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DUBLIN MONTHLY MAGAZIN E.
NATURAL HISTORY OF SOCIETY.*
The work whose title we have quoted as our may not one as well be looking at the text, is one of which we had formed, from delightful_prospect, over the stone wall the time of its announcement, no easily satis- there ?" The consequence of this innate, fied expectations. It is, as we anticipated, unquenchable cheeriness of temper is, that an exceedingly interesting book. The sub- Taylor can go through more absolute work, ject, and the naine of its author, assured us than probably any literary man of the day, of that beforehand. But it is not only more The dumb-founded, how-to-observe-drilled, interesting as “an essay towards discovering keep-to-the point, dreary, tedious, poorthe origin and course of human improve- hearted grubs, that are born and begotten in ment," than we had expected it to be, but it these diffusion of ignorance-we beg paris what, to tell the truth, we did not look don-of knowledge-days, have so much for at all, an extremely amusing book miscellancous and multifarious matterinto the bargain. We knew it was to be solid, dead, undiscriminated, ungerminating written by Doctor Taylor; and we knew that matter—to take into their weak stomachs, and Doctor Taylor was said to be the literary so limited powers of digestion,-in a word, heir apparent, of all the knowledge, experi- have so little nature and heartiness, so little ence, and learning of William Cooke Taylor, real poetry, and such an utter lack of digeslate of this gay-hearted kingdom. Buttive fun in them, that they are wholly unasooth to say, we did not expect to find in ble to keep foot with a light jaunty step the London LL.D., the very identical man like Taylor's. He would get through well, we had known as the witty, good-humoured, as much downright work in a year, and look keen-sighted, caustic, illustration-full, life | gay and fresh at the end of it, as would and soul of good fellowship, of old-aye, stretch half a dozen of his un-Irish cointhey are grown old-times.
peers in the churchyard, without as much But,--God bless him for it,—Taylor is as one decently turned out volume for a pilIrish to the heart's core still. Half a life low, for their poor notion of fame to take spent in the deadening, mercenary, literary its long sleep on. And the consequences to
. alinosphere of the inky Babylon, has not readers are still more dissimilar.
Just deadened him. He takes up a subject still imagine what a book the Natural History in his own way—a most thoroughly Irish of Society would be, by one of your ordiway. Be it never so sober or glum, he is nary of literary distinction.” To be not glum. There is not a plodding pace in candid, we had innagined it; and forgetting him. Up the weariest hill of statistics or for the moment, that our old friend was unpolitical economy, he has always an eye out changed and unchangeable, we opened the for the wild flower growing by the wayside; first volume with certain indescribeable feelor, as he turns a ininute round to take breath, ings of resignation. We will further own,
* The NATURAL History of Society in the Barbarous and Civilized State : an Essay towards Discovering the Origin and Course of Human Improvement. By W. CookE TAYLOR, Esq. LL.D. M. R. A. S. of Trinity College, Dublin. London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green, and Loogman. 1840. VOL. JII. NO. XIX.
that our fears gave not way during the dedi- you, or your friendly gig, or the infirmication, whose two pages seemed to us like lies you can't get over, we came to listen two dozen, so unworthy are they, in our here. Get up, and get on, man. If there mind, of the work thus—thus—but no mat- be any serious word of counsel, or cheering ter, we won't recall what we thought of them. tidings of better hopes in you to tell—tell it, Neither can we aver that we gained much and have done. But the air of public deground of confidence, by reason of the pre- precation is bacl, wrong, all wrong. A spiface. Reader—between you and I ('twere ritual teacher--and every, man taking upon odd and awkward to say you and ice") - him to write history, poetry, or philosophy we abhor and detest prefaces of all kinds is such-has no business with apologies or short, long, smug, sneaking, impertinent, courteous preludinge ; he has nothing to say or mock-modest. What is the use of but the truie, real, vital thing, whatever it be, a preface ? None that we know of, to a that he has come to teil unto the world. man of ideas. To a man that has nothing to But enough of this. say, and has his bread to earn by saying it, at Come we then to the scope and purport of the greatest inventable length, a preface, the Natural History of Society. In some that is four or five pages of pretext for sen- sort it may be called the Nineteenth Centence-spinning, about the book, and its ma- tury's defence of itself. No light matter nufacturer, and all his obliging friends who this, you will say; no indeed, rather a grave are anxious to see their favours figure in matter-a matter that will not be adjusted foolscap octavo—is a most desirable, advan- in our time, nor till we are long forgotten. tageous, profitable thing. It is so much The familiar reply of the old Greek clear odds got and given, out of the adven- the king, who asked him did he not think turous copyright buyer, and soon repentant him happy, is applicable to eras and epochs single copy purchaser. But what does a of civilization, and to their claims on human man like Taylor want to say in a preface ? estimation. We canot judge of them until A man with a sound cool head, lit by two they are passed wholly by, -frequently not clear insight-full eyes,—the countryman of uniil their immediate followers are passed
