FRIEND OF THE PEOPLE
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 14, 1850.
DOWN WITH THE TYRANTS.
WITH HINTS WHAT TO DO WITH THEM.
THERE'S a title that I think entitles me to
contribute another article to "The Friend of the People," even if the
circumstance under which I write did not. Mr. Harney is not yet
sufficiently recovered to resume his usual duties as Editor, though
happily able to commence; therefore I beg to offer him a short paper by
way of further assistance. Called down to Norwich to lecture, I
write from that place, and from Diss, where I conclude my paper, or I
should gladly make it longer. As some associations among the
Chartists have nominated me to serve on the Executive, I embrace this
opportunity to explain the grounds of my constant adhesion to their
movement. I have been a Chartist since 1832, eight years
before the "Old Guards" were christened.
In good truth, I am more of a Chartist than many who
bear that name. They say, down with the tyrants, meaning Class
rulers only; I say down with all tyrants, whether set up by others
or kept up by ourselves.
Ignorance is a great tyrant: it makes us impotent: it hides
from us our power: it prevents us getting improvement: it makes us make
war on our friends by blinding us from seeing who they really are: it
keeps us from seeing the opportunities which lie at our feet, whereby we
might emancipate ourselves half as fast again as we do—Ignorance therefore
is a tyrant, and I say, "Down with that Tyrant!"
Prejudice is a tyrant. It prevents us working with each
other: it prevents us working with many who might and would help us well:
it makes us work only in one way, and what is worse, suspect all who would
work in a different way, although for the same end. Therefore
Prejudice is a pernicious Tyrant, and I say "Down with that
Supineness—is also a Tyrant. It makes us talk about
subscriptions and never pay them: it makes us talk about meetings, and
hardly ever go to them: it makes us proud of our Democratic papers, but
does not make us take them in: it makes us expect our leaders to stand by
us, but never makes us think of standing by them: it sends us to our
assemblies with unshorn chins, dirty faces, and dirty clothes, whereby we
look like black slaves, when we at least might have the credit of looking
like white ones. Supineness is therefore a Tyrant, and I say
"Down with that Tyrant."
Indignation is a Tyrant: because a man who is merely
indignant is not good for much. So many think that if they are
indignant at wrong, that is enough. It is not enough. I know
as well as any Chartist in the land, that the working classes have reason
enough to be indignant. As I have said elsewhere:* Brightly shines
the light of history on national progress. Improvements, inventions;
extension of commerce, and energy of production, reflect rays of
prosperity over the extent of the nation, and in the glare of projecting
riches few look below, where the dark shade of humbler destiny is
obscured. Grandly and nobly uprears the stalwart structures of our
manufacturing greatness; but let us not be blind to the dreary fate of
many thousands, who, waste their days in unnoted, unavailing anxieties.
In bare garrets, in cold, dirty, comfortless courts, in suffocating mills,
in filthy, sooty, greasy shops, how many sin into the grave, uncheered
even by a better prospect for their unhappy offspring? Let those who
are scandalised at the stern, unsocial, antagonistic creed of the poor,
remember in what a harsh and hopeless school they have been reared!
When the Falcon saw a poor Fowl escape anxiously from the hands of one who
endeavoured to catch it, he reproached it with ingratitude. 'During
the day,' said the Falcon, 'the men nourish you with grains—during the
night, they concede you shelter where you can roast, unexposed to the
inclemency of the weather: yet in spite of all these cares, when they
endeavour to catch you, you endeavour to flee from them. This is
what I never do. A savage bird of prey as I am, and under no
obligations to them, I assume tameness when they seek to caress me, and
even eat out of their hands.' 'All that is very true which you say,'
rejoined the Fowl, 'but you comprehend not the reason which makes me flee.
You have never seen a Falcon on the spit, but I have seen thousands of
Fowls there.' We therefore have all of us reason enough to be
indignant I know, for we are all on the Spit of Tyranny. But it is
no good being indignant. It is not enough to hate Tyranny, we must
put it down; and I am so resolved to put it down that I can't find
time to vent my indignation. Now many Chartists waste half their
time in venting their indignation. Indignation therefore delays
redress—Indignation therefore is a Tyrant, and I say "Down with that
Class legislators are Tyrants, who ought to be put down.
But how? One way is to knock them down, and that is the only
mode many people think of. But that's not the only way—besides, its
a wasteful way. It's not a good way, because if you knock them down
they sometimes get up again, as they have done in France. The
fact is, it's a worn-out way. Any savage can take that way. We
have found out other ways, and I think better ways. When a
builder finds an old house good for nothing, he of course removes
it, but he never thinks of "knocking" it down. That would be
a great waste. He takes it to pieces—and uses up the
materials for some new fabric. That's the way I would serve all
tyrannies. I would not knock them down. I would take them
to pieces—then they can never get together again! I would
use them up—then they could not get on their legs again and use
me up. This is a commercial age, and I would level on commercial
principles. I would not waste a single tyrant—I would sell his
old material to the Reformers to make some thing useful of. I
would apply Cobden's Free Trade rule to them—"buy them in the cheapest
market and sell them in the dearest."
Tyranny should not be suffered to escape into an idle
grave. It should be turned to a good account.
Permit me to subscribe myself,
A leveller upon commercial principles,
G. J. HOLYOAKE.
6 October, 1866.
THE WORKING MAN'S FOOD AND
I am afraid, if we look into the sugar basin, we shall not rind much
more comfort than in the milk-jug. It is scarcely possible to
procure moist sugar which is not infested with animalculæ of the acari
genus, a most disgusting class of creatures. In many samples of sugars
they swarm to that extent that the mass moves with them, and in almost
every case, by dissolving a spoonful in a wine glass of water, dozens of
them can be detected by the naked eye, either floating upon the liquid
or adhering to the edge of the glass. Those who are in the habit of
'handling' sugars, as it is termed, are liable to a skin affection called
the grocer's itch, which is believed to be occasioned by these living
inhabitants of our sugar-basins. Horrible as it is, to think that such
creatures are an article of daily use, the grocer cannot be charged
directly with their charged introduction, the evil is, however,
increased by the manner in which he 'handles' or mixes higher-priced
sugars with moscovadoes, bastards, and other inferior kinds, in which
the animalculæ abound.
Sugar constitutes a very prominent item in our daily food, if we
consider the quantity annually consumed in the United Kingdom, which is
no less than 8,641,927 cwt. of the raw variety, or about 32¼
lbs., per head of the population, and of refined sugar and sugar candy,
242,379 cwt. or, between 13 and 14 ounces per head. At this point of our
investigation, it must be borne in mind that the natural impurities of
sugars, as imported, are dust, fragments of cane, molasses, and some
minute insect—the acarus sacchari of Hassall, to whom the honour of
their first discovery is due. We shall now be in a position to know what
the grocer adds to these not very sweet foreign elements. The
adulterations consist of fine sand, sawdust, salt, water, flour, potato
and other starches, but Dr. Hassall shall tell his own tale, as reported
in his Parliamentary evidence:—"In 36 samples of brown sugar, fragments
of cane, frequently so minute as to be visible only by the microscope,
were detected in all the sugars, except one very white sugar, evidently
purified by filtration, so as to cause it to approach in character
refined or lump sugar, the disgusting insects acari were in 3.5 out of
the 36 sugars, and in 19 cases in very considerable numbers sporules and
filements of fungi were present in at least 10 cases, grape sugar in the
whole 36 sugars, often in very considerable amount, the whole of the
sugars contained a variable proportion of vegetable albumen, a greater
or less number of pieces of woody fibre in nearly all the sugars, stony
particles or grit in at least 11 instances, a variable quantity of
starch or flour in each sample, in four samples the flour was in
considerable quantities. In 15 samples of lump sugar there were no
fragments of cane, these having been separated by the filtration through
charcoal to which sugar in process of refinement is subjected, a
variable though small quantity of flour was present in the whole 15
sugars, animal matter was observed in cases, sawdust, like fragments of
woody fibre in 12 cases, being very abundant in 7. In a second series of
brown sugars, purchased more recently at different shops, the sugar
insect or acarus was present in the whole of the sugars, the majority of
the samples containing them in great numbers, sporules of fungi were
present in all, two of the 36 were adulterated with flour, one with
tapioca, and the other with potato flour."
Professor Thompson, stated that he found lime in a large number of
samples examined by him, which class of sugar has the uphonious title of
"refined sugar." Now, to understand the nature of this daily robbery
practised upon the poor, the following brief sketch of the manufacture
of sugar will afford an ample illustration. The ripe sugar canes are
passed between heavy iron-crushing rollers, which crush out the juice. This juice is run into large iron vessels where it is clarified by the
addition of lime and other applications. The action of this lime is
twofold. It removes or neutralises the acid which rapidly forms in the
fresh juice, and at the same time combines with the gluten of the juice
and carries it to the bottom. This gluten acts as a natural ferment
causing the sugar to run to acid. Its speedy removal, therefore, is
essential to the extraction of the sugar. After being clarified in this
way, and filtered, the juice is boiled down, it is then run into wooden
vessels to cool and crystallise, and finally, when crystallised, is put
into perforated casks to drain. What remains in these casks is moscovado,
raw sugar, or foots very near the mark, only it ought to be the Negro's
feet washings; any name but the right one, filth! The drainings, with
Sambo's feet puddling about in it like so many pigs in a trough, is well
known by the name of molasses, or treacle. Let us now examine the next
adulterations grape sugar. What have we here? Why simply this, that you
would require 5 lbs. of grape sugar to obtain the same sweetening
property afforded by 3 lbs. of cane sugar, which would be no fraud, if
sold as grape sugar at half the price of cane sugar. My chemical
readers all know sugars consist of three elementary bodies, carbon,
hydrogen, and oxygen, and in all of them the hydrogen
and oxygen are in the proportions to form water, so that I can for
simplicity of language, say that they are composed of carbon and water. Comparing together cane sugar and grape sugar which contain 12
equivalents of carbon, the proportion of water in each kind will be,
cane sugar, 72 carbon, 99 water; grape sugar 72 carbon, 108 water. Thus
in the large proportions of water it contains, we seem to see a reason
for the difference in sweetness and other properties which grape sugar
exhibits when compared with cane sugar.
The simplest method of examining a sample of brown sugar is to
determine, in the first place, the percentage of moisture, by carefully
drying, at a temperature not exceeding 120 degrees, a known weight of
the sugar, the loss sustained will give the water contained in the same. The dried powder should then be placed in a filter, and washed with cold
distilled water until the washings are no longer perceptibly sweet, when
the albuminous matters, if present, may be precipitated by boiling the
solution. The insoluble matter, together with the filter, may now be
dried and weighed, after which the starch granules, if any present, can
be recognised under the microscope with great facility, also the sugar
insect and sporules of fungi when they occur.
The Manufacturer and Builder
New York, January 1880.
Benefits of Co-operation.
Mr. George Jacob Holyoake, the great English co-operator, spoke recently
at the Cooper Institute in this city on the subject of co-operation.
He began by telling of the interest he had taken in co-operation all his
life. He had, he said, been an active worker in schemes for co-operation
in England for years. His first point was as to the benefit of
co-operative action to the English immigrants coming to this country. By
co-operation, he said, their passage across the ocean could be made a
pleasure excursion. Then, too, they could be conducted to places already
prepared for them, and thus, by co-operation, they would not be reduced in circumstances so much that they would be left as a burden upon the great
In speaking of the Socialist-Labor Party Mr. Holyoake predicted
that it would become much larger than it now is in the United States. The laborer would lack common sense, he thought, if he stood idly by while
machinery showers gold upon capitalists. In England the times had been
such that some people could live without labor, while others could not
live with labor. Such a condition of affairs should and can be improved by
co-operation. The cry of the Labor Party in England was that the
government should assist them; but the co-operative workers only asked the
government to let them alone and they would get along all right.
speaker then turned his attention to the movement in England, and gave a
history of what the supporters of co-operation had accomplished there. The
co-operative stores were described as having languished for 25 years, and
then sprung into success when it was found out that the best plan was to
pay 5 per cent to those who put in capital, and divide the profits among
the consumers. An illustration of the extent of the business was the fact
that two vessels are now engaged in carrying to England the American
produce purchased for the co-operative establishments. Mr. Holyoake
surprised the audience in a glowing description of the beauties of the
system by declaring that one of its peculiarities was that the larger a
member’s family was, and the more they ate, the richer he became. By the
co-operative bank system members grew rich while they slept, even if they
had put in no money. They paid no money, but yet they grew rich.
to the subject of co-operative colonization the speaker thought there
ought to be no trouble in establishing co-operative communities. Imagining
such a colony of 100 persons on a thousand acres of land, Mr. Holyoake
showed how they could make what they needed to wear, and produce what they
needed to eat. When they produced more than the colony needed, the surplus
could be exchanged with persons outside of the colony. If that could not
be done, then the colonist would eat their surplus food themselves, and
themselves wear and use their surplus articles of manufacture.
feeling between employers and employees was advocated at some length by
the speaker, who then showed how co-operation would bring about such a
feeling. He urged that true information should be given the foreign
workingmen regarding the prospects immigrants might expect here, and
closed by claiming that co-operation was no Utopian scheme.
