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rpHE opening days of the decade on wliich we are entering , are J- more than usually cheerful and calm , Our granaries arejull , our workshops busy , and our podrrrates lighter by a * good deal , than- they have often been at Christmas-time . Manifold manufacture may hot be driving what it loves to call " a roaring trade ; " but capital and labour have , for the most part , as much to do as perhaps is good for them : and save the shipping interest , we hear no branch of mercantile enterprise complain . Money is abundant jn the City ; the bullion caves , where timid opulence alone ventures to indulge in sleep , are filled with golden hordes ; and credit with its paper wings flutters complacently round the
mighty store , showing but little disposition to take any distant flight in quest of tempting prey . A certain heaviness in the air , and a dark rim of clouds in the horizon whichever way we look , lowers the pulse of pecuniary adventure , as well as of political hardihood . It is ; indeed , one of the most , curious facts in our exp erience , as it will be to the future chronicler one of the most puzzling riddles , that during the autumn and winter of 1859 , without a quarrel with any neighbour , or tangible cause of one with any nation nearer than the Chinese , the uppermost thought in the heads of our ruling classes has been how to get tens , or , if possible , hundreds of thousands of men rapidly organized , armedand drilled .
, On the surface of society , there have been all the symptoms of perplexity and panic . Imminent danger has been asseverated loudly by great naval and military authorities , and more than assented to by the heads of civil administration . No sufficient reason or explanation has indeed been assigned for the precipitancy of preparation , or the show of misgiving ostentatiously betrayed ; but the civil servants of the Government in every department have been encouraged to enrol themselves in Volunteer Corps ; and the aristocracy and established clergy have everywhere been engaged in stimulating-instant preparations for a life and death struggle . It is pretty clear , however , that
the nation at large has not been moved from its propriety by the undue and undignified excitement manifested by its self-sty-led betters , without catching the ague of their real or pretended fear . The people good-humouredly have said-r- " : Well , we don ' t mind if we do arm -we 4 iave always had a liking for the thing , and it certainly is not our fault if there be any danger now arising from the want of it ; only let us understand clearly that this is no delusive effervescence got up for some political occasion , but « permanent return to the wise ways of better times , when every man paying scot and lot was trained to the honest use of arms , and treated as a trusted citizen of the Commonwealth * in times ¦
of peace as in those of anticipated war . " Nothing ¦ can be more creditable to the sense and spirit of the ; community in general , than the sober and un-spasmodic manner in which men of all degrees and avocations have agreed to " fall into line" for the defence of the Tealm , whenever it should be necessary . We are concerned to be obliged tp say that nothing can be more disingenuous or disreputable than the design , as yet imperfectly disclosed , of turning the opportunity of the Volunteer movement to class account . There is not a man who really understands the spirit of his country , or is truly loyal to its safety and its honour , who dbes not loathe the insolent and selfish schemes esotericauy cherished , for using the new organization as a means of what is called , in the slang of the U ^ per Ten Thousand , ** getting arms into the right hands . " Let these shabby plotters
be assured that the people are not and will not be duped by empty professions of no respect of persons , while , practicallyi the covert aim is kept in view of social preference and class exclusion . Men will not be deterred from doin £ their duty , or taking part in what may and ought to become a permanent institution , by a suspicion of such designs : on the . contrary , they would stick to it , and thwart the treason . That veteran friend of the soldier , Sir DeXiACtEva ^ 3 , thoroughly understands ounncamng , as we cordially and thankfully appreciate his , in his recent letter to the captain of the Dover Corps— " If the stalwart and loyal , though of humble means , be excluded from this voluntary armament , the high value and importance of the movement , as contributing to the national safety , "will be seriously diminished . " Yet , Lords Elcho andGhosyknok , with the unanimous approval
of their Bolgravian coriiradcs , do not hesitate to insist upon a uniform which is to cost J 67 9 J , 6 r f . —by w « y of genteel notice , \ vc presunio , that " no common fellow need apply , " Besides superfluous expense of uniform , there ore many ways , of course , of praotibally imposing a money test : messes , brass bands , supp ers after parodo , etc ., being the most frequently had recourse to . Wo own we feel impelled to deprecate this sort of thing -earnestl y , and with all plainness of speech , because we cannot help connecting it with that other indisposition to act justly and fairly by the people in regard to their civil rights . TVe are once wore said to bo on the eve of a Reform Bill .
