« AnteriorContinuar »
Men slay the prophets : faggot, rack, and cross,
Make the groaning record of the Past:
And soy'reign Freedom wins the world at last.” Thirty years ago and the pillory stood by the walls of old Newgate. In its grip was Daniel Isaac Eaton, an old patriarch of patriotism, and warrior for freedom of Thought. His enemies had thrust him there, to nail him on the cross of public hatred. The mob were gathered to pelt and insult the good old man; and there he stood looking on them, so dauntless yet so forgiving--worn, scarred and grey, yet so mildly Christ-like, that the mob could not persecute: a strange feeling of sympathy was stirring in their hearts; and, at last, a cheer burst from them-and such a cheer that shook universal Tyranny !
Hear it priests! hear it tyrants! the canaille cheer your victim; and ring the death-knell of another instrument of torture—for it is the last day of the Pillory on Newgate hill. And thus, as enlightenment spreads among the inasses, shall we have the down-cheer of torture and tyranny of all kinds bursting from them. For it is in the dense ignorance which covers the people like a sea of darkness, that Tyranny lets drop its anchors. Remove this, and its mainstay is gone; and the King-craft, the Priest-craft, and the State-craft shall be swept away by the rushing waves of Progress.
Time was when we simple “ clowns” could not conceive how a man might have a sounding title, and not be a great man. Hence you would see our villagers bowing and cringing when the “ Lord," or the " Squire," or other parish-anointed notability was passing. Poor things! they did not see that the lordling and the squire were but paupers preying on their flesh and earnings. They did not calculate how these wrung the life out of their hearts, day by day, to add to their own superfluities. Poor things! the poet's quatrain-how truly it described their blindness :
“ They do not see that the charities
Of the rich for no gratitude call :
That they did not rob us of all !" But this degrading servility is fast wearing away. We have been wont to look on a “lord” hooded in the gloom of our ignorance : now, we see him in the light of Knowledge, and, lo! he has not even a crown on his head, like the common cock that lord's it on the dunghill; ergo, we ken not why he should be cock of the world's walk any longer. In fact, we see that there is no difference between the heads of lords and our own, save that their brains preponderate at the back of the head, whilst ours lie nearer to our eyes. We begin to love the nobles of Nature who wear the stamp of the gods on their brows; and to loathe these miserable imposter-lords, who have so long passed current in the world for nobleness they did not possess. We begin to value a man for the good he does, and not for the large pension of which he plunders society; for the numbers of his fellows he saves from suffering, and not for the number of throats he cuts.
I say these are signs of Progress. Then be not dismayed, my brothers ! Though we do not conquer in a day, have patience and still struggle on, for in struggling shall we win the iron thews that serve to throw the world! It needs a high heart and never-tiring faith to bear up; but, let not your hearts die within you, ye who toil on thro' nights of suffering and days of pain, watering the bread of penury with the tears of misery. Remember that sacrifice and suffering are the natural inheritance of the soldiers of Liberty ; but “Nil desperandum” cried Leonidas, and Greece was saved at Thermopylæ! " Nil desperandum” pleaded Columbus to his mutinous crew, and in three days the new World was found ! " Nil desperandum” shouted immortal Kossuth, unsheathing his sword, and like a giant roused from wine, the gallant Hungarian nation rolled back the tide of war from the shores of their loved Fatherland, with a crash that shattered the Austrian Empire to its rotten core! “ Nil desperandum” cried the heroic Mazzini to the men of Rome, and crushed and down-trodden as they were, Earth felt the tread of the Roman once more! “Nil desperandum” cry we, my Brothers, and yet we'll revolutionize the tides and currents of old England's heart, and make her a land worth living in and worth dying for! Many more martyrs will yet die in the People's cause ; many will fall by the way; many more tears will fall to the earth ; many more groans will ascend to Heaven ; yet will our day of triumph come. Even
now, the despots of the earth and oppressors of the nations, like swine swimming, are cutting their own throats by hastening the day of bloody assize. Tyranny may as well essay to stop the planets in their orbits, as to stay a People ripe for freedom from accomplishing their destiny.
