and is, to this 
hour, the invincible bulwark. That is but natural and right; 
moreover, it suffices to cause us to overlook, in the present 
policy of England, certain sympathies which may be more easily 
accounted for than justified, and to pardon her some wrongs 
which, under another state of things, would call for the severest 

I may boldly affirm, that no one knows better, that no one has 

* I consider that praise has little value and little dignity when criticism 
is not permitted. But I feel myself sheltered from all suspicion of servility 
in rendering just homage to the courageous perseverance with which the 
Emperor's government maintains an alliance, the rupture of which would 
certainly increase its popularity, but would convey a fatal blow to the 
independence of Europe and the true interests of France. 

more loudly signalised than I, the backslidings and deviations of 
English policy during the few past years. I was certainly the 
first to denounce, previously to 1848, the policy of Lord Palmer- 
ston, but too often imperious towards the weak and truckling to 
the strong, in the highest degree imprudent, illogical, and foreign 
to all the great traditions of his country. But, in fact, when we 
read the wretched invectives of the Anglophobes of our day, 
when we compare with their complaints against England the 
ideas which they emit and the systems which they laud, we feel 
involuntarily inclined to be indulgent towards all that they 
attack indulgent even towards Lord Palmerston. It would be, 
besides, the height of folly and of iniquity to regard England as 
solely culpable, or as the most culpable, among the nations of the 
earth. Her policy is neither more selfish nor more immoral than 
that of other great States which figure in ancient or modern his- 
tory. I even believe that it would be possible to demonstrate a 
thesis of an altogether contrary character. It is not charity, but 
strict justice, which begins at home; and, under this head, no 
French publicist has the right to stigmatise the policy of England 
before having passed judgment on the political crimes of France 
during the Revolution and the Empire, not as set forth by 
adverse witnesses, but such as their apologists M. Thiers, for 
instance have represented them. Rummage as you may the 
most suspected recesses of English diplomacy, you will* find 
nothing there which bears even the most far-fetched resemblance 
to the destruction of the Republic of Venice, or to the ambuscade 
of Bayonne. 

Besides, it is not the general, but the colonial policy of Eng- 
land which is now in question; and it is precisely in this latter 
that the genius of the British people shines with all its lustre ; 
not, certainly, that it has been at all times and in all places irre- 
proachable, but it has ever and everywhere equalled, if it have 
not surpassed, in wisdom, justice, and humanity, all the other 
European races which have undertaken similar enterprises. It 
must be confessed, that the history of the relations of Christian 
Europe witli the rest of the world, since the Crusades, is not 
attractive. Unfortunately, neither the virtues nor the truths of 

Christianity have ruled the successive conquests won in Asia, and 
America by the powerful nations of the West. After that first 
impetuous advance, so noble and so pious, of the fifteenth cen- 
tury, which fathered the great, the saintly Coluaibus, and all the 
champions of the maritime and colonial history of Portugal, 
worthy of as high a place in the too ungrateful memory of men 
as the heroes of ancient Greece, we see all the vices of modern 
civilisation usurp the place of the spirit of faith and of self-denial, 
here exterminating the savage races, and elsewhere succumbing 
to the enervating influence of the corrupting civilisation of the 
East, instead of regenerating it or taking its place. It is impos- 
sible not to recognise that England, more particularly since the 
period when she gloriously ransomed her participation in the 
kidnapping of the negroes and colonial slavery, may pride her- 
self on having escaped from the greater part of those lamentable 
deviations iroin the path of rectitude. To the historian who 
requires an account from her of the result of her maritime and 
colonial enterprises for the last two centuries, she has a right to 
reply, "Si quaris monumentum, circumspice" Can history exhibit 
many spectacles of a grander or more extraordinary nature, or 
more calculated to honour modern civilisation, than that afforded 
us by a company of English merchants which has endured 
through two centuries and a half, and which governed but yester- 
day, at a distance of 2,000 leagues from the mother country, 
nearly 200,000,000 of men by means of 800 civil servants, and 
of an army numbering from 15,000 to 20,000 men? But Eng- 
land has done better still; she has not only founded colonies, but 
called nations into being. She has created the United States; 
she has erected them into one of the greatest powers of the pre- 
sent and of the future, by endowing them with those provincial 
and individual liberties which enabled them to victoriously eman- 
cipate themselves from the light yoke of the mother country. 
" Our free institutions" (such is the tenor of the Message for the 
year 1852, of the President of that great Republic) " are not the 
fruit of the revolution; they had been previously in existence; 
they had their roots in the free charters under the provisions of 
which the English colonies had grown up." 


At the present day England is in course of creating in Australia 
United States anew, who will soon, in their turn, detach them- 
selves from the parent tree, destined as they are to become a 
great nation, imbued from the cradle with the manly virtues, and 
the glorious liberties which are everywhere the appanage of the 
Anglo-Celtic race, and which, let us declare it once again, arc 
more favorable to the propagation of' Catholic truth, and to the 
dignity of the priesthood than any other regime under the sun. 

In Canada, a noble French Catholic race, detached unfortu- 
nately from our country, but French in heart and in manners, 
owes to England the benefit of having preserved, or acquired, in 
addition to full religious liberty, all the political and religious 
liberties which France has rejected; the population has increased 
tenfold in less than a century, and will serve as a basis to the 
new confederation, which, extending from the Oregon to the St. 
Lawrence, will one day be the rival or the ally of the great 
American Republic. 

All these circumstances are forgotten, misunderstood, or misre- 
presented by certain Royalist and Catholic writers, who discharge 
their venom every day against the greatness and the liberty of 
England; strange and ungrateful Royalists, who forget that 
England is the only country in Europe where the prestige of 
royalty has not suffered a taint during the last two hundred years 
nearly ; the only country, too, which offered an inviolable 
asylum to the august exiles of the royal family of France, and 
lavished, with surpassing munificence, its assistance to the French 
emigrant nobility, and to the French clergy, proscribed for 
having refused to compound with schism:"* Catholics, stranger 
still ! who do not fear not only to compromise all the rights of 
justice and truth, but, still more, the interests of the church itself, 

* 8000 priests, 2000 laymen, and 600 French nuns sought refuge in Eng- 
land in 1793. Jn 1806, they had received from the English, both in the 
shape of private subscription, and parliamentary votes, the sum of forty- 
six millions francs. A London Catholic Journal, the Eambler for August 
1858, borrows these figures from the Book cf the Abb6 Margotti, entitled 
" Rome and London" of which it publishes in the same number an amus- 
ing and complete refutation. 


by obstinately seeking to establish a radical hostility between the 
cause of catholicity, and the free prosperity of the most extensive 
empire which exists in our days on the face of the globe, every 
successive conquest achieved by which, opens up immense vistas 
to the preaching of the gospel, and to the extension of the Roman 
Catholig hierarchy. The cruel joy with which the disasters, 
whether actual or supposed, of the English in India, have been 
welcomed, the strange sympathies with the murderers of Delhi 
and Cawnpore, the daily invectives against a handful of brave 
soldiers struggling with innumerable enemies, and with a fatal 
climate, to avenge their brothers, their wives, and their children, 
immolated alike, and to restore the legitimate and necessary 
ascendant of the Christian West, over the peninsula of India, will 
constitute one of the darkest pages in the history, already so little 
edifying, of the- religious press of our time. We regard as 
revolting those sanguinary declamations, accompanied by con- 
tinual instigations to war, between two nations happily and 
gloriously allied a war from the dangers and sacrifices of which 
its pious promoters well know that they will be the last to suffer. 
And when they abound in the columns of certain journals 
specially devoted to the clergy, and encouraged by its members; 
when they are displayed between the narrative of an apparition 
of the Virgin, and that of the consecration of a church to the 
God of mercy and of love, a sentiment of painful repugnance, 
which may be classed among the heaviest trials in the life of an 
honest man, is called forth in every Christian soul which has not 
yet been infected by the hateful passions of a retrograde fanati- 
cism ; we can fancy that we hear in a night passed in the East 
the cry of the jackal between the cooings of the dove and the 
refreshing murmur of the waters. 

I know this inspiration of old ; it was breathed into and 
detested by me in the days of my childhood, when a considerable 
number of those who called themselves the defenders of the 
altar and the throne banned with their disapproval, the generous 
sons of Greece in insurrection against the rule of the Ottomans, 
and who hailed the disasters of Ipsara and Missolonghi as so many 
defeats sustained by schismatics and revolutionists. Happily, 


nobler inspirations prevailed in the ooiuisels of the restoration, 
as in the natural generous hearts of the royalists. The genius of 
Chateaubriand crushed to powder the unfortunate leanings of the 
party to which he had always belonged toward the butchers of the 
Peloponnesus. And yet to-day there is not a Legitimist but re- 
cognises that it was the glory of Charles X., to have taken the 
principal part in the deliverance of Greece, and repudiates with 
horror the opinions held thirty-five years ago, by the principal 
organs of the Royalist party. Let us hope that the day will 
come, when every Catholic will repudiate with equal horror, the 
detestable encouragement given at present by the religious press, 
to the assassins of India. Fortunately, no voice of authority in 
the assembly of the faithful, no pontiff, no prince of the church, 
has taken part in this concert. On the contrary, we are delighted 
at being able to signalise, among the numerous pastoral letters 
published upon this subject by the catholic bishops in the British 
islands, a patriotic sympathy for the sufferings of their country- 
men. That of Dr. Gillies, Vicar Apostolic of Edinburgh, 
deserves to be quoted as the most eloquent lament yet inspired 
by that national catastrophe. And it is particularly agreeable to 
us to recall to mind here the liberal and paternal subscription of 
Pius IX. for the benefit of the English sufferers in India. It 
was at once a touching pledge of the imperturbable amiability [of 
his pontifical soul, and the most conclusive refutation of those 
prophets of hate, who preach up an irreconcilable schism between 
the Church and British Greatness. 

For my own part I say without circumlocution I hold in 
horror that orthodoxy which makes no account of justice or 
truth, of humanity or honour; and I am never tired of repeat- 
ing the significant words, lately expressed by the Bishop of 
Rochelle: " Would it not be well to give to many Catholics a 
course of lectures on the virtues prescribed by the law of nature, 
on the respect due to one's neighbour, on upright dealing even 
towards our enemies, on the spirit of equity and of charity? The 
virtues of the natural order are essential, and from their exercise 
the Church herself has not power to dispense." 

Again, how is it that people do not understand that, by these 


rash denunciations of a nation which finds itself reproached at 
the same time with the crimes of its fathers, and the virtues of 
its children, its conversion to Protestantism in the sixteenth, and 
its assertion of liberty in the nineteenth century, they expose 
themselves to the harshest and most dangerous reprisals. Ah ! if 
it had been given to France to accomplish the great colonial 
career which was open to it in the seventeenth and eighteenth 
centuries, we should, no doubt, possess a great and consoling 
example of which every Catholic might be proud. If we had 
remained, with our missionaries, and our bold but humane adven- 
turers on the banks of the Mississippi and the St. Lawrence, 
where the genius of France would have found so vast a career 
wherein to develope itself at its ease; if we had known how to 
preserve the empire of the East Indies, which seemed, for a 
moment, to be within our grasp, and to inaugurate there the 
social and Christian virtues which are the legitimate appanage of 
our race, we might brave every criticism and every comparison. 
But we have lost all those fine possessions, and lost them precisely 
in that good old time to which people wish to bring us back, 
when the monarchy was not under any control, when " error had 
not the same rights as truth/' Such being the case, and in the 
presence of history, does not justice command us to avow, that 
the Catholic nations, with the exception of France, have failed 
wretchedly in the execution of the great task which Providence 
imposed upon them in behalf of the races whom they had subju- 
gated? Does not history cry to Spain in implacable accents, 
" Cain, Cain, where is thy brother?" What has she done with 
those millions of Indians who peopled the isles and the continent 
of the New World? How many years sufficed for their annihi- 
lation by the unworthy successors of Columbus and of Cortes, in 
spite of the official protection of the Spanish Crown, in spite of 
the heroic efforts and of the fervid and indefatigable charity of 
the religious orders? Have they shown themselves less pitiless 
than the Anglo-Americans in the North? Are the lamentable 
pages, penned by Bartholomew de Las Casas, effaced from the 
memory of men? The English clergy are reproached with not 
having protested against the exactions of Clive and of Warren 


Hastings. We admit it is not given to Protestantism to give 
birth to such men as Las Casas and Peter Claver; that is the 
exclusive and immortal privilege of the Catholic Church. But 
what are we to think if those orthodox nations, with the advan- 
tages of such apostles and of such teaching, have depopulated 
half the globe? And what society did Spanish conquest substi- 
tute for the races which had been exterminated instead of having 
been civilised? Must we not turn away our eyes in sadness at 
seeing how far the first elements of order, energy, discipline, and 
legality are wanting everywhere, except perhaps, in Chili, to 
Spanish enterprise, so destitute is it of the strong virtues of the 
ancient Castilian society, without having been able to acquire any 
of the qualities which characterise modern progress? In Hin- 
dostan itself what remains of Portuguese conquest? What is 
there to show for the numberless conversions achieved by 
St. Francis Xavier ! What remains of the vast organisation of 
that Church which was placed under the protection of the Crown 
of Portugal! Go, ask that question at Goa; fathom there the 
depths of the moral and material decrepitude into which has 
fallen a rule immortalised by Albuquerque, by John de Castro, 
i ml by so many others worthy to be reckoned among the most 
valiant Christians who have ever existed. You will there see to 
what the mortal influence of absolute power can bring Catholic 
colonies as well as their mother countries. 

What must be concluded from this? That Catholicity renders 
a people incapable of colonizing? God forbid ! Canada,, the ex- 
ample of which we have quoted above, is there to give the lie to 
any such blasphemous assertion. But we are bound to conclude 
this much that it is well, when people constitute themselves the 
champions of Catholic interests, to look behind and around before 
heaping up invective on invective, calumny on calumny, in order 
to throw discredit on those nations which are unfortunately foreign 
or hostile to the Church. When people have for ever in their 
mouths the dictum of De Maistre, " History has been for three 
centuries in a conspiracy against truth/' they should not begin 
afresh, in history written for the use of Catholics, that great con- 
spiracy against truth as wt-ll as against justice and liberty. On 


the contrary, there is another dictum of M. De Maistre which 
should be called to mind, " The Church is in need of truth, and 
is in need but of that." Falsehood, under either of the two 
forms which law and theology recognize namely, the sugyestio 
falsi and the suppressio veri, is the saddest homage which can be 
rendered to the Churc^. She cannot be served well by borrowing 
the method and adopting the proceedings of her worst enemies. 
To play the tricks and to enact the violences of error in her cause, 
is not to defend the truth. The spirit of modern times has begun 
to perceive that a great deal of falsehood has been in circulation 
during three centuries against God and His Church; it has begun 
to shake off the yoke of that falsehood. Do people, then, wish 
to plunge it back again into the hatred of good? Do they wish 
to repel it towards the intellectual excesses of the 18th century? 
For that end, one infallible mean is at hand the practice or the 
absolution of falsehood, even involuntary, for the greater glory 
of God. 

III. But has England herself been irreproachable in the foun- 
dation and administration of the immense empire which she pos- 
sesses in the East Indies? Certainly not; and, if we were tempted 
to attribute to her a degree of innocence or of virtue to which 
she has never pretended, it would suffice to undeceive one's self 
to look through the works without number which have appeared 
on the Government of British India, not only since the breaking 
out of the insurrection! but previously to that event. In all this 
mountain of publications, panegyric and apology are exceedingly 
rare ; the most vehement Philippics and accusations abound ; but 
what is of far more consequence than systematic praise or blame, 
is the profound and superlatively sincere investigation of the 
faults, dangers, difficulties, and infirmities of British rule in 

I shall not cease to repeat, that it is in this extensive, and, in- 
deed, unlimited publicity, that the principal strength of English 
society consists, the essential condition of its vitality, and the 
sovereign guarantee of its liberty. The English press, at first 
sight, seems to be nothing but a universal and permanent indict- 
ment against every one and everything; but, upon a closer in- 


spection, we perceive that discussion, rectification, or reparation, 
follow closely on denunciation and strong language-. 

Mistakes and injustice, no doubt, frequently offend, and in a 
flagrant degree; but they are almost always amended immediately, 
or excused in consideration of the salutary truths or indispensable 
lights which reach the public mind by the same road. Not a 
general, an admiral, a diplomatist, a statesman is spared; they are 
all treated in the same manner as the Duke of Wellington, when, 
at the outset of his victories in the Peninsula, he was preparing 
the emancipation of Europe, and the preponderance of his country 
in the midst of the clamours of the Opposition, both in the 
press and in Parliament ; and all, like him, resign themselves to 
this situation, confiding in the definitive justice of the country 
and of opinion, which has hardly ever been wanting to them. 
The public, accustomed to the din and to the apparent confusion 
which arises from this permanent conflict of contradictory opinions 
and testimonies, ends, after the lapse of a certain time, by coming 
to recognize its true position. It possesses, above all, a wonderful 
tact for unravelling the true nature of certain purely individual 
manifestations, however noisy they may be, and for attributing to 
them that degree of importance which they really merit, respect- 
ing and maintaining the while the right which every Englishman 
asserts for himself, to judge and criticize everything, and even to 
deceive himself at his proper peril. 

