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Lord Carlisle On Pope
by [?]

If, therefore, there are great convulsions lying in wait for the framework of our English society; if, and more in sorrow than in hope, some vast attempt may be anticipated for recasting the whole of our social organization; and if it is probable that this attempt will commence in the blind wrath of maddened or despairing labor–still there is no ground for thinking, with Dr. Arnold, that this wrath, however blind (unless treacherously misled), would apply itself primarily to the destruction of our old landed aristocracy. It would often find itself grievously in error and self-baffled, even when following its first headlong impulses of revenge; but these are the impulses that it would follow, and none of these would primarily point in that direction. Suppose, however, that the probabilities were different, and that a policy of conciliation were become peculiarly needful to the aristocracy–which is what Dr. Arnold does suppose–in that case might not the course indicated by Lord Carlisle, viz., advancing upon a new line of intellectual communication with the laboring classes, be the surest mode of retrieving their affections, as most likely to flatter their self-esteem in its noblest aspirations?

One swallow, it is true, cannot make a summer; and others of the aristocracy must repeat the experiment of Lord Carlisle before any ground can be won for the interest of the order. Even in Lord Carlisle, it might be added, the experiment, if it were not followed up, would not count for more than a caprice. But, on the other hand, think as we may of the probable results, in reference to the purposes of its author, we ought to regard it as a sufficient justification that thus the ice has been broken, that thus a beginning has been made, and thus a sanction established under which no man, if otherwise free to enter upon such a path, needs ever again to find an obstacle in rank the highest or in blood the most ancient. He is authorized by a Howard; and though doubts must still linger about the propriety of such a course, when estimated as a means to a specific end, yet for itself, in reference to the prudery of social decorum, we may now pronounce that to lecture without fee or reward before any audience whatever is henceforth privileged by authentic precedent; and, unless adulterating with political partisanship, is consecrated by its own noble purposes.

Still, if it be urged that these noble purposes are not ratified and sealed by a solitary experiment, I should answer that undoubtedly Lord Carlisle has placed himself under a silent obligation to renew his generous effort; or, in the event of his failing to do so, will have made himself a debtor to public censure, as one who has planned what he has not been strong enough to accomplish, and has founded a staircase or a portico to a temple yet in the clouds. Had he the ulterior purposes assumed? Then, by deserting or neglecting them, he puts on record the instability of his own will. Had he no these ulterior purposes? Then, and in that confession, vanishes into vapor the whole dignity of his bold pretensions, as the navigator who first doubled the Cape of Storms [Footnote 3] into an untried sea.

But against a man dealing presumably with a noble purpose we should reckon nobly. Mean jealousies have no place in circumstances where, as yet, no meanness has been exhibited. The exaction would be too severe upon Lord Carlisle, if, by one act of kindness, he had pledged himself to a thousand; and if, because once his graciousness had been conspicuous, he were held bound over, in all time coming, to the unintermitting energies of a missionary amongst pagans. The laboring men of Yorkshire have not the clamorous necessities of pagans; and therefore Lord Carlisle has not assumed the duties of a working missionary. When, by personally coming forward to lecture, he inaugurated a new era of intellectual prospects for the sons of toil, implicitly he promised that he would himself, from time to time, come forward to co-operate with a movement that had owed its birth to his own summons and impulse. But if he cannot honorably release himself from engagements voluntarily assumed, on the other hand he cannot justly be loaded with the responsibility of a continued participation in the Details of the work which he has set in motion. By sympathy with the liberal purposes of an intellectual movement, he gives to that movement its initial impulse. Henceforward it suffices if at intervals he continues to it such expressions of the same sympathy as may sustain its original activity, or at least may sustain the credit of his own consistency. It cannot be expected that any person in the circumstances of Lord Carlisle should continue even intermittingly to lecture. It is enough if, by any other modes of encouragement, or by inciting others to follow the precedent which he has set, he continues to express an unabated interest in the great cause of intellectual progress amongst poor men.