Front Page Titles (by Subject) 410.: ENGLAND AND EUROPE DAILY NEWS, 1 JULY, 1864, P. 5 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXV - Newspaper Writings December 1847 - July 1873 Part IV
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410.: ENGLAND AND EUROPE DAILY NEWS, 1 JULY, 1864, P. 5 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXV - Newspaper Writings December 1847 - July 1873 Part IV 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, XXV - Newspaper Writings December 1847 - July 1873 Part IV, ed. Ann P. Robson and John M. Robson, Introduction by Ann P. Robson and John M. Robson (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1986).
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ENGLAND AND EUROPE
In February 1864 Austria and Prussia invaded Denmark to take possession of Schleswig and Holstein. The Liberal British cabinet under Palmerston, though sympathetic to the Danish cause, resolved on 28 June not to intervene. Disraeli moved a motion censuring the government for its inaction, which was debated at length on 4, 5, 7, and 8 July in the Commons (PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 176, cols. 709-817, 826-930, 952-1073, 1198-1300). Mill’s letter, headed as title, with the subhead, “To the Editor of the Daily News,” is described in his bibliography as “A letter headed ‘England and Europe’, signed J.S.M. in the Daily News of July 1st 1864” (MacMinn, p. 95). It is probably referred to in a letter of 4 July to Chadwick, editor of the Penny Newsman, giving him permission to reprint an article which had appeared in another paper (LL, CW, Vol. XV, p. 946); at any rate it was reprinted in the Penny Newsman, 10 July, p. 7. The text below is that of the Daily News, which has been collated with the Penny Newsman, yielding one substantive variant; in the note the reading of the latter is signalled by “PN”.
Allow me to invite your attention to one of the aspects of the question about to be tried next week between the present Government and the Tories, which does not seem to have received the amount of attention that is its due.
The Government of this country is called to a severe account for conduct which is said to have lowered the country in the estimation of the world. And what has thus impaired the reputation of the country is supposed to be, that it has used strong language when it did not intend to support that language by fighting; that it spoke its mind about the perpetration of a great public iniquity, which it was not willing to go to war to prevent. This is what England lately did in the case of Poland,1 and what it is reproached with doing in the present case of Denmark.
Now this is simply complaining that England has done what as civilisation advances the more high-principled nations are certain to do more and more; and that it has set the example of a practice which, when it becomes general, will be one of the greatest steps in advance ever made in international proceedings.
In times past nations have scarcely ever gone to war unless for their own supposed interest or dignity. It appears to be the general opinion that they ought to persist in thus acting, and I am not going to discuss just now whether, or how far, this opinion is right. But there is one point in which the practice of past times may very properly be altered, even if the alteration goes no further. In former days, governments, when a wrong did not affect themselves, did not care enough about the interests of others, or about wrong merely as such, to put themselves out of their way to incur the ill will of powerful neighbours by giving to wrong its proper name. The present government, though not the first, have been among the first, to break through this selfish and cowardly forbearance. As the British government, and in the name of the British nation, they have, in the two cases of Poland and of Denmark, given public expression to the reprobation of a crime, although its consequences did not touch themselves, and although they were not prepared to brave all the evils and difficulties involved in arresting the crime by armed interference.
There are those who think this a fit subject for reproach. To me it appears to be the inauguration of the practice of bringing international and political wrongs under a moral police, by a demonstration of disinterested disapproval. Not an insignificant thing in itself; and if the time ever comes when such wrongs will be repressed by a sharper mode of interference on the part of disinterested bystanders, this milder method will be the necessary precursor and preparation for it.
But this plan of speaking our mind without backing our expression of asentimenta by blows is a new thing in a government, because governments have never yet cared enough about justice and honesty for their own sake, or been sufficiently indignant against violations of them, to adopt it. The majority of governments are still in this condition of moral callousness and indifference, and are not even able to understand that any government can care about a wrong which is no prejudice to itself. In consequence, a government which begins the practice of speaking out honestly when circumstances do not allow it to act chivalrously, must lay its account with incurring, in the first instance, some loss of what is termed consideration. The consideration of a government still depends, as that of an individual once did, upon the degree of readiness ascribed to it to draw its sword whenever any of its sentiments is offended. If, therefore, it shows any offended feeling, and the sword does not come forth, it is for a time suspected of being wanting either in sincerity or in spirit. But England is able, and should be willing, to show that the kind of consideration which is given to a Drawcansir is a kind that she can do without.2
The feeling of the country did not allow the government to go to war for Poland, and would not, probably, allow it to go to war for Denmark. But this being granted, I hope there are very few Englishmen who would have preferred that, not intending to fight, England should have remained silent. I trust that if Poland had been desolated and Denmark plundered without a word of protest on our part there would have been far greater dissatisfaction with our government, and a far deeper sense of shame and national humiliation, than I believe to exist now. As it is, we need not fear any permanent loss of prestige, even with those with whom the only thing which gives it is the power and willingness to resort to force. They will soon find out whether the change which has taken place in us is that we have grown more afraid of war, or only more prone to denounce and stigmatise great public iniquities, even when the sacrifices required for stopping their perpetration are greater than it is the duty of a single power to incur in a quarrel not its own.—I am, &c.,
[1 ]For the Polish rebellion, see No. 408. For examples, first of the strong language and then of the unwillingness, see Temple, Speech on the Affairs of Poland (27 Feb., 1863), PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 169, cols. 932-9; and Speech on the Affairs of Poland, Question (6 July, 1863), ibid., Vol. 172, col. 253.
[2 ]Drawcansir, a braggart and swashbuckler in George Villiers’s The Rehearsal (London: Dring, 1672), who was given to striking against all sides in a battle.