« הקודםהמשך »
As it is Ledru-Rollin's career stands out in bold relief, carved as it were in granite rock, amidst the vacillations of his colleagues and the tortuous policy of his foes. He, alune, has gone right on, turning neither to the right nor to the left, towards the realisation of the democratic republic. The party of interests' instinctively perceived in him the man of principle, whose political religion impelled him to uproot them, and they pursued him with a relentless animosity. The moderate party, defined by the Abbé de Genoude as nothing but men without a principle, without opinions, the plaything of events which they were incapable of foreseeing, and knew not how to direct,' detested in Ledru-Rollin the man who sacrificed comfort for the sake of principle—that comfort which is their domestic, as expediency is their political, idol. And the roué-politicians of Lonis Philippe, the children of corruption, sceptics of political honesty, themselves graduated libertines in political profligacy, to whom the government of the nation was a great game—these men hated and calumniated Ledru-Rollin for his political consistency, and feared him because of his perseverance.
Ledru-Rollin has fallen because he marched before the men of his time, but he has left to the younger democrats of France an imperishable legacy in his short but consistent career. And wherever he may now be the fervent hopes of the young democracy of England go with him-and they trust that his mind may be strengthened by defeat as it was elevated by victory, that his affliction may try him and purify him, that his constancy may be increased, the pure flame of his devotion to principle nourished and kept alive, so that he may reassume, as he will most certainly be called to reassume the leadership of Young France, when the people are again awakened by the cry of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity!
LIFE AND OPINIONS OF CABET.
Stephen CABET was born at Dijon, France, Jan. 1st, 1788, and is now sixty-two years old. His father was a cooper, and he worked at the same trade in his boyhood. Subsequently he studied medicine, and then law. He was admitted to the bar in 1812, and was regarded as a young man of great promise. During the first years of the second restoration he was proscribed. He afterward exercised his profession in a most creditable manner, saving from death several persons accused of conspiracy by the royalists. He was afterward a leading member of the Carbonari with Lafayette, Manuel, Dupont de l'Eure, &c. In the Revolution of 1830 he was prominent; and though he publicly declared his dissatisfaction with the Charter and the new monarch, claiming that a National Assembly should be called to form a Constitution, he was appointed Secretary to the Minister of Justice, and afterward Attorney-General of Corsica. In consequence of his persistence in his views respecting a National Assembly, he was soon dismissed from office. Not long after he was returned to the Chamber of Deputies for his native department, and took his seat, in July 1832, on the democratic side. He was accused of being engaged in the insurrection which took place at Paris, June 5th, '32, on occasion of the burial of Lamarque, but no evidence
ever proved it. In 1834 he was prosecuted by the government for republican articles in his journal, the Populaire, and condemned to two years' imprisonment. Rather than suffer this, he escaped to London, and passed five years there in exile. This time he devoted principally to writing his history of the French Revolution, in four vols. octavo, a very valuable work.
Up to this period Cabet had been simply one of the chief democrats of France. But now he commenced inquiring how the principles of democracy could be realised in the practical and
business relations of men. In the course of this inquiry, the reading of More's Utopia led him to Communism, and this conviction much reading and thinking served only to confirm. Its adoption led him at once from the avenues of ambition open to him as a politician. What could a Communist hope for in the way of office or distinction?
In 1839 he returned to France, where he has since been engaged in advocating the doctrine of the community of property. His chief work on that subject is a romance called the Voyage to Icaria,' in which he describes a nation organised according to his theory. It is a pleasing book, full of generous and humane sentiment, but not remarkable for originality or power.
