Page images
PDF

From The Saturday Review, 26 May.
LORD BROUGHAM AT EDINBURGH.

The new constitution of the university of the north has been inaugurated with all the splendor that befits its traditional prestige, its many grand associations, and its lofty designs. Two orators, both among the most illustrious of their day, have accepted its highest posts of honor, have dignified its ceremonials by their presence, and have set themselves to describe, with all the authority which realized success commands, the objects which-the scholar should place before him as the goal of his ambition, and the rules by which he may best defy the solicitations of self-indulgence, faint-heartedness, or despair, and most safely tread the narrow and arduous path by which alone the difficulties of life must be surmounted, and fortune's crowning height at last attained.

The ceremony to which the Edinburgh students were last week invited was just one of those which must fire the coldest and most unimpressible temperament with something of sentiment and enthusiasm. A former student of the university, full of years and honor, crowned with every distinction that [ falls within the reach of varied powers and; dauntless resolution, returning to the scene of his earliest labors, and surveying the long and eventful retrospect which the time and place naturally suggested, could not fail to arouse the interest and to touch the feelings of liis hearers. It is to associations of this kind that great schools and colleges owe much of that irresistible fascination which they exercise over the minds of all who come •within the range of their influence. Nothing could serve more to stimulate a boy to great exertions, to suggest the possibility of a grand career, and to fix his attention on noble schemes, than the consciousness of being united by common interests and attachments to men whose abilities have carried them far above the ordinary level of society. There' is a certain solidarity of greatness by which' every member of the fraternity shares something of the distinction which a single individual may enjoy. Thus a university is a bond of union, not only between different ages, but between the opposite extremes of the same generation. Tho poor Scotch lad •who has just entered upon his curriculum of study may be encouraged by the knowledge that the chancellor of his university submitted to the same routine and confronted the same difficulties as give the coloring to his own existence. Lord Brougham seems to have felt this when he recalled "the breathless silence and riveted attention" irith which he had, "within those very walls, received the instructions of the teachers of other days," and when he went through the

long list of his own illustrious fellow-students " who, under the same masters, gained those accomplishments which made them the ornaments of society, the solid learning and practical knowledge which made them its benefactors, ministering at the altars of their country, admistering her laws, amending her institutions, improving her literature and taking their station among the best friends of mankind, the fearless, the consistent apostles of piety, humanity, and freedom —all now passed away, leaving their memory for our comfort, their examples for our encouragement."

Such men as these are not the models for a selfish, indolent, or careless career, and the contemplation of their characters must, one would imagine, tend in the greatest degree to shame a young man into shaking off the frivolity which too often lasts on when every innocent characteristic of childhood has passed away, and to force him to realize how serious and valuable a matter the educational period of his existence deserves to be esteemed. Nothing indeed can be simpler or more homely than the advice which the great orator urged most earnestly upon his hearers. To economize the spare minutes of life, to master one thing at a time, and to master it thoroughly—to concentrate every effort upon a single branch of employment, and to make that the nucleus round which all subsidiary information may be arranged—such are the commonplace maxims which Lord Brougham thinks it especially necessary to impress upon the students of Edinburgh. A less distinguished (speaker might have shrunk from them as below the dignity of the occasion, and might have gratified the ingenuity of an academical audience by metaphysical subtleties, or his vanity by some abstruse speculation. Lord Brougham could be content with a lower and less pretentious flight. His whole philosophy is eminently utilitarian. He values intellectual ability just in proportion as it contributes, not to the exaltation of a single individual, but to the increased happiness and comfort of the mass of mankind. "The wisdom of ancient times, though it dealt largely with the subject of our passions and generally with the nature of man in the abstract, never stooped to regard as worthy of consideration the rights, the comforts, and the improvement of the community at large." Lord Brougham warns his audience against so false a view of the objects of learning. He protests against the notion of an " impassable space which separates the vulgar from the philosopher and the statesman." He shrinks with norror from the cold and merciless theory which degraded the mass of mankind to the level of the brute creation. "A sounder philosophy and a purer religion have in modern times entirely abolished all such distinctions." The amelioration of society is, he thinks, no unworthy employment for the most exalted powers, and this genial and condescending temper gives the principal coloring to his treatment of every subject which falls within the range of his long and discursive address. In morals, it leads him to contend " that it is beneficence rather than benevolence which can be regarded as a virtue, and entitled to confidence and respect." In literature, it forces him to apostrophize writers in the language of Mirabeau—"Ah, would they but devote themselves honestly to the noble art of being useful." The greatest rhetorician of his day sees in oratory only a means to the same unpretentious result: "Eloquence," he says, "can only in these times be worthily employed for furthering objects little known to, or, if dimly perceived, little cared for by, the masters of the art in ancient days—the rights of the people, the improvement of their condition, their advancement in knowledge and refinement—above all, for maintaining the cause—the sacred cause—of peace at home and abroad." History, in the same way, is deserting her true and honorable vocation when, dazzled by splendor of genius, or the imposing scale of achievements, she forgets the real interests of our species, and holds up to admiration "the worst enemies of mankind—the usurpers who have destroyed their liberties, the conquerors who shed their blood." Lord Brougham looks at once to the influence which such a mode of treatment is likely to exercise upon the actors in the affairs of life. The multitude are too often pursuaded into being the accomplices of some illustrious criminal. "Seduced by the spectacle of triumphant force, stricken with wonder at the mere exercise of great faculties with great success, men withdraw their eyes from the means by which the ends are attained, and lose their natural hatred of wickedness

