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Mr. Lowe as the proprietor of the Times. From Philadelphia they returned to New York, where they met Delane, who had just arrived from London; here they attended one or two political banquets of no moment and not much to their taste, and sailed on the 1st of October for England. On the voyage home Sir Douglas read aloud to his companion Kane's Expedition to the Arctic Region in Search of Sir John Franklin. They landed safe and sound at Liverpool on Monday, October 13, 1856.
In recalling the incidents of this journey, Sir Douglas Galton states that it was one of the most enjoyable and instructive that any man could possibly have experienced. He thought then, and still thinks, that Lord Sherbrooke was the most delightful of travelling companions. In one of his letters to his wife towards the close of the tour, he writes: Much of the interest has been due to my being accompanied by Mr. Lowe, whose mind is a mine of useful information and clear views upon all subjects, and mainly colonial and new country subjects.'
It may be as well to add, by way of a postscript to this brief narrative of Lord Sherbrooke's tour, a few words in reference to his subsequent opinions on American affairs. There can be no doubt, as already stated, that the tour increased his distrust of democratic institutions by confirming his opinion that any approach to universal suffrage implied the selection of the most corrupt and the least fit for all offices of public authority and trust.
When asked by his moneyed friends on his return from Canada and the United States as to American securities, he always spoke in the highest terms of the vast and boundless capacity of the country, but declared that its industrial and commercial enterprises would be much more safe and profitable as investments if entirely free from political influences. The country was magnificent; and the people, especially in
the States, active, energetic, resourceful and, like the rest of mankind, indifferent honest. But the political system, instead of being stable and elevating, as John Bright thought, had a tendency to demoralise and corrupt that large class whose natural character is neither good nor evil-perhaps the majority in all communities. In fact, many who were strictly honest in their private dealings had quite lost their sense of the sacredness of public trusts.
As the narrative shows, the two English travellers saw clearly enough that civil war was inevitable. It has often been declared that Lord Sherbrooke sympathised with the pro-slavery party of the South, as did many leading Englishmen of the time, whom it might now be considered invidious to mention. This, however, is not the case. He profoundly disliked the system of negro slavery in the Southern States, and thought it more harmful for the whites than for the blacks. But this did not make him in any sense a partisan of the North. He always declared that outside the question of slavery, which was the unfortunate inheritance of the South, there was more enlightened patriotism and less jobbery and corruption amongst the Southern planters than was to be found among the much-vaunted descendants of the New England Puritans, who had become a mixed and heterogeneous race, worshipping the almighty dollar, and content to entrust their national affairs to men whom individually they did not even pretend to respect.
On this question of the political morality of democratic communities, Robert Lowe took his friend, Goldwin Smith, very sharply to task in a pungent article, entitled 'Reform Essays,' in the Quarterly Review for July 1867. At this period Mr. Goldwin Smith had contributed an able essay on the Experience of the American Commonwealth' as one of a series intended to reassure Englishmen who were in some alarm over the 'leap in the dark' which Lord Derby and Mr. Disraeli had compelled them to take. It would be interesting
to know what Mr. Smith now thinks of this controversy; there are one or two points in it which certainly deserve his special attention. By way of excuse or explanation of the political corruption in the American democracy, Mr. Goldwin Smith pointed to the wholesale Irish emigration which had a most disturbing effect on the working of free institutions—the Irish being, according to him, in a state of political barbarism. Lowe, with his unfailing quickness, retorted that this argument was absolutely fatal to the cause of democracy in England; for, he said, we in England have the whole Irish nation on our hands without the wild land to settle them on.' 'Democracy,' wrote Mr. Goldwin Smith, has nothing to do with the payment of members.' 'Only,' retorted Mr. Lowe, they generally go together.' 'Protectionism is the vice, not of democracy, but of ignorance,' wrote Mr. Goldwin Smith. 'But ignorance,' replied Mr. Lowe, is itself the vice of a democracy.' And then follows a passage comparing the North and South, which probably gave rise to the widespread belief that Lord Sherbrooke was a man of pro-slavery convictions. In a somewhat optimistic vein Mr. Goldwin Smith had predicted that in ten years-that is, in 1877-England would still have the commercial treaty with France, and with America, free-trade.' It may be so,' replied Lowe, but the treaty was passed in defiance of democracy; and America was much nearer free-trade ten years ago than now. The advocates of free-trade were those very Southerners over whose fall Mr. Smith is never weary of rejoicing; the Western States have exactly the same interest, but, being democratic, they are protectionists. The slave-holding oligarchy could see a truth that escapes the dull eye of democracy. No one doubts democracy has the will and power to seek its true interests, the misfortune is that, when those interests turn on considerations in the least abstract or refined, democracy does not know what its interest is.'
