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country all old things are in a manner new ; and he may surely be excused in being a little curious about antiquities, whose native land, unfortunately, cannot boast of a single ruin.
. SPEECH ON THE OUTBREAK OF HOSTILITIES WITH CHINA;
DELIVERED IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, 1857.
W. E. GLADSTONE. THERE is not war with China. No, Sir, there is not war with China, but what is there? There is hostility. There is bloodshed. There is a trampling down of the weak by the strong. There is the terrible and abominable retaliation of the weak upon the strong. You are occupied in this House by revolting and harrowing details about a Chinese baker, who poisoned bread, -by proclamations for the capture of British heads,—and the waylaying of a postal steamer. And these things you think strengthen your case. Why, they deepen your guilt. War taken at the best is a frightful scourge to the human race ; but because it is so, the wisdom of ages has surrounded it with strict laws and usages, and has required formalities to be observed, which shall act as a curb upon the wild passions of man, to prevent that scourge from being let loose, unless under circumstances of full deliberation and from absolute necessity. You have dispensed with all these precautions. You have turned a consul into a diplomatist, and that metamorphosed consul is, forsooth, to be at liberty to direct the whole might of England, against the head of a defenceless people. While war is a scourge and a curse to man, it is yet attended with certain compensations. It is attended with acts of heroic self-sacrifice and of unbounded daring. It is ennobled by a consciousness that you are meeting equals in the field, and that while you challenge the issue of life or death, you at least enter into a fair encounter. But you go to China and make war upon those who stand before you as women or children.
And what do these people, who are as mere women and children, when you make war with them? They resort to those miserable and. detestable contrivances which their weakness teaches them. It is not the first time in the history of the world. Have you never read of those rebellions of the slaves, which have risen to the dignity of being called wars, and which stand recorded in history as the servile wars ? And is it not notorious that among all the wars upon record these have been the most terrible, ferocious, and destructive ? And why? Because those who have been trampled upon, adopt in their turn the practices of their oppressors. And that is the character of the war which we are prosecuting in China. Every account that we shall read in the journals or hear recited in this House, will tell of calamity heaped upon calamity, and of cruelty heaped upon cruelty.
But I find an appeal has been made to this House which appears to me to be a false and illegitimate appeal. It is an appeal to fear, which is seldom a rightful and noble sentiment; and it is to that fear which is the basis of the worst kind of fear —the fear of being thought afraid. The Government are afraid of the mischievous impression that will be produced upon the Chinese, if the acts of our officials are disavowed. Sir, let us consider fairly, impartially, and at large, the moral impressions that must be produced. Let us weigh the evil upon one side and the other, and I have no fear of the result. Hereafter we shall be told by the noble lord, of the wise caution that we ought to display, of the solemn predicament in which we are placed, of the political mischief which may ensue. Shadowy pictures will be drawn of the dangers, the confusion, the weakness, and the paralysis of British power in the East. But what is the foundation of British power in the East—what is the foundation of the promise to be permanent and useful of that British power? It is not now a question as if the Chinese are alone concerned, for the debate has been prolonged night after night, and your words have gone throughout the whole earth. The confessions and avowals of the supporters of the Government, have been, it appears to me, perfectly fatal either to the continuance of that policy, or else to the character and fame of England. Talk of the consequences, and talk of injustice, and then say that we must go on with that injustice. When you speak of the necessity of applying the law of force to the Chinese, and that it is by force that your influence must spread, I am bound to admit, and I do admit, that you have not power to prevent the language of this debate from being read. The opponents of the resolution of my hon. friend,
have not generally ascended to the height of boldness. Few have justified the proceedings that have taken place. Many of those who intend to support the Government have openly condemned the proceedings that have taken place. Members more than I could name have condemned the proceedings. I will ask what the effect will be throughout the world, if it goes forth that in the debates held in the two Houses of Parliament, the majority of speakers condemned the proceedings, and that even among those who sustained the Government with their vote, there was a large number who condemned these proceedings. Why, Sir, the opinion will be that England is a Power which, while it is higher and more daring in its pretensions to Christianity than any other Power on the face of the globe, yet that in a case where her own interests were concerned, and where she was acting in the remote and distant East, when fairly put to it and asked whether she would do right or wrong, she was ready to adopt, for fear of political inconvenience, the principle—“I will make the law of wrong the law of my Eastern policy, and will lay the foundation of that empire which is my proudest boast, in nothing more nor less than gross injustice.” Sir, this is not my opinion. I will not believe that England will lay the foundations of its Eastern empire on such miserable ground as this. I believe, on the contrary, that if
