THE ENGLISH REPUBLIC.
In 1848 there was published a periodical called The Republican,
appearing monthly, devised for advocating the radical reforms necessary
for the practical recognition of the Rights of Man. In this Mr.
Linton wrote a number of articles, and his contributions are more numerous
than any of the others appearing above the names of the contributors.
The following are the subjects treated by Mr. Linton and signed: Italy
and Her Princes, The Swiss Question, The Icarian Communists of France The
Policy of Europe, Ireland and Repeal, The French Republic, England's
Instant Ditty, Universal Suffrage, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, The
Democratic Principle of the People's Charter. He also
contributed a number of poems with his nom de plume "Spartacus"
attached. In the article entitled Universal Suffrage are
passages which were afterwards introduced into his articles on the same
subject in The English Republic.
Mr. Linton's first wife was a sister of Thomas Wade, poet and
journalist, by whom he appears to have been considerably influenced during
his earlier years.
In an article dealing mainly with Mr. Linton's work as an
engraver in The English Illustrated Magazine for April, 1891,
issued as the present volume was passing through the press, Mr. F. G.
Kitten, the author, refers his readers to a book entitled, "Our American
Cousins," by Mr. W. E. Adams, the present editor of The Newcastle
Chronicle, who was one of those who answered to Mr. Linton's call in
The Red Republican, and who also went to Brantwood in 1854 "to help
in the mechanical portion of the publication of The English Republic."
Mr. Adams adds some interesting reminiscences of Mr. Linton.
It will be observed in the course of these essays that events
which at the present day have become matters of history are referred to;
events that occurred between forty and fifty years ago, which were
contemporary at the time the essays were written. All such allusions
which will be readily understood by the student of 19th century history I
have allowed to remain; but others which had but a passing interest, which
were merely topical, I have ventured to delete, or so to alter as to
render the passages understandable without adding profuse notes in
explanation of such references.
Equality—Liberty—Fraternity. Perfectibility—Duty. Association.
Family—City—Country. Work-Property. Credit. Education. Rule of
the Majority—Mutual Sacredness of the Individual and Society.
Individual Duty. God's Law. Grow healthily! Love!
Aspire! Progress! Nations. Summary.
[See note p1.]
Liberty without which all Human Responsibility ends.
Equality without which Liberty is only a deception.
Fraternity without which Liberty and Equality would be means without end.
LIBERTY—Equality—Fraternity. These words are
the battle-cry of the Republican—the formula of his faith, without the
understanding whereof there is no political salvation.
Liberty—Equality—Fraternity—each and all, indissolubly united. Any
attempt to solve the Government or regulations of society, without due
regard to these three terms, must be a failure.
Equality refers to the ground upon which we
would build, rather than to the building; that is to say, equality is a
means, not merely an end.
Liberty may be defined as the unchecked
opportunity of growth; a means also and not an end.
Fraternity is the link which makes free and
equal members constitute humanity: it is the completion of the triple law
of human development.
[See note p2.]
By equality is not meant the equal condition of all men—as
dreamed of by some of the Socialists. Equality as a result like that
would be unjust and unequal. To take an easy example: Two children
are born with different faculties. One child is born with a faculty
or predisposition for painting. Another has no such faculty; his
very organisation is against it (he is perhaps too short-sighted to be a
painter). What would be meant by the word equality applied to these
two children? Must both be painters, or neither? Would this be
equality? Would it be equality to prohibit one from exercising a
power of good or enjoyment naturally possessed by him? To prohibit
only one, recollect! Republican equality is not any such prohibitary
equality as this. The true equality would be to give each child the
space, the material, the culture most fitted to his growth, and support
and improvement: that each might be nurtured and educated to the utmost
capability of his nature, even though one should grow to be far greater
than the other. Or again. Two children will not grow to the
same height; must therefore the taller-growing be stunted? Two men
have not the same appetite; one needs for health and sustenance twice as
much meat as is needed by the other; must one starve while the other
fattens to apoplexy; and because their daily rations are the same weight
shall that be called equality? The equality we desire is at the
starting point, and to keep the course, not to check the career of the
fleetest, and make all reach the goal at once or not at all.
This is the equality which the Suffrage alone can give us.
It is for this that we require the Suffrage as the public recognition and
legal guarantee of our equality. For we cannot believe that we shall
be treated equally (which means justly) by anyone who would hesitate to
acknowledge and assure our equality. And this, spite of all that may
be said in denial of rights, is the equality of birthright, the sense in
which all men are born equal, and so should live equal. The liberal
utilitarian denies that I have any right, even to my own life, to myself;
and so they refuse the Suffrage—the public recognition and public means of
using that right. But if I have no right to my own life, who has?
Some other man or men? Surely such a theory is too preposterous.
Or is it the State alone in which all rights are vested? But what is
the State? Am I a part of it? If not, what right can a
foreign State have in me? If I am a part of it, only passive,
what right have any to kidnap me and make me a passive part, a tool, a
slave, of some collection of my fellow-men, calling themselves a State?
If I am recognised as an active part of the State, that is conceding me
the Suffrage, the claim to stand upon equal ground before the law, that
the law made by all may care for all, may care that all are treated
equally: that is to say, that the nature of each shall have full room for
development, the life of none be hindered or cleared away to foster or
make room for the wantonness of another. Without this equality,
liberty and fraternity is only a deception.
For the liberty we want is for the growth of all.
Liberty, except upon the ground of equality, would be only the liberty of
the stronger, the liberty which is not regulated, every man's hand against
every man, and the weakest going to the wall. We want not this
liberty, but that diviner liberty which must be regulated by law,
guaranteed upon the ground of human equality—the liberty which is
unchecked opportunity of growth even for the least and the weakest.
The least, whose growth is stunted by the overshadowing of another, is a
victim; there is liberty there, for one, but not equality and
liberty for both. The weakest, whose growth must take the bent of
another's stronger will, is a slave; there is liberty there too for the
stronger, but not equal liberty for both.
And as liberty falls without equality, so also equality falls
without liberty. There may be equality under a despot, or in a
well-ordered community without liberty, but how then shall there be
various growth, free growth, and progress? We want equal liberty for
all; because we want the various growth of all for the collective progress
of Humanity. Fraternity is the organisation of this equal liberty,
the harmonisation of this various growth. We do not believe that any
man lives only for himself; or that a man's life is bounded by his family,
or his neighbours, or his parish, or his country. Family, parish or
city, country—these are but so many spheres in which human life is
perfected, in which it lives, from which it draws its growth; to which it
therefore owes the product of its growth. Humanity we believe to be
one whole which ought to be harmonised together, continually reciprocating
all the advantages which commerce or science (physical or mental) can
procure, which ought to be organised so that a physical victory once
gained by a part of the race should be a triumph for the whole, so that a
moral gain achieved by an individual should be a possession for the
whole—a mutual assurance and co-partnership by means of which the whole
world should uphold the weakest, through which the universal progress
should step steadily on from aspiration to acquirement, higher and ever
higher. This is our definition of Fraternity.
The organisation of Humanity is, therefore, the problem which
the Republican proposes to himself. This is the beginning of his
formula—Equality, Liberty, Fraternity. Equality of right, freedom of
growth, organisation of duty—these for the means, and the progress of
Humanity for end.
The progressive development of human faculties and
forces in the direction of the moral law—
We cannot be said to believe in Humanity, unless we believe
in its progressive development. Deny progress and development, and
Humanity is but an idle word. It would mean only the men and women
of the present generation, to whom anyone might dispute his owning any
duty, if he chose to live secluded and severed from them, helping and
hurting none, refusing to receive or give, to have any dealings, to make
any bargains with them. For, cut off the past and the future, and
one may well consider all connection with mankind as a matter of bargain,
and be not in any wise his "brother's keeper," but as careless of his next
neighbour as one at the Antipodes.
But Humanity means the whole, the totality of human kind ;
not only the men and women of this "present generation," but of all ages,
past, present, and to come. You cannot confine yourself to the
present generation. What, indeed, is the "present generation," when
every day adds and takes away a thousand lives in this little corner of
Britain alone? Every minute how many of the "present generation"
becoming numbered with the past—every minute the future generation coming
Here is the basis of duty towards Humanity, the duty
which is imposed upon us as a moral law, a law of God—the duty which is
the relation of a part to the whole. As well might the atoms of a
diamond, or the several parts of a flower, deny their position with
relation to the perfect diamond or the flower, as man deny his position as
part of Humanity, disclaiming the duties which such position entails,
refusing the service to which he is bound, with the poor current excuse,
"that it is not his place" to perform such dutiful service. The
common expression intimates the common duty. It is man's place to serve
Humanity: the place of the part in subservience to the whole.
What shall he serve except this progressive development?
What is the meaning of all history, if it is not this?—that the struggles
and sacrifices of one generation are made for another; that the triumphs
of the past are inherited by the future; that a gain in any corner of the
world spreads, slowly or rapidly, over the whole globe; and that to-day
stores all the harvest of the former ages not for its own consuming but
for transmission to the future—borrowing the sustenance and support for
its own brief journey, and repaying with the interest of whatever its own
exertions can accumulate. To-day is but the steward, who hands the
wealth of the Past to the real heir, the Future. Let us mount never
so high over the piled-up treasure of the Past, the summit of our
achievement will be only a vantage ground, from which the Future shall
start in quest of loftier worth.
How shall one isolate himself from the future or from the
past? How from the future, when not a deed he may do, nor a word he
may utter, nor a thought that stirs his innermost soul, but is as the
first touch upon the electric wire, repeating its consequences to
countless ages? How from the past? Take any Englishman among
us; his sect, his nature and organisation, his very confirmation, the
result of ages. Is he nothing changed, in no way advanced, from the
first savage of the world? Have not Romans, Saxons, Danes, Normans,
contributed to form him such as he is? Nor only Romans, Saxons,
Danes, and Normans, but also all who had previously helped to form them.
Is not his very physical structure, a growth, and combination, fed and
collected from nearly every portion of the world? Is not his mind
richer for the thought of all time, his knowledge the sum of the
acquirements of all times? Be he never so poor, is he not a debtor
to the Past? Have not the religions of the past done something for
him? Has not the science of the past done something too? Which
of us taught himself to till the earth? Which of us has discovered
for his own behoof the whole art and mystery of clothing? Which of
us crosses the ocean without aid from those who have gone before?
Which of us is not indebted for some of those high-soaring and holy
thoughts, which light even the darkest hearts, and brighten even the
dullest eyes, to the buried poets and prophets of Humanity? In
infancy, youth, sickness, accident, and age, we depend upon the services
of others: in vigorous manhood we are no more independent, though
sometimes we compel the contribution without which we should scarcely
exist. What more argument is needed to prove that man is a part of
Humanity—a debtor to Humanity; that the part must bear relation to the
whole, that the debtor owes—his duties? Let the honest man pay his
debt! This is the moral law imposed upon us; and the fulfilment of
it consists in aiding to our uttermost by thought, and word, and act, "the
progressive development of human faculties and forces."
[See note p6]
The only regular means which can attain to the end set
How else? If men would navigate a ship they associate.
If they would work a mine, or reclaim a waste land, they associate.
If they would build a town they associate. If they would make war
for conquest or in self-defence, still they must associate. The
Laissez faire system can only suit those who have no recognition of
Humanity as a whole, nor the knowledge of any relation between men, except
buyers and sellers whose sole business is personal gain. Yet even in
the market there is association, though it be only of some few over-crafty
men, to monopolise, to steal an exaggerated price. If buying and
selling be the end of society, the purpose and religion of life, and no
matter how many of God's creatures are naked, starved, stunted or trodden
into the dust, then association may be of little consequence. But
the human world has higher destinies than this. Yet the very wolves
hunt in packs. The old fable of the bundle of sticks retains its
significance; woe to the disunited; strength only to the combined.
Government is the association of forces; Religion,
association for the development of the moral law; Education, the
association of the intellect and the application of the moral law; Social
Economy, the association of labour; the Nation, the association of all the
divers faculties of man in their natural and peculiar spheres; and
Humanity, the association of nations.
But the association we require is not a compulsory
association. That was the way they built the pyramids; that has ever
been the node in which tyrants have used the masses—their slaves. We
would not even have the finest compulsory association, though it might be
regulated by the patriarchs; not the most admirable community of heaven,
content so long as every one can take what he decrees his just share out
of the common storehouse.
Not chance association either. We would not trust to
the accidental partnerships of men combined for some special end: an East
India Company, or a class government, associating to rob the world.
We need an association bound together by faith and identity
of Purpose, rather than so weak a tie as that of "interest "—an
association that shall be expansive, with power of growth, not
stationary—an association in which the tyranny of a centre shall be
impossible, in which the fullest growth and widest range of the individual
shall be held compatible with the most devoted service to the Republic—yet
an association kept together, not only by the careful protection of
individual rights, but rather by the harmonious rendering and ordering of
social duties, every member of the State intent upon building up the glory
and advancing the progress of the whole, even as he would build an altar
to the Eternal or advance his own progress progress towards the perfection
of the Most Perfect.
