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ORACLE OF REASON;
Or, Philosophy indicated on
“FAITH'S EMPIRE IS THE WORLD; ITS MONARCH, GOD; ITS MINISTERS) TUE PRTESTS
ITS SLAVES, THE PEOPLE.
EDITED FOR CHARLES SOUTHWELL, DURING HIS IMPRISONMENT,
BY G. JACOB HOLYOAKE.
THE CANT OF PREJUDICE. sbrugging their shoulders when they should "Prejudice is the spider of the mind.”—PAINE.
raise their arms, and shaking their heads in.
stead of expanding their hearts. CaATEAUBRIAND has said, that England is fa- We shall descant upon
“ violence" when mous for fops, fools, fogs, and genius. Had its standard is raised. For the present we be included the prolific progeny of cants, his will venture the assertion, that if the prejuenumeration would bave been most complete. dices of mankind are not to be offended ; reCivilisation, instead of being a fertilising formers must shut their mouths or mount caps stream, freshening and invigorating the ver- and bells. Truth must be silent, honesty be dare of mind, lies like stagnant ponds on the cashiered, improvements be carefully boxed up, face of society, causing sad malarias to attack and discoveries be concealed. Regeneration the advocates of freedom, and paralising must be scouted, reform abandoned, progresFevers to prostrate the apostles of free sion become a delusion, and men, like the dial thought. When a cheering outbreak of en- of Ahar, learn to go backwards. Suppose thusiam in the cause of truth appears, raising the rule bad been always acted upon. Bacon, once more the fond hopes of man's better Copernicus, Locke, and Newton would have Mestiny, which have been deferred till the lived in vain, because their theories offended weart is sick; proving (in Channing's the prejudices of the advocates of the subwords) that the human spirit is not wholly stantial forms and occult qualities of Aristotle,
gulphed in matter and business, that it can the solid spheres, eccentrics, and epicycles of mit up a little the mountains of worldliness Ptolemy, as J. Minter Morgan has well said. wd sense with which it is borne down; tbe In our own day, railways should have been excitement is attempted to be suppressed, or postponed till the millenium, because they coldly checked by the cant cry, " You must outraged the prejudices of every coachman in not offend people's prejudices." The ardent the kingdom. They should have been gradupirit is blighted, the soul seared into confu- ally introduced, running only six or eight Sion, that the hollow conventionalisms of the miles an hour “until the public mind was world may be conserved, and duplicity wear better prepared.” Gall and Spurzþeim (“inthe mask of honesty. Respectability and experienced men”) should have been silent on nammon-worship are eulogised as pru- pbrenology, inasmuch as the metaphysical prevence;" truckling submission, as "a know- judices of the Brownites, Reidists, and Stewdge of the world ;” and a time-serving ex-artonians were most unmercifully shocked, to
ediency, as the very personification of “ex. say nothing of believers in the immateriality perience.” Youth aggravates the crime of of the soul. Gasometers should have been zodour, and sincerity must creep under the proscribed, as the lamplighters of London, achuge legs of falsehood, and peep about to find cording to Dickens, dropped from their laditself a dishonourable grave.