The Rev. R.
Heber Newton, one of the officers of the Co-operative Colony Aid
Association, among some remarks made after Mr. Holyoake had finished,
explained that the chief peculiarity of co-operation in England was
co-operative distribution through co-operative stores; in France it was
co-operative production, through manufactories; in Germany it was
co-operative credit through the co-operative banking system. In this
country the first thing the supporters of co-operation wanted to do was to
enable the distressed laborers in great cities to go in goodly companies
to places in the country, where they could live happily in co-operative
villages and work together for each other’s good. After detailing the
hopes and plans of the Co-operative Colony Aid Association, Mr. Newton
gave way to Rev. Dr. J. H. Rylance, one of the Executive Committee of the
association, who spoke in eulogy of Mr. Holyoake, and predicted that the
time was coming when American workingmen would consider social questions
of far more importance than the discussion of political tropics.
LITTELL'S LIVING AGE
No. 1886—August 17, 1880.
A Stranger in America.
(From The Nineteenth Century)
By G. J. Holyoake.
NO person could be more
completely a stranger than I was in America. After being interested
in American history and public affairs from my youth, I saw the country
for the first time in August last. Being born in midland England, I
had more English insularity of thought than most of my countrymen; and
having a certain wilfulness of opinion, which few shared at home, and
probably fewer abroad, I had little to recommend me in the United States.
Years ago I knew some publicists there of mark and character, but that was
before the great war in which many of them perished. My friend
Horace Greeley was dead, Lloyd Garrison was gone, with both of whom I had
spent well-remembered days. Theodore Parker, the "Jupiter of the
pulpit," as Wendell Phillips calls him, paid me a visit in England before
he went to Florence to die. To me, therefore, it was contentment
enough to walk unknown through some of America's marvellous cities, and
into the not less wondrous space which lies beyond them.
For one who has seen but half a great continent, and that but
for a short period, to write a book about the country would be certainly
absurd. At the same time, to have been in a new world for three
months and be unable to give any account whatever of it would be still
more absurd. To pretend to know much is presumption—to profess to
know nothing is idiocy. A voyager who had seen a strange creature in
the Atlantic Ocean as he passed it, might be able to give only a poor
account of it; but if he had seen it every day for three months, and even
been upon its back, he would be a very stupid person if he could give no
idea whatever of it. I saw America and Canada from Ottawa to Kansas
City for that length of time, travelling on its lakes and land, and may
give some notion, at least to those who never were there, of what I
observed—not of its trades or manufactures, or statistics, or politics, or
churches, but of the ways, manners, and spirit of the people.
After all I had read or heard, it seemed to me that there
were great features of social life there unregarded or misregarded.
New York itself is a miracle which a large book would not be sufficient to
explain. When I stepped ashore there, I thought I was in a larger
Rotterdam; when I found my way to the Broadway, it seemed to me as though
I was in Paris, and that Paris had taken to business. There were
quaintness, grace and gaiety, brightness and grimness, all about.
The Broadway I thought a Longway, for my first invitation in it was to No.
1455. My first days in the city were spent at No. 1 Broadway, in the
Washington Hotel, allured thither by its English military and diplomatic
associations, going back to the days when an Indian warwhoop was possible
in the Broadway. At that end, you are dazed by a forest of tall
telegraphic poles, and a clatter by night and day that no pathway of
Pandemonium could rival. Car-bells, omnibus-bells, drayhorse-bells,
railway-bells and locomotives in the air, were resounding night and day.
An engineer turns off his steam at your bedroom window. When I got
up to see what was the matter, I found engine No. 99 almost within reach
of my arm, and the other ninety-eight had been there that morning before I
awoke. When one day at a railway junction I heard nine train-bells
being rung by machinery, it sounded as though Disestablishment had
occurred, and all the parish churches of England were being imported.
Of all the cities of America, Washington is the most superb
in its brilliant flashes of space. The drowsy Potomac flows in sight
of splendid buildings. Washington is the only city I have ever seen
which no wanton architect or builder can spoil. Erect what they
will, they cannot obliterate its glory of space. If a man makes a
bad speech, the audience can retreat; if he buys a dull book, he need not
read it—while if a dreary house be erected, three generations living near
it may spend their melancholy lives in sight of it. If an architect
in each city could be hanged now and then, with discrimination, what a
mercy it would be to mankind! Washington at least is safe. One
Sunday morning I went to the church which is attended by the president and
Mrs. Hayes, to hear the kind of sermon preached in their presence.
But the walk through the city was itself a sermon. I never knew all
the glory of sunlight in this world until then. The clear, calm sky
seemed hundreds of miles high. Over dome and mansion, river and
park, streets and squares, the sunlight shed what appeared to my European
eyes an unearthly beauty. I lingered in it until I was late at
church. The platform occupied by preachers in America more resembles
an altar than our pulpit, and the freedom of action and grace in speaking
I thought greater than among us. The sermon before the president was
addressed to young men, and was remarkably wise, practical, definite, and
inspiring; but the transition of tone was, at times, more abrupt and less
artistic than in other eminent American preachers whom I had the pleasure
Niagara Falls I saw by sunlight, electric light, and by
moonlight, without thinking much of them—until walking on the American
side I came upon the Niagara River, which I had never heard of. Of
course water must come from somewhere to feed the falls—I knew that; but I
had never learned from guide-books that its coming was anything
remarkable. When, however, I saw a mighty mountain of turbulent
water as wide as the eye could reach, a thousand torrents rushing as it
were from the clouds, splashing and roaring down to the great falls, I
thought the idea of the deluge must have begun there. No aspect of
nature ever gave me such a sense of power and terror. I feared to
remain where I stood. The frightful waters seemed alive. When
I went back to the Canadian side I thought as much of Niagara as any
one—had I seen the Duke of Argyll's recent published "Impressions" of them
(he also discovered the Niagara rapids) before I went there, I should have
approached Niagara Falls with feelings very different from those with
which I first saw them.
In the Guildhall, London, I have seen City orators point
their merchant audience to the statues of great men there, and appeal to
the historic glories of the country. Such an audience would respond
as though they had some interest in the appeal—feeling, however, that
these things more concerned the "great families" who held the country,
whom they make rich by their industry, who looked down upon them as
buttermen or tallow-chandlers. No orator addressing the common
people employs these historic appeals to them. The working class who
are enlisted in the army, flogged and sent out to be shot, that their
fathers may find their way to the poorhouse, under their hereditary
rulers, are not so sensible of the glory of the country. The working
men, as a rule, have no substantial interest in the national glory: I mean
those of them whose lot it is to supplicate for work, and who have to
establish trades' unions to obtain adequate payment for it. Yet I
well know that England has things to be proud of which America cannot
rival.  At the same time we have, as Lord
Beaconsfield discerned, "two nations" living side by side in this land.
What is wanted is that they shall be one in equity of means, knowledge,
and pride. Nothing surprised me more than to see the parks of New
York, abutting Broadway, without a fence around the green-sward. A
million unresting feet passed by them, and none trampled on the delicate
grass—while, in England, board schools put up a prison wall around them,
so that poor children cannot see a flower-girl go by in the streets; and
the back windows of the houses of mechanics in Lambeth remain blocked up,
whereby no inmate can look on a green tree in the palace grounds. In
Florence, in Northampton, where the Holyoke mountain 
looks on the ever-winding Connecticut River, as elsewhere, there are
thousands of mansions to be seen without a rail around their lawns.
Acres of plantations lie unenclosed between the beautiful houses, where a
crowd of wanderers might rest unchallenged, and watch mountain, river, and
sky. In England if an indigent wanderer sat down on house-ground or
wayside, the probability is a policeman would come and look at him, the
farmer would come and demand what he wanted, and the relieving officer
would suggest to him that he had better pass on to his own parish.
In England the whole duty of man, as set down in the workman’s catechism,
is to find out upon how little he can live. In America, the workman
sets himself to find out how much he ought to have to live upon, equitably
compared with what falls to other classes. He does not see exactly
how to get it when he has found out the amount. Co-operative equity
alone can show him that. No doubt workmen are better off in any
civilized country than workmen were one hundred or two hundred years ago.
So are the rich. The workmen whom I addressed in America I
counselled not to trouble about comparisons as to their condition, but to
remember that there is but one rule for rich and poor, workmen and
employer — namely, that each should be free to get all he honestly can.
A wholesome distinction of America is that industry alone is universally
honourable there, and has good chances. There are no common people
there, in the English sense. When speaking in the Cooper Institute,
New York, I was reminded that the audience would resent being so
addressed.  Every man in America feels as
though he owns the country, because the charm of recognized equality and
the golden chances of ownership have entered his mind. He is
proud of the statues and the public buildings. The great rivers, the
trackless prairies, the regal mountains, all seem his. Even the
steep kerb-stones of New York and Boston, which brought me daily distress,
I was asked to admire—for some reason yet unknown to me. In England
nobody says to the visitor or foreigner when he first meets him, What do
you think of England? The people do not feel that they own the
country, or have responsible control over it. The country is managed
by somebody else. Not even members of Parliament know when base
treaties are made in the nation’s name, and dishonouring wars are entered
into, which the lives and earnings of their constituents may be
confiscated to sustain. All that our representatives can tell us is
that that is an affair of the crown. In America there is no crown,
and the people are kings and they know it. I had not landed on the
American shores an hour, before I became aware that I was in a new nation,
animated by a new life which I had never seen. I was three days in
the train going from Ottawa to Chicago. It was my custom to spend a
part of every day in the cosy smoking-saloon of the car, with its red
velvet seats, and bright spacious-mouthed braziers for receiving lights or
ashes. My object was to study in detail the strange passengers who
joined us. Being on the railway there practically but one class and
one fare, the gentleman and the workman, the lady and the mechanic’s wife,
sit together without hesitation or diffidence. A sturdy, unspeaking
man, who seemed to be a mechanic, was generally in the smoking-saloon.
He never spoke, except to say "Would I take his seat?" when he thought I
was incommoded by a particularly fat passenger by my side. "It will
suit me quite as well to smoke outside the car," he would civilly say, if
I objected to putting him to inconvenience. On the morning of the
third day, he and I only were sitting together. Wishing to find out
whether he could or would talk, I asked him, "How far are we from
Chicago?" He looked at me with sudden amazement. Black,
stubbly hair covered his face (which had been unshaven for days, an
unusual thing with Americans). At my question every stubble seemed
to start up as he laid his hand on my knee and said, "Have you never been
to Chicago?" "How could I?" I replied; "I am an Englishman
travelling from London in order to see it." All at once, looking at
me with pity and commiseration, his little deep black eyes glistening like
glow-worms in the night of his dark face, he exclaimed, laying his hand on
my shoulder, that his words might be more expressive, "Sir, Chicago is the
boss city of the universe," evidently thinking that I might make some
futile attempt to compare it with some city of this world.
Afterwards I learned that this electric admirer of Chicago was the
brakesman of the train. Yet this man, who had probably driven into
the fiery city a thousand times, had as much delight in it, and as much
pride in it, as though he were the owner of it. I soon found that it
would not be a wise thing for a stranger to be of a different opinion.
As I rode into Chicago three hours later, I thought I had never seen such
a lumbering, dingy, ramshackle, crowded, tumultuous, boisterous outside of
a city before. When asked my opinion again, amid the roar of cars
and hurricane of every kind of wagons and vehicles, I framed one from
which I never departed, namely, that considering the short time in which
Chicago had been built and rebuilt, it was the most miraculous city I had
ever seen. This opinion was silent on many details, and the acumen
of an American questioner is not easily foiled, but as I admitted
something "miraculous" about the place my opinion was tolerated, as
fulfilling essential conditions. And when I came to see Chicago’s
wondrous streets of business, its hotels in which populations of twenty
ordinary English parishes would be lost, its splendid avenues, its fine,
noble, far-spreading parks, and Lake Michigan stretching out like a sea on
the city borders—it did seem to me a "miraculous city," quite apart from
the happy days I spent there, as the guest of Mr. Charlton, of the Chicago
and Alton railway, who travelled with me through Canada and half America,
that I might see, without cost or care, the civic and natural marvels of
the two countries.
The first hour I was in New York, one, in friendly care for
my reputation as a stranger, said to me, "Mind, if you get run over, do
not complain—if you can articulate—as it will go against you on the
inquest. In America we run over anybody in the way, and if you are
knocked down it will be considered your fault." In America self-help
(honest and sometimes dishonest) is a characteristic. In Germany
apprentices were required to travel to acquire different modes of working.
If young Englishmen could be sent a couple of years to take part in
American business, they would come back much improved. An eminent
English professor, whom I lately asked whether it would not do this
country good if we could get our peers to emigrate, answered, "No doubt,
if you could smarten some of them up a bit first." Everywhere in
America you hear the injunction "Hold on!" In every vessel and car
there are means provided for doing it: for unless a man falls upon his
feet—if he does fall—he finds people too busy to stop and pick him up.
The nation is in commotion. Life in America is a battle and a march.
Freedom has set the race on fire—freedom, with the prospect of property.