We need the organised association of the People; the
universality of the citizen, free and equal in the several spheres of
family, city and country; and the association of countries. And we
need this in order to develop, to economise, and to direct all the
faculties and forces of Humanity; to make the whole one strong life,
healthily educated, maturely wise, self-sustained, and self-collected,
surely aimed. Association would leave no powers unused, no efforts
undirected. Without association men either bury themselves in
miserable egotisms, or, but too often, waste valuable energies in
foolish—albeit generous—endeavours to serve their race. Without
association, the brotherhood of Humanity would he an "unrealisable
programme," and the progression of Humanity a never-accomplished dream.
So many progressive spheres in which man ought to
successively grow in the knowledge and practice of Liberty, Equality,
Fraternity, and Association—
The first sphere and association is the Family—the first step
out of self, the first phase in the practical education of the mature
The child lives for itself: is (or should be) employed, not
for Humanity, but for itself. The natural course of a child's life
is the perception, the search, and the gathering of the good for Humanity.
To this end parents and friends wait upon it, and administer to it,
requiring no return. Hope sings to it his sweetest songs, furling his vast
wings, and walking, as if he were an earthly playmate, with the
inexperienced young one. All great and joyful influences are but its
playthings, the world its football, and delight its proper food. For
the child's business is not to do, nor to suffer (truly, it must both do
and suffer, but that is not its business), but to be fostered, and so
enabled to grow to its full strength and stature. Childhood over, the
world claims the fresh worker, God calls His martyr. Self-perfected,
the sacrifice of self (that is to say—service) is next. The child
enjoys; the adult loves. For enjoyment is neither the object nor the
end of love. Ask of any man who has truly loved—or rather ash of any
woman who has loved (not merely accepted a husband) whether the passion
meant possession—enjoyment; whether it was not utterly independent of
possession or enjoyment, an adoration rather than a desire; whether it was
not a sublime soaring out of self, the first endeavour to realise a good,
not necessarily to be shared, and rather strengthened than diminished, if
bringing suffering instead of joy. God has given us love to lead us
from the narrowness of self to the divine width and grandeur of the
unselfish spirit of the true worker—the worshipper and realiser of beauty.
The lovers are united, and the two becoming one, in their very union, are
in danger of stepping back to selfishness; but now children preach the
doctrine of sacrifice of duty and service. In these two relations of
life are the types of the present and future, in which is involved the
whole of human duty.
The Beloved—it is the Present, the beautiful Humanity of our
own age, to be loved and laboured for even as one would love and labour
for a mistress. The Child—it is the Future, for which the Present
toils and accumulates, for which it freely gives its restless days and
sleepless nights; for which, if needful, in harness on Liberty's
battle-field, or on that most holy altar kings call the scaffold, it would
cheerfully render up its life. In one's own family are first learned
the lessons of true Republicanism: the equality between the loving, the
equal rights of the young souls whom we call our children, but who are
God's children even as ourselves—not property, but unpossessable human
lives, as important as our own, by whose cradles we kneel to proffer
homage, foreseeing that they shall be greater than ourselves, that we are
but their ministers; the freedom of growth which we see to be so needful
to them, without which the very race deteriorates, and God's promise of
the progression of Humanity through them is made a lie and an
impossibility ; and the fraternal association which is prophesied in the
days of simple childhood, the parents themselves but as elder children in
a blessed hierarchy, reverently looked up to, loved, and freely and gladly
obeyed, not merely because they are called parents, but because they are
felt to be the wisest and best.
Equality, Liberty, and Brotherly Association must have their
first seeds planted in the Family. Whoever would destroy this would
destroy the very nursery of Republican virtue.
But the Family is only the nursery. We may not bound
our sympathies within the walls of home. Though we need not our
fellows' help, yet they need us. In the continual battle of life not
one soldier can be spared : in the world's work the labourers are ever few
(spite of Malthus and the like) compared with the harvest that awaits
them. Is Humanity to be served only by those who have no family?
Can Society afford that they who have had the best opportunities of
learning the worth of Equality, Liberty, and Fraternity, shall be excused
from teaching what they have learned by the example of an extended
practice? But our special question here is not so much the duty of
the individual to Humanity, as the spheres in which that duty can most
advantageously be fulfilled.
We say that the first sphere, or inner circle, is the Family;
the next the City—the village, parish, or commune; and the Country next.
The Family is the simplest method of association, the most
natural, the easiest, and the most binding. We do not believe it
could be loosened without violating the best instincts of our nature,
without a loss of influence for good which no other method of association
could replace. The association of locality and common occupation we
hold to be also worth preserving. A fishing community, a shipping
community, a manufacturing community, an agricultural community, either of
these will naturally grow up on the spot where its work may best be done.
The peculiar habits of their lives impress a peculiarity of character.
That and the identity of occupation beget a spirit of companionship, and
the brotherly feeling has a wider extension through that growth of natural
circumstances than from any arbitrary arrangement for mere economical
purposes. We believe in the worth of such local attachments, of such
local schools, in whose narrow precincts men may first learn something of
the fervour, the devotedness, the intense passion of patriotism. Let
the hamlet or the township be a rallying point, a larger home, and
a pride to its inhabitants; let them toil for the increase of its
importance and its renown, jealous of it as a child of the honour of its
family. Let the Family be the nursery of Republican virtue, the
Village—or the City—the first public school for the Republican life.
Each is the Republic in miniature, complete in itself. Complete, but
not incapable of expansion. As each Individual is but a part of the
Family, so each Family is but a member of a Township, Parish, or Commune,
is but a member of the Country. There, on the broad scale, the value
of local sympathies, the force of similarity of nature, habit, and idea,
are more plainly discernible: and little need be said to prove their
importance. History and tradition, habits of thought, modes of life,
identity of aims—all these stamp the men of one country, as better fitted
to work together than to work with the men of another country; all these
indicate the essential differences in human character, which help to
preserve variety, necessary for the improvement of the race.
Language itself, which is but the outward manifestation of character, is
not so different as the character beneath. These are the spheres of
human work, not necessarily of disunion. Because the men of one
craft labour in one workshop, and those of another craft in another, their
different work being so best performed, is that any reason why they should
be at variance, or any hindrance to their meeting on any common ground to
do together that which requires their combined efforts, or that for which
one has no more special aptitude than the other? Need Italy and
England be less close in the brotherhood of nations because each shall be
distinct as a nation, each having its special task to accomplish in the
world's work, each having something to do which can be better done by each
in its own sphere than through any cosmopolitan fusion or confusion of the
two? We believe that Family, City, and Country, have not been
arbitrarily-established spheres of human activity; but that they are the
natural, the God-appointed modes of human organisation, which through
Republican institutions shall be harmonised together. And we believe
this none the less though, under patriarchal despotism, the Family has
been abused, children treated as property, as if they were for the parents
and the parents not for them; though in the hard and foolish competition
of an untaught and unorganised individualism, the City has been walled up,
town contending against town, even to the destruction of a common
nationality. In the Republic it shall be otherwise. The nation
of many families shall be as a brother in the great family of the world,
as a loyal township in the human commonwealth.
[See note p.13]
The holiness of work, its inviolability, and the
property which proceeds from it as its sign and fruit—
The holiness of work, its inviolability.
We mean that, as work is a social duty, everyone has a right to the means
of fulfilling it, a right to the instruments and opportunities of labour;
that no one has the right of hindering another from work.
And the property which proceeds from it. That is
to say, we do not believe that the institution of private property is
inevitably a nuisance. Our complaint is not that there is too much
individual property, but that there is too little; not that the few have,
but that the many have not. Property, wherever it is the real result of
work—"its sign and its fruit"—we deem inviolable, sacred as individual
On a piece of wild land, unclaimed by any, I build a log hut;
I clear a portion of the ground; I plant potatoes or sow wheat, with my
own hands labouring unaided. The wheat and potatoes there grown are
just sufficient to feed me and my family. They are my property.
They (not the land) are my work, a growth which is the result, the
sign and fruit of my toil. If the title is not absolutely mine, at
least none other can show so good a title. I have created at least
the overplus of wheat and potatoes that remains after subtracting an
amount of seed equal to that sown (if there is any question how I came by
that). I, only I, have the right to my own creation.
I have a rose-tree, one I budded on a wild stock. I have
cared for it, tended it, nursed it through severe winters. It is
mine. What right have you to it? Will the State intervene and
appoint what is mine and what is thine? Give me
perhaps some other rose-tree and you this. It can only do so
ignorantly. The State knows nothing of the value of my rose—its
peculiar value to me. Its flowers have been gathered for my sick
children; the Beloved has shed her last smile upon its bloom. It is
a sacred thing to me. To all the world else it is only a common
rose-bush. How can the world's title to it equal mine?
I have a dog which I have reared from a puppy. He knows
me, loves me. He might be useful to others: he would be to none what
he is to me; none can be to him what I have been and am. Have not I
the best title to him?
If any superior taste and ingenuity—perhaps working extra
hours—can, without taking from others, adorn the walls of my house,
improve its furniture, and make my home a palace in comparison with my
neighbours—is there any reason why he should share with me, take my
pictures, or my sofas into his rooms—take even one of them? Or
rather, why should I be deprived of these enjoyments of my own creation
until others, either through their own labour or mine, could acquire the
All these things fairly produced by me are mine; they are as
it were an atmosphere of my own with which I have surrounded myself, a
radiance from my own light of life, an emanation from myself. No
Government, State, or Commonweal, has any right here, to trench upon my
personal, private, individual right, to rob me for even the world's
But suppose I produce more than sufficient, while others
need? Has the State no right then? No, it has not. Let
it try its right! I unaided by it produced. It has power, and
it will confiscate. What follows? This I will not again be
fool enough to produce for confiscation. I care nothing for your
"tyrant's plea" of necessity for the general good. I will not
produce, if I cannot be secure in my possession. Some one says—"But
you have told us of a duty towards Humanity." That is true too.
But here we have been talking of the right to take, not of the duty to
give. I acknowledge the duty. I esteem the blessedness of
being able to give; esteem it too much to bear patiently the being robbed
of it. I would be of my own free-will the dutiful servant of
Humanity. I will not be its slave. Or am I dull, brutish,
selfish, caring only to have, to be a "rich man," not anxious to give my
substance to those who need? Then educate me; enlighten me; better
me by precept and example; if I mend not, point at me as a monster: but
dare not to cross my threshold, to touch the veriest trifle that I have
honourably earned or obtained, to profane my household gods, to violate my
individual right, which stands sovereignly, however savagely defying the
Property is that which is a man's own, what he may properly
own, that which is justly his—his work, or his work's worth or purchase,
or a free gift from another, whose it fairly was.
Work is the doing of worth—something of value made, created,
or produced, or help toward that. Stealing is not work.
Swindling is a shabbier sort of stealing. Over-reaching is
Since property is definable as the sign and fruit of work,
clearly that which is not the sign and fruit of work is not property.
A pedlar takes eyeless needles to a tribe of ignorant savages and "sells
them," bartering his needles for things of worth. He produces the
worth, but not fairly. The things of worth are not fairly his.
They are not legitimate property. He has stolen them. The
profit of a swindling trade is not property. Is it not swindling
when a young child is taken in at a factory, and receives—in exchange for
childhood's beauty, youth's hope, manhood's glorious strength, and the
calm sunset of a well-aged life—some paltry shillings a week? Nay,
we will not wrong you, trader! That is not all you give him.
You also give him ignorance and vice, and suffering, and emaciation, a
crippled beggardly life and a miserable death, in exchange for the health
and joy of which God had made him capable. Why, man! selling eyeless
needles to savages is Christian honesty compared with that. And one
cannot but repeat that we dare not so abuse language as to call the profit
of a swindling trade your property. It is stolen. A thief is
not a proprietor. The word cannot be synonymous. Where is the
title-deed showing work done and value created? Work done?
The paving of your palace-floors with children's faces. The whole
army of sweaters—and some who think themselves honester—have no right to a
penny-worth of their dishonest gains. If the State should confiscate
their fortunes and distribute them among distressed needle-women and the
like, I, for my part, should think no wrong done, but be thankful for so
much retributive justice. When the usurer (we call him capitalist
now) takes advantage of his fellow's need to over-reach the common ground
of human brotherhood upon which they originally stood, and to steal a
profit out of that need—this is not work, or worth doing, toil he
ever so toilsomely. His profit is not his property. Or when a
"landlord" claims possession of God's earth—I do not say of certain
produce, but absolute possession of the land itself—because his ancestor
of by-gone times stole that land, or because he bought it of some
degenerate thief, well-knowing it to be stolen—can we allow that to be
property, properly his? God's earth and ocean, God's mountains,
plains, sea and rivers, are not property—no more than His sky. They
are His work, not man's. Let the fisherman make a property of the
fish he catches. "Why? he does not create them." Yet he does
in some sense produce them. Their worth to man is nothing in the
sea. It is their being caught, which is the result of his work, that
gives them value. The possession of them is the sign of that work.
Let the husbandman till the ground and what he produces shall be his.
That produce is the fruit of his toil. But the earth is not his.
Would I "parcel the land out among all the dwellers upon earth?" No,
certainly. For the fisher cares not for his proportion;—neither does
the merchant who brings goods from the far land, giving honest toil in
their bringing, and justly possessing them as the sign and fruit thereof.