They may ape Canute of old, and cry to the mighty waves, “Go back!" but the waters will ascend higher still and higher, and sweep to destruction the boasted bulwarks of despotism. For even as God said, “ Let there be light!” and there was light; so let the people say, “Let there be Freedom!" and there shall be Freedom.
AN ARGUMENT FOR UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE. The right of every man to a voice in making the laws to which, in a state of society, he is bound to subject himself, might be satisfactorily established by some such an argument as follows :- Let it be admitted as a truth—let it be laid down as an axiom, for assuredly no one will be found to deny it, be his religious creed what it may--that alt forms of government must have either a divine or a human origin. In other words, every system of law is either the emanation of Divine intelligence, having its birth from, and owing its maintenance to a power independent of any secondary or created being; or, else it is the result of human contrivance, and the offspring of human thought. The Power, commonly called God, which governs the entire system of nature—the terrestrial and celestial systems of the universe—may legitimately be termed divine, for whether it acts by partial or by general laws, it is certainly antecedent to humanity, and above its comprehension. It is superhuman and therefore divine. To the laws emanating from this Intelligence, this Divinity, man himself is compelled to submit. Born their subject, in his allegiance to them must he die. There is, in this sense, such a thing as divine government ; nature bears witness to the fact; and is there not also such a thing as human government ? Certainly. We acknowledge this fact in the various Monarchies, Oligarchies, and Republics, of ancient and modern times. They depend for their existence on the will of man ; by that will are they regulated, preserved, or destroyed ; there are social worlds governed by man, as absolutely as all physical worlds are by what is termed God, or nature. Every national government, then, being a system of law, must have either a divine or a human origin ; that is, it must be either the growth of Heaven or earth; it either comes down to man from a superior and irresponsible Power, and is imposed upon him whether he approve or not, or it flows from man as the result of inherent tendencies in his constitution, having its germ planted deep in his intellectual and moral being. If, therefore, all political institutions and governments are established either by the authority of man, or the will of God, and if the latter be the correct view, why then the extreme old Tory doctrine of the Right divine' of Kings may possibly be true, and wherever that divine-right institution is found, with it no mortal is justified in interfering. It rules him as arbitrarily as any fixed law of nature, and he must obey its decrees, or suffer the penalties consequent on disobedience. This dogma is, however, exploded, and except in certain polite circles where loyal old maids sigh over the degeneracy of the age, is scouted as a transcendent absurdity. On the other hand, if all political institutions originate in the will of man-if it be true that the people are the only legitimate source of political power—is it not true that every political constitution, every national government not founded on a broad popular basis is an illegitimate constitution-a spurious, unjust, tyrannical government ? An escape from the affirmative is impossible. And as a corollary to this it may be asserted that as man, or the people, can alone frame a rightful national government, so man, or the people, must have the right to overturn a wrongful national government.
We now come to the question “Who are the people ?' The answer to which is, by the people of a country, we mean the population of a country, neither more or less. “What !” exclaims the aristocrat, “ do you universal suffragists intend every man, woman, and child, irrespective of age, education, or character, to vote for members of parliament ?" "Not so fast, good sir, if you please ; there is no rule without an exception, and exceptions are commonly said to prove the rule. We the advocates of universal, or manhood suffrage, are not so mad as many imagine ; we seek nothing that carries the stamp of folly on its face ; nothing which is out of nature ; nothing unreasonable or involving a contradiction. What we contend for is the principle that laws which concern all should be enacted only after all have had an opportunity, directly or indirectly, of assenting to them. But no one is idiot enough to suppose that the “muling and puking" infant is to have a vote, even under the much-ridiculed idea of universal suffrage, though it is often argued that if you exclude the baby in the arms, on account of his early years from the franchise, you are equally justified in excluding men on the ground of their poverty-a most impotent, and impudent conclusion. All parties agree that a line must be drawn somewhere with respect to the exercise of that important right, but it does not follow, there is not a just as well as an unjust method of drawing that line. A majority of any society may have the power of imposing a particular restriction upon the minority, but that restriction may nevertheless be unjust. Because, then, society has a right to draw the said line somewhere, we cannot admit that society has an equal right to draw it anywhere. In order to give an opinion on any matter, opinion must exist ; in order to give it freely, independence must be, at least, presumed, neither of which conditions can be fulfilled in babyhood. Both may be presumed, without difficulty when manhood is attained. Nature points out the direction in which we are to look where the restriction line is to be justly drawn. Nature tells us we are to have regard to age, and age alone in the first instance, and in the next to mental sanity. Nature shows us no connection between property and intelligence, between a full purse and a full head. Increase of wealth never brings with it increased intellectuality ; the growth of time often does--whether the epoch of manhood shall be fixed at twenty one, twenty, or any other period is for society to determine. But whatever year is determined on, let it be applicable to all, rich and poor-equality, and justice the very soul of equality, will then be respected. No hardship will be felt when the line' is thus drawn in accordancy with the dictates of nature. If the caprice
of statesmen, the arrogance of aristocracies, or the anarch will of Kings be followed, discontent, jealousies, and vindictive feelings must ensue.
