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light of noon--while, in our very heart's core, we feel it to be a huge imposture--a mass of pernicious and debasing superstition.
My friends and brothers, it is not by cowardice that great truths have erer been established. Their advocates and champions were all'heretical or 'seditious,' or pestilential fellows branded with some execrable name. But did they unsay the truth for that? Never forget that the very men whom Protestants boast of as 'Martyrs' were sufferers for freethinking: they refused to receive the Romish doctrine of transubstantiation: they would not, they could not-their reason would not allow them--to acknowledge that Christ's words were literal when he called the bread and wine his body and blood. They affirmed that the bread was bread, and the wine was wine. Why? Oh, answer ye evangelicals of whatever sect ! Why? Because they could not disobey their reason ; they were freethinkers ! So are we. Who will be coward enough to disown the name? What Christian ought to be ashamed of it? What man ought not to be proud to be distinguished by it?
On the 1st of June will be published No. I. of a new monthly Journal, entitled,
THE FREETHINKER'S MAGAZINE,
Edited by Friends of Truth and Progress. Price Twopence. 32 pages. London : Published by JAMES Watson, 3, Queen's Head Passage, Paternoster-row.
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WORKS OF THOMAS COOPER,
To be had of JAMES WATSON, 3, Qncen's Head Passage, Paternoster Row. TIIE PURGATORY OF SUICIDES. A Prison Rhyme. In 10 Books.
(To be had also in 18 nurbers, at 21 each; or in 6 parts at 61.)
Leicestershire Life. In 2 vols., neat cloth boards,...
Thomas Cooper. Piano-forte Arrangement by S. D. Collett,..
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PART 4 of “ COOPER'S JOURNAL,” containing 4 Numbers, in a
Wrapper, Price 4 d., is now ready. Also, Parts 1 and 2, containing 4 Numbers each, Price 4 d. each; and
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Parts 1 and 2, Price Gd. each, (each containing 6 Numbers,) are now
ready, of CAPTAIN COBLER; TİR LINCOLNSHIRE INSURRECTION:""
an Historical Romance of the Keign of Wenry VII.
Twelve Numbers are now ready.
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OR, UNFETTERED THINKER AND PLAIN SPEAKER FOR
TRUTH, FREEDOM, AND PROGRESS.
“AND though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple! Who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?"--Milton's Areopagitica.
No. 22.-—Vol. I.]
FOR THE WEEK ENDING SATURDAY, JUNE 1, 1850.
[Price One Penny.
EPISCOPAL HOSTILITY TO SECULAR EDUCATION.
Let me have men about me that are fat;
Julius Caesar, WHEN Cobbett said that “cool impudence” was a prominent feature in the character of the established clergy, he uttered what was true. Up to this hour they have continued to maintain their title to that distinction; they have not abated one jot of those priestly pretensions which ever grow up in a dominant church, and render it odious to the sight of all thinking men. Fortunately, we live in an age when, in this country at least, there is little to fear for the safety of person or property from the dictatorial swagger of any religious sect; and thanks to the diffusion of useful knowledge, not even the Church of England, with all its pride and pomposity, can materially interfere with the rights and liberties of the citizen. The persecuting, exclusive, dog-in-the-manger spirit is, however, still strong in the bosom of the hierarchy; and every now and then it forces itself upon our notice in some repulsive form or other. Whenever a question is in agitation involving an extension of civil or religious freedom, -whenever some antiquated remnant of illiberal prejudice is to be abolished, --whenever a fresh piece of legislative bigotry is brought forward, —or a wide, unsectarian, and generous scheme for the elevation of the masses, and for making the great body of the people an intellectual and moral ornament to the land, -whenever Right is to be achieved, or Wrong perpetrated,—the clergy of the Establishment will invariably be found hounding on the advocates of oppression and ignorance, and maligning the motives and reputations of the opposite party.