Let who will occupy the land, but recollect that the merchants' share is
there also. It is a common property which cannot be parcelled out:
because every minute a new co-inheritor is born, and every birth would
necessitate a new division. But I see no reason, therefore, why any
should not hold any amount of land (only limited by the needs of others)
in undisturbed and perpetual tenure, paying to the State a rent for the
same. What has the State to do with appointing to each landholder
his limits assigning to him his locality? Here again would be an
interference with individual right. It might give me my acres in the
plain, and my brother his upon the mountain side; and he loves the level
ground, while to me flood and fell are dear, and I dislike the monotony of
the plain. Or why should the State refuse land to individuals, and
compel it to be held in common? All these things may best adjust
themselves: the business of Government not being to intermeddle with
individual right, but to have that respected, and to maintain order,
caring that none encroach upon the right of others, and that all are
organised harmoniously together. The one is for the prevention of
evil, the other the preparation for good; the one involves the question of
property and credit, the other the question of education.
Of property we have already spoken. The duty of
Government here may be thus summed up. It has to see that every one
holds inviolate his right to enjoy or to bestow the fruits of his own
honest labour; and also that none shall, by endeavouring to appropriate
common property, prevent another from producing to the utmost of his
capacity. Its business is to care that common property shall never
be appropriated by individuals, nor private property be meddled with by
The questions of credit and education are the necessary
concomitants of this.
The duty of Society to furnish the element of
material work by credit, of intellectual and moral work by education—
The right to one's share, or one's share's worth, in the
common heritage—the land, and the right to the produce of one's own honest
toil: if the State guarantees these, it is enough. For what do these
The worth of one's share in the land is not an exact
numerical proportion of all that is done in or on that land, nor yet a
certain sum of money or amount of material wealth apportioned to each in
exchange for giving up the land; but simply one's share in the rental of
the land, which, accruing to the State treasury, is a fund for common
assurance, and for the use of all the members of the State.
For the inviolability of work, the sacredness of it and of
property as its fruit, means something more than that we shall have all we
can earn under our present take-who-can system, the system of free trade
in men and other commodities. The inviolability of work implies that
there shall be no artificial hindrances in the way of work. The
right to the produce of our honest toil is a mere cheat, if that toil by
any tyranny, constitutional enactment, or subterfuge, can be hindered from
producing to the utmost of its natural ability, aided by the interest of
the common heritage—the rental of the land. Such a hindrance is the
present tyranny of capital.
Say you give a man free access to the land. What use is
that when he has no money for implements, stock, manure, or seed? when he
has no means of living even to the first harvest? To throw the whole
land open, giving to each man, himself and family, their proportion of
measured value, what use would that be to the millions whose existence
depends upon their having wages next Saturday night? They could sell
it perhaps. Yes, for whatever the capitalist might choose to give
them for it, when he had kept off the purchase till the sellers should be
at starvation point. Something more is evidently wanted to make the
Or say that the State guarantees to every man the produce of
his honest toil. Well, it does that now, if that means only such
produce as the capitalist, who rules the market, will allow him to have.
No mere enactment of that sort could benefit the wage slave. But he
shall have his share of all he earns, says such a law. Shall he not
also be free to sell that share? To give the factory slave his share
of what he has earned—so many bales of cotton—what would it avail him?
Could he take it into market? Or, rather, could he afford to
warehouse it when the market is glutted and none will buy? He must
sell it; for Saturday night sees him starving. And so his master
will have it at the present price—a wage.
Besides there is good in the division of employments, and
only loss of time to accrue from every man being producer and seller.
The inviolability of work implies free access at all times to
the means of work. For this purpose the State must be the
capitalist, the banker, the money-lender.
Look at things as they are. A poor man is out of work.
Illness has come upon him, or his trade is slack. He must needs lie
by. His little savings (if he has any) are exhausted. He his
clothes, his furniture, all he can spare, no, not spare, but realise
anything upon. At last he sells his tools. He recovers; trade
is brisk again. He could find work readily enough, but he has no
tools. How fares he now? While useless private charity helps
him to new tools, he may starve, he and his. The case is common.
So much "Society" does now for its able members.
So many hundred weavers are thrown out of employ by a new
invention. They are unfit for other work. They have no means
of living while they might learn another craft. They may starve.
Nay, not that; Government gives them a poor-house, and grudgingly keeps
"life" in their bodies, caring neither for their well-being, nor for any
interest the State has in them.
They are simply so much refuse of the capitalist, which the
State insists shall be carted away with some show of decency.
Every year in this free Britain how many thousand men wander
about our streets and lanes, wishing for work and finding none, haggardly
wasting, starving, because no private speculator cares to employ them;
starving idly, worthlessly (not even turned to account as manure), not
because they will not work, nor because food is scanty, or work not
wanting doing, but because under our present system there is no getting
work to do, unless it subserves the pleasure or profit of certain monied
individuals; because the State does not protect the sacred right of every
human being to work and to enjoy the fruit thereof.
The rental of the land is the proper capital of the whole
nation. Why should I go to a pawnbroker, a usurer, when my own money
lies in the Treasury? Why should I starve, lacking means while I
learn a new trade, my own failing, when my own is in the Treasury?
Why should so many thousands of us, so well disposed to work, be idle,
famished and unprofitable, while our money lies in the Treasury, with the
use of which we would reclaim waste lands? There are millions of
acres at this present lying uncultivated but reclaimable, as the political
economist knows: better cultivate lands even now reclaimed, and build
houses for the homeless, and improve the hovels where human creatures now
lie waiting for the plague, and weave clothes for the naked, and feed the
hungry, and educate the ignorant!
Good God! what work awaits the doing, and our capital every
day pours into the public Treasury, and there lies (unless, indeed,
thieves take it thence), and we may not help either ourselves or the
helpless, unless we can get our tools from the pawnbroker, and leave to be
made tools of from some private speculator.
It is one business of Government (not the ruffianism or
rascality of parties, which is not Government) to be the nation's banker,
to furnish each individual with the material means, the capital for work,
at all times and under all circumstances; else one's right to property as
the fruit of one's work is a mere mockery.
As the just appropriation of the land would sweep away all
those useless middlemen called landlords (not cultivators of land), so a
sound system of national credit—a mutual assurance of the nation—would rid
us of all those mischievous middlemen called capitalists, who stand now
between the work and the worker (no matter whether the worker be a captain
of industry who has not always capital, or only its honest soldier), not
helping but hindering the one, and so ever robbing, and that but often
murdering the other.
Through what special provisions, or under what guarantees,
Government should exercise this function of supplying capital, is a matter
not to be prescribed by any theorist (though researches of such may
indicate the method); it can be determined only by the nation, whensoever
it may please the people to constitute themselves a nation, and to appoint
[See note p.20]
The land is the common inheritance of man; but
he has yet another heritage—his share in the result of all experience,
research, and achievement, since the beginning of humanity.
And, as it is the business of Government to secure to him
those means of material improvement, which are the interest or rent of his
property in the land, so it is the business of the Government to secure to
him those means of intellectual and moral improvement which constitute his
share in the common, intellectual, and moral stock.
Capital, or credit, supplies him with the material element,
education with the moral and intellectual. It would be worse than
mockery to give him only the first.
Education is the business of Government, because only
Government can be intrusted with it, and because only Government can
effectually manage it.
And first, what is this education to which every human being
is equally entitled? It is the culture of the whole nature, the
development of its full powers of growth—the perfecting of the
physical—the due training of the moral and intellectual, and the fitting
both heart and intellect to embrace the highest aspiration and completest
knowledge of the time, so far as natural organisation will permit; the
purport of such culture being the raising of strong and excellent human
beings to do the work of humanity. Education is, indeed, the present
endowing the future with all its wealth and power, that the future may
start from that vantage ground to reach the farther heights of progress.
To whom shall this be intrusted except to the nation's
rulers, to those whom the nation has chosen as its wisest and most
virtuous? Upon them, the head and heart of the present time (we are
speaking of the good time which shall be present, not of our own little
day of the expediencies of Party Politicians)—upon them it devolves to
rule the present, so as may best provide for the future. It is
theirs to utter the nation's faith, to teach that faith to the young
generation, which shall in in its turn become the nation. Whom would
you choose for this work? Whom, instead of these your voices have
already declared to be your best and wisest?
How shall they lead the nation, if its youth are exempted
from their control? Shall they be your rulers and yet not rule your
children? Your children! But, indeed, they are not yours, if
that your is to mean property.
You have no property in your children. They are the
nation's in trust for God and the future.
But what then becomes—I hear some one ask—what becomes of
individual liberty if our children are to be placed in the hands of a
Government, of any, even the best Government?
Whose individual liberty? Yours, or your child's?
What right have you to possess a human soul? to make it yours, to twist it
to your bent, to cast it in your mould?
The soul of the little child is your equal—has its own
independent rights, and demands its own growth—not a growth of your
dictation. What right have you to confiscate that soul to your uses,
to sacrifice it upon the private altar of your particular opinions?
Has not every man, then, the right of teaching what he believes? Is
it not his duty to propagandise his own idea of truth? Truly so
among his equals, but not to take an unfair advantage, which is
tyrannising. Between you and the weak and easily impressible child
rightly steps the protection of the State, guaranteeing to that child that
he shall not be stinted to the narrow paternal pasture; but that he shall
be enabled to become, not merely a pride and pleasure to his father, but
worthy of his nation. It is that which he has to serve.
Besides, shall the poorest-souled individual be free to
inculcate his private crotchet, and the nation's best and wisest be
prohibited from teaching that which is the generally acknowledged truth of
of their time, the actual religion of humanity? It may happen that
the father is in advance of his time, but who shall guarantee this?
Must every child take his chance?
It may happen that the father's tenets are far behind his
time; shall we, in virtue of our profession of equality, liberty,
fraternity, after abolishing the slavery of the body, allow the soul of
the child to be enslaved, simply because the enslaver is the parent; or
deny the child's liberty of growth because a parent would have the
training of him; and rob the future of its worker, its soldier, and its
priest, because some one called a parent claims the child as his, rather
If a Government, the elect of the nation, the real priesthood
of the people, their wiser voice, then, indeed, the voice of God for for
the people is the sole interpreter of his law—if a Government have a faith
to teach, what individual out of the mass shall step between them and the
child to forbid their uttering that faith in the child's ears? If
the Government is imbecile or so buried in dirty traffic that it has no
faith, then let all true men combine, or, failing combination, let every
brave man for himself do his utmost to keep his children from being
contaminated by the abominable doctrines which alone such a misgovernment
could teach. But if it is your own chosen Government and has a
faith—where is the room for this very English jealousy of a compulsory
And religious education also? Education is religious.
Meaning by religion that which binds humanity to God: that which links the
ages together, making of every generation one strong and perfect link,
wielded into one by faith in the necessity of harmonising men's lives,
man's life, with the Eternal, and by the organisation which such faith
would insure to a nation.
This is religion, the teaching of which is the highest duty,
function, and object of Government. Sectarian dogmas and ceremonies
are not included here. It may be left to voluntary zeal to determine
with what verbal forms, with what gestures, or upon what particular
occasions, such and such a congregation shall sin; or pray together.
That is a matter of individual liberty, with which, so long as public
decency remains unoffended, or private right unassailed—the State has no
business to meddle.
The ceremonial observances of some few hours in a week may be
left to the conscience of the sect, or of the individual; but the religion
which is to actuate the daily life of the whole people is the proper
affair of Government, if Government is to be real.
There is no middle course between this organisation of human
life and the anarchy of our present system, an anarchy which is called
liberty, but which is only the unrestrained tyranny of the stronger.
How this sort of license results, private vice and selfishness, national
crime, and weakness, and degradation, and ruin, may only too soon inform
After all it is not individual liberty—the right of
conscience of speech—for which men need have fear when entrusting the
education of the nation's youth to those whom the nation shall have chosen
as its Government. Teach as zealously and as carefully as you will
in your State schools—the fear will still be, not of the Government
teacher overlaying the parental doctrine, but of the parent, if so
disposed, by daily opposition or perversion, eradicating the lessons of
the public school.
In all cases too (as a necessary consequence of the law of
progress) however excellent your arrangements, there will be a minority to
complain and perhaps to suffer. The minority here will be those very
few wiser than their time, who could teach their children even better than
the collective wisdom of their nation. But of how much would these
have to complain? Free out of school hours to teach their children,
if they had but to add higher knowledge, their task would be easy; neither
would time nor opportunity be wanting if haply they had somewhat to
correct. They have their voice, too, in the councils of the nation,
to make their greater wisdom heard—with it to convince even the
schoolmasters, if its sound may be of sufficient potency.
Rule of the Majority—Mutual Sacredness of the Individual and Society.
The interpretation of the moral law and rule of
progress cannot be confided to a caste or an individual; but only to the
people, enlightened by national education, directed by those among them
whom virtue and genius point out to them as their best.
The sacredness of both individuality and society, which ought
not to be effaced, nor to combat, but to harmonise together for the
amelioration of all by all—
The whole question of politics is an educational question.
