What if it were because the English Parliament was from the first, and is only just now ceasing to be, a Council of actual Rulers, real Governing Persons (called Peers, Mitred Abbots, Lords, Knights of the Shire, or howsoever called), actually _ruling_ each his section of the country,--and possessing (it must be said) in the lump, or when assembled as a Council, uncommon patience, devoutness, probity, discretion and good fortune,--that the said Parliament ever came to be good for much? In that case it will not be easy to "imitate" the English Parliament; and the ballot-box and suffrage will be the mere bow of Robin Hood, which it is given to very few to bend, or shoot with to any perfection. And if the Peers become mere big Capitalists, Railway Directors, gigantic Hucksters, Kings of Scrip, _without_ lordly quality, or other virtue except cash; and the Mitred Abbots change to mere Able-Editors, masters of Parliamentary Eloquence, Doctors of Political Economy, and such like; and all _have_ to be elected by a universal-suffrage ballot-box,--I do not see how the English Parliament itself will long continue sea-worthy! Nay, I find England in her own big dumb heart, wherever you come upon her in a silent meditative hour, begins to have dreadful misgivings about it.
The model of the world, then, is at once unattainable by the world, and not much worth attaining? England, as I read the omens, is now called a second time to "show the Nations how to live;" for by her Parliament, as chief governing entity, I fear she is not long for this world! Poor England must herself again, in these new strange times, the old methods being quite worn out, "learn how to live." That now is the terrible problem for England, as for all the Nations; and she alone of all, not _yet_ sunk into open Anarchy, but left with time for repentance and amendment; she, wealthiest of all in material resource, in spiritual energy, in ancient loyalty to law, and in the qualities that yield such loyalty,--she perhaps alone of all may be able, with huge travail, and the strain of all her faculties, to accomplish some solution. She will have to try it, she has now to try it; she must accomplish it, or perish from her place in the world!
England, as I persuade myself, still contains in it many _kings_; possesses, as old Rome did, many men not needing "election" to command, but eternally elected for it by the Maker Himself. England's one hope is in these, just now. They are among the silent, I believe; mostly far away from platforms and public palaverings; not speaking forth the image of their nobleness in transitory words, but imprinting it, each on his own little section of the world, in silent facts, in modest valiant actions, that will endure forevermore. They must sit silent no longer. They are summoned to assert themselves; to act forth, and articulately vindicate, in the teeth of howling multitudes, of a world too justly _maddened_ into all manner of delirious clamors, what of wisdom they derive from God. England, and the Eternal Voices, summon them; poor England never so needed them as now. Up, be doing everywhere: the hour of crisis has verily come! In all sections of English life, the god-made _king_ is needed; is pressingly demanded in most; in some, cannot longer, without peril as of conflagration, be dispensed with. He, wheresoever he finds himself, can say, "Here too am I wanted; here is the kingdom I have to subjugate, and introduce God's Laws into,--God's Laws, instead of Mammon's and M'Croudy's and the Old Anarch's! Here is my work, here or nowhere."--Are there many such, who will answer to the call, in England? It turns on that, whether England, rapidly crumbling in these very years and months, shall go down to the Abyss as her neighbors have all done, or survive to new grander destinies _without_ solution of continuity! Probably the chief question of the world at present.
The true "commander" and king; he who knows for himself the divine Appointments of this Universe, the Eternal Laws ordained by God the Maker, in conforming to which lies victory and felicity, in departing from which lies, and forever must lie, sorrow and defeat, for each and all of the Posterity of Adam in every time and every place; he who has sworn fealty to these, and dare alone against the world assert these, and dare not with the whole world at his back deflect from these;--he, I know too well, is a rare man. Difficult to discover; not quite discoverable, I apprehend, by manoeuvring of ballot-boxes, and riddling of the popular clamor according to the most approved methods. He is not sold at any shop I know of,--though sometimes, as at the sign of the Ballot-box, he is advertised for sale. Difficult indeed to discover: and not very much assisted, or encouraged in late times, to discover _himself_;--which, I think, might be a kind of help? Encouraged rather, and commanded in all ways, if he be wise, to _hide_ himself, and give place to the windy Counterfeit of himself; such as the universal suffrages can recognize, such as loves the most sweet voices of the universal suffrages!--O Peter, what becomes of such a People; what can become?