It is unnecessary to touch upon the question of female suffrage, more than to state that upon the principles advocated ve, Womanhood has as good a right as manhood to the vote. In a country where a woman sits on the throne, why should not women take part in elections for members of parliament
NOTES, WHICH THEY WHO RUN MAY READ. THE TEN HOURS' ACT.--A judgment of the Court of Excheqner has rendered what was won so hardly, a mere nullity. If Lord John Russell lazily suffers the North to be thrown into something approaching to insurrection, rather than offend manufacturing capitalists by hastening the passing of a new bill, he is more foolhardy than most people take him to be. He must be quickened—and the workingmen of Lancashire need not be told that they can quicken him.
THE TAXES ON KNOWLEDGE. - The · Times' sneers at the phrase, because its proprietors know, notwithstanding their pretended indifference, that their monopoly would be broken by the million and a quarter of these Taxes being removed. There is no more important reform than this ; and all true reformers should back up, by subscriptions-be they ever so small-the Newspaper Stamp Abolition Committee," by remitting what they can afford to the Secretary, “ J. D. Collett, 15, Essex Street, Strand,” or to the Treasurer, “ Francis Place, Brompton
The Committee are in communication with Mr. Ewart, R. Cobden, W. J. Fox, and other Members of Parliament, who have pledged themselves to exertion for securing the abolition of these obnoxious imposts. They have already expended considerable sums on tracts, handbills, &c.
ROBBERY OF THE Church COMMISSION Funds.-The Bishops have not only suffered an underling to purloin £7000 or £8000 of the public money ; but have made whining excuses for the thief, and lauded his former honesty! By the same rule ought not every thief to be praised for his former honesty,' and tenderly treated in gaol ?—for have not all thieves been honest ? Will Lord John have the sense and resolution to take the management entirely out of the hands of the lawnsleeved lords ? Who expects Bishops to have brains sufficient for the correct management of such a trust—even if they willed it ?
BURNING OF THE DEAD.-The words look startling ; but they are sensibly put together, for all that. An Association has been formed, at the “ City of London Mechanics’ Institute, Gould Square, Crutched Friars,” to attempt to carry out this salutary practice of the ancients. They propose to erect an edifice for the “ Funeral Pyre,” in the neighbourhood of London—to attain a method of decomposing the dead by fire in a quarter of an hour, with “elegance and innocuousness” --and to establish a “ Garden of Memories,” for the reception of urns, tablets, monuments, &c. The entrance fee is one shilling, and W. H. Newman is the Secretary. Their measure is philanthropic in the highest degree, and deserves the adherence and support of every man of intelligence.