ders fourteen times in one night! Their feelings We sbould define cant, to be a whining pre- had been so “violently attacked" by the cruel sation to goodness, made with a sinister de introduction of gas !! D. Be it what it may, this is the sense in Passing to graver things. How should which we use the term. And this is the na- Robert Owen be reprobated for his new are of the outcry' against any “violent” at- views ? Political economists have run wild,
ek upon prejudices. All who deprecate this immaculate bishops raved, and parsons have ourse are not, we are willing to believe, been convulsed at his communities and five qually guilty. Dishonesty begat the cry, facts. The prejudices of a world bave seen akness and ignorance have nurtured and half blown up by the Guy Fawkes of Soought it up. Like the influenza or cholera cialism. Surely Mr. Owen mistook the nineorbus, 'its attacks are epidemical. Modern teenth for the ninety-sixth century. We are in
formers are chiefly affected with it at this the very furnace of suffering and hell of ason. The disease is rather debilitating than despair. Would it not have been better that ngerous, more effeminate than fatal; the machinery bad been gently brought into use, mptoms may be known by the afflicted that mankind might have been drawn through
the slow tortures of transition for six centu-duties, always too well paid for and better ries instead of one? He who calmly weighs never performed.” In these times, when bus the question, will find that there is neither manity is mocked, the claims of poverty disfirst principle nor final conclusion, bint nor regarded, and virtue trampled into the dust, doubt in relation to existing opinions and are mortal prejudices to be held like women's practices against which some tender soul will gloves. The age wants not footmen for false not exclaim. Neither is there any objection hood, but warriors for truth; champions for against “ attacking that which is false which justice; soldiers for the battle of right against will not be raised against explaining that might. The Babel of oppression reaches the which is true.” In this world nothing is so skies. Justice demands its destruction. We offensive as truth. Always a libel and per- bate temporising forbearance in relieving petual disgrace. Besides, where is there a misery. The voice of expediency may soothe vacant spot on which to build in peace, which the ear of troubled guilt, but it gathers ice error and prejudice does not occupy? Who round the heart of affliction. The music of can build up without first destroying, and who flattery should never be heard where the can destroy without attacking? All life is knell of justice ought to be tolled. But battle : battle against antagonistic powers, we irritate, it is said, by plain speaking. battle against death. In youth against blight- Better to irritate opulent criminality than ing blasts. In manhood against decay. In blast the hopes of virtue and stifle its voice. old age against the narrow bed. The infantile When prejudice, as in the case of religion, spirit of good is ever warring in the moral binds the world of mind in its fell chains, world against the full grown powers of evil. to state honestly-held opinions is right, and Prejudice is the barrier of error, which must to fearlessly put forth what to us is vital truth be passed over before the latter can be driven we regard as a first duty. Nor will we perfrom the field, and truth take its place. mit thrusting forward our opinions to be con Why should it be conserved then? Do we sidered as intolerance, as the Odd Fellow erro. not sweep without ceremony the cobwebs neously contended. Intolerance is pushing our from our houses? Why so careful of the opinions to the violent exclusion of all others spiders of the mind ? 'If weakness be ad- We do no such thing. Men may launch, as mitted as the excuse, the confession consti- far as we are concerned, anything on the tutes a disgrace.
ocean of thought; we claim an equal right If those who have faith in building up are for ourselves ; Ishmaelites of truth, with our desirous of employment, we recommend the hand against all error, and all error against establishment of this proposition. The thoughts, us.
If it be objected, that our principles are opinions, and beliefs of men ure mutable, the crea- destructive, an unwitting compliment is paid tures of time and circumstance, born by accident them. For they can never be “too antagoand to be relinquished without regret or hesitation nistic" for our purpose. We make no rain at the demand of truth. Let men but learn attempts at washing blackamoors white, imthis important lesson and prejudices will fall proving the unimprovable, or conserving the dead. No just man is in love with his good in that which, so far as we have seen it opinions. No philosophical mind cares who displayed, is all together bad; believing, s attacks his beliefs. No consistent person, we do, that the Ethiopian of superstition can who pretends to hold true conceptions of never change its skin, nor the leopard of rethings, but will cry, let error have full swing, ligion its spots. let its violence be unbridled-truth may In the days of old, when priestoraft bold grapple, but she is immortal. Shall we then With tyranny held the sway, continue to treat mankind as self-deceivers Men crouched at their feet, on their bloodstained sant,
Like creatures of coarser clay. and inconsistent imbeciles, as all do who pretend to respect their prejudices ? That man And they do now, and talk of respecting those pays them the highest compliment who openly opinions they should hold in unqualified ab. and fiercely attacks them.