Government, if it has any meaning, is the organised power which educates,
rules, orders. We believe that this educational power cannot be
intrusted to a caste, whether an aristocracy, a corporation, or a
priesthood. It matters not what numbers compose the caste, whether
few or many; it matters not whether there be careful patriarchal training,
or the constitutional carelessness of those "governors" who are content
with being a corrupt and inefficient police. Many or few, careful or
careless, the difference is one only of degree. If a caste rules,
you can have but tyrants on one side and slaves upon the other.
There can be no real education there, no certain progress, for there is
not the people. The instinct of the whole people is alone the
conscience of humanity: it alone can be trusted to interpret the law of
Still less can the government be intrusted to an individual.
He will teach, or order, in accordance with his own wish, at best his
conscientious thought: he cannot give expression to the universal
conscience. To confide the rule to the hands of one is to let the
exception give law. Though even the true prophet be king and ruler,
you are not certain of the right ordering, for he sees the progress which
is desirable, which, indeed, shall some day be, but not always that which
is practicable immediately. And when you have no prophet, but some
imbecile slip of the past, whose eyes are in the back of his head—what law
of progress can you have uttered by such? Truly not even an attempt
The people must decide upon its own life. The majority
must command. There, and there alone, dwells the true interpretation
of God's law of progress; the decision of not merely that which is best to
be done, but of that which may best be done at each succeeding moment.
Let it not be objected that the wisest are ever in the
minority. If wisdom cannot make itself manifest to the majority,
whose is the fault? Something is surely lacking in the wisdom.
The wisest are those who can best regulate to-day's work, not forgetting
And the conscience of a whole people is never at fault.
There have been panics and madnesses of multitudes, popular crimes and
errors: but never a whole people, even in the lowest state of a people,
unitedly wrong upon any great matter.
Religious and other wars, massacres, and persecutions, these
are royal, aristocratic, and sacerdotal work. Villainies innumerable
rest upon the castes who have misgoverned nations: but the people's hands
are clean. When kings and priests provoked and carried on that
desolating war against the Hussites, the popular conscience upheld the
right. And in the wildest periods of the French Revolution the
people's judgment was sound and just. Never has it swerved unless
seduced by priests or tyrants, and ofttimes even then it has indignantly
turned upon and rebuked its infamous leader.
The lowest classes are better than the privileged now; and
how unspeakably better still will be the people, when, instead of being
ill-taught or left in ignorance by despicable or detested pretence they
shall be educated by those whom they can revere and honestly and lovingly
obey; those whom genius and virtue have pointed out to them as their best.
But we believe that there are limits to the power of even
government of a majority: the limits of individual right.
The majority may not enslave the minority, either by
disposing of their bodies or coercing their consciences, in violation of
the original equality of human brotherhood.
Every attempt upon the rights of individuals, by the most
overwhelming majority, is an attempt against the very hand of society,
which exists in virtue of the mutual sacredness of it, and of each of its
members. If the free growth of any is suppressed there is a
hindrance of the progress of the whole, the progress whose seed must ever
be first planted in the hearts of the few. Government is the
enlightened conscience of to-day, organising and directing present means
for to-day's work.
But the few of to-day may so manifest their growth and
superiority that to-morrow the many shall be with them, and tomorrow's
higher work need a new direction.
When such a Government can be obtained, that is to say, when
the Government (I do not say merely a part of it) shall be chosen by the
whole people, there need not be occasion to trammel its progress in the
clogs which now hang at the heels (better some-times if they were round
the necks) of their governors in what are pleasantly called Constitutional
States. There need be no jealousy of those who are chosen by an
educated people. It will not then be necessary that the general
progress should be stayed for fear a too powerful Government should
encroach upon individual liberties. It will then be seen that
society is as sacred as individuality, needs as much protection:
that it is not enough to make every man's house his "castle" (your private
castles do not keep out the burglar, or the unjust tax collector, or the
extortioner), but to make every man a true soldier, servant, and
office-bearer in the nation; which will then need no private castles.
This mutual sacredness of the individual and society will then become
possible; then when the people are all free and equal, and their own
chosen governors marshal them on the way of progress, not by nice
balancing of interests, nor by dictation of the minutest matters of life,
not by endeavouring to stereotype their subjects, to make them run in
parallel grooves of happiness or duty, but by obeying the dictates of the
popular conscience, and helping the national genius to unfold itself;
careful not so much to dictate the work as to provide that the work be
done by healthy, strong, and faithful men, conscious of their mission and
anxious that it should be fulfilled,—the nation itself will decide upon
the work to do, and be it peace or war, will know how to decide rightly.
The duty of the individual to make use of the elements
of material; intellectual and mural work, with the utmost concurrence of
The ground upon which I have advocated the duties of a State
towards its members, in supplying them with the means of growth and work,
has been that of the necessity of organisation, in order to insure the
more regular and rapid and certain progression of the whole of humanity.
The duty of a State towards its members implies of necessity corresponding
duties of the members toward the State. If the State supplies means
of work, secures property and growth, those so furnished and secured are
bound to maintain the same advantages for others. Parts of the body
politic, accepting the advantage of belonging to it, their duty is
manifestly to maintain its integrity. Indeed, their own position is
untenable unless they do so. For the State only exists as a
combination. If all work for one, that one owes a return to all.
But again, I say that it is not upon this mere footing of a bargain, which
might imply choice, that we must place the duty of the individual; but
upon the moral basis of his position as a part of one comprehensive whole,
a position which is not a matter of choice, but necessitated by the very
fact of his birth, and from which he can never be released except by
It cannot be too often repeated that the individual is a part
of humanity, an inseparable link of the one vast chain hanging from the
throne of God.
Man has not the choice of being his brother's keeper or not.
He cannot dissolve the brotherhood. He has not the option of
bargaining so much duty for interest. He has by his very birth
appropriated the interest, and he owes the duty of his life in repayment
of that, unless he would be a thief.
The past has lent to the present, and the future demands
payment. A feather out of a wing, a bone out of a body, a leaf out
of a book—is not more absurdly isolated than a human soul that would
detach itself from the upward soaring of its race, a man denying his duty
to the body politic, or a life which fancies that its thought, or speech,
or action, can be torn unnoticed and without detrimental consequence from
the history of mankind.
We believe, therefore, that it is ever the duty of the
individual to devote the utmost energies of his being to the service of
his race, to the beloved first (though whoever loves needs no such
reminding); to the children next: then to his immediate fellows in the
workshop, or the farm, in the hamlet, municipality, or commune; then, the
circles of duty widening ever as—like a drop of rain flung into still
water—his active life impels the waves of circumstance around him, to the
city or county, his country and the world. For the business of man's
life is service to his kind. Service even now, when, wanting
organisation, each must mark out for himself the route upon which his
unaided thought decides that he can best serve; service still, when
society, becoming organised, shall learn how to economise his powers, to
prevent his efforts from being wasted; as so much of endeavour is wasted
through want of direction now, from being left to fight and to labour
alone, or with but the chance and random help of the casual passers-by.
A social State having God and His law at the
summit, the people, the universality of the citizens free and equal at its
base, progress for rule, association as means, devotion for baptism,
genius and virtue for lights upon the way—
God's law: it is not the doctrine of an individual or a sect;
it is not the dogma of a church (even of the truest), nor the act of a
Parliament (be it never so equally constituted).
Though doctrine, dogma and act may each be less or more an
enunciation of God's law, it is the revelation which enlightens the
prophets and apostles of humanity, the instinct which impels the universal
conscience of mankind.
Wherever the revelation and the instinct, wherever genius and
universality, wherever the voice of God and the voice of the people are in
unison—there, be sure, is a law of God.
God's law: God's holiest preachers and martyrs have
proclaimed it with their words and with their lives; and the heart of man
in all climes and in all ages has recognised its divinity, its truth.
It is this:
Grow healthily! Love! Aspire! Progress!
Grow healthily! It is the first necessity of being.
That was a true insight which shut out the blemished or unclean from the
service of the priesthood. How shall any be God's priest in his
impurity or weakness? Be strong for health's sake. Be strong
for the sake of growth. Grow healthily, which is naturally,
vigorously, and beautifully; that so thy nature may be perfected, and thy
life be a fit and acceptable worshipper in this temple of the eternal,
which men call earth; worthily serving at the altar whatever name may be
inscribed thereon, whether family, country, or man.
Love! It is the stepping beyond the narrow prison
house, the chrysalis tomb of "self." Capacity for love constitutes
the difference between the gentle and the churl, the human and the brute.
The brute desires, seeks, and has possession, asserting the right of his
limited nature, the right of health and growth, but he cannot soar out of
the bestial self. He cannot love.
Live not like brute beasts—without understanding—when God has
breathed into your nostrils the angelic faculty of life. Love the
mother upon whose rounded bosom you first dreamed of beauty and of heaven.
Love the father, who taught you to be strong and daring. Love her
who led you into the innermost sanctuary of delight, whose maiden smile
first whispered to your enraptured soul how chaste and holy and
self-sacrificing love may be. Love her children, the children of the
beautiful, whom also thou wilt teach how to love. Love thy country,
the land of thy young days of home, the land whose speech is the music of
the beloved; the land where rest the bones of heroes, thy sires: love it
with the active love of a patriot's ever-anxious service! Love not
only persons, places or things, but love the beautiful, the noble, the
enduring. Love the memory of those great ones who have lived and
suffered for thee. For love is gratitude, the full-handed gratitude
that returns one benefit by benefiting a thousand. Love and scorn
not those new ideas which are continually dawning upon the world.
For love is reverence. It was love that worshipped at the poor man's
feet—wiping them with her hair, and kissing them. Love believeth.
Aspire! Indeed, love is aspiration: the longing search
after the most beautiful. Ever as thou reachest the summit of a
truth, look upward to the truth beyond. Ever on the ladder of
improvement which leans on the edge of heaven; as thou gainest round after
round look upward, and when thou pilest another day of worth upon thy past
life, rest not as one whose mission is accomplished, but know and
recollect that man's mission is to aspire.
Progress! Yes! Believe that the healthily grown,
the loved, the aspirer, must progress. Up and down the mountain-climber
advances toward the top. Let him not in the mountain hollows look
back complaining "How much higher I was!" He but descends to mount
again. It is no level path nor smooth unvarying ascent, the way of
progress. But we believe in the possibility of a social state in
which the ascent, though not altogether evened, shall yet be smoothed of
its worst roughness, when the whole race shall be fellow-workers, aiding
each other in their advance. We believe that it shall not always be
left to individuals to toil painfully up the steep and narrow path in
sadly isolated endeavour to fulfil law; but that when nations are free,
their Governments shall be able to provide the educational means through
which mankind shall be aided in their combined endeavours to grow
healthily, to love, to aspire, and to progress; when progress shall be
recognised as the normal condition of life; when organised association
shall supply the requisite means, when individuals, baptised in the faith
of devotion to God and humanity, shall know how best to avail themselves
of those means, and when genius and virtue borne upon the shoulders of the
advancing crowd—as of old they chose their generals—shall light us upon
our way; when the whole earth shall be an holy altar, and human life as
the flame of a sacrifice continually to the heaven of God.
And that which we believe to be true for a single
person we believe to be true for all. There is but one sun in heaven
for the whole earth; there is but one law of truth and justice for all who
people it. Inasmuch as we believe in liberty, equality, fraternity, and
association for individuals composing the State, we believe also in the
liberty, equality, fraternity, and association of nations.
We believe that the map and organisation of Europe are to be
remade. We believe, in a word, in a general organisation, having God
and His law at the summit, humanity, the universality of nations free and
equal at its base, common progress for end, alliance for means, the
example of those peoples who are most loving and most devoted for
encouragement on the way—
We do not believe that men can righteously band together to
commit wrong, nor that by any combination or assembling of numbers, they
can escape from the individual responsibility of their moral being.
We believe that wrong is wrong, whether perpetrated by
individuals or by nations, that right does not alter its character whether
its pursuer be one or a multitude.
A nation is an assemblage and combination of individuals,
each of whom is endowed with conscience, each of whom is bound by his very
nature to combat evil, each of whom is impelled by the divine law of his
being to seek good and to maintain the right. Their very assembling
and combination as a body is that they more effectually combat evil, seek
good, and maintain and perpetuate the right.
To grow healthily, to love, to aspire, and to progress—this
is as much the destiny of nations as of the individuals of which nations
If equal liberty is the right of each member of the nation in
relation to his fellows, not only in the nation but throughout the whole
world, so is it the right of the collective body—the nation—in relation to
all other nations.
If one nation may be shut out of the pale of national
liberty, what becomes of the universal equality and liberty of mankind?
If it is the duty of man in his nation to serve humanity, it
is equally the duty of the nation as an organisation of men to serve
humanity; else the individual serves not humanity but some national
Peoples are the individuals of humanity. As men differ
from one another in character, aptitude, or calling, so also do peoples.
Their national organisation is the means not only of perfecting that
special character, but of applying the various aptitude and calling toward
one great object—the progress of the whole of life.
England, if an organisation of healthy, high-thoughted men,
would recognise itself as the world's servant, would toil for that—not for
the wretched aggrandisement of England against the world, or without care
for the world.