In this article, too, which it will be seen was in his most
downright manner, there is an incidental reference to the alleged barrenness of democracy in great men. brooke's observation on this point is very characteristic. admit,' he writes, that Mr. Stanton and his colleagues have done great things on a great scale, but they lack the stamp of individual greatness. If that is to be found anywhere in America, it is under the modest roof of General Lee, the champion of a losing cause, whom prosperity never intoxicated nor adversity depressed, and who exceeded his democratic opponents as much in real nobility and greatness of character as he did in military skill and daring.' It will always be open to the advocates of popular government to point to Abraham Lincoln as a man with the stamp of individual greatness; and Lord Sherbrooke, though more attracted by the personality of Lee, did not fail to recognise some of the finer traits in his rough and homely, but essentially fine and noble, character. In later years (Glasgow, 1872) he paid a high tribute to the clemency of the North after the war. 'No statutes glean the refuse of the sword-no executioner was called in to finish the work that the soldier had left undone.'
APPENDIX TO CHAPTER VIII
LORD SHERBROOKE AND SIR GEORGE CORNEWALL LEWIS ON FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.
ALTHOUGH this visit to America merely increased, and did not create, Lord Sherbrooke's dislike of democracy, it destroyed, in my opinion, his former leaning towards the system of federal government. His speeches quoted in Vol. I. are those of an Imperial Federationist; but after carefully examining the condition of the United States in 1856, he seems to have come to the conclusion that, while Federalism was too loose a bond for complete national unity, it might become galling enough to lead to civil war. In the Letters of the Right Hon. Sir George Cornewall Lewis, Bart., to various Friends, edited by his brother, the Rev. Sir Gilbert Frankland Lewis, Canon of Worcester (Longmans 1870), appear the following significant references to the subject:
Extracts from Letters to Sir Edmund Head.
Kent House: Jan. 27, 1857.
I have not seen Lowe since his return from America, but I shall shortly see him almost nightly, and I will then enquire his views about Canada.
Kent House: Jan. 20, 1859.
I have been, while I was in the country, preparing an essay on the Characteristics of Federal, National, Provincial, and Municipal Government, and I have attempted to treat the question of federal government, as a security against war, with reference to the ideas circulated by the Peace Society. The more I consider the federal system the more I am impressed with its defects. If I were an American, I greatly doubt whether I should wish to perpetuate the existing Union, and I do not see that the good of mankind would be promoted by attempts to introduce or extend the federal system in Europe.
I asked Lowe to put on paper for me what he considered to be the · principal motives which induced the Americans to uphold their federal system, and he gave me the following list :
(1) They are afraid of each other. If separate, they must maintain armies.
(2) They find in federation some slight counterpoise to democracy. (3) They have the advantage of a Zollverein.
(4) They can gratify their aggressive spirit by remaining one country' as against foreign states.
(5) The South, separate from the North, would be in danger of extermination by a servile war.
(6) The North would lose a market for its manufactures.
(7) The long rivers of America render separation difficult. The Mississippi runs through ten States.
Pray tell me at your leisure whether you assent to this statement of reasons, and whether there are any other motives of importance to be added.