That you ask advice of whatever wisdom is to be had in the Colony, and even take note of what _un_wisdom is in it, and record that too as an existing fact, will certainly be very advantageous. But I suspect the kind of Parliament that will suit a Colony is much of a secret just now! Mr. Wakefield, a democratic man in all fibres of him, and acquainted with Colonial Socialities as few are, judges that the franchise for your Colonial Parliament should be decidedly select, and advises a high money-qualification; as there is in all Colonies a fluctuating migratory mass, not destitute of money, but very much so of loyalty, permanency, or civic availability; whom it is extremely advantageous not to consult on what you are about attempting for the Colony or Mother Country. This I can well believe;--and also that a "high money-qualification," in the present sad state of human affairs, might be some help to you in selecting; though whether even that would quite certainly bring "wisdom," the one thing indispensable, is much a question with me. It might help, it might help! And if by any means you could (which you cannot) exclude the Fourth Estate, and indicate decisively that Wise Advice was the thing wanted here, and Parliamentary Eloquence was not the thing wanted anywhere just now,--there might really some light of experience and human foresight, and a truly valuable benefit, be found for you in such assemblies.
And there is one thing, too apt to be forgotten, which it much behooves us to remember: In the Colonies, as everywhere else in this world, the vital point is not who decides, but what is decided on! That measures tending really to the best advantage temporal and spiritual of the Colony be adopted, and strenuously put in execution; there lies the grand interest of every good citizen British and Colonial. Such measures, whosoever have originated and prescribed them, will gradually be sanctioned by all men and gods; and clamors of every kind in reference to them may safely to a great extent be neglected, as clamorous merely, and sure to be transient. Colonial Governor, Colonial Parliament, whoever or whatever does an injustice, or resolves on an _un_wisdom, he is the pernicious object, however parliamentary he be!
I have known things done, in this or the other Colony, in the most parliamentary way before now, which carried written on the brow of them sad symptoms of eternal reprobation; not to be mistaken, had you painted an inch thick. In Montreal, for example, at this moment, standing amid the ruins of the "Elgin Marbles" (as they call the burnt walls of the Parliament House there), what rational British soul but is forced to institute the mournfulest constitutional reflection? Some years ago the Canadas, probably not without materials for discontent, and blown upon by skilful artists, blazed up into crackling of musketry, open flame of rebellion; a thing smacking of the gallows in all countries that pretend to have any "Government." Which flame of rebellion, had there been no loyal population to fling themselves upon it at peril of their life, might have ended we know not how. It ended speedily, in the good way; Canada got a Godfrey's-cordial Constitution; and for the moment all was varnished into some kind of feasibility again. A most poor feasibility; momentary, not lasting, nor like to be of profit to Canada! For this year, the Canadian most constitutional Parliament, such a congeries of persons as one can imagine, decides that the aforesaid flame of rebellion shall not only be forgotten as per bargain, but that--the loyal population, who flung their lives upon it and quenched it in the nick of time, shall pay the rebels their damages! Of this, I believe, on sadly conclusive evidence, there is no doubt whatever. Such, when you wash off the constitutional pigments, is the Death's-head that discloses itself. I can only say, if all the Parliaments in the world were to vote that such a thing was just, I should feel painfully constrained to answer, at my peril, "No, by the Eternal, never!" And I would recommend any British Governor who might come across that Business, there or here, to overhaul it again. What the meaning of a Governor, if he is not to overhaul and control such things, may be, I cannot conjecture. A Canadian Lumber-log may as well be made Governor. _He_ might have some cast-metal hand or shoulder-crank (a thing easily contrivable in Birmingham) for signing his name to Acts of the Colonial Parliament; he would be a "native of the country" too, with popularity on that score if on no other;--he is your man, if you really want a Log Governor!--
I perceive therefore that, besides choosing Parliaments never so well, the New Colonial Office will have another thing to do: Contrive to send out a new kind of Governors to the Colonies. This will be the mainspring of the business; without this the business will not go at all. An experienced, wise and valiant British man, to represent the Imperial Interest; he, with such a speaking or silent Collective Wisdom as he can gather round him in the Colony, will evidently be the condition of all good between the Mother Country and it. If you can find such a man, your point is gained; if you cannot, lost. By him and his Collective Wisdom all manner of _true_ relations, mutual interests and duties such as they do exist in fact between Mother Country and Colony, can be gradually developed into practical methods and results; and all manner of true and noble successes, and veracities in the way of governing, be won. Choose well your Governor;--not from this or that poor section of the Aristocracy, military, naval, or red-tapist; wherever there are born kings of men, you had better seek them out, and breed them to this work. All sections of the British Population will be open to you: and, on the whole, you must succeed in finding a man _fit_. And having found him, I would farther recommend you to keep him some time! It would be a great improvement to end this present nomadism of Colonial Governors. Give your Governor due power; and let him know withal that he is wedded to his enterprise, and having once well learned it, shall continue with it; that it is not a Canadian Lumber-log you want there, to tumble upon the vertexes and sign its name by a Birmingham shoulder-crank, but a Governor of Men; who, you mean, shall fairly gird himself to his enterprise, and fail with it and conquer with it, and as it were live and die with it: he will have much to learn; and having once learned it, will stay, and turn his knowledge to account.
