« 上一頁繼續 »
from making themselves demons. As an instance of the extent to which an effective social regimen will go in producing. a generic character, and illustrating Mr. Owen's first position, we might refer to the Society of Quakers. Examples we believe have scarcely occurred, of individuals of that sect becoming amenable to the laws of their country, for acts of hardened criminality. The propriety of their domestic conduct, also, is too well known to need comment. We are not ignorant that there are two classes among the Quakers, and that with some who bear the name the strictness of social rule is more honoured in the breach than in the observance : but it is of the results of an existing regimen, and not of a departure from it, that we are speaking.
Now, if it is to be asked, what has brought about this absence of open depravity, which is an admitted fact in the history of the Quakers as a body; what, can we answer, but that those very liabits and dispositions, which, until they produce enormities injurious to society, are not only tolerated but virtually applauded among the rest of the world, are there discountenanced and put to shame. For it must be remembered, that the Quakers not only probibit the numerous evil practices, of which drinking and gambling stand at the head, but disown all those dispositions or tempers which, among others, are honoured with the name of spirit, and the possession of which, under various modifications, commands applause and respect in the world at large. And how many of the blackened crimes which liave become the objects of retributive justice, might be traced to the all-powerful propensity of human beings, to seek a character for those vindictive and sensual dispositions, wbich are in repute among their associates! How many of the unfortunate criminals who have felt the lash of the law, might trace their growth in depravity, to the desire of proving themselves the bold and spirited companions of profligates and sensualists!
In another way too, is the Quaker regimen effective to the subduction of crime-by imposing narrow limits on the desires. In proportion as men are trained to indulgence, in that proportion will they be unsubmissive under deprivation, and unscrupulous in accomplishment. The degree of want is measured, not so much by the positive insufficiency, as by the comparative abundance. How few of our acts of violence are to be referred to the actual want of subsistence, compared with those which have been instigated by habits of depraved and inordinate indulgence, or the embarrassments which they involve.
With that part of the Author's theory, which aims at the establishment of a system of preventive measurés, by the re
moval of all the tolerated machinery of vice, we go with him heart and hand. On this subject, the attention of the public has just been forcibly arrested by the result of the Police investigation ; and that investigation, though really referrible to the Metropolis, is more or less applicable to every populous town in the kingdom. On this occasion we have seen the Magistrates themselves, when closely pressed, and notwithstanding their manifest predilection for a system which has by long use become naturalized to them, giving up the point, and coufessing that the commission of the most daring crimes, is nurtured by a systematic plan of initiation and concert; a plan not only known, but tolerated and defended upon the ground of necessity. With such facts before us as have recently come out, with reference to the police system, we can hardly think the Author's language too strong, when he charges us with continuing to allow generation after generation to be
taught crime from their infancy, and when so taught, hunting them like beasts of the forest, until they are entangled beyond
escape in the toils and nets of the law. It tloes not now admit of concealment, that the lower classes of society are continually surrounded by tenptations too powerful, and too constantly in action, to be resisted, even had they been trained to resist them; and we have but just begun to think seriously of supplying them with the means of instruction.
But the New England Men whom Dr. Johnson bas ludicrously brought on a voyage of discovery to the mouth of the Thames, were scarcely more out in their claims to novelty of information, than Mr. Owen has been on the promulgation of bis system of prevention. It is very true that laws do exist, which encourage the consumption of ardent spirits, by fostering ' and extending these receptacles to seduce the ignorant and
wretched, called gin-shops and pot-houses ; -which sanction
and legalize gambling among the poor, under the name of "a State Lottery ;-and which are insidiously destroying the | real strength of the country, under the name of providing for
All this we repeat is very true, and moreover mighty obvious; nor is it less so that the dictates of a wise and enlightened policy call for a repeal or modification of those laws : but where is the novelty of it? Did not every public journal, and every public voice, uniettered by the shackles of party, proclaim this to the nation and its rulers, long before the 'Trumpet of the Reformer of New Linark had ever been heard on this side of the Tweed? Ohr, but this is not all; Mr. Owen would not only repeal these laws, but he would also repeal those of punishment, which, under the present irrational "system of legislation, are supposerl to be absolutely necessary
to hold society together.' And will Mr. Owen seriously undertake to indemnify the nation from the consequences? Will
" the poor
he stand in the place of the hundred and the tithing under the ancient system? Will he be · bail above and bail below for every human being who shall be charged with the commission of crime, after the new view of society shall have obtained the concurrence of the legislature? With every desire to be open to conviction, we fear that the existence of social organization, without a sanction for its positive ordinances, or a penalty for the infringement of them, is too Utopian an idea to be seriously reflected on. Mr. Cecil Las indeed said, speaking of the Millennium, Christianity is such a holy and spiritual affair, that
perhaps all buman institutions are to be destroyed to make 6 way for it;' but we believe Mr. Cecil's Millennium and Mr. Owen's, are of different orders*.
