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acquainted with the disgraceful history of the Control. And all this fostered the irritation against the French and English enterprise. When England came forward alone, and after much hesitation bombarded Alexandria, and speedily dismantled its forts, public opinion, still undecided in Italy, began to waver, and was further puzzled by the weakness of Arabi's defence. If England had at once landed a force sufficient to establish order, and disavowed all intention of undertaking the permanent conquest of Egypt, that would have certainly checked the anger then displayed in so many of our public prints.
Bnt the bombardment was followed by sanguinary excesses on the part of the Egyptians, which the English were unable to prevent. Thousands of Italian families were instantaneously ruined, and many, after beholding the slaughter of their nearest and dearest, survived to find themselves beggared. Our vessels were thronged with fugitives; husbands, whose wives had been massacred under their eyes; mothers, who had seen their children perish in the flames; a multitude of sufferers, almost maddened by their unexpected calamities. And it was piteous to see the state of these wretched crowds in the Italian ports where they had been landed. They were to be seen lying in the streets, for until public and private charity came to their aid they had no means of procuring food or lodging. They had a horrible tale to tell; they laid the blame of everything upon the English, whose guns, they said, had provoked the savage vengeance of the natives. Neither charitable funds nor public nor private benevolence could give sufficient relief to the swarms of sufferers. Hence, to a great extent, the cause of the violent attacks of our press upon England. At that moment all our chief public men, including the Cabinet Ministers, were out of town, or travelling abroad, and could exercise no soothing influence over the newspaper fury.
Before long England plainly made known her intentions, and again
asked for our co-operation. There was then every reason for us to
accept the invitation. But our Government seemed not to understand
the new position of affairs until it was too late, and felt itself bound
in loyalty to refuse to stir, unless Germany and Austria stirred too.
As a matter of fact, we were completely free to act as we chose, and
it -was our interest to join England. Our Foreign Minister, however,
had entered on a course from which it was difficult to draw back. He
had launched into a proclamation of abstract principles of right and
justice, which, although undeniable, had no practical bearing on the
actual state of affairs, excepting perhaps that of trying to act as a
check upon England, who was resolved to go on, and had already
obtained the sanction of Germany and Austria. No one contradicted
our Minister, but events followed their course. We had let the right
moment slip, and it was now too late to seize it.
The sudden close of the war proved the inefficiency of Arabi's revolt; proved, too, that whatever judgment might be passed on the primal cause of the English enterprise, England had no wish to convert it into a conquest, and was decided to re-establish order and justice with all possible speed. And when it was likewise made clear that England had acted with the consent of all Europe, and particularly of Germany, then Mancini was severely blamed in Italy, and he will have to justify himself before Parliament. Naturally the English press vigorously resented the blows of Italian journalists. But there was some misapprehension on the part of England. It was a mistake to regard the utterances of certain Italian newspapers as the manifestation of a general and permanent national feeling. And it was forgotten that many causes had combined to produce this irritation at a given moment. The anger against the French aroused by the expedition to Tunis was in no wise allayed by the victories of France, and continues to alienate us from her. The ill-feeling produced by the Egyptian expedition seemed much stronger after the bombardment, yet it has now vanished without leaving any trace of antipathy for the English. The difference of effect implies a difference of cause. Nevertheless, the safeguarding of our interests in the East and on the African coast is undoubtedly a question of vital importance to us. Let me repeat that it is not the intrinsic value of these interests that constitute their importance to us, but, on the contrary, their relative value, and the fact of their being indispensable to the economic development of our country. The state of Europe compeb Italy to enlarge her army and to overburden the people with taxes. We exact a duty upon house property sometimes amounting to fifty per cent, of the rents received. We impose a tax of 55 centimes the kilo on salt, and we keep up the lottery. If at the same time our country is to be hemmed in on all sides, and excluded from those ports and commercial outlets where she might best increase her wealth, and find profitable employment for the surplus energies for which there is no vent at home, it certainly cannot be a factor of peace and order in Europe. Italy will suffer from increased internal disturbances, will see extreme parties gain discipline and strength, will remain hopelessly involved in the present state of parliamentary confusion, and will have to endeavour to extricate herself from it by resort to strange and unforeseen measures. The question is not whether we are in the right or in the wrong. The essential point is to realize the danger of persisting much longer in the present path. And, if our efforts to escape are frustrated on all sides, we may confidently expect not only a continuation of the present unsettled state of parties, but also the increase of the Republican and Socialist parties. This would be a serious hindrance to our prosperity, and hardly advantageous to Europe.
