Page images

payments should be within the means of all working men-by being proportioned to the average earnings of workmen in each locality. Such societies, I have pleasure in knowing, are already formed in several districts of London, and in some of the populous towns in the provinces. I care nothing about their names, whether 'Mechanics' Institutes,' (though there are few of these free of restrictions,) 'Working Man's Institutes,' 'Mutual Improvement Societies,' or 'Temperance Associations.' The difference of their names need be no hinderance to their joining in a general PROGRESS UNION. Nor need any new, or general name, be imposed on such new local societies as may hereafter be formed, unless by general consent.

2. Such societies should call together their members, in order to learn their minds respecting the advisableness of joining such a union. If their consent were obtained, it might be signified in this journal; and, when the idea was sufficiently ripened, a Conference of Delegates should be held, to determine upon rules and the general operations of the Union. Concerning the machinery and purposes of such a Union, I may be permitted to give my notions, a little more at large.

1. The life of the Union would consist in a body of Lecturers-selected for their intelligence, moral character, and sincere devotion to their work -labouring for a given time in one neighbourhood, and then removing to another, according to a matured plan.

2. So fast as the list of localities augmented, new districts should be formed-until, in the course of time, a network of communication (similar to the Wesleyan 'Circuits') should be spread over the country.

3. The stations and movements of the body of Lecturers should be fixed and regulated by a Conference of Delegates, meeting annually (or oftener in the outset) while the affairs of the Union, in the interim, might be managed by a Board, or Council, appointed by the Conference; but in this Board there should be no stated President, the Board being left to elect its own chairman at each of its meetings, or for such period as it judged fit. A General Secretary, of course, would be necessary; and as the Union grew, and it became needful for him to devote the whole of his time to the business of his office, he would have to be properly remunerated.

4. The Union when formed should have a missionary spirit. The effort should be made to form Societies in every possible direction-without waiting, at all times, for formal invitations into a locality.

5. To raise the intellectual and moral condition of the whole community should be the first professed object of the Union: its Lecturers would, therefore, be required to select (according to their ability) subjects in history, biography, science, politics, social economy, and general literature, for their themes, and to endeavour to do all in their power towards enlightening, refining, and elevating their audiences; while both in example and precept the teacher should recommend the highest morality of life.

6. The great indubitable right of every human being, of sane mind, and arrived at the years of maturity, to share equally in the choice of representatives by whom laws are made and mankind governed-should invariably be asserted by the Lecturers of the Union.

7. The equally indubitable right of every man and woman to live happily by their useful labour, whether of hand or brain,-should be as invariably


[ocr errors]

8. The wickedness and injustice of persecution for opinion, the evil of taxes on knowledge, the turpitude of war, the folly and wrong of capital punishments, and all other excessive penal laws, the absurdity and in

justice of privilege and titles,-the claim of the unemployed to the waste lands, the necessity of financial reforms, of sanitary improvements,the promotion of temperance, in brief, the advocacy of all political and social ameliorations, should claim the energy of the PROGRESS UNION, and of its Lecturers.

It may be objected that such a scheme is too unwieldy; and that societies for distinct reforms are more likely to accomplish their objects. I can only reply, that many societies already exist which blend several objects in their avowed purpose; and, so far as I am able to judge from a not very limited observation of my own order, it is their prevailing wish to see societies formed which shall no longer be narrowed to one object, or straitened by prejudices in the mode of working for the accomplishment of all that pertains to progress. At the same time, be it observed, that such a Union as I am advocating would be forbidden, by the very principles on which it was founded, to disturb or molest any other association having for its object the accomplishment of any useful reform: on the contrary, it would be bound to assist their efforts.

I leave these thoughts to your consideration,-making the appeal especially to you, because, as I have often repeated, I am convinced that with you it rests, by your union and intelligent energy, to make your country free and happy; and that no privileged power in existence can withstand your efforts, if they be put forth wisely and determinedly. An enterprize of this character is not a plaything for a day, or for a year. It would be the institution of a new order of things: it would eventually set aside every order of men who largely absorb the fruits of your industry under the guise of authorised teachers; and give rise to the true priesthood for humanity. Not only the mature in years, but children-the men of a further future-might partake of its benefits; for better schools for the young might also grow out of such a Union, if government could not be impelled to furnish the means for a good secular education that should be truly national.

So far as my strength will allow, I am ready to assist in the formation of a Progress Union. If there be any accepted Teacher of the People, willing to give me the hand of a brother, and to aid in carrying out such a design, let him say so. If there be any society already formed, or any number of young men ready to unite and form a society,-earnestly willing, likewise, to join such a Union, let them communicate their resolve. I may have spoken too soon; if so, nothing effective will grow out of these hints. But as small beginnings by no means argue eventual failure, I shall not be discouraged, if, at first, but a faint response be the answer.