Americans are a nation of men who have their own way, and do very well
with it. It is the only country where men are men in this sense, and
the unusualness of the liberty bewilders many, who do wrong things in
order to be sure they are free to do something. This error is mostly
made by new-comers, to whom freedom is a novelty; and it is only by trying
eccentricity that they can test the unwonted sense of their power of
self-disposal. But as liberty grows into a habit, one by one the
experimenters become conscious of the duty of not betraying the precious
possession, by making it repulsive. Perhaps self-assertion seems a
little in excess of international requirements. Many "citizens" give
a stranger the impression that they do think themselves equal to their
superiors, and superior to their equals; yet all of them are manlier than
they would be through the ambition of each to be equals of anybody else.
The effect of American inspiration on Englishmen was
strikingly evident. I met workmen in many cities whom I had known in
former years in England. They were no longer the same men.
Here their employers seldom or never spoke to them, 
and the workmen were rather glad, as they feared the communication would
relate to a reduction of wages. They thought it hardly prudent to
look a foreman or overseer in the face. Masters are more genial, as
a rule, in these days; but in the days when last I visited these workmen
at their homes in Lancashire, it never entered into their heads to
introduce me to their employers. But when I met them in America they
instantly proposed to introduce me to the mayor of the city. This
surprised me very much; for when they were in England they could not have
introduced me to the relieving officer of their parish, with any advantage
to me, had I needed to know him. These men were still workmen, and
they did introduce me to the mayor as "a friend of theirs;" and in an
easy, confident manner, as one gentleman would speak to another, they
said, "they should be obliged if he would show me the civic features of
the city." The mayor would do so, order his carriage, and with the
most pleasant courtesy take me to every place of interest. To this
hour I do not know whom I wondered at most—the men or the mayor. In
some cases the mayor was himself a manufacturer, and it was a pleasure to
see that the men were as proud of the mayor as they were of the city.
One day a letter came, inviting me to Chautauqua Lake, saying
that if I would allow it to be said that I would come to a convention of
Liberals there, many other persons would go there to meet me, and then I
should see everybody at once. I answered that it was exactly what I
wanted—"to see everybody at once." In England we think a good deal
of having to go ten miles into the country to hold a public meeting; but
knowing Americans were more enterprising, I expected I should have to go
seventeen miles there. When the day arrived and I asked for a ticket
for Chautauqua Lake, the clerk, looking at the money I put down, said, "Do
you know you are seven hundred miles from that place?" Having
engaged to speak in the Parker Memorial Hall to the Twenty-eighth
Congregational Church of Boston the next Sunday, there was no escape from
a journey of fourteen hundred miles in the mean time, and I made it.
At Chautauqua was a sight I had never seen. A hall, looking out on
to the great lake, as full of amateur philosophers and philosopheresses—all
with their heads full of schemes. There were at least a hundred
persons, each with an armful or a reticule-full of first principles, ready
written out, for the government of mankind in general. It was clear
to me that the government at Washington will never be in the difficulty we
were when Lord Hampton had only ten minutes in which to draw up for us a
new Constitution—our Cabinet not having one on hand. If President
Hayes is ever in want of a policy, he will find a good choice at
Chautauqua Lake. My ancient friend Louis Masquerier had the most
systematic scheme there of all of them. I knew it well, for the
volume explaining it was dedicated to me. He had mapped out the
whole globe into small homestead parallelograms. An ingenious friend
(Dr. Hollick) had kindly completed the scheme for him one day when it was
breaking down. He pointed out to Masquerier that there was a little
hitch at the poles—where the meridian lines converge, which rendered
perfect squares difficult to arrange there. This was quite
unforeseen by the homestead artificer. The system could not give
way, that was clear; and nature was obdurate at the poles. So it was
suggested that Masquerier should set apart the spaces at the poles to be
planted with myrtle, sweet-briar, roses, and other aromatic plants, which
might serve to diffuse a sweet scent over the homesteads otherwise
covering the globe. The inventor adopted the compromise, and thus
the difficulty was, as Paley says, "gotten over;" and if Arctic explorers
in the future should be surprised at finding a fragrant garden at the
North Pole, they will know how it came there. In Great Britain,
where a few gentlemen consider it their province to make religion,
politics, and morality for the people, it is counted ridiculous
presumption that common persons should attempt to form opinions upon these
subjects for themselves. I know the danger to progress brought about
by those whom Colonel Ingersoll happily calls its "fool friends."
Nevertheless, to me this humble and venturous activity of thought at
Chautauqua was a welcome sight. Eccentricity is better than the
deadness of mind. Out of the crude form of an idea the perfect idea
comes in time. From a boy I have been myself of Butler’s opinion
Reforming schemes are none of mine,
To mend the world’s a great design,
Like he who toils in little boat
To tug to him the ship afloat.
Nevertheless, since I am in the ship as much as others, and have to swim
or sink with it, I am at least concerned to know on what principles, and
to what port, it is being steered; and those are mere ballast who do not
try to find as much out. Dr. Erasmus Darwin's definition of a fool
was "one who never tried an experiment." In this sense there is
hardly a fool in America—while the same sort of persons block up the
streets in England—newspapers of note are published to encourage them to
persevere in their imbecility, and they have the largest representation in
Parliament of any class in the kingdom. Everybody knows that no
worse misfortune can happen to a man here than to have a new idea; while
in America a man is not thought much of if he has not one on hand.
Yet a visitor soon sees that everything is not perfect in
America, and its thinkers and statesmen know it as well as we do.
But they cannot improve everything "right away." We do not do that
in England. In America I heard men praised as "level-headed,"
without any regard to their being moral-headed. I heard men called
"smart" who were simply rascals. Then I remembered that we had
judges who gave a few months' imprisonment to a bank director who had
plundered a thousand families, and five years' penal servitude to a man
who had merely struck a lord. In Chicago you can get a cup of good
coffee without chicory at Race's served on a marble table, with cup and
saucer not chipped, and a clean serviette, for five cents. Yet you
have to pay anywhere for having your shoes blacked four hundred per cent.
more than in London. The government there will give you one hundred
and sixty acres of land, with trees upon it enough to build a small navy;
and they charged me three shillings in Chicago for a light walking-stick
which could be had in London for sixpence. All sorts of things cheap
in England are indescribably dear in America. Protection must be a
good thing for somebody: if the people like it, it is no business of ours.
We have, I remembered, something very much like it at home. We are a
nation of shopkeepers, and the shopkeeper's interest is to have customers;
yet until lately we taxed every purchaser who came into a town. If
he walked in, which meant that he was poor and likely not to buy anything,
the turnpike was free to him; but if he came on horseback, which implied
that he had money in his pocket, we taxed his horse; and if he came in a
carriage, which implied possession of still larger purchasing power, we
taxed every wheel of his carriage to encourage him to keep away. One
day I said, that to this hour, our chancellor of the exchequer taxes every
person who travels by railway, every workman going to offer his labour,
every employer seeking hands, every merchant who travels to buy or sell:
in an industrial country we tax every man who moves about in our trains.
Englishmen, who had been out of this country twenty years, could not
believe this. When they found that I was the chairman of a committee
who had yet to agitate for free trade in locomotion in England, they were
humiliated and ashamed that England had still to put up with the
incredible impost. Many things I had heard spoken of as absurd among
Uncle Sam's people, seemed to me less so when I saw the conditions which
have begotten their unusualness. Here we regard America as the
eccentric seed-land of Spiritism; but when I met the prairie schooners, 
travelling into the lone plains of Kansas, I could understand that a
solitary settler there would be very glad to have a spirit or two in his
lone log-house. Where no doctors can be had, the itinerant
medicine-vender is a welcome visitor, and, providing his drugs are
harmless, imagination effects a cure—imagination is the angel of the mind
there. We are apt to think that youths and maidens are too
self-sufficient in their manners in those parts. They could not
exist at all in those parts, save for those qualities. We regard
railways as being recklessly constructed—but a railroad of any kind is a
mercy if it puts remote settlers in communication with a city somehow.
If a bridge gives way like that on the Tay lately among us, fewer lives
are lost there than would be worn out by walking and dragging produce over
unbridged distances, and often going without needful things for the
household, because they could not be got.
In the United States there are newspapers of as great
integrity, judges as pure, and members of Parliament as clean-handed as in
England; but the public indignation at finding it otherwise is nothing
like so great there as here. John Stuart Mill said that the working
classes of all countries lied—it being the vice of the slave caste—but
English working men alone were ashamed of lying, and I was proud to find
that my countrymen of this class have not lost this latent attribute of
manliness; and I would rather they were known for the quality of speaking
the truth, though the devil was looking them square in the face, than see
them possess any repute for riches, or smartness without it. Far be
it from me to suggest that Americans, as a rule, do not possess the
capacity of truth, but in trade they do not strike you as exercising the
talent with the same success that they show in many other ways.
However, there is a certain kind of candour continually manifested, which
has at least a negative merit. If a "smart" American does a crooked
thing, he does not pretend that it is straight. When I asked what
was understood to be the difference between a Republican and a Democrat, I
was answered by one of those persons, too wise and too pure to be of any
use in this world, who profess to be of no party—none being good enough
for them; he said, "Republicans and Democrats profess different things,
but they both do the same." "Your answer," I replied, "comes very
near the margin of giving me information. What are the different
things," I asked, "which they do profess?" The answer was, "The
Republicans profess to be honest, but the Democrats do not even profess
that." My sympathies, I intimated, lay therefore with the
Republicans, since they who admit they know what they ought to be,
probably incline to it. However impetuous Americans may be, they
have one great grace of patience: they listen like gentlemen. An
American audience, anywhere gathered together, make the most courteous
listeners in the world. If a speaker has only the gift of making a
fool of himself, nowhere has he so complete an opportunity of doing it.
If he has the good fortune to be but moderately interesting, and obviously
tries in some humble way, natural to him, to add to their information,
they come to him afterwards and congratulate him with Parisian courtesy.
At Washington, where I spoke at the request of General Mussey and Major
Ford, and in Cornell University at Ithaca, where, at the request of the
acting president professor, W. C. Russell, I addressed the Students
Moralities of Co-operative Commerce, there were gentlemen and ladies
present who knew more of everything than I did about anything; yet they
conveyed to me their impression that I had in some way added to their
information. Some political colleagues of mine have gone to America.
In this country they had a bad time of it. In the opinion of most
official persons of their day, they ought to have been in prison; and some
narrowly escaped it. In America they ultimately obtained State
employment, which here they never would have obtained to their latest day.
Yet their letters home were so disparaging of America, as to encourage all
defamers of its people and institutions. This incited me to look for
every feature of discontent. What I saw to the contrary I did not
look for—but could not overlook when it came upon me. John Stuart
Mill I knew was at one time ruined by repudiators in America, but that did
not lead him to condemn that system of freedom which must lead to public
honour coming into permanent ascendancy. For myself, I am
sufficiently a Comtist [A disciple of Comte; a positivist - Ed.] to
think that humanity is greater and sounder than any special men; and
believe that great conditions of freedom and self-action can alone render
possible general progress. Great evils in American public life, from
which we are free in England, have been so dwelt upon here, that the
majority of working men will be as much surprised as I was, to find that
American life has in it elements of progress which we in England lack.
Still I saw there were spots in the great sun. The certainty of an
earthquake every four years in England would not more distress us or
divert the current of business, than the American system of having a
hundred thousand office-holders, liable to displacement every presidential
election. Each placeman has, I "calculate," at least nine friends
who watch and work to keep him where he is. Then there are a hundred
thousand more persons, candidates for the offices to be vacated by those
already in place. Each of these aspirants has on the average as many
personal friends who devote themselves to getting him installed. So
there are two millions of the most active politicians in the country
always battling for places—not perhaps regardless altogether of principle,
but subordinating the assertion of principle to the command of places.
The wonder is that the progress made in America occurs at all.
Colonel Robert Ingersoll, during the enchanted days when I was his guest
in Washington, explained it all to me, and gave reasons for it with the
humour and wit for which he is unrivalled among public speakers among us:
nevertheless I remain of the same opinion still. This system,
although a feature of republican administration, is quite distinct from
republican principle, and has to be changed, though the duration of the
practice renders it as difficult to alter as it would be to change the
diet of a nation.
It would take too long now to recount half the droll
instances in which our cousins of the New World rise above and fall below
ourselves. Their habit of interviewing strangers is the most amusing
and useful institution conceivable. I have personal knowledge, and
others more than myself, of visitors to England of whom the public never
hear. Many would be glad to call upon them and show them civility or
give them thanks for services they have rendered to public progress,
elsewhere, in one form or other. But the general public never know
of their presence. These sojourners among us possess curious, often
valuable knowledge, and no journalists ask them any questions, or
announce, or describe them, or inform the town where they are to be found.
Every newspaper reader in the land might be the richer in ideas for their
visit, but they pass away with their unknown wealth of experience, of
which he might have partaken. There is no appointment on the press
to be more coveted than that of being an interviewer to a great journal.
