Page images
PDF
EPUB

PREFACE.

performances have come before us, we have found many of the Essays to display much thought and intelligence, and no mean powers of literary composition. Ten of these we have selected for honourable mention ; and as we were not, strictly speaking, authorized to open any envelope except that which accompanied the successful Essay, an advertisement has been put forth requesting the sanction of the authors of those Essays to the publication of their names.

The authors of five only of these have responded to the adver. tisement, and we can, therefore, distinguish the other five by their mottoes only. The list stands thus, but we do not profess to have arranged it in strict order of merit :

Essay with motto, “Artegall,by Mr. John Morgan, 9, Roxburgh Terrace, Haverstock Hill.

Ditto, Bonum est remittere in loco(author not disclosed).

Ditto, No performance is 80 favourably read as,” &c., by Rev. George T. Davies, Rectory, Ingatestone, Essex.

Ditto, Think of ease and work on(author not disclosed).
Ditto, All work and no play,&c. (author not disclosed).

Ditto, Exercendum tamen corpus,&c., by Rev. W. Taprell Allen, Brinsop Vicarage, near Hereford.

Ditto, Dieu et mon droit,&c., by Mr. William Frederick Mills, 8, Seymour Place, West Brompton.

Ditto “ Mylis Sandys(author not disclosed).

Ditto, “Time is what we want most,” by Mr. W. H. Reyndall, 1, Clifton Road, Camden Road.

Ditto, Omne tulit punctum," &c. (author not disclosed).

It only remains for us to express the hope that Mr. Dennis's Essay may receive, when published, the attention which it deserves, and that his efforts, and the liberality of Mr. Spence, may bear fruit in the increased success of the Association, and of the social reforms which it advocates.

HENRY ALFORD, Dean of Canterbury.
JAMES HAMILTON, Minister of the

Presbyterian Church, Regent Square.

BENJAMIN SHAW. July 16th, 1860.

[blocks in formation]

Since the above report was presented, two more names have been disclosed, the Rev. William Allen, Baptist Minister, and Principal of the Junior College, Oxford, being the author of the Essay “ All Work and no Play, &c;" and Mr. Edward W. Huddleston, of Manchester, being the author of the Essay with the motto “ Mylis Sandys."

Those who take such an interest in the success of the movement as to promote the sale of this work, may be glad to know that the publishers, while undertaking the risk, have promised that any profit resulting from its publication shall be paid over to the Society in connexion with which the Essay makes its appearance. At the same time, the Committee wish to take this opportunity of publicly recording their sense of obligation to Mr. Spence, for the act of liberality on his part which has led to the production of the present Essay; and they trust that Mr. Dennis, in his capacity as the author of the work, will have the satisfaction of knowing that by preparing this volume he has con tributed in no small degree to the advancement of one of the most important social movements of the day, (On behalf of the Committee,)

JOSEPH PITTER, Secretary. EARLY CLOSING ASSOCIATION, 35, LUDGATE HILL,

September 23rd, 1860.

THE

PIONEER OF PROGRESS.

CHAPTER I.

“If all the year were playing holidays,

To sport would be as tedious as to work ;
But when they seldom come, they wish'd for come.”

SHAKESPEARE.

It has been lately affirmed by a well-known political economist, that “the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community against his will is to prevent harm to others.” This opinion is capable of much expansion. If carried out into practice, it would permit the restrictions of Government in regulating fiscal polity; it would allow of interference between capitalists and labourers whenever the one class of men encroached on the liberties of the other; and it might even sanction the interference of Government in respect to national education, since the selfishness of individuals will often produce that very harm which, under the plea of personal liberty, is likely to prove most injurious to a state. We will not stay to ascertain the extent to which Mr. Mills's theory may

2

THE PERILS OF FREEDOM,

legitimately be carried, but we have alluded to it for the purpose of showing that the broadest views of individual liberty must be restricted by the claims of society, and the special requirements of the age.

Society, in its earlier stages, requires pressure. It must be forced rather than led. Its vitality is not that of the forest tree, which demands nothing but light and soil, and the pure air of heaven : rather does its existence, like that of the feeble exotic, depend on the will and guidance and despotic nurture of the owner and cultivator. Happily for England, she has advanced in social growth infinitely beyond the stage in which physical and intellectual despotism have a place and a meaning. She has earned the right to be free, and has proved herself worthy of the boon. But this freedom, while it is the highest of all earthly blessings, brings with it large claims, responsibilities, and dangers. In itself, indeed, it is the nurse and breeder of all good.” Without it, greatness becomes dwarfed, and virtue inoperative. But although in theory we acknowledge it to be an unmixed benefit, in practice we feel that even freedom has its perplexities, anomalies, and inconveniences. In many instances it might be the happier for a man if he were kept under tutelage all his life, if he were watched and guarded with that jealousy which may be best described by the French word surveillance. Every one of us has met with men who would be all the better for this kind of custody, and who, when

SOCIAL TYRANNY.

3

left to their own passions, are in danger of committing many foolish and sinful acts; yet, so long as they only injure themselves, it is better for the community that they should thus transgress than that any public restraint should be placed upon their actions. For it is impossible that a right act can be based upon a wrong principle, impossible that the good done in a special instance can outweigh the enormous evil resulting from the infraction of what, in a free country, may be deemed an universal law.

It would be curious to trace the steps by which the highest social freedom sometimes culminates in slavery. Public opinion, for instance, often proves itself an intolerable tyrant; the habits of society, which to many minds are almost a religion

“Hang upon us with a weight

Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life.” The patrimony of past experience, valuable though it be, too often fetters the mind, and forbids an independent course of action, and our very deepest beliefs may be so encrusted with conventional forms of expression, as to lose a portion of their vitality. The strong man accepts these impediments as evils which are to be grappled with, and, as far as possible, overcome; the weak man yields to them without a struggle, almost without a complaint. But slavery, in a more direct and tangible form, has crept into this land through the avenues of trade and commerce, partly under the plea of necessity, partly by that

« PreviousContinue »