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No. 1. VOL. I.] LONDON, Friday, January 4, 1828. [PRICE 6d.
Is a word of extensive meaning, embracing the whole condition and character of man in society. No publication can, therefore, be properly said to be conducted without meddling with Politics. Yet such is the profession of some: and it is also the profession of the managers of the Mechanics' Institutes, and of many debating societies, throughout the country, that they do not meddle with questions about Religion and Politics. If they do not, they leave themselves no subject for debate. Whatever be interesting to man, as a member of society, is Politically interesting. And if that part of his Politics, which he calls his Religion, be more important, in his consideration, than any other part; then, the more he reads and debates about it, the better for himself, the more sincerity will be found linking his practice to his profession. Are we to consider that we have arrived at such a perfection and unanimity in matters of Politics, including Religiu, that there is no occasion for, that we cannot improve ourselves by, more debate about them? Or are we to be told, that they are so difficult in the consideration, so occult, that they are unfit for the meddling of the mass of mankind? The latter is the pretension of cunning men, who politically hold, or seek to hold, profit and power: and also of ignorant, idle men, who will not labour to improve themselves. It may be fairly answered, that such matters are not brought to perfection and a state of unanimity; and also, that, if difficult or occult, the more need exists of more earnest debate to reduce those difficulties to simplicity. Free discussion should be the watch-words for human improvement. No exclusion of subjects. Degradation of character is more particularly implied where there is a profession to exclude Politics and Religion from debate. But, if by the word Politics be meant, the mere form of Government, the relation of existing Government to other existing Governments, the question of peace or war between them, or the mere squabble for place, or about administration, among party politicians at home, then “THE LION” will scarcely deign
Printed and Published by R. CARLILE, 62, Fleet Street.
to meddle with such politics, otherwise than to greet mischief with a passing reproof.
The great object of “THE LION” will be so to simplify instruction, as to leave nothing, that is known, difficult or occult to the meanest capacity. It will therefore encourage every kind of free debate, and will call for the opening of the Mechanics’ Institutes throughout the country, at proper times, for the free discussion of the more useful parts of matters of Politics and Religion. It is not to be expected, that such matters in such Institutes be allowed to supersede instruction in Mechanics, Mathematics, and various other Arts and Sciences; but to exclude them totally and at all times, is to outrage that common principle of general instruction which should be the foundation of all such Institutions. Mechanics' Institutes are public schools; and after paying due attention, through the proper time, to whatever can conduce to the improvement of the Mechanic Arts, other useful information, or useful information of any kind, should not be prohibited. To tell the Mechanic, that a knowledge of Politics and Religion is not a matter belonging to his rank in life, is to tell him, that he is taught the useful arts to make him a more useful slave. « The LION” will claim, for the Mechanic, a higher rank than this in society, and place him, in the matter of Politics and Religion, on an equality with all other persons. It will claim, for the female portion of the community, a right to an equality of knowledge, a right to participate in the benefits of such knowledge as the Mechanics’Institutes can confer upon them. It will also be a matter of complaint in these pages, that useful books are rejected in the selection for the libraries of the Mechanics’ Institutes; and more information, as to particular cases, than that already possessed, is solicited.
While care is used to define what is here meant by Politics, and what the Political path which “THE LION” will tread, we do not hesitate to exhibit the boldness of pronouncing it as about to be THE ADVOCATE OF EVERY KIND OF USEFUL REFORM. We will not say, annual Parliaments, universal suffrage and vote by ballot, unconnected with any other kind of Reform. We will not say, a Radical Reform of the House of Commons only. We know the impracticability of the project, and rejoice to find, by personal observation, that what may be properly called, in relation to late political clamour, THE RADICAL MANIA, is extinct.
It was a diseased political feeling, engendered and kept in countenance by a medley of ignorant, weak, and misled, though well-meaning politicians, to whom, a set of impudent, restless, and bad men, did not fail to attach themselves, for the benefits which they could draw from the association. In the populous, manufacturing districts, it was a means of producing very great disorder and mischief, and has led to no kind of good. The people of those districts are almost universally become sensible of the folly and inefficacy of their past clamour and pursuits in the way of
Political Reform. They begin to see that it was because one thing was said and another thing meant, there could be no right understanding equal to the working out of any kind of useful reform. In this publication, it is purposed, to put the whole question of reform, on its proper footing, so as to make it lead to something practicable and efficient. Nothing has been done, in the way of reform, up to this time, but to give a progressing spirit to the management of the printing press, and with it a progressing instruction to the people. The shackles that fetter the press, still form matter of just complaint; but the worst part of them have been burst asunder, and discussion on all subjects has grown comparatively free. We shall endeavour to accomplish, on this head, all that yet remains to be done.
We summon the attention of the Politicians of the country to the new plan of reform which will be laid down in this publication. It will not be found to be a newly concocted project from the head of an ever-scheming projector; but a plan founded upon the aggregate experience of some ofthe best informed and most zealous Politicians that have lived. In all ages, there have been men, who have pursued a right train of ideas, who have thought and acted well as individuals; but the time was not until now, when such men could freely and fearlessly communicate such ideas to others. It is but now partially the case. Timidity may be seen sitting on the countenance of almost every Politician. He, as yet, but speaks and speculates with trembling. And what does he fear? Does he fear aught more than his own shadow ? aught more than himself? To whom, but to himself, is he responsible for political speculations? yes, there is something more.' His timidity generates a prejudice in others and creates its own tyrant. Were he bolder, were he honestly and fearlessly open, did he speak out as he thought on all matters, that prejudice, did it exist, would be powerless and innocuous. As it is the slave, in all cases, that makes the tyrant, and not the tyrant the slave; so timidity in the Politician generates the prejudice of its persecutor, and is not generated by persecution. It is the fault of the man and not of the system. Let us endeavour to remove it by good example.