Those who feel themselves offended not without reason by 
the coarse form, or by the evident falsity of certain opinions ex- 
pressed by some English orators or writers with respect to foreign 
affairs, should never forget two circumstances first, that this 
species of cutting and unbridled criticism is indulged in more 
coarsely, more freely, and more habitually on the subject of Eng- 
lish public men and home affairs; secondly, that it is always the 
act, as well as the opinion, of an individual member of a society 
in which the progress of civilization has consisted up the present 
hour in the unrestrained development of individual power and 
liberty. This is what is continually forgotten ; and hence arise 
so many opinions, either absurdly false or exaggerated, of the 
continental press respecting the true bearing of certain speeches 


or writings, which it does not fail to quote and to comment on as 
possessing a quasi official sense. Notwithstanding international 
relations so numerous and so long-continued, notwithstanding the 
slight distance which separates France from England, and the brief 
interval intervening between the French people and their past 
history, we have lost the art of understanding the nature of a 
great free nation, whereof each individual is free, and permits 
himself every whim. We possess not only the habits, but even 
the instincts of those sober and orderly peoples, doomed to an 
eternal minority, who sometimes consent to go astray in fearful 
paths, but who speedily fall back into civil impotence, among 
whom no one dares to speak, except after orders, or by permission, 
with the salutary terror of a warning from authority hanging over 
their heads, if they should be so rash as to oppose, by never so 
little, the ideas of Government or those of the mass. 

In England, and throughout its vast colonies, it is quite the 
reverse; every one in the world of politics says what he thinks, 
and does what may please him, without permission from any one 
whomsoever, and without incurring repressive measures other 
than those imposed by general opinion and by the public con- 
science, when these may be braved with too great a degree of 
boldness. Under the impulse of the moment, in a fit of spite, 
ill-humour, or vanity, any English subject, any isolated indivi- 
dual, without a mission from others, without authority, influence, 
or responsibility to any one, but seldom without sympathy, ex- 
presses, by word of mouth or in writing, whatever may pass 
through his mind. Sometimes it is the triumphant accent of 
justice and truth which makes itself thus heard, universally un- 
derstood, speedily accepted, and everywhere repeated by the 
thousand echoes of an unrestrained publicity; and it is in order 
not to destroy this chance, which may be the only one in favour 
of right and of national interest, that the English are unanimous 
in resigning themselves to the serious inconvenience attaching to 
liberty of speech. 

At other times, we encounter ridiculous or offensive exaggera- 
tions, gratuitous insults to foreigners, or, again, in a contrary 
direction, a direct appeal to their interference in the internal 


affairs of the United Kingdom.* Oftener still, we notice a 
pleasantry, a sally, a puerile boast, a platitude, destined, on the 
morrow, to be contradicted, refuted, abused, and forgotten. But 

* See in the Univers of the 25th of August ult., a translated report of 
a speech of Archdeacon Fitzgerald, in which he proposed to his countrymen 
to recur to the Emperor of the French, for the purpose of obtaining from 
the English Government the concession of tenant right. What would be 
the consequence in France, in Austria, or at Naples, if a Catholic priest 
should hold such language in public, and invite the faithful to address 
themselves to a foreign ruler, in order to force the Government at home 
to do them justice ? 

Some days later, in a meeting composed of ten thousand persons, held 
in the open air, on the 28th of August, for the purposs of presenting a 
petition to Parliament, to obtain the reversal of the sentence against two 
countrymen condemned to death for having murdered a landowner, the 
Reverend John Kenyon, a Catholic priest, addressing the assembled people, 
spoke to this effect : " I am enraged with myself, on reflecting that I 
stoop so low as to propose to you a petition to a Saxon Parliament, to 
those English who have their foot upon our neck and their hands in our 
pockets. People talk about our progress, about our new prosperity ; no, we 
are not prosperous, we cannot be so, and even if we could, we would not : 
for what is prosperity without liberty ? . . . Let us guard our causes of 
complaint as a treasure, and let no one deprive us of them until God shall 
grant us the power, and point out the way to avenge them. ... If we 
demean ourselves again on this occasion to petition Parliament to have 
Judge Keogh hanged, that vile and iniquitous judge, &c. [this was said of 
the man who had presided at the assizes, and whose sentence was thus 
received]. . . . If justice in this country were not a caricature, Judge 
Keogh would already be hanging from a gibbet fifty feet in height" 

His hearers loudly applauded this language, which was published in all 
the papers, and which not one even thought of suppressing. It must be 
added, that not a soul took alarm at it ; a tolerable proof of the strength 
of the English Government and the liberty enjoyed in Ireland. Let my 
readers remember what occurred some time ago to an Advocate of Tou- 
louse, who had published a pamphlet upon the condemnation of Brother 
L6otarde, and then judge what they ought to think of the pretended 
oppression under which the Catholics in Ireland are now groaning, accord- 
ing to certain ignorant ranters who confound at will the present and the 



if by chance such a passage should fall in the way of one of those 
translators, authorized by the censorship, who nourish in so 
strange a manner the continental press, instantly all the privileged 
detractors of liberty transcribe it, take due note of it, wax wroth 
thereat, cry aloud, " See how England thinks, and what she says !" 
and proceed to the deduction of consequences of an absurdly 
alarming cast, now for the peace of the world, anon for the 
security of British institutions, under pain of being promptly and 
shamefully controverted by reflection and facts. 

Let us hazard the passing remark, that the great evil of abso- 
lute governments is, that their faults are kept secret. Like an 
abscess that is never lanced, never dressed, never reduced, these 
faults spread, and little by little corrupt the entire body of society. 
On the contrary, as has been observed with .reason, an evil is 
never irreparable in a country where people know how to preach 
themselves a lesson with such rigour without fearing to wound 
national pride or humiliate the Government. Publicity in Eng- 
land, rash, imprudent, coarse, often apparently compromising the 
dignity of the country, and sometimes capable of endangering 
international relations, constitutes at once the daily bread of the 
majority, the supreme asylum of the minority, the pivot of uni- 
versal existence. 

It is the remedy for all the evils inseparable from a civilization 
so far advanced, a painful but salutary and infallible remedy, and 
which, above all, proves better than any other argument the 
strong constitution of the patient. This remedy has never yet 
failed; witness what came to pass during the Russian war, and 
the comparative state of the two allied armies in the course of 
their second winter in the Crimea. Happy the nations who can 
so undergo the ordeal of fire and sword. Those nations may be 
truly called manly who find nothing to envy in any one, and 
who have to fear only an excess of confidence in their strength. 

The preceding observations serve to explain the fact, that there 
exists no kind of reproach or of abuse which the English and the 
Anglo-Indians have not addressed to their Government, to their 
generals, above all to the East India Company, that great corpor- 
ation which, after a hundred years of success and of increasing 


prosperity, beholds itself attacked at the close of its glorious 
career by that cowardly complicity of human nature all the 
world over with, fortune, which shows itself when she abandons 
those whom she has long overloaded with her favours. But, if 
we duly weigh the worth of all these accusations, if we hear the 
witnesses for the defence, if we consult the past state of things 
as compared with existing facts, we cannot feel inclined to ratify- 
in every point the sentence pronounced against it. The future 
will tell, whether it was right to profit by the actual crisis by 
suppressing the " Double Government," and by displacing the 
multitude of wheels which, ever since Pitt's famous Bill of 1784, 
have always had for effect to render more complicated the action in 
India of the home Government, by restraining more and more 
the independence of the Company. Meanwhile, it would be the 
height of injustice to condemn its history in the lump. 

Certainly, it has committed more than one fault, perhaps more 
than a single crime. It has not done all the good it might have 
done. But I assert, without hesitation, that the East India Com- 
pany, now defunct by virtue of the Act of the 2nd of August, 
1858, is, of all powers known in the colonial history of the 
ancient or modern world, that which has done the greatest things 
with the humblest means, and that which, in any equal space of 
time, has conferred the greatest amount of good and inflicted the 
least of evil on the peoples subject to its rule. I assert, that it 
delivered the different populations of India from a yoke which, 
in general, was atrocious, in order to subject them to a regime 
incomparably milder and more equitable, although, still imperfect. 
It employed for the improvement of the conquered race not, 
certainly, all the efforts which it ought and might have made, 
and which the English themselves unceasingly called for, but a 
hundredfold more solicitude and devotion than any of the native 
Powers whose place it took upon. itself to fill, or than any of the 
European nations invested by conquest with a similar mission. 

Admitting, even, that the immoral selfishness of a corporation 
of merchants has but too often signalized its debuts in the Penin- 
sula of Hindostan, still, for more than 50 years its generals and 
principal agents, the Wellesleys, the Malcolms, the Munroes, the 

C 2 


Bentincks, fully displayed all the zeal and all the activity becom- 
ing their high functions, to expiate the evil deeds of their prede- 
cessors, and to lead every impartial observer to avow, that, in the 
present state of things, British domination is at once a benefit and 
a necessity for the inhabitants of India. 

It has not found means to correct, or to contain within bounds, 
everywhere, the haughtiness, coldnes?, and the insolence natural 
to the English; but it has constantly struggled againts the results 
arising from that disagreeable mixture of selfishness and energy, 
which, in the instance of the Anglo-Saxon race, too frequently 
degenerates into ferocity, and of which but too numerous examples 
offer themselves in the United States. 

In those districts where it was invested with territorial sovereignty, 
it abolished in every direction slavery and forced labour (corvees) ; 
in the majority of cases it respected all vested rights, and, but too 
often, abuses established before its advent to power. Hence it is 
that European agents, continually deceived by the native employes 
who serve as indispensable under-agents in immediate contact 
with the population, have come to be regarded as accomplices in 
the use of atrocious means and of torture put in practice by the 
tax-gatherers ; but let it not be forgotten, that it was the Indians 
who employed torture, while it was the English who discovered, 
denounced, and punished the native butchers. 

Respecting the question of the territorial constitution of Hin- 
dostan, forming the subject of so much controversy, and so imper- 
fectly understood, the Company has always prevented the dispos- 
session of the proprietors of the soil by the English colonists or 
speculators, sanctioning, with Lord Cornwallis, the feudal tenure 
of the great Mussulman and Hindoo landowners in Bengal, re- 
cognizing and giving regular effect to the rights of the present 
cultivators, as, for instance, in the presidencies of Bombay and 
Madras; or those of rural communities as in the case of the North- 
Western Provinces. 

The Company has been reproached, above all, with the eager- 
Less it has exhibited in the annexation to its immediate rule of 
States the suzerainty of which it accepted or obtained in their 
capacity either of allies or vassals. But people do not ask them- 


selves often enough, if it has not been necessarily and involun- 
tarily compelled, in the majority of cases, to absorb these inde- 
pendent States. From all, of which wo ourselves have made 
trial in Algeria; from what has taken place in China up to this; it 
is clear that nothing can be more difficult than to establish rela- 
tions with the Eastern races, either as our allies or auxiliaries, and 
that their limited good faith, and even their intelligence, cannot 
go beyond the idea of open war or complete subjection. Every 
one seems agreed in regarding the recent annexation of Oude by 
the Marquis of Dalhousie as an unjustifiable act, which has fur- 
nished a legitimate pretext for the insurrection of the Sepoys. 
It would be more just to reproach the English Administration 
with having too long covered with its protection the crimes and 
excesses of the Court of Lucknow, and of the aristocracy, com- 
posed of great feudatories, who crushed down the country under 
civil wars and exactions. Read in the Private Life of an Eastern 
King, a work published in 1855, the account of the outrageous 
conduct of one of those monsters who reigned at Lucknow pre- 
viously to the annexation; and, again, in a work by Colonel 
Sleeman, Political Resident at that Court, the daily acts of 
violence and spoliation which the rural populations underwent, in 
consequence of wars between feudal chiefs. The English have 
not accepted in a sufficiently zealous spirit the responsibility im- 
posed on them by their position as a protecting power, the species 
of suzerainty which they exercised since 1801, when an English 
army occupied that state when, also, they made the mistake of 
restoring the native dynasty under the tutelage of a resident. 
Either they should not have intermeddled in any way with the 
affairs of their next neighbours, or they should not have tolerated 
ancient excesses and abuses to perpetuate themselves under the 
English suzerainty. This much is certain, that the population 
is actually less ill-treated in the districts completely united to 
English rule than in those where the nominal authority of the 
Rajahs and of the Nabobs, tributaries of England, still subsists. 
Meanwhile, the efforts of the Company to bring into regular and 
universal use the European system so little in accord with 
Eastern habits of administering justice, and of striking arul 


levying taxes, have led it to clash with a crowd of individual 
interests, and to render the masses ill-disposed. Although less 
heavily taxed than under the native princes, the population is not 
less inclined to fear that the rights of property, as understood by 
and practised among them, might be sacrificed and rendered 
subordinate to fiscal interests. Besides, the Governors- General, 
sometimes in spite of the Company itself, seem to have deeply 
wounded the national feeling of the Indian races by refusing to 
recognise, when there might be question of the order of succes- 
sion to the throne among the Kajahs and Nabobs, the titles of 
adopted heirs, whom the laws and immemorial usage invest with 
the same rights as the heirs of the body. 

It is especially on the subject of religion, that the accusations 
against the Company can be regarded as unjust and contradictory. 
Some bitterly reproach it with having done nothing for the pro- 
pagation of Christianity in India; others again attribute the 
recent explosion to the spirit of proselytism which it encouraged 
or tolerated on the part of missionaries, and of certain officers 
animated by a zeal too evangelical. Under both heads, these 
accusations are false. Founded for exclusively commercial pur- 
poses, the East India Company has never affected, like the 
Spanish and Portuguese conquerors, to work (C for the greater 
glory of God;" but, as a compensation, it has never undertaken 
to impose truth by force on a people fanatically attached to its 
errors, and it has not seen any of the races subject to its rule dis- 
appear or become extinct. It struggled slowly and prudently 
against certain social crimes which formed part and parcel of the 
Hindoo religion, such as the self-immolation of widows, infanti- 
cide, and Thuggism ; but, at bottom, it has scrupulously respected 
the religion of its subjects. By its example, still more than by 
its direct action, it has repressed a blind and rash spirit of pro- 
selytism, which could have only served to increase the natural 
antipathy between the two races, and which might have ended 
in the horrors too justly imputed to the Spaniards of Mexico and 
Peru. But, far from presenting any obstacle to the preaching of 
the Gospel, it, in the first place, organised the national worship 
for the benefit of the English employes ; and, further, by opening 


up the immense regions of India on either bank of the 
to Christians of every persuasion, it secured to every effort of 
individual zeal that liberty which is the first and sole requirement 
of conscientious missionaries. Those among us who come for- 
ward periodically as apologists of the revocation of the Edict of 
Nantes, and who laud Charlemagne for having condemned to 
death those who were so bold as to seek an escape from baptism 
in flight, will, doubtless, be of opinion that it was better to 
murder people after baptising them, as the Spaniards did in 
America: but an overwhelming majority among the Christians of 
our day will be of another opinion; and no sensible man will tax 
the East India Company with the commission of a crime in 
having pursued in Hindostan that very system which we our- 
selves practise in Algeria, and the introduction of which into the 
Ottoman Empire and China is demanded by us. 

Those who reproach England with not having been able to 
gain Protestant converts in Hindostan would do well, perhaps, to 
inform themselves of the number of Catholics whom we may 
have converted in Algeria. I go too far, even, in making men- 
tion of Algeria ; for, if I am correctly informed, the preaching of 
the Catholic religion to the natives, and the efforts made to con- 
vert them, encounter there the most serious obstacles on the part 
of the civil and military authorities. We have not yet heard, so 
far as I am aware, of Catholic missions encouraged, or even tole- 
rated by the French Government among the Arabs, the Moors, 
or the Kabyles subject to French rule. It has been alleged as a 
crime against the English magistrates that they kept on foot 
property devoted to the celebration of the absurd and frequently 
obscene rites of Brahminical idolatry, and that they sent a guard 
of police to keep order on occasion of such ceremonies. This has 
not taken place in India since the Act of 1840; but it is precisely 
what the French Government believes itself to be called on to do 
in Africa ; and assuredly we shall not meet with any state paper 
penned by an English functionary, professing an equal amount of 
sympathy and protection for Mahomedan worship as the speech 
of M. Latour-Mezeray, Prefect of Algiers in 1857, to the Muftis 
and Ulemas, in which he quoted the Koran with unction, in order 


to exalt the munificence of the Emperor towards Islam. I do 
not remember having seen a single word of criticism on this 
speech in those French newspapers which are the most prodigal 
in invective against the pretended complicity of the Anglo- 
Indians with the worship of Juggernaut. 