England, now stealing in every corner of the earth for the
most wretched aggrandisement of self, would then be no more hated or
despised as a bullying ruffian or an unprincipled eyeless-needle-selling
pedlar, but loved and honoured as the brave champion of freedom and
ablest civiliser of the time. But what would become then of the
miserable doctrine of non-intervention, the refuge or pretence of whig
knaves, the shallow subterfuge of traders who care nothing if the whole
world go to wreck so they may have a percentage on the breaking up?
The mission of a nation is the same as that of an individual;
to assert its own rights and to fulfil its duty toward others. The
duty consists in associating with others for the maintenance of their
rights, for the sake of mutual growth, for the realisation of the
brotherhood of humanity.
How very wicked! says some atheistical peacemonger. And
yon would actually have nations go to war in defence of other nations?
Yes, certainly, if right should demand it. For we believe in God, in
His law of association and progress, in the harmony of the universe: that
is to say, we believe that, as an individual cannot detach himself from
his kind without breaking the chain of human life, so a nation cannot as
one man isolate itself from the world without causing a million-fold
greater gap. I call the peacemonger atheistical because his amiable
egotism loses sight of this, forgets God and His scheme; because his
theory (I do not meddle with his undeniable good intentions which so
pleasantly pave the hill-path of the worst despotisms, but only with his
theory) would make life anarchical. Every man for himself and no God
for us all. For what is human brotherhood? Seeing one's
brother quietly murdered, unless the stone deaf assassin will listen to
our eloquence! Standing out of the way to see our brother wronged!
English law of all periods and English sense of same would call this being
an accomplice in the wrong. I see a wrong being committed, I have
the power of preventing it—I do not prevent it. Whatever sympathetic
cant may froth my lips, my deed consents to the wrong—I am the accomplice.
The wrong-doer's accomplice, is not he wrong-doer also?
When history shall gibbet Assassin Barrot for his ruffianly
out-rage upon Rome, she will hang beneath him his dastardly
accomplices—the English Whigs and their liberal supporters.
Non-intervention between States is the same as
Laissez faire between individuals; the liberty of the strongest,
the right of ruffianism anarchy.
Republicanism is opposed to anarchy. We would organise.
Let the nation as the individual be the true servant and soldier (if need
be) of God upon the earth, serving or fighting as the case may be for
God's children—his brethren—under the leadership of Justice, who does not
fear lest the heavens should fall upon the shop while she is out on duty.
Oh, again for a real Government of England, echoing the people's heart, to
hurl its armed hand in the teeth of the least tyranny, and by at least one
manful act for God and His right to redeem the national honour, now ever
pawned by tyranny's infamous subveners for any petty private object of
their own. Promise-breaker, "traitor," "coward."
Why should a nation endure taunts which would rouse a slave?
Win we our Republican Government, and our name may be redeemed: then only.
When a healthy nation shall take its place among the struggling peoples,
as a brother among his equals, lovingly to aid them in their aspirations
and in their progress, weighing peace (oh, ever desired peace) and war,
not in the false scales of diplomatic intrigue or personal baseness, but
in the eternal balance of right and wrong. Loving peace, the
Republic will not, like some shabby monarchy, flinch from war when it sees
a brother nation attacked in the first of all rights—the right of an
The escaping slave shall not be hunted back to slavery, nor
even given up to the hunters, by the true Republican. Jealously as
he would guard his own individuality—which even himself cannot alienate,
or make the slave of another, so will he defend the liberty of even the
least of his brethren.
Peoples are the individuals of humanity—nationality is the
sign of their individuality and the guarantee of their liberty: it is
sacred. Indicated at once by tradition, by language, by a determined
aptitude, by a special mission to fulfil, it ought to be held sacred, in
order that it may be free to harmonise itself with the whole, and to
assume its proper functions for the amelioration of all for the progress
Apply these principles to the present partitioning of Europe,
and it will be clear why the Republican believes in the necessity of
remaking the map and organisation of Europe, to bring them into accordance
with his faith.
Poland parted among thieves, Italy, Hungary, Germany, Greece:
there is no need to enumerate. Draw these upon the Republican map,
and where will be the present land marks? Where the existing
Empires? The present arrangement of Europe has been mad, for the
benefit of a few families, in violation of the most decisive marks of
nationality, in order to facilitate the spoliation of the peoples.
All that arrangement of Vienna shall be torn to pieces by the
Republican nations, and their natural boundaries, recognised at an
European Congress, be henceforth assured. We believe that a pact, a
congress of the representatives of all nationalities constituted and
recognised, having for mission to serry the holy alliance of peoples and
to formalize the common right and duty, are at the end of all our efforts.
So shall the free nations, standing each in its own perfect
dignity—be as a band of brothers—sworn to serve God and to extirpate
tyranny from the world.
We believe in equality, liberty and fraternity;
in the equal ground of human right, on which alone true freedom can be
based—the freedom which is not the unlimited sway of the stronger, but the
opportunity of healthy growth to the utmost of natural capability, for the
weakest as well as for the mightiest, in order that the fullest perfection
of each may be obtained toward a brotherly combination of strengths, for
the surer and greater progress of the whole world.
We believe in the perfectibility of the human race;
that is to say—in its powers of continual improvement. And we
believe that this improvement may be systematized and insured and
immensely accelerated by men acting in concert—in association-freely
organising themselves under the Government of the wisest and most virtuous
We believe that Government, however chosen, or however worthy
of rule, is not required by society to be the dictator over the lives of
individuals—as a central despotism would be, but to order the combined
action of the whole nation and to protect the rights of all. We
believe that the world-old circles of FAMILY,
CITY and COUNTRY, are natural
arrangements and worth preserving; that as the individual is complete in
his own nature, so the family is also a perfect sphere—needing no ordering
from authority; the city also sufficient to itself for all its own
requirements—and the country the same, a special workroom, built by God
for a special purpose, whose walls shall not be thrown down. We
believe that the business of Government is to do that which neither
individual nor the city can efficiently do; to maintain throughout the
nation the harmony of equal rights, which includes provision that the best
means of growth at the nation's command shall be furnished to all the
individuals of the nation. It is therefore the province of
Government to guard the land, which is common property, from the
encroachment of individuals; to take care that none hold it without paying
a fair rent for it to the State, and that it shall never be so
monopolized, at whatever rent, that any shall be debarred from it; to
protect private property, the honest earnings and acquirements of
individuals; to maintain the right to labour by lending the credit of the
State to all who need it, so insuring to every one employment at a fair
remuneration, and to provide the highest possible education for every one
of the nation's children.
We believe that the only Government which can safely be
trusted in these powers is the elect of the nation empowered by the
majority to act for them. We believe that the right to rule resides
only in a majority: their rule being only limited by the right of the
The most overwhelming majority may not override the right of
an independent nature. Society and individuality are mutually sacred
Nevertheless we believe in individual duty, that every one
(saving his right of conscience) ought to enrol himself dutifully in the
ranks of his fellowmen, to act obediently within the appointed and
ascending spheres of organisation, to devote the utmost of his powers to
the service of his family, his country, the world, and truth.
And we believe that, based upon a written constitution
recognising these rights and duties, the nation may be so organised that
the long sought problem of the harmonisation of individual welfare with
national progress may be speedily solved; and the present anarchy give
place to order, under which we shall henceforth be enabled to fulfil God's
law, the destiny of life, to grow healthily, to love, to aspire and to
We believe, in a word, in the possibility of a social state,
based upon already ascertained rights and duties, in which might be
forthwith commenced the realisation of the dream of all prophetic
minds—the beginning of the better time, in which the wretchedness of
extreme want might immediately cease, and strife and wrong gradually
diminish, checked by the strong hand of enthroned justice and falling from
the ever increasing light of education and of hope.
Such is the aim of out exertions for our own country.
And for the nations we believe in a no less fervent hope; looking for the
establishment of the universal federation of Republics, for the
proclamation of God's law as the religion and rule of the enfranchised and
organised world. May our own nation be of the first to swear fealty
to the common pact among the worthiest of endeavourers to reach the
goal—that goal which will be but the starting-place of the genius of
humanity, toward the indefinite perfection of the future. Is all
this Utopian? Not so. We do not undermine the present nor
fling away the past. We would build upon the present, laying sure
foundations. We ignore neither tradition nor history. We would
preserve with more than "conservative zeal" all that has already been
gained for humanity. We do not think of overthrowing all, expecting,
after a general scramble, some fine day to begin the world anew.
Neither are we Utopians of the "finality" school. We are practical
men, who would work with means lying around us toward an end logically
deduced from ascertained promises, clear to the universal conscience.
We take our stand upon the equal brotherhood of "Freedom," that
ground which Christian Europe from one end of it to the other has already
recognised, at least in words, and thereupon we would build our future.
"What sane man will contest our principles?" What
slave, in his heart acknowledging their truth, will remain silent?
I, at least, if none other will, must repeat in the ears of my countrymen
the appeal of the apostles of democracy.
To all who share our faith; to all those who think that every
divorce even for a time between thought and action is fatal; to all those
who feel stirring within their hearts a holy indignation against the
display of brute force, which is made in Europe in the service of tyranny
I appeal to the working men first, because among them,
victimized but not yet vitiated by the selfishness of trade, I have found
that clearness and integrity of soul, the simplicity of the loving nature,
which enables them almost intuitively to comprehend great principles and
courageously to devote their lives to their realisation. Students,
artists, and men of letters, I appeal to; to those who pride themselves
upon a generous education, who by their daily studies are introduced to a
companionship with the illustrious of the great republic of genius, who
have learned even from the lips of the wisest of all times those
heavenward aspirings which should sanctify their lives as priests of
truth, raising them above the commonness of mean and cowardly thoughts.
Young men, who trust inspiration of hope, whose souls are pure, whose days
are not yet bowed and crippled by the ignoble yoke of huckstering egotism,
whose hearts are not yet eaten out by commerce, who yet are able to
believe and love and dare, to them also I appeal!
Revolutionary Measures. Institutional Measures. Administrative
Reforms. Financial Reforms. Colonial Reform.
International Reform. Organisation—Organisation of Labour on the Land.
Organisation of Labour through Credit. Organisation of Justice.
Bases of Taxation. Education.
IN the previous chapter we have seen
what are the Principles which underlie the superstructure of
Republicanism, but I am aware that this is not all. To embrace the
creed, to be able thoroughly to explain its every article, to be filled
with such zeal and to be so wisely active that our preaching draws the
whole nation to our side—this is not enough. It is necessary that
the party to be formed should understand not only the theory of
Republicanism, but how to put Republican principles into practice.
We must learn through what measures our faith may work, our
hopes be consummated. We must aim not only at creating a power, but
at endowing that power with intelligence. I would not be the creator
of a political Frankenstein, a power, without educated will, a new form of
anarchy, only miscalled Republican. Already it is said to us—Your
theories are beautiful, but impracticable; long years must pass, and much
preparation, before even fragments of them can be realised.
It is for us to demonstrate the practicability of
Republicanism. The day will come also in which power shall be in our
hands, when the men of our own party will ask, "How now to act?" To
forestall this question I now endeavour to utter something like a
Republican programme, a scheme of reform, such as I believe to be
practicable from the very day of the establishment of the people's
I put forth the programme, not dogmatically. The creed,
indeed, which I have confessed I must hold unaltered. I do not ask
my countrymen merely to consider to what portions of that they can assent,
how far they will go with me there; but I ask them to join me under that
banner, and I ask none to join me unless they can accept the creed and its
consequences without reserve. But beyond the principles there is no
dogma. My exposition of those principles is open to correction; it
should be the first business, of those who join me, to reconsider and
maturely weigh that exposition to detect any possible want of exactness in
the deductions, and only to subscribe to it when fully convinced that its
teachings are true and logically consequent on the confession of our
faith. My plan of association and propagandism may be mended or
modified or altered, according to circumstances. I did but, since
some one must begin, suggest an outline for my brothers utterly without
So also the Republican measures, which I now attempt to
enunciate, are but propositions for the consideration of those with whom I
hope to act. I offer them as texts for their debating; and when I
come to discourse upon these texts I shall still be only uttering my
undogmatic opinion of the business before us. Lot all who call
themselves Republicans, all who care to establish a real Republican party
in England, labour earnestly with me to master both the theory and
practice of our faith. Without further preface I submit the
following measures of reformation as necessary for the Government of
England as a Republic:—
[See note p.40]
Abolition of Monarchy, the House of Lords, the Peerage, and
all laws of primogeniture and entail. Severance of the connection
between the Church and the State. Abolition of all restrictions upon the
Press, direct or indirect.
Establishment of the Republican form of Government: and of
universal Suffrage of men and women, exercised directly and absolutely in
right of their existence as human beings and component parts of the
Adoption of a written constitution based upon Republican
principles, unalterable in its fundamental rules even by the majority of
Unity of power. One single representative Assembly,
elected by the majority of the nation, enthroned as the nation's servants,
to realise the programme of the Constitution, to work within those
prescribed limits. Every project, of law to be submitted to the
whole people. The Executive chosen by the Assembly and subordinate
Absolute freedom of opinion and the utterance of opinion,
whether in the press, the pulpit, the public meeting, or the association.