This is precisely the case now that Secular Education occupies the public mind. On the side of the opponents of that measure are the Church clergy, sure enough. They join hands with the Nonconformists to defeat Mr. Fox's Bill. But the spirit of their opposition is of a somewhat different temper to that offered by the Dissenters. These latter reject the proposed plan, because all Christianity, because the Bible, is to be excluded from the schools ; and not because the peculiar doctrines of this, that, or the other sect, are not to be taught therein. But by the Church of England it is denounced on grounds far less respectable : on grounds at once selfish and contemptible, as well as truly ridiculous. In any measure for establishing a system of National Secular Education, (which must be in its very essence, not inimical to, but unconnected with, every particular phase of religious faith,) the clergy see an attack upon what they have the assurance to claim as their indefeasible privilege--the sole authority of teaching the children of the poor. The schools in connection with
their churches in the different parishes, would then cease to be in name what they have long ceased to be in reality,--National schools. The clergy must then give up the theory as well as the practice of being the only legitimate educators of the English people. They must descend from their haughty elevation, resign their visionary prerogative, and consent to be regarded as an equally protected, but not a favoured, educational body in the state. This levelling system, which after all is nothing more than equity, sorely goes against their proud stomachs; and, (independent of the dread that the people shall think too much for themselves, become too free in their notions, and lose what little reverence they may have remaining for a well-nigh worn-out institution,) was quite suíficient to ensure the hostility it has met with, and by which it will, for a while, be thrown overboard.
That there is a fear on the part of the clergy, that if non-scriptural education become prevalent, the rising generation may become too rational in their religious views, is evident from a sentiment uttered by the Rer. G. A. Denison, a violent high-churchman, at a public meeting a few months ago. He said :-"If any attempts to rationalise the Church of England are to be allowed, we will, at least, take very good care, by God's help, that so great a curse shall not be inflicted upon us and our children through the channel of her schools.” So that, according to Mr. Denison, so long as the Church is the guardian of Education the great curse of Reason shall never be encouraged. It is indeed a consolation to know that Reason can make its way, despite the stumbling-blocks thrown in its path by scriptural schoolmasters. In the petition adopted at the above-named meeting, is this modest opinion, "according to our belief the Church of England is the divinely appointed teacher of the English nation.” From whence she derived her divine charter we are not informed, and have never been able to discover. However, this is only one of the multitude of absurdities harboured in the imagination of Mother Church. She not merely believes that she ought to be the exclusive teacher of the poor, but that in process of time she will be so actually. The Archbishop of York, in a charge delivered by him last year, expresses himself thus :-"My own hope and belief, and unwavering conviction is, that the managers of schools -in other words the clergy- will soon find themselves in possession, generally, of all the authority they can desire, and will have the satisfaction of directing, according to their best judgment, the whole education of the children of the poor.” This is an honest admission of the pretensions of the Church: pretensions we never expect to see gratified. The enemies of Secular Education, be they who they may, will ultimately be defeated. Truth will grow, and weather every storm. The close affinity of crime, with intellectual as well as physical poverty, is now generally recognised; and it is the duty of government to render all the assistance in its power for the prevention of crime. The best and surest preventive force is a sound intellectual and moral culture. A child may be taught to feel the.criminality of theft, or murder, or lying, without being introduced to the perplexities of Trinities, and Atonements, and crucified Deities. Soberness and chastity may be inculcated, unblended with theories of Baptism and the Lord's Supper. We want to make good men, wise men; and, if Christianity be true, goodness and wisdom will form a firm basis on which to graft the doctrines of Christ.
But whether or not we obtain a National Education immediately, the time has arrived when the people will think for themselves, in spite of the scowl of Orthodoxy. That the English hierarchy should dislike thinkers is natural, for to all systems of theological domination “such men are dangerous."
REMINISCENCES OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT,
THE CORN-LAW RHYMER. EBENEZER ELLIOTT has passed away from amongst the living into the regions of death and eternity,--from the busy haunts of men into the realms of peace.
But by the natural vigour of his mind he has left behind him an imperishable monument. Whilst he lived, however, he breathed and moved amongst those who did not and could not understand him. Those who knew him not were the men of the day, the annoying insects that buzz about us for a brief summer's hour, then disappear in the ever-flowing stream of time, and are lost for ever. His mind resembled one of those beacons seen out at sea, which gives to the mariner, now the brilliant light of a night sun, and then passes away and leaves the darkness more visible. Like most mortals, he had his peculiarities, his sunshine and clouds. When the shadows hung over and around him, he appeared, to the limited vision of ordinary men, less than themselves ; but when the light burst forth he was a mental sun in the surrounding darkness. It is thus that so many and various opinions are passed upon him. He could only be understood and comprehended when studied by kindred minds; and was known least by those who moved within his more domesticated circle, and should have known and esteemed him most.