in their admiration of genius and their sense of power." The splendors of a Napoleonic regime are but a poor equivalent, in Lord Brougham's estimation, for the crimes and miseries which its establishment entailed, and for the mined liberties in which it resulted.

Never have the true ends of power been more nobly and simply laid down, or a higher conception of the responsibilities of learning enforced upon a learned audience. The Edinburgh university has the honorable distinction of attracting students, not only from various parts of England, but from the con-* tinent and from the States of America. Lord-* Brougham has suggested some of the useful lessons which these alien learners may carry away with them to their own countries. The Frenchman will understand that popular rights do not involve popular tyranny, and that absolutism is not the only alternative for anarchy. The American will appreciate the advantage of a government in which respectable men will consent to act, and of an administration of justice which the mob cannot influence. The Neapolitan will, in the clear atmosphere of northern freedom, see despotism in all its true deformity. Englishmen will understand the advantage of a student's home life. All, we should hope, who had the honor of listening to the chancellor's inaugural address will have been infected | with something of the candor and large! mindedness, the calm judgment, the sincere love of justice, the lofty morality, which the veteran philosopher—almost the only survivor of a race of great men—endeavored to impart to a generation with which his name has already become historical. Our age is, j in one respect, exceptionally privileged—we are rich in the wisdom of old men, and in a disturbed and threatening epoch we may certainly think ourselves fortunate, no less that Lord Lyndhurst still takes his place in our senate, than that Lord Brougham is the presiding genius of one of our great universities.

It is a notion too commonly entertained not only by the public but crcn by educated medical men who hare not made diseases of tho brain their special study, that many fatal affections of this class arc suddenly developed without having been preceded liy any premonitory symptoms or by any organic changes of tho brain or its nppcndages. It is for tlio purpose of disabusing his renders of this error, and guarding them against its lamentable consequences, that Dr. Forbes AVinslow lias written his treatise "On Obscure Disease of tho Brain and Disorders of the Mind." Tho absence of all premonitory

symptoms, so frequently insisted upon the friends of patients who have succumbed to apparently sudden disease of tho brain, is rendered incrcdblo by the evidence of long-standing disease discovered after death. Tho symptoms must have been there, and tho patient might have been saved, had their import been understood by him or his friends. Hence the manifest importance of a book that teaches unprofessional readers to apprehend the signs of incipient cerebral disease, as readily as they do those of other maladies for which the physician is consulted in good time.— Spectator.