All parties profess loudly their desire to see the question settled . Both Whigs and Tories begin to have an uneasy consciousness that they have played the game of fast and loose too long , and that , from mere considerations of pTutle * hce , it were" better now to have done with it . v They feel somewhat in the condition , of spendthrift trailers , who / liavirig easy creditors when first they failed , have been tempted to repeat the operation every two or three years , greatly to their own ease and advantage . As the usual period for breaking down is about to recur , there are not wanting ill-advisers to counsel resort Once more to the dishonest expedient . It is not actually necessary , they urge , to put up the shutters , or abscond ; only let certain bills be thrown back unaccepted , and another pause , as it is considerately termed , must take place—riot an absolute stoppage , or smash , involving a final withdrawal from business , but just enough to wipe out ex isting liabilities , and to ask with a bold face for fresh credit . On the part of those who have hitherto dealt with them so forbearingly , there is no bluster or threatening , but a certain something in ' their fixed and silent look intimates unmistakably that thev haVe had enough of it , and will stand no more . It is indeed only marvellous to think how , for eight years , the gravest of all domestic questions should have been trifled with so unblushingly by all sections of the resistant class . Five ^ sixths of the governing body , whether in or out of Parliament , are confessedly opposed in heart to all -further concession of the franchise— -to all real protection of the voter , and to all effectual reduction in the cost of election ; - —more than all these , they are notoriously averse to all disfrnnehisement of rotten or nomination boroughs , and to every creation of large and independent constituencies . Far from wishing to disguise the fact , we conceive that the true interest of the people lies in clearly recognising it . '" . Is is the want of such recognition heretofore , that has , in bur opinion , led mainly to delusion and disappointment—rfor many have dozed oh , and dreamt a deceptive dream of ' parliamentary willingness to do them justice , instead of setting themselves about the business of insisting on its being done . Parliament , and the-Coutt and oligarchy , with which it sympathizes , was just as hostile to any substantial increase of electoral power , or of a representative accountability iiT ^ S ^ 2 ; and the Court and oligarchy of that period would never have allowed Schedule A : or the Ten Pound franchise to become law , if there had beenno weightier eonsidera--tiori in the case than the reasoning , or the will of the ¦ small minority of sincere reformers , who then had seats . in- the Mouse of Commons . These were but the staff and the standard bearers of the popular host , but-it was the existence of the host rather than any skill of its leaders , that exacted submission . And if the industry and intelligence of-the nation now expects further concessions worth having , they must say so firmly and calmly , and without loss of time ; for if not , we shall probably witness , in the course of the coming session , cither another wilful failure , to legislate at all , or the offer of such a dividend as will only evoke popular repudiation and reproach . Our foreign relations wear , \ ipon the whole , a settled and satisfactory aspect . Europe has never been so much of our mind with regard to thd policy of non-intervention , as at the present hour . Austria , indeed , is still impenitent and unpersuadable ; but Austria ' s power of mischief to Italy is , at least for the present , paralyzed . The want of money compels her to continue tl > e disbanding of her troops , and that at a moment when Venotia and Hungary are alike ready to revolt , and religious disaffection is rife in many parts of her German territories . Protestant Prussia ' anticipates without regret the dismemberment of the Papacy , and the consolidation of a free and reforming Italian State , carved to a certain extent out of the spoils of her old rival . The Government of Russia has enough to . do in repairing its recent losses , combating the domestic opposition of the nobility to the abrogation of scrfhopd , struggling with financial embarrassment , ami urging onward the tardy completion of great lines of railway . The old antagonism , between the Greek and Latin churches renders all sympathy for the pope in Muscovy impossible ; and should Hungary again rise to assert its legislative independence , Austria may think herself only too . lucky if Russian countenance and aid be not given to the Magyars * . Nnpoleon III . hns broken irrevocably with the ultracatholic party ;—his pamphlet proclamation of human vernut divine right will nerer be forgiven : it is the solemn and deliberate republication , by ( he head of the first army m the world , that the people are th ' o only source of legitimate powor . J no courts of St . Petersburg and Berlin gnash their toeth as they road it , and declare that ' if they are expected to send envoys to Congress , Chey must protest through t ; hem formally ngamst n . saenting to such a doctrine ) , but only in a discroot and dip lonmtio wny . A ustria , Bavaria , Naples , and Rome , trcmhlo with radons they con the omoniafs pages endorsed by M . < . iu | ron > or , and nighlor the days when Franco had a Bourbon for a king . No stronger
Jan . 7 , IStfO ;] The Leader and Saturday Analyst * 3
Our National Out-Look For 1860.
OUR NATIONAL OUT-LOOK FOR 1860 .
Leader (1850-1860), Jan. 7, 1860, page 3, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/l/issues/vm2-ncseproduct2328/page/3/