Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

6

repeat, without the inseparable combina- | restrictive engagement which we call tion of moral and religious instruction, marriage, but which Mr. Owen stigmatiwill be infinitely worse for themselves ses as an accursed thing,'' an unnatural and society than even ignorance itself. crime,'«a satanic device. And we are sorry to say that, not only by We had long known that Mr. Owen their scheme of national education (which, professed these and similar doctrinesafter all, is nothing but a device to grati- but we hoped, and indeed believed, that fy the enemies of the church, and should the man who could even imagine, and, never be discussed in any other sense), still worse, publish such abominations, but by many incidental circumstances, must be insane, and that we should next the government shows itself to be either hear of him in Bedlam. In this latter very ignorant or very careless of the surmise, at least, we were mistaken: we moral and religious interests of the peo- have next heard of him-at Court-preple; and this ignorance or inattention sented to the unsuspecting purity of a has contributed in no small degree to the Virgin Queen-by no random Lord in deplorable disorders of the times. Waiting, but, to give the astonishing pro.

Lord Melbourne himself-pollicitus ceeding its full effect and solemnity, by meliorabesides his general and para- the Prime Minister himself! mount share in the measures of every Of 194 presentations to the Queen on department of his government, has, we the same day, 26th June, 1839, the are sorry to say, personally aided and Prime Minister did but three persons the assisted in this general system of disor- distinguished honour of personally introganisation. It is the curious infelicity of ducing them to Her Majesty--the Earl this government, that, in their hands, the of Scarborough-Lord Methuen, his creamerest trifles become serious mischiefs tion--and Robert Owen ! -nuga seria ducunt in mala-scratches But this is not all-mad men and bad turn to cancers. The innocent indispo- men have been heretofore seen at courtsition of a lady in waiting becomes a to the regret of those who knew their cha. public scandal and a fatal tragedy-death racters--but with, comparatively, little to her, and obloquy to others--no one of public scandal : the madness or the wick. whom would, we firmly believe, have edness of such men was either not notoribeen subjected to the slightest criticism ous, or, at least, they had some other or reproach, had the minister who chose claim to appear in the royal circle. And to meddle with the matter looked at it moreover, we may ask, whether the pre, in its true light, and treated it with either sence of a young and female sovereign feeling or sagacity, or even with common ght not to be more carefully guarded sense.

against the intrusion of any shade of imIn the same way he has contrived to purity than might, in former courts, have make of the most futile of all ceremonies, been rigorously necessary ? a presentation at court, an occasion of But these personal considerationsdisrespect to the Sovereign-of insult to though, under the circumstances, very sethe moral and religious feelings of the rious—are not our motive for alluding to country—and of menace to all our insti- the affair on this occasion. tutions. These may, at first sight, seem We have said that we hoped and beexaggerated results to be attributed to so lieved that Owen himself was insane ; slight a cause--but hear us out the but we had, till lately, no idea that there subject will soon show itself to be one of could have been any one else mad enough the utmost gravity and importance. to adopt his doctrines even as specula

There is a certain Robert Owen, noto- tive theories : it turns out, however, thatrious to the public for several extraordi- under the general relaxation of all pubnary speculations, but principally for a lic discipline-under the general contheory of political and moral government, tempt for all authority, and the general which he calls Socialism, and of which enmity to all our institutions—under the the main features are Atheism and the general arrogance of self-judgment, selfprohibition of all religion, especially the indulgence and self-sufficiency-all of Christian—the irresponsibility of man- which have been growing up for many appetite and self-indulgence the only years, but particularly since the unforturational rule of human conduct-a com- nate Reform Bill, and, most of all, under munity of goods--and-we hardly know how, with decency, to express the mon

* See Owen's Marriage System of the New Mo. strous proposition—the abolition of that ral World, p. 17.

the Melbourne Ministry--Robert Owen universe;" and maintains that “to worship such a has made numerous practical proselytes Being is opposed to the rational conviction of every --that he is at the head of a great and instructed to disbelieve the existence of a future life spreading sect, calling themselves Social- and a future judgment; and, consequently, they mainists, and professing the doctrines just tain that man is not responsible for his actions. They mentioned, which are not only incompat, than that of the Koran, and the pretensions of Jesus

are taught that the Bible rests on no better authority ible with our political constitution, moral Christ on no better grounds than those of Mahomet. obligations and religious duties, but we They are instructed that “ no one (to use their own will boldly assert, wholly irreconcileable language) shall be responsible for his physical, inoral, with any system whatsoever of human made on that organization by external circun

or intellectual organization,” or “ for the sensations society.