courage to assert your prerogative as the British House of Commons, you will pursue a course which is more consistent with sound policy as well as the eternal principles of justice. Sir, how stands the case at present ? I have just now supposed that the House are going to affirm that resolution which will be the seal of our disgrace. But let me reverse the picture and suppose that the House will adopt the other resolution, and then what will the House do, and what will be the history of this case? Its history will read well for England, and for the 19th century. Its history will, then, be this :--The subordinate officers of England, in a remote quarter of the globe, misconstrued the intentions of their country ; they acted in violation of the principle of right; the Executive Government failed to check them. The appeal was next made to the House of Lords, and made as such an appeal ought to be made, for the House was worthy of the eloquence, and the eloquence was worthy of the
It was made to nobles and it was made to bishops, and it failed. But it does not rest with subordinate functionaries
abroad, it does not rest with the Executive Government, it does not rest with the House of Lords, finally, and in the last resort,
what shall be the policy of England, and to what purpose her power shall be directed. Sir, that function lies within these walls. Every member of the House of Commons is proudly conscious that he belongs to an assembly, which in its collective capacity is the paramount power of the State. But if it is the paramount power of the State, it can never separate from that paramount power a similar and paramount responsibility. The vote of the House of Lords will not acquit us ; the sentence of the Government will not acquit us. It is with us that it lies to determine, whether this wrong shall remain unchecked and uncorrected; and in a time when sentiments are so much divided, every man, I trust, will give his vote with the recollection and the consciousness, that it may depend upon his single vote whether the miseries, the crimes, the atrocities that I fear are now proceeding in China, are to be discountenanced or not. We have now come to the crisis of the case. England is not yet committed, But if an adverse division reject the motion of my hon. friend to-morrow morning, England will have been committed. With every one of us it rests to show that this House, which is the first, the most ancient, and the noblest temple of freedom in the world, is also the temple of that everlasting justice, without which freedom itself would be only a name, or only a curse to mankind. And, Sir, I cherish the trust and belief, that when you rise in your place to-night, to declare the numbers of the division from the chair which you adorn, the words which you speak will go forth from the walls of the House of Commons, as a message of mercy and peace, but also as a message of prudence and true wisdom, to the farthest corners of the world.
THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
DR. M'Cosh. “I HAVE glorified thee upon the earth.” We reckon this language as very remarkable. We know not if God has been dishonoured anywhere throughout a boundless universe, so much as He has been upon the earth. Revelation, indeed, speaks of the angels who fell ; but, with their exception, we know not if any other creatures of God, in any other world, have so dishonoured him by breaking his commandments; and in regard to these angels, the honour of God was instantly vindicated by their being consigned to punishment. But, for those four thousand years which had run their course, before the appointed Deliverer came down to this earth, one generation of men after another had gone on dishonouring his name, and breaking his laws, with apparent impunity. Never had God been so dishonoured without an instant and public vindication of His justice. But on the very earth where he had been so dishonoured is he now glorified. This is done in the work of the appointed Substitute, in which the law is magnified and made honourable, and divine justice satisfied, while room is opened up for the fullest manifestation of the divine mercy. This is done in the name and nature of those who had so dishonoured God ; so that, as by man God has been dishonoured, by man God is now glorified. All this is done at the very place at which the wickedness of man had been so great ; so that, as on the earth God had been dishonoured, so now, on the earth, God is glorified.
That we may be the more forcibly impressed with this exhibition of the divine glory, let us convey ourselves, in imagination, into the heart of those dark scenes, into which the Redeemer is represented as having entered, immediately after the utterance of the words on which we have been commenting. At the darkest hour of that night, a band of officers, headed by an apostate apostle, come with glaring torches to apprehend him. His other followers, after showing a momentary courage, speedily abandon him. He is dragged before the tribunal of the high priest, where, on the testimony of lying witnesses, bribed for the purpose, that high priest pronounces a sentence of condemnation on Him from whom, though he thinks little of it, his office derives all its authority. In the courts of the judge we hear, mingled with the scoffs and jeers of the multitude, the cursing, swearing, and open falsehood of an apostle. He is now carried to the judgment of the civil governor, by whom the decision is referred to the people, who loudly demand that he should be exposed to the most painful and humbling of all deaths; and the governor, convinced all the time of his innocence, orders him to be crucified. All parties take their part in the scene. The soldiers scourge him ; and as he moves along the streets of that city which had heard his discourses of