MY DEAR SIR,-I learn, from various sources, your intention of starting with the New Year a journal devoted to the instruction and elevation of your own order—the veritable working men of England. It occurs to me that this is a favourable time for offering a few remarks on the "Eight Letters to the Young Men of the Working Classes," written by you, and published originally in the Plain Speaker.

I have profited by the "perusal" of these letters: they are helps to the anxious and enquiring mind; and containing, as they do, the processes by which you

[ocr errors]


acquired knowledge, they must afford valuable hints to your younger and less experienced brethren. 'Read and think," you say: "that is the whole secret." You are right: no improvement can be made without labour. "There is no royal road to knowledge.' It is well for us all that it should be so. Thinking is natural to man, and reading necessary, to afford to him valuable materials for thought. It is an exercise of the understanding that makes reading valuable: to eat heartily and to have imperfect digestive organs, if possible, can neither be a profitable nor pleasant use of man's bodily functions; and to read much without studiously thinking on what we do read, will yield but little fruit worth either having or keeping. It is reflection which teaches man his weakness, that he may one day know his strength; and which gives him the ability to discriminate that he may appreciate; to sow, that he may reap; and enables him to feel his worth, - dignity, and independence, as man.

It is above all necessary that our workmen should become thinkers, for it is clear that force, fraud, and gold cannot for ever rule. The past fifty years of our country's history, unfold a great era of industrial enterprize: the shadows of Arkwright, Hargreaves, and Watt, are every where manifest. The next fifty years must unfold a universal intellectual development, proportioned to the industrial wealth of our country or all may run to wreck, riot, and anarchy. Nothing short of universal thought can save us: plug-plots, stack-burnings, and hunger mobs, will do nothing towards what is really wanted. Burke defined laws to be an application of man's means to man's wants.' I like the definition much; we have not yet got an application of means to wants. And how are we to get it, except by increased thinkings and increased knowings? The rich cannot save the people the ignorant, of whatever faith, creed, or party, cannot save the people: the people must save themselves. On riches, let me quote a sentence from Bacon's Essays:


I cannot call riches better than the baggage of virtue; for as the baggage is to an army, so is riches to virtue; it cannot be spared nor left behind, but it hindereth the march; yea, and the care of it sometimes loseth or disturbeth the victory. Of great riches there is no real use, except it be in the distribution; the rest is but conceit, so saith Solomon; 'Where much is, there are many to consume it; and what hath the owner but the sight of it with his eyes?' The personal fruition in any man cannot reach to feel great riches: there is a custody of them, or a power of dole and donation of them, or a fame of them, but no solid use to the owner." How can we amend the distribution but by increased knowledge? Bacon saith in another part :—


The same

Neither is money the sinews of war (as it is timidly said), where the sinews of men's arms in base and effeminate people are failing; for Solon said well to Croesus, (when in ostentation he showed him his gold)," Sir, if any one hath better iron than you, he will be master of all this gold." It would be well that the statesmen and merchants of our country would read these sentences; they would then discover how they should live, and how they should legislate. And if they understood their full meaning earnestly, we should have less talk and more work, in the great houses of legislature, better parliaments and less need of them. I have only to add, "knowledge is power," and whoever gains the knowledge most efficiently, and uses it the best, will in the end prove to be the most useful and the most powerful among the sons of man. Courage, then countrymen : get knowledge, and "above all get understanding."

In Letter Fifth, addressed chiefly to the youthful instructors of the people, you say, "The people want more of these relations of what you have read: it is the teaching from fact which is most needed. If the people are to be trained to read, you must tell them what there is in books, declamation has too long constituted the stock in trade of public speakers, and that is the cause why the people have profited so little by it.' In my humble judgment, no portion of these eight letters, taken by itself, is of more practical utility than these sentences. It would be a work worthy of the labour of a lifetime to familiarize the minds of even a portion of the working classes, with the lives and writings of the best men and wisest authors of all ages.

[ocr errors]

Many men of middle age, whose early education has been neglected, have still a craving for knowledge: they have not read history, but desire to know it: they have heard the names of the sages and heroes of the past, and are ever ready to listen to what may be said of them. Such men may be attracted and instructed by lectures on history and biography. And the examples of the great and good

are sure to elevate the minds of the more youthful portion of an audience, and arouse them to a sense of the value of a life well spent. This virtuous emulation for present usefulness, is above all necessary in a country like ours, in which there are often strong symptoms of all national virtue and devout religion running into a cash payment.