If a stranger had visited Sheffield, or as our poet generally styled it“ The city of soot, in which are more steeples to DIammon than to God,”he might have seen a small sized man passing through the streets, orfrom his country residence to his counting-house, dressed in a suit of shabby brown black, with his hat crown broken, and pressed down almostover his eyes; his boots frequently unlaced, and his trowsers' bottoms partly inside and partly outside of them, -walking along as if lost in reverie, which some men interpreted to mean dulness. If, however, he met an acquaintance or a friend, he accosted him not in the ordinary language of greeting, as "How do you do ?” or “I hope you are well ;” but his countenance brightening, he would accost him, as he has done the writer of this article, with “Oh, you terrible Chartist!” or “Well, have the flunkey Lords ruined the country yet ?" or “No trade and no bread will drive the wolves into the field at last !" His whole soul was evidently absorbed in this great question. At all public meetings, whatever might be the object for which the people assembled, or whatever might be the subject on which he had to speak, he was certain to denounce the Corn-laws, and their lordly supporters, --sometimes much to the evident mortification of those who had invited his assistance. On these occasions he was not uniformly distinguished as a powerfully eloquent speaker ; yet, at times, whilst speaking, some masterly conception would illuminate his mind. Then, he was truly great and sublime; but suddenly he would sink low into the bottomless bathos; yet even then there were coruscations which illuminated and delighted. On one occasion we saw the poet of meekness and benevolence, James Montgomery, and the poet of feeling and passion,—the former chairman of a meeting in the Town Hall, Elliott seated by his side,—the motion was one for removing restrictions from the reading of young men, in one of the libraries of the Town; and Elliott was a free-trader in the interchange of mind as well as in commerce. There was a pause in the business of the meeting; the Corn-Law Rhymer arose, his eyes dilated, there was an irresistible movement within his whole features denoted a storm. The chairman would have called order;
but he saw the smouldering fire must explode, and Elliott exclaimed at the height of his voice, “ Am I to be dictated to by a conclave of Methodists? No! I'll be if I will!"-striking his clenched fist on the desk before him, and then resuming his seat. Many of those who heard these outbursts of passion, condemned him much. But they knew him not. It was the expression of honest heart-felt indignation, at any monopolies or restrictions which spring from any party, sect, or partial interests, which he conscientiously believed impeded or injured the onward progress of the public good or the liberty of his countrymen. It is thus that those amongst whom the poet lived and moved should have judged of him. He was the rough, natural diamond, with more valuable properties and beauties than the polished gem.
That these reminiscences give a tolerably correct estimate of the CornLaw Rhymer, will be evident from his own words. “Corn-Law Rhymer," was a name with which he was pleased, if not proud. He had C. L. R. engraved upon his letter-seal.
The first time I had any correspondence with him was in the At that time, I had no personal acquaintance with him ; but having heard much of his rising fame, and being about publishing “ Wesleyan Parsons : a Satire”-it was sent to him, with a note soliciting his opinion of its merits or defects. I supposed him then to be an author of high literary attainments; from his answer and one other letter the following are extracts :
Sheffield, 8th of April, 1832. “SIR,—God be thanked for another good sign of the times ! It is refreshing in these days to read an honest book like this. But there is no trade which requires a longer apprenticeship than poetry; and poetry like truth, must be its own “exceeding great reward."
Truth with him was poetry, and poetry a truthful picture of nature. Thus he had formed for himself the only correct standard of either poetry or prose: for truth, moral, governmental, or natural, can alone bear the test, or wear the stamp of immortality. After advising the revision of the Satire, previous to printing, which suggestion was acted upon, he says:
“ Even as it is, your verse has the rare merit of saying something. Much of what is called poetry has no meaning at all.”
These brief sentences convey to the reader the opinion of an extraordinary man, on much of the poetical small talk of the day: whether his opinion be correct, and is borne out by the genius, or rather the want of genius, of the age, he will of course form his own judgment. In a letter of a later date, he says alluding to his own poetic creations and Corn-Law Ryhmes,
“I learned to write poetry as calves learn to suck.” This without doubt is true; for he drew from the contemplation of this world and the universe, in their immensity and minutiæ, the material and the fire of his comprehensive muse ;-and then clothed his ideas and imaginations in glowing, ardent words, which constitute the real, undisputed merit of his poetry.
In the year 1839, or thereabouts, when suffering and oppression had evoked from the gloomy abyss of human passions the spirit of resistance and rebellion, it could not but be gratifying to the feelings of the CornLaw Rhymer to know, that when the people of Sheffield, -goaded almost to madness by insult and suffering,--assembled in their thousands, they selected some of the energetic effusions of his muse to sing on a Sunday