Inviolability of the right of association, whether for
political, religions, or social purposes. Abrogation of all laws
against combination or partnership.
Recognition of the right to labour, with a special minister
to superintend its realisation. Establishment of a system of credit
for the assistance of the labourer, specially in times of difficulty.
Access to the land to be facilitated.
Improved modes of transit and scientific appliances rendered
available to the agriculturist and mechanic; agricultural associations and
trades-unions encouraged; rewards for inventors and public benefactors,
and abolition of all patent and copyright. Freedom of trade so far
as not to contravene the rights of Labour. Establishment of public
bazaars and storehouses.
Ample provision, at the cost of the State, for the infirm and
National education, under the superintendence of the
Government, for all the children of the nation, obligatory, and at the
public expense. The noble function of teacher adequately rewarded
and elevated to its due rank in the consideration of the people.
Establishment of colleges of art, science, and literature,
free of charge and accessible to all classes of the nation.
Establishment of schools for teachers. Establishment of
general system of religious worship, based upon generally acknowledged
truths, for the religious teaching of the nation.
Marriage and divorce free.
Administrative and Judicial Reforms.
Simplification of laws. The multitude of present laws
to be repealed, and a new code framed, written in plain language.
Simplification of the machinery of law and justice. The
public service to be democratically organised. Capacity the only
condition of eligibility, every functionary to be utterly independent in
all matters not appertaining to his office.
Justice prompt and without cost. Appointment of a
public prosecutor; indemnification of the injured. Abolition of
death-punishment, of imprisonment for debt, of flogging, and of
Revision of the articles of war. The Army, Navy, and
Marine to be reorganised democratically: merit to be the only
qualification for rank. Improvement in the treatment of the lower
classes of the service. Abolition of the disgraceful system of
Formation of a national guard of all men capable of bearing
arms: and great reduction of the standing army.
The care of the infirm and aged, the local organisations of
labour, local arrangements and improvements, election of district
magistrates, police and all other matters of local administration, to be
under local control, subordinate to the sovereign authority of the nation.
[See note p.43]
Simplification of taxation: one single direct tax for all
national purposes, supplied by a rental charged on the whole land.
Abandonment of the present complicated system; assessed and
income taxes, customs, excise, tithes, church and poor rates, highway
rates, tolls, and county rates (except for absolutely local purposes).
Appropriation by the State of crownlands, church lands, waste lands,
streams, and mines: and of all roads, railways and canals, giving
equitable compensation to the present holders.
Centralisation and regulation of banks for the benefit of the
whole nation. Reform of the funding system and settlement of the National
Self-government guaranteed to every colony: the
Home-government only protecting the colony so long as it may require. The
independence of every colony looked forward to and promoted.
Abandonment of the foul tricks of diplomacy and solemn denial of the false
principle of non-intervention.
Foreign policy to be regulated by the principle of Republican duty, based
on faith in the harmonisation of Humanity.
Respect to every nationality; brotherly alliance with the nations; and
ready aid to the oppressed.
Let it be borne in mind that the programme I have here put forth is
intended only as subject for Republican consideration. Not that I have
uttered it unadvisedly. It is the summary (though perhaps incomplete) of
my deliberate views, a collection of texts upon which I shall proceed to
discourse at length in future numbers of the "English Republic." I give
them as a whole, that the relation of each to the rest may be observable
as we go on: and now, bespeaking the attention of my readers to the
articles in explanation of this preliminary, I beg them to "read, mark,
learn and inwardly digest" them, making them the occasion for debates ill
their meetings, whether in private or in public, that so, by the
elaboration of thought, our plans may become to us as clear as our
principles; that when the day of our certain triumph shall arrive, we may
be prepared to carry out our professions, to put our theories into
practice, to justify our irreconcilable opposition to " things as they
My object is to create a Republican party which shall understand how to
act, whether in opposition or in power: which, having ever before its eyes
a clear ideal of good government, shall knew what course to take with
regard to the bit-by-bit reforms for which middle-men of as little
foresight as principle bargain with Monarchy; what course to take when,
Monarchy being no more, the quarrel shall come to an undisguised issue
between the "moderate" Anarchists and the consistent Republicans. Let us
study to be so enlightened that the national recognition of our principles
may not be unnecessarily deferred, and that we may not be found deficient
on the morrow of our victory.
The Organisation of Labour on the Land.
[See note p.44]
The sovereignty of the people is not consistent with individual misery. The first once established, not an hour should be lost without proceeding
for the extinction of the last. For misery is slavery. This is why I place
the Organisation of Labour first among the Republican Measures of which I
have to treat. The first step toward that organisation is to provide for
our surplus labourers, our unemployed population.
This I believe can only be done by giving them free access to the land. Any other "provision for the poor" is a mockery.
I propose, therefore, now to consider of:—
The Land and how to Reclaim it.
[See note p.47]
It is said that the whole of England, Scotland, and of
Ireland is monopolised by some 40,000 persons, who have acquired
possession by purchase or inheritance from a race who held the land, not
as absolute owners, but only as tenants of the State, under condition of
paying rent or service to the State. That is to say—the feudal
landholder—not owner—bore the burthens of the nation as the price of his
lease of the nation's land. It was his rent. And he was
only a tenant.
In the course of time the landowners (being solo legislators)
shifted the national burthens from their own shoulders, and voted
themselves absolute proprietors.
The present holders, who have bought, or inherited of them,
are precisely in the position of men who have bought or inherited stolen
property. They hold their lands with a faulty title. Men who
were only tenants have sold or given them the freehold; sold or given what
never was theirs. And the buyers or receivers knew it.
But even if the nation (instead of a partial Parliament) had
formally or tacitly sanctioned the absolute proprietorship of a few
landlords, the title of these holders would not be good. For the
land may not be alienated even by the nation. It is not the absolute
property of any one generation, but is entailed for the benefit of all
generations. The nation, then, must resume its proprietorship; not
confiscating the estates, but compelling the observance of the tenant's
original contract, in some such terms as the following:
"Whereas the nation is the sole proprietor of the land and
none hold rightfully except as tenants of the nation: and whereas every
member of the nation has an equal right to support from the land upon
which he was born:
"Be it therefore enacted:—
"(1.) That, in lieu of all
taxes hitherto collected for national purposes, there shall be charged one
uniform rental for every acre of cultivated or cultivatable land—in
acknowledgment of the nation's sovereignty and to meet all national
"(2.) That the payment of such rental shall constitute the only legal
title to the possession of the land.
"(3) That such national expenses shall specially include the cost of a
sufficient maintenance for the infirm and the unemployed."
I consider such a measure as the necessary preliminary to any
real organisation of labour.
The first step in that organisation is to provide for our
unemployed labourers—what is called our "surplus population." There
are thirty millions of acres of uncultivated land in the British Isles.
Half of these millions of acres are cultivatable.
A large portion of these millions would fall into the hands
of the State, so soon as the State began to enforce its rental. This
is certain; because men would not pay for immense tracks of land which
they could not use.
Upon the lands thus accruing to the State, and upon what are
now called crown-lands, I would plant colonies of agricultural labourers,
under officers appointed by Government, furnished with sufficient capital
and empowered to farm the land on the following terms:—That after payment
of the State rental, the salary of the superintendent, and such portion of
the capital as might be ordered, the remaining proceeds of the land should
be divided among the labourers.
The proportion of capital to be paid back, year by year,
would vary with circumstances. The poorer the land, the longer
should be the time allowed for payment. There should be no interest
So soon as the capital should be paid back, the labourers
would be the landowners—their own masters, subject to no supervision, to
no burthen except the rental of their land.
They would form a new race of independent peasant
freeholders. Thus I would provide for the "surplus" agricultural
population; enabling them to support themselves upon the waste lands.
I take this to be the first step in the organisation of labour.
But it will be found not only that this first step would
provide for the unemployed agricultural population, but also that it would
greatly diminish the numbers of the unemployed artizans, and radically
alter the position of the employed labourers, whether field labourer or
It would alter the position of the field-labourer thus:—At
present the competition of numbers places him at the mercy of the farmer.
He must be content with the lowest possible wage, or the punishment of the
But the State-farmer, the superintendent of the agricultural
colonies, at once placing the labourers in those colonies on the footing
of partnership, laying accounts before them and giving them their just
share of the produce of his and their united exertion, this would soon put
a stop to the competition of members for mere wages.
The competition would now be for the State freeholds; and the
private farmer, instead of beating down his labourers, would have to offer
them, as an inducement to work for him, an equitable share of the proceeds
of his and their united exertion.
The end, and no very distant end, and an end beneficial to
all parties, would be that farms would be worked by friendly associations
of those who are now in the false, antagonistic position of master and
slave, but who would then form free and fair partnerships of head and
hands, skill and manual labour.
This would be the natural effect of our first step—our home
colonies of the unemployed—on the rest of the agricultural population.
It would also alter the position of the mechanic thus.
At present it is the unemployed population of the rural districts which is
driven or attracted into the towns, and there crowds the labour-market,
reducing to the lowest fraction the wage of the mechanic. But with
our home colonies, there would be no unemployed agricultural population.
So much less would be the number of the unemployed mechanics. And so
much of competition would be at an end; for none would choose to leave the
soil unless the promise held out to them exceeded the certain advantage of
their agricultural position.
By so far the condition of the mechanics would be improved.
Still would remain the tyranny of capital and the fluctuations of trade,
always affecting the mere wages-slaves, however limited their numbers.
Agricultural colonies would be but an insufficient remedy here; the
mechanic could not readily change from indoor to outdoor work; still less
easily could he alternate between the two.
How the tyranny of capital and the uncertainty of trade may
be met and provided against I shall endeavour to show in considering the
question of Credit.
The Organisation of Labour through Credit.
I would altogether abolish the monstrous
relationship of master and servant—employer and employed, profitmonger and
wages slave. I have attempted to show how that relationship may be
abolished so far as concerns the agricultural population, by giving them
free access to the land and supplying them with the capital required to
maintain them till their labour can become self-supporting and profitable.
How that capital should be supplied to them—how also it should be supplied
to the population of our towns, to those whose avocations are not
agricultural—I now propose to show.
And first let me be understood with regard to the
capitalists, who are now the veritable masters of all who live upon wages.
Let it be that they cannot act otherwise than they do; that is precisely a
reason for the interference of Government. Not certainly to compel
them to lend their capital nor to prohibit their lending or employing it
at any rate of interest they can obtain. But to lend where they will
not or can not, and to prevent usury by lending without interest.
For it is true that to compel a man against his will to lend, or say to
risk his capital, would be an infringement of individual right, a kind of
spoliation; nevertheless it is not tolerable that another man should be
idle, and perhaps starve, simply because he cannot get the credit which
would give him the means of work, and that not only he, but all society,
should lose the value of his work. Let the capitalist board or
employ his money as he will. Yet the poor man has a right to work
and to the product of that work; society also has a right to the services
of all its members. The right to property and the duty to society
ought not to depend upon the will of a few capitalists.
To remedy this the State must be the capitalist—the
For this purpose a National Bank must be established with
branch banks throughout the country, and let these banks lend money upon
personal security to all within their several districts. A few eases
will show how this would work. A man falls ill and is compelled to
leave his employment. His little savings are exhausted. Now he
has to pawn or sell his tools, his furniture and his clothes. Those
means consumed, he comes upon the parish. So he passed from bad to
worse. Should he recover, instead of immediately resuming work, he
is idle because he has no tools, nor means of obtaining any. Instead
of this, instead of applying either to the pawnbroker or the parish, let
him apply to the district bank. Let the bank lend him without
interest, week by week, such sums as he may require for the maintenance of
his family, and for medicine, etc., receiving from him an acknowledgment
for the same, and undertaking for its payment upon his recovery. If
he dies, let the sums afforded be passed to the national account as casual
relief; Society is bound to assure its members against sickness,
infirmity, or accident. If he recovers, let him stand liable for the
debt, the directors of the local bank fixing the period of payment
according to the circumstances of the case.
If he refuses or evades payment, let him be punished as a
criminal. His written acknowledgment of the advance would be proof
of his liability, it would be for the bank to show that a reasonable time
has been accorded him. A jury would decide: if against him, let him
be imprisoned or placed under control till the debt should be worked out.
The case of a man thrown out of work by any fluctuation or
decay of trade would be precisely similar to that of the man thrown out of
work by illness. The local banks would lend him means of living till
he could find other work—if necessary, till he could learn another kind of
Failing all other work, there would be the Home Colonies on
the land as a last resource. The farm labourer without work, unable
to agree with the farmer, or preferring to work alone, might apply for so
much land as he thought he could cultivate at the State rental, and to the
bank for advances that he might live till harvest. If a master
manufacturer failed, and so the workmen had no employment, the bank would
either lend him capital to carry on his business, or would lend it to the
men, provided they chose to continue the concern for their own benefit.
The bank would also lend to associations of workmen, whether manufacturing
The consequence of this ready access to capital would be the
independence of the workers. They would no longer be dependent upon
the will of the monied classes, themselves at the mercy of every chance
and change of trade. The rate of wages would be increased.