horrence. Should earnestness in the pursuit “ It is a fortunate thing,” some one has ob- of truth be carried to excess, “It is more served, “to write with the prejudices of man- bonorable” says Coleridge, "to the head as kind in one's favour.” How shall we fare well as to the heart so to be misled, than to be who write against them, we know not. We safe from blundering by contempt of it."..] bave ever regarded prejudice as the hood - it is inquired, what is the utility of decision winks of men's mental eyes, and cloak of the and determination in exposing error without body of error, and would, without ceremony, limit, it is best answered in the violent oppopull the first away and tear the other off. sition men raise against the course. While We think they ought never to have been you fawn, palliate, smooth, and flatter, no unthere, and to pretend to a very tender regard for easiness is felt. Throw off the mask and be them is preposterous. It approximates to the honest men, and the tocsin is soon, sounded man’s notion of compensation, who defined it in the camps of oppression, the tyrant mare to be “ a reward for non-execution of certain Ishalls his force, and the priest repairs big rack. This should be the age of mental chi- pride despises that which they assume is too valry, when men should go forth and attack important and tender a matter to permit them the dragon of error in his den, not sit to touch. Such conduct seems to us heartwhining at home about their fears and pre-less, while laying claim to gentleness, wound. judices. Why should error fare better than ing beyond measure the vanity, while prehonesty in the world, which is knocked down tending to respect the feelings. It inflicts by all it meets, and trampled under foot by pain wantonly, engendering hate without enevery passer by. A mental Napoleon is lightening the mind. Believing a man to be. wanted, who despising the old system of tac- in error, to our notions the highest complitics, will carry on a bold and vigorous war- ment we can pay him is to expose it. He fare of truth against the mercenary troops of knows we cannot esteem him while in that error,
state; by flattering him we become hypoTo return. If prejudices are not to be crites, by reasoning with him we perform the attacked, what is to be exempted? If one part of a friend. The warmth of our feelings only, all must, or injustice will be done. will be regarded by all rightly-constituted If all are exempted, the sun of improve- minds as not derogating from true kindness. ment will sink below the horison, and leave For, with the author of Lacon, “Let us bethe world to darkness, crime, and death. ware of that proud philosophy which affects "Opinions govern the world.” They cannot to inculcate philanthropy while it denounces be regarded as private property for the reasons every home-born feeling by which it is projust advanced, because if every man is deter- duced and nurtured.” In relation to this mined to keep bis own we must stand still, question we have said nothing of those who for no man can look, murmur, or move without would prescribe the modes of thought and offending some one's prejudices. No one asks colors of argument, making the manner to conthe poor man's leave to outrage his feelings, form to some standard of their own crotchety' why should we ask the rich oppressor's consent conception. Such intolerance is too offensive to reason against his crimes ? If we do, will to be borne. Thoughts do not bubble up as he grant it? From the very nature of our custom would prescribe, it is arrogance to derelations in the world we must take these mand à fashionable utterance of them, and liberties.“ Take care to give no unnecessary hypocrisy to comply. Pity men are so much pain," is the advice many well-intentioned bound and influenced by custom. Nothing men offer. The advice is superfluous. The contributes more to produce that “dead-level" chances are, that unnecessary pain will be which is so monotonous. Let us see minds continued through mildness in protecting error free as the winds and variegated as the rainwbien covered with ermine and wealth. We bow. The physical world has not inore would strip error, and put a whip in the hands beautiful variety than the moral. of every honest man, to lash the rascal naked Whenever we hear men checked in their round the world. Whom do we offend. No ardent advocacy of truth by the absurd cry honest man would harbour him, and since he that prejudices are in danger, we always reis so dangerous, no dishonest man should be member that when the church is said to be in perinitted. " It gives him pain to part with danger, tithes, and bishoprics, and fat réchira," we shall be told. To whom, permit us tories, are the things meant; and, by analogy, to inquire ? Who is so selfish, who will not the conclusion comes home to us, that premake a sacrifice for truth? Who so vile as to judices in danger imply little else than that boast a love for falsehood ? any, speak! weakness or guilt are crying out, and that for his weakness is his disgrace, and bis das- some religious Annanias and Sapphira are tard soul places bim out of the pale of human keeping back the money of truth. Such connympathy, and him only bave we offended. duct defended by the pretext of philanthropy " Treat men as knaves," says a judicious and is lame in argument and false in philosophy— sensible proverb, "and you make them so," Is it anything more? Is it not cowardice confor which reason we would treat opponents as cealed under the mask of charity, and shrinkhonorable men. All such love open, better ing from duty, sought to be covered by pseudothan concealed, attacks, men who boldly benevolence. storm the breach better than they who under- We heartily bid farewell to the sapient ad mine the citadel; therefore we deprecate dis- vice, “ Prejudices be respected.” guise. We are severe, thinking there is “ Avoid all attacks upon," or,
" offences utility in it. We do not believe that men against, them.” Don't hurt people's feel. bold opinions tenderly. For seeing them bar- ings.” Do the " gradual,” the gentle," tered for expediency without scruple, changed the “grand," and all such like principles, or with every fashion, we look at them as things more properly, such “ Lie down and die" of convenience. If they do, our course is policy. Using the invocation of Charles freer from objections than that which, pretend-Reece Pemberton, in his sixpennyworth of ing to see their hollowness, affects contempt truth, they may, st making the exposition, and with spiritual
Curse, growl, rave, rend, rage, rail, scoff, spit, and, among crowned heads; when Christina re
plied, “ My lord cardinal, all truths are not Sigh, pray, lament, weep, groan, cajole, and coax.
