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tell. And if all these parties were contented, (than which, the mind of man can imagine nothing more impossible, there remain the Spencean Philanthropists,--a set of men not to be confounded with any of whom we have hitherto spoken ;--nen who know distinctly what they mean, and tell us honestly what they aim at,-infinitely more respectable than the shallow orators who declaim about Reform with many words making nothing understood,' and far more dangerous, inasmuch as great and important truths, half understood and misapplied, are of all means of mischief the most formidable. It is fit that our readers should have their political confession of faith before them.
Is the only effectual Remedy for the
Distresses and Oppressions of the People. The Landholders are not Proprietors in Chief; they are but the
Stewards of the Public;
For the LAND is the People's Farm.
Spirit of Christianity, and destructive of
* The Profit of the Earth is for all;' Yet how deplorably destitute are the great Mass of the People! Nor is it possible for their situations to be radically amended, but
By the establishment of a system Founded on the immutable basis of Nature and Justice. Experience demonstrates its necessity; and the Rights of Mankind
Require it for their preservation. To obtain this important object, by extending the knowledge of the above system, the society of Spencean Philanthropists has been instituted. Further information of its principles may be obtained by attending any of its sectional meetings, where subjects are discussed calculated to enlighten the human understanding; and where also the regulations of the Society may be procured, containing a complete development of the Spencean system. Every individual is admitted, free of expense, who will conduct himself with decorum. The Meetings of the Society begin at a quarter after eight in the
evening, as under: First Section every Wednesday, at the Cock, Grafton-street, Soho. Second, Thursday, Mulberry Tree, Mulberry-ct. Wilson-st. Moorfields, Third, Monday, Nags Head, Carnaby-market. Fourth, Tuesday, No. 8, Lumber-street, Mint, Borough.
In all the schemes which have been devised for a perfect society since men first began to speculate upon such subjects, the principle
of a community of goods has in some degree entered ; and certain approaches toward it, though under many modifications, have been made both in ancient and modern times, as in Crete and in Sparta,among the Peruvians, and by the Jesuits in Paraguay. Such a community prevailed among some of the primitive Christians, though no law of the Gospel enjoined it; the Moravians in Germany approach very nearly to it at this time. The mendicant orders were established on the same principle and have thriven upon it, nihil habentes et omnia possidentes—the Papal Church, with its usual wisdom, (for that church assuredly possesses the wisdom of the serpent,) having prevented the principle from becoming dangerous, by thus sanctioning, and taking it into its service. In America also it is acted upon by many obscure sects, living inoffensively and industriously in small communities. A religious influence has prevailed in all these instances --Lycurgus could not have succeeded without the assistance of Apollo, and Mango Capac was the son of
The doctrine becomes formidable when it is presented as a political dogma, with no such feeling to soften and sanctify it. Joel Barlow, the American republican, who died when lackeying the heels of Buonaparte on his expedition into Russia, perceived that the fashionable doctrines of liberty, of which he was so warm an advocate, tended this way, and must end there; but he thought proper to adjourn sine die the time for carrying these ultimate principles into effect. There is reason for supposing that Robespierre at the time of his overthrow had formed some extravagant project of this kind; he spoke of? momentous secrets which a kind of pusillanimous prudence had induced him to conceal,' and promised to disclose in his will, if he should be cut off prematurely, the object to which what he called the triumph of liberty tended, If Babeuf may be believed, this object was an equalization of property, an object which Babæuf* attempted by the most atrocious means to bring about, but perished in the attempt. Happily it was made too late ;--sick of horrors and satiated with blood, the people were weary of revolutions, and France escaped a convulsion more dreadful than any which it had experienced.
This, however, is not the theory of the Spencean philanthropists. These root-and-branch reformers take their name from a poor man, who, if he had unluckily lived in the days of the French Revolution, might have been a very inoffensive member of society, and remembered only, if he had been remembered at all, among those writers who have amused themselves by building constitutions in the air, instead of castles. When I began to study,' says he, * I found every thing erected on certain unalterable principles. Í found every art and science a perfect whole. Nothing was in anarchy but language and politics. But both of these I reduced to order: the one by a new alphabet, and the other by a vew constitution. The new alphabet of this modest reformer we have not had the fortune to see ; it seems, however, that the first edition either of his New Constitution, or his Trial, was printed in what he calls his. ' natural or philosophical orthography. His political opinions were first propounded in the form of a Lecture, read before the Philosophical Society of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1775, and printed immediately afterwards ; from which time, he says, he went on continually publishing them in one shape or other.' They are fully and harmlessly explained in his · Constitution of Spensonia, a country in Fairy Land; situated between Utopia and Oceana.' "The Spensonian Commonwealth is one and indivisible;' and, the Sovereign People is the Universality of Spensonian citizens. Divested of such nonsensical language, which was then in full vogue, and too much of which still passes current, his scheme is,- That the soil belongs to the state, and that individuals should rent their lands and tenements from their respective parishes; the rent being the revenue, and the surplus, after all: public expenses are defrayed, to be divided equally among all the parishioners ; every kind of property being permitted except in Tand. The larger estates are to be leased for one and twenty years, and at the expiration of that term re-let by public auction; the smaller ones by the year : and larger ones subdivided as the increase of population may require. The legislative power is vested in an annual parliament, elected by universal suffrage, women voting as well as men,—the executive is in the hands of a council of twentyfour, half of which is to be renewed annually. Every fifth day is a sabbath of rest,—not of religion; for though this constitution is proclaimed in the presence of the Supreme Being, no provision is made for worshipping Him. All the Spensonians are soldiers ; and in the Spensonian Commonwealth, Nature and Justice know nothing of illegitimacy. To the end of this Constitution an Epilogue is annexed, in decent verse, saying that the Golden Age will no longer be accounted fabulous, now that mankind are about to enjoy
* An account of this conspiracy, collected from the official documents, is in our seventh yolume, p. 417-422. It is a curious part in the history of the French Revolution.