Our plan of reform will be, to impugn fearlessly, but mildly, all the errors that we find in the country. We shall assail them individually, particularly, and in detail, and not pursue the easy murmur of general complaint without any specification. Our warfare will be mental, moral, and no further physical, than to force the light of better knowledge on the sight of our benighted opponents. We will deal with them so mildly, so gently, that they shall see, even if they be so blind as those who do not wish to see. When they see, or when they do not see, they may combat with us, if they please, we shall prefer that they do so, for whenever we inflict a defeat, we shall confer a benefit. He, who is defeated in an argument, is the victor; for he alone, who,
is ignorant, can gain by the dispute. Our reform will begin at home, or with individuals, and shew, that as society is but the aggregate of individuals, so a general reform must spring from, or arise out of the aggregate of individual reform.
We shall not set up any kind of system, as a substitute for any system now extant; but holding, that almost every system now among us, whether it be called political, theological, or municipal is loaded with error, we shall attack that error, and propose the preservation of whatever, in each, may be good. We shall not be found indiscriminate levellers ; we are no advocates for the equality of rags, filth, and ruflianism; in some affairs, that are social and domestic, we shall advance propositions that are tyrannical. We would be tyrants to enforce an equality of cleanliness, of industry, where the means of living depend upon it, of modes of dwelling that are conducive to health, and the prevention of disease, and of that species of order and manners which is offensive to none, but to all agreeable. We would suppress drunkenness, or make it penal to the individual and profitable to a public revenue. A curse should not be publicly expressed with impunity. If emphatic language be pleasing, let it be the emphasis of intellect and benevolence and not of bad passion. We know that laws exist already applicable to these points; but they are badly administered, they are not sufficiently applied, and we would have their application vigorously restored. It is the very nature of man, in his present state of education, to stand in need of this kind of tyranny. This is the tyranny of sound liberty.
Rash and ill-informed political writers have produced much bad feeling through the country, by declaiming against taxation as the principal evil and as the first cause that regulates and reduces wages. Mr. Cobbett, by the want of proper attention to the subjects on which he treats, by his incapacity to think deeply on any subject, by his losing sight of the chief points and the connections of every question, by his political blunderings, his egotistical and imperative declamation, and his bad example in personal abuse, instead of unfolding to view the system by which the persons are regulated, has produced a great deal of, what may be properly termed, ruffianly political feeling, among some of the more ignorant men of the country. You may hear them exclaim against “taxation and the rich ruffians," without a knowledge of any one common political principle. A hatred has been produced against every man who has accumulated wealth, and that too in the bosoms of some of the veriest vagabonds that have infested the country. This sort of political feeling is an evil that can never lead to any kind of useful reform.
Taxation is an evil, where the revenue is applied to purposes that are not beneficial to the public. Taxation is a benefit, where the revenue is properly drawn from capital or surplus income, and applied to purposes useful to the community. These are the points for consideration. All accumulations of wealth or capital that are honestly acquired, acquired without the infliction of injury on others, are public benefits. The real difference between the savage and the social state, is the accumulation of capital, Almost all the comforts and agreeable distinctions in society are produced by the accumulation of capital ; in nine cases out of ten, such an accumulation is the best evidence of industry and virtuous conduct. There is no cure for pauperism, for vagabondage, for the present growth of crime, but in teaching the Jabouring-man the great advantages which accrue from the accumulation of capital, so as to make each aspire to an accumulation to some degree. While the possession of riches is held to be criminal, however honestly acquired, there is a feeling created which may be called the pride or insolence of poverty. This pride of poverty is the most detestable of all the degrees of pride; for it makes a man proud of his own degradation, proud of his rags, his filth, and his general bad habits. The writer has seen this pride carried to a boasting and pompous insolence, and views it as the most pernicious vice among the labouring people. It has been greatly increased by such writings as those of Mr. Cobbett. It has been greatly increased by our present system of poor laws, which has a tendency to encourage idleness, and a waste of present means, by the certainty of support, when an excuse can be shown for the demand. It encourages, it produces poverty. It makes that poverty a boast in the bad man. The insolence of the rich man is not so great a vice, by no means so hateful, as the insolence of the habitual pauper. The former might want a little good sense to make him bear his riches well, and to the pleasure of others as well as to his own pleasure; but the latter founds his insolence upon his own vicious self-degradation. The reform that we would propose to such characters is, to raise themselves above such self-degradation, so as not to make a boast of their poverty and their poor laws; but to pride themselves in being able to live without the one or the other.
We will not stoop to flatter the vices of a multitude, for the purpose of gaining its vicious applause; we scorn such applause. Our appeal shall be to the sensible, the thinking portion of the community, whether rich or poor. We shall be happy to be the means of affording instruction to those who may be below thestandard of our minds; and receive instruction for ourselves and others, from those who may be above us. · We shall make it plain to the labouring-man, that it is not taxation which regulates his wages, but that first principle in all matters of commerce--the relation of the supply to the demand. Labour is a marketable commodity. When the supply exceeds the demand, prices, or wages are reduced. When the demandexceeds the supply,prices or wages are advanced. When a number of workmen have a difficulty in finding an employer, they will compete, one with another, to the reduction