The new Secretary for India, Lord Stanley, son of the Pre- 
mier, has solemnly declared that the Home Government, now 
invested, subject to the control of Parliament, with all the powers 
of the old Company, means to persist in the (so-called) errors of 
the latter on the subject of religion. In an official interview 
between him and the delegates of Protestant Missionary societies, 
on the 7th of August ult., he announced that, though allowing 
all due liberty to missionaries, the authorities would observe the 
most sincere and most complete religious neutrality, by the 
maintenance of equality before the law between the votaries of 
every religious belief. 

What can be more favourable to the progress of Catholicity in 
India than this system? What competition has it to fear; since 
it is certain that the distribution of Bibles, to which act is limited 
Protestant propagandism, has not yet produced other than delu- 
sive results? Is it not evident that if the Government intervened 
more directly, it could do so only in the interest of Anglicanism? 
What is to be required is, that it should faithfully execute this 
programme, and that it should put an end to the flagrant injustice 
which has so long prevailed respecting the salaries of the Pro- 
testant and Catholic chaplains attached to the army, and the 
facilities granted for the celebration of divine service in the 
prisons and regimental schools. But here, again, when the pecu- 
niary favours accorded to the schools and churches of the Esta- 
blishment are contrasted with the abandonment of Catholic 
institutions, it is forgotten that the English religious establish- 
ments in India were founded at a period when the Catholics of 
the mother country groaned under penal laws, just like Protes- 
tants in France. Both the former and the latter have been in- 
debted for their emancipation to the altogether modern principle 
of liberty of conscience. The East India Company had the 
merit of recognising this principle in Hindostan, before it had 
triumphed in England. Although exclusively composed of Pro- 


testants, it has never opposed the preaching of Catholic doctrine. 
What is now demanded, and rightly, is, not only liberty, but 
equality,, as between different sects, and that point is being arrived 
at gradually. The English Government has already made a step 
in the right direction ; in 1857, the Company doubled the salaries 
of the Catholic chaplains, and, by virtue of an order made by the 
Duke of Cambridge, Commander-in-Chiefi bearing date the 
24th of June, 1858, 19 additional Catholic chaplains have been 
nominated, with salaries equalling in amount those of the Pro- 
testant chaplains. A circular of General Peel, Secretary of War, 
dated the 23d of June, 1858, has introduced into the economy of 
the regimental schools some valuable reforms, which might well 
serve as models in Prussia and other countries where there is a 
mixed population. But, beyond those favours, which are only 
acts of justice, the progress of the Catholic religion in India has 
been, for a long time past, identified with the maintenance and 
the existence of British power, by the fact alone that this latter 
assures liberty to the preaching of the Gospel, and exercises an 
ascendancy, for the benefit of Europeans, and of their opinions, 
even in those regions which may not be subject to its rule. Let 
us suppose that the English should be expelled from India, and 
that the country should be placed once more under the yoke of 
the restored Mussulman and Hindoo princes; is it not evident 
that we should soon be obliged to present ourselves there to pro- 
tect our missionaries with cannon-shot, as has been done in China 
and Cochin-China, u Our hope of success" thus writes a French 
missionary on the point of setting out for Thibet in July, 1857 
" lay in the prestige which English power exercised in the regions 
we were about to traverse." The numerous Catholic bishoprics 
established in the Peninsula of Hindostan since its conquest by 
England, bear witness more loudly than any other argument, to 
the importance of the services rendered by that conquest to the 
true faith. If the congregation of the Propaganda at Rome were 
consulted, it would then be known how many bishops and mis- 
sionaries have reason to rejoice at the absolute liberty which they 
enjoy in the Company's territories, whenever they do not encoun- 
ter difficulties arising from the former patronage of the Portu- 
guese Crown, and from the too generous concessions formerly 


accorded by the Holy See to a Catholic State whose spirit of 
chicanery and of encroachment dates neither from to-day, nor 
yesterday, but traces its origin to the period of its first establish- 
ments, and forms so sad a contrast with the title of "Very 
Faithful " granted by the Popes to the Kings of Portugal. The 
sworn detractors of modern liberty, the retrospective admirers of 
orthodox and absolute monarchies, will find nothing in the annals 
of the Anglo-Indian Government which can, even distantly, 
recal the 10 years' imprisonment to which were condemned at 
Goa, the Vicars- Apostolic sent by Urban VJII. to Japan; or the 
penalty of death, which was still in force in 1687 against all those 
who endeavoured to penetrate into China without previous per- 
mission from the Governor of Macao. 

Besides, the Indian insurgents, less enlightened, no doubt, 
than their patrons at Paris and Turin, have not made any dis- 
tinction between Catholics and Protestants; at Delhi, at Agra, 
and Cawnpore, they sacked our convents and slaughtered our 
missionaries, just as if they were Church of England men; and 
these latter had merited the crown of martyrdom by their inde- 
fatigable devotedness and generous charity towards the wounded 
and sick of both sects. 

This is certain, that amid all this deluge of accusations, 
launched against the British Administration by the foreign press, 
and that of the mother country, and principally by the news- 
papers published in India, which respect no one and suppress 
nothing, no one has yet succeeded in pointing out, within any 
reasonable period shortly preceding the insurrection, a single act 
of cruelty, corruption, or perfidy which can be imputed to any 
individual English functionary, whether civil or military. This 
gives us the key to a fact of very great importance, and which 
alone suffices to absolve English dominion in India. During the 
period of nearly eighteen months that the insurrection has lasted, 
its character has been purely military. The civil population has 
taken no serious part in it, and, except in some rare instances, 
has refused all aid to the insurgents, notwithstanding the good 
opportunities and numerous temptations which the partial defeats 
of the English, and the small number of their troops, may have 
presented. Far from that, it is well known that it is, even now. 


to the aid of Indian native princes, and of auxiliary troops bor- 
rowed from races different from those composing the Bengal 
army, that England owes the good fortune of having been able 
to make a successful stand against the insurgents. The revolt 
has been exclusively the work of the Sepoys enrolled in the 
Company's regiments; and upon this point again the slightest 
act of rigour or of violence on the part of the English officers, 
which could have provoked the revolt, is not produced in evi- 
dence. In order to induce them to rise, it was necessary to have 
recourse to fictions, not one of which implies any harshness or 
injustice on the part of the English officers, but which turned 
altogether on the supposed dangers to which the religious faith 
and the traditional usages of the Sepoys were asserted to be 
exposed. Their credulity in this respect is the more inexplicable, 
since the most competent observers are unanimous in recognising 
that the English had practised forbearance, carried even beyond 
its natural limits, towards the prejudices of caste, and the over- 
weening sense of superiority of the Brahmins, who formed a 
majority in the Bengal regiments. The indulgence and partiality 
for the Indians had been pushed so far, as to do away with cor- 
poral punishment in the native army, subsisting, as it still 
continues to do, as regards the English troops, and of which such 
revolting use had been made in Europe during the period of the 
revolt in the Ionian Islands in 1849, at the very time that the 
draymen of London violently assaulted the Austrian General 
Haynau, whom they reproached with having caused women to 
be flogged in Hungary. 

After having thus allotted to the defence of a great people 
unjustly defamed so much of our space, our motive being that it 
enjoys almost alone the honour of representing liberty in modern 
Europe, it is fitting to testify to the just indignation which the 
excessive rigour of the chastisements inflicted by the English on 
the vanquished insurgents who have fallen into their hands ought 
to evoke. I am aware of all that can be said to excuse reprisals, 
only too legitimate, against savages guilty of the most monstrous 
excesses committed on the persons of so many officers, surprised 
and disarmed, and especially of so many noble women, innocent 
young girls, and poor little children slaughtered in hundreds 

without any provocation for such horrid deeds. I can well 
understand the battle-cry of the Highlanders at the assault of 
Delhi, "Remember the ladies! Remember the babies!" I 
admit, moreover, that the severe punishments inflicted on soldiers, 
taken with arms in their hands, all of them voluntarily enlisted, 
and bound, under an oath taken of their own free will, to respect 
the commanders whom they have massacred, cannot be compared 
with the chastisements inflicted on innocent and hospitable popu- 
lations by the conquerors of the New World, nor even with the 
rigorous punishments decreed by our generals of the French 
Empire against the populations of Spain and of the Tyrol, 
engaged in the most legitimate of insurrections; still less to the 
horrors committed in Vendee by the butchers of the Convention. 
But, for all that, I am not the less convinced that the just limits 
of repression have not been overpassed, and that the executions 
en masse of the defeated Sepoys, systematically continued after 
the first outburst of grief caused by unheard-of atrocities, will fix 
an indelible stain on the history of British rule in India. This 
is no longer justice, but vengeance. A people really free should 
leave the sad privilege of being cruel to slaves in revolt. A 
Christian people ought to know that it is at once a thing forbid- 
den and impossible for it to struggle against infidel races, with 
such arms as mere punishment may supply. It is the part of the 
English "gentlemen" (sic) who direct military and political ope- 
rations from the Indus and the Ganges, to know how to resist 
the odious incitements of the Anglo-Indian press. They have 
before them the example of the chivalrous Havelock, who, in a 
proclamation addressed to the soldiers whom he was leading 
against the cut-throats of Cawnpore, declared that it did not 
become Christian soldiers to take Pagan butchers for their 

That one name of Havelock recalls and contains in itself all 
the virtues manifested by the English in that gigantic struggle, 
and which would find themselves tarnished beyond hope of 
restoration by an obstinate perseverance in too cruel a repression. 
Havelock, a hero of the antique stamp, resembling by his finish 
and most irreproachable qualities, the great Puritans of the 17th 
century, already advanced in age before having distinguished 


himself, suddenly flung into the jaws of an immense danger, 
with but insignificant means of grappling successfully with it, 
brought all things to a happy issue: by his conscientious courage, 
attained, at one stroke, that glory and immense popularity, which 
are re-echoed wherever the English language is spoken, died 
before he could have enjoyed them, occupied in his last moments 
with the interests of his soul, and the propagation of Christi- 
anity in India, and saying to his son, about to receive his last 
sigh, u For forty years I have been preparing for this day; 
death is for me a blessing." He figures worthily at the head 
of a group of heroes, who showed themselves equal to every 
difficulty, danger, and sacrifice. Among them, grateful England 
loves to name Nicholson, Wilson, and Neil, also carried off by 
death in the midst of their victories; Sir Henry Lawrence, 
foremost among the heroes of Lucknow, and the man whose 
energy has recently saved the recent conquests of the North- 
West; in fine, if we only Fpeak of the dead, Captain Peel, 
the young and noble son of the great Sir Kobert Peel, as brave 
on land as he was at sea, whose premature loss has been a 
national loss. Victims of a struggle between civilization and 
barbarism, they are known to every Christian people; all can 
admire them without restriction and without reserve. They do 
honour to the human race. 

And it is not only such names, great beyond comparison, it 
is the bearing in every respect of this handful of Englishmen, 
surprised in the midst of peace and prosperity, by the most 
frightful and most unforeseen catastrophes. Not one of them 
shrank or trembled before their butchers all, military and 
civilians, young and old, generals and soldiers, resisted, fought, 
and perished with a coolness and intrepidity which never faltered. 
It is in this circumstance, that shines out the immense value of 
public education, such as we have signalized it in these pages, 
which invites the Englishman from his youth to make use of 
his strength and his liberty, to associate, resist, fear nothing, 
be astonished at nothing, and to save himself, by his own sole 
exertions, from every sore strait in life. Again, the English- 
women, doomed to share the sufferings, the anguish, and, in 
such numbers, the atrocious death of their fathers and of their 


husbands, showed the same Christian heroism. The massacre 
of Cawnpore, on which occasion, before being slaughtered, 
men and women, tied together, obtained for sole favor to kneel 
and hear read the prayers of the Liturgy by the chaplain destined 
to perish with them, looks like a page torn from the Acts of 
the first martyrs. It gratifies us to link this scene with the day 
of solemn fast and humiliation ordered by the Queen, and 
universally observed on the 7th of October, 1857, when the 
noble spectacle presented itself of a whole people prostrate before 
God, to beseech Him for pardon and mercy. Such are the ex- 
amples, and such the memories, and not the revolting and 
puerile excesses, of a bloody repression, which ought to furnish 
England with strength to resist her enemies, and with the con- 
viction of vanquishing them. 

IV. In all that the reader has perused thus far, I have not 
pretended to explain or to justify all the circumstances attend- 
ing the recent occurrences in India; I did not seek to sit in 
judgment on the past, still less to inspire a confidence in others 
as to the future of that empire, which I myself am far from 
sharing. I merely wished to give expression to my own im- 
pressions respecting a class of facts and ideas to which it is 
impossible not to pay attention when one is interested in the 
destinies of liberty and justice here below r . For the rest, they 
will serve to explain the disposition with which I attended the 
principal Parliamentary debate on the subject of India, during the 
last session. 

It was the first week in May. Two months had hardly passed 
since the advent of the new Ministry, presided over by Lord 
Derby, and the fall, unforeseen as it was, of Lord Palmcrston. The 
causes of these events are known. To the sentiment of universal 
horror excited in England, as everywhere else, by the execrable 
attempt of the 14th of January, a violent irritation had succeeded, 
produced by the steps taken by the French Government, and by 
certain addresses published in the Moniteur, which seemed to 
consider English society, where there is no political police, respon- 
sible for the preparations of a crime which not all the power and 
vigilance of the French police were able to prevent. The Govern- 
ment of King Louis Philippe might with just as good a grace have 


held England responsible in 1840 for the Boulogne expedition. 
We can speak the more freely of this occurrence, inasmuch as 
our Government, with a wisdom which does it honour, has since 
spontaneously ceased to insist on the points which had thereto- 
fore occupied its attention. The right of free asylum is regarded 
by the English people as one of its national glories; and that 
people is, of all others, the least inclined to sacrifice a right on 
account of the ahuse which its exercise may sometimes occasion. 
Besides, Frenchmen of every shade of opinion, and of all parties, 
have availed themselves of that right in the course of the numerous 
revolutions which have distracted modern France; the different 
dynasties that have reigned in France have availed themselves of 
it, and the reigning sovereign has to a greater extent than any 
one. Hence, people felt in no way obliged to Lord Palmerston 
and his colleagues for the species of condescension with which 
they replied to imperial requirements. The old war-cry during 
the struggles of the English crown with the Papacy of the middle 
ages resounded throughout the country Nolumus leges Anylice 
mutari. Although the House of Commons would have approved 
by its vote the principle of the Bill (otherwise perfectly reason- 
able and legitimate) intended to facilitate the application of legal 
punishment in the instance of principal offenders and their accom- 
plices in crimes committed abroad, that assembly could not resist 
the current of public opinion, and, on the 19th of February, it 
adopted a vote of censure against the manner of conducting the 
diplomatic relations between the two countries. Under the weight 
of this solemn censure, Lord Palmerston was obliged to resign 
with all his colleagues. 

But it would be to deceive ourselves sadly, if we sought in this 
ephemeral difference between France and England the true cause 
of the fall of a ministry, which had enjoyed till then a popularity 
so long-continued and so powerful. Those causes must be traced 
higher, and are more honourable, and, at the same time, more 
natural. With this ancient and deep-seated popularity, after a 
great war speedily and successfully terminated under his auspices, 
after a recent dissolution of the House of Commons had declared 
for him on the Chinese question against the formidable league of 
his adversaries, and put him at the head of a, greater majority 


than ever, he might well have been considered secure in the 
possession of power for years to come. But the height which he 
had reached seemed to have made him dizzy. Long a circum- 
spect courtier of public opinion and of its caprices, one would 
have said that he suddenly thought himself free thenceforth to 
disdain, and even to brave it. Although he would always have 
succeeded in obtaining the support of a majority in the Commons 
for his foreign policy, he' had not the less excited in a great 
number of liberal and sensible minds a lively and increasing 
antipathy for a teasing and blustering policy, equally without 
dignity and logic, at one time affecting a zeal for liberty which 
did not recoil before any revolutionary sentiment, at another 
adoring and adulating absolute monarchy a policy which has 
certainly brought more ill on the good name of England than all 
the insults of her detractors. To these causes of discontent, so 
justly provoked by his foreign policy, others were not wanting, 
produced by his disdainful indifference to the greater number of 
internal reforms interesting to new parties. As happens too 
frequently to statesmen grown old in the exercise of power, he 
had grown accustomed to dispense with the services of every 
superior merit but his own, to surround himself with honest and 
docile mediocrities, and imagined that the quantity of his adhe- 
rents would always compensate for their quality. He hardly 
ever conferred office on any who were not members of a family 
clique or clan of which the public had long been tired, and which 
the Premier seemed to take pleasure in circumscribing more and 
more every day. Lastly, he had thrown open the Cabinet to a 
personage whose moral reputation had been compromised, whether 
wrongly or rightly, and this nomination had aroused quite a 
storm among the middle classes, growing more and more suscep- 
tible on this point. In fine, that constant good humour, that 
jovial cordiality, that gaiety of high and refined society, by which 
he dazzles and fascinates in private life, and which rendered him 
so many services in the most critical debates, seemed in their 
turn to abandon him. One would have said that he took a plea- 
sure in irritating his adversaries, and rendering his friends uneasy, 
by the arrogant and sarcastic tone of his replies to questions in 
the House of Commons. It is said, that nothing has more con- 


tri buted to increase the majority which unexpectedly arrayed 
itself against him, than the contemptuous irony with which he 
met. some clays before the vote of censure, the question of 
Mr. Stirling, respecting the famous legacy of the Emperor Napo- 
leon T. to Cantillon, who had attempted to assassinate the Duke 
of Wellington. All the causes, great and little, put together, 
ended by diminishing and shaking the ascendancy which Lord 
Palmerston had conquered, by his rare capacity,, his indefatigable 
ardour, his eternal youth, and incontestable patriotism. Without, 
everything in his commanding position seemed sound and unim- 
paired : it was, however, undermined in the opinion of many ; an 
unforeseen and sudden shock sufficed to crumble it. The circum- 
stances which I am about to recount have rendered this ruin 
much more complete and more enduring than it at first appeared 
to be. 