Tristram Shandy. Only think of an apo. likewise from the dream-shifting stage. This logetic, Longman-Rees-Hurst-Orme-and- is true of all kinds of civilization ; but it is Brown-ish preface to Tristram Shandy! Rea especially so of the tranquil, full-blown, or, if sons for writing Tristram Shandy! Reasons you will have it so, fruit-bearing season of for writing it this way, and not the other the cycle. While the formation or the reway! Ah no; there were no reasons to give formation of opinion and of society is going for either; there is no valid reason for writ- on, the suffering and loss is great; but then ing any book that is worth reading, save and it is all or chiefly apparent and calculable. except the book itself. If it tells you why The good is germinating the while; and and what for it is there, what need is there being in that chaotic period rudely moulded of further testimony ? And if it cannot tell over, seemingly hall smothered and buried you this—if it do not make you feel wiser down, there ascends a wild and bitter cry of or better than yon were before you began it, anguish over the ruinous effects and tendenought any cobweb of a preface hold you to cies of war, change, loss of fixity, revolution, it, or prevent your pitching it into the fire ? violence, and soforth. Nevertheless, it may
It is, we have always thought, a grave be with sad and sober reason doubted, whether error, this public exposure beforehand, of the the stormiest hours are the worst. The ills how and the why of moral teaching. When they scatter are all visible, tangible, wcepat the appointed hour, the pastor, gified with able. But think of the dall, blind, speechpeculiar knowledge of divine truths, ascends less misery, which sweats and rots around the ihe pulpit stair, opens the door thereof, shuts golden rim of uninterrupted peace, strong hinsell'in, and raises his voice to begin his government, police morality, highest rate of discourse,-is he not as much there—to all money profit, unblasphemed sanctity of moral intents and purposes, more there— law. 'Tis all well enongh on paper. Unthan is, in muttering tone, he had stopped at paralleled production; unrivalled subtilty of the foot of the stair, to tell us how far he had jurisprudence; unequalled surety of procome to do duty that morning, who bronght perty; superbest triumph of diplomacy, him part of the way in his gig, and how arerting all the ills of war except the occamuch better he would be able to preach, but sional use of its name in terrorem, and the for a cold in his head that he canght abont permanent expense of providing against its six weeks ago, and which he has never been contingency. "Tis all well-excellent well, able to shake off since. Psha ! 'tisn't about could the eye be kept steadily fixed on the
show side of the picture, and the wrong side clusive arguments-the exclusion of all contraries be forgotten, or mentally abolished. But,
- to whom should this fish or fruit belong if not
alas, history will read the wrong side-its workhouse death-beds, Manchester men
Appropriation being universally recognised as
a title, the notion of community of property must styes, Owen-ite idiotcies, Edinburgh burk- be abandoned. But appropriation, so far from ings, infanticide pamphlets, murderer's clothes being a superinduced attribute of man, is natural auctions, and Cardigan discipline.
to him in every stage of society and in every age of 'twill all go down, jumbling oddly enough in than the application of man's individuality to ex
life. •Property,' says Lieber, “is nothing else the narrative—!much about the way, perhaps, ternal things, or the realization and manifestation it jumbles in the happening.
of man's individuality in the material worldl.'Our own notions of this world wide mat- The desire of appropriating objects—making ter, ---whether the world is mending or wors- them, as it were, a part of individual self—and ening, or both,—and the still more curious meets us everywhere. A child, only two years
thus rescuing them from undefined generality, and subtle question, at what real rate the said old, calls one hyacinth hers, and another her bro. change is going on,—when we have time we ther's, although she knows that neither will be shall, for our grandchildren's edification, write permitted to touch the glasses in which they are fairly down and beqneath to them, with full clouds, at leaves floating on a stream, or even at
growing. Children, looking together at passing authority to publish the same after our sands
waves breaking on the shore, will single out one are run, at their in-discretion. For the pre- of these objects as their own; will dispute whesent, our singular gripe of things musi be ther the favoured cloud is the brighter, the choloosed, in order that we may allow our
sen leaf the best swimmer, or the selected wave
loudest in its roar. worthy and eloquent friend to give his ver- and charity schools, every child is desirous to have
In our foundling hospitals sion of the matter. It signifies little com- something which it may call its own; the galley, paratively in our estimate of a book, whether slave, toiling at the oar, and the monarch scated it squares on many points or few with our own on his throne, equally desire to impress their indi.