Frnm The Examiner, 2 June. THE BRUCE WAR. To suffer for the madness of kings is the ancient fate of nations, and perhaps there was some consolation in the fact that the authors of the evil were mighty men. The old Trojan chief found, in Helen's surpassing beauty, a fair and sufficient excuse for all the troubles of Troy. It was no shame, he said, to undergo many woes for such a woman, who excessively resembled a goddess in the face. But where are we to find consolation for the present war with a third of the human race? Where is the Agamemnon to give dignity, or the Helen to grace this calamity? There is nothing like either. A small envoy has plunged us into this huge, unwieldy war. He was, to say the best, not known as a man of any remarkable capacity, but he was, forsooth, the brother of Lord Elgin, and upon that family-claim the destinies of two empires were entrusted to his hands. To his Precipitancy in ordering the attack in the 'eiho, what a frightful amount of waste of blood and treasure may hereafter be distinctly referable, and also what grievous

population. There is a peculiarity exclusively Chinese, which makes war with them utterly different from war with any other people on earth. This is their carelessness and recklessness of life. China has too much life, more life than her land and her water can give room for and support. The destruction of life is therefore hardly regarded as an evil even when it is the work of an enemy. Suppose we slay a hundred thousand, the only reflection would be, so much the_ better for those that survive and take their places. The decimation of the popula: tion would hardly be looked upon as loss, j and the emperor would probably feel that his j enemies had rendered nis flowery people a I service by weeding it of its rank luxuriance. For himself, he will take good care to keep out of the way, and reconcile himself to all the rest, unless, as may happen, our hostilities lead to the overthrow of the dynasty and a state of anarchy.

The Chinese arc the very opposite of a warlike people; but paradoxical as it may sound, this does not contribute to the success of war with them. They hold war in no

financial embarrassments. The war with all honor j they think it far secondary to letters,

its consequences is the Bruce war. It was his act both to put us in the wrong and to get us beaten in the wrong, and to the consequent loss of our prestige is attributable the emperor's obstinacy in rejecting the ultimatum of our government, and accepting the hazards of renewed hostilities. We may be told that it is ungenerous to cast reproaches upon an officer for an error in judgment, but something more than generosity is required in the exercise of opinion upon conduct fraught with mighty consequences. And if Mr. Bruce is to be excused for error of judgment, not so is the government that appointed a man capable of so great an error, and instructed him so ill to avoid it. Lord Malmesbury indeed declares that he never contemplated as possible the proceedings of Mr. Bruce in the Peiho; but be that as it may, there was room and authority for those high-handed proceedings under the letter of the instructions.

And here we are now in the beginning of a war the end of which none can foresee, and few now living may see. For what is before ns? Let us imagine England at war with all Europe, with this difference, that the continent should be much more populous than it is, and much less warlike. But the similarity would be in this, that the people of one part of the continent would have no sympathy with or concern for the people of another part. The parallel of Europe will, how

ceremony, and etiquette. Victory, therefore, does not humiliate them. They console themselves with their proverbial saying, that "flints arc harder than eggs, but not so valuable." Barbarians can use their force and craft to burn and destroy, but the inner people pride themselves on knowing better things. They are thus proof against us in two respects, their inhumanity and their conceit. They will neither care for the killed, nor be mortified by defeat, and we may repeat what we call our triumphs without making the slightest impression. They have but one sensitive side, and that is the pocket, by on action on which alone we can extort terms.

From The Examiner, 2 June. THE REJECTION 01' THE ULTIMATUM. The following important correspondence was laid on the table of the House of Commons on 31 May:—

Mr. Bruce To The Senior Secretary Of State, Pako-wan-chang.

ShangJiai, March 8th. The undersigned, etc., has the honor to address a communication to his Excellency Pang-Wan-Chang, a senior secretary of state, and their excellencies the members of the great council of his majesty the emperor of China. The undersigned has the honor to state that, as in duty bound, he has laid be

fore her Britannic majesty's government a ever, only servo us for the illustration of the j full narrative of all the circumstances attendscale of operations, and the absence of any I ing his journey to the mouth of the Tien-tsin thing homogeneous and sympathetic in the I River last summer for the purpose of ex