stances;" and therefore that man is at liberty to give We are not informed of the full extent full scope to the indulgence of the sensual passions; to which this miserable delusion may Marriage, it is treated by them with open ridicule;

-and,ʻlastly, with regard to the sacred institution of have spread, but we have abundant evi- and they propose to substitnte for it a licensed system dence that it has become so formidable by of adultery, such as even the worst and most corrupt its numbers, and other elements of power, ages of heathen antiquity never knew.'-pp. 21, 22. as well as by its doctrines, as to have of

Mr. Pearson most truly states thatlate excited the apprehensions, not merely of Churchmen and Methodists, but even tricts of the country can be no longer regarded as a

'the promulgation of these opinions in so many disof others who are little likely to be start- matter of indifference, when it is stated that there is led at any form of sectarianism short of at this time a public Institute for the purpose of givabsolute extravagance.

ing lectures, and of other objects connected with the The evil in fact has grown to be of such propagation of these opinions, in the course of erecmagnitude, and has created so

much

tion at Manchester, and that persons were found to

guarantee the architect in the sum of 50001 ; and that alarm, that the Christian Advocate, in buildings devoted to the same purposes have been the University of Cambridge, however opened in other populous cities in the manufacturing reluctant to notice such abominations as

districts.'—p. 8. long as they were confined in their cir- And he gives us the following statement culation, and not calculated to do exten- from their own reports of the growth of sive mischief,' at length felt it to be the the Society, if we may call by that name duty of his office to endeavour to arrest that which is in fact subversive of the and expose the progress and tendencies very foundations of all society :of this profligate system,-a task which 'In the proceedings of the last Congress of this he has performed with great ability and Society, [we beg onr readers to bear in mind this effect. It is not our present intention to Congress, and its title,] which is denominated The enter into the argumentative part of the ists," held at Birmingham in May [last,] there is an

Universal Community Society of Rational Religion subject, or to show in any detail the wick- account of fifty places, comprehending the most edness and folly of Socialism, but merely populous towns in England and Scotland, at which to state some general facts as to the exist- branches have been formed; and at this meeting the

following reports were made :-“Mr. James Cainpence, progress, and public professions of bell reported the state of the Salford branch. With the sect, with immediate reference to the respect to Lecture-rooms, many present were aware extraordinary presentation of Robert that they had taken the Joiners' Hall, Manchester, Owen to the Queen by the hands of the capable of containing 2000 persons, and which was

The Social Institution, SalPrime Minister. But for this purpose it ford, was also well filled, and attended by persons of is necessary to impress on our readers' a superior class. Mr. Murphy, of Birmingham, said, minds the general tenets of this sect, of that the branch had two meeting places, one in Wellwhich we have already given a summary, other in Lawrence-street Chapel, capable of bold

lane, Alison-street, holding about 350 persons, the but which we think it right to reproduce ing 500 ; both were usually crowded. Mr. Finch, in the more authoritative words of Mr. delegate from Liverpool, stated, that the audiences in Pearson :

Liverpool were generally between five and seven

hundred in number. The branch had established a It would not have beenjustifiable to allude thus pub- Sunday School, conducted by several male and licly to these opinions, unless they had been propagated female teachers. A library of 350 volumes had also with a mischievous activity in those districts of the been formed." ?-p. 31. country to which allusion has just been made, and unfortunately with too much success; and unless Then follow reports to the CongRESS their promoters were making great efforts to extend of the prosperous proceedings of the Sotheir influence more generally through the land. It cialist missionaries at Coventry (17th Jan. will be possible only just to allude to the leading features of this infidel creed—which indeed announts to uary, 1839), at Warwick, at Salford (4th nothing less than the absolute rejection of Christianity February), at Yarmouth (13th February), altogether! The first and leading principle of this at Leeds (3d March), at Manchester (3d scheme is that of practical atheism; and consists in June), &c.; and after giving a summary istence of a God, who made and who governs the l of these reports, Mr. Pearson adds-

ed that we should not enter into the details of the controversy; but we shall venture to lay before our readers, in corroboration of what we have quoted from Mr. Pearson, a single passage of Mr. Giles's general exposition (Giles's 1st Lect. pp. 1 and 2) of Mr. Owen's doctrine :—

