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[Delivered at Surrey Chapel, London, December 8th, 1862; the
Rev. NEWMAN HALL in the Chair.]
to address them, was one of great importance; and if he received their attention, he trusted he should make it both interesting and instructive. He then proceeded to remark, that perhaps no feeling was more natural and certainly few feelings were more proper--than the love of country and home. A man who had no love for his country, and who took no interest in its prosperity and happiness, scarcely deserved the protection of its laws, or the blessings of its institutions. Nearly all nations and tribes had cultivated and fostered the love of country; and they could not help admiring the development of that feeling n the history of the world. The beautiful biographical histories of Scripture afford some very striking illusrations of this feeling. Look, for instance, at the history onnected with the death of the patriarch Jacob, as recorded n the 59th chapter of Genesis. For 17 years he had resiled in Egypt, under circumstances that were in every way itted to make him feel attached to his adopted country: he position occupied by his son, the respect and consideraion with which he had been treated by Pharaoh, the prosverity and plenty he had found in Egypt,--would all natually tend to endear the country to him; and yet, when he
died, one of his last requests was "Bury me (he
said) with my fathers, in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite.” Here you have a beautiful illustration of the love of country and home.
But there is a still more striking illustration of this feeling in the case of Joseph: he had been de facto monarch of Egypt; his recollections of early life and his native land would naturally be associated in his mind with many painful feelings; while in Egypt he had received the most flattering attentions, and enjoyed all that the most ambitious man could desire : and yet when he died, it is said he “gave commandment concerning his bones, and that commandment was, that they were not to bury him till they left Egypt, and returned to take possession of the land of Canaan ; and then, he added, “ye shall carry up my bones from hence." I think it probable that for four hundred years the coffin of Joseph was looked at by his oppressed and down-trodden descendants, and that during the whole of that period it helped to keep alive in them a recollection of, and a love to, their country and home.
The lecturer then remarked, that it was true that the feeling to which he referred often developed itself in blindness to the evils and wrong-doing of the country to which they belonged; but that was not always the case. Some there were who, while they saw, admitted and deplored the evils that existed in this country, yet looked with pride, satisfaction, and hope on the efforts that tended to remove those evils, and thus to promote its progress and prosperity: Before endeavouring to show the causes of our national greatness, it would (the lecturer remarked) be well for him to refer to a few facts to prove the reality of that greatness.
I. The first illustration of this point to which he should direct attention, was the immense increase and growth of our population. This country, at present, doubled its population every fifty years, and we were also extending the Anglo-Saxon race to a large extent in all our colonies, and, in fact, in almost every part of the world. America, one of our children, doubled her population every twenty. three years, and if she continued to extend at that rate, she would, within the next hundred years, have a population of over two hundred millions of people ! It was impossible to look at such a fact as that, without feelings of a
mingled character of hope that both in this country and America we might be faithful to the great mission to which, by Providence, we were called ; and of fear, lest proving unfaithful, we might share the fate of those nations whose departed grandeur and ruins had been left as warnings to us. It may be interesting just to remark, that the United States of America, if peopled as thickly as European nations (namely 110 to the square mile), will sustain 220 millions of people, and if peopled as thickly as China (150 to the square mile), it will sustain 300 millions of people. I am quite aware that it is rather fashionable just now to frown at America and American institutions; and many have predicted the downfall of that great Republic. I believe, however, that such predictions will turn out to be thoroughly fallacious, and only tend to show the ignorance or the animus of those who make them. My conviction is, that America will come out of this war purified and purged of one of the most fearful evils that ever cursed and crippled the energies of a great people. The great lesson I learn from the disastrous war now sweeping over the American continent is, that wrong-doing will never prosper, that, sooner or later, it must and will bring suffering, and that oppression and injustice are certain to result in disaster and trouble.
