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“We cannot conceal from ourselves that in the present day, in these times of strife and turmoil, the spirit of impiety and moral depravation has struck deep roots in the earth. We cannot deny that the respect for the Law has been destroyed, and that the notions of Right and Honour have been confused.” I take these few lines from the speech with which M. de Schlayer, Minister to the King of Würtemberg, opened the sittings of the Chamber at Stuttgard, on the 1st of December, 1849. I take them because they express very exactly what I wish to say myself.
It is daily more and more affirmed, that in England we care nothing for what passes upon the Continent; that the more grave events become, the more we seem to find a sort of proud pleasure in announcing to the world our satisfaction at our own ignorance, and our utter indifference to whatever may happen to our neighbours. To be consistent, we ought, then, at least to abstain from all hasty and impartial judgments, and if it be true that we do not care for what the real state of the question may be, we should at any rate avoid taking a one-sided view of it, and caressing an error with the fervour wherewith we affect to declare that not even the truth, whatever it might be, could
But there is one point in all the late revolutions of Europe, which must unavoidably touch us, in common with all honest men upon the surface of the globe, unless we mean openly to
profess entire indifference to what hitherto we have been famed for revering: namely, whatever comes under the head of honour or morality in any shape. As the lines I have quoted say, we cannot conceal from ourselves, nor can we deny the progress of the evil, the perversion of the notions of right and wrong in men's minds: it then remains to be seen how far we are justified in affecting indifference at sight of such perversion. I have heard two reasons assigned for this indifference: “Things will settle and come round of themselves," say some, “it is not worth attending to.” “ Nothing of all this can touch us,” say some others. In the one assertion there is too much levity, in the other too much selfishness, and both repose upon grounds too essentially false for me to believe that the greater portion of
my countrymen are guided by either.
It is false that « things will come round of themselves :" on the contrary, they will only come round where the spirit of revolt is encountered by the most uncompromising spirit of resistance. It is false that what touches our neighbours does not touch
If it were so, it would be so ungenerous a reason for indifference that one should blush to hear it alleged by Englishmen ; but it is not so. I do believe that against any merely
1 political revolution we are proof-I believe that against any moral or social revolution we are likely to be longer proof than perhaps any other nation, but it must be remembered that the revolutionary principles held by the Anarchists of our day strike so directly at the main root of the legal organized existence common to all civilized countries, that a Radical of Mr. Cobden's school finds himself almost as much menaced thereby as a Conservative of Prince Metternich's. If the insane theories of the Anarchists could be established anywhere, their influence would be felt by us, as by every other nation, not in twenty or perhaps in fifty years, --but they would be so in the end.