Page images
PDF
EPUB

acrimony by Russia against those political movements which have agitated more particularly the West, has been conducted under the banner of legitimacy and absolutism, and thus all feelings of national interests, which really are attractive in their natural force and their honest tendency, have become revolting to the people of Europe by their being constantly mixed up with party animosity and with domestic dissensions; and have been rendered fatiguing to men's minds by a series of external and internal complications which scarcely allowed two neighbours to agree in one principle, or to believe in the same fact.

We think we may, without presumption, lay claim to having separated the question of natural interests from political party. In this country, as on the Continent, while our views have been adopted by no organs of the press

in

consequence of political partizanship, so have they not been combated or opposed by any through political opposition. Thus presented, this question, great and impressive from the circumstances of the moment, has been rendered simple and intelligible, and as amidst the struggle of principles in England, so in face of the restrictive censorship of the Continental Governments, this publication has obtained emancipation from those inflictions which have been hitherto applied to the criticism of Cabinets.

A second, and we believe a far more important reason for the fact of the non-prohibition of the Portfolio by the censorship, is the effect which it has had upon those Governments which have hitherto, in a greater or less degree, visited with penalties every publication which had an appearance of enmity to Russia. They were justified in doing so on the mere point of expediency, because nothing really had appeared capable of producing any effect which could sustain them in taking a line of opposition to her.

The disclosures and the views communicated through our pages, while they could not fail to act on the opinions of the individuals composing those Governments, must have awakened the hope of systematic and effectual opposition to that Power, and induced many individuals to look forward to the arrestation of those projects which they had long seen or now at length become convinced of. Thus was presented to the Statesmen of the Continent an entirely new prospect of future combinations, which would lead some to calculate on a change of influence and of policy, which might lead those to distinction who had the sagacity to see it from afar. This is not a mere supposition. We represent circumstances which to our certain knowledge exist.

It is not easy for those who have judged of England within her seas, and of Europe from England, to comprehend the powerful effect thus produced on the mind of the people and Governments of the Continent. It is not in England that the

power of England can be appreciated. It is not whilst sitting under the shadow of a banner that rules the seas, and surrounded with the security of equal laws, that men can comprehend how deeply a few printed words may be capable of affecting a nation, placed in immediate contact with overwhelming military masses, and overshadowed by foreign political influences :—where, too, the recollections of the late wars, which we saw only from our shores, and remember by trophies, are associated with melancholy reminiscences of the devastation of the village and of bloodshed on the hearth.

While, therefore, throughout Germany, there exists that deep and sullen dread of Russia, and that universal, though indistinct, feeling of con

fidence and hope in England, the Portfolio has come to excite, to justify, and confirm their worst apprehensions of the one, to awaken new and almost startling expectations from the power of the other. It cannot be questioned that this feeling has arisen from an association, direct or indirect, of the Portfolio with the English Government : and although this popular opinion may not extend to those who are better informed, may not be common to those who are initiated in the secrets of governments and the intricacies of diplomacy; still, even amongst that class of persons, those who have felt and understood the import of the disclosures which have been made, those who have followed and approved the views we have advocated, and the remedies we have suggested-and those are neither few nor uninfluential-have come to the conclusion, that if the Portfolio is not to-day the expression of the views of the British Government, British policy to-morrow will be the

expression of the views of the Portfolio.

Without any desire to arrogate to ourselves the importance here forced upon us, incontestably the publication which becomes the channel of such disclosures, must in itself obtain a weight and consideration which must increase in proportion as

it is removed from its original source, and in proportion as the insignificance of its immediate conductors is lost in the distance.

On the Continent there is a general feeling of distrust in the policy of England, which partly results from observation, and partly from their prejudices. They look with dread on the struggle of parties, and on the incessant changes in our Government; they believe in the impossibility of a popular government either attending to foreign policy or keeping its engagements; they cannot be blind to the manifest neglect, during a long course of years, of all those circumstances which have connected the interests of England with those of Germany more particularly; all these considerations have given consistency to this mistrust of the English Government, whilst at the same time most exaggerated notions prevail of the political character and power of the British nation. No German, therefore, reading the Portfolio, and knowing it published in England, can help arriving at the conviction, that the English people must soon arise from its apathy with regard to the threatening aspect of Northern policy, and having

« PreviousContinue »