changing the ratifications of the treaty of Tien-tsin, as required by the provisions of that treaty, on or before the 26th of June, 1859. Besides the whole of his correspondence with the imperial commissioners and other officers of the imperial government, the undersigned has transmitted to the government of her Britannic majesty a copy of the imperial decree, dated the 9th of August, and handed, hy the emperor's desire, to the United States minister, Mr. Ward, on the eve of his departure from Pckin. The decree begins as follows:— "Last year the ships of the English sailed into the port of Tien-tsin and opened a fire on our troops. We accordingly instructed Sangkolin-sin, prince of the Khorchin tribe, to adopt the most stringent measures for the defence of Taku, and (the envoys of) the different nations coming up to exchange treaties on this occasion were told by Kweiliang and Hwashana at Shanghai that Taku was thus strictly guarded, and that they must go round by the port of Peh-tang. The Englishman Bruce, notwithstanding, when he came to Tien-tsin, in the fifth moon, did not abide by his original understanding with Kweilidng and his colleague, but actually forced his way into the port of Taku, destroying our defensive apparatus."

The undersigned did not fail at once to apprise the government of her Britannic majesty that the emperor had been singularly misled. Had it, indeed, been signified by him by the commissioners at Shanghai that his majesty had decided on closing to foreign envoys the natural and most convenient highway to his capital, such evidence of an unfriendly disposition on the part of the imperial government would certainly have been regarded by the undersigned as fit matter of remonstrance and negotiation. No intimation of the kind, however, was conveyed to the undersigned in the letters of the imperial commissioners. The port of Peh-tang was never named by them, nor did the undersigned enter into any engagement with them other than that contained in his letter of the IGth of May, in which he acquainted his Excellency Kweiliang of the nature and object of his mission, and of his intention to proceed by ship to Tien-tsin, from which cityhe requested his Excellency to give the necessary orders for his conveyance to Pckin. He b'egs to enclose copy of this letter, as also of that received from the imperial commissioner of tho 12th of June. These will prove that the undersigned was allowed to quit Shanghai in total ignorance of the emperor's objection to his employment of the usual river route. A like silence on the •ubject of the imperial prohibition was ob

served towards Admiral Hope, commanderin-chicf of her majesty's naval forces in these seas, when, in furtherance of the objects made known to his Excellency Kweiliang in the letter above cited, he appeared on tho 17th of June at the mouth of the river to announce the approach of the undersigned and his colleague the minister of France. The admiral was assured that the passage had been closed by the so-called militia, whom he found in charge of the booms obstructing it, without the orders of their government, none of whose officers, the militia repeatedly affirmed, was near the spot; also that it was closed, not against foreigners, but against a native enemy. These false representations were supported by false appearances; the batteries of the forts were masked, no banners were displayed, no soldier discovered himself. Still further to prevent verification of the statements of the militia, no communication was allowed with the shore. After promising to remove the obstacles at the river mouth, the militia repudiated the promise. They conducted themselves with rudeness and violence to the officers who were sent to speak with them, ia one instance proceeding so far as to threaten the life of a gentleman despatched with a message from the admiral.

Such was the state of tilings when the undersigned arrived outside the bar on the 20th of June. Finding that the officials persisted in keeping aloof, while the militia continued to assert that the obstruction of the river way was their own unauthorized act, he called on the admiral to take such, steps as would enable him to reach the capital by the time appointed. This, after due notitc given to the militia, and after receiving from them an assurance on the previous evening that they should certainly have nothing further to communicate, the admiral was proceeding to effect, on the 20th of June, the eighth day from his arrival, when the forts, which had been for these eight days to all appearances deserted, suddenly opened fire upon his squadron. Apparently to cover this treacherous conduct, the officers in. charge of the forts have imposed another fiction on his imperial majesty, who has been led to believe that the British squadron assumed the offensive by bombarding the forts. This is utterly without foundation; no shot was fired until the batteries had opened; the ships having no other object in advancing but to remove the obstacles placed across the river without authority.