viduality upon some species of property, some obIf it be alive, if it can set preconceptions.
may be called 'mine.' men thinking, if it contain new truths, or
“ We do not always meet with the notion of what is more likely, new views of old truths, landed property among uncivilized tribes ; but 'tis a benefit, a joy, a glory, unto us. every savage is ‘monarch of his shed,'--the fishWe differ from Dr. Taylor upon points not hook he has made, the beasts he has hunted, and
the canoe for which he has bartered, are his own. a few; but what of that? We know the The notion of community has never entered into man to be a strong-headed, broad-hearted, his head, he would resent every attempt to deprive kind-spirited, self-cultured, honest man, and him of these objects as a gross outrage. the best thing to do when such a man speaks,
“ Private property must necessarily exist so is to listen to him thouglaufully with bolden long as man possesses individuality; no complaint
of the very poets who loudly celebrate the imatongue: hear him, then.
ginary community of goods is more melancholy,
than that no harvest is reaped by their own sickle. “There is no error more common than confound. But an attempt has been made in our days to rea. ing what society has unfolded and promulgated, lize this poetic dream, which has excited no small with what society has called into existence. The
share of public attention, and which therefore remost striking example of this is the right of pro- quires more examination than either its merits or perty, which, from its acquiring additional strength its novelty could reasonably demand. The social and security by the progress of society, is very system-as this effort to revive forgotten folly is commonly supposed to have been an invention of designated--professes to abolish all the crimes resociety. The golden age, when all things were sulting from the possession of property, by estab. common, has been celebrated by poets and philo- listing a community of goods. Such a proposal sophers without number; even grave divines have
has often been made before, and is not unlikely to asserted, that the division of property was a con
be frequently revived so long as society can be disequence of the iniquity of man.
It is not easy
vided into what Sir E. L. Bulwer felicitously to discover whether this community of property terms the Have-nots' and the Haves.' It is so lauded, was an attribute of men individually, therefore worth while to inquire whether such a or of men in society, but in either the theory rests
scheme be practicable, and if practicable, whether on an obvious fallacy ; namely, that things which its adoption would be beneficial to mankind? The were not owned by any individual were the pro-two questions are very distinct in their nature, perty of all, the fact being that they were the pro- but it is scarcely possible to discuss one without perty of none.
taking some notice of the other. “ Who is the owner of the uncaught fish in the
“ The first objection to the schemes of the Sooccan, or the unplucked fruit in a pathless forest? cialists, as they choose to call themselves, is that They become the property of him by whom they they do not abolish private property. Corporate are first taken: 'this fish is mine, for I have caught possessions are as much private property as indiit;'_these berries are mine, for I have plucked vidual acquisitions. Robert Owen does not assert them,'-are claims at once recognised, but they that all property should be common, but merely should at once be rejected, if the fruits and that all property belonging to the denizens of some fishes were the property of all mankind. Their square or parallelogram, some species of social title is established by the most forcible and con- barrack, should be common to the members of
that community. He does not assert, though he world; · Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain is careful not to deny, that the property of said a tiller of the ground:' it exists in every united community should not be shared by other com- family, in every banking and commercial communities. The property, therefore, of the social pany—but, so far from being averse to private barrack is as much private, as the property of an property, it is actually founded upon it; for indiEnglish municipality or a Franciscan monastery.vidual exertion preceded united exertion, and led At the best, his proposal is merely to establish a the way to the discovery of its advantages. Mutual Assurance Company, and he has so far “ But socialism, we are boastingly told, has succeeded, that the stock of assurance possessed made many converts, no doubt of it: there are by himself and his followers is of very remarka- two ways of gratifying vanity and self-love,– ble amount. But we may be told that this objec- raising one's self up, or pulling others down, tion would be obviated, if an entire nation adopted the latter plan appears generally the easiest of the barrack, or, as it is falsely called, the social sys- accomplishment. In those preeminently social
This does not mend the matter; for that compacts, trade unions, the great object of the nation would undeniably have a right to insist on regulations is to prevent the intelligent artisan its joint-stock property, against the claims of any gaining a higher rate of wages than the botch; other nation. There is a significant hint in one of the barrack system is the mere application of the Robert Owen s pamphlets, recommending that the same principle on a larger scale. young should be instructed in the manual and pla- “ But we are told that the barrack system will toon exercise; so that these social barracks are, destroy covetousness, avarice, and their conselike older establishments, to be not merely civil, quent train of evils. We should be glad to know but military. It is then a mere delusion, if not a ' if these eminent moralists have ever given themdownright fraud, to talk about the abolition of selves the trouble of inquiring what covetousness private property, when at most it is only proposed is. It is nothing more than the vitiated excess of to transfer the right of property from an individual a principle originally innocent and laudable. We to an association.