Neither is it correct to say, that the system of punitive retribution for crime does not proceed upon the principle of prevention. The Laws, and the Administrators of the laws, have uniformly recognised and acted upon the doctrine, that the object contemplated by the punishment of the criminal, is not so much the fulfilment of a vindictive justice, as the creating of a principle in the minds of the community, which shall restrain the commission of crime by the dread of its consequences. The example held out in terrorem to the multitude, is a motive paramount in the breast of the lawgiver and the judge, to the sufferings of the individual. In making these remarks, we have nothing to do with the system of criminal judicature existing in this country. We are ready to admit that it is indefensible. We are speaking simply of the principles and the necessity of a criminal code. But it appears that Mr. Owen has produced his reform at New Lanark, in the absence of punishment. We must however rerpark, that Mr. 0. takes punishment in a very limited sense; namely, that of corporal punishment; for we find at page 54 of the New View, that the rejection of a criminal code does not exclude the levying of fines upon offenders. Does Mr. Owen then mean that we should return to the regimen of our Saxon ancestors, where the rich set the law at defiance; where every crime, even murder, had its price, at which it might be committed if the individual could afford it? Besides, what is to become of those who have no property upon which the fines are to be levied? But we forget : there is to be no poverty under Mr. Owen's dispensation !
The steps, however, which the writer calls upon the Legisla
At p. 27. of the " Address,' Mr. O. remarks, What ideas indi. ?viduals may attach to the term Millennium, I know not; but I know * that society may be so formed, as to exist without crime, without
poverty,' &c. &c. A little before we are modestly told, that when Mr. Owen's plan has taken effect the period of the supposed Millen, ture to effect, are not confined to civil institutions. Another advance in national reform' is,
nium will commence.'
• To withdraw from the national church those tenets which con. stitute its weakness and create its danger ; yet still, to prevent the evils of any premature change, let the church in other respects re. main as it is; because, under the old established forms, it may
effect the most valuable purposes. To render it truly a national church, all tests, as they are called, that is, declarations of belief in which all cannot conscientiously join, should be withdrawn: this alternative would tend more perhaps than any other which can be devised, to give stability both to the national church and to the state, and a conduct thus rational would at once terminate all the theological differences which now confound the intellects of men and disseminate uni. versal discord.'
We certainly are under peculiar obligations to Mr. Owen, for seconding our poor attempts to convince the world of the absurdity of making religious tests the qualification to civil privileges, but we cannot help regretting that he had not been a little more explicit as to the nature of the expurgation which he recommends, since, for aught we can see to the contrary from the tenor of Mr. Owen's pages, he might be as much inclined to throw his cap in the air * if the doctrines of the National Church were brought down to the level of Pope's Universal Prayer, as if she were to content herself with renouncing all creeds but the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Here we confess we cannot follow Mr. Owen. We wish every institution were removed, which has a tendency to demoralize the nation, to shackle the liberty of conscience, or to excite jealousy and contention by the appropriation of exclusive privileges; but we have too fearful a lesson, in the experience of a neighbouring state, to admit, even as a political question, the expediency of training up our countrymen as a nation of Deists.
Many other similar suggestions of Mr. Owen's might be adverted to, but we have already extracted at sufficient length. It is a misfortune to which the constitution of the human mind seems peculiarly subject, and the influence of which we have often had occasion to reinark, that every man who succeeds in mastering the principles of a particular branch of abstract science, is prone to extend the application of those principles, to the whole circle of philosophy, and to persuade bimself that he has found the master-key which shall command the gates of all the avenues to truth. The insight which he makes in every other branch of knowledge, takes its tinge from that which has
* We beg pardon. We have certainly read of Archbishop Laud's throwing his cap in the air when the sentence of disfigurement was pronounced in the Star Chamber, upon some sturdy puritan: but this practice was, we believe, confined to the bigots of past days.'
become the medium of his mental vision; all things are brought to the test of the favourite theory; and are received, rejected, or modified, according as they agree or as they disagree with it. It is a natural disposition of the human mind, to seek to refer facts to principles; and we make up for our paucity of the latter, by our indiscriminateness in the application of them to former. This almost inseparable incident from the progress of discovery, imposes on us a degree of cautious reserve in our communication with the dealers in systems; for rarely has it happened that they have displayed any large portion of the virtue of forbearance. The discovery of unseen connexions and dependencies, is their delight. The blind misapplication of a principle to an order of things independent of it, is their failing. The philosopher who first discovered the existence of electricity, thought that he had found the solution of all the phenomena of nature.
We regret, for the sake of those who might bave been benefited by bis practical hints, that Mr. Owen bas added another, and a most egregious instance, to the numerous illustrations of our remark. We regret that he should have supposed his observations upon the subserviency of the human character to external impressions, necessarily connected with a system of ethics; and that instead of demanding our unqualified praise for bis exertions in meliorating the condition of one branch of society, we should be reluctantly compelled to mingle with that praise, astonishment and censure : astonishment, at so hardy an attempt to force down upon the world a system involving every thing abstruse in metaphysics, every thing important in the science of human nature, without induction, without proof, without argument, upon the mere assumption of the internal infallibility of the dogmas propounded ;- and censure, at so arrogant, so extraordinary an insult to the learning, the investigation, the labour
But apart from his ethics, we are of opinion that Mr. Owen's success in his manufactory at New Lanark, for which we are willing to give him every possible credit, and which, as it is a fact in the face of day, we cannot fairly presume to be misrepresented, is a circumstance demanding the attentive consideration of those who are engaged in the important work of investigating the operations of the great machine of Society. We see no necessary connexion between Mr. Owen's philosophy and his local regimen. If he has really succeeded in establishing a system of disciplme which restrains the more violent ebullitions of depravity, if he has put the low vices which are prevalent in such associations, out of fashion, if he has introduced any beneficial improvements in the machinery of local organization ;' we shall regret that the progress of social reform should not be accelerated by his assistance, because he is still ignorant of the great