The art of interviewing is not yet developed and systematized as it might
he. Were I asked "What is the beginning of wisdom?" I should
answer, "It is the art of asking questions." The world has had but
one master of the art, and Socrates has had no successor. With
foolish questioning most persons are familiar—wise questioning is a
neglected study. The first interviewer who did me the honour to call
upon me at the Hoffman House in New York, represented a Democratic paper
of acknowledged position: being a stranger to the operation of
interviewing, I first interviewed the interviewer, and put to him more
questions than he put to me. When I came to read his report all my
part in the proceedings recounted was left out. He no doubt knew
best what would interest the readers of the journal he represented.
I told him that an English gentleman of political repute was interested in
an American enterprise, and had asked me to go to north Alabama with a
view to judge of its fitness for certain emigrants. I put the
question to him whether in the South generally it mattered what an
emigrant's political views were, if he was personally an addition to the
industrial force and property of the place, observing incidentally that I
saw somebody had just shot a doctor through the back; who had decided
views about something. His answer has never passed from my memory.
It was this: "Well, if a man will make his opinions prominent, what can he
expect?" I answered, that might be rather hard on me, since though I
might not make my opinions "prominent," they might be thought noticeable,
and a censor with a Derringer might not discriminate in my favour. 
This, however, did not deter me from going South. The yellow fever
lay in my way at Memphis, and I did not feel as though I wanted the yellow
fever. I was content with going near enough to it to fall in with
people who had it, and who were fleeing from the infected city. No
doubt the rapidity of my chatter upon strange topics did confuse some
interviewers. Now and then I read a report of an interview, and did
not know that it related to me until I read the title of it. One day
I met a wandering English gentleman, who had just read an interview with
me, when he exclaimed, "My dear Holyoake! how could you say that?" when I
answered, "My dear Verdantson! how could you suppose I ever did say it?"
When in remote cities I fell in with interviewers who were quite
unfamiliar with my ways of thought and speech, I tried the experiment of
saying exactly the opposite of what I meant. To my delight next day
I found it had got turned upside down in the writer’s mind, and came out
exactly right. But I had to he careful with whom I did this, for
most interviewers were very shrewd and skilful, and put me under great
obligations for their rendering of what I said. 
If English press writers interviewed visitors from a country unfamiliar to
them, they would make as many misconceptions as are ever met with in
America. I have never known but two men, not Englishmen—Mazzini and
Mr. G. W. Smalley, the London correspondent of the New York Tribune—who
understood public affairs in England as we understand them ourselves.
Even Louis Blanc is hardly their equal, though a rival in that rare art.
When leaving England I was asked by the Co-operative Guild of
London to ascertain in my travels in America what were the conditions and
opportunities of organizing co-operative emigration. As this was one
of the applications of the co-operative principle meditated by the
co-operators of 1830, and which has slept out of sight of this generation,
I received the request with glad surprise, and undertook the commission.
Pricked by poverty and despair, great numbers of emigrant
families go out alone. With slender means and slenderer knowledge,
they are the prey, at every stage, of speculators, agents, and harpies.
Many become penniless by the way, and never reach their intended place.
They hang about the large cities, and increase the competition among
workmen already too many there. Unwelcome, and unable to obtain
work, they become a new burden on reluctant and overburdened local
charity, and their lot is as deplorable as that from which they have fled.
Those who hold out until they reach the land, ignorant of all local facts
of soil, climate, or malaria, commence "to fight the wilderness"—a mighty,
tongueless, obdurate, mysterious adversary, who gives you opulence if you
conquer him—but a grave if he conquers you. What silence and
solitude, what friendlessness and desolation, the first years bring!
What distance from aid in sickness, what hardship if their stores are
scant—what toil through pathless woods and swollen creeks to carry stock
to market and bring back household goods! Loss of civilized
intercourse, familiarity with danger, the determined persistence, the iron
will, the animal struggle of the settler’s life, half animalizes him also.
No wonder we find the victor rich and rugged. The wonder is that
refinement is as common in America as it is. Stout-hearted emigrants
do succeed by themselves, and achieve marvellous prosperity. Nor
would I discourage any from making the attempt. To mitigate the
difficulties by devices of co-operative foresight is a work of mercy and
morality. It is not the object of the London Guild to incite
emigration, nor determine its destination; but to enable any who want to
emigrate to form an intelligent decision, and to aid them to carry it out
with the greatest chances of personal and moral advantage. In New
York I found there had lately been formed a "Co-operative Colony Aid
Association" (represented by the Worker, published by Mrs.
Elizabeth Thompson, and edited by the Rev. R. Heber Newton), of which Mr.
E. E. Barnum, Dr. Felix Adler, Mr. E. V. Smalley, the Rev. Dr. Rylance,
the Rev. Dr. Charles F. Deems, Mr. Courtland Palmer, Joseph Seligman, the
Hon. John Wheeler, and others were promoters. From inquiries in the
city (which I, a stranger, thought it right to make) I found that these
were persons whose names gave the society prestige. Mrs. Thompson
was regarded in the States, as the Baroness Burdett-Coutts is in England,
for her many discerning acts of munificence. To them I was indebted
for the opportunity of addressing a remarkable audience in the Cooper
Institute, New York—an audience which included journalists, authors, and
thinkers on social questions, State Socialists, and Communists—an audience
which only could be assembled in New York. The Rev. Dr. Robert
Collyer presided. The object of the Colony Aid Association is to
select and purchase land, devise the general arrangements of park,
co-operative store, and school-house; erect simple dwellings, and provide
food for the colonists until crops accrue; arrange for the conveyance of
emigrants, from whatever land they come, to their intended
settlement—providing them with escort and personal direction until they
have mastered the conditions of their new life. The promoters take
only a moderate interest upon the capital employed, affording these
facilities of colonial life at cost price; acting themselves on the
entirely wholesome rule of keeping their proceedings clear alike of profit
and charity. There is no reason why emigration should not be as
pleasant as an excursion, and competence rendered secure to all emigrants
of industry, honesty, and common sense. It soon appeared to me that
land-selling was a staple trade in America and Canada—that no person knew
the whole of either country. From visits and letters I received from
land-holders and agents, I doubted not that there were many honest among
them. But unless you had much spare time for inquiry, and were
fortunate in being near those who knew them, it would be difficult to make
out which the honest were. Evidently what was wanted was complete
and trustworthy information, which everybody must know to be such.
There was but one source whence this information could issue, and it
seemed a duty to solicit it there. If information of general utility
was to be obtained, it was obviously becoming in me, as an Englishman,
first to ask it of the Canadian government, and for this reason I went
over to Canada.
Canaan was nothing to Canada. Milk and honey are very
well, but Canada has cream and peaches, grapes and wine. I went
gathering grapes in Hamilton by moonlight—their flavour was excellent, and
bunches abundant beyond imagination. The mayor of Hamilton did me
the honour of showing me the fruits of Canada, on exhibition in a great
fair then being held. Fruit-painters in water-colours should go to
Canada. Hues so new, various, and brilliant have never been seen in
an English exhibition of painters in water-colours. Nor was their
beauty deceptive, for I was permitted to taste the fruit, when I found
that its delicate hue was but an "outward sign of its inward" richness of
flavour. It was unexpected to find the interior of the town hall of
Hamilton imposing with grace of design, rich with the wood-carver's art,
relieved by opulence of space and convenience of arrangement far exceeding
anything observed in the Parliament houses of Ottawa or of Washington.
The Parliamentary buildings of Canada, like those of the capital of
Washington, are worthy of the great countries in which they stand but were
I a subject of the Dominion, or a citizen of the United States, I would go
without one dinner a year in order to subscribe to a fund for paying
wood-carvers to impart to the debating chambers a majestic sense of
national durability associated with splendour of art. The State
House of Washington and the library of the Parliament of Ottawa, have
rooms possessing qualities which are not exceeded in London by any devoted
to similar purposes. The dining-room of the Hotel Brunswick in
Madison Square, New York, was a reflected beauty derived from its bright
and verdant surroundings with which its interior is coherent. But
the Windsor Hotel of Montreal impressed me more than any other I saw.
The entrance-hall, with its vast and graceful dome, gave a sense of space
and dignity which the hotels of Chicago and Saratoga, enormous as they
are, lacked. The stormy lake of Ontario, its thousand islands, and
its furious rapids, extending four hundred miles, with the American and
Canadian shores on either hand, gave me an idea of the scenic glory of
Canada, utterly at variance with the insipid rigour and frost-bound gloom
which I had associated with the country. A visitor from America does
not travel thirty miles into Canada without feeling that the shadow of the
crown is there. Though there was manifestly less social liberty
among the people, the civic and political independence of the Canadian
cities seemed to me to equal that of the United States. The
abounding courtesy of the press, and the cultivated charm of expression by
the Spectator of Hamilton and the Globe of Toronto, were
equal to anything I observed anywhere. And not less were the
instances of private and official courtesy of the country.
At Ottawa I had the honour of an interview with the premier,
Sir John Macdonald, at his private residence. The premier of Canada
had the repute, I knew, of bearing a striking likeness to the late premier
of England; but I was not prepared to find the resemblance so remarkable.
Excepting that Sir John is less in stature than Lord Beaconsfield, persons
who saw them apart might mistake one for the other. On presenting a
letter from Mr. Witton (of Hamilton, a former member of the Canadian
Parliament), myself and Mr. Charlton were admitted to an audience with Sir
John, whom I found a gentleman of frank and courtly manners, who permitted
me to believe that he would take into consideration the proposal I made to
him, that the government of Canada should issue a blue-book upon the
emigrant conditions of the entire Dominion, similar to those formerly
given to us in England by Lord Clarendon "On the Condition of the Laboring
Classes Abroad," furnishing details of the prospects of employment,
settlement, education, tenure of land, climatic conditions, and the
purchasing power of money. Sir John kindly undertook to receive from
me, as soon as I should be able to draw it up, a scheme of particulars,
similar to that which I prepared some years ago, at the request of Lord
Clarendon. A speech of Lord Beaconsfield's was at that time much
discussed by the American and Canadian press, as Sir John Macdonald had
recently been on a visit to Lord Beaconsfield. Sir John explained to
me in conversation that in the London reports of Lord Beaconsfield’s
speech, there appeared the mistake of converting "wages of sixteen dollars
per month" into "wages of sixteen shillings per day," and of describing
emigration "west of the State" as emigration from the "Western States."
This enabled me to point out to Sir John that if these misapprehensions
could arise in the mind of one so acute as Lord Beaconsfield, as to
information given by an authority so eminent and exact as Sir John
himself, it showed how great was the need which the English public must
feel of accurate and official information upon facts, with which they were
necessarily unfamiliar. Afterwards I had the pleasure of dining with
the minister of agriculture, the Hon. John Henry Pope. Both myself
and my friend Mr. Charlton, who was also a guest, were struck with the
Cobbett-like vigour of statement which characterized Mr. Pope. He
explained the Canadian theory of protection as dispassionately as Cobden
would that of free trade. Mr. Pope had himself, I found, caused to
appear very valuable publications of great service to emigrants. He
admitted, however, that there might be advantage in combining all the
information in one book which would be universally accessible, and known
to be responsible. I was struck by one remark of this minister worth
repeating: "In Canada," he said, "we have but one enemy—cold, and he is a
steady, but manageable adversary, for whose advent we can prepare and
whose time of departure we know. While in America, malaria, ague,
fluctuation of temperature are intermittent. Science and sanitary
prevision will, in time, exterminate some dangers, while watchfulness will
always be needed in regard to others."
Subsequently I thought it my duty to make a similar proposal
to the government of Washington. Colonel Robert Ingersoll introduced
me to Mr. Evarts, the secretary of state, who with the courtesy I had
heard ascribed to him, gave immediate attention to the subject.
Looking at me with his wise, penetrating eyes, he said, "You know, Mr.
Holyoake, the difficulty the Federal government would have in obtaining
the collective information you wish." Then he stated the
difficulties with precision, showing that he instantly comprehended the
scope of the proposed red-book; without at all suggesting that the
difficulties were obstacles. So far as I could observe, an American
statesman, of any quality, does not believe in "obstacles" to any measure
of public utility. I was aware that the Federal government had no
power to obtain from the different States reports of the kind required,
but Mr. Evarts admitted that if he were to ask the governor of each State
to furnish him with the information necessary for emigrant use, with a
view to include it in an official account of the emigrant features of all
the States, he would no doubt receive it. I undertook, on my return
to England ,to forward to him, after consulting with the Co-operative
Guild, a scheme of the kind of red-book required. Mr. Evarts
permitted me to observe that many persons, as he must well know, come to
America and profess themselves dissatisfied. They find many things
better than they could have hoped to find them, but since they were not
what they expected, they were never reconciled. The remedy was to
provide real information of the main things they would find. Then
they would come intelligently if they came at all, and stay contented.