made of marble.” This significant reply was not If they will but permit us with our pens or lost upon bis cardinalship, nor will you, I tongues to defend ourselves in our own way, fancy, be at a loss to understand the meaning they will never “ hurt our prejudices." Care thereof. You will not fail to perceive that, if less of a few scars, we agree with Richard truth were merely an abstraction, " barren as Furness, the shrewd author of Medicus Magus, the east wind” 'of all great results, and a8 whose sentiments we have no difficulty in reci- little dangerous to authority as finely carved procating, “That the game laws of modern cri- stones, none would be found to object to it. ticism are as odious as my Lord's of Wharncliffe, Neither crowned beads, nor statesmen, nor and he who would shoot folly as it flies, must priests object to words, it is action they fear, not fear a trespass : thank my stars ! happy and it will be found, upon a close examination in the independence of poverty, who grants me of human motives, that bigotry the most frana literary licence, I sport where I please ; yet tic, and hatred the most intense, of free speech, when I aim at honest worth, or angle with the have their source in the fear of change, and bait of Aattery for the approbation of oppres- not, as generally supposed, in the love of dogsors, may the keepers of the sacred preserves ma, political or religious. The memorable of faith and justice, seize gun, net, and rod, saying of a certain monk, “We must destroy and condemn me to the prison of oblivion;" printing or printing will destroy us,” gives A quotation from the Rev. Sydney Smith's the philosophy of all human opposition to the Letter to Archdeacon Singleton, on Ecclesiastical spread of truth. The stubbornness of facts Commissions, will happily conclude this chapter. is proverbial, and great truths are but many. It is so admirable, so much to the point, and headed facts. They neither bend nor bow to so perfectly illustrates our views, that we feel mortal man, and in their slow, but certain as if we had indited it in a trance. Sydney course, sweep away all crazy opinions, and says,
“ We are told, if you agitate questions the senseless systems built upon them, making among yourselves, you will have the demo- the prime wisdom of one generation the foolcratic Philistines come down upon you, and ishness of the next. It is part and parcel of sweep you all away together. Be it so; I buman nature to hate that which really does, am quite ready to be swept off when the time or seems to, injure it. The most corrupt bigots comes. Everybody has his favourite death : would willingly let truth alone, if truth would some delight in apoplexy, and others prefer let them alone. The god Jehovah has many
I would infinitely rather be who affect to vindicate his honour and defend crushed by democrats, than, under the plea of his cause, but it is the god Mammon who is the public good, be mildly and blandly ab- really loved and defended. In heaven, hell, sorbed by bishops."
in purgatory, or this bedlam of the universe, So say we. Honesty may enter its protest human nature will always be human nature, and welcome, but we will not be “mildly and and supposing a state of immortality, should blandly absorbed” by cant, smoothfaced by those who are destined to enjoy it find honesty pocrisy, nor truckling expediency; If we are and interest incompatible, their house of prayer overwhelmed it shall never be by "charit- would infallibly become a "den of thieves." able regards” for us.
Your party has now an admirable opportu G. J. H.
nity to distinguish itself as a party devoted to truth-as a party that is too proud to suffer its sense of local injury to weigh against general
good-a party prepared to make sacrifices for POLICY versus PRINCIPLE. truth's sake, sacrifices of vanity, wealth, and
the shouts of the multitude. These letters TO THE SOCIALISTS OF ENGLAND. whether you are sbam or real reformers, meu
will put you to the test, and for ever decide
and women of principle, or creatures made up “ Honesty IS the best Policy."
of that light material which is blown about by “ 'Tis a dangerous thing to use too much freedom in every wind of selfish interest.
I say these researches of this kind. If you cut the old canal the letters will put you to the test, for they are water is apt to run farther than you have a mind to." decidedly hostile to your immediate interests -Bishop GARDINER.
as a party, they are not seasoned by a single It is related of Christina, Queen of Sweden, grain of flattery, and treat upon those questhat when on a visit at Rome, she was much lions which you will probably think had better charmed with Bellini's famous statue of Truth, be buried in silence, questions delicate in their which being observed by a waggish cardinal nature and most difficult fairly to handle. No, in her train, he took occasion to express his man can serve two masters, is an old saying satisfaction, that her majesty, should be so and it is certain that neither parties nor indienamoured of truth, an affection so unusual l.viduals can honestly serve two opposing prin
ciples. Your missionaries will speedily have morals, a sort of middle path, which, though to decide whether they will bold their tongues lying in two countries, properly belongs to and eat their pudding, or give up their pud- neither. Any one who can imagine a line ding, and loose their tongues.