The system of M. Cabet is absolute Communism, in which alone he conceives that the great ideas of modern times, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, can be realised. He says that as long as individual property and its inequalities are preserved, Equality will remain an illusion. He does not, however, propose to divide what now exists, or may hereafter be produced by industry, into equal portions, giving no one more and no one less than another of the good things of this life. He would have all property held by the Commuvity or State. His motto is, ' From each ac: cording to his capacity; to each according to his wants.' That is, every man should be subjected to the duty of producing for the Commonwealth in proportion to the capacities with which he is endowed, and should be entitled to receive froin it the supply of all his natural wants, including all possible elegancies and refinements—a formula which they who understand the least
will probably mock the most. The government of Icaria is democratic, all offices being filled by election, and
the legislative bodies being very large in order to a complete representation of the people. In this respect Cabet differs from Robert Owen. He also differs from him in the preservation of the marriage institution and in his religious views. He believes positively in the Divine Being as the Universal Father, while Owen admits his personal existence as a hypothesis only. Cabet wages no war on established churches. He told the present writer that, in his opinion, Owen had inflicted an incalculable injury upon the social cause by the crusade against Christianity and the Church which he set on foot in England, at a time when there was the fairest promise of the influential classes co-operating with him in the important practical reforms of which he had given so conclusive an example at New Lanark. Cabet, on the other hand, appeals to the New Testament as affording the strongest arguments in favour of his system. The practice of the primitive Church, and the teachings of the early Fathers, he contends are also on his side, as regards the tenure of property. They too, le says,
were apostles of Fraternity, and preached the necessity of substituting social love for individual selfishness and rapacity. In this connection it should, perhaps, be said that the theology of M. Cabet comes nearer Unitarianism than any other current form of religious doctrine.
Though so decided a Communist, M. Cabet does not suppose that the great change he contemplates can be brought about suddenly. Every such improvement, he says, is gradual ; and had he absolute power over any country of Europe, the first steps he would take would be to educate the people, give them better laws and arrangements for industry, and otherwise take care to improve their morals--only introducing his fundamental principles as the population were slowly and surely prepared for them.
Previous to the February revolution, the advocacy of Communism by means of lectures and meetings for discussion was not permitted in France. Cabet, however, kept at work in his Populaire, and, by books and tracts, gained many adherents. After February he commenced the oral promulgation of his opinions, till the unjust and unfounded persecution of him set on foot the 15th May, and kept up through the continuance of the state of siege at Paris-compelled him to cease his labours. His lectures were regularly attended by audiences of five or six thousand. There was nothing seditious in them, and his disciples have never been found guilty of participation in the outbreaks of Paris. His teachings tended to peace." Their great theme was Fraternity—the love of man. On this he was eloquent, because the sentiment is strong in his own
moral constitution. No candid man, who knows anything of the matter | more than is to be gathered from the falsehoods of the reactionist jour
nals of Paris and elsewhere, will deny that he did great good among the labourers of Paris—more good, perhaps, than could have been done by a man of greater talent, but less sympathetic nature. The number of receivers of his views in France is very large; I have heard it estimated, by impartial and well-informed men, at half a million.
As, under Louis Philippe, no practical attempt for the establishment of Communism would be tolerated, M. Cabet determined, early in the year 1847, to obtain a suitable tract of land in the vast uncultivated regions of North America, where no hindrances would be thrown in the way either by the government or by the influence of a dense population. He accordingly negociated with a company in London, known as the Peters Company, fir a grant of land on the Red River, in the north of Texas. The sole condition of the grant was that the land should be under cultivation by July 1st, 1848; and the evidence of cultivation was to be the erection of a certain kind of cabins-for every cabin the Colony was to become the owner of so many acres. Previous to closing the contract, M. Cabet procured all possible information as to the locality, and became satisfied that it was fertile, well-watered, and healthy. He returned to Paris, and commenced preparations for sending out the Colony, which was to combine the settling of a remote and savage region with the experiment of a new sort of social arrangements.
On December 2, 1847, Mr. Sully, the agent of the new enterprise, left France for Texas, charged with authority to change the location, if on reaching the spot he should judge best. He was followed, on Feb
ruary 3, '48, by the first group of pioneers. Instead of being 20, as at first designed, the impatience of the Icarians swelled its numbers to 69. They went under ihre leadership of one Gouhenant, a painter of Toulouse, and long prominent among the Radicals of that quarter. Cabet had an indefinite suspicion of this man, but as he could bring up nothing against him, he yielded to others, and let him go out at the head of the group. In three weeks more the Revolution broke out, and immediately after, a journal of Toulouse published a letter from Gouhenant, found in the archives of the Police, asking to be taken into the employ of the government as a spy--for which, he said, his connection with the Icarian Communists, the Republicans, and the secret societies of the country, gave him valuable qualifications. At this Cabet was alarmed, and sent out a person on whom he relied, with instructions that if, on his arrival in Texas, Gouhenant should be managing for the interest of the enterprise, he should say nothing; if not, he should disclose his function of spy, and have him supplanted in office. The result was that the disclosure was made, Gouhenant confessed, and on his trunk being searched, full evidence was found that he was in confidential relations with the Society of Jesuits !--at least, so I learned from the leading Communists at Paris, and, as I believe them to be veracious men, see no reason to doubt it. The fact that he was a spy of the government is certain, and also that he did much to ruin the Colony.