In fact, neither Lord Palmerston, nor the public, believed that 
the defeat was decisive. Lord Derby had been charged with the 
mission of forming a new Cabinet, in his capacity of head of that 
old Conservative party, which has never recovered from the blow 
inflicted by its own hands when it refused to follow Sir Robert 
Peel in the paths of legitimate progress, and which has not since 
been able to constitute a majority, either in the country or in the 
House. But Lord Derby was at the head of a staff which had 
already worked, with more or less success, in 1852, and which he 
was careful to reinforce with younger, more active, and more 
intelligent men, so as to display an array of battle more brilliant 
and more imposing than the ranks of the somewhat used-up 
colleagues of Lord Palmerston. 

Side by side with powerful orators, such as Mr. Disraeli and 
Lord Ellenborough, and with laborious and popular administrators, 
such as Sir John Pakington and Mr. Walpole, was seen shining 
Lord Stanley, the youthful son of the Earl of Derby, whom all 
parties seem agreed to salute as the future and popular chief of a 
great new party, and of a conciliatory and energetic ministry. 
However, despite of the somewhat lucky debut of the new 
ministry, its existence could not be looked upon as certain. 
Only two-thirds of the majority which had overthrown Lord 
Palmerston consisted of the partisans of Lord Derby; the remain- 



ing third part comprised, besides the brilliant but numerically 
insignificant names of the Peelites, all the independent Liberals, 
and, above all, the Radicals, far more advanced in their political 
opinions than the common-place Whigs of Lord Palmerston's 
army, and still more than the Tories ranged behind Lord Derby. 
Such a majority might very well sustain during some time a govern- 
ment the work of its vote., but promised no durable support. 
Lord Palmerston and his friends reckoned on the speedy dissen- 
sions and lassitude which such a situation could not fail to 
engender. They only waited for a favourable opportunity to fall 
into line once more, and to win back a position temporarily lost 
by errors which might easily be repaired, and which they would 
know how to fortify by profiting by the lesson which they had 
received. This opportunity was not slow in presenting itself 
tinder as brilliant and favourable circumstances as possible. 

Lucknow, the capital of the kingdom of Oude, had just yielded 
to British arms. The attention of England had for a long time 
been fixed on that great city, where 600 Englishmen and 200 
Englishwomen, besieged in a palace hardly furnished with mere 
battlements, by 60,000 cut-throats and by a hostile population 
of 51,000 in number, had furnished during four months an 
example of courage as heroic as, and more successful than, that 
of the defenders of Saragossa. Delivered by Havelock, they 
were not able to keep possession of the fortress immortalized by 
their valour; and it was necessary that a fresh army, under the 
command of Sir Colin Campbell, should snatch from the insur- 
gents a city which was at once a fortress and the capital of the 
insurrection. The taking of Lucknow seemed necessarily to 
bring about the submission of the entire kingdom of Oude, the 
union of which to the territories under the immediate sway of 
the Company had been regarded as the principal cause of the 
insurrection, thanks to the discontent with which that measure 
had filled the minds of the greater number of the Sepoys, natives 
of that country, and voluntarily enlisted into the Bengal army. 
To make sure of that submission, Lord Canning, Governor- 
General of India, thought proper to publish a proclamation, bear- 
ing date the 14th of March, 1858, which pronounced, under the 
title of annexation to British dominion, the pain of absolute con- 



fiscation of all property belonging to the talookdars, to the chiefs, 
and landed proprietors of Otide, with the exception of six, spe- 
cially indicated, who had aided the English authorities during 
the revolt. He reserved to himself the faculty of restoring part 
or the entire of the property so confiscated to those who might 
give proof of a prompt submission, and lend their energetic aid 
to the Government for the restoration of peace and order. 

Such an act was of a nature to wound deeply, not only the 
dearest interests of a native population of five millions of souls, 
but still more the public conscience of England, tardily but pro- 
foundly convinced that the respect of the rights of property is 
the basis of every social right. It was specially matter of wonder 
that such a document should emanate from Lord Canning, who, 
taken by surprise during the second year of his administration, by 
the explosion of a revolt the most unforeseen and the most for- 
midable that had ever broken out against a foreign rule, till then 
had shown himself equal to the terrible difficulties of his situation, 
and had resisted, with the most noble and Christian constancy, 
the sanguinary incitements of the English residents of Calcutta 
against the rebels and the Hindoos in general. The Anglo-Indian 
press, exasperated by the inflexible moderation of the Governor- 
General, had bestowed upon him the sobriquet of " Clemency 
Canning." And this was the man who now decreed, against a 
people en masse, this chastisement, as impolitic as it was exces- 
sive, as iniquitous by reason of its universal application, as by its 
faculty of smiting the posterity of the guilty and the innocent 

Hence, hardly was the proclamation known in London, than it 
excited a general sensation, which found vent in the shape of a 
question addressed on the very day of its publication (6th of May) 
by Mr. Bright to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Disraeli. 
The latter replied that the Government had already conveyed to 
Lord Canning its formal and total disapproval of the measure in 
question. Now, two days after, public attention was attracted 
anew to the publication in a London newspaper of a still stranger 
and more startling document. This was the despatch in which 
the Earl of Ellenborough, President of the Board of Control 

D 2 


that is, Minister of tho Department of Indian Affairs had, so 
far back as the 19th of April, signified to the Governor-General 
the solemn censure of the Home Government. 

Lord Ellenborpugh, who had been formerly Governor-General 
of India, where he had signalized himself by the conquest of the 
vast provinces of Scinde and Gwalior, was dismissed by the 
Directors of the East India Company, whom his too ardent zeal 
and intemperate official language had alarmed. This, I believe, 
is the sole example of the exercise of the supreme veto by the 
Company, which possessed the right of having recourse to it in 
order to cancel the appointment of the Governor-General of 
India, whose nomination since 1784 lay with the Crown. A rival 
of Lord Derby in oratorical talent, and one of the most consider- 
able personages of his ministry, Lord Ellenborough has always 
practised an independence in his proceedings and a vehemence of 
language, which have rendered him as redoubtable to his friends 
as to his enemies. Those who have had the good fortune to 
meet him in society, in the presence of Lord Canning, are in a 
position to state, that never was contrast more complete than 
that between the character and bearing of these two Governors- 
General. They both belong to history, which has rarely regis- 
tered a more significant document than the communication 
addressed by one of them to the other.* 

Then in a scries of paragraphs, which do not seem to have 
been intended for immediate publication, the Minister censures, 
without circumlocution, the annexation of Oude, effected by the 
English Government under Lord Dalhousie, as well as the fiscal 
measures which followed the incorporation of that kingdom. He 
concludes from that measure, that the revolt in Oude possessed 
the character of a legitimate and regular war rather than of a 
rebellion; and, consequently, that the inhabitants of that country 
ought to be treated with indulgence rather than be rendered 
amenable to the most rigorous punishment that can be inflicted 
on a conquered people. The despatch concludes thus: f 

* Here M. de Montalembert quotes a portion of Lord Ellenborough's 
despatch to Lord Canning. 

t Here M. de Montalembert again gives a quotation from the despatch. 


History, I am convinced, will side with the authoi of these 
noble words, and will add, that the statesman to whom they 
were addressed was capable of understanding and giving effect to 
them. But politics are not always at one with history, and 
justice itself required that this solemn and memorable reprimand 
should not be forwarded to its destination above all, that it 
should not be published before the high functionary therein 
accused could justify or explain his conduct. Hence a sudden 
explosion of astonishment and discontent. Everyone under- 
stood that it was at least highly imprudent thus to disavow, during 
the continuance of the war in Oude, the entire antecedent policy 
respecting that country, and to paralyze, by a disapproval in a 
public form, the authority of the chief representative of British 
power in India. The public, also, was offended by the haughty 
and somewhat pompous style of Lord Ellenborough's censure, 
the antipodes of the simple and matter-of-fact tenour of English 
official documents. This circumstance greatly contributed to 
excite the public mind against the author of the despatch. 

Immediately Lord Palmerston and his friends recognized that 
the occasion was timely for taking the offensive, and for giving 
battle to the new Ministry, the issue of which could not fail to 
restore to less imprudent and steadier hands a power so strangely 
brought into danger. A natural feeling of vexation at their 
recent defeat, and an ambition equally natural to old statesmen 
who are sustained by a great party, suffice, at need, to explain 
their eagerness; but no one has a right to believe that they were 
not guided, in addition, by a more elevated and more disinterested 
sentiment, or that the desire to save British India from danger 
and evil, increased in a two-fold degree, did not influence the 
greater number of the chiefs, and, above all, of the soldiers of 
the Opposition. Be that as it may, the signal for a decisive 
campaign in both Houses of Parliament was given. On Sunday, 
the 9th of May, Lord Palmerston assembled all his partisans at a 
preliminary meeting held at Cambridge House, his private re- 
sidence. Lord John Russell, his predecessor and rival, the ever- 
respected head of the old Reform party, at variance with him 
ever since the negotiations of Vienna, in 1855, and Avhosc 
neutrality served to cover the Derby Ministry, promised his 


support. The day was fixed for the attack, and officially an- 
nounced to Parliament, the roles of the principal actors in the 
assault assigned and studied,, the chances of victory and its pro- 
bable consequences made the most of. Everything announced 
the certain defeat of Government, when a new episode suddenly 
changed the face of affairs. 

Lord Ellenborough, instructed by the storm of opinion as to the 
nature of the error he had committed in publishing his despatch, 
conceived the generous idea of accepting for himself alone the 
responsibility and the punishment of that error. Without even 
communicating with his colleagues, he gave in his resignation to 
the Queen, and he informed the House of Lords on the llth of 
May of the step he had taken in language too noble not to merit 

A sacrifice made so spontaneously, and with so much dignity, 
ought naturally to have had for effect the mitigation of public 
opinion; but the Whigs (by this term we designate, for sake of 
brevity, the different members of Parliament who side with Lord 
Palmerston and Lord John Kussell) had too artfully -combined 
their plan of attack to think of abandoning it so easily. The oc- 
casion appeared to them too good, and too unlikely to occur again, 
not to profit by it, and not to endeavour to snatch the direction 
of public affairs from a Cabinet already dislocated, and which ex- 
isted only by sufferance on the part of a majority of which it was 
not the legitimate representative. 

Two hundred members of Parliament, assembled a second time 
at Lord Palmerston 's residence, pledged themselves to support a 
resolution expressive of a vote of censure against the Ministry. 
The combat, which had been announced beforehand, took place 
in both Houses on the 14th of May. 

V. In the House of Lords, the vote of censure was brought for- 
ward by the Earl of Shaftesbury, son-in-law of Lady Palmerston, 
long known for his zeal for the interests of religion and for those 
of the various charitable associations in connexion with the church 
of England. The illustrious House had never been so full or so 
animated ; a more numerous crowd of strangers had never thronged 
the vicinity of the imposing and magnificent hall; a more brilliant 
* Here M. de Montalerubert cites a portion of Lord Ellenbo rough's speech-. 


galaxy of peeresses had never before filled the gallery where stand 
the statues of the Barons who signed Magna Charta. The reso- 
lution proposed by Lord Shaftcsbury was drawn up with prudent 
reserve. It did not imply in any manner approval of the confis- 
cation decreed by Lord Canning, and left full scope to the House 
to reserve its judgment on that point till it might be in- 
formed of the motives for the act; but it formally condemned the 
premature publication of Lord Ellenborough's despatch, as tend- 
ing to weaken the Governor-General's authority and to encourage 
the rebels. The mover of the resolution developed it with mode- 
ration ; it was supported, among other speakers, by the Dukes of 
Somerset, Argyll, and Newcastle. It is gratifying to see those 
great names, which figure in the feudal, political, and military 
history of England, thus reappear and keep their place at the head 
of the interests of a people completely free, and of a society so 
profoundly transformed. After them, and according to the custom 
of England, which reserves the last word during the debate to 
the leaders of party,, or of the Government, the thesis of the Op- 
position was resumed by Lord Granville, who had been President 
of the Privy Council and leader of the Upper House under the 
Palmerston Ministry, and who was so well fitted to fill that part 
by the graces of his diction and the conciliating cordiality of his 
disposition. All these speakers, alive, as they were, to the damage 
done to their cause by the resignation of Lord Ellenborough, vied 
with each other in insisting on the principle of the collective and 
absolute solidarity of the Cabinet, and contended that it was not 
permitted to a Ministry to get rid, by the sacrifice of one or more 
of its members, of the responsibility of an error once committed, 
and recognized as such. 

A Government, they argued, is one, homogeneous, and indi- 
visible, and the privilege of choosing a scapegoat cannot be ac- 
corded to it. While listening to them, my mind was struck by 
the danger of those abstract, absolute, out-and-out theories which 
glide into the discussions usual under free Governments, under 
cover of a party or momentary interest, and which, little by little, 
come to be erected into indisputable dogmas. Nothing, in my 
opinion, is better calculated to weaken and bring into discredit 
the representative system, already sufficiently complicated and 


sufficiently difficult to keep in equilibrium, as, indeed, are all 
those systems special to societies which stand up for the main- 
tenance of the rights of intelligence. It is to the detractors, and 
not to the partisans of free institutions, or to those who work 
them, that ought to be abandoned the task of deducing such chi- 
merical embarrassments from a false logic. I understood better, 
and was more gratified by the testimony of lively and affectionate 
interest which every one bore to the honour and fair renown of 
Lord Canning. There was something touching and highly equi- 
table in this prepossession in favour of an absent brother, particu- 
larly as he was at a distance of 15,000 miles from his country, 
charged with the care of governing so many millions of men, a 
statesman whose courage, wisdom, and humanity had reflected 
honour on the office he filled, and which is certainly the most 
important which can be confided, at the present day, by a free 
people to hands of man. Son of the great orator who was Prime 
Minister under George IV., the contemporary and rival of our 
own Chateaubriand, he has shown himself worthy of bearing his 
father's name; and every one instinctively shared the sentiment 
which animated his friends, when they said to the Government, 
" It is your right and your duty to recall him if he lias done 
wrong; but it is not lawful for you to aim a blow at his honour 
and his dignity before he should be able to afford an explanation 
to the country, still under the influence of gratitude for his ser- 

No one among the Ministerial speakers thought for a moment 
of disputing Lord ^Canning's services; but Lord Ellenborough, 
disembarrassed of all apprehension of compromising his colleagues, 
took up the question anew, in its true bearings, with his usual 
energy and eloquence. If the publication of the despatch was an 
offence, he alone was accountable, as his colleagues had known 
nothing of it, and, no longer being a member of the Cabinet, 
there remained, as far as he was concerned, nothing more to be 
said or done in reference to that point. But the despatch in 
itself was salutary and necessary.* 

The Premier, the Earl of Derby, although rendering homage 

* Here M. de Montalcrnbcrt quotes Lord Ellenborough's speech. 


to the character and services of Lord Canning, and stating that 
the Government was a complete stranger to the premature publi- 
cation of Lord Ellenborouglv's despatch, was not the less as 
explicit as possible in his adhesion to the doctrines of the latter 
on the subject of the confiscation, and on that of the system 
suitable to be adopted towards the Indian population. " The 
question lies," said he, " between pardon and confiscation, in a 
country where every landowner is a soldier and every soldier a 
landowner. We incline to pardon. If you condemn us, England 
will not have a sufficient number of troops to restore security to 
British rule in India." In the speech of the noble lord, who, as 
is well known, has a leaning for the employment of personal and 
sarcastic arguments against his adversaries, we remark a feature 
of manners purely English. He considered himself at liberty to 
reproach the religious Lord Shaftesbury with having made 
himself the organ of a meeting of members of Parliament, held at 
his father-in law's the Sunday preceding, which thus, according 
to Lord Derby, ' had not been exclusively consecrated to religious 
occupations.' Lord Shaftesbury considered himself so compro- 
mised by this reproach, that he thought himself called upon to 
address to the newspapers an exact account of the manner in 
which he spent his Sunday, during which the frequent repetition 
of liturgical occupations did not leave him an instant for a 
recreation so profane as that in which he was believed to have 
been guilty of indulging. 

