תמונות בעמוד

mittee, on account of our subscription. I should be very pleased to get this £25 by Christmas. As some readers may not comply with this request, through some unavoidable cause, let the more active get as many to join with them as possible. I intend in this matter—deeming it of so much importance to solicit all I meet. We have written very few articles in aid of the Committee's object-thinking argument was unnecessary to recommend so just a cause, and designing to offer them more substantial help than words. That veteran publicist, Francis Placewho, at bis great age, advises this Committee in their -work-should receive from all friends of free-thought and cheap knowledge, prompt testimony of the people's regard for his great services.



We have received two replies to Mr. Cooper-one from Mr. W. Wesi, another from ‘Truth-Seeker;' Sartor has not written. The two answers sent in seem directed at Mr. Cooper, and are not quite what are wanted. As Mr. Cooper declined Mr. Campbell's challenge to discuss the question, it is useless to desire Mr. C. to enter the list and not necessary. Indeed we should not care to have a debate on this question in the Reasoner, except it was likely to be argued with great ability on both sides, as the topic has so often been handled before.

* Praise,' as commonly used, gives applause to the successful, as though they made their own abilities—and thus it calls up conceit. • Blame' includes the threat of punishment. But opinions result from evidence, and actions result from the stimulus of circumstances on organisation : and as man cannot change evidence le submits to it, and he finds himself in the right without desert of his own, or in the wrong without fault on his part—and as man neither made his nature nor his condition, he owes his actions to the destiny of his organisation and position. If he is made to act well be is fortunate-if ill, unfortunate. Thus, as respects the origin of his actions, we neither praise nor blame hiin. As respects the effects of his opinions and conduct on society, we distinguish bis opinions into true and false, and his actions into useful and pernicious. Of the wrong opinion and the wrong act, the Socialist expresses his disapprobation-not with the intention of punishment (as he would not add to the natural misfortune of those who err) but by way of instruction, that the erring may get right and the bad may amend. Of the correct opinion and the useful act he expresses his approval, both because the emotions created are pleasurable and press for utterance, and that it is necessary to encourage others in the right. Even here the reserve of the Socialist, in reminding the successful that he is the instrument of good, awards applause which does not intoxicate like praise, as his censure does not fill with despair like blame.

Thus approbation and disapprobation impresses sobriety and mildness over human judgments. These are the distinctions the Socialist sees in the use of the words in dispute, and why he prefers approbation and disapprobation to praise and blame.

It is proper to observe that it is not at this point that Mr. Owen's views are seen to advantage. It is not in points of old world judgments that the Socialist las a fair field. The great difference in his sentiments is best seen in his preventide mcasures. He must be judged by his system. In replying to the North British Review, we shall extend this answer. But sufficient to the day is the evil thereof. In plainer words, sufficient for the present purpose is best—is all that can be usefully urged at this stage.



On Friday, November 23rd, a letter appeared in the Times, signed * Anti-Socialist,' quoting extracts from a German newspaper published in London, containing the sentiments of Heinzen, and of the German refugees in this country, whose notions are of the kind formerly avowed by Marat and St. Just. Heinzen makes a calculation of the people and the tyrants of Europe. He puts down the people at so many millions, and the tyrants at so many millions, and ends' by declaring that there can be neither freedom nor peace till the tyrants are put to death, and suggests a war of relentless extermination. The correspondence which has since taken place in the Times upon it, induced Mr. Holyoake to address the following letter to the editor.

SIR, - I should not venture to trouble you but that your correspondent, Anglicus, seems to call for communications on the recent letter of "Anti-Socialist.'