General Mussey did me the favour of taking me to the White House, and
introducing me to the president and Mrs. Hayes, where I had the
opportunity also of meeting General Sherman, who readily conversed upon
the subject of my visit, and made many observations very instructive to
me. Mrs. Hayes is a very interesting lady, of engaging ways and
remarkable animation of expression, quite free from excitement. She
had been in Kansas with the president a few days before, and kindly
remarked as something I should be glad to hear, that she found on the day
they left that every coloured person who had arrived there from the South
was in some place of employment. The president had a bright, frank
manner; and he listened with such a grace of patience to the nature and
reason of the request I had made to Mr. Evarts, and which I asked him to
sanction, if he approved of it, that I began to think that my pleasure at
seeing him would end with my telling my story. He had, however, only
taken time to hear entirely to what it amounted, when he explained his
view of it with a sagacity and completeness and a width of illustration
which surprised me. He described to me the different qualities of
the various nationalities of emigrants in the States, expressing—what I
had never heard any one do before—a very high opinion of the Welsh, whose
good sense and success as colonists had come under his observation.
Favourable opinions were expressed by leading journals in America upon the
suggestion above described. To some it seemed of such obvious
utility that wonder was felt that it had never been made before. If
its public usefulness continues apparent after due consideration, no doubt
a book of the nature in question will be issued.
There is no law in America which permits co-operation to be
commenced in the humble, unaided way in which it has arisen in England.
When I pointed this out to the gentleman of the Colony Aid Association,
the remark was made, "Then we will get a law for the purpose." In
England, working men requiring an improvement in the law have thought
themselves fortunate in living till the day when a member of Parliament
could be induced to put a question on the subject; and the passing of a
bill has been an expectation inherited by their children, and not always
realized in their time. Emerson has related that when it was found
that the pensions awarded to soldiers disabled in the war, or to the
families of those who were killed, fell into the hands of unscrupulous
"claim agents," a private policeman in New York conceived the plan of a
new law which would enable every person entitled to the money to surely
receive it. Obtaining leave of absence he went to Washington, and
obtained, on his own representation, the passing of two acts which
effected this reform. I found the policeman to he an old friend of
mine, Mr. George S. McWatters, whom I found now, to be an officer of
customs in New York. An instance of this kind is unknown in this
country. Emerson remarks that, "having freedom in America, this
accessibility to legislators, and promptitude of redressing wrong, are the
means by which it is sustained and extended."
Before leaving Washington, I thought it my duty to call at
the British Embassy, and communicate to his Excellency Sir Edward Thornton
particulars of the request I had made to the governments of Canada and of
the United States; since if his Excellency should be able to approve of
the object thereof, it would be an important recommendation of it. I
pointed out to Sir Edward that "though public documents were issued by the
departments of both governments, the classes most needing them knew
neither how to collect or collate them, and reports of interested agents
could not be wholly trusted; while a government will not lie, nor
exaggerate, nor, but rarely, conceal the truth. Since the British
government do not discourage emigration, and cannot prevent it, it is
better that our poor fellow-countrymen should be put in possession of
information which will enable them to go out with their eyes open, instead
of going out, as hitherto, with their eyes mostly shut." I ought to
add here that the Canadian minister of agriculture has sent me several
valuable works issued in the Dominion, and that the American government
have presented me with many works of a like nature, and upwards of five
hundred large maps of considerable value, all of which I have placed at
the disposal of the Guild of Co-operation in London, for dispersion amid
centres of working men, with whom the founder of the Guild, Mr. Hodgson
Pratt, is in communication.
Because I admired many things in America, I did not learn to
undervalue my own country, but came back thinking more highly of it on
many accounts than I did before. Not a word escaped me which
disparaged it. In Canada, as well as in America, I heard expressed
the oddest ideas imaginable of the decadence of England. I always
answered that John Bull was as sure-footed, if not, quite so nimble, as
Brother Jonathan; that England would always hold up its wilful head; and
should the worse come to be very bad, Uncle Sam would superannuate
England, and apportion it an annuity to enable it to live comfortably;
doing this out of regard to the services John Bull did to his ancestors
long ago, and for the goodwill the English people have shown Uncle Sam in
their lucid intervals. As yet, I added, England has inexhaustible
energies of its own. But lately it had Cobden with his passion for
international prosperity; and John Stuart Mill with his passion for truth;
it has still Bright with his passion for justice; Gladstone with his
passion for conscience; and Lord Beaconsfield with his passion
for—himself; and even that is generating in the people a new passion for
democratic independence. The two worlds with one language will know
how to move with equal greatness side by side. Besides the
inexhaustible individuality and energy of Americans proper, the country is
enriched by all the unrest and genius of Europe. I was not
astonished that America was "big" I knew that before. What I was
astonished at was the inhabitants. Nature made the country; it is
freedom which has made the people. I went there without prejudice,
belonging to that class which cannot afford to have prejudices. I
went there not to see something which I expected to see, but to see what
there was to be seen, what manner of people bestrode those mighty
territories, and bow they did it, and what they did it for in what spirit,
in what hope, and with what prospects. I never saw the human mind at
large before acting on its own account—unhampered by prelate or king.
Every error and every virtue strive there for mastery, but humanity has
the best of the conflict, and progress is uppermost.
Co-operation, which substitutes evolution for revolution in
securing competence to labour, may have a great career in the New World.
In America the Germans have intelligence; the French brightness, the Welsh
persistence, the Scotch that success which comes to all men who know how
to lie in wait to serve. The Irish attract all sympathy to them by
their humour of imagination and boundless capacity of discontent.
The English maintain their steady purpose, and look with meditative,
bovine eyes upon the novelties of life around them, wearing out the map of
a new path with looking at it, before making up their mind to take it; but
the fertile and adventurous American, when he condescends to give
co-operation attention, will devise new applications of the principle
unforeseen here. In America I received deputations from real State
Socialists, but did not expect to find that some of them were Englishmen.
But I knew them as belonging to that class of politicians at home who were
always expecting something to be done for them, and who had not acquired
the wholesome American instinct of doing something for themselves.
Were State workshops established in that country, they would not have a
single occupant in three months. New prospects open so rapidly in
America, and so many people go in pursuit of them, that I met with men who
had been in so many places that they seemed to have forgotten where they
were born. If the bit of paternal government could be got into the
mouth of an American, it would drop out in a day—he opens his mouth so
often to give his opinion on things in general. The point which
seemed to be of most interest to American thinkers, was that feature of
co-operation which enables working men to acquire capital without having
any, to save without diminishing any comfort, to grow rich by the
accumulation of savings which they had never put by, through intercepting
profits by economy in distribution. Meditating self-employment by
associative gains, English co-operators do not complain of employers who
they think treat them unfairly, nor enter into defiant negotiations, nor
make abject supplications for increase of wages; they take steps to
supersede unpleasant employers. With steam transit ready for every
man’s service, with the boundless and fruitful fields of Australia,
America, and Canada open to them, the policy of self-protection is to
withdraw from those employers and places with whom or where no profitable
business can be done. To dispute with capital which carries a sword
is a needless and disastrous warfare, even if victory should attend the
murderous struggle. Even the negro of the South has learned the
wisdom of withdrawing himself. He has learned to fight without
striking a blow; he leaves the masters who menace him. If he turned
upon them he would be cut down without hesitation or mercy. By
leaving them, their estates become worthless, and he causes his value to
be perceived without the loss of a single life.
I learned in America two things never before apparent to me,
and to which I never heard a reference at home: first, that the dispersion
of unrequited workmen in Europe should be a primary principle of popular
amelioration, which would compel greater changes in the quality of freedom
and industrial equity than all the speculations of philosophers, or the
measures of contending politicians; secondly, that the child of every poor
man should be educated for an emigrant, and trained and imbued with a
knowledge of unknown countries, and inspired with the spirit of adventure
therein; and that all education is half worthless—is mere mockery of the
poor child’s fortune—which does not train him in physical strength, in the
art of "fighting the wilderness," and such mechanical knowledge as shall
conduce to success therein. I am for workmen being given whatever
education gentlemen have, and including in it such instruction as shall
make a youth so much of a carpenter and a farmer that he shall know how to
clear ground, put up a log-house, and understand land, crops, and the
management of live stock. Without this knowledge, a mechanic, or
clerk, or even an M.A. of Oxford, is more helpless than a common
farm-labourer, who cannot spell the name of the poor-house which sent him
out. We have in Europe surplus population. Elsewhere lie rich
and surplus acres. The new need of progress is to transfer
overcrowding workmen to the unoccupied prairies. Parents shrink from
the idea of their sons having to leave their own country; but they have to
do this when they become soldiers—the hateful agents of empire
lately—carrying desolation and death among people as honest as themselves,
but more unfortunate. Half the courage which leads young men to
perish at Isandula, or on the rocks of Afghanistan, would turn into a
paradise the wildest wilderness in the world of which they would become
the proprietors. While honest men are doomed to linger anywhere in
poverty and precariousness, this world is not fit for a gentleman to live
in. Dives may have his purple and fine linen, and fare sumptuously
every day. I, for one, pray that the race of Dives may increase; but
what I wish also is, that never more shall a Lazarus be found at his
GEORGE JACOB HOLYOAKE.
1. Americans are not lacking in generous
admissions herein, as any one may see in William Winters "Trip to
England." The reader must go far to find more graceful pages of
appreciation of the historic, civic, and scenic beauties of this country.
2. In an historic churchyard at the bottom of the
mountain is the grave of Mary Pynchon, the wife of Eslzur Holyoke, the
early English settler, whose name the mountain bears. Among the
commonly feeble epitaphs of churchyards hers is remarkable for its grace
and vigour. It says:—
She who lies here was, while she stood,
A very glory of womanhood.
3. The Rev. R. Heber Newton said to me, "Remember, Mr.
Holyoake, we have no 'common people' in America. We may have a few
4. Long years ago, when I first knew Rochdale, workmen
at Mr. Bright's mills used to tell me with pride, that he was not like
other employers. He not only inquired about them, but of them; and
to this day they will stop him in the mill yard and ask his advice in
personal difficulties, when they are sure of willing and friendly counsel
5. A long, rickety wagon drawn generally by one horse,
carrying the emigrant, his family and furniture, in search of a new
6. We are not without experience somewhat of this kind
in England. At Bolton, when Sir Charles Dilke, M.P., was lecturing
there on the "Cost of the Crown," a very harmless subject, one of the
royalists of the town hurled a brick through the window of the hall,
intended for the speaker, which killed one of the audience. Sir
Charles was merely "making his opinions prominent."
7. The Kansas City Times published an "Interview with
Gen. George Holyoake." This was discerning courtesy. Down
there "difficulties" had often occurred, and a "general" being supposed to
have pistollic acquirements, I was at once put upon a level with any
emergency. It was in Kansas City, where a judge trying a murder case
said to those present—"Gentlemen, the court wishes you would let somebody
die a natural death down here, if only to show strangers what an excellent
climate we have."
THREE SCORE YEARS AND TEN 1810-1890.
W. J. LINTON.
Of two men with whom I had relations, George Jacob
Holyoake and Charles Bradlaugh, I must now speak, that I may not be
thought afraid to do so: not afraid, but indeed unwilling so far as
concerns Holyoake, with whom for some years I had close connection.
He began his public life by a foolish provocation of prosecution for
blasphemy, thereby gaining such credit and notoriety as might be due to
the "Last Martyr for Atheism." With such object in view, the
martyrdom was of small account; but, taken as only the rash impulsiveness
of an over-earnest young man, it gave him admittance to the ranks of
lovers of free thought. So welcomed and made much of, he worked
himself up to be the leader of a party, the party of those who considered
freethought and disbelief to be synonymous terms, who may indeed be
likened to the bird which, escaping from its cage, perches on the next
tree, not knowing how nor caring to attempt a farther flight, and whose
monotonous song is merely the contented inane reiteration of "I am free."
Looking back upon Holyoake's work, I can give no better account of it so
far as free thought was concerned. But independently of that, he had
place among us for his adhesion to the principles of the Charter, and for
some aidance in the cooperative endeavours of the time: not by any means
of the importance which he now claims for himself. And he was liked
as a kindly-natured, amiable man. So he made his way, a poor
speaker, though not wanting words, not so much leading or swaying an
audience as expressing what it desired to hear, and therefore popular,—the
mouthpiece of a party that only wanted to be encouraged on its
predetermined road. Looking back, I find in his writing in his
paper—the Reasoner—little of original thought or sound reasoning.
Half-educated and weak, he never grew. Yet after a time he was
dissatisfied. Staying in my house at Miteside for some days, seeing
his state of doubtfulness, I counseled him to make his condition of health
an excuse for discontinuing the Reasoner for a few weeks, to give
him time to seriously sift his own mind. "If," I said, "you find
yourself still convinced of the righteousness and usefulness of your
course, you have sufficient hold on your followers to resume work, all the
better for your rest; if, on the other hand, you find your path is really
tending nowhere, be brave enough to abandon it, and apply your future
differently!" He did not follow my advice, but long afterwards said
that he wished he had.
In fact, he was getting weary of the poor reiteration of
Atheism, the word standing between him and friends who could not recognise
him openly under such a garment. So at last he doffed the
unseemliness and put on what seemed the more respectable garb of
"Secularism," rather a vague term which did not too exactly describe his
still-continued nibblings at religious theories and wranglings upon
theological formulas. I began to find him inconsistent and slippery;
and when, as it seemed to me, he was also false to the popular cause, and
only self-seeking, I parted from him, not without harsh words which even
now, rereading them, I can not honestly call back or soften.