At 2 o'clock in the morning the House divided. Up to the 
last moment the result seemed doubtful, but, after the votes had 
been counted not only those of all the peers present, but those 
also of the absent, who, from a singular respect for individual 
right, have the privilege of voting by proxy it was ascertained 
that the vote of censure against the Government had been rejected 
by 167 votes against 158, 

This feeble majority of nine in an Assembly where the Conser- 
vative party, of which .Lord Derby is the recognised chief, has 
always preponderated, sufficiently indicated the extreme danger 
which the administration had encountered. A victory won with 
such difficulty in that House, where it thought itself sure of a 
majority, presaged an almost certain defeat in that of which but 


two-fifths at most recognised him for leader. Far from being 
discouraged by the issue of this first encasement, Lord Pal- 

J o o * 

merston's army saw in it only the first signal of a success the 
result of which it already anticipated. The most careful calcula- 
tions as to the issue of the debate indicated a majority varying 
from 50 to 80 votes, which, according to the antecedents, or the 
supposed predilections of the different members of the House of 
Commons, should, at one and the same time, restore Lord 
Canning's compromised authority, and avenge Lord Palmerston's 
recent defeat, by renewing against his successors an attack in the 
nature of a vote of censure, to which he himself had succumbed 
three months previously, " Before a week," declared with con- 
fidence the newspapers which supported the former Ministry, 
energetically seconded by the vehement attacks of The Ti?nes, 
" before a week the Derby Ministry will have ceased to exist." 
All this time people lost sight, amid these hypothetical calcula- 
tions, of the eventual dispositions of a new party, which, under 
the designation of Independent Liberals, have gradually elimi- 
nated itself from the ranks of the Whig and old Reform party, 
which yielded with too great docility to the supremacy of Lord 
Palmerston. Toward this party gravitated more and more, not 
only those timid minds floating doubtfully between two opinions, 
which every assembly contains within it; but, in addition, a 
notable fraction of the ancient disciples and colleagues of Sir 
Robert Peel, and at least half of the Irish Catholic members, 
justly irritated at the carelessness and hostility of the great Whig 
leaders towards the interests of their country and their religion. 
These outsiders agitated and combined together, on their side, on 
the approach of the decisive conflict ; and their newspapers 
caused it to be sufficiently understood, that their support was not 
assured to the plans of the Opposition without requital. 

For the rest, in these preliminary agitations, as also in official 
deliberations, everything passes in open day, with a frankness 
and absence of constraint that nothing alters. It is evident, that 
plots or intrigues are not in question, but honourable and legiti- 
mate struggles which the entire public ought at once to witness 
and to participate in. It is not merely a knot of political men, 
it is the whole nation whom these struggles divide and animate. 


Parliament, as well as the press, high circles and the mass of 
society, spectators and actors, are simultaneously carried along by, 
and equally interested in, them. Political life circulates every- 
where; everywhere we see come to light the opinion of a great 
community of free and enlightened men, who deliberate, directly 
and indirectly, on the interests properest to occupy their atten- 
tion; who do not think that others can do their business for them 
better than they can do it themselves, and in no way understand 
that an external Power should take upon itself to govern for 
them, among them, and without them. But if these questions 
excite every one, they embitter no one. Here, as elsewhere, I can 
record, over and over again, in how great a degree the reciprocal 
courtesy of parties and individuals survives and resists the asperi- 
ties of politics. First, intentions and plans of attack are frankly 
communicated, and even the papers which are to serve as the 
grounds or pretext for discussion ; all tactics based on a stealthy 
surprise, or supported by masked batteries, would be set at nought 
by an unanimous outburst of opinion from all parties. Moreover, 
the most declared adversaries, the bitterest rivals, make it a point 
of honour not to carry into private and social life the hostilities 
of public life. People often say to one another the most disagree- 
able and personal things across the floor of the House of Lords, 
or the House of Commons; exaggerated accusations are launched, 
and pleasantry is pitiless ; but these same people meet in the same 
drawingroom or dine together in the evening. In fact, they are 
sticklers, before all things, for remaining always gentlemen, 
people in society and of the same society, and for avoiding to 
poison one's entire existence by the animosity of an ephemeral 
conflict. It was not so in France, it will be remembered, when 
public life reigned and agitated our minds. What can be the 
cause of this difference? The fact, doubtless, that at bottom 
every one is of one way of thinking in England, not only on the 
fundamental questions of the constitution and of social organiza- 
tion, but, moreover, on the conditions and consequences of the 
struggles of each day. 

The strife is ardent, even passionate; but the prize of victory 
and the issue of the combat do not change in any way the soil 
whereon the battle is fought, or the conquests definitively obtained 


for all. The temporary possession of power is disputed, the 
triumph of a question or opinion is hotly pressed for; but no one 
thinks of imposing nolens volens that opinion on his adversaries, 
or even on his neighbours, on pain of exile from public life, and 
condemnation to nothingness if they have the boldness not to 
suffer themselves to be convinced or intimidated. 

The vote of censure moved in the House of Commons was 
drawn up with the same prudence as that in the House of Lords ; 
it did not constitute an approval of Lord Canning's proclamation, 
but a direct and formal disapproval of the sentence pronounced 
by the Government against that act. Its proposer was Mr. Card- 
well, one of the most distinguished members of the Peelite party, 
a faithful and devoted friend of Lord Canning, universally looked 
up to, whom his position and antecedents did not suffer to be 
regarded as subjected to the preponderating influence of Lord 
Palmerston, or as capable of sacrificing a moral and national in- 
terest to party spirit. The first day of the debate (the 14th of 
May) presented nothing remarkable, except the, brilliant debut of 
a Ministerial orator, Sir Hugh Cairns, the Solicitor- General, one 
of the new men of liberal stamp with whom Lord Derby has had 
the tact to strengthen his Ministry. He sought to demonstrate 
that, the debate once opened, it was impossible to abstain, as the 
Opposition wished to be done, from calling in question the 
measure adopted by Lord Canning. If that measure were wise 
and just, how came it to pass that the Opposition refused to ap- 
prove it? If it were not, why make it a ground of accusation 
against the Government for having censured it? When people 
have not the courage to approve the confiscation, they ought, at 
least, to abstain from blaming those who condemn it. The 
Government, for one thing, has its settled conviction, and openly 
declares it; its adversaries have none, or, having, do not dare to 
express it. Becoming the aggressor, in turn, he smartly reproaches 
Mr. Vernon Smith, Minister for India under Lord Palmerston, 
and Lord Ellenborough's predecessor, with not having communi- 
cated to the latter a private letter addressed to him by I^rd 
Canning, under the belief that he was still in office, in which he 
informed him of his (Lord Canning's) intention to publish his 
famous proclamation. The constant and natural usage requires 


that the outgoing Ministers should communicate, without excep- 
tion,, to their successors all documents which may reach their 
hands subsequently to their retirement. Lord Clarendon had so 
acted, quite recently, in the instance of Lord Malmesbury. In 
forsaking this customary course, Mr. Vernon Smith had deeply 
offended public opinion, and caused a great deal of recrimination 
within and without the walls of Parliament; and, although the 
letter in itself did not really contain anything of importance, the 
malevolent and derisive manner with which the explanations 
which he had been several times obliged to repeat respecting this 
matter were received by the House, must have presented to the 
minds of attentive observers the first symptom of a break-up 
among the majority, and of the uncertainty of the result so posi- 
tively predicted. It w r as in the course of this first debate, also, 
that Lord John Russell came forward to reinforce the Opposition, 
by his important suffrage, giving his support to the motion of 
censure, insisting on the solidarity of the Government with the 
act of Lord Ellenborough; on the danger which that act was 
calculated to bring on the security of the British possessions in 
India; finally, on the moral force which would result for his ad- 
versaries from the censure cast on the annexation of Oude. 
Strengthened by so desirable an adhesion within the House of 
Commons, and assured, without, of the still more efficacious sup- 
port accruing from the circulation of The Times, the two-fold 
cause of Lords Canning and Palmerston still had every chance of 
a speedy and complete success. 

However, during the debate of the following day (17th of 
May) a member who sits near Lord Russell, rose to oppose him; 
in his person the fraction of the independent Liberals was to 
make its appearance in the discussion. This was Mr. Roebuck, 
one of the boldest, most favorably heard, and most popularly 
eloquent speakers in England. He it was who had dealt such 
heavy blows to the foreign policy of Lord Palmerston, when 
the latter was in power; and he now came forward, once again, 
to endeavour to defeat the noble lord's tactics, and to counteract 
his plans. Mr. Roebuck falls too often into the error of com- 
promising the success of his ideas, and the authority of his 
positions, by enouncing opinions unreasonable in substance, and 


further expressed with a degree of rigidity and exaggeration 
which increase the repulsion they inspire. He did not take the 
pains to abandon this regrettable habit during the memorable 
debate in question. Alluding to the Bill which had been 
brought in, and the object of which was to deprive the East 
India Company of the government of Hindostan, and to trans- 
fer it to the Crown, he went so far as to say that the Crown 
was a chimera, and signified in reality the House of Commons, 
since the entire power attributed to the Crown, was virtually 
exercised by the House. 

This doctrine was at once imprudent and inexact; for it is 
dangerous thus to condense, under the form of absolute maxims, 
the gradual and qualified consequences of the development of 
liberty; and if the preponderance for centuries past of the 
House of Commons is an incontestable fact, it is not the less 
false, on that account, to say that the power of resistance of the 
House of Lords has been annihilated, and that the Crown does 
possess an immense prestige, and an authority by so much more 
solid that it is reserved for great occasions and for solemn 
decisions. But Mr. Roebuck, in the course of his speech, took 
high ground, and raised himself above the vulgar preoccupations 
of a merely personal or national policy, for no one had as yet 
approached the question with so much frankness, no one had 
as yet signalized so exactly its importance, the sacred character 
of the principles which it involved, and the danger of subor- 
dinating them to party interest* 

Be it said, to the honour of the assembly which heard these 
words, pronounced with emotion and with the effort of a speaker 
evidently suffering from ill health, that each of the foregoing 
sentences was followed by energetic applause, and not a single 
murmur betrayed the susceptibilities of a disturbed or offended 

After having established and confirmed the distinction, already 
announced by Lord Ellenborough, between the rebellion of the 
Sepoys, and the war in which the inhabitants of Oude had 

Here M. de Montalembert quotes from Mr. Koebuck's speech. 


engaged, he expatiates on the folly and criminality of the con- 
fiscation, and thus sums up his opinions: * 

And, thereupon, he pointed his finger, in the midst of applause, 
at the bench where sate Lord Palmerston impassive and serene, 
surrounded by his ancient colleagues. 

Several among these latter, and, particularly Sir Cornewall 
Lewis, formerly Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Sir Charles 
Wood, formerly Lord of the Admiralty, made every effort, and 
not without talent, to restore the question to the narrow ground 
from which Mr. Roebuck's vehement frankness had diverted it. 
But I cannot find, with the best intentions to be impartial, 
anything in their speeches worthy of being quoted. Like all 
the advocates of the vote of censure, they dwelt on the situation 
in which Lord Canning had been placed, and on the ingratitude 
evinced towards a man who had saved and reflected honour on 
British rule in India. Less reserved than the resolution itself, 
they went so far as to defend the Proclamation, in so far as 
the confiscation pronounced by it was, according to them, only 
to be put in force, not against the mass of the rural population, 
but against rebel proprietors, whom violence and usurpation 
had put in possession of their estates. The Ministerial speakers 
maintained, on the contrary, that, besides the great talook- 
dars and zemindars who represented the territorial aristocracy;, 
there existed in Oude a crowd of petty landed proprietors, 
using alternately the sword and the plough, and who evi- 
dently would be affected, as well as the great feudatories, 
by the absorption of all right of property in the domain of 
the State. 

It must be confessed, that these contradictory but important 
details in the nature of information were less listened to than the 
eccentricities of young Sir Robert Peel, who, ever since his entry 
into public life, has availed himself of the great name he bears to 
arrogate the privilege of telling disagreeable truths to every one 
with a smartness and absence of all ceremony, against which 
people bear up with difficulty. On this occasion, however, his 
violent invective against Lord Palmerston, whose subordinate he 

* Here intervenes a second extract from Mr. Roebuck's speech. 


Lad long been in the career of diplomacy and in the Adminis- 
tration, did less harm to his illustrious adversary than to himself; 
but lie was more successful when he pointed out, without circum- 
locution, to the antagonists of the Ministry, a danger which 
began to loom in the horizon. This danger lay in a dissolution 
of the House of Commons, an extreme measure, no doubt, 
coming so soon after the dissolution which had so recently taken 
place, but which the Earl of Derby possessed the right of pro- 
posing to the Queen, in order to put the country in a position to 
decide between its policy and the hostile majority in Parliament. 
In this respect, Sir Robert Peel expressed an apprehension which 
gained ground every day; and he distinctly announced, in the 
name of the advanced Liberalism which he professes, the hope 
and the certainty of seeing the Liberal electors side with the 
great principles of justice and humanity proclaimed in Lord 
Ellenborough's despatch, rather than with the manreuvres of a 
party which sacrificed its principles to the feverish impatience of 
a resumption of office. 

VI. However, in the midst of these debates, which pre-occu- 
pied in so great a degree the attention of all England, which 
invited the intervention of all distinguished public men, and 
which revealed a position growing more and more uncertain upon 
the old and new parties, between whom the government of the 
country is shared, an interlude presented itself, which paints the 
British character too well not to find a place in this narrative. 
At the opening of the sitting on the 18th of May, Captain 
Vivian, an adherent of Lord Palmerston, proposed to the House 
to adjourn till the 20th. He counted on the support of his 
motion by all the Ministerial and Conservative party, and he 
presumed that Mr. Disraeli, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and 
leader of the House of Commons, who has so often drawn from 
his quiver the pointed arrows of his eloquence to launch them 
against his political adversaries, would entertain a lively desire to 
witness the exploits of another archer in another arena. 

What might this strange interruption mean? It meant, that the 
day after the Epsom races were to take place, which have for their 
principal attraction the great annual prize which is called (it is 
not known why) " the Derby;" that Lord Derby, who is at once 


the First Minister, first orator, and first sportsman in England, 
was a competitor for this prize; that the horse (his own) he 
backed to win it, was called Toxophilite (which, in Anglo-Greek, 
signifies archer)', and, finally, that this race is an object of popular, 
one might say of national interest, in which the upper and lower, 
political and commercial classes take part with that universal and 
passionate anxiety which the ancient Greeks and Romans, and 
the Spaniards of modern times, have shown for analogous but 
less innocent spectacles. " These are the Olympic games of 
England," said Lord Palmerston one day; and it is the most 
exact definition which can be given of them. 

The House unanimously adopted Captain Vivian's motion, and 
broke up to proceed en masse to Epsom Dow r ns. Prepared 
speeches were thrust into the pocket, and eloquence hung up on 
the same peg with party spirit. Every one agreed to forget for 
one day England and India, Whether India was to be governed 
by confiscation or by conciliation, whether England was to keep 
Lord Derby for Prime Minister or not, was no longer the ques- 
tion, but whether Lord Derby's horse should win the race that 
bore his master's name, and in the issue of which the whole 
country was interested. 

Since the sovereign House of Commons thus bids good bye for 
a day to serious matters, let us do likewise; let us follow it to 
Epsom, and let us join a group of members quite resolved to vote 
against each other on the morrow, but still more resolute to 
amuse themselves together to-day, the jovial eve of a decisive 

It has been well said, that he who has not seen the Derby, has 
not seen England; and for that reason, people are less in the 
right who incessantly repeat that an Englishman does not know 
how to amuse himself; or, at least, to amuse himself with spirit, 
and with order and decency at the same time. Whoever has 
seen 200,000 or 300,000 inhabitants of London and its neigh- 
bourhood assembled under a fine spring sun on the green slopes 
of Epsom Downs; whoever has wandered among all these equi- 
pages of every possible class, among these sheds, these bands of 
music, these open-air theatres, these tents with their fluttering 
streamers, this sea of bipeds and quadrupeds, returns home 



thoroughly convinced of the truth of two things generally but 
little received: first, the honest and communicative gaiety of the 
immense majority of the numerous throng; secondly, the great 
degree of equality which brings together, for this day at least, 
conditions of society usually the most distinct and apart from 
each other. Princes of the blood, and peers of most ancient 
pedigree, elbow grooms in the crowd and others of low degree, 
and even take part in the popular games which occupy the 
irksome intervals between the races. Nowhere not even among 
us in France is seen a greater mingling of ranks; nowhere else, 
too, a gaiety, good humour, and decency, resembling more the 
same qualities which distinguish in so honourable a manner our 
popular masses, when they abandon themselves to their periodical 
and official amusements. In the midst of this joyous and ani- 
mated throng, one might believe oneself in France. But this 
illusion speedily vanishes, when one remarks the absence of every- 
thing like an official programme, of all interference on the part 
of the authorities. It is individual industry which has done it 
all announced everything, foreseen everything, regulated every- 
thing ; the subscriptions collected to defray all expenses are spon- 
taneous. A mere handful of policemen, without arms, and lost, 
as it were, in the midst of the throng, reminds one of precautions 
taken against an interruption of order. By these features we 
instantly recognise England. 