II. In the second place the lecturer referred to the spread of our language, as a proof of national greatness. Two hundred years ago, he said, it was supposed that our language was spoken by only five millions of people, and now it is spoken by between eighty and ninety millions of the human race, or one-twelfth of the population of the globe. It is worthy of notice, too, that the number of languages spoken in different parts of the world is annually decreasing, so that there are indications that the mischief done at the Tower of Babel may yet be rectified. And if we ever obtain the desideratum of a universal language, which many expect, what language is more adapted than our own to become the medium for the conveyance of thought throughout the world? With about six different languages we can now speak to four-fifths of the human family, namely, English, French, German, Arabic, Hindostanee, one of the African dialects, and Chinese. My friend, Mr. Elihu Burritt, estimates that if our language continues to spread during the next two centuries as it has done during
the last two, it will in that time be spoken by a number equal to the present population of the globe.
III. Another proof of our national greatness, is the vastness of our territory. Our island contains only about 120,000 square miles of land, and yet we hold possession of nearly two and a-half millions of square miles of the surface of our globe, or an area twenty times larger than our own country. We give laws to at least 250 millions of people, or one-fourth of the human family. It was not for him to say that we have become possessed of all this territory honestly or justly; for he feared, if pressed, he should be obliged to confess that much of it had been obtained on the principle “ that those should get who have the power, and those should keep who can;" but whether we have got it honestly or not, we have it, and we have been able to hold it; and he referred to it as a very remarkable proof of our national greatness that a small island like ours should control and give laws to nations larger, and in some respects greater, than our own. He saw in this the finger of Providence, for to him history was only Providence developing itself ; that we had thus been permitted to become possessed of so vast a territory and such an amount of political power, was “a great fact," and involved great and grave responsibility.
IV. The lecturer then proceeded to say, that the rapid extension of our trade was another proof of our national greatness. The production of cotton goods, in Great Britain, before the American war, amounted to about 60 millions ayear, which was about half the production of the world, which is estimated at 120 millions in value. The money paid for labour in the cotton trade alone, when prosperous, was about 30 millions per annum. In 1801 the consumption of raw cotton in this country was only 56 millions of pounds; while the year before the cotton famine it was over 1,000 millions of pounds, or an increase of about 20 per cent. in sixty years. Our iron trade was also chiefly the growth of the last sixty-five years, for in 1796 we only made 125,000 tons of iron, while we now make above 31 millions of tons every year, of which we export more than half, or nearly two million tons. To make this iron, requires 18 million tons of ore, 15 million tons of coal, and 2 million tons of limestone. Only think of the labour necessary to bring all these natural productions together so as to
make that necessary article we call “iron," and I think we have in this another evidence of national greatness.
V. The rapid development of our railways is also a proof of our national greatness. It is not more than thirty years since the first railway was opened in this country, namely, the Stockton and Darlington, and we have now above 10,000 miles of railway at work. These railways have been constructed at a cost of above 400 millions of pounds for the permanent way, and there is supposed to be a rolling stock on them worth 100 millions more. The annual revenue from railways now amounts to about 25 millions of pounds; and it is worthy of note that this is the result of the surplus wealth of our country—the money that we can spare out of our ordinary wants--and, therefore, it constitutes a great proof of our national greatness. In every part of the world there are about 45,000 or 50,000 miles of railway, and of these the Anglo-Saxon race have above three-fourths; namely, in the United States, 25,000 miles; Germany has 5,500; France, 2,500 ; Belgium, 500 ; Russia, 400 ; in Great Britain and Ireland, 10,000 ; in British North America, 1,600 ; India, 200 ; total, 45,700. The growth of our railway system is one of the most wonderful histories of growing wealth and progress that has ever occurred in the history of the world, and it clearly proves the greatness of our country,
VI. Our social progress is another proof of our national greatness. Our post-office system, for instance, is one of the wonders of the age in which we live. In the year 1839 (the year before the adoption of the penny postage system), we only transmitted through the post 76 millions of letters; we now send through the same medium about 600 millions of letters a-year. And, perhaps, the greatest wonder of all is, that at the cheap rate at which letters are now carried, it should still pay the Government. It may be interesting for you to know the fact that led to the adoption of the penny postage.
It is said that Mr. Hill, now Sir Rowland Hill, was stopping in the Lake District, at one of the hotels, and on a Sunday morning a letter was brought for one of the servant girls at the hotel, for which one shilling was demanded by the postman. The girl replied, “ I can't take it in, for I cannot pay the shilling." Here," said Mr. Hill, who had heard the remark, “here is the shilling ; take the