This group of pioneers reached New Orleans the 27th of last March. Here a physician, who had been the most ardent of them, left, taking with him four others, besides the stock of medicines. The remainder arrived at Shreveport, the head of navigation, on the Red River, on April 4th. Sully, who had got there two months before them, and had discovered that the proposed location was a long way off from navigable waters, had bought 2000 acres at Sulphur Prairie, which was comparatively in the vicinity of Shreveport, and hail determined that the colony should be established there. This, Gouhenant opposed. Icaria, he said, was designed to be west of the Cross Timbers, and there they would go. The party, composed of ardent young men, followed him; and, rifles on their shoulders, these French mechanics set off through the wilderness. They reached the place the 15th of May, worn out with their tramp, and immediately set to work. Through June they toiled with heroic perseverance, putting up the cabins that were to enlarge the Icarian territory: in July and August they were equally industrious. The consequence was that the heat of the climate, the unaccustomed exposure, and way of living gave them the fever. Some were even crazy, among them a young Spaniard named Roveira, who has since shot himself at New Orleans. Then he only threatened to shoot one of his comrades.
The first letters sent back to France by these explorers were glowing with delight at the richness of the country, and its fitness to be converted into the Icarian Utopia. This had a great effect there, and partially overcame the embarrassments and difficulties occasioned by the revoluition. A number of persons made extraordinary efforts to raise the 600 francs (120 dollars), the minimum per head, established by M. Cabet and the Directing Council, for the transportation and establishment of Emigrant Icarians.
The second group of pioneers left Havre June 3rd, not very well furnished, and arrived at "Icaria’ the 29th of August, worn out with the march over the country. The state of the Colony was such that neither old nor new members could see reason for struggling to sustain it longer, and it was abandoned. The journey back to Shreveport was conducted with as little prudence as the previous operations. Five persons died on the road, and the remnant made their way to New Orleans. The attacks on Cabet now began to appear in the papers. Still a large portion of the emigrants retained their confidence in him and in the theory. Fortythree of them signed a protest against the accusations of the discontented, but wo believe the press has nowhere given it currency. And yet, in such a case, these witnesses may fairly be, supposed to be more reliable than those on the other side.
Notwithstanding, these reverses were in due time fully known in France, the zeal of the Icarians was not daunted. “If our brethren have failed or proved faithless,' they cried, so much the more need that we should devote ourselves to repairing the evil. Several parties have since left Havre and Bordeaux, Reaching New Orleans, they have combined, as we learn from a letter of M. Cabet's, in the Bee of the 28th ult., in one large household to wait till the season for resuming operations shall arrive. At the end of last month there were in this establishment 280 persons, including 142 men, 84 women, and 64 children. These parties all retain full confidence in M. Cabet, who is with them, having reached New Orleans January 19. From the funds of the Company, those of the first and second groups of pioneers who desired to return to France, have received together the sum of 15,000 francs. They have thus done the utmost in their power to relieve the sufferings caused by the failure ; a failure for which neither their leader nor his system can be held responsible.
As soon as the proper season arrives, the Icarians will make a second trial, choosing a locality more to the North, and acting with the personal advice and co-peration of M. Cabet, who last year was unable to be with them. Their chance of success is certainly much better than before. Those who reinain must, for the most part, be persons of the right stuff, and the experience of the past will prevent their repeating its errors. It is plain that this undertaking is a most difficult one, but any one who will pronounce it absolutely impracticable, with the example of the many societies of Shakers, the Rappites, and the Zoarites before his eyes, is welcome to his judgment, as well as are those who see in the failure of Icaria the failure of Social Reform in general. Communism is a system which, no doubt, embodies fatal scientific errors, as a social theory, but that it can be put in practice with success, is a fact as plain as the sun of a clear June dav. And if M. Cabet can establish on our wild lands a large and flourishing community of industrious, ingenious, and honest French artisans, he will do a good thing for this country as well as for his disciples.
And now I think that any one who has read this brief narrative will agree with all impartial men in France who know. M. Cabet, that he has done nothing in this affair to stain the honourable reputation acquired by 40 years in public life, and in circumstances which try the metal of a man.