They would rise from the mere minimum of subsistence guaranteed by our
present Poor Law to the amount of what the worker could really earn with
capital in his hands, deprived only of the skill and leadership of his
employers; the master would no longer be able to reduce wages by falling
back upon his capital, and so starving the workers into submission.
Such leadership and shill as he might possess would come fairly into the
market and fetch their real worth.
This would really be Free Trade for all classes, and the
result would speedily be the equal association of the captains and mere
soldiers of industry on the terms of such division and apportionment of
the proceeds of their mutual labour as could be agreed upon between them.
The tyranny of capital would be at an end; and fair and free partnerships
of head and hand would replace the unequal and unjust relationship of
employer and employed. I do not argue for the State establishing
workshops or colonies except for its paupers. Beyond this, that is
to say, beyond making the labour of the able-bodied paupers
self-supporting, and so leading them to independence, it seems to me that
the State should leave open every facility for individual enterprise; only
interfering to prevent the monopoly of capital from enslaving the workers.
This much the State is bound to do, for the protection of the individual's
right to life, for the protection of the nation's right to the services of
all its members. One step farther would, however, be necessary to
assure the worker against the capitalist. It will not be enough to
prevent the latter from reducing wages; we must also prevent him from
monopolising and so arbitrarily raising the prices of produce. Else
we merely destroy one mode of tyranny, and leave him still the weapon of
profit with which to oppress his fellows. We require, therefore, the
establishment of public storehouses and bazaars or markets to which the
worker, mechanic, or peasant could at all times bring his produce—sure of
a fair price—and at which he could at all times be sure of purchasing at a
fair price. These storehouses and bazaars might be under the
direction of the local banks. The price of every article might be
regulated by the price of wheat, wheat of a certain quality represented
always by one certain value. The difference between buying and
selling would consist, not as now in the accumulation of the profits of
several dealers, but in one single charge for the expenses of warehousing
and the salaries of the managers of the bazaars. So an end would be
put to the frauds of trade and the exorbitant covetousness of traders, and
the producer would always be sure of a fair price for his produce. I
see no other way in which to provide for the just organisation of labour;
that is to say, so to regulate production and distribution as to protect
the right of everyone to work in his own manner and to enjoy the fruit of
Under this system co-operation would be open to all, without
let or hindrance, and competition (an equally true principle which ought
not to be opposed to co-operation) would have its fair scope, stimulating
men to greater exertions for their own benefit, certain to reap that
benefit so long as it should be no infringement upon the rights of others.
I do not leave out of view scientific men, artists, writers, inventors,
and speculators; those of recognised worth should, I think, receive not
merely loans but pensions from the State, in order that their whole time
might be given to Society; but until their proficiency become manifest
they must rank with untried inventors and speculators. It would be
for them to show cause why they should give up ordinary labour for new
endeavours. There would be this advantage over the present system,
they would not have to dread "vested interests," refusing to credit their
endeavours. Through what arrangements the discoveries of science
should be made available to the whole nation; how inventions and works of
genius should become national property, and the inventors and authors be
duly recompensed; how associative or individual experiments should be
encouraged—are matters of too much detail to be considered here. All
these requirements would come within the Province of a Minister of
Industry, or a Board of Labour and Exchange, which would need to be
established at the very outset of Republican Government. I have but
sketched some broad outlines of an organisation of labour.
Organisation of Justice.
[See note p.53]
With a sound system of national education few repressive laws
would be necessary. For there would be few offences in a society
whose members had been taught from childhood to understand and respect
each other's rights, to desire and seek the fulfilment of their own
duties. Still—for I am not Utopian enough to imagine that one
generation, however well educated, could leap at once into a
millennium—laws would be necessary to overrule the differences between
individuals, to prevent the recurrence of offences against individuals and
against the State. It is of the organisation of repressive law that
I would now speak.
And first, let it be borne in mind as a guiding principle
that the object of all law is, not arbitrary punishment, but prevention of
further offence, whether through correction of the offender or by
hindering the effect of his ill example.
Let the lawgiver also keep another rule before him: the
distinction between vice and crime—between the act which
immediately injures only the actor and that which directly assails
another's rights. Public opinion is the effectual punisher of the
first; the magistrate takes cognisance of the other.
For the individual has an inalienable right to lead his own
life. If after good education his propensities carry him
irresistibly to vice, what then? Can any police magistrate compel
him to be virtuous? Virtue is a free growth. If in spite of
all he will be vicious, he stands but upon the extremity of his individual
right. Let him alone.
But his wicked example is contagious: he has a moral plague.
Environ him with the sanitary cordon of public scorn: let him alone; till,
like the scorpion girt with fire, he perish, if the flame avail not for
It is not with an individual's private depravity (having
given him the education of a man) that the State has to deal.
The law is only a judge between man and mail. And to be
even more precise, I would confine the province of the magistrate to
actions, letting words pass by as "idle wind."
It may be said, words are injurious, and also provocations to
injury. If injurious, prove the effect, and then to all intents and
purposes it is an act with which we have to deal. Put do not punish
the utterer for words only "calculated to injure," and find afterwards
that the calculation was false, that the "libel" has fallen harmless.
As to what are called provocations, if you meddle with them, what becomes
of freedom of opinion? The preaching of a holier creed, of a better
form of government, of a purer life in private, may, at any time, be
construed (as so often they have been construed) into provocations and
malicious libels against religion, law and morals. Deal strongly
with offences when they occur, provide wisely against them by national
education, and do not fear the provocation of even the craziest who impugn
Let men incite their fellows to offend! If they do not
offend, what matters the incitement? If they do offend, take heed of
the offender rather than of him who bade him do it. The incited was
free to refuse.
It is another matter when the offender is a child. Then
punish the instigator; for the child is but the instrument with which
he committed the offence. However, repressive laws are not for
children, who yet are under the schoolmaster, but for adults, the free
The first step toward a thorough reform of the administration
of justice will be the promulgation of a simple criminal code in place of
the multitudinous statutes which now bewilder even the pretended
interpreters of law; a code which will not attempt to specify every
possible offence, but which will lay down broadly and clearly the nature
of offence, showing in what crime consists, mentioning only the more
manifest offences as examples, leaving also the punishment of each offence
(except in some few cases) to be apportioned by the magistrate to the
special circumstances of the case. Let such a code, framed by the
representatives of the nation, in simple language adapted to the
comprehension of honest men, not providing for the quirks and quibbles of
lawyers, be submitted to the whole people for their considerate criticisms
and for their suffrages. And then repeal by one act the mischievous
accumulation in which are bred those swarms of perverters of justice whom
men call lawyers.
There will be no occupation for them when the code of laws,
which has to hedge the daily life of every citizen, is so concise and
clear that every citizen may understand its bearings.
For the primary administration of the law let there be
district magistrates throughout the country, elected annually by the
inhabitants of each district; and let their authority be absolute in all
cases between individual and individual, or between individuals and the
All breaches of the written law, all complaints of individual
against individual, all differences requiring authoritative arbitration,
would be tried before these district magistrates by jury of the
inhabitants of the district. The jury would decide upon the fact,
apply the law, and assess damages, the magistrates would enforce their
decision and determine the sentence.
In cases of mere arbitration of difference between
individuals, the litigants might take their option of trial by jury or
reference to the magistrate alone.
The magistrates of a certain number of districts (say, all in
a county) would meet at fixed periods to form a general court, for
deciding questions relative to the government of the county, or disputes
between individuals or districts and the county, or to make arrangements
for police and other matters requiring consultation and collective action.
There should be no charge of any kind for the administration
of justice before the magistrates. The salaries of the magistrates,
the cost of the police, and all other expenses in repressing or correcting
crime, should be met by an assessment upon the district.
The magistrate would have absolute authority in his district,
the board of magistrates in the county. But against abuse of that
authority would be the double safeguard—annual election and the right of
Appeal would be to the Supreme Court of the Republic, whose
function would be to take cognizance of all questions concerning the
State—political violences, complaints of individuals against the local
authorities, and all magisterial errors, whether complained of or not.
To conduct the cases in this court there should be a public prosecutor.
It would be his duty to take the initiative against all
political offenders, and to receive and promote all appeals from
individuals complaining of the refusal of justice in the local courts.
These appeals would be immediately decided by the Supreme Court, and the
cost of the appeal be laid upon the party in error; upon the appellant if
he failed to prove his case; upon the magistrates if convicted.
The Supreme Court might consist of twelve judges, a chief
justice, and the public accuser; all of whom should sit by appointment of
Parliament, revocable upon misconduct.
The salaries and expenses of the court should be paid out of
the national revenue.
Both the Supreme Court and the magistracy would have the
power of reversing their decisions at any time, upon evidence of
incorrectness. The injured, by a wrong decision, would have a claim
A special code should provide for the government of the army
and navy in time of war. During peace, the magistrates of the
districts, in which troops or crews of vessels might be, should have
jurisdiction instead of courts martial.
To resume—what I would propose as necessary (in my belief)
for the due administration of justice in the Republic is—
written code—the expression of the people's will, or the people themselves
(through their juries) as its interpreters.
"One single body of magistrates elected by so many districts,
to act singly as administrators of the law in all matters appertaining to
their several districts; to act conjointly in the counties, or larger
districts, for all matters belonging to them.
"One Supreme Court and Court of Appeal appointed by the
representatives of the people to decide upon all matters between the
individual and the district or county, or between the individual, the
district or county and the State.
"All persons to be eligible for the magistracy: the judges to
be appointed from the body of magistrates."
I do not attempt here to prescribe a code of laws nor to
enter into the profound and extensive question of punishment.
Laws, made or submitted to by the people, will be at all
times the reflex of the popular idea of morality, justice and virtue:
neither worse nor better than that. And Society must become
convinced of the true nature of the law of consequential suffering before
it will be in a condition to frame a penal code, which shall protect the
many without violation of individual right.
But I believe, nay, late revolutionary events have proved,
that the people are so far advanced beyond their present rulers as to he
able to dispense with laws of fear now required by Monarchy, and to
abandon degrading inflictions only fit for slaves,
Need one specify death-punishment and flogging as instances
of the requirements of the present reign of terror? We may
reasonably hope for a juster basis of legislation against crime, when the
lawgiver shall be not the coward caution of a few tyrants, but the
universal conscience of a free and educated nation.
Bases of Taxation.
The object of taxation is to provide for the expenses of
Government. These expenses bear precisely the same relation to the
other expenses of society that the business expenses of a banking firm
bear to the private expenses of the individual bankers.
Society is but a firm. It has its business with other
firms, necessitating salaries, and other expenses. Every member
ought to pay his proportion of these expenses.
What would be thought of a firm in which the managers gravely
proposed to obtain the payments of some of their partners by indirect
means; to charge some capriciously, making exceptions for some and
compensating others; and to mystify the whole business so that it should
be impossible for any one of the partners to know the exact amount of his
Yet this is the actual condition of our present "system" of
taxation; and not one of our financial statesmen gives us any clue out of
the labyrinth. Not one appears to have the remotest idea of first
Let us suppose that, when our firm was first established, the
partners were jointly and equally possessed of so many acres of land.
This land was let and underlet in various ways; no matter how, for the
banking partners were jointly possessed, and, therefore, however unequal
might be the value of the several holdings or acres, the value of each
partner's share would always be equal to the value of every other share.
Whether this land or property should deteriorate or improve, the partners
in the bank, according to their tenure, were bound to share equally.
Let us further suppose that, when the bank began business,
its yearly expenses were calculated at exactly the value of a year's
rental of the land. Indeed, the firm undertook that their expenses
should not exceed that rental.
Would it not be absurd for them to ask each other for more
money, or to collect the money in any indirect way, as long as this rental
could be available, a sum always lying at their hands? Would it not
be equally absurd for them to bewilder themselves in devising some
out-of-the-way new method of equality, by which this partner should not
know how much he paid, and this other, under pretence of being let of in
the right pocket, should pay extra from the left? Why, indeed,
should they take any trouble in planning or contriving at all, while the
rent of their joint property is always ready for them in equal
This England is a great firm: whose every member enters it—is
born into it—possessed of his or her proportion of the joint property in
the land. Why cast about for factitious equalities of taxation, when
this great natural equality might save you all your trouble?
But the land "has been stolen," "has gone out of your hands."
No such thing! You have merely neglected to collect your rents.
Your title is as good as ever. Your title to the ground-rents: not
to the tenants' improvements.
Get your taxes from the land! Adapt the rental you will
require from that to the expenses necessary for the business of your firm.
If no rent you can get will meet your present expenses, then reduce your
expenses. The whole mystery of finance is here. The only just,
that is to say, equal tax is one of so much an acre, without reference to
the difference of value. Try the others.
Would you levy a tax on property: it is manifestly unjust to
except income. Would you levy it on income: to be just it must be on
all incomes. You will never get at the incomes of all. You
will never hit the precise proportion between certain and uncertain
incomes; and you will tax one man's over-tasked strength, fast-killing
him, at the same rate as another's more profitable play. Also you
will have to draw a line somewhere, and the exception of any is an
inequality, an injustice; or you must descend so low in the scale that the
sums collected from certain classes will not cover the cost of collection,
which will drive you back again into the injustice of increasing the
burthens of the richer classes to make amends for the loss of collecting
from the lower. In no way is it possible for an income or a property
tax to be universally just or equal.