Letter from Harriet Martineau to Lloyd Garrison, the editor of the
Liberator (New York) [see also article
"DEAR SIR,—I see with much surprise and more concern an attack in your
paper upon the character of Mr. G. J. Holyoake, signed by Mr. W. J.
Linton. I could have wished, with others of your readers, that you had
waited for some evidence, or other testimony, before committing your most
respected paper to an attack on such a man from such a quarter. Of Mr.
Linton it is not necessary for me to say anything, because what I say of
Mr. Holyoake will sufficiently show what I think of his testimony.
"I wish I could give you an idea of the absurdity that it appears to us in
this country to charge Mr. Holyoake with sneaking, with desiring to
conceal his opinions, and get rid of the word 'Atheism.' His whole life,
since he grew up, has been one of public advocacy of the principles he
holds, of weekly publication of them under his own signature, and of
constant lecturing in public places. One would think that a man who has
been tried and imprisoned for Atheism, and has ever since continued to
publish the opinions which brought him into that position, might be
secure, if any man might, from the charge of sneaking. The adoption of the
term Secularism is justified by its including a large number of persons
who are not Atheists, and uniting them for action which has Secularism for
its object, and not Atheism. On this ground, and because by the
adoption of a new term a vast amount of impediment from prejudice is got
rid of, the use of the name Secularism is found advantageous; but it in
no way interferes with Mr. Holyoake's profession of his own unaltered
views on the subject of a First Cause. As I am writing this letter, I may
just say for myself that I constantly and eagerly read Mr. Holyoake's
writings, though many of them are on subjects—or occupied with stages of
subjects—that would not otherwise detain me, because I find myself always
morally the better for the influence of the noble spirit of the man, for
the calm courage, the composed temper, the genuine liberality, and unintermitting justice with which he treats all manner of persons,
incidents, and topics. I certainly consider the conspicuous example of Mr.
Holyoake's kind of heroism to be one of our popular educational advantages
at this time.
"You have printed Mr. Linton's account of Mr. Holyoake. I request you to
print mine. I send it simply as an act of justice. My own acquaintance
with Mr. Holyoake is on the ground of his public usefulness, based on his
private virtues; and I can have no other reason for vindicating him than
a desire that a cruel wrong should be as far as possible undone. And I do
it myself because I am known to your readers as an Abolitionist of
sufficiently long standing not to be likely to be deceived in regard to
the conduct and character of any one who speaks on the subject.
"I am, yours very respectfully,
"LONDON, November 1,
Boston Daily Globe
Sept. 11, 1879.
Meeting of the Homestead Association—Address by G. J. Holyoake
of London—Annual Report.
The second annual meeting of the Homestead Association was
held at Stacy Hall, Washington street, last evening. At about 8
o'clock Mr. A. J. Mercer called the meeting to order, and Mr. Josiah
Quincy, stepping to the platform, introduced Mr. George Jacob Holyoake of
London, England, as a pioneer in the co-operative movement.
Mr. Holyoake, who was received with great applause, said that
on his first arrival he sought out a co-operative association, in which he
knew he could at once feel at home. During his brief stay here he
had seen much from which the people of England could learn with advantage.
But he confessed to a feeling of astonishment at the difficulties which
had stood in the way of establishing these societies. The necessity
of going to the legislature for a charter struck him as somewhat peculiar,
and he was surprised at the opposition raised to the scheme by the various
savings banks of the state. In England....
It Was Only Necessary to File a Declaration
...with the registrar of friendly societies, and they at once attained a
legal footing. The only difficulties they experienced was in
teaching the working-people the necessity for thrift and the advantages to
be gained by an efficient system of self-help, which was the underlying
principle or force of co-operation. He gave an interesting account
of the difficulties attending the formation of the Rochdale Co-operative
Society, and of the self-denying and gratuitous work given to make it a
success. It was scarcely possible to realize the poor condition of
the Rochdale weavers in 1843. When they met in a miserable room and
determined to try and experiment, the small sum of two pence per week was
levied upon them. Small as the sum was, it had to be collected
weekly, and "missionaries of the movement used the day of rest for the
purpose of collecting these sums, for it was not safe to leave the
collection even of the small sum until later in the week. Now the
same society realizes a profit of £200,000 per annum. He doubted
whether the stores could be so successful in large cities, for the many
attractions and allurements....
Tended Rather to Spending Than Saving.
The function of the co-operative store was not to undersell
grocers or other tradesmen. The most efficient stores which those
which rather kept up the market prices. They were principally
intended rather to create capital, and the simple method of doing so was
well illustrated. A person might become a member by the payment of a
small sum, and the profit on the goods he or she bought—that is the
difference between the wholesale price, plus expenses, and the retail
figure—was placed to the credit of the member until they reached the price
of a share, which was then assigned to the person so purchasing.
These co-operative societies were intimately associated with the political
advance in England, for, although they made a difference between social
questions and those of politics, the effect of co-operation had been
beneficial. They had created a better social condition, but
political freedom was by no means forgotten. The stores could be
made attractive to the people. One of the best things, he said, in
the management of such stores was that the clerks were pledged to use the
utmost care in distinctly....
Stating the Quality of Goods
...sold, so that implicit reliance could be placed in the
articles purchased in the store. But the main feature of these
societies was the creation and diffusion of capital. Capital is the
nursing mother of every blessing, and these societies aimed to place it in
more hands. In spite of bad land laws, expensive conveyancing and other
impediments, from which this country was happily free, co-operative
building societies in England had flourished. Co-operation was the
secret of a successful advance of the working people. Without
revolution, spoliation or destruction the change of condition would be
effected, and the working people be elevated. Mr. Holyoake resumed his
seat amidst loud applause.
Mr. Quincy briefly explained the course pursued by the
society, and enlarged on the advantage of the association as an investment
over the savings banks. The report submitted tonight showed a
dividend of eight per cent., better than any savings bank was able to pay.
After the speaking the ballots for officers for the next year
were counted, the result being as follows:
President, Joseph S. Ropes; vice-president, Charles H.
Sweeney; secretary, D. Eldredge; treasurer, Thomas Swadkins, Jr.;
directors, A. J. Mercer, Samuel K. Head, George L. Pierce, John H. Putnam,
D. B. Fletcher, Dan G. Drew, Abel Head, R. C. Habberley, William F.
Brenenstuthl, F. herbert Odell, W. C. Raymond, Joel F. Brown, J. Sedgwick,
John S. Verity, Thomas Marshall, Joseph M. Ford; auditors, William H.
Woodbury, Charles A. Keyes, Arthur T. Kloder.
The report submitted to the meeting shows 257 members holding
1253 shares. The annual interest earned by the shares has been as
follows: First six months, 6 per cent.; second six months, 6 per cent.;
third six months, 6 per cent.; fourth (last) six months, 8 per cent."
Boston Daily Globe,
Feb. 6, 1881.
George Jacob Holyoake's Reminiscences
of the Novelist.
In the last number of the Free Religious Index George Jacob
Holyoake writes from London as follows:
There is no instance of two other persons being associated in
life so eminent in diversity of capacity as George Henry Lewes and George
Eliot. Personally she was comely rather than beautiful, and her
manner of conversation very sweet and dignified. In later years, age
had given her quite a commanding and queenly look. When Garibaldi
was last in England, we gave him what you call a "grand reception" at the
Crystal Palace, where probably 30,000 people were present. George
Eliot asked me to come and sit on the dias by her side and tell her all
about "the general," as we familiarly call Garibaldi, with whom I had
often had personal and official communication. She understood, I
need not say, the art of asking questions. George Henry Lewes, who I
first knew in the days when I was associated with the Leader newspaper (in
which I wrote the "Ion" letters to which Mr. Wendell Phillips replied in
the Melodeon), was the most intrepid thinker of that day, and to him I
owed my first public association with men of letters. Herbert
Spencer, Thornton Hunt (a man of wonderful intellectual courage), W. J.
Linton and others, were the principal writers upon it. It was then
that I first knew George Eliot. Three or four years ago I travelled
into Kent with Mr. Lewes. He induced the station master to delay the
train a few minutes that I might go down to the vale below, to speak with
George Eliot, who had driven down to meet him. I had never seen her
look so well. That was the last time I saw her. The day before
I sailed for America I received a letter from her in which she spoke of a
passage in my "History of Co-operation," describing "the ruins of
education in New Lanark," which she said had to her mind "a tragic
impressiveness." In the same work I had quoted some lines from the
opening of her poem of "Jubal," to which I had put the name of William
Morris, the author of the "Earthly Paradise." Having made a
quotation from Morris in the same work, I had not noticed the error, being
blind when the proofs went to the press. She said in a very pleasant
way that Mr. Morris might not be gratified by having lines of hers imputed
to him. It was a modest way of putting it. Mr. Morris would
probably think the error a compliment.
Sept. 3, 1882.
GEORGE J. HOLYOAKE.
A Pleasant Chat with the Great English Secularist.
A Retrospect of What George Jacob Holyoake has Done for the Working
Classes—His Second Visit to America and his Reasons for Making it—What he
Thinks and Says of us—His Object in the United States—Recognition of his
Services by the British Government and people—The trades
Unions—Co-operation, not Communism.
A pleasant elderly gentleman of unassuming manners, a concise
use of English language, great clearness of thought and precision of
statement responded to the greetings of a representative of the Eagle on
Friday evening at the Manhattan Beach Hotel. Retiring "far from the
maddening crowd" to whom Gilmore's band were discoursing their choicest
selections, Mr. Holyoake, who arrived in New York from England by the
Cunard steamer Scythia on Thursday last, engaged in a conversation upon
the subject of his own life and work, and very clearly defined his
principles with the help of that fragrant stimulus to reflection—a good
Mr. George Jacob Holyoake, translating his narrative into the
third person, is now 63 years of age. This is his second visit to
America, his first having been made in 1879. When he returned to
England after that visit he had no idea of ever returning here, but his
account of the wonders of the land so interested his daughter that when he
recently found his personal presence here again necessary, he brought her
with him, and this lady, Miss Emily Holyoake, with her friend, Mrs. Ethel
Leach, a member of the School Board of Great Yarmouth, a place familiar to
the readers of "David Copperfield," and an advocate of civil
enfranchisement of women, are now enjoying scenes that are as new to them,
as they are amazing.
For as Mr. Holyoake looked from a balcony of the Manhattan
Beach Hotel at the crowd, the sea, the orchestra and then back at the
interior of the hotel, he said, as he waved his hand, "Look at all this.
We have nothing like it in Europe, let alone England." Being asked what
place in the old country Coney island, with all its sights and sounds,
most vividly recalled to his memory, he answered, "Brighton, where I have
long spent my summers, and about which, by the way, I have just published
an anonymous pictorial pamphlet which I will give you. I wrote it at
the request of the Mayor to vindicate the salubrity of the city by the sea
from some injurious misstatements about its sewage. Brighton is a
wonderfully healthy place, standing first in the death rate of 1881 among
the twenty largest towns in the kingdom. But there is nothing like
this at Brighton. Even the best hotel there, the Grand, does not
compare with this for convenience and comforts."
A few years ago Mr. Holyoake lost for some time the use of
his eyes, and was threatened with total blindness. The eminent
London oculist, Dr. Brudenell Carter, "cut both my eyes open," to use his
own description, and the result which seemed miraculous in being so
unexpected was a complete cure. He has, however, to be economical in
his reading and writing, and his daughter now handles his papers and
correspondence. After his return to England from his former visit,
he had to write no less than four hundred letters with his own hand in
relation to it. He collected his impressions of us in an article
entitles "A Stranger to America," which appeared in the Nineteenth
Century for July, or August, he thinks the latter, of 1880. It
was pronounced by competent critics to be "one of those articles that
promote international good will." In England people said it was the
only record of an Englishman's experiences in this country which they
could put into the hands of their American friends without misgiving, so
many writers balanced balancing their praise with blame and thus
nullifying its good effect. "I came here," said Mr. Holyoake,
"wholly unprejudiced, resolved to see and judge for myself, and the rule I
laid down for my observations when I met, as I sometimes did, with things
that offended me was this: What is there which is paralleled to this, or
like this, in my own country? And I always found some parallel.
If I met some ungentlemanly persons and some disagreeable things here, so
I had there. There is room there for improvement there as much as
here. In some things England is ahead, in other things America.
But there is no deficiency here which is not offset by some deficiency at
home. I hate charity, but I think much of justice."
Mr. Holyoake also wrote a book after his last visit entitled
"Among the Americans." It is the story of four months travel and
does not go into the same ground as his article "A Stranger in America."
But he says that if he had been in this country four years instead of four
months when he wrote it, he should not have felt himself competent to
write a book about America, his is but "a fireside story of what
HIS LIFE WORK.
Mr. Holyoake is a freeman of the City of London and was for
many years a publisher in Fleet Street. His earliest fame as a
writer was in the public press. His most continuous literary work
was that of editing the "Reasoner," in thirty volumes, a work which
Harriet Martineau wrote in an article vindicating Mr. Holyoake's labors,
that "she always read the 'Reasoner' with profit and instruction to
herself and counted Mr. Holyoake as one of the moral forces of the times."