-All that prophets e'er of bliss foretold,
And all that poets ever feigned of old.' And these verses,--to shew the strange humour of the man, and the vulgarity which adhered to him, are followed by a ' Chorus, to the tune of Sally in our Alley:
• Then let us all join heart in hand
Thro' country, town, and city,
To haste this Golden Age's reign
On 'every hill and valley,
Thro' every street and alley.?! In any other age this might have gone quietly to the family vault. But the French Revolution made Spence suppose that the time for realizing his speculations was arrived; and the manner in which he proposed to do this, brought him under the cognizance of the Attorney-General,--how deservedly, a brief specimen of his philanthropical proposals will shew:
We must destroy,' he says, all private property in land. The Landholders are like a warlike enemy quartered upon us for the purpose of raising contributions, therefore any thing short of a total destruction of the power of these Samsons will not do; and that must be accomplished, not by simple sharing;'-(look to it, Mr. Coke, of Norfolk !)
not by simple shaving, which leaves the roots of their strength to grow again;
;-Do we must scalp* them, or else they will soon recover, and pull our Temple of Liberty about our ears. Nothing less than a complete extermination of the present system of holding land will ever bring the world again to a state worth living in. But how is this mighty work to be done? I answer it must be done at once.
For the public mind being suitably prepared by my little tracts, a few contiguous parishes have only to declare the land to be theirs, and form a Convention of parochial deputies: other adjacent parishes would immediately follow the example; and thus would a beautiful and powerful New Republic instantaneously arise in full vigour. In fact, it is like the Almighty saying, Let there be light, and it was so :-So the people have only to say, Let the land be ours, and it will be so, For who, pray, are to hinder the people of any nation from doing so, when they are inclined? Are the landlords more numerous in proportion to the people than the officers in our mutinous fleets were to their crews ? Certainly not. Then landsmen have nothing to fear more than the seamen, and indeed much less; for after such a mutiny on land, the masters of the people would never become their masters again.'.
For this publication the Scalping Philanthropist was most deservedly prosecuted; having before richly entitled himself to this distinction by a periodical farrago called Pig's Meat, wherein the same doctrines were promulgated, and circulated in the cheapest form among the lower classes of tradesmen and mechanics. We remember to have heard that he excited compassion at his trial * This
, as may be supposed, was a favourite passage with the author. He adds in a note, that the overbearing power of great men by their revenues, and the power of Samson by his hair, are strikingly similar, and shew such men to be dangerous compa- , nions in society, till scalped of their hair, or revenues. For it is plain, that if the Lords of the Philistines had scalped Samson, instead of only shaving him, they might have saved both their lives and their temple. The Philistines in France were of this opinion, and to make short work as well as sure, they employed a machine which took off head and all.
by his wretched appearance, and the pitiable fanaticism with which he was possessed: for the man was honest; he was not one of those demagogues who, like Cobbett, make mischief their trade because they find it a gainful one ; he asserted nothing but what he believed, and would have suffered martyrdom for his opinions. He called himself, in bis defence, 'The unfeed advocate of the disinherited seed of Adam.'
• This, Gentlemen,' said he, is the Rights of Man! and upon this Rock of Nature have I built my Commonwealth, and the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.' I solemnly avow,' he continued, that what I have written and published has been done with as good a conscience, and as much philanthropy, as ever possessed the heart of any prophet, apostle, or philosopher, that ever existed. And indeed I could neither have lived or died in peace, having such important truths in my bosom unpublished.'
-A tough fellow: one that seemed to stand
Which the mysterious call Philosophy. He stood alone, he said, unconnected with any party, and con sidered as a lunatic, except by a thinking few. Even the professed friends of liberty kept aloof from him, and would rather, if they could consistently, join in the suppression than the support of his opinions. He pleaded his own cause, being too poor to retain either attorney or counsel. And when he was brought up to judgment, the simple statement which he gave of his treatment in Newgate, ought to have produced some reform in the scandalous state of our prisons.
• Perhaps, my lords,' said he, 'I have entertained too high an opinion of Human Nature, for I do not find mankind very grateful clients. I have very small encouragement indeed to rush into a prison, on various accounts. For, in the first place, the people without treat me with the contempt due to a lunatic; and the people within treat me as bad, or worse, than the most notorious felon among them. And what with redeeming and ransoming my toes from being pulled off with a string while in bed, and paying heavy and manifold fees, there is no getting through the various impositions.'
But he excused the Keeper of Newgate, saying these things were unknown to him, because it was dangerous to complain ; " for nobody could conceive what dreadful work went on among such ruffians, but those who have had the misfortune to be locked up with them.'
It is fortunate that this man was not a religious as well as a political enthusiast. He was poor and despised, but not despicable; for he was sincere, stoical, persevering, single-minded, and self-approved; with means less powerful, doctrines less alluring,