« НазадПродовжити »
those countries should quietly be rectified,.. that discordant sentiments and jarring interests should, like the suspended elements of floating chaos, gradually adjust themselves, find peaceably their respective levels, and settle each in its proper place ? Even in natural developements, like that to which
have alluded as being yet incomplete in the flooded savannahs of Australia, ages elapse, and changes slow in cause, but both sudden and violent in effect, are wrought, before the river works out its shapes for itself the channel wherein
Labitur et labetur in omne volubilis ædum. If it be thus where the constant and unerring laws of nature act upon passive and obedient matter, what is to be expected from the operation of human passions, under no other controul than that of moral laws, in which many are ignorant, and many more are mistaught,..which are disregarded by some, despised by others,.. and which all, who are daring enough to incur the responsibility of disobedience, are, fatally for themselves, free to disobey? To what then can you look for the preservation of peace, or for a mitigation of war? Not to the increased means of destruction, which the improvements in chemistry and in mechanics have put into your hands; for till the balance of states and of opinions be adjusted, these can only arm the strong with more effectual power against the weak. Not to the Holy Alliance, which, good as its intent may be, depends less upon any definite principles, or distinct perception of the general good, than upon the disposition of the individual sovereigns among whom it has been formed, and consequently is as precarious as their lives, or as the influence of the advisers by whom they may be governed. Will you look for it then in an approximation of feeling among those whom opinions have divided ?
MONTESINOS. Alas, every day widens those divisions, brings into collision irreconcilable interests, and exasperates the old and angry feelings, which for awhile time seemed to have allayed. What security can there be when “ he that hath right fears, he that hath wrong hopes ?”
SIR THOMAS MORE.
Is the prospect more comfortable if to the increased influence which public opinion is acquiring every day?
Hodie omnia vulgi judicio stantque, caduntque.
SIR THOMAS MORE.
Proceed as you are proceeding in this country, and the affairs of government will ere long be regulated by that opinion,.. as the weathercock is by the wind. “ If a man walk with the wind and lie falsely, he shall even be the prophet of this* people!"
MONTESINOS. This at least is no new evil.
SIR THOMAS MORE.
But the supremacy of popular opinion is;..and it is the worst evil with which, in the present state of the world, civilized society is threatened.
You teach me to look forward fearfully, as if a whirlwind were approaching, in the vortex of which we were soon to be involved!
SIR THOMAS MORE.
I would warn you in time, that so the whirlwind may not overtake you when you are gaily pressing forward with all sails set! I would teach you,
that in the progress of society, every stage has its own evils and besetting dangers, the only remedy for which is, that which is least regarded by all states, except by those in which it is least understood. See in how many things the parallel between this age and mine holds good; and how, in every instance, dangers the same in kind, but greater in degree, are awaiting yours! The art of war, which underwent its great alteration when the shield and lance were superseded by the firelock, and armour was rendered useless by artillery, is about to undergo a change not less momentous, with the same sure consequence of giving to ambition more formidable means. The invention of printing, which is to the moral world more than gunpowder or steam to the material, as it began in my days, so in yours its full effects are first beginning to unfold, when the press which, down to the last generation, wrought only for a small part of the community, is employed with restless activity for all classes, disseminating good and evil with a rapidity and effect inconceivable in former ages, as it would have been impossible. Look, too, at manufactures; great efforts were made to encourage them then,.. the Protector Seymour, (one of those politic reformers who fished in troubled waters, and fell at last into the stream,) introduced a colony of clothiers from what was then the very land of sedition, and converted the most venerable edifice in this whole island to
* Micah, ii. 11.
You have now, what it was then thought so desirable to obtain,.. a manufacturing population, .. and it is not found so easy to
regulate as it has been to raise it. The peasantry were in my time first sensible of distress brought upon them by political causes; their condition was worsened by the changes which were taking place in society; a similar effect is now more widely, and more pressingly felt. In those days, the dikes and boundaries of social order began to give way, and the poor, who till then had been safely left to the care of local and private charity, were first felt as a national evil;..that evil has increased till it has now become a national danger. A new world was then discovered,..for the punishment of its native inhabitants, the measure of whose iniquities was full; the colonies which have been established there are now in a condition seriously to affect the relations of the parent states, and America is reacting upon Europe. That was an age of religious, this of political revolutions;..that age saw the establishment of the Jesuits, this has seen their revival.
Well indeed will it be if the religious struggle be not renewed, not with a more exasperated spirit, for that is impossible, but with a sense of deadlier danger on both sides. If the flames, which ravaged Europe in those days, are not kindled again in ours, it will not be for want of foxes and fire-brands.