Would you tax houses: again, all houses? That looks
well. But the value of houses is factitious. I carry on my
business in a town or a part of a town where houses are too few for the
population: my rent is high. Is the tax to depend on some one
proportionating the houses to the population? Or must I, losing
already by my dear house (and I can get none other for my business), while
my neighbour but a few streets off has just the same amount of business at
half the rental—must I be taxed extra just in proportion to that loss?
A house tax can not be a just tax. Its equality is that of an equal
measure to all lengths: like Procrustes' bed, very comfortable to the
Would you try a poll tax: the equity is equally Procrustean.
The man who owns sixty thousand acres of the country shall pay no more
than the beggared wretch whom he can evict to-morrow; to say nothing of
the premium on infanticide, which some political economists might consider
Would you tax the necessaries of life: to be just you must
only tax what everybody will equally use. Find it out first-not even
bread, though everyone should eat bread. One man, to keep up health,
must eat twice as much as another; the natural disadvantage is enough
without making him pay double tax for it.
Would you tax only luxuries your tag will be a prohibition.
You must fall back upon the needs.
Would you try that splendid mystification, the taxing
everything in order so to get at everybody somehow, by hook or by crook?
No, you would not try that; the folly has been sufficiently refuted.
Would you tax what comes into the country, and so get your
taxes from foreigners? We are beginning to find out that every penny
so paid is charged to us again with interest. We pay it after all;
and it falls unequally upon those who most need the imports. Would
you tax the exports? Then you stop our trade. How compete with
other markets if our goods are so enhanced in price: having freight also
to add to cost of production? There also is the injustice of taxing
only a class: the exporters.
Tax corn; large classes eat potatoes and pay no tax; the
richer will eat larger proportions of flesh and so evade their share.
Tax malt: the teetotalers escape. Tax tea: we will drink coffee.
Tax tea and coffee: we can return to our cheap beer. Tax cloth; it
will fall unduly on those obliged to be particular in their appearance.
Not a single tax can be levied upon productions, necessaries, or luxuries,
without inflicting gross injustice on some class of the community.
There may be differences of more or less injustice, but palpable injustice
will be in everyone. And when you adopt your compensation system, of
taxing everything, you do not remedy the injustice; you merely make it
more difficult to estimate its position and amount.
The same condemnation applies to both direct and indirect
taxation. Direct or indirect, the tax comes from the pocket of the
tax-payer: and it is sheer nonsense when men talk of national relief with
the gross amount of revenue unreduced. If you have the same revenue
it is clear that the same amount of taxation exists, whichever pocket it
may be drawn from.
Indirect taxation is, of course, more clumsy and expensive in
collection, better adapted, too, to knavery of all descriptions, than
direct taxation. But speaking here only of the bases of taxation,
there is no difference between direct and indirect. Direct or
indirect, there is injustice alike in every system of taxation except one.
An equal rental for every cultivable acre of hand is the only just and
equal tax possible.
But the landowners? The nation is the only landowner.
If our managing committee has robbed the firm of its land, or only
neglected to collect the rent, shall that be a valid reason for our
finding more capital to carry on our ordinary business? In reply to
their demand, we tell them that they have our capital. Let them at
all events use that before they ask for more. What is it to us—the
sleeping partners (or that great part of the nation which has not the
management)—that they have foolishly let our land or suffered it to be
stolen or rendered of no avail? Neither they, nor we, nor all of us
together, could alienate that property. It is ours. It is yet
available. We tell them to find the expenses of our business out of
An unequal tax is an unjust tax. No tax can be equal
except a tax upon land; which, again we repeat, is but the nation's
rental. Step once out of this simple principle and you must lose
your way in no end of mischievous and unrighteous blundering. The
only common property, the only raw material is land; and it is only as raw
material that you must tax it. If you begin to tax labour upon it
you are lost.
This tax upon land, or rather this amount produced by the
rental of the land—the rental being higher or lower according to the
nation's need—is the nation's capital, a common fund, legitimately
applicable to the business of the common weal. This is proceeding in
national affairs as all sensible men proceed in their private affairs. In
any other tax either an undue proportion must be forcibly taken from
the pockets of some—which is rubbery; or some must be allowed to
escape—which is an injustice to the rest, an injustice which is
robbery—robbery either way. Get out of this dilemma, if you can.
But no such difficulty occurs when you meet your expenses
with the rental of your land. You are then only paying your way out
of a common fund of which all are equally possessed: instead of letting
the common fund be lost, and having to make an unequal assessment—on whom
you can catch.
As to the position of the landlords (miscalled
owners), a consideration of that would be out of place in an argument
on the principles of taxation. It may, however, be remarked that
the land was taken on conditions, and those conditions were that the
holders should pay the national expenses: which is the very
requirement we have been here making. Every landlord's tenure is on
the condition of feudal service. Let the land as of old find the
service, commuted from men to money.
And here is a comfortable quotation from Adam Smith, to help
the landlords to a cheerful submission:—
"Taxes upon the produce of land are in reality taxes upon
rent, and though they may be originally advanced by the farmer, are
finally paid by the landlord."
Very true: and the same holds of all taxes; they are finally
paid by the landlord. But meanwhile the farmer and the labourer die.
Let us save all this roundabout, uncertain, and unsatisfactory process by
the landlord paying first.
[See note p.62]
Elsewhere I have maintained the right and duty of the State
to educate the children of the nation. I propose here to consider
what is meant by "education," to whom, and in what measure, it should be
accorded. As all are members of the State, its born servants, so all
are equally entitled to its care. Education is for all. The meanest
life is sacred: as sacred as the eyes. The utmost development of
which each individual nature can be made capable should be the only limit
to the measure of education. And, again, the right to labour
involves the right to education. It would be a mockery to free
industry from the tyranny of capital and to leave the worker in
ignorance—the slave of the intelligent.
To enable every member of the nation to render humanity the
utmost service of which his nature can be made capable, this is the object
of education—this is the duty of the State.
The rights involved in the question of education are these:
the right of the State as the organiser to teach in order to enable the
nation's servants to fulfil their duties; the rights of the parent also to
teach, not in any respect on account of any presumed right over the land,
which cannot exceed the right of every individual to proselytise, but
solely in virtue of the parent's special capacity through the sympathy of
a kindred nature; and the right of a child to its inheritance—a share in
the knowledge acquired by humanity: to harmonise these merits is the
problem of education. I would have the State education of boys and
girls to commence at the age of seven years. Up to that time
children should be rather growing than learning.
The physical development is interfered with by too early
exercise of the intellect. The first years of childhood should not
be troubled with thought: the infant lives should be perfectly
happy—growing in beauty, like flowers rejoicing in the springtime.
For the first seven years at least I think that children
should remain with their parents. Their first education is through
their affections. This must come through their parents.
God has knit together so wonderfully the hearts of children
and parents that no other teachers can ever supply the parent's place in
this tender unfolding of the blossoms of life.
The first and the last of human lessons—reverence, which is
the true seed of aspirations and progress—should have its beginning in the
home of infancy.
At seven years of age the child should be entitled to the
education of the State: I say entitled, because I would give the parents
still the option of educating their children for two years more; the
parents knowing that their children, if neglected during these two years,
would afterwards enter the public schools at a painful disadvantage.
The education of the State schools during these two years
would assist in teaching the child to read, write, draw, and sing, in
cultivating its perceptive faculties, and in orally explaining to it the
broad facts of Nature and of God in relation to its position in the
universe. The home education ought not to fall short of this.
At nine years of age the attendance of every child at the
State schools should be obligatory.
I would have the children board at the schools, else they
could not be subjected to that perfect equality which is the first lesson
to be taught by the Republic.
There should be no vacations, but certain holidays; some to
be observed at the school, some spent at home; Sundays, if desired, the
children might regularly spend with their parents; and the parents would
have access to them at all times, so as not in hindrance of the course of
I would divide the time of education into three periods.
The first, considering two years as preliminary, would begin at the age of
nine years and continue to the age of fourteen.
Education during the first period would consist in the
cultivation of the moral and religious sentiments, the exercise of the
body, and the storing and training of the intellect, awakened by the
perception and conversations of the two preliminary years.
[See note p.64]
Of bodily exercises, I would have every child taught these:
to swim, to ride, and to aim at a mark. These for both boys and
girls, who, whether in or out of school, should be as much together as if
they were members of the same family. Other gymnastics, such as
racing, leaping, wrestling, climbing, should not be neglected.
Vocal music, drawing, arithmetic, geography, the main
outlines of history—these, with explanations of the divine laws of duty,
would occupy the school hours; and for relaxation, when not actually at
play, the child should be entertained with beginnings of lessons in
astronomy, geology, botany, etc. Among instructive amusements
gardening should hold the first place.
The second period of public education would be from the age
of fourteen to that of eighteen.
Now I would sever the sexes: not altogether, but sufficiently
to prevent, the continuance of the hitherto unrestrained fellowship.
Some of their studies and amusements would still be had together, with
good effect. The girls should now be at liberty to reside at home,
if their parents desired it; still bound to finish their course of
education by attending the classes of the school. From fourteen to
eighteen the girl requires the constant care and companionship of her
But the boy, from fourteen to eighteen, should be obliged to
remain an inmate of the public school. This would be the period of
his apprenticeship. He would now learn more exactly the nature and
laws of his own being, physical, mental, and moral; he would seriously
study history, especially of his own country, and sufficient of all
sciences for the ordinary purposes of life; he would learn the grammar of
his own tongue, and, if he showed any aptitude, make himself master of at
least two other languages besides his own, one living and one dead.
He would learn mathematics to help him to think correctly; he would learn
the use of arms. Specially he would be taught to understand his
duties as a man and a citizen.
Attached to the public schools should be workshops in which
the different handicrafts should be taught, and here great part of this
period of apprenticeship would be spent by the boys learning the special
crafts for which they have evinced most aptitude and liking. Some in
these shops, some in model-farms also attached to the schools, some over
their books, their drawings, or their music, some in the normal
schools—each according to his natural bent, easy to be seen when free
opportunity had been given for a wise choice—so would be employed this
period of apprenticeship.
The third period would be from the age of eighteen to that of
At eighteen the young Athenian swore in the temple to make
his country greater and more glorious. So at eighteen I would have
the youth of both sexes solemnly take upon themselves the business of
life, understanding that now their general studies are at an end, and that
henceforth their lives are to be devoted to their country and to Humanity.
The next two years would be spent by the young man in close
application to the peculiar vocation for which he was destined.
During that time he would be under professors and masters, working at the
art or craft which he had chosen.
He would now have free access to the public library, and the
option of residing at home (or wherever else might be approved by the
masters of the school) and of using his leisure according to his own
taste, bound only to obedience during the hours of instruction, and to
attend, during the latter portion of his noviciate, a course of lectures
explanatory of the laws of his country, to prepare him for worthily
occupying the position of a citizen.
From twenty to twenty-one he would be sent to travel that he
might enlarge his nature by learning in what other countries differed from
his own. On his return he would be solemnly acknowledged a citizen,
a free man, the uncontrolled master of his own actions, accountable only
to the laws, and entitled to his share in the commonwealth.
The woman would also be similarly acknowledged, whether she
had dwelt at home since the age of fourteen, or whether she had availed
herself of her right to claim all the advantages of the public schools, to
which under all circumstances her title would hold good.
Here ends that education of youth which the State has both
the right and the duty to bestow and to impose upon all its members.
But education stops not here. There is still the education of the
adult, for with the Republican all life is educational. But this
will be considered under the head of Religious Worship,
I would place the whole system of education under the
superintendence of a minister of public instruction, assisted by an
Educational Board, both appointed by the Representatives of the Nation.
The teachers in the schools I would have chosen by the inhabitants of the
several districts, subject to the approval of the Board. The whole
scheme of education, framed as a law, should be submitted to the people.
The cost should be defrayed out of the public revenues.
And so, asks one of our acquaintance, you would take the
vagabonds of our streets and the paupers of our poor-houses and peasant
homes, and you would give them all an education better than is given to
Ay! to all of them. Not excluding nor omitting one.
And so, rejoins the radical reformer, you will make the better half
of the people disgusted with their station; and who will be our servants?
who will sweep our chimneys, cook our dinners, clean our shoes—
Good friend! cease to scare thyself with this after-dinner
vision of a lazy fine gentleman millennium. Be assured that, after
even the perfected education of all, difficulty will still necessitate
toil, and there will remain the everlasting law of duty, to arrive at
nobleness through service, sacrifice, and endeavour. And for that
word station, which fell from thee, consider what thy servant's station
really is. The most uneducated slave of whom we speak is, like our
Brother Christ, a royal child of God, however thou who callest thyself a
Christian, mayest deny the relationship. It is the dignity of a
Child of the Eternal which we would maintain, even though the maintenance
should compel your lordship to be your owl, groom and chamberlain.
Station! The natural destiny of every human life is to
progress, not to remain stationary. To aspire and to progress, "in
order that those faculties whose germs God has deposited in our souls may
wing their highest possible flight."