On the way to Epsom, as during the preceding days, every 
conversation turned on the odd coincidence between Lord Derby's 
political destiny and his luck as a racing-man. As on the even- 
ing before, his name was on every lip; and in the issue of the 
race about to come off", people took pleasure in accepting an 
omen of his victory or his defeat in the division to take place the 
day after. An opinion, rather generally credited, circulated to 
the effect, that the noble lord was far more solicitous for the 
success of his horse, than for that of his party. The public 
credence was slight in his relish for the cares and fatigues attach- 
ing to that office of premier, already once filled by him, the loss 
of which seemed to have inspired him with little regret, the pos- 
session of which could hardly add another charm or fresh lustre 
to his lofty and impregnable position as a great peer and a great 


orator. Head of one of those families, very few in number, of 
the English aristocracy which date from the times of the Planta- 
genets, fourteenth earl and peer of his name, Chancellor of the 
University of Oxford, placed, by a fortunate union of rank and 
talent, among that knot of men who are beyond all reach of 
rivalry, of whose names none are ignorant, whose merits none 
contest, there remains for him no social distinction to be acquired, 
not even the blue riband of the Garter. But the blue riband of 
the Turf (it is thus that the prize which bears his name at the 
Epsom races is designated) appears to every one, and to him in 
particular, the legitimate and natural object of his ambition. 
Shall he win it or not? That is the question the solution of 
which tasks every mind, and seduces into the midst of the crowd 
all the notabilities of politics and diplomacy, among others 
Marshal Pelissier, who represents so worthily our country and 
our army, and enjoys among our neighbours a popularity so great 
and so justly merited. 

Let us follow them into the paddock that is/ a reserved 
space where the horses entered for the race are exhibited previous 
to the start. Attention is momentarily attracted to this or that 
horse ; but it is Lord Derby and the horse that carries his fortunes 
that fix every eye. There he is! Which of them? The man, 
or the horse? Both are there; but hardly has the horse made 
his appearance than the owner is forgotten. The celebrated 
animal is walked slowly to and fro, as if to display in detail all 
the points which are to assure victory to him, to his master, and 
to the innumerable host of betters who have risked their money 
on his back. A numerous group of political personages, inter- 
mingled with connoisseurs of another order, follow with comical 
gravity, and a sort of religious attention, every movement of the 
animal. I had the satisfaction to recognize among them one of 
the most ardent defenders of Church and State, an Anglican of 
the old stock, the same who some time afterwards was destined 
to do me the honour of signalizing me to the House of Commons 
as an advocate of the cause of civil and religious liberty, only 
with a view to reduce England and France under the domination 
of the Jesuits. He seemed completely to have forgotten the 
dangers of the Established Church, and the formidable progress 

E 2 


of Popery, to such a point was he absorbed by the contemplation 
of Toxophilite's paces. 

After some insignificant interludes, the crowning race com- 
mences; twenty-four horses start together. How shall I paint 
the devouring anxiety, the tumultuous swaying to and fro of the 
crowd, the forward spring, the rustling of the hundred thousand 
persons whose eyes and hearts are concentrated upon a single ob- 
ject? The disinterested stranger involuntarily recalled his Virgil 
to mind, and the immortal verses of the fifth book of the ^neid^ 
which have familiarized every one of liberal education, and every 
cultivated mind, with so many insignificant details for ever en- 
nobled by the epic muse. The race, which was run over a space 
of three-quarters of a league, lasted less than three minutes. For 
an instant, thanks to an inequality of the course, all the horses 
disappeared from the view of the spectators; when they again 
came in sight, the different chances of the rivals began to declare 
themselves. One moment more of devouring anxiety, a hundred 
thousand heads turned towards the winning-post. Fate has de- 
cided. It is not Lord Derby who has won. His famous horse 
is only second. The " blue ribband'' escapes him; the cup has 
been won by the horse of a baronet unknown, who has realised 
at a stroke something like ^40,000. 

In this unexpected check to the Prime Minister at Epsom, 
every one saw a prognostic of the political defeat which awaited 
him at Westminster. But friends and opponents seemed to for* 
get the disastrous omen in the feverish excitement which attended 
the return of the crowd to London. Every one, as usual, wished 
to start and return at one and the same time: every rider, each 
separate turn-out, whether large or small, public or private, tears 
madly along the two or three lanes which lead into the highway : 
all are intent upon the return to the great city. It is almost 
impossible to comprehend how it is, that such fearful disorder 
and such numerous mishaps do not occasion some dire catastrophe 
amid the confused and unruly crowd, the more as it is only in 
the far distance that a few policemen are visible, always unarmed, 
who, by a movement of the hand, re-establish order in the line 
till it is again interrupted and broken. I smiled in reflecting on 
the contrast of these simple but sufficient precautions with the 


furious charges common among our Municipal Guards, with 
helmet on head and sword in hand, when sweeping down upon a 
half-dozen hackney-coaches daring enough to break through the 
line on the occasion of ministerial receptions, in those fabulous 
ages when our parliamentary folks were accustomed to trudge on 
foot to see the ministers we liked or opposed. Notwithstanding, 
no serious calamity occurs; every one reaches his destination, he 
scarcely knows how, but in safety. The 300,000 spectators dis- 
perse and hie to their own homes without any talk of misadven- 
ture being bruited abroad. The visitor has scarcely cleared the 
picturesque and undulating country in the vicinity of Epsom, 
than he passes an interminable series of suburban villas, all green 
and smiling, which form the environs of the great city, in which 
he may read, more than in anything else, the material prosperity 
of the country, where houses less sombre and less monotonous 
than those of the town peep out in all their bravery from beds of 
flowers or tall trees; where the balconies, windows, gates, and 
pathways are crowded to overflowing with a joyous company, as 
remarkable for beauty on the part of the women and children, as 
by the air of contentment and sympathy beaming from every 
face. There is no spectacle in the world which can come up to 
this living stream, through whose hurrying and noisy waves we 
press with redoubled speed. Its nature somewhat changes as we 
draw nearer London, where a denser but gloomier population 
betrays the presence of the working-classes; but it leaves upon 
the mind an ineffaceable remembrance of a true popular festival, 
the issue of the spontaneous impulse of its actors, and ennobled by 
the manly intelligence of a people who not only understand self- 
government, but also how to amuse themselves without the help 
of the authorities.*" 

* The close of this paragraph turns upon a pun, which is, of course, 
untranslatable. It runs thus : 

Every one knows the miserable pun of Louis XV. to one of his philo- 
sophic courtiers : " Duke de Lauraguais, what have you been doing in 
England?" "Learning to think (penser), Sire." "What ? horses?" 
(panser des chevaux, meaning, to dress the wounds of horses.) "Both, 
Sire," might have been just as well the reply of Lord Derby, if we can 
imagine Lord Derby in France, and at the court of an absolute monarch. 

VII. Everyone's mind returned, the day after this holy-day, to 
the pre-occupations that engrossed its eve, and plunged anew into 
the great struggle, the issue of which was to exercise so vital an 
influence on the destinies of England and of India, and on the 
future of those 200,000,000 of souls, of whom Mr. Roebuck has 
spoken with such noble eloquence. It was not merely in Parlia- 
ment, or in high society, or in exclusively political circles, that 
this ardent curiosity was bent on divining the result of the debate. 
The entire country, represented by all that it contained in the 
form of intelligent and well-informed men, followed, with feverish 
anxiety, the different incidents of the conflict, and identified 
itself with its slightest details, thanks to the powerful arid useful 
air of the press, which causes to penetrate into the humblest 
hamlet a detailed and perfectly accurate report of the Parlia- 
mentary debates. It does more; it accompanies them with com- 
mentaries, which sum up and reproduce those debates, adding 
thereto arguments often more conclusive and more original than 
. those of the speakers. It is in this way, that it awakens the con- 
science of the country, that it invites and occasions the interven- 
tion of all in the affairs of all, and that it proclaims, while it 
regulates, the direct action of the country on its representatives 
and its chief. What wit and science, what irony and passion, 
what talent and life, have been poured forth during this fortnight 
through the voluminous columns of the English newspapers ! 
I was, for my own part, lost in astonishment, so long a time had 
elapsed since I had taken part in that running and alternate fire 
of daily discussion, which we, in former days, knew and practised, 
it may be to excess, but which has become impossible among 
journals, some of which only possess the right of revealing every- 
thing, and which are always prone (more or less involuntarily) to 
the inciting their adversaries on to a territory, where an official 
gag is sure to be in waiting for them. While the " Daily Kews," 
the " Star," and the other independent or radical papers, mani- 
fested a greater or less lively sympathy towards the maintenance 
of the new policy, the formidable artillery of the " Times " con- 
tinued to thunder against the ministry and against the famous 
despatch. By its side, the smaller papers, specially devoted to 
the cause of Lord Palmerston, redoubled their zeal and vigour in 


order to sustain the ardour of its adherents both in the House 
and among the public at large. They always predicted, with 
unvarying confidence, the certain defeat of Government, and 
promised themselves a majority so considerable and so significant 
as to render all idea of dissolution useless and devoid of sense. 
Nevertheless, some symptoms of dismemberment already mani- 
fested themselves in the midst of the majority which had been so 
confidently counted on. Its chiefs, in traversing the ranks of 
their phalanx, could already remark the expressive silence of 
some, the increasing hesitation of several. The debate had evi- 
dently shaken, if not altogether changed, many opinions enter- 
tained from the first. All its brilliancy, all its strength had been 
on the side of the adversaries of the vote of censure. Its parti- 
sans had scarcely raised themselves above the combinations arid 
recriminations of party spirit. The result was still more visible 
during the sitting of the 20th of May. Mr. Bright, who disputes 
with Mr. Gladstone the palm of eloquence and the attention of 
the House, brought on that day to the good cause the powerful 
aid of his opinion and increasing authority. Mr. Bright is a 
member of the Quaker sect; he is brother-in-law of that Frede- 
rick Lucas who, born in the same sect, became a Catholic, and 
in addition, the most energetic advocate of his new faith. Hardly 
had he entered the House of Commons when Lucas there took up 
a position beyond the reach of rivalry; everything predicted in 
him an orator and party leader who should equal, or, perhaps, 
surpass O'Connell ; a premature death left behind the remem- 
brance, still vivid, of the invincible charms of his language, and 
of the energetic uprightness of his convictions. Mr. Bright, like 
his brother-in-law, taking up a position outside of all old parties, 
and bordering on the road which leads to power, has not ceased to 
grow greater in public esteem, despite of the temporary unpopu- 
larity which attached to him in consequence of his opposition to 
the eastern war. Every one blames and regrets his exaggerated 
attacks against English manners (moeurs) and English institu- 
tions, attacks of which he himself is the living and brilliant con- 
tradiction; but every session has seen his ascendancy increase, 
and this Quaker is to-day one of the three or four most interest- 
ing personages, and most listened to, in England. It was a ques- 


tion put by him which provoked the publication of the famous 
despatch. It was but just that he should now defend it. This he 
did with an energy, an accuracy, a simplicity of argumentation 
and of demonstration well fitted to carry conviction, rapidly and 
triumphantly, into every impartial mind. He also knew how to 
find skilfully the weak point in the armour of the Whig resolu- 
tion, abstaining the while from expressing any opinion on Lord 
Canning's proclamation.* 

Here, turning to attack the most redoubtable adversary of the 
despatch Lord John Russell he evoked against him, with 
felicity and justice, the remembrance of his own errors, and the 
imprudence committed by him in criticising tartness or harshness 
of language, expressed by no matter whom. He reminded him 
that he (Lord John Russell), on occasion of the restoration of the 
Roman Catholic hierarchy, and of the arrival of Cardinal Wise- 
man in England, had addressed a letter, published, to the Bishop 
of Durham, which had given the signal for a considerable agita- 
tion, and sown the seeds of a strife which still endures. " The 
noble Lord," said our intrepid Quaker, in whose person the Dis- 
senter pierces through the political orator, " has blamed Lord 
Ellenborough's despatch on account of its tone of invective and 
sarcasm. But the noble Lord ought to have been exceedingly 
reserved on that point, for he lives in a glass-house more fragile 
than any of ours. When he takes up his pen no one can foresee 
what he may give to the public. I remember a very extraordi- 
nary letter of his, etc." t 

The House received with marked sympathy and with pro- 
longed applause, these passages, and others still, which we must 
omit, in order to arrive at the conclusion of the speech, in which 
the eloquent and honest man whom we listened to with so much 
emotion, attacked alike the tactics employed by the former 
Ministry to recover power by the aid of a complication of 
external events, and the inhuman incitements of the English 
press to renewed executions-! 

* Here M. de Montalembert quotes a portion of Mr. Bright's speech, 
f Here M. de Montalembert quotes that portion of Mr. Bright's speech 
which referred to the Durham letter. 
I Here another quotation. 


After a speech of such power, immensely applauded, one might 
well expect to see, at length, a speaker rise on the other side, 
capable of avenging the cause of the resolution of censure, and 
vindicating it against overwhelming attacks. But the expecta- 
tion was vain. None presented themselves, except second or 
third-rate combatants, whose inferiority became more and more 
evident when Sir James Graham arose to defend the same thesis 
as Mr. Bright. Long invested with the highest functions in the 
Ministries, at the head of which respectively were Lord Grey, 
Sir Robert Peel, Lord Aberdeen, and, lastly, Lord Palmerston, 
he occupies, with Mr. Gladstone, the first rank in the Peelite 
party. He began by declaring, in the name of the venerable 
Aberdeen a particular friend of Lord Canning, as of himself 
that Lord Canning, whose fair renown might appear to have been 
compromised by the premature publication of Lord Ellen- 
borough's despatch, had received, by the spontaneous resignation 
of the latter Minister, a reparation amply sufficient, and that the 
Government had acted towards him with great moderation in 
not recalling him. He then laid great stress on a fact, the news 
of which had arrived that very day, the energetic protest directed 
against the proclamation by Sir James Outram that is, by that 
very one among the English Generals who had himself effected, 
under Lord Dalhousie, the annexation of Oude, who was still 
in command there, and who during the last campaign, had 
attracted universal admiration by consenting, like our own 
Boufflers at Malplaquet, and Lord Hardinge in Afghanistan, 
to serve as a volunteer under the orders of his subordinate, that 
subordinate being no other than Havelock, whom he did not 
wish to deprive of the glory of a victory already half gained. 
In aid of these imposing testimonies, Sir James Graham brought 
to bear all the weight of his' own personal authority in his attack 
against the theory and practice of political confiscation. Calling 
attention to the warnings given by Machiavel, the great doctor, 
in the science of State crime, who taught that individuals and 
communities more willingly pardon those who have slaughtered 
their fathers, than those who have robbed them of their patri- 
mony; he cited, in addition, the authority of the Duke of 
Wellington, who, addressing himself to one of his successors 


in India, recommended him, above all things, to respect private 
rights and individual property. Then, contrasting the example 
of Napoleon I. with that of his conqueror, he referred to the 
energetic resistance, narrated in a recent publication by M. Ville- 
main, which the Emperor encountered from his most faithful 
adherents, when, during the Hundred Days, he wished to fulmi- 
nate from Lyons a decree of confiscation against thirteen of his 
principal adversaries. His Grand-Marshal, Bertrand, the honestcst 
and most faithful of his friends, the companion of his last perils 
and last misfortunes, refused, in spite of his master's injunctions 
and entreaties, to countersign the fatal decree. li Those," said he, 
" who advise you to begin anew a regime of proscription and 
confiscation are your worst enemies, and I will not be their 
accomplice." Labedoyere added, " If the system of proscription 
and sequestration recommence, all that will not last long." Sir 
James summed up his own opinions, and, it may be said, the 
entire debate, in these terms: * 

After these two speeches, the cause of justice and truth was, 
morally speaking, victorious. However, the issue of the deliber- 
ation was still uncertain; some great speakers were still to be 
heard on one side, Mr. Disraeli, leader of the House of Com- 
mons, and Mr. Gladstone, the most eloquent of the orators; on 
the other, Lord Palmerston, with all the inexhaustible resources 
of his intellectual eloquence. Public anxiety had reached its 
height, and on the day after (21st of May), the last day of this 
great conflict, the crowd of members and of spectators, huddled 
together in the narrow precincts of the House, surpassed all that 
had ever been seen theretofore. Stationed in the gallery re- 
served for the peers and strangers of distinction, Lords Derby 
and Granville, seated side by side, seemed to pass in review their 
two armies, while waiting for the decisive engagement which was 
to decide the lot of both, and to make them pass from one side 
of the neighbouring House to the other. An electrical agitation 
reigned in the ranks of the assembly. But, lol at the very 
opening of the sitting an unexpected spectacle presents itself. 
A member rises from the Opposition benches to request the pro- 
poser of the motion of censure against the Government to with- 
* M. de Montalembert here quotes Sir J. Graham's speech. 



draw it. Mr. Cardwell, surprised by this abrupt proposition, 
flatly refuses. Instantly five or six other members of the Oppo- 
sition successively renew the same summons. It was the symptom 
of the internal division which had been at work since the com- 
mencement of the debate, and of a defection which was becoming 
more and more dangerous. The army which had been so sure 
of victory began to give way. Mr. Cardwell still hesitated. 
Thereupon General De Lacy Evans, one of Lord Palmerston's 
oldest partisans, declared that, for him, he should propose a 
motion directly censuring Lord Canning's proclamation, and 
disapproving the confiscation-policy. Another Opposition mem- 
ber declared that, if a division were persisted in, there was no 
other course open to him but to bid good-bye to the proposer of 
the motion, and to quit the House. A third, more simply frank, 
evoked the possibility of a dissolution, which would probably 
cause many partisans of the vote of censure to lose their seats. 
A whole hour passed away amid this strange and increasing 
confusion; and every moment the certainty of the humiliating 
defeat of the Opposition was becoming more apparent. To avoid 
this disaster, Lord Palmerston took his resolution, and deter- 
mined on retreating. To mask his retreat from the enemy, and 
putting forward as a pretext, the effect produced by General 
Outranks protest, quoted in the debate of yesterday, and officially 
published on that very day, he, in his turn, requested Mr. Card- 
well to withdraw his motion. The latter at length consented, 
amid the ironical cheers of the Conservative party. The day was 
decided, and the campaign at an end, without the reserve 
having been brought into action. The Ministry carried the day, 
although not a single Minister had spoken. 