*

"

Though many have smiled at the presumption of their wild and visionary projects for a new arrangement of society, only few have suspected them of aiming at nothing less than the subversion of reFounder of the System carefully concealed at first ligion. To prevent unfavourable impressions, the his infidelity from the world; while, under promise of great advantages to the working classes, he drew attention to his plans and experiments for social imextent, the public ear, he deemed it no longer necesprovement. Thus having gained, to a considerable sary entirely to withhold his daring speculations on morality and religion; though, in making them known he has proceeded in a manner so gradual, and under such pretences of reason and virtue, as were least likely to "shock the prejudices" of mankind; while many of his associates have practised the more impudent fraud of endeavouring to shelter their designs under the name of Christianity.

"6

66

'In his recent publications, however, he has exercised less caution, and laid himself open to the public view as the undisguised enemy of Revelauseless words, is founded in a simple dogma," tion. Theology,” he affirms, “when stripped of which, with another afterwards explained, "is the evil genius of the world-the Devil of the Christians, and the real and sole cause of all lies and hypocrisy.' Religions," he observes in another place," founded under the name of Jewish, Bndhu, Jehovah, God of human laws in opposition to Nature's eternal laws; or Christ, Mahomet, or any other, are all composed and when these laws are analysed they amount only to three absurdities, three gross impositions upon the ignorance or inexperience of mankind." To which I may add, that, in a publication yet more recent, he a blow, to destroy both virtue and religion, denounces not only repeats the same sentiments, but hoping, at the Christian law of marriage as "a Satanic institution," "an accursed thing" and deliberately proposes that men, like other animals, should be left to the inclinations of nature, and proceeds to ask

"

The preceding extracts, which have been made from a considerable number of documents relating to the same subject, will serve to give an idea of the manner in which this infidel agitation is carried on in the principal manufacturing and mining districts of the country, of Cheshire, Lancashire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Durham, &c.'

But as we have said, it is not Churchmen alone who are alarmed and scandalised at these proceedings. We have before us two lectures (the third has not yet reached us), delivered by Mr. John Eustace Giles, minister of a Baptist congregation at Leeds, and we appeal to his evidence the rather because nobody who knows anything either of the general character of his sect, or of Mr. Giles individually, will suspect him of any undue bias towards establishments, nor of any prejudice against sectaries. Mr. Giles states that his attention having been drawn to Socialism by the great increase of the sects in his own immediate neighbourhood, he felt it his duty to examine their tenets-he accordingly procured Mr. Owen's publications-indeed they were furnished to him by the Socialists themselves, in the hope, it would seem, of making a proselyte. These he proceeded to read

with the prepossession in their favour that they were the productions of a mind [Robert Owen's] some what sceptical and visionary, yet incapable of malignant hatred to religion, and by no means unfriendly to good morals. The perusal soon convinced him of his mistake, and unfolded so many impious and licentious principles; so many hypocritical pretences, notwithstanding, to virtue and philanthropy; so many apologies for crime; so much inveterate hatred to civil government; so many artful contrivances to ensnare the superficial by crude metaphysical subtleties, the indolent by promises of luxury without labour, and the sensual by a perpetual eulogy of the animal appetites, and the prospect of a Mahomedan Paradis, as awakened in his mind a detestation of the system to which he was previously a stranger. With these altered impressions, the writer, after further delay elsewhere explained, felt bound to caution the public against the folly, wickedness, and mischievous tendency of a system, which he saw propagated with an industry worthy of a better cause.-Giles, 1st Lect., Pref.

