England's supposed decay.
The opinion seems to be very prevalent that England
, having lost prestige in the Crimean war, and having been of late bullied and insulted by all the great Powers, under the feeble government of Palmerston
, is, therefore, rapidly sinking from her rank as a first--class power.
We do not think so. We do not love England
, but we nevertheless believe her to be more powerful at this moment than she has ever been since the days of the Conqueror.
She is, according to our judgment, only suffering one of those periodical eclipses, the consequence of a feeble Administration, to which she has been subject at intervals for the last two centuries and a half, and which, in times past, have led to precisely the same opinion among outsiders with regard to her decline that is now so generally entertained.
had never been so powerful and so respected at home and abroad as she was during the reign of Elizabeth.
A very few years of misgovernment, during the time of her successor, sufficed to reverse her position among the nations of christendom.--From the most formidable, she became the most contemptible power in Europe
dreaded Elizabeth; every King
had contended single handed with Spain
, that power upon whose dominions the sun never set, and she had come off victorious.
had suffered his own son-in-law to be deprived of his dominions, and driven forth a wanderer upon the face of the earth, without daring to strike a blow in his defence, just as Victoria
allows the father-in-law of her son and heir to be shorn of one-fourth of his inheritance by a single operation.
England at the death of James had no weight in the councils of Europe
, nor was its influence increased by his successor.
Yet in a quarter of a century after James had been carried to his grave, and in a single year after his successor had been decapitated, under the vigorous administration of Cromwell
, she became more powerful, more feared, and more respected, than she had ever been at any former period of her history.
The long misrule of Charles H. and his brother again caused England
to lose all influence abroad.
Perhaps her condition was never so pitiable as during the Dutch
maritime wars, when the cannon of the enemy were heard at the palace of White Hall
But no sooner had James H. been expelled, and his place filled by William of Orange
, a man of great enterprise and consummate vigor and conduct, than she instantly resumed her rank among the foremost States of the world.
She relapsed again, about 1761-62, when the reins were taken from the bands of the elder Pitt
and placed in those of Lord Bute.
The change seems to have been more rapid than it had ever been.
In 1760 she was triumphant over France
in all parts of the world.
she had conquered Canada
, in the West Indies
she had taken Havana
, and in the East Indies Clive
had presented her with an empire as populous as the half of Europe
In 1771 she was bullied by Spain
about the Folkland Islands
and dared not resent it. A succession of feeble Ministers had totally destroyed her prestige, and she seemed to have sunk to the condition of a second rate power.
The writing's of Junius
, and other authors, about that time, clearly demonstrate this fact.
Then followed the war with these Colonies, foolishly begun, feebly prosecuted, and ending in utter discomfiture.
In 1781, in his "Notes on Virginia
, " Mr. Jefferson
was so impressed with the rapid decay of Great Britain
's strength that he even went so far — If we are not mistaken — as to predict her speedy downfall.
Yet twelve years after she entered upon and prosecuted to the bitter end those tremendous wars of the French
revolution, which form a series of the most appalling events known to history.
It is not wonderful that England
should have made a poor figure in the Crimean war. A long peace, habits of money — making, and the belief carefully instilled into the minds of her people by her writers, that she had proved herself superior to all the rest of Europe
, and had but to appear in order to insure success, had rendered her careless of the preparation necessary to success.
She awoke from her dream of arrogant superiority to find her prestige
gone for the time.
But she redeemed herself by the prodigious energy with which she crushed the Sepoy rebellion.
And now, under the feeble councils of Russell
, she has sunk lower than she ever has been since the days of Charles H. Yet we venture to predict that she will yet show herself, as she has so often done, one of the most powerful nations of the world.
We expect to derive no benefit from anything she may do. We think her policy detestable.
But we entertain no doubts whatever with regard to her power.