drawn between philosophy and fully, would It has been the curse of all reforming par- hit my idea of your general policy. ties that, having no fixed basis of principle, Mr. Owen often complains that inen talk as no definite course of practice, they have fluc- though certain principles were strictly true, tuated, played a game of see-saw, between and act as though they were grossly false, truth and falsehood, justice and expediency. which is indeed a kind of conduct but too A necessary consequence of this miserable common, nor can I see any remedy for this species of moral swindling has been an utter state of things, but by choosing your
principles confusion of ideas in the minds of men, all has and consistently abiding by them. But Mr. heen vague, contradictory, and dishonest; and, Owen himself lies open to this very charge, after our dearly bought experience, political for he asserts, as an incontrovertible principle, science is that about which anybody can talk, that nothing but truth will regenerate the but nobody can understand.
world ; and yet I have before shown that he Your party is, of all others, the most worthy violates that great principle in his practice, to be called a practical party, yet, compared thereby speaking as though certain principles with what it might have effected, and even were strictly true, and acting as though they may effect, its practice has been miserable in were grossly false. Mr. Owen has indeed tbe extreme. You have in your ranks the very been sadly inconsistent of late, if no harsher sult of the reformers, men of talent, integrity, term is to be applied to his conduct at Bristol. sad entire devotion to principle, but these are I believe him to be a good man, one of the the few, not the many. The bulk of your best this age has produced, but as much overmembers are vain, with no extra enthusiasm rated by his friends as depreciated by his in the cause of principle. This is manifest in enemies. Benevolent as Howard, but with your organ, The New Moral World, which larger and nobler views, Mr. Owen must take as little represents those I call the salt rank among the greatest philanthropists of any of your party as I do his majesty of Morocco. age or nation. The good he has done is inInstead of giving promise of becoming a great calculable; but, if I may be allowed the party, devoted to the cause of freedom, and paradox, the good he has done, is all the carneat in the pursuit of it, you are fast good he will do. The many have overtaken dwindling into a community of pedlars, with Mr. Owen, and the few have passed him. souls 80 slavisb as to think of nothing but He bas done much by way of opening the driving a hard bargain in the national sale of road which leads to truth, but he is now not human industry. The saying of a noble Roman, the most competent to travel that way.
His that it is far better for great souls to live in philosophy, I'mean no disrespect, reminds me small bouses, than mean and dastardly spirits of what was said of the famous “ covenant”. to burrow in gilded habitations, is neither re- by a member of the long parliament. It is garded nor understood. Your party is now like an old almanac, out of date. Mr. Owen held together rather by its interests than its is far better adapted to be the governor of a principles. Interest alone is a good cement, community than a teacher of philosopby, or a but not the true cement. The lasting cement leader of free inquirers. And I do not hesiis interest, based on enlightened principles. tate to avow my conviction that your party has As regards your public policy, I protest, that suffered much during the last few years by for my own part, I do not know what it is, clinging so fast to his skirts, and suffering and yet, perhaps, few have taken more pains itself to be dragged through the mire of aposto learn. Your private policy is for private tacy and absurdity. Mr. Owen does not appear advantage, and that is laudable and generally to have been aware of the great truth which good; but as to public policy, the declaration stands at the head of this letter, that “ If you cut and support of public principles, there has the old canal, the water is apt to run farther boen no such thing.
than you have a mind to.” He has been one of I do not think any party will succeed in re- the most active and efficient cutters of the old generating society, by a come-day, go-day canal, and is half angry, for he is never quite dort of policy. I do not think it useful to so, that it don't stop at his bidding. He is attempt a compromise between truth and one of the most perfect specimens of humanity error. The war against error and corruption spoiled by fattery and the rage for system. His should be one of extermination. The whole bland and affable manners, unwearied benevopolicy of your party, if policy it may be lence, and dogged perseverance in the enunciaalled, is a compromise between truth and tion of certain common place, but highly
le bood, bonesty and dishonesty. It is a useful truths, must command the admiration allow attempt to please everybody, that all good men; on the other hand, bis pro
inst prove abortive, and will ultimately found contempt for all opinions not hatched, sasa nobody. It is the juste milieuism of I to use the language of Professor Sedgwick,