The wise and eloquent W. J. Fox, said, in an addresss lately delivered in Lancashire, The country is badly educated, both as to the amount and quality of the instruction. It is difficult so say which is the worst. There are half a million of children of teachable age that have no tuition whatever-not even the limited instruction of the Sunday-school. It has been calculated that only one out of thirty has a fair opportunity of learning to read, and only one out of forty of learning to write; and when they are taught, the eharacter of the instruction is too often perverted by the school being made only a recruiting shop for the church or chapel." To the reflective mind the fact stated by Mr. Fox is indeed a sad one; the more sad when we consider the connection between ignorance and crime, as stated on the same occasion. What an anomaly that, as a nation, we should think it necessary to minimize education and maximize crime! But if only one in thirty have the chance of learning to read and write, after all our recent bustle about national education and voluntary education-how deplorable must have been the state of our country thirty years ago! How much such a fact has a tendency to make one forgiving towards the brutalized and unfortunate members of society! That fact alone must make a high-minded and humane judge pause before he sentences juvenile or ignorant adult criminals to severe bodily punishment. Still all is not lost; there is a virtuous leaning in this much reviled human nature, that cannot always be smothered, though often misdirected. We require an adult as well as an infant education; we must not let the unfurrowed field, that now grows thistles and briars, be sown with hemlock and poisonous herbs. Neither must we allow the wastes to remain for ever uncultivated.

Your Letters to Young Men, are mainly valuable as an auxiliary to adult education there are many passages in them that tempt quotation and remark; but space forbids. I hope you will open the general question of an advanced and practical education for the young men in the pages of your journal. Nor the education of the church or chapel; but an education fitted for healthy and independent thinkers: such an education will tend to ensure a full development of mental treasures; and the gathering up of the rich and varied stores of wisdom and thought, that lay scattered by the hand of Genius over every age and every clime. I am, dear sir, Yours faithfully,

Mr. Thomas Cooper.


Letters to Lords Spiritual.

To the Right Reverend, the Lord Harry of Exeter.

MY DEAR BISHOP,-A happy new year to you-a year to your own heart-a good stirring year of church strife and mischief! You must have lamented the discontinuance of my little epistles in the Plain Speaker; and it has grieved me, in no small degree, I assure you, that our affectionate correspondence should be interrupted.

Ah, my dear bishop, there is nobody like you. You never change. You are always, either doing or being done. This fellow Gorham is goring you still! What of that? Whether he loses or wins his case before the Privy Council, it will waken up glorious sport for you! If there be a majority

of heretics there stupid enough to decide against you, it will only make you more resolute; for like every man of true mettle, you are always more desperate, when resisted. And if they confirm Fust's judgment, and declare you are right, my stars! what a whip hand it will give you over that sleepy Sumner of Canterbury!

Receive the gratitude of our order, dear bishop! It is so sweetly edifying to us, to see you evermore earnestly contending for the faith.' Of course, we see that you only are right in this Gorham case. An infant, which does not know right from wrong, nor its right hand from its left, is most assuredly made regenerate, by a few drops of water being sprinkled in its face at the church font. It was the heir of hell before; but just then it becomes the heir of heaven. How shocking, that an Archbishop of Canterbury should doubt this! Alas, for the orthodoxy of the church, if it were left to him to fix it, and you were no longer alive!

Your brother of London, too, how it must grieve your pious heart to hear of his carnal philosophizings. Who could have expected that he would have talked such very common sense about the causes of the cholera? Why he talked no more spiritually than those earthly scavengers, the Sanitary Commissioners! It must have been a deep source of consolation to you, however, to learn that there was one man after your own heart, even in Blomfield's own diocese. I mean, the Islington clergyman, who declared to us the real cause of the cholera: namely the omission from the new florin, or two shilling piece, of "By the Grace of God," after the Queen's name. Shall I tell you, my dear bishop, how it is whispered in town that you gave the Islington clergyman the hint? I don't expect you to tell whether it was so; but I, for one, have my thoughts. In a word, my dear old fellow, I hold that there is but one head in the whole of our church sagacious enough to make such a discovery, and that head wears a nightcap in the palace at Exeter.


Talking of whispers: they say, too, that you are about to take for chaplain, the truly enlightened and deeply pious clergyman who recently imitated Bonner, and burned the hand of the jade who had been sentenced to death, in order to bring her to repentance. If the report be premature, I can only say, my dear bishop, it is the decided opinion of all who love you that you ought to take this precious divine under your peculiar patronage. Really, you should have especial care of such a rare gem of orthodoxy in this age of heretic counterfeits. He might become to us a second Philpotts-if you, to our affliction, should be removed to your final reward.

Just another word, and I have done. There is another rumour, not very agreeable to your friends. The clergyman who was disgraced in a law court for nem. con. or pro. con. or some other con.,' as the man calls it in the play-You did not pull his gown over his ears soon enough; but, as evil-minded people say evinced a disposition to protect him. But never mind these ill-natured remarks. Of course, you were right. You ought, like a true and gentle-hearted shepherd, to be tender in trifling cases. And what a trifle it is for a clergyman to be living in open adultery, compared with the sin of this Gorham-a fellow who denies your doctrine of baptism;—or that other fellow, Shore, who had the assurance to preach in a place you had not consecrated!

I am, my beloved bishop,

Yours ever lovingly,


« PreviousContinue »