The justice of this indignation against Mr. Owen, Mr. Giles proceeds to justify by numerous and frightful quotations from his works, and by able and acute commentaries on them-of which, as of Mr. Pearson's discourse, we should, at first, have said that their only fault was that they took superfluous pains to refute fallacies and follies by which no sane mind could be led astray; but the recent spread of the system quite justifies the zeal both of Mr. Pearson and Mr. Giles in its refutation. We have already stat

what we dare not venture to copy!— And this is the man whom Lord Melbourne went out of his way to present to a royal Virgin!-and the time he chose for doing so was that precisely when the growth of the pestilence had alarmed every one who had ever heard of Mr. Owen, and when the solemn and unusual presentation of this wretched man by the Prime Minister seemed as if it was prepensely calculated and timed to give the greatest and most opportune encouragement to his profligate votaries, and to excite the greatest alarm and indignation throughout all the loyal and Christian community!

But we hear some angry Ministerialist exclaim, in affected derision, "What a fuss is here !-just because Lord Melbourne's careless good nature consented to in

case.

dulge the vanity of a foolish fellow who and his petition was to solicit the pawanted to be seen at court !'

tronage of the Queen to the tenets of his We do not question Lord Melbourne's society, at which the very title of the careless good nature, nor that ministers petition pointed in significant terms. It may inadvertently commit mistakes in was the petition of the UNIVERSAL COMsmall matters of Court ceremonies as MUNITY society ; that is, a society for well as in weightier affairs, and it is cer- universal community-a community in all tainly not the habit of our publication to things ; with whom all things--WOMEN give undue importance to such trifles, not excepted—shall be in common ! And quas incuria fudit:--but this is no such this a petition to a mạiden Queen, who

had just turned her twentieth year, in Will Lord Melbourne say that he presence of her whole court, and by the knew nothing of Robert Owen ?—Then introduction of the First Minister! he should not have presented him to the But this, as to our understanding it Queen.

seems, gross insult to her Majesty's feel. Will he say that he had indeed heard ings, person, and authority, is still more of him as a harmless visionary ?-What remarkable and abominable, because it business had such a visionary, however was, as far as appears on the face of it, harmless, at Court ?

utterly gratuitous and wanton : for the But having heard that he was a vision- petition did not even pretend to ask any. ary; ought not Lord Melbourne to have at thing of the Queen herself. It professes least satisfied himself that he was harm- only to solicit the Government to invesless? Had his lordship never heard of tigate certain measures,' an object for Socialism ? Did he never converse with which a presentation to her Majesty was his Secretary for the Home Department, wholly unnecessary; and Mr. Owen need on the state of the country? Did he have gone no farther than to Lord Melnever hear of the Socialist meetings in all bourne himself ; but no! Owen wanted the great towns of the north, between to obtain for himself and his " universal the months of January and June ! Have community' doctrines some pretence and the Christian Advocate' at Cambridge, colour of royal sanction : it would legal. and the dissenting minister at Leeds, ise, he thought, his CONGRESS to have its been forced reluctantly into conflict with acts recognised and accepted by the a wide-spreading moral plague, of which Queen, under the immediate advice of the Prime Minister had never so much as the First Minister; and the very fact that heard ?

SUCH a petition had been placed by their But monstrous as such a supposition founder and leader in the Queen's own may seem, the real fact is still more hands would excite and bewilder the immonstrous.

aginations of his ignorant proselytes inOur readers will recollect that Mr. to some idea of royal patronage and apPearson founds many of his statements probation. on the report of the Congress of the Uni- And here it cannot escape observation versal Community Society of Rational Reli. that while Lord John Russell—the avowgionists.' This Congress was held in May; ed friend and encourager of popular meetand we find by the Court Circular' that ings—thought it necessary to censure the introduction, on the 26th June, of and finally to dismiss a magistrate of his Robert Owen to the Queen, by Lord own creating for attending a CONVENMelbourne, was to present a petition TION of delegates,' Lord Melbourne had

no scruples in presenting at Her Majesfrom the Congress of the Delegates of the Universal Community Society of National Religionists, soliciting ty's levee Robert Owen, who had no the government to investigate measures which the other business or character there but as Congress proposes to ameliorate the condition of so- representative of a'Congress of delegates' ciety.'— Times, 27th June.