The facts of the case are simply those stated by the undersigned; and her Briton* nic majesty's government, after mature deliberation, have decided that whether the emperor of China was cognizant of this act of hostility, or whether it was directed by his officers, it is an outrage for which the Chinese government must be held responsible. Her Britannic majesty's government require, therefore, an immediate and unconditional acceptance of the following terms :— 1 That an ample and satisfactory apology be made for the act of the troops who fired on the ships of her Britannic majesty from the forts of Taku in June last, and that all guns and material, as well as the ships abandoned on that occasion, be restored. 2 That the ratifications of the treaty of Tien-tsin be exchanged without delay at Pekin; that when the minister of her Britannic majesty proceeds to Pekin for that purpose, he be permitted to proceed up the river by Taku to the city Tien-tsin in a Britsh vessel; and that provision be made by the Chinese authorities for the conveyance of himself and of his suite with due honor from that city to Pekin. 3 That full effect be given to the provisions of the said treaties, including a satisfactory arrangement to be made for prompt payment of the indemnity of four million taels, as stipulated in the treaty, for losses and military expenses entailed on the British government by the misconduct of the Canton authorities. The undersigned is further directed to state that in consequence of the attempt made to obstruct the passage of the undersigned to Pekin, the understanding entered into between the Earl of Elgin and the imperial commissioners in October, 1858, with respect to the residence of the British minister in China, is at an end, and that it rests henceforward exclusively with her Britannic majesty, in accordance with the terms of Article" II of the treaty of Tien-tsin, to decide whether or not she shall instruct her minister to take up his abode permanently at Pekin. The undersigned has further to observe that the outrage at the Peiho has compelled her majesty's government to increase her forces in China at a considerable cost, and the contribution that may be required from the Chinese government towards defraying this expense will be greater or less, according to the promptitude with which the demands above made are satisfied in full by the imperial government. The undersigned has only to add that, unless he receives •within a period of thirty days from the date of this communication, a reply conveying the unqualified assent of his majesty, the emperor of China, to these demands, the British naval and military authorities will

Sroceed to adopt such measures as they may eem advisable, for the purpose of compelling the emperor of China to observe the engagements contracted for him by his plen

T1LLED SERIES. LIVING AGE. 611

ipotentaries at Tien-tsin, and approved by his imperial edict of July, 1858. "The undersigned, etc.

"F. W. A. BRUCE."

Decree.

(Translation.)

The great council writes a reply (to the Commissioner Ho, which he is) to transmit. The council received yesterday (or a short time since) a despatch from the commissioner, and with it a communication he had forwarded from the British Minister Bruce, the contents of which have occasioned the council the greatest astonishment.

He states (1), for instance, that Peh-tang was never alluded to by the imperial commissioners, Kweiliang and his colleagues. It appears that last year the imperial commissioners, liweiliang and his colleagues, waited for the British minister at Shanghai for the express purpose of considering with him in person all the conditions proper to an exchange of treaties. On ascertaining that the Minister Bruce had arrived at Wu-sung, they wrote to him several times to engage him to meet them; their object being, in fact, to acquaint him that Taku was fortified (or that the arrangements had been made for keeping people out of Taku), and that he must go by the way of Peh-tang. He, however, repelled them, refusing them an interview. The imperial commissioners Kweiliang and his colleagues, moreover, informed him that vessels of war must on no account (2) cross the bar; but the British Minister Bruce paid no attention to these words; and when on arriving off the Tientsin coast (or the port or ports of Tien-tsin), Hang, governor-general of Chih-li, despatched an officer with a communication to the effect that he was to proceed by the way of Peh-tang, and sent him a present of provisions, he would receive nothing but suddenly Drought his vessels into Taku, and (commenced) destroying the defensive apparatus there placed. How can he allege that he never received the slightest intimation that he was to go by Peh-tang? And, as he was coming to exchange treaties, why did he bring with him ships of war? It was plainly his intent to pick a quarrel. How, then, can he (when the blame is all his own) charge China with shortcomings towards him.

The defences prepared at Taku are not either (as he implies) prepared to keep out the British (3). Suppose that some other nation's ships of war were to go to the length of presenting themselves under British colors, could it be left to them to commit any breach of propriety they pleased? Well, then, the

« PreviousContinue »