He has written twenty books in all, among them a book on rhetoric and
another on logic. The "Reasoner" had made his pen a power among all
circles and especially among the working and middle classes in Great
Britain. But his "History of Co-operation in England" (2 vols.) is
his largest single work. Therold Rogers calls it "the most
exhaustive book on the subject." An American edition has been
published by Lippincott, in Philadelphia. In the July number of the
Nineteenth Century of the present year Mr. Holyoake has a very interesting
paper on "The Theory of Political Epithets," and it is the first time that
any theory has been broached upon the subject of epithets. The
Speaker of the House of Commons, said Mr. Holyoake, is constantly calling
members to order for the use of epithets. The fact is that nobody
knows what is or not a condemnatory epithet." Although he has
treated chiefly of parliamentary epithets, he discusses also the epithets
in vogue in the public press, the pulpit, at the bar and in social life.
He writes chiefly now for the magazines.
RECOGNITION AT LAST.
For many years Mr. Holyoake got more abuse than credit for
his self denying and laborious efforts to improve the conditions of the
working classes in England. But at the time of his illness a
committee was formed in London comprised of the Right Hon. James
Stanfield, then President of the Poor Law Board; professor J. R. Green, of
Oxford, famous for his "History of the English people;" the Rev. Stepford
A. Brooke, the Right Hon. Joseph Chamberlain, professor James E. Thorold
Rogers, of Oxford, and other members of Parliament and public men to
present him with a testimonial in recognition of what he had done in
introducing dispassionate reasoning in politics, courtesy in controversy,
and in promoting political and social reforms." The testimonial took
the form of an annuity of $10,000 being subscribed and invested.
RIGHT HON. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN.
The EAGLE representative being well acquainted with the
personnel of this committee, with the exception of Mr. Chamberlain, who is
a novus homo among the ruling minds of England, took the occasion
of his name to ask Mr. Holyoake what manner of man he was. "Why, he
is more dreaded by the Tories," he replied, "than any other member of Mr.
Gladstone's Cabinet. He represents Birmingham with Mr. Bright.
He has the courage of his opinions, is a man of outspoken principles and
great determination of character. You will believe this when I tell
you that when he was mayor of Birmingham the Prince of Wales paid a State
visit to that city. Mr. Chamberlain took the occasion of the banquet
to the prince to avow himself a thorough republican in his political
principles. The Prince took it very pleasantly, as he always does in
a situation which may be a little awkward and contratemps.
Mr. Chamberlain is now President of the Board of Trade. He has
retired from business and is immensely wealthy, having made his money as a
screw manufacturer. He held the patents on every kind of screw made
by machinery in England. His colleague, John Bright, preceded him as
President of the Board of Trade during Mr. Gladstone's last Premiership,
but was Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in the present one, and
lately resigned his seat in the Cabinet owing to his disapproval of the
MR. GLADSTONE'S APPROVAL.
The men who composed the committee which purchased Mr.
Holyoake's annuity were very different from each other and in the
interests they represented. State Church clergymen and independents in
religion, historians and social scientists, members of Parliament and
workingmen combined in one expression of acknowledgment for the services
he had rendered the people. But the British government has also
recognised his work, Mr. Gladstone not only relieving Mr. Holyoake of £100
he had incurred in the public good out of the public service fund, but
promising by letter that he shall still be further assisted by the
government in defraying the expenses he will yet have to incur.
Mr. Holyoake also mentioned in terms of grateful
acknowledgment that Mrs. Elizabeth Thompson, a wealthy American lady, who
resides in New York, but is now staying at the Manhattan Beach Hotel, sent
him £500 for the cause—the same amount as that paid by the prime Minister
of England. Mrs Thompson is a loyal subject of progressive and
humane ideas, and at the time of the plague in Memphis bore the whole
expense of a medical commission to devise means of stopping its ravages.
Mr. Holyoake said that it was through this generous act of hers that a
national Board of Health was established in Washington. He is
expecting a visit from Senator Blair, who is coming to the Manhattan Beach
to see him at Mrs. Thompson's request.
Mr. Holyoake is now preparing a memorial to Mr.
Frelinghuysen, the Secretary of State at Washington, on the subject of his
visit and his labor of many years, namely, to introduce this government
and that of Canada to issue authentic statistics for the guidance of
emigrants. He will be three months in the United States and Canada
upon this business. He brings letters from Sir Charles Dilke, of the
Foreign Office, to the Hon. Sackville West, the British Ambassador at
Washington, and from the Earl of Kimberley, the British Colonial Minister,
to the Marquis of Lorne, Governor General of Canada.
AN EMIGRANT'S GUIDE.
Twelve years ago Mr. Holyoake made a proposal to Lord
Clarendon, who was then Minister of Foreign Affairs, as Earl Granville is
now, that the British Government should obtain reports of the condition of
the working classes abroad from our secretaries at legation in foreign
countries. Lord Clarendon accepted and acted upon the suggestion,
and as a result three volumes of Blue Books were issued by him on that
subject on a plan which Mr. Holyoake had drawn up for him. No books
had ever been published which contain the same information. The same
questions had been sent to every foreign secretary of legation, and
everyone has sent in his report in answer to them, as it related to the
country in which he was. The salient features of the Blue Books were
that they reported the purchasing power of money abroad as compared with
its power in Great Britain and Ireland. The practical good effect of
this information was immense. The mechanic earning a pound or thirty
shillings a week is constantly being told to emigrate to countries where
he could earn four times as much. But before a prudent mechanic
would act upon such advice he would want to be fully informed as to the
cost of living, the dietary, the clothing, the dwellings he would have to
occupy, the exposure to be undergone, the conditions of health in the
district, the local maladies to be guarded against, the state of the labor
market, how far the skills of mechanics affect their wages, and many other
considerations. Want of knowledge of these matters has wrought great
evil to the mechanics themselves and to their families as well as to the
country to which they go and that from which they come. America is
full of emigrants who are not wanted in large cities. Ignorance is
the cause of this.
Mr. Holyoake proposed in 1879, and now comes with a detailed
plan for the United States Government and for that of Canada, for the
issue by each government of a book to serve as a guide to emigration,
giving similar information to the whole country to that which was given by
the English home government in Lord Clarendon's Blue Books, only on a more
detailed and extended scale. No such Emigrant's Guide has ever yet
been issued by any government. It can only be done by the
governments, for they alone have power to obtain thoroughly reliable
information. Land agents cannot do it, even if they were not too
often interested in suppressing the truth. They who have read Martin
Chuzzlewit will remember "Eden." But the agents themselves do not
always know it. Such a book would greatly facilitate emigration.
That is what is wanted, not the wholesale transferring of "ne'er do wells"
from one country to another. Those who can do no good anywhere are
just as well off at home.
Mr. Holyoake has always been an active leader of the Trade
Unionists in England. Many people have still only a vague idea of
the objects of these organisations. Trade unions, said Mr. Holyoake,
are at present only combinations for raising wages. But they ought
to be more than this. They ought to be combinations for increasing
the skill of workmen. In these two objects you have the whole theory
of trade unions, both as to what they are and what they should be.
In answer to further questions from the EAGLE representative Mr. Holyoake
....is a plan for saving capital for working men without subscribing it.
It is obtained by buying provisions in the wholesale market for cash and
selling them without credit at the usual retail market rates. All
the profits arising over the expenses of the management are saved for the
purchaser, so that the more he buys the more he saves, and the larger his
family the richer he gets. The more mouths he has to feed the more
provisions he has to buy, and, though it seems a paradox, the more he
saves. This is the whole theory of co-operation in a nutshell.
Co-operation is entirely distinct from Communism, which is a
theory of reorganizing the State, and making the State responsible for the
welfare of the individual. Co-operation makes the individual
responsible for his own welfare.
Mr. Holyoake has spent the best years of his long life in
trying to make these things clear to the British Government and people and
in advocating individual progress by self help.
While the representative of the EAGLE was listening
attentively to Mr. Holyoake's clear and valuable statements of these great
social problems, a telegram was handed to the gentleman. "Ah!" said
he, "this is from my friend Colonel Ingersoll, telling me he will not be
at Long Beach, where I am to join him, until Thursday, as he is detained
at Washington by a law suit." This his hearer to the subject of...
.....and he asked Mr. Holyoake what he thought of Colonel Ingersoll as a
conversationalist, and as to the good or evil effects of upsetting
people's religious beliefs. "I will only say of Mr. Ingersoll," was
the reply, "that he the first theological critic of distinction who has no
bitterness in him, whatever he may say of the popular theories of belief
whose tendency of all his addresses is to promote honor and truth,
kindliness and humanity."
Mr. Holyoake added that a distinction which he had preserved
all his life is never to obtrude his personal opinions upon upon anybody
or in any question, but to confine himself exclusively to the question he
undertakes to speak or write upon. Some people seem to think that
because of his certain views on religion he is going to bring them forward
upon all occasions. His aim is always to keep distinct things
separate, and he regards irrelevancy as a sort of literary and
propagandist insanity. He claims, however, to have been the
originator of that form of religious thought known as....
Any reader of Chambers' Cyclopdeia may see an article upon
this subject which he contributed at their request. Secularism
teaches the promotion of the moral good of this life apart from the
disputed tenets of theology. Its principles may be taken to be that
of the old monks, "Laborare est orare," "to labor is to pray."
It maintains that morality is worship. It accepts the moral
doctrines of the Bible without disputing about its authenticity or
genuineness. It regards science as the available providence of man.
It does not regard miracles as tests of moral truth, and judges of
morality by the experiences of this life. It leaves out the
miraculous and deals with experimental truth. It does not deny any
other kind of truth, but confines itself to the moral truth demonstrable
by the experience of this life. It regards morality as the common
language and the common interest of all people or all conditions and
His questioner from the EAGLE looking at the clock with some
misgivings about catching the last train, put a parting query to the clear
headed social philosopher as to....
WHAT HE THOUGHT OF MR. BRADLAUGH.
Charles Bradlaugh is an able man and is capable of making his
career in parliament, if he were allowed to take his seat. He had a legal
right to take the oath and there was no right on the part of parliament to
question his belief. He offered to take the oath, but asked first to make
an affirmation. The affirmation which he made was declared illegal. When
he then offered to take the oath, Mr. Gladstone, who is bound by the legal
forms of Parliament, voted for his being allowed to take it, at the same
time saying that when a man did take the oath it was understood that he
accepted the full meaning of it, and that it was a matter of the man's own
honor whether he would take it when he didn't believe it. Mr. Holyoake,
regarding Mr. Bradlaugh as a Free Thinker, who all his life had been
declaring his disbelief in the terms of the oath, though it a matter of honor that he should not take it, and that he should have stood up
for the secular form of affirmation. Those who hold Free Thought
principles may think that the apostles were in error in many things, but
we all honor them for their manly sincerity and for enduring martyrdom
rather than say or swear the thing that was not. Mr. Holyoake added that
he himself has never taken an oath in his life and never intended to do
so. So firm had always been his objection to oaths that some years ago
when his son, a boy of nine, was killed by a London cabman under the
windows of the house in which the late Professor Frederick Denison
Maurice, the well known liberal clergyman resided, his refusal to take an
oath prevented his giving evidence against the man who had caused the
death of his own son.
Sept. 3, 1882.
MR. HOLYOAKE'S VISIT.
In another portion of to-day's EAGLE
our readers will find an interesting account of an interview with Mr. G.
J. Holyoake, the famous English reformer, who in his earlier years was
best known for his contributions to religious controversy, but in more
mature years has devoted himself to the social and material well being of
his fellow men.
It is a very remarkable fact, indeed, that all the leaders of
social progress come to America much as men visit some immense factory or
some general library to see things on a large scale and to ascertain facts
and truths which they cannot find at home. This phenomenon of
intellectual travel indicates beyond a peradventure that without a study
of American life and institutions the old world reformers feel that their
theories would be wanting in evidence and their induction in breadth.
The cause of this is not far to seek. The plethora of work seekers
in the labor markets of Europe, and conspicuously of Great Britain and
Ireland, is relieved by the safety valve of emigration which lets off the
superfluous steam. The chances of an able bodied man finding
employment here are immensely greater than in England, Ireland, Scotland
or Wales. The British reformer and philanthropist knows this from
statistics and the testimony of others. Hence his first efforts have
very properly been directed towards providing the means of emigration of
such capable mechanics and laborers as are not successful in earning a
living at home. He knows, moreover, that for one instance in
England, like that of the late Mr. Odger, whose pall bearers were some of
them the best scholars and social scientists in England, of a laboring man
rising to an independent and influential position by his own character and
talents, there are hundreds and thousands of such instances in the United
States. Even the Chief Magistrate of this Republic, to say nothing
of the Governors of States, members of Congress and mayors of large
cities, is sometimes a man who, like Lincoln, Johnson and Garfield, is
entirely self made and has overcome tremendous obstacles even to get an
ordinary education. Such cases are of immense importance when the
wealth, greatness, and influence of the United States are considered.