quite as illegal and much more dangerous Thus, then, this presentation was not an than that which had so lately excited the accidental slip of Lord Melbourne's care severity of Lord John Russell. less good-nature. Mr. Owen was not a But what did Lord Melbourne mean, mere commonplace intruder: he came by lending himself to these proceedings ? for an object, an avowed object, and, we -We cannot tell: we do not suppose boldly assert, an illegal object; an im- that he meant to express any approbation moral, indecent, and disgusting object. of the doctrines of Socialism; whatever Every one who ever heard of Mr. Owen he might think of one part of the system, knew that the most remarkable of his we cannot suspect him of any wish to tenets was the abolition of marriage ;' share his estates in Herts or Derbyshire with Robert Owen. Seriously, we be- nay, for the very acknowledgment of a lieve and admit that he was not aware, God? to its full extent at least, of what he was We believe that there is not a departdoing. He probably did not-as, how- ment in the state, nor a part or province ever, he should have donem look at even of the empire, from which we could not the title of the petition-much less make produce analogous instances of the truckany inquiries as to its purpose-but he ling of the pseudo-government to every assuredly never contemplated anything species and degree of agitation, high and like the covert insult to the Queen's sex low, and of countenance and preference and station which it involved. The pre- given to persons who are or have been senting Owen and his petition he thought notorious in their several localities as -if he thought about it at all-a matter busy leaders of that already too powerful of course; and that he was doing no party that would not have things so ;' more than his daily task of upholding his and we could prove-if common sense did government by its ordinary and indeed not of itself sufficiently establish it how only means of existence—the crouching much this gross misapplication of the in(most reluctantly, we cannot doubt) to fluence of a government has tended, and every vulgar agitator, demagogue, or necessarily must have done so, to profanatic, who can raise himself into notice duce that general spirit of insubordinaby hostility, however foolish or however tion and disorder which every honest and wicked, to the established order in poli- benevolent mind must deplore, and at tics, morals, or religion.

which the boldest look with dismay, and But then if such be the case-if such the most sagacious almost without hope. be the dire and irresistible necessity of And where is this to end -and whence Lord Melbourne's position-if such be can we expect such a happy change of the empty phantom that would pass itself circumstances as shall restore the gove off on us for a government-where is ernment to a healthy, constitutional, and there any permanent safety for the coun- governing condition? During the exist. try—if a ruffian is to be made a magis- ence of the present ministry it is mani. trate in one year with no other apparent festly impossible ; and it would be a gross claim than the profession of principles injustice to them, and an equally gross which next year bring him to the gallows delusion of ourselves, to imagine that the -if a Chancellor of the Exchequer is to dangers of our present situation arise so induce the legislature to remit an import- much from any mischievous intentions in ant branch of revenue on the promise and the individual ministers as in their lampledge that certain illegal, immoral, and entable weakness and utter inability to incendiary publications should thereupon resist the torrent which--while they seem be prosecuted and suppressed, and if such to careless observers to rule and direct it, publications are nevertheless allowed to is in truth sweeping them on, involuntary proceed with increasing scandal and un- victims, to destruction. interrupted impunity- if the minister

We do not mean to palliate their errors especially charged with the preservation --their ambition, their selfishness, their of the public peace is so blind or so wilful folly, their party spite--which drove them as to volunteer a public panegyric on to employ as agents evil spirits which are popular meetings at a moment when pop- now become their masters.

When they ular meetings were everywhere threaten- found they could not command the suping the public tranquillity—if a pococu- port of the more legitimate foundation of rante Premier can, from carelessness or governments-property and intelligence from weakness, be drawn into giving to --they looked for help to physical force, the brutal and abominable tenets of uni- agitation, and disorganization: versal community the appearance, how-! · Flectere si nequeo su peros, Acheronta movebo.: ever false or Alimsy, of Royal and 'minis. terial sanction-if, we say, we are to be Lord Melbourne had neither by his priexposed to such an unnatural perversion, vate nor political inclinations any tenor such a miserable abandonment, of the dency towards Robert Owen, whom he powers and duties of a government-presented to the Queen-nor Mr. Spring who or what shall be safe or sacred ? Rice for Mr. Vincent, at whose unstamped where will there be any security for pro- periodical he connived ;-nor even Lord perty or for life-for the honour of men John Russell, with his all natural and here. or for the chastity of women--for the ditary Whiggism, any violent affection existence of religion--for the authority for Mr. Frost, whom he exalted, -any of law-for any bond of human society - more than Lord Normanby for Mr. O'Con.

22

VOL, J.xy.

« ForrigeFortsett »