have shewn that the desire of property springs “ Again, it is untrue that the right of property naturally and necessarily from our constitution as is ever abolished with regard even to the indivi- buman beings; it is, as we have said, an inevitaduals in any social barrack. Not to speak of that ble result of individuality. As the desire is unimonopoly of talk and of time which every so versal, its vitiated excess must be common. But cialist desires to establish in his own favour, it is to propose the destruction of that vice by the certain that men cannot be equal in their physical abolition of private property, is not one whit more and mental acquirements. Nature her elf has sensible than to recommend the disuse of food as bestowed capacity, as private property, on every a check to gluttony, or the abolition of language individual, and that property is inalienable and in as a prevention to socialists talking nonsense.' communicable. The clever and skilful artist will execute his task in a shorter time than he who is The following, in reference to the arts of not gifted with the same powers ; he will, there civilization, is equally well worth quoting:fore, have more leisure in the barrack: but time is property, leisure is property, enjoyment is pro- “In the history of human inventions, few things perty. Here then is inequality arising from the are more remarkable than the sudden checks inevitable laws of nature. The barrack arrange which the progress of ingenuity appears to have ment is to supersede that of the family; but if a received from apparently trifling obstacles. The person is not to have a pet child, is he to be pre- Romans seem to have been for many years on the vented from having a pet bird, or a tame rabbit ? verge of discovering printing ; they used letter. Is there to be a common snuff-box, a steam- stamps, which might reasonably be expected to smoking apparatus with branch pipes, and a uni- suggest the notion of types, and yet centuries versal shaving machine to run down the ranks elapsed before any one seems to have thought of when the members are paraded for manual exer- combining several stamps together. On the other cise, brushing the faces and mowing the beards hand, it is generally difficult to discover by whose with the speed of a locomotive? These little ingenuity the obstacle was first removed ; the things are great to little men,'—comforts and conve- origin of printing is one of the most contested niences will always be adapted to the taste of in- points in literary history, and there is scarcely one dividuals, and the variety of taste will of necessity great improvement in machinery that has not generate private property in some direction or been claimed by several inventors. But while other, The socialists have been fortunate in there are doubts respecting the authors and even finding antagonists who can keep their counte. the countries of inventions, their dates can for the nances : had they not been libelled as knaves, most part be ascertained with tolerable precision, they would have been laughed at as fools.
or at least the periods when they began to be “Let us not be understood to deny that there brought into practical operation. On examina. are cases in which great benefit may be derived tion, it will be found that most inventions of which from co-operative labour, and co-operative ex- we have a record, resulted from some want or penditure. Grant to the socialists the benefit of necessity, created by the existing state of civili. their favourite example of the bee—there may bezation; that there is a great harmony observable associations that will collect honey, but there may in the progress of the different arts, and that imalso be associations with nothing of the bee but provements are for the most part simultaneous, or the sting. Gil Blas was introduced to such a so- nearly so, in the principal branches of human in. cial barrack, established by Captain Rolando, an dustry. This harmony is, however, interrupted, eminent professor of community of property. when arts are imported from some foreign land; Moreover the bees turn the drones out of the hive, the Russians, for instance, have borrowed several while the socialists propose that drones and work of the most ingenious of the modern processes of ing bees should share alike. But the co-operative manufacture from England and Germany; but a principle has been known since the creation of the traveller is at no loss to distinguish the imported