« PreviousContinue »
when the shoemaker must pay more for his bread, he will charge more for his shoes, and so it will be with all the trades. This shows in a clear light the fallacy of Strikes, Trades' Unions, and all combinations of workingmen for higher wages, which are seldom successful; and when they are, amount to nothing. In the transition from one price to another, the trade which gets the start of the rest may gain something, but as soon as one trade rises, all the rest will rise, and then things are as they were before. When a day's work will buy a bushel of wheat, and only a bushel, it makes no difference whether you call the price of a day's work sixpence or five dollars.
Ignorance of this fact does great harm. Mechanics in our cities become uneasy, they spend a portion of their earnings in the grog-shops, in oyster-cellars, in houses of prostitution, or in theatres, and finding what remains too little for their necessary expenses, they cry out for more wages, put the business part of the community to great inconvenience, often embarrassing them seriously, and subjecting themselves to loss of time and of money, when even were they to succeed nothing would be gained. No, Sir; these things must be left to take care of themselves. The partner who has the smaller investment must not expect to share equally with him who has the larger, much less to possess himself, as the workingmen seem to desire, of all the profits of the firm. Let the workingmen limit their desires to what is their due, and they will have justice done them; but if they can be satisfied only by having their share, and that which belongs to the other members of the firm into the bargain, then I must for one resist them, and if I fail, society will fail to exist.
Sir, let me beseech you to bear this in mind. A laboring man's capital is his bodily strength and activity, a kind of capital which is essential to the copartnership, but which is only an item and a small item in the immense amount invested. What that is entitled to out of the general gains let him have. He
works on his own capital and has what he produces; with that let him be satisfied. Nobody wishes to wrong him. Tell him so, use your eloquence to persuade him to be virtuous, economical, to avoid haunts of dissipation, to keep clear of the theatre and bawdyhouses, and you will do him a real service and deserve well of the whole community. Then you would prove yourself the workingman's true friend.
I beseech you to do so, and forbear to say or do aught to stir laboring classes against the rich. Your present language makes me believe you a dangerous man. I beseech you to use a different language hereafter.
ART. II. — The Times, — Past, Present, and Future.
Factions, Religious and Political. The English System and Catholicism. The English System in America Democracy.
Democracy. Its Tendency. Result.
Faction, or that species of political party which has no direct relation either to philosophical truth, or practical measures, has had a sort of festival triumph, in the recent general election, which may well terminate its deceptive and worthless career. An old, well known, though always an ephemeral spirit, has had another day's fluttering and revel. The vacant lust of conquest, which necessarily reduces political contests to mere efforts at official ascendency, has now done, it may be hoped, all it can do to corrupt the public mind, and expel from the current history of the time its rightful dignity. Politics, that, like religious feeling, should be the serious study of a free and intelligent people, has, under this pernicious influence, been made a mere sportive exersise, while its belligerent means have been contemptibly trifling. Citizens, free and sovereign by name, have for a few years past openly leagued together for specific partial
VOL. IV. NO. I.
or selfish purposes; the two great parties of the country have been but agglomerations of small ones, and neither has had other than a remotely constructive relation to the fundamental principles of human difference and concord.
As factional religion, or Sectarism as it is sometimes called, early prostrated the power of the Reformation, and left the greater part of the civilized world unaffected by the new spirit, so has factional politics often interrupted, and long delayed the social regeneration of the world. The restless activity of mind must be employed; the individual passion for excitement must have its appropriate food, and men will ever rally under a false and deceptive banner when that of principle is furled. From this inherent frailty of human nature, acted upon by the artful misrepresentation of Truth, which is the handiwork of the missions of Injustice, have originated the whole class of local and transient revolutions, that grossly disfigure the history of the past ; complicate and confuse the great current of consequential changes in the social condition of mankind, and render the Philosophy of Politics most difficult and profound.
Never since the beginning of evil have appearances more belied reality than at the present time. Peace is said to reign over the Earth, and yet everywhere, there is war in disguise; smothered indeed, or kept in a sort of half-way existence, by unintermitted and ever fluctuating diplomacy, but as grinding to the nations, and as foreign to repose and prosperity, as honest, open, and destructive battle. The United States are proclaimed free and independent, severed from all colonial relation to the Government of England, while we are quite as dependent upon, fully as tributary to, and as sensibly affected by her institutions as any one of her now existing colonies, or as we were before the declaration of our independence. The time was, when men did not greatly err in estimating the strength of nations by the extent of their respective navies, and the numbers of their armies; but the systematic policy of Great Britain, -"the English System ”- the concentration of the money-power of the world in London, in close affinity with the administration of her Government, is an overwhelming power that armies and navies cannot measure ;
a power that has had no prototype in the world, save in that awful reign of terror which existed before the combined spiritual and temporal supremacy of Rome was overthrown by Luther and the Reformation.
The analogy between the old Pontifical Power and the present English System is closer than is generally supposed. If we but substitute the avarice of the one, for the superstition of the other; the ardent love of money, for the extreme fear of death and hell, - passions equally absorbing and all-controling in their dominion over men, — we may comprehend this analogy in its aggregate and details. False, corrupt, ingenious, magnificent, the two systems alike claim our hatred and admiration, and justify the shaking of the Earth itself for the riddance of the immense imposition. The wielding of the “spiritual power,” when that power was exercised upon the extreme mental feebleness of the world, itself the product of art and design, and the concentration of that power at the Vatican, was not more oppressive, tyrannical, and unjust, than the corresponding control now exercised upon a wide basis of artificial poverty and cultivated meanness, emanating, through the arts and mysteries of commerce, from the Banking conclave of London. The funding and banking centres of the English policy may be aptly compared to those old, and now worn out institutions of the once predominant church, the ecclesiastical and monastic orders. As superior worth and sanctity were claimed by, and accorded to the old associations, so we find a similar worth and wealth accredited to the new; and as falsely in the one case as it ever was in the other. Ignatius Loyola, in founding the formidable Society of the Jesuits, did but bank a vast portion of the superstition or belief of the world ; and established for the members and their friends, an immense credit in social reputation, and unbounded influence over the temporal interests of men. The Inquisition, even when in the plenitude of its tyranny and abominations, did but make and break whom its capitalists listed; and dispensed the peculiar poverty of that time, as our money cheiftains do the peculiar poverty of ours. The worldly destinies of a freeman, deserving of independence, should be in the power of himself or his kind alone ; but where is the man, nominally free or emphatically a slave, who does not obey the subtle and all-pervading influence of the monks of the Order of — Money!
It is a vague definition of civilized man to say he is an intelligent being, governed by opinions, which result in laws. Far better it is to respect history and experience, which prove he is governed by passion, which results in instability. Hope is inseparable from moral existence, and enthusiasm is the basis of energy and enterprise. The gaudy, mystified, and ever varying piety of former ages, signified nothing but a certain greedy and insatiable want in the human mind of something indefinitely extravagant. Accordingly, all modern history comprises little else than a series of successive public excitements, singularly incongruous and contrarious in their natures, but each, in its turn, claiming and obtaining the homage of the world. It would indeed seem as if nearly all the possible phases and combinations of intoxicated feelings had already reigned their time and passed into oblivion. Since Roman pride gave way before savage destructiveness, the world has been successively enslaved, the great popular mass cruelly degraded ; first, by the devoted and captivating bravery of the Feudal ages, which wore itself out by extending beyond the sublime and running errant to the ridiculous ; secondly, by the highwrought organization of the Church, involving all the