There remained nothing more for the Cabinet, but to certify its 
victory, and to determine in advance its moral effect. This Mr. 
Disraeli accomplished with infinite address and triumphant mo- 
desty. He stated, at the outset, that it was not the Ministry who 
refused to accept battle, or who had to fear its result ; neither was 
it the Ministry who had put its adversaries to rout. He acknow- 
ledged that the battle had been won by men who were neither 
members nor adherents of the Government by Mr. Roebuck, 
Mr. Bright, and Sir James Graham, whose independence, talent, 


and authority liad thrown the most brilliant light upon the debate, 
and modified the preconceived opinions of a portion of the House. 
Resolved, for the rest, not to abuse success, and not to drive his 
adversaries to extremities, he declared that as long as Lord Can- 
ning should act comformably with a prudent and conciliatory 
policy, which was recommended to him, and which he had so 
long generously carried out, the Government would extend to 
him its confidence and support; for the rest, without waiting for 
the result of the debate, a telegraphic despatch to that effect had 
been already forwarded to him. 

Mr. Gladstone, Lord John Russell, and Mr. Bright, in turns, 
rose to congratulate the House, according to their respective 
views, on the unhoped-for conclusion of the debate, and to certify 
as well to the justice done to Lord Canning as to the principles 
universally recognized in favour of clemency and moderation in 
India. After which the House adjourned for the Easter holy- 

It is very rare in well-regulated political assemblies, to see, 
upon a measure of vital interest, the already pre-conceived dispo- 
sitions of the majority thus transformed through the sole and 
immediate influence of discussion. I will even add, that it must 
rarely be so, without it being possible to come to any conclusion 
adverse to the sincerity or morality of the representative Govern- 
ment. In questions relatively insignificant, or suddenly raised, 
public and unprepared discussion will naturally determine the de- 
ciisons come to. The contrary is the rule in party struggles, in 
questions of higher importance, already more than sufficiently 
discussed by a free press and by the movements of opinion. Par- 
liamentary discussion becomes, in such case, rather a result than a 
prelude. All legislative deliberation is a judgment; the discussion 
which precedes it, proves and produces the victorious arguments; 
it gives to the pleadings of the opposing parties the most signal 
and most incontestable publicity; but it helps, above all else, to 
note down, for contemporaries and for posterity, the items of the 
decree. I have often seen a majority swollen or diminished under 
the immediate pressure of the speeches of certain orators; but I 
had never before seen eloquent truth thus gain an ascendancy, 
and gradually work its way to victory. 


It was not, therefore, without reason that speakers of very dif- 
ferent kinds felicitated the House upon the issue of the debate; 
for that which had just taken place was the triumph of reason and 
justice, a triumph consolidated by the moderation and prudence 
of all parties, a triumph obtained by the unaided arms of discus- 
sion and eloquence. Party spirit had been beaten and outdone. 
All legitimate interests had been nobly defended and acknowledged ; 
the honour of a great public officer, accused and absent, had found 
faithful and zealous champions; his character had been screened 
from all reproach, with honourable solicitude, by the very men 
who had most severely judged his conduct. The Governmental 
authority had been maintained by others as completely strangers 
to his responsibility as independent of his influence. An eloquent 
but imprudent Minister, and who had chastised himself for the 
indiscretion and exaggeration of his language, ought to have felt 
more than consoled by hearing his doctrines victoriously sustained 
by the most imposing votes, and implicitly approved by the legis- 
lative majority. 

" Humanity, equity, the rights of the conquered and the feeble 
had found for champions the most intrepid orators, and those most 
attentively listened to in an assembly the echoes of which resound 
through the whole world, and their voices would penetrate even 
to the banks of the Ganges, to restore there, in their integrity, 
the laws of honourable warfare, and the conditions of civilizing 

" ' Hie, super Gangem, super exauditus et Indos, 
" ' Implebit terras voce ; et furialia bella 
" ' Fulmine compescet linguae.' 

In a word, moral force had been openly and nobly preferred to 
material force by the organs of a great nation which is able and 
willing to do its own business; which nothing depresses or 
frightens; which sometimes deceives itself, but does not drive to 
extremities either events or men; finally, which knows how to 
manage everything and repair everything, without needing to 
submit to tutelage or to seek safety out of its own virile and in- 
telligent energy." 

While these reflections encompassed me, I quitted their great 
spectacle full of emotion and contented, as ought to have been 


every man who sees in a Government something else besides an 
antechamber, and in a civilized people something more than a 
flock of sheep, docilely indolent, to be fleeced and led forth to 
pasture under the silent shadows of an enervated security. I felt 
myself more than ever attached to those liberal hopes which have 
always animated, through the most regrettable phases of our his- 
tory, the elite of honest men, whom neither disappointment nor 
defeat has ever bowed down, and who, even in exile or on the 
scaffold, have always preserved enough of patriotism to believe 
that France could, quite as well as England, endure the reign of 
right, light, and liberty. Noble belief ! well worthy to actuate 
the most painful sacrifices, and which, although betrayed by for- 
tune, deserted by the crowd, and insulted by cowards, does not 
the less retain its invincible empire over proud souls and generous 

VIII. When I returned to France, I read in the leading organ 
of the clergy, and of the new alliance of the Throne and the 
Altar, that all I had just seen and heard was " a farce played with 
great display of scenery/' such as are often found in the history 
of deliberative assemblies. Happy country, thought I, and still 
more happy clergy, to whom such excellent information is given 
in such noble language ! 

Meantime the debate of May last had produced a salutary 
influence on the management of affairs in India. Lord Canning 
returned without difficulty to his former line of conduct, from 
which fatal counsels had diverted him. While setting forth the 
apology for the confiscation, in the despatch of the 7th of June, 
which the papers have recently published, he did not the less re- 
enter on an indulgent and moderate policy. If we are to believe 
the latest accounts, the submission of Oude is gradually going on. 
The Talookdars, brought back by the conciliatory conduct of 
the Commissioner Montgomery, submit one after each other, and 
re-occupy their lands at the same time as they resume their duty. 
In the other provinces of India, the insurrection, although still 
formidable, more so, indeed, than people generally believe in Eng- 
land, appears nevertheless to be narrowing and dying out. Not 
one of the sanguinary prayers, which, at this period last year, 
arose from the camp of the enemies of England, has, as yet been 


realised ; not one of their ill-omened predictions has been as yet 

The law which has brought to a close the political existence 
of the India Company, entrusts the Government of the immense 
peninsula to a Secretary of State, assisted by a Council, whereof 
half the members are appointed by the crown, while the others 
are elective. One of the articles of this law, provides, that when 
a private individual has any complaint to make against the ad- 
ministration of India, he must apply to the Secretary of State; 
this is only a further application of that great principle of the 
common law of England, according to which, any Citizen has 
his remedy in Court before any public Officer. A guarantee of 
British liberty, of enormous importance and but too little known, 
which contrasts with that inviolability of the pettiest officials of 
France, created by the Constitution of year VIII, which people 
were simple enough, even under the constitutional regime, to 
place among the Conquests of 1789. 

This Secretary of State is Lord Stanley, whose vigorous youth 
and solid understanding, promise to confer upon Indian affairs, a 
prudent and energetic guide, while inspiring universal confidence. 
He nobly epitomised the programme of the new organisation of 
the Government of India, in his speech of the 20th September, 
to one of the Civil Corporations of London. " We have to 
preserve India from the fluctuations of parliamentary politics, 
and to defend England against the more distant, but no less real 
danger of the contact of our executive power, with the adminis- 
tration of a country which can only be governed by means of 
absolute power." His father's ministry owes to the discussion of 
Card well's proposition, the consolidation of its existence, pre- 
viously uncertain and tottering. The most advanced liberal 
opinion was easily resigned to the temporary duration of a 
cabinet whieh gives to the great reforming and independent 
party time to select younger and safer leaders than Lord 
Palmerston, and which, meanwhile, itself resolutely treads the 
path of useful reforms and legitimate progress. The coryphees of 
the Conservative administration underwent at this moment the 
chastisement often inflicted by Providence on statesmen whom 
political passions I repeat passions, and not servile and factious 


greediness have carried on to injustice and exaggeration. The 
power they have so eagerly coveted, is one day granted to them ; 
but on the condition of following precisely the same line which 
they made a reproach of, to their predecessors. Since their 
second period of office, Lord Derby and Mr. Disraeli are occupied 
with doing all which they alleged as a crime against Sir Robert 
Peel. They accept, or they themselves propose liberal reforms 
which they have, or which they would to a certainty have com- 
bated if they had remained in the Opposition, into which they 
were thrown by the rupture with the illustrious chief, from whom 
they separated when he admitted the necessity of tearing to 
pieces the old Tory programme, and opening the doors of the 
future. The admission of Jews to Parliament, the abolition of 
qualification for the House of Commons, the promise of a new 
Parliamentary Reform, more efficacious than all the recent propo- 
sitions, indicate the steps they have taken in this new path, and 
have naturally gained for them the sympathy of th^ Liberals, 
while by measures sincerely favorable to religious liberty in 
schools, in prisons, and in the army, they have acquired a sort of 
adhesion even among the more militant portion of the episcopacy 
and the Catholic press of Ireland. 

But if the great debate on India has consolidated for some 
time this Conservative Ministry, it has rendered a service much 
more more considerable to England and to Europe by confirming 
the defeat of Lord Palrnerston. In spite of the skilful slowness 
of his retreat at the last hour of the combat, that defeat was not 
the less evident and complete; and for the rest of the session the 
Chamber seemed to take pleasure in showing him that it had de- 
finitively thrown offhis yoke. He will perhaps return to power, 
so long as the resources of his mind are abundant, and so long as 
the return to popularity in a free country is unforeseen and na- 
tural; but he will return to it with a lesson, if not a correction, 
and penetrated with the necessity of being more cautious towards 
his allies and his adversaries. 

Another power, still more formidable than that of Lord 
Palmerston, has been vanquished in the struggle The Times, 
pledged for two years back to the policy of the noble Lord, and 
which had devoted alt its resources to the triumph of the plan of 


attack combined by the late Minister. It is impossible not to see 
in this fact a conclusive proof of the national good sense of the 
English people. The incontestable utility of that immense engine 
of publicity, as the loud organ of every individual grievance, as 
well as the energetic stimulant of the public sentiment, would be 
more than counterbalanced by its omnipotence if this omnipo- 
tence did not meet with a check, and never received a lesson. 
The equilibrium of constitutional powers would be seriously en- 
dangered by the exclusive preponderance of a single journal, in 
which writers without mission and without responsibility speak 
as masters every day to the most numerous public in the earth. 
But, as I believe I have elsewhere proved, the empire of the 
tribune and its universal publicity are the necessary and effica- 
cious counterpoise of this dangerous power of the press; and the 
debate on India has given a fresh and conclusive demonstration 
of the fact. 

Let it be remarked, that in all these various phases of English 
politics in our day, there is no question whatever of the pretended 
struggle between the aristocracy and democracy, in which super- 
ficial observers fancy they find the key of the movements of 
opinion with our neighbours. In England, what in reality 
governs is the middle class but a middle class much more 
largely established, and constituted after a much more hierarchical 
fashion, than that which governed in France at certain epochs of 
our ancient monarchy, and during the existence of our Par- 
liamentary regime. That middle class has never known the puerile 
fits of enthusiasm, nor the annoying and envious pretensions, nor 
the base abdications, nor the inexcusable panics which degrade 
the history of our bourgeoisie. That middle class esteems intelli- 
gence highly, but character still more. It seeks after and values 
wealth, but as the sign of social strength and activity. It abhors 
apathy and weakness, and, consequently, arbitrary rule, whether 
it be imposed or admitted. It will exist by itself and for itself; 
hence its instinctive and traditional repugnance to centralization 
and bureaucracy. On the other hand, it does not aspire to possess 
itself of the whole of the public functions, and to shut out, above 
and below at the same time, access to power against all that does 
not belong to it. It opens its ranks to all who raise themselves 



without contesting any elevation anterior to it, or independently 
of it. It willingly consents that the aristocracy by birth, which 
for ages is recruited from its ranks, shall represent at home and 
abroad the public authority and the national grandeur, just as a 
powerful sovereign, reposing in the tranquil and simple majesty 
of his power, willingly leaves to great men and lords the care of 
displaying the pomp of distant embassies, and obtaining the 
honour of onerous missions. 

But it gives to understand that its will must be obeyed; that 
no other interest shall enter into conflict with its own: that no 
conviction shall prevail over its own. And it is not from to-day 
that this veiled but most certain sovereignty dates. For him who 
understands well the history of England, it has for two centuries 
always existed, and ever extended. Amid the superficial division 
of parties, it is the spirit of the middle classes which has ever 
directed those great currents of opinion of which dynastic and 
ministerial revolutions are merely the official interpretation. The 
English patrician has never been other than the active and de- 
voted delegate, the interpreter and the instrument of that intel- 
ligent and resolute class in whom the national will and power are 
condensed. It is that class which Cromwell and Milton personi- 
fied, when, by the sword of one, and the pen of the other, the 
Eepublic sat for a space on the ruins of the throne of Charles I. 
It was from that class, and with it, that Monk brought back the 
Stuarts, and that, 30 years later, the Parliament substituted for 
them a new Royalty. It was that class which, with the two Pitts, 
raised from the beginning of the 18th century the edifice of 
British preponderance, and which with Burke saved it from being 
ruined and infected by the contagion of revolutionary doctrines. 
It was the same class which, in our day, opened under Peel a 
new era of policy the melioration of the condition and the en- 
largement of the rights of the working classes. 

From this cause, arises the imperious necessity for that trans- 
formation of ancient parties which manifests itself in all the 
incidents of contemporary politics, and influenced the great 
debate of which I have endeavoured to give an account 

I hear certain great minds, which I venerate, groan over this 
inevitable transformation ; I see them do their best to retard its 


progress. Vain attempts and ill-founded grief! This dislocation 
of the old parliamentary ties is legitimate, natural and desirable. 
The old parties are as dead, as their reason for existence has passed 
away. The whig party is buried in the very temple of its vic- 
tory; to it is due the immortal honour of having provoked by its 
initiative and perseverance, that noble and salutary progress, 
which has not caused the shedding of one drop of blood, and 
which has caused liberal ideas to triumph by the only means which 
liberty avows: Catholic emancipation, parliamentary reform, the 
abolition of colonial slavery, the suppression of the laws which 
burthened cereals. Its opponents of former times have become its 
imitators to-day, and may not impossibly go beyond it on the 
road of new reforms of a substantial and popular nature, which 
shall supplant old routine, and put in place thereof the benefits 
of rational and moral progress. Every one at the present time in 
England desires progress, and every one also insists upon it with- 
out disowning the glory of the past, or weakening any of the 
foundations of society. Of all the questions which interest now- 
a-days the safety or the honor of the country, there is not a single 
one which is connected with the ancient divisions of whigs and 
tories. What have the French alliance, the revolt of India, the 
war with Russia and China, the political and industrial emanci- 
pation of the colonies, to do with them ? Nothing, absolutely 
nothing. The art of properly governing the country, of obtain- 
ing from its colossal resources the best possible results for its 
honour and prosperity; this is the only problem which remains 
to be solved. It suffices to legitimatize all honest ambition and to 
exercise every sort of known or latent ability. It suffices likewise to 
bring from time to time into the regions of power those periodical 
modifications, those salutary crises, which are indispensable in a 
free Government, because they prevent the majority from getting 
rusted, and statesmen from creating a monopoly of the enjoy- 
ment of power. 