From this kind of Governor, were you once in the way of finding him with moderate certainty, from him and his Collective Wisdom, all good whatsoever might be anticipated. And surely, were the Colonies once enfranchised from red-tape, and the poor Mother Country once enfranchised from it; were our idle Seventy-fours all busy carrying out streams of British Industrials, and those Scoundrel Regiments all working, under divine drill-sergeants, at the grand Atlantic and Pacific Junction Railway,--poor Britain and her poor Colonies might find that they _had_ true relations to each other: that the Imperial _Mother_ and her constitutionally obedient Daughters were not a red-tape fiction, provoking bitter mockery as at present, but a blessed God's-Fact destined to fill half the world with its fruits one day!
But undoubtedly our grand primary concern is the Home Office, and its Irish Giant named of Despair. When the Home Office begins dealing with this Irish Giant, which it is vitally urgent for us the Home Office should straightway do, it will find its duties enlarged to a most unexpected extent, and, as it were, altered from top to bottom. A changed time now when the question is, What to do with three millions of paupers (come upon you for food, since you have no work for them) increasing at a frightful rate per day? Home Office, Parliament, King, Constitution will find that they have now, if they will continue in this world long, got a quite immense new question and continually recurring set of questions. That huge question of the Irish Giant with his Scotch and English Giant-Progeny advancing open-mouthed upon us, will, as I calculate, change from top to bottom not the Home Office only but all manner of Offices and Institutions whatsoever, and gradually the structure of Society itself. I perceive, it will make us a new Society, if we are to continue a Society at all. For the alternative is not, Stay where we are, or change? But Change, with new wise effort fit for the new time, to true and wider nobler National Life; or Change, by indolent folding of the arms, as we are now doing, in horrible anarchies and convulsions to Dissolution, to National Death, or Suspended-animation? Suspended-animation itself is a frightful possibility for Britain: this Anarchy whither all Europe has preceded us, where all Europe is now weltering, would suit us as ill as any! The question for the British Nation is: Can we work our course pacifically, on firm land, into the New Era; or must it be, for us too, as for all the others, through black abysses of Anarchy, hardly escaping, if we do with all our struggles escape, the jaws of eternal Death?
For Pauperism, though it now absorbs its high figure of millions annually, is by no means a question of money only, but of infinitely higher and greater than all conceivable money. If our Chancellor of the Exchequer had a Fortunatus' purse, and miraculous sacks of Indian meal that would stand scooping from forever,--I say, even on these terms Pauperism could not be endured; and it would vitally concern all British Citizens to abate Pauperism, and never rest till they had ended it again. Pauperism is the general leakage through every joint of the ship that it is rotten. Were all men doing their duty, or even seriously trying to do it, there would be no Pauper. Were the pretended Captains of the world at all in the habit of commanding; were the pretended Teachers of the world at all in the habit of teaching,--of admonishing said Captains among others, and with sacred zeal apprising them to what place such neglect was leading,--how could Pauperism exist? Pauperism would lie far over the horizon; we should be lamenting and denouncing quite inferior sins of men, which were only tending afar off towards Pauperism. A true Captaincy; a true Teachership, either making all men and Captains know and devoutly recognize the eternal law of things, or else breaking its own heart, and going about with sackcloth round its loins, in testimony of continual sorrow and protest, and prophecy of God's vengeance upon such a course of things: either of these divine equipments would have saved us; and it is because we have neither of them that we are come to such a pass!
We may depend upon it, where there is a Pauper, there is a sin; to make one Pauper there go many sins. Pauperism is our Social Sin grown manifest; developed from the state of a spiritual ignobleness, a practical impropriety and base oblivion of duty, to an affair of the ledger. Here is not now an unheeded sin against God; here is a concrete ugly bulk of Beggary demanding that you should buy Indian meal for it. Men of reflection have long looked with a horror for which there was no response in the idle public, upon Pauperism; but the quantity of meal it demands has now awakened men of no reflection to consider it. Pauperism is the poisonous dripping from all the sins, and putrid unveracities and god-forgetting greedinesses and devil-serving cants and jesuitisms, that exist among us. Not one idle Sham lounging about Creation upon false pretences, upon means which he has not earned, upon theories which he does not practise, but yields his share of Pauperism somewhere or other. His sham-work oozes down; finds at last its issue as human Pauperism,--in a human being that by those false pretences cannot live. The Idle Workhouse, now about to burst of overfilling, what is it but the scandalous poison-tank of drainage from the universal Stygian quagmire of our affairs? Workhouse Paupers; immortal sons of Adam rotted into that scandalous condition, subter-slavish, demanding that you would make slaves of them as an unattainable blessing! My friends, I perceive the quagmire must be drained, or we cannot live. And farther, I perceive, this of Pauperism is the corner where we must _begin_,--the levels all pointing thitherward, the possibilities lying all clearly there. On that Problem we shall find that innumerable things, that all things whatsoever hang. By courageous steadfast persistence in that, I can foresee Society itself regenerated. In the course of long strenuous centuries, I can see the State become what it is actually bound to be, the keystone of a most real "Organization of Labor,"--and on this Earth a world of some veracity, and some heroism, once more worth living in!