14 June 2011

Froude on Democratic War

The newspapers and popular orators, accustomed to canvass and criticise the actions of statesmen at home, forgot that prudence suggested reticence about the affairs of others with whom we had no right to interfere. The army was master of France, and to speak of its chief in such terms as those in which historians describe a Sylla or a Marius was not the way to maintain peaceful relations with dangerous neighbours. Neither the writers nor the speakers wished for war with France. They wished only for popularity as the friends of justice and humanity; but war might easily have been the consequence unless pen and tongue could be taught caution.

- "The Earl of Beaconsfield", J. A. Froude, Chapter X

I have a half-written post on Amina Arraf, but that about covers it.

On the next page, an echo of Mogadishu and Manhattan:

The indirect consequences of fatuities are sometimes worse than their immediate effects. It was known over the world that England, France, Turkey, and Italy had combined to endeavour to crush Russia, and had succeeded only in capturing half of a single Russian city. The sepoy army heard of our failures, and the centenary of the battle of Plassy was signalised by the Great Mutiny.

1 comment:

xlbrl said...

Tocqueville letter to Senior, 1856 Memoirs and Letters

There is one point in which the English seem to me to differ from ourselves, and, indeed, from all other nations, so widely, that they form almost a distinct species of men. There is often scarcely any connexion between what they say and what they do.
No people carry so far, especially when speaking in public, violence of language, outrageousness of theories, and extravagance in the inferences drawn from those theories. Thus your A. B. says, that the Irish have not shot half enough landlords. Yet no people act with more moderation. A quarter of what is said in England at a public meeting, or even round a dinner table, without anything being done or intended to be done, would in France announce violence, which would almost always be more furious than the language had been.
We Frenchmen are not so different from our antipodes as we are from a nation, partly our own progeny, which is separated from us by only a large ditch.