I claim to know as much of the working classes and their political leaders, who sympathise with continental democrats, as Anglicus' or •Gegen-Lehren-Der-Revolution'—whoever either may be; and I can assure you that the disastrous sentiments expressed by M. Charles Heinzen will find very few approvers here: and if they have not formally repudiated them, it is because they do not think the public will impute participation in such opinions to them. Sparing myself your correspondent's perfect and just aversion to such theories of blood, I do not, however, see that the matter is mended by the proposal to chase the author from our shores. This country grants a royal refuge to many who have uttered doctrines quite as hateful to the people as those denounced by “ Anti-Socialist,' yet we do not propose to apply the alien act to those refugees. I can understand M. Heinzen fleeing from the scenes where B.um has been shot and Batthyany ordered to be bung with his throat cut, Hungary drenched with the blood of her best sons, and Romans slaughtered at their own gates—being impressed with the dreadful conviction that a war of extermination is the only security for the people. We see in such ideas the antagonism engendered by oppression—such doctrines are the production of a war-warped intellect. But we cannot hope to correct such aberrations by the exercise of similar vindictiveness, such as · Anti-Socialist’ would imitate. It can only create an impression here that M. Heinzen is right, if the government he hounded on to chase him into the hands of those who are thirsting for his blood.


I may be wrong, but it does not appear to me that the idea entertained by some few thinkers of a total abolition of death punishments has as yet taken a strong hold on the mind of the working classes. They do not seem to be interested in the question ; their sympathies are not roused, and their hearts fail to respond to the voice of those who desire immediately to remove that blot from the face of civilisation. But it is important that the masses should turn their attention to this subject, for the subject itself is of importance. It has in it, certainly, no element of political excitement-nothing to influence the turbulent passions-nothing which can legitimately affect the sense of the ludicrous, and throw, by clap-trap declamation, a public meeting into 'roars of laughter. It is especially a serious question, and should be approached with earnestness and sober reflection. Human life, and human death, and social happiness are the three principles involved in it, and surely these are solemn things. The mere consideration that our being is veiled in mystery, and that a time must arrive when we shall cease to be—that life is a universal essence, and that yet our death-day will come as sure as owe birth-day has gone -invests existence with a sanctity, and consecrates the grave. The condition of society -- enhancing as it does the well-being, the physical comfort, the moral culture, and the intellectual progress of millions of our fellow mortals-is also a theme of grandeur and solemnity. For the happiness of man is closely allied to brotherly love; and in whatsoever breast that love dwells, there is the shrine of a divinity, and at that shrine shall we find the noblest and holiest object of our soul's worship.

These remarks are not beside the question of gallows abolition. They have arisen out of it; and my desire is to point ont to those who, reading this, may not have treated the subject with due respect, how much of momentous import is connected with it.

Capital punishment is part and parcel of Britislı law. Certain criminals are condemned by that law to be publicly strangled. A piece of frail mortality is by twelve other pieces of equally frail mortality found guilty of murder, and another piece of frail mortality puts a black cap

his head, and sentences the convict to exhibit his death-quivering to a vast assemblage of his fellow creatures. Who can think of this fact without there rushing to his mind the three ideas of Life, Death, and Society? The law preaches the sacredness of human life, saying Thou shalt not kill.' The murderer has violated the law and the lite. And the gibbet carries out the legal preachment by consistently killing the culprit! The moral of which is blood for blood.' But to whoin is this lesson proclaimed? To the wise, the virtuous, the refined, and educated portion of society ? For whose especial benefit-entertainment I might have said-is this revolting exhibition prepared ? For those who would shudder at a death-blow and faint at the sight of a drop of blood ? No; the lesson is proclaimed to, and the exhibition prepared chiefly for, the most ignorant, debased, vicious, and ferocious portion of humanity. It is a spectacle in which the gathered thousands delight-a spectacle on a level with the capacity of The most brutalised and hardened of our pecies. The convulsions of a throtled murderer are as grateful to the


taste of the majority, as the agility of a Christmas harlequin is to the fancy of a schoolboy. All the apparatus, paraphernalia, and accompaniments of the execution afford mirth to the mob. They were designed to intimidate and instruct, instead of which they stimulate ribald jests and valgar applause. The chaplain is ridiculed as a superfluous appendage, the criminal regarded as a hero or a victim, and the hangman as a skilful scragger.'