POLITICAL AND SOCIAL Tract Society. A company of intelligent and energetic Reformers have associated themselves under this name, at the “ Literary Institution, John Street, Fitzroy Square," and are actively engaged in th«ir great work. The Labour Question, the People's Charter, the Abolition of Capital Punishments, the Separation of the Church from the State, the Temperance Movement, Direct Taxation, and Financial Reform, are among the subjects on which they propose to circulate information—in the most effective form—the form in which bold Luther sent forth his intellectual arrows against ecclesiastical corruption, and stout Cobbett attacked political abuse and delinquency. Help, although it be in the smallest coin, will be gladly received by the Secretary, W. Sandilands. ample ought to be followed in Manchester, Birmingham, and all our large towns,
Co Correspondents. Correspondents will please address, “ Thomas Cooper, 5, Park Row, Knightsbridge, London." YOUNG ENGLISHMAN,' Blackburn.- he knew anything about' My Lord,' or the real circum
stances of the meeting, he would not be so indignant'; but would think his Lordship' deserved still more contemptuous treatment. W. W.S., Newcastle-on-Tyne.- Reading the best authors, thinking, and trying to write-are
sure recipes. T. T. CAMPBELL, Wolverhampton.—The word organic should have been inorganic, in his letter
in last number. I am sorry for the misprint; but these errors are often unavoidable, from
haste in the printing. Chas. Dryden.--- His lines unfold promise: some additional care, as to the mechanism of verse,
and his hopes may be realised. J. D., Aberdeen.--Obliged by his admonition: it shall not be given in vain. G. B.-His present communication is respectfully declined; yet a little compressure of his
thoughts into fewer words may make his future favours acceptable. J. Allinson.-The feeling of his verse does honour to his heart; but a greater perfection of
manner, and better acquaintance with correct forms of expression, must be sought by him. W. B., STOCKPORT.-His reasoning is not new to me: it does not, and I say this respectfully
alter my views respecting Phonotypics. “ Young CHARTIST," Ryton.—He will find his question answered in my “ Eight Letters to the
Young Men of the Working Classes.” N. WARNE.—Is not the first desideratum more readers and of a higher character? Will not
libraries of the higher grade follow after? Mary Hood; H. T. H.; J. ATHOL W.; ARCHIBALD C.; J.J., Manchester.—Their poetry is
respectfully declined. John Goodison. --Bishop Burnet's History of his own Times' must be read by every one who
wishes to obtain a complete knowledge of the period in which he lived. Some of his state
ments are questioned; but his general veracity is established. W. B., Stockport; S.L., Leeds; A MYNTOR; JAMES ELLIS; W. W., Birmingham ; and several
others, write generally respecting the advisableness of a PROGRESS UNION; but their communications being of the same purport with those already published, it is not necessary to print them.
Lectures, in London, for the ensuing Week. SUNDAY, Feb. 24, at 7, Literary Institution, John-street, Fitzroy Square. “Life and Character
of Sir Isaac Newton " -Thomas Cooper. At 7, Hall of Science, (near Finsbury Square, City Road.) “ Lamartine, Louis Blanc, and the French Revolution of 1848"-Walter
Cooper. MONDAY, Feb. 25, at half-past 8, Mechanics’ Institute, Gould Square, Crutched Friars. “ Chemistry" - Robert Williamson. At a quarter to 9, Finsbury Hall
, 66, Bunhill Row. “ Present and Future, for Europe-War" or Peace ("-Dr. Webb. At half past 8, Pentonville Athenæum, 17, Chapel Street. “Shakspere"-W. Beaver. At a quarter past 8, Literary Institution, Carlisle Street, Edgeware Road. “Ghosts and Apparitions”—Dr. Sexton. At 8, Finsbury Mechanics’ Institute, Bell Yard, City Road.
« Life and Genius of Milton" - Thomas Cooper. WEDNESDAY, Feb. 27, at 8, Hackney Literary and Scientific Institution. “ Importance of cul
tivating Habits of Observation”–Robert Hunt.
SHAKSPERE.—Those who deny that Shakspere was a learned man, should prove that Plato was translated into English in the time of Queen Elizabeth, for the celebrated soliloquy, 'To be or not to be” is taken almost verbatim from the Philosopher.-Preface to Langhorne's Plutarch.”
MORAL POWER.-As the operations of the mind are in all cases much more noble than those of the body, so are the things that we compass by the faculties of our reason and understanding of much greater value than those things that we bring to pass by corporal force.-Cicero.
OLD INSTITUTIONS.—When the reason of old establishments is gone, it is absurd to preserve nothing but the burden of them. This is superstitiously to embalm a carcase not worth an ounce of the gums that are used to preserve it. It is to burn precious oil in the tomb; it is to offer meat and drink to the dead, not so much an honour to the deceased, as a disgrace to the survivors.-Burke.
HONESTY.— Though an honest discharge of one's duty may, for the time, offend those it opposes; yet it will, at last, be justified and admired even by the very men who suffer from it.—Pliny's Epistles.