The real wants and the real dangers of the country are no 
longer to be found where people are in the habit of looking for 
them. Fifteen years ago, it was predicted that the repeal of the 
corn laws and free trade would bring about an irreconcilable 
antagonism between the agricultural and manufacturing interests. 

F 2 


The contrary is just what has taken place. The profits of the 
agriculturists have accompanied those of the manufacturers, and 
have often exceeded them. It was feared that the rural would 
be sacrificed to the town population ; on the contrary, it is the 
latter, which, multiplying indefinitely, awakens a feeling of soli- 
citude as lively as it is legitimate, and constitutes England's social 
infirmity. In order to cure this evil, it is not merely the Govern- 
ment, but the entire country, which struggles to seek out the 
remedy. Its generous efforts will be recompensed by success, if, 
as everything indicates, in order to meet the encroachments of 
pauperism, it should find means of keeping within bounds those 
of the bureaucracy and of centralisation, which have destroyed or 
fettered liberty everywhere on the Continent, without being able 
to remove or check pauperism. 

I have already shown in these pages, and I hail again with 
joy, the most significant and most consoling symptom of the 
actual state of England I mean, the persevering ardour of the 
flower of the English nation in the pursuit of social and admi- 
nistrative reforms; of amelioration in the state of the prisons, and 
that of unhealthy habitations; in spreading popular, professional, 
agricultural, and domestic education ; in the augmentation of the 
resources set apart for public worship; in the simplification of 
civil and criminal procedure; in toiling, in every way, for the 
moral and material well-being of the working classes, not by the 
humiliating tutelage of uncontrolled power, but by the generous 
combination of every free agency and of every spontaneous 

England's danger is not from within. She would be willingly 
viewed by some in the light of a prey to the threats of Socialism, 
and as forced to take refuge in autocracy. Ingenious panegyrists 
of absolute power have lately exercised lavishly their perspicacity 
by looking up, in obscure pamphlets and obscure meetings, 
proofs of the progress of revolutionary ideas beyond the Channel. 
Those learned gentlemen have forgotten, or perhaps never knew, 
all that has been said and done in this direction from 1790 to 
1810, not in holes and corners, but in open day, with the tacit 
assent of a great Parliamentary party, and under the patronage 
of the most remarkable men in the country, while it was suffer- 


ing from serious financial embarrassments, from frequent mutinies 
in the navy, and from trie formidable enterprises of the greatest 
captain of modern times. Every man who knows never so little 
of England, cannot but smile at these selfish apprehensions. 
The propagators of such notions might be referred to that honest 
London shopkeeper who appeared the other day before one of 
the police-courts, to ask the presiding magistrate how he could 
obtain repayment of the postage of a demagogical pamphlet, 
which had reached him by that morning's delivery. Not only 
does the nation itself not require any organic change, but there is 
not a single serious party, of former or present days, which 
entertains it for a moment. Never has the constitution been 
more universally respected, more faithfully practised, more 
lovingly appealed to. After a lapse of seventy years, it is as true 
to say now what Mirabeau replied, in 1790, to those birds of 
ill-omen who were prophesying the imminent downfall of the 
country of liberality par excellence, " England lost ! in what 
latitude, let me ask, is she likely to be wrecked? I see her, on 
the contrary, active, powerful, issuing with renewed strength 
from regular agitation, and supplying a hiatus in her constitution 
with all the energy of a great people." 

No, England's danger does not lie in that direction. It is 
from without that she is menaced by the real perils to which she 
may succumb, and with respect to which she entertains an unfor- 
tunate delusion. I do not speak of the revolt in India merely, 
although I am very far from being reassured as to its final issue 
to the same extent that people in England seem to be; but it 
appears to me that she has more to fear from Europe than from 
Asia. At the close of the first Empire, Europe, with the excep- 
tion of France, cherished an intimate accord with England, 
penetrated, moreover, as it then was, with the recent victories of 
the armies of the latter in Spain and Belgium, It is no longer 
so to-day. The English army has indubitably lost its prestige. 
Again, the gradual progress of liberal ideas in England, and the 
retrograde march of the great Continental States, for some years 
back, in the direction of absolute power, have marshalled the two 
political systems on two roads altogether different, but running 


parallel to each other, and sufficiently near to admit of a conflict 
taking place from day to day. 

There exists, besides, against England, in the minds of many, 
a moral repulsion, which of itself alone constitutes a serious 
danger. The English regard in the light of an honour, of a 
decoration, the abuse of that press which preaches fanaticism and 
despotism; but they would be far wrong in believing that there 
exist against them, in Europe, no antipathies other than those 
which they are right in considering an honour. Count de 
Maistre, whom they ought to reproach themselves with not 
knowing sufficiently well, who never saw England, but W T !IO 
divined it with the instinct of genius, and admired it with the 
freedom of a great mind, has penned this judgment: " Do not 
believe that I do not render full justice to the English. I admire 
their government (without, however, believing, I do not say that 
it ought not, but that it cannot, be transplanted elsewhere) ; I 
pay homage to their criminal law, their arts, their science, their 
public spirit, etc.; but all that is spoiled in their external politi- 
cal life by intolerable national prejudice, and by a pride without 
limit and without prudence, which is revolting to other nations, 
and prevents them from uniting for the good cause. Do you 
know the great difficulty of the extraordinary epoch (1803) at 
which we are living? It is that the cause one loves is defended 
by the nation one does not love." 

As for me, who love the nation almost as much as the cause 
which it defends, I regret that M. de Maistre is no longer living 
to stigmatise with that anger of love, which rendered him so 
eloquent, the clumsy effrontery which British eyo'isme has mani- 
fested in the affair of that Isthmus of Suez, whose gates England 
would fain close against all the world, although, prepared in 
advance, she holds the keys at Perim. He would have been 
quite as well worth hearing on the subject of the ridiculous sus- 
ceptibility of a portion of the English press regarding the 
Russian coal depot at Villafranca; as if a nation which extends 
every day its maritime domination in every part of the world, 
and which occupies in the Mediterranean positions such as Malta, 
Gibraltar, and Corfu, could complain, with a good grace, that 


other peoples should endeavour to extend their commerce and 

On one side, then, the legitimate resentments excited by 
the imprudent and illogical policy of England in her relations 
with other States; on the other, the horror and spite with 
which the spectacle of her enduring and prosperous liberty 
fills servile souls, have created in Europe a common ground of 
animosity against her. It will be easy for any one, who may 
wish it, to turn to good account this animosity, and to profit 
by it, for the purpose of engaging England in some conflict, 
out of which she runs a great risk of issuing either vanquished 
or diminished. It is then that the masses, wounded in their 
national pride by unforeseen reverses, may raise a storm of which 
nothing in her history up to this can give an idea. To prevent 
this catastrophe, it concerns her not to blind herself any longer 
as to the nature and extent of her resources. Her military 
strength, and, above all, the acquirements in military science 
of her generals and officers, are evidently unequal to her mis- 
sion. Her naval strength may be, if not surpassed, at least 
equalled, as it once was by our own, under Louis XIV. and 
Louis XVI., as it will again, if our honour and our interest 
should require it. She confides too much in the glory of her 
past, in the natural courage of her sons. Inasmuch as she is 
essentially warlike, she considers herself, wrongly, on a level 
with modern progress in the art of war, and in a position to 
resist superiority in numbers, in discipline, and camp experience. 
Because in 1848, the bravest and best disciplined armies did 
not save the great Continental monarchies from a sudden and 
shameful fall before an internal enemy, she chooses to doubt 
that a good and numerous army constitutes the first condition 
of safety against an enemy from without. For the very reason 
that she is free, she believes, and wrongly, that she lias nothing 
to fear from the enemies of liberty. No ! her institutions are 
not an impregnable bulwark, as Mr. Roebuck unreflectingly 
termed them on his return from Cherbourg. Alas! all expe- 
rience of ancient and modern times proves, that free nations 
may succomb, like others, and even more rapidly than others. 
Liberty is the most precious of ail treasures; but, like every 


other treasure, it excites the envy, the covetousness, the hatred 
of those men, especially, who do not wish that others should 
possess an advantage, which they themselves have neither 
known how nor wished to possess. Like every other treasure 
beauty, truth, virtue itself liberty requires to be watched 
over, and defended with a tender solicitude, and an indefatiga- 
ble vigilance. All the inventions of which modern science 
is so proud, are as useful to despotism as to liberty, and even 
more so. Electricity and steam will ever lend more force to 
strong battalions than to good reasons. 

By substituting mechanical contrivances for the mainspring 
of morality man's individual energy the former invite and 
second the establishment of the empire of might over right. 
This is what the friends of England and of liberty ought never to 
lose sight of. 

This is the only ground whereon one does not feel reassured 
by the prodigies of that individual initiative, and of those 
spontaneous associations, whose intrepid and inexhaustible energy, 
makes the strength and the supreme glory of England. Every- 
where else, all the power and wealth of autocracy must avow 
themselves vanquished and eclipsed by that incomparable 
fecundity of private industry, which, in our time, without 
having been either incited or aided by the State, has hollowed 
out in the port of Liverpool, floating docks, six times as vast 
as those of Cherbourg; built up on the site of the Crystal 
Palace, the wonder of contemporary architecture; fathomed 
the sea, to deposit amidst its depths the telegraphic cable, and 
thus united the two great free peoples of the world, by the lan- 
guage of that electric spark, whose first-spoken words have 
wafted in an instant across the abysses, and from one world to 
another, the hymn of joy of the Angels at the birth of our 
Saviour, " Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, 
good will towards men." 

But it is not merely in the regions of great industrial enter- 
prise, to attract thither every eye, and to wring testimonies of 
admiration from the most unwilling mood, that those wonders 
of free and personal initiative manifest themselves. As for me, 
1 feel myself much more excited, and still more reassured, when 


I behold it at work in the very bowels of society, in the obscure 
depths of daily life; it is there one should see it extend its roots, 
and develop its vigorous vegetation, in order to estimate cor- 
rectly the value for the souls and bodies of a people of the 
noble habit of providing of itself for its wants and its 

I will only quote, and thus bring to a close, a study already too 
long, two traits, which are worthy, in my view, to inspire envy 
among the honest men of all countries, and which have passed 
by almost unperceived in England itself, so much in unison are 
they with everyday sights in that country, although we may 
vainly look for them elsewhere. 

I open, at hazard, an obscure provincial paper, the Manchester 
Examiner, for the month of July last, and there find the history 
of four or five young people of the middle classes, who, in 1833, 
undertook to found, at their own expense, a free school in Angel 
Meadows, one of the wildest quarters of the immense industrial 
City of Manchester. They desired, to use their own expression, 
to tread out the heathenism of the working classes. But, like all 
heathenisms, that of Angel Meadows proved difficult of access, 
and greatly wanting in gratitude. Our young apostles had taken 
possession of a small empty house, and had gathered there a few 
children from the streets. As a return, they were serenaded in 
true beggar's style every night, and had their windows smashed 
every day; whilst dogs and dead cats were flung through the 
apertures thus violently made into the school-rooms. They were 
careful to keep their tempers, to make no complaint, and still to 
persevere, by calling in turn upon every father in the neighbour- 
hood, for the purpose of explaining and inspiring confidence. 
After a lapse of five years, the triumph was theirs. At this pre- 
sent time, the sympathies of the population are with them, as 
well as the support of the clergy ; and they reckon four hundred 
young pupils, whose voluntary preceptors they remain : a duty, 
however, which does not prevent them from following, with 
adults, a course of lessons in conformity with the programme of 
the great working associations of the city. They have thus become 
the competitors of that admirable institution, called the Ragged 
School Union, because its exclusive object is to teach ragged 



children, and which counts already, in the City of London alone, 
166 schools, 41,802 pupils, 350 salaried masters, and, what is 
more praiseworthy still, 2,139 gratuitous members, who impose 
upon themselves the duty of going several times a week to give 
lessons to these poor children ! I shall be told, that is precisely 
what is done in France by all our brethren of religious orders 
and all our sisterhoods, who devote themselves to the people, as 
well as by many pious laymen. Undoubtedly; and I add, that 
it is what is done by the same classes in England, too, wherever 
such are to be found. But there are not enough of them, even 
in France; and with greater reason must this be said of England. 
Let us, then, learn to honour that sincere devotion to good, under 
whatever form it may be produced ; if it could ever be formidable 
to any one or to anything, it is not certainly to the Catholic 
clergy or to Truth. Moreover, until it be affirmed and even 
demonstrated by the" new oracles of the Church, that the condition 
of the Indians at Paraguay is the only ideal which it is suitable 
to propose to Europeans of the nineteenth century, it must be 
admitted that civil and civic virtues have alike their importance; 
and that religion, everywhere so disarmed in presence of poverty 
and materialism, is at least as interested as Society in the spon- 
taneous development of that moral and intellectual strength with 
which it has pleased the Almighty to endow the creature of His 

But here is another example, in another sphere, of that happy 
and consolatory activity of individual effort, wherein are bril- 
liantly evident that talent for self-government, and that happy 
connexion between the upper and lower classes of the English 
population. Not far from Birmingham another metropolis of 
English industry stood an old feudal manor-house, surrounded 
by a fine park, and called Aston Hall. Charles I. took shelter 
there in 1642, and the good people of Birmingham, who were on 
the parliamentary side, had besieged him there. In the course 
of time the great city, as it waxed in size, had gradually reached 
and even surrounded by successive ramifications the old domain, 
with its fine trees and verdant lawns. The old and impoverished 
family, who owned the property, had no alternative but to dispose 
of it; and it was easy to foresee that the day was near at hand 


hen that space of fresh and salubrious verdure would disappear, 
to make way for new streets encumbered with forges and spinning- 
wheels. The idea then occurred to some of them to get posses- 
sion of the property and convert it into a People's Park, in imita- 
tion of the example set by other towns. We are all acquainted 
with most enlightened countries, where such an undertaking 
would not have been regarded as possible, unless by knocking 
at the door of the public treasury, or suing to the sovereign's 
purse, by cleverly alternating the importunities of solicitation 
with the graces of adulation. They manage things differ- 
ently at Birmingham. A committee is formed; it is com- 
posed, for the most part, of work-people, mixed with a certain 
number of patrons and heads of manufactories. The whole 
city subscribed to the work. A company is formed by shares, 
whereof the working classes become holders; and it is sup- 
ported by a general subscription, in which every one takes part. 
The little girl of the charity school deposits her mite side by 
side with the bank-notes of the rich manufacturer. The sum 
required is soon collected; the domain is purchased in the name 
of the new association; the old mansion, carefully restored, is 
destined as a permanent exhibition of the arts and manufactures 
of the district; and the great park, with its trees the growth of 
centuries, is transformed into a place of promenade and recrea- 
tion for the families of the working classes. Then, but only then, 
and when it is necessary to inaugurate this happy conquest of an 
intelligent and courageous initiative, they send their request to 
the Queen ; for all these little municipal republics set the 
greatest importance on showing that royalty is the key-stone of 
the arch. 

All that great association, so proud and so sure of itself, knows 
well, that it has nothing to fear from that sovereign power which 
is at once its graceful ornament and its faithful representative, 
and which, in turn, has nothing to dread from the active spon- 
taneity of its subjects; which does not pretend to hinder any 
emancipation, any development of individual independence; 
which does not impose submission on energy, nor silence on con- 
tradiction; and which, in truth, is no other than liberty wearing 
a crown. The 15th of June, 1858, the Queen obeyed this touch- 


ing appeal. She comes, and 600,003 working men hasten to 
meet her, issuing in myriads from every , industrious hive of 
the districts of the black country that is, from the counties of 
Stafford and Warwick, where coal mines feed the great mineral 
works. They offer her the affectionate homage of their happy 
faces, of their free souls, and of their manly efforts for aggran- 
disement and freedom. The Queen traverses that mighty 
crowd of an enthusiastic population, and opens the now 
museum. She bestows knighthood on the Mayor of Bir- 
mingham, elected by his fellow-citizens, by touching his shoul- 
der, according to the ancient ceremonial, with a sword lent to 
her for that purpose by the Lord- Lieutenant of the county. She 
then causes to approach her the eight working men whom their 
comrades had indicated as the most usefully zealous in the com- 
mon work, and says to them " I thank you personally for what 
you have done to preserve this ancient manor, and I hope that 
this people's park will be for ever a benefit to the working classes 
of your city." As she was leaving, 40,000 children of the free 
national schools, and of various creeds, ranged along the way as 
she passed under the great oaks which had perhaps seen Charles I. 
beneath them ; and they chanted together with an accent at once 
innocent and impassioned, which drew tears from many of those 
who were present, a hymn in lines, rude perhaps, but the burden 
of which was 

" Now pray we for our country, 

" That England loDg may be, 

" The holy arid the happy, 
" And the gloriously free ! "