Now those who conduct themselves with such disgusting levity at such a disgusting scene, compose a large fraction in our social system. Are they improved in morals by witnessing a public execution? Are they not rather made worse in consequence of having their worst sentiments appealed to? And is it not the interest as well as the duty of every good man to seek the removal of whatever tends to deteriorate the moral atmosphere of society ? Should we not exert ourselves to sweep away every obstacle in the path of popular regeneration? And does not every thing which panders to the worst appetite increase that appetite? That this pandering to the depraved iaste of the multitude who assemble to gloat over an execution—that this tendency to vitiate the moral sense and check its growth is chargeable on public executions, and on the principle of death punishment, I think I have pointed out. As an item of hindrance to social improvement and the moralising of the masses, the gallows ougbt at once to be abolished.

The working class is a large body in this country, and if properly organised might be more powerful than it is. But it has an influence, though at present a very indirect one, on the legislature. - Let it ponder on this question of capital punishment. To meditate seriously on so grave a topic will be to purify the heart and expand the sympathies. The question of the abstract right to take human life, under any circumstances, is not easy to resolve. The necessity of taking the life of a murderer is not so difficult to argue on. The day, I hope, is not far off when the office of common hangman will be numbered with other effete and unjust institutions which have gradually been consigned to oblivion.

As the question stands now, it includes four parties holding different opinions :

1. Those who advocate capital punishment for murder on the principle of blood for blood.' The Times takes this view :

2. Those who admit the necessity and justice of life for life,' but think the execution should take place in private rithin the prison walls.

3. Those who deny the abstract right of taking human life under any conceivable combination of circumstances, not even in self-detence.

4. Those who admit the right, if warranted by necessity, but who deny the necessity in the case of murderers. They say that all unnecessary punishment is unjust.

Among the advocates of private hanging is Mr. Charles Dickens, but it is believed only as a step to the entire abolition of death punishment. A most able and convincing article on this question will be found in the last July number of the Eclectic Review. There is one also in the same review for August 1818. The Daily News supports the abolition movement. All the Tory prints are champions of the blood for blood' doctrine, Did Christ teach this?




TO A CERTAIN JUSTICE OF THE PEACE. Sir,—About fourteen years ago a fearful tragedy was perpetrated on your estate. I know not what your thoughts are now respecting that event, save by what I have learned from what you have since done, and what you

have left undone. To have prevented the commission of a crime so appalling, I think you would have willingly given half your fortune. Such, it pleases me to imagine, would have been the generous impulse of your heart. Without so great a sacrifice, a prudent foresight and some little self-denial would have averted the terrible catastrophe; but I question if you ever seriously reflected on the matter, much less contemplated the probability that any thing so horrible would happen to mar the serenity of the sequestered village of which you are the owner. I do not so much blame you on that account. You were but carrying out a practice recognised by the majority of your class: the practice of preserving game, within sight and reach of large bodies of your fellow men, who, through life, are almost permanently subjected to privation, and, consequently, ever ready to become the victims of temptation and crime.

It might seem unnecessary wantonness and cruelty in me to probe the humane breast by recalling the horrors of a deed committed so long since; and I would not, but that grave questions are involved in the fact: the question of the prevention of crime by the removal of its 'cause-when such can be happily effected; the question of the justice of preserving game under peculiarly disadvantageous circumstances, but especially at this time to make it appear that you have no right to preserve game under any circumstances whatever. In you I will paint the upholder of an atrocious state of things, but I trust that not you only, but all your sort, may behold in the selfish, cruel, and arrogant being I picture, a reflection of their own images; and that they will speedily seek to divest themselves of its likeness. Think not because two poor men suffered violent deaths, victims to your lust for a barbarous sport, that I would be revenged on you. No! I but take this course of appealing to you, and to the public at the same time, because that, after a warning so awful, you, by your actions, have manifested no signs of penitence for the cursed part you played to such a cruel ending; and which you yet continue to play, it may be, to a more cruel ending-notwithstanding honour, justice, and humanity demand of you to have done with it. I but seek to redeem you from that state of mental depravity which so effectually screens you from yourself; and, by a strange infatuation, enables you to entertain the diabolical notion that, because you have the remnant of a barbarous law in your favour, so, on your account, for your pleasure, assaults, imprisonments, transportations, murders, and hangings

[This letter is written by one familiar with peasant life, and to whom the facts narrated are personally and painfully familiar. Those who have read the evidence of the Game Law Committee will recognise in this sketch a picture widely true of game proprietors.- Ed.]

« הקודםהמשך »