CHAPTER XVIII. THE KEY-NOTE OF BRITISH ATTITUDE
"It is precisely because we do not share the admiration of
America for her own institutions and political tendencies
that we do not now see in the impending change an event
altogether to be deplored. In those institutions and
tendencies we saw what our own might be if the most dangerous
elements of our Constitution should become dominant. We saw
democracy rampant, with no restriction upon its caprices. We
saw a policy which received its impulses always from below
... nor need we affect particularly to lament the exhibition
of the weak point of a Constitution ... the disruption of
which leaves entirely untouched the laws and usages which
America owes to England, and which have contributed so
powerfully to her prosperity...."
"With a rival Government on the frontier ... with great
principles to be not vapoured about but put to the proof we
should probably see the natural aristocracy rise from the
dead level of the Republic, raising the national character
with its own elevation."
In the same month the Quarterly, always more calm, logical and convincing than Blackwood's, published "Democracy on its Trial." "The example of America kept alive, as it had created, the party of progress"; now "it has sunk from the decrepitude of premature old age." If England, after such an example, permits herself to be led into democracy she "will have perished by that wilful infatuation which no warning can dispel."
Adams had complained that few British friends of progress identified the cause of the North with their own, but this was true of Americans also. The Atlantic Monthly for July 1861, discussed British attitude wholly in terms of cotton supply. But soon there appeared in the British press so many preachments on the "lesson" of America that the aristocratic effort to gain an advantage at home became apparent to all. The Economist moralized on the "untried" character of American institutions and statesmen, the latter usually as ignorant as the "masses" whom they represented and if more intellectual still more worthy of contempt because of their "voluntary moral degradation" to the level of their constituents. "The upper and ruling class" wrote Bright to Sumner, were observing with satisfaction, "that democracy may get into trouble, and war, and debt, and taxes, as aristocracy has done for this country." Thus Bright could not deny the blow to democracy; nor could the Spectator, upbraiding its countrymen for lack of sympathy with the North: "New England will be justified in saying that Old England's anti-slavery sympathies are mere hollow sentimental pretences, since she can rest satisfied to stuff her ears with cotton against the cries of the slaves, and to compensate her gentle regret over the new impulse given to slavery by her lively gratification over the paralyzing shock suffered by Democracy." This was no taking up of cudgels for the North and "Progress" such as Adams had hoped for. Vigour rested with the opposing side and increased when hopes of a short war vanished. TheSaturday Review asserted: