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Or, Philosophy Vindicated

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No. 14.]


[PRICE 1d. shrugging their shoulders when they should raise their arms, and shaking their heads instead of expanding their hearts.

THE CANT OF PREJUDICE. "Prejudice is the spider of the mind."-PAINE. CHATEAUBRIAND 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 have 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 dure 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 had been always acted upon. Bacon, once more the fond hopes of man's better Copernicus, Locke, and Newton would have destiny, which have been deferred till the lived in vain, because their theories offended heart 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, engulphed in matter and business, that it can the solid spheres, eccentrics, and epicycles of lift up a little the mountains of worldliness Ptolemy, as J. Minter Morgan has well said. and sense with which it is borne down; the 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 graduspirit 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 Spurzheim ("inthe mask of honesty. Respectability and experienced men") should have been silent on mammon-worship are eulogised as pru-phrenology, inasmuch as the metaphysical predence;" truckling submission, as "a know- judices of the Brownites, Reidists, and Stewledge of the world ;" and a time-serving ex-artonians were most unmercifully shocked, to pediency, as the very personification of "ex- say nothing of believers in the immateriality perience." Youth aggravates the crime of candour, and sincerity must creep under the huge legs of falsehood, and peep about to find itself a dishonourable grave.


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We should define cant, to be a whining pretention to goodness, made with a sinister design. Be it what it may, this is the sense in which we use the term. And this is the nature of the outcry against any "violent" atupon prejudices. All who deprecate this course are not, we are willing to believe, equally guilty. Dishonesty begat the cry, weakness and ignorance have nurtured and brought it up. Like the influenza or cholera morbus, its attacks are epidemical. Modern reformers are chiefly affected with it at this eason. The disease is rather debilitating than angerous, more effeminate than fatal; the ymptoms may be known by the afflicted

of the soul. Gasometers should have been proscribed, as the lamplighters of London, according to Dickens, dropped from their ladders fourteen times in one night! Their feelings had been so "violently attacked" by the cruel introduction of gas!!

Passing to graver things. How should Robert Owen be reprobated for his new views? Political economists have run wild, immaculate bishops raved, and parsons have been convulsed at his communities and five facts. The prejudices of a world have seen half blown up by the Guy Fawkes of Socialism. Surely Mr. Owen mistook the nineteenth for the ninety-sixth century. We are in the very furnace of suffering and hell of despair. Would it not have been better that machinery had been gently brought into use, 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 hu the question, will find that there is neither manity is mocked, the claims of poverty dis first 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 falsenot 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 perpetual disgrace. Besides, where is there a vacant spot on which to build in peace, which error and prejudice does not occupy? Who can build up without first destroying, and who can destroy without attacking? All life is battle: battle against antagonistic powers, battle against death. In youth against blighting blasts. In manhood against decay. In old age against the narrow bed. The infantile spirit of good is ever warring in the moral world against the full grown powers of evil. Prejudice is the barrier of error, which must be passed over before the latter can be driven from the field, and truth take its place. Why should it be conserved then? Do we not sweep without ceremony the cobwebs from our houses? Why so careful of the spiders of the mind? If weakness be admitted as the excuse, the confession constitutes a disgrace.

hate temporising forbearance in relieving misery. The voice of expediency may soothe the ear of troubled guilt, but it gathers ice round the heart of affliction. The music of flattery should never be heard where the knell of justice ought to be tolled. But we irritate, it is said, by plain speaking. Better to irritate opulent criminality than blast the hopes of virtue and stifle its voice. When prejudice, as in the case of religion, binds the world of mind in its fell chains, to state honestly-held opinions is right, and to fearlessly put forth what to us is vital truth we regard as a first duty. Nor will we per mit thrusting forward our opinions to be con sidered as intolerance, as the Odd Fellow erro neously contended. Intolerance is pushing our opinions to the violent exclusion of all others. We do no such thing. Men may launch, as far as we are concerned, anything on the 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 vain 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, « 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 grapple, but she is immortal. Shall we then continue to treat mankind as self-deceivers and inconsistent imbeciles, as all do who pretend to respect their prejudices? That man pays them the highest compliment who openly and fiercely attacks them.

In the days of old, when priestcraft bold
With tyranny held the sway,

Men crouched at their feet, on their bloodstained seat,
Like creatures of coarser clay.

And they do now, and talk of respecting those opinions they should hold in unqualified ab 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-honorable" says Coleridge, "to the head as kind in one's favour." How shall we fare who write against them, we know not. We have ever regarded prejudice as the hoodwinks of men's mental eyes, and cloak of the body of error, and would, without ceremony, pull the first away and tear the other off. We think they ought never to have been there, and to pretend to a very tender regard for them is preposterous. It approximates to the man's notion of compensation, who defined it a reward for non-execution of certain

to be "

well as to the heart so to be misled, than to be safe from blundering by contempt of it." If it is inquired, what is the utility of decision and determination in exposing error without limit, it is best answered in the violent opposition men raise against the course. While you fawn, palliate, smooth, and flatter, no uneasiness is felt. Throw off the mask and be honest men, and the tocsin is soon; sounded in the camps of oppression, the tyrant marshalls his force, and the priest repairs his

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, woundjudices. 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 warfare of truth against the mercenary troops of


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question we have said nothing of those who would prescribe the modes of thought and colors of argument, making the manner to conform to some standard of their own crotchety conception.

Such intolerance is too offensive to be borne. Thoughts do not bubble up as custom would prescribe, it is arrogance to demand a fashionable utterance of them, and hypocrisy to comply. Pity men are so much bound and influenced by custom. Nothing contributes more to produce that "dead level” which is so monotonous. Let us see minds free as the winds and variegated as the rainbow. The physical world has not more beautiful variety than the moral.

ment we can pay him is to expose it. He knows we cannot esteem him while in that 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 his own we must stand still, for no man can look, murmur, or move without offending some one's prejudices. No one asks the poor man's leave to outrage his feelings, why should we ask the rich oppressor's consent to reason against his crimes? If we do, will he grant it? From the very nature of our relations in the world we must take these liberties. "Take care to give no unnecessary pain," is the advice many well-intentioned men offer. The advice is superfluous. The chances are, that unnecessary pain will be continued through mildness in protecting error when covered with ermine and wealth. We would strip error, and put a whip in the hands of every honest man, to lash the rascal naked round the world. Whom do we offend. No honest man would harbour him, and since he is so dangerous, no dishonest man should be permitted. "It gives him pain to part with him," we shall be told. To whom, permit us to inquire? Who is so selfish, who will not make a sacrifice for truth? Who so vile as to boast a love for falsehood? If any, speak! for his weakness is his disgrace, and his dastard soul places him out of the pale of human sympathy, and him only have we offended. "Treat men as knaves," says a judicious and sensible proverb, "and you make them so," for which reason we would treat opponents as honorable men. All such love open, better than concealed, attacks, men who boldly storm the breach better than they who under- We heartily bid farewell to the sapient admine the citadel; therefore we deprecate dis- vice, Prejudices must 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 feelbold 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,

making the exposition, and with spiritual

Whenever we hear men checked in their ardent advocacy of truth by the absurd cry that prejudices are in danger, we always remember that when the church is said to be in danger, tithes, and bishoprics, and fat rectories, are the things meant; and, by analogy, the conclusion comes home to us, that prejudices in danger imply little else than that weakness or guilt are crying out, and that some religious Annanias and Sapphira are keeping back the money of truth. Such conduct defended by the pretext of philanthropy is lame in argument and false in philosophyIs it anything more? Is it not cowardice concealed under the mask of charity, and shrinking from duty, sought to be covered by pseudobenevolence.

Curse, growl, rave, rend, rage, rail, scoff, spit, and


Sigh, pray, lament, weep, groan, cajole, and coax.

among crowned heads; when Christina replied, "My lord cardinal, all truths are not made of marble." This significant reply was not If they will but permit us with our pens or lost upon his 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 as 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 heads, 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 flattery 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 Commissions, will happily conclude this chapter. It is so admirable, so much to the point, and so perfectly illustrates our views, that we feel as if we had indited it in a trance. Sydney "We are told, if you agitate questions among yourselves, you will have the democratic Philistines come down upon you, and sweep you all away together. Be it so I am quite ready to be swept off when the time comes. Everybody has his favourite death: some delight in apoplexy, and others prefer marasmus. I would infinitely rather be crushed by democrats, than, under the plea of the public good, be mildly and blandly absorbed by bishops."


So say we. Honesty may enter its protest and welcome, but we will not be "mildly and blandly absorbed" by cant, smoothfaced hypocrisy, nor truckling expediency. If we are overwhelmed it shall never be by "charitable regards" for us.

G. J. H.




spread of truth. The stubbornness of facts is proverbial, and great truths are but many. headed facts. They neither bend nor bow to mortal man, and in their slow, but certain course, sweep away all crazy opinions, and the senseless systems built upon them, making the prime wisdom of one generation the foolishness of the next. It is part and parcel of human nature to hate that which really does, or seems to, injure it. The most corrupt bigots would willingly let truth alone, if truth would let them alone. The god Jehovah has many who affect to vindicate his honour and defend his cause, but it is the god Mammon who is really loved and defended.

In heaven, hell,

in purgatory, or this bedlam of the universe, human nature will always be human nature, and supposing a state of immortality, should those who are destined to enjoy it find honesty and interest incompatible, their house of prayer would infallibly become a "den of thieves."

Your party has now an admirable opportunity 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 truth's sake, sacrifices of vanity, wealth, and the shouts of the multitude. These letters will put you to the test, and for ever decide whether you are sham or real reformers, men and women of principle, or creatures made up of that light material which is blown about by every wind of selfish interest. I say these letters will put you to the test, for they are decidedly hostile to your immediate interests as a party, they are not seasoned by a single Ir is related of Christina, Queen of Sweden, grain of flattery, and treat upon those questhat when on a visit at Rome, she was much tions 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,viduals can honestly serve two opposing prin

"Honesty IS the best Policy." ""Tis a dangerous thing to use too much freedom in researches of this kind. If you cut the old canal the water is apt to run farther than you have a mind to." -Bishop GARDINER.

ciples. Your missionaries will speedily have to decide whether they will hold their tongues and eat their pudding, or give up their pudding, and loose their tongues.

It has been the curse of all reforming parties that, having no fixed basis of principle, no definite course of practice, they have fluctuated, played a game of see-saw, between truth and falsehood, justice and expediency. A necessary consequence of this miserable species of moral swindling has been an utter confusion of ideas in the minds of men, all has been vague, contradictory, and dishonest; and, after our dearly bought experience, political science is that about which anybody can talk, but nobody can understand.

Your party is, of all others, the most worthy to be called a practical party, yet, compared with what it might have effected, and even may effect, its practice has been miserable in the extreme. You have in your ranks the very salt of the reformers, men of talent, integrity, and entire devotion to principle, but these are the few, not the many. The bulk of your members are vain, with no extra enthusiasm in the cause of principle. This is manifest in your organ, The New Moral World, which As little represents those I call the salt of your party as I do his majesty of Morocco. Instead of giving promise of becoming a great party, devoted to the cause of freedom, and earnest in the pursuit of it, you are fast dwindling into a community of pedlars, with Fouls so slavish as to think of nothing but driving a hard bargain in the national sale of human industry. The saying of a noble Roman, that it is far better for great souls to live in small bouses, than mean and dastardly spirits to burrow in gilded habitations, is neither regarded nor understood. Your party is now held together rather by its interests than its principles. Interest alone is a good cement, but not the true cement. The lasting cement sinterest, based on enlightened principles. As regards your public policy, I protest, that for my own part, I do not know what it is, d yet, perhaps, few have taken more pains to learn. Your private policy is for private advantage, and that is laudable and generally good; but as to public policy, the declaration and support of public principles, there has been no such thing.

morals, a sort of middle path, which, though lying in two countries, properly belongs to neither. Any one who can imagine a line drawn between philosophy and folly, would hit my idea of your general policy.

Mr. Owen often complains that men talk as though certain principles were strictly true, and act as though they were grossly false, which is indeed a kind of conduct but too common, nor can I see any remedy for this state of things, but by choosing your principles and consistently abiding by them. But Mr. Owen himself lies open to this very charge, for he asserts, as an incontrovertible principle, that nothing but truth will regenerate the world; and yet I have before shown that he violates that great principle in his practice, thereby speaking as though certain principles were strictly true, and acting as though they were grossly false. Mr. Owen has indeed been sadly inconsistent of late, if no harsher term is to be applied to his conduct at Bristol. I believe him to be a good man, one of the best this age has produced, but as much overrated by his friends as depreciated by his enemies. Benevolent as Howard, but with larger and nobler views, Mr. Owen must take rank among the greatest philanthropists of any age or nation. The good he has done is incalculable; but, if I may be allowed the paradox, the good he has done, is all the good he will do. The many have overtaken Mr. Owen, and the few have passed him. He has done much by way of opening the road which leads to truth, but he is now not the most competent to travel that way. philosophy, I mean no disrespect, reminds me of what was said of the famous "covenant". by a member of the long parliament. It is like an old almanac, out of date. Mr. Owen is far better adapted to be the governor of a community than a teacher of philosophy, or a leader of free inquirers. And I do not hesitate to avow my conviction that your party has suffered much during the last few years by clinging so fast to his skirts, and suffering itself to be dragged through the mire of apostacy and absurdity. Mr. Owen does not appear to have been aware of the great truth which stands at the head of this letter, that "If you cut the old canal, the water is apt to run farther 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 rt 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 ror. The war against error and corruption spoiled by flattery and the rage for system. His hould be one of extermination. The whole bland and affable manners, unwearied benevoolicy of your party, if policy it may be lence, and dogged perseverance in the enuncialed, is a compromise between truth and tion of certain common place, but highly hood, honesty and dishonesty. It is a useful truths, must command the admiration allow attempt to please everybody, that of all good men; on the other hand, his proBust prove abortive, and will ultimately found contempt for all opinions not hatched, ase nobody. It is the juste milieuism of to use the language of Professor Sedgwick,


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