'TpHOSE who live in glass houses," says the proverh, "should not _L throw stones." We do not make proverbs in the nineteenth century, but the temper of the age is such that we might well add to that injunction of experience, and beg for the sake of humanity, that those who have thrown stones with much efficacy and force iu their lifetime, should make some arrangement before their death by which their executors and assignees should be prevented from placing a horrible palace of glass over their bones, at which every comer may be free to send a volley in his turn. The Carlyles—he in public, she in private—had a deep-rolling,universally-effective artillery of their own, and used it without sparing, with many a resounding discharge and sharp ping, of individual criticism—character, humour, dyspepsia, nerves, and perhaps nationality, having given to both of them a propensity to use sharp language, and speak forth, more freely than is usual, their opinion of their fellow-creatures. And perhaps it is not unjust, as human justice goes, that there should have been reserved for these two people a fate which would be ruefully comic, if it were not tragical. An exposure almost unexampled in the range of literature, of everything about them—their most private thoughts and feelings, their quarrels, faults, compunctions, their uneasy tempers, and unsatisfied and unsatisfiable wishes—all set forth in a sort of pale electric light, so that every man he ever grazed, and all the multitudes who gaped at him, and who are always glad to find out that the preacher before whom they are forced to tremble is after all a faulty mortal like themselves, mfght fling and spare not. This man, and the helpmeet, most meet for him, whose entire life has been turned outside in for our edification, were of natures such as bear ill to be exposed to unfriendly eyes. They were both of the order
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of those sword-like souls that wear out the scabbard. Life went on for them under very strange conditions. They were both entirely without that natural greatcoat, nay wall of defence, the tough skin with which most of us are endowed by Nature. They had no skin to speak of upon their quivering nerves; they were full of cranks and whims and endless susceptibilities: they were without the wholesome balance of natural cares—without children or any domestic argument against self-analysis and examination; without, too—though they were unconscious of their exemption—sorrows, or real misfortunes, to bring them to the solid footing of humanity. Of all people in the world to be exposed in more than nakedness to the common gaze, every crevice and corner of their house turned outside in, and the fiercest lime-light, magnesium wire—whatever is most scathing and unsympathetic—a glare that would have driven them frantic, poured down upon them, they were the very last." And yet who shall say the last? Which of us could bear that pitiless revelation? To have all the secrets of our closest relationships laid bare, all the hasty words we have ever said, and repented, of those most dear to us; all the complaints and repiniugs that have burst from our lips when the burdens of life have been too many for us—all set forth that he who runs may read, which of us could bear it? Let him, or her, who has never been anything but amiable and just, never said au ill-advised word, never indulged a bitter thought, never fancied him or herself neglected, unappreciated, unloved, throw the first stone at the Carlyles. But for us and others who have by turns thought ourselves better than our fate, who have quarrelled and kissed again with tears, who have said a hundred things we would rather have left unsaid, who have sometimes called on heaven and earth to witness that the sun for us would never shine again, yet lived to see him as bright as ever—let us be thankful we are common persons, too little distinguished from the crowd to make our history important to the world, and not worth the while of any biographer of genius who might construct our lives into a tragedy, and betray every secret of our existence for the instruction of mankind.
Mrs. Carlyle, the writer of the letters now given to the world in three large volumes, following in the wake of four other large volumes—all given to the elucidation of a portion of the life of a great writer, to whom very few things ever happened—has had a cruel fate since the death of her husband deprived her of her last bulwark against that Nemesis known amongst men by the name of Froude. Her fate is all the harder that she really has done nothing to deserve it. She narrated freely all the events of her life as they occurred, according to the humour of the moment, and the gift that was in her: which was a very rare and fine gift, but one that naturally led to an instinctive seizing of all possible dramatic effects, and much humorous heightening of colour and deepening of interest. Her power of story-telling was extraordinary, as well as the whimsical humour that took hold of every ludicrous incident, and made out of a walk in the streets a whole amusing Odyssey of adventure; and it was one of the chief amusements of her house and her friends. What she thus did in speech she did also in her letters, with a vivacity and humour which lend something interesting even to the hundredth headache, domestic squabble, or house cleaning recorded. But all this was for her friends; there is not the slightest evidence that she, at least, ever intended these narratives for the world. She was the proudest woman—as proud and tenacious of her dignity as a savage chief. And of all things in the world, to be placed on a pedestal before men as a domestic martyr, an unhappy wife, the victim of a harsh husband, is the last which she would have tolerated. As a matter of fact, her whole existence has been violated, every scrap of decent drapery torn from her, and herself exhibited as perhaps never modest and proud matron was before to the comments of the world. Carlyle himself rushed upon his fate by his will and choice, by foolish belief in the nattering suggestion that everything that concerned him must be interesting to the world, and by a misplaced and too boundless trust in the friends of his later life. But Mrs. Carlyle did nothing to lay herself open to this fate. She did not confide her reputation to Mr. Froude, or give him leave to unveil her inmost life according to his own interpretation of it : and it is thus doubly hard upon her that she should have been made to play the part of heroine in the tragedy, which his pictorial and artistic instincts have made out of his master's life.
It would be vain now to attempt to set this injured and outraged woman right with the world in respect of the earlier portion of her life, to which the biographer of her husband has given the turn that pleased him, under the almost, if not altogether, unanimous protest of all who knew her, but quite to the satisfaction of the crowd who did not, and to whom, indeed, such a fine conventional example of the hard fate of the wife of a man of genius was, perhaps, never afforded before. We may, perhaps, be permitted, however, to say, though with little hope of convincing any reader unacquainted with the class to which Mrs. Carlyle belonged, or either traditionally or personally with the Scotland of her time, that the assumption upon which Mr. Froude goes, of her immeasurable social superiority, and the tremendous descent she made in becoming the housekeeper and almost the domestic servant of her husband, is a mistake and misconception of the most fundamental kind. It has, indeed, the justification of Carlyle's own magniloquent description:—
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