Did you never hear, with the mind's ear as well, that fateful Hebrew Prophecy, I think the fatefulest of all, which sounds daily through the streets, "Ou' clo! Ou' clo!"--A certain People, once upon a time, clamorously voted by overwhelming majority, "Not _he_; Barabbas, not he! _Him_, and what he is, and what be deserves, we know well enough: a reviler of the Chief Priests and sacred Chancery wigs; a seditious Heretic, physical-force Chartist, and enemy of his country and mankind: To the gallows and the cross with him! Barabbas is our man; Barabbas, we are for Barabbas!" They got Barabbas:--have you well considered what a fund of purblind obduracy, of opaque _flunkyism_ grown truculent and transcendent; what an eye for the phylacteries, and want of eye for the eternal noblenesses; sordid loyalty to the prosperous Semblances, and high-treason against the Supreme Fact, such a vote betokens in these natures? For it was the consummation of a long series of such; they and their fathers had long kept voting so. A singular People; who could both produce such divine men, and then could so stone and crucify them; a People terrible from the beginning!--Well, they got Barabbas; and they got, of course, such guidance as Barabbas and the like of him could give them; and, of course, they stumbled ever downwards and devilwards, in their truculent stiffnecked way; and--and, at this hour, after eighteen centuries of sad fortune, they prophetically sing "Ou' clo!" in all the cities of the world. Might the world, at this late hour, but take note of them, and understand their song a little!
Yes, there are some things the universal suffrage can decide,--and about these it will be exceedingly useful to consult the universal suffrage: but in regard to most things of importance, and in regard to the choice of men especially, there is (astonishing as it may seem) next to no capability on the part of universal suffrage.--I request all candid persons, who have never so little originality of mind, and every man has a little, to consider this. If true, it involves such a change in our now fashionable modes of procedure as fills me with astonishment and alarm. _If_ popular suffrage is not the way of ascertaining what the Laws of the Universe are, and who it is that will best guide us in the way of these,--then woe is to us if we do not take another method. Delolme on the British Constitution will not save us; deaf will the Parcae be to votes of the House, to leading articles, constitutional philosophies. The other method--alas, it involves a stopping short, or vital change of direction, in the glorious career which all Europe, with shouts heaven-high, is now galloping along: and that, happen when it may, will, to many of us, be probably a rather surprising business!
One thing I do know, and can again assert with great confidence, supported by the whole Universe, and by some two hundred generations of men, who have left us some record of themselves there, That the few Wise will have, by one method or another, to take command of the innumerable Foolish; that they must be got to take it;--and that, in fact, since Wisdom, which means also Valor and heroic Nobleness, is alone strong in this world, and one wise man is stronger than all men unwise, they can be got. That they must take it; and having taken, must keep it, and do their God's Message in it, and defend the same, at their life's peril, against all men and devils. This I do clearly believe to be the backbone of all Future Society, as it has been of all Past; and that without it, there is no Society possible in the world. And what a business _this_ will be, before it end in some degree of victory again, and whether the time for shouts of triumph and tremendous cheers upon it is yet come, or not yet by a great way, I perceive too well! A business to make us all very serious indeed. A business not to be accomplished but by noble manhood, and devout all-daring, all-enduring loyalty to Heaven, such as fatally _sleeps_ at present,--such as is not _dead_ at present either, unless the gods have doomed this world of theirs to die! A business which long centuries of faithful travail and heroic agony, on the part of all the noble that are born to us, will not end; and which to us, of this "tremendous cheering" century, it were blessedness very great to see successfully begun. Begun, tried by all manner of methods, if there is one wise Statesman or man left among us, it verily must be;--begun, successfully or unsuccessfully, we do hope to see it!
In all European countries, especially in England, one class of Captains and commanders of men, recognizable as the beginning of a new real and not imaginary "Aristocracy," has already in some measure developed itself: the Captains of Industry;--happily the class who above all, or at least first of all, are wanted in this time. In the doing of material work, we have already men among us that can command bodies of men. And surely, on the other hand, there is no lack of men needing to be commanded: the sad class of brother-men whom we had to describe as "Hodge's emancipated horses," reduced to roving famine,--this too has in all countries developed itself; and, in fatal geometrical progression, is ever more developing itself, with a rapidity which alarms every one. On this ground, if not on all manner of other grounds, it may be truly said, the "Organization of Labor" (_not_ organizable by the mad methods tried hitherto) is the universal vital Problem of the world.