To see a Tennessee tailor, whose wife taught him his letters when he was
an adult, exchanging good wishes by cable from the highest office in the
nation to the crowned heads of the hereditary monarchs of Europe was an
amazing site, and could not fail to impress the thinkers and leaders of
It is, therefore, to make himself more thoroughly acquainted
with our whole social and political system that Mr. Holyoake has come
here. He will find, if he has not already learned the fact from our
own confessions, that while there is much corruption, unfairness and even
usurpation in office, the system itself supposes an equal chance to all
and that our citizens vote in the faith of a fair field and no favor.
But the social aspects of American life will strike a writer
and thinker of Mr. Holyoake's approved power even more than our political
system. He will find here a diffused intelligence as to what is
being done and what ought to be done in the world far more extensive than
that of the masses in his own country. Liberal and advanced views in
matters of religion and law are held by American rustics which would quite
bewilder and scare the agricultural peasantry of England. There are
still a vast number of persons of both sexes n this country who cannot
read and write, but they are chiefly emigrants from Europe, and even with
this great drawback and deficiency they still manage to observe
attentively and to think shrewdly.
Mr. Holyoake himself states that the main purpose of his
present visit to America is to study the labor problem. For this purpose
he will visit the chief labor centres of this country, as Chicago,
Pittsburgh and other large cities famous for their work and growth.
He will find abundance of material for study and the enlightenment of his
countrymen, through the press and on the platform, when he gets back.
He did wisely to brace himself for the work and journeys before him by a
few days rest at the Manhattan Beach Hotel. In Coney Island, especially
when filled with excursionists from New York and Brooklyn, as it was on
Thursday on the occasion of Gilmore's benefit, Mr. Holyoake will see a
marvel such as the Old World cannot show. There is no watering place
in Europe that equals or compares with it for rapid transformation and
taking the cities to the sea. Mr. Holyoake has spent some time,
during his long life, at Brighton, Sussex, which has won the title of
"London by the sea," but it took many generations to transform the fishing
village of Brighthelmstone into a marine town, and when the Prince Regent
with his absurd "Pavilion" had made it fashionable, it took still a
generation to make it a favorite resort of the English middle classes.
But Coney Island was ten years ago a waste of sand, dotted by a few third
rate hotels. Families made picnics to it by a dusty horse route, and
Brooklyn citizens drove to it in their carts and buggies. But, like
Aladdin's palace, steam created a great watering place, with splendid
hotels and iron piers and constant traffic, as if by magic. As Mr.
Holyoake looks at the masses on the shore he will see an illustration of
an American enterprise and moving on "by express" which he is never likely
And this transformation scene is but one out of a thousand.
Ever since his last visit—for Mr. Holyoake has been in America before—he
will notice improvements and progress in everything, mental, moral and
material, in every section of the country that he visits. The nation
has been stronger since the war than it was before it. Cities, like
Chicago, have been burned to ashes more than once and rebuilt with
incredible speed in greater strength and grandeur. If the problem of
human life, social and material, which now shake to the world to its
centre, are to be solved anywhere, it is here. If light can be shed
upon what has seemed hopelessly dark, and a way be found from the yoke and
bondage of poverty, it is here.
There is another matter with which Mr. Holyoake's name has
been connected for many years. Mr. Holyoake is a Free Thinker on
religious subjects. Southey, Wordsworth, Coleridge and other great
minds who became conservative in religion in later life, were
distinguished in their youth by radical and revolutionary sentiments on
religious matters. It is the special temptation of ingenious young
men who have emancipated their own minds from the bondage of dogma to
fancy it their mission and life work to destroy the faith of others and
demolish the idols of popular superstition. Mr. Holyoake is not the
first earnest thinker who has lived to see that such missionary work as
this is a pursuit of hobgoblins and a beating of the air. James
Anthony Froude began in a like manner with giving up the profession of an
English clergyman—he was in Deacon's Orders—and letting off such farewell
crackers as "The Nemesis of Faith." A post in the State Paper office
gave him another employment, and he learned his true vocation of
philosophical historian and literary essayist.
It is an argument in a circle that of religious controversy.
You make a man no better when you shake his faith, disturb his peace of
mind and convince him that there is no personal God, no special
providence, no certain retribution, no essential good in virtue more then
vice, no future state. You simply muddle and confound him, but as to
practical results, he that was just and noble will be so still and he that
was filthy will be filthy still. A man's religion is his own affair,
and the wise man keeps it to himself. Hence the early books of Mr.
Holyoake which were merely destructive of certain popular religious
beliefs did little good even if they had laid all those beliefs in ruins.
But he found out his mistake in the full vigor of his manhood, and for
many years he has let other people have their own religion and other souls
mind their own business. He abandoned the destruction of faith for
"a more excellent way," that of the charity which "hopeth all things" and
is kind to all. If there were no creeds or churches to-morrow there
would be no larger supply of bread and meat, of work and wages.
Sensible men no more live upon their theological creeds than they do upon
pills. Pills are good, but the healthy stomach requires beefsteak.
As the Mongolian heathen said said to the missionary who came to make a
Christian of him while he was dining comfortably upon pickled cat, "Me
likee belly muchee your talkee talkee. But me don't know if I have a
soul. Me know only that me have a body which requires pickled cat."
The Agnostic missionary does no more good to the hungry and the
unemployed, the toiling and the struggling, than the orthodox
controversialist. Hence, when Mr. Holyoake gave up attacking
Christianity and smashing the gods of his countrymen and took to working
for their social emancipation and taught them the greatest of all lessons
for life that "union is strength" and that in co-operation only can labor
insure itself against starvation, he gave up a shadow for the substance
and became a benefactor to his fellow man.
Tuesday 23 January, 1906
MR. GEORGE JACOB
The death occurred yesterday, at his residence, Eastern
Lodge, Brighton, of Mr. George Jacob Holyoake, the well-known publicist,
agitator, and advocate for the system of co-operation for the working
classes which has been so widely adopted in this country and elsewhere.
Mr. Holyoake, who had reached the advanced age of 89, was well known to
the public during a large part of the last century, about the middle of
which he attained considerable notoriety by the advocacy of heterodox
opinions and by his association of men of "advanced" political views.
In late years he had lived in retirement at Brighton. He continued
until recently to contribute occasional letters to the Press, and
maintained to the last his interest in public affairs. When Mr. John
Burns was appointed to the Presidency of the Local Government Board, Mr.
Holyoake wrote to him from his sick-room, conveying his congratulations
upon this recognition of the claims of labour, and concluding with the
opening words of the Nunc Dimittus.
George Holyoake's grave - Highgate Cemetery.
(Photo courtesy of Wendy Austin)
Mr. Holyoake was born at Birmingham on April 13,
1817, and was the son of artisan parents, his mother being a women of
decided character and exemplary piety. His early education was
elementary, but he was of studious disposition, and made use of the
opportunities for learning made afforded by the Old Mechanics Institution
of his native town. Having a natural bent for mathematics, he
attained considerable proficiency in that branch of science, and was
wont to say that the book which most strongly influenced him was Euclid,
which he mastered when quite a boy. He worked for some years with
his father in an iron foundry in Birmingham, and it was there that his
desire to contribute to the education and influence of his class was
awakened. Forsaking the Evangelical views of his early youth, he
adopted, when a very young man, the ideas of the Socialist Robert Owen,
although he subsequently modified his acceptance of them in their
entirety. In 1839 he married a young woman of his own class, and two
years later, being appointed, at a salary of 16s. a week, one of the
lecturers chosen to expound Owen's social system, he gave addresses in
different parts of the country, being known as what was called a "social
missionary" or preacher of the doctrines of co-operation and
His labours on behalf of co-operation largely
contributed to the success of the movement. As a result of Owen's
impulse, and of the propaganda of his disciples, from 300 to 400
co-operative societies had been set up in England by the year 1830; many
of them perished due to mismanagement and other causes. The
following is in Holyoake's own account of the principles upon which
co-operation was afterwards conducted:—
"The Rochdale Society of 1844 was the first which adopted the principle of
giving the shareholders 5 per cent only, and dividing the remaining profit
among the customers. . . .They began under the idea of saving money for
community purposes, and established co-operative workshops. For this
purpose they advised their members to leave their savings in the store at
5 per cent interest; and with a view to get secular education of which
there was little to be had in those days, and under the impression that
stupidity was against them, they set apart 2½
per cent of their profits for the purpose of instruction, education and
propagandism. By selling at retail prices they not only acquired
funds, but they avoided the imputation of underselling their neighbours,
which they had the good sense and good feeling to dislike. They
intended to live, but their principle was 'to let live.' By
encouraging their members to save their dividends in order to accumulate
capital, they taught them habits of thrift. By refusing to sell on
credit they made no losses; they incurred no expenses of keeping books,
and they taught the working classes around them for the first time to live
without falling into debt. This scheme of equity, thrift and
education constitutes what is called the "Rochdale plan" in
contradistinction to that of the Civil Service Stores. A little
"History of the Rochdale Pioneers," and the personal and social advantages
which accrued to the members during the first 13 years of the society's
existence, led to the formation of 200 stores in Lancashire and Yorkshire.
The great stores of Blaydon-on-Tyne were founded through Mr. Cowen, the
late member for Newcastle, reading chapters of that narrative to his
workmen at night. The subsequent development of co-operation has
been greatly due to the interest which Professor Maurice, Canon Kingsley,
Mr. Vansittart Neale, Mr. Thomas Hughes, and Mr. J. M. Ludlow took in it."
("The Growth of Co-operation in England," by G. J. Holyoake,
Fortnightly Review, August 1887.)
Mr. Holyoake was the author of "The History of the
Rochdale Pioneers" above referred to, which has gone into at least ten
editions. The report of the central Board of the Co-operative Union
(Limited) states that in 1904 there 1,637 societies. Figures
relating to 1,616 societies are given, from which it appears that the
number of members at the end of 1904 was 2,205,942; the shares amounted to
£28, 128, 426, the sales £91,884,198 and the profits to £10,342,698.
In Holyoake's early days the public expression of
opinions so unorthodox as his was attended with certain risks, in that
having made at Cheltenham certain statements which were considered
derogatory to the Christian religion, he was arrested and brought before
the magistrates, who committed him for trial. He would have been
liberated on bail at the time if he had entered into and sworn to his own
recognizances of £100. He however refused to take the oath, and
remained in prison for three weeks, but was liberated shortly before his
trial that he might prepare his defence. Between the time of his
commitment and his trial, the Home secretary, Sir James Graham, introduced
and passed into law a Bill enacting that all trials relating to such an
offence should take place at assizes and not at quarter sessions.
Holyoake was the first prisoner tried under the new Act. His case
was heard by Mr. Justice Erskine; he was found guilty and sentenced to six
months imprisonment. There is some reason to believe that the Home
Secretary disapproved of the prosecution, and of the treatment of the
prisoner in goal. Be that as it may, Holyoake was no sooner at
liberty than he went back to Cheltenham and repeated on a public platform,
without incurring any further penalty, the very words for uttering which
he had just served his term of imprisonment.
Soon after his release Holyoake came to London and
opened a publishing office in Fleet-street for the dissemination of
"advanced" literature, his premises being used as a meeting place for
politicians and agitators with whom he was in sympathy. He seems to
have known and aided all the revolutionaries of note at a time of
revolutions. With Mazzini and Garibaldi he came on terms of personal
friendship, and he acted as secretary to the British legion sent out to
assist Garibaldi in 1861. Among others that he knew, some of whom he
assisted, were Orsini, Bernard, Blanqui, Louis Blanc, Ledru Rollin, the
brothers Reclus, Robert Ingersoll, Leigh Hunt, and Thomas Cooper the
Chartist. His friendships were not, however, confined to men of such
extreme views; for Herbert Spencer, Harriet Martineau, Wendell Phillips,
and Joseph Cowen, of Newcastle, were of the number of his friends, and he
was also intimate with G. H. Lewes, George Eliot, and John Bright.
He was always agitating for something which, rightly or wrongly, he
believed to be in the interests of the community. Freedom of speech,
freedom of the Press, and freedom of opinion were the principal objects at
which he aimed; but there were other causes to which he lent his advocacy.
In addition to doing much to promote the co-operative movement, he claimed
to be the founder of what is called "Secularism," which has had so great
an influence—many will think not for good—on the Radicals and working
classes of the present day. In 1849 an association was formed for
obtaining the exemption of the Press from all taxation and from all
control except that of a Court of law. Of this association Holyoake
was an active member. By publishing unstamped papers he incurred a
fine of £600,000, and when summoned to the Court of Exchequer to answer to
his liabilities he requested the Chancellor, Mr. Gladstone, to oblige him
by accepting weekly instalments, as he was unable to pay the money down.
In 1855 the newspaper stamp was done away with; it was followed by the
paper duty in 1861, and thus the so-called taxes on knowledge were
abolished. For many years, also, Holyoake was chairman of the
committee which at length succeeded in inducing Mr. Childers to relieve
railways of their passenger duty in the case of third-class passengers;
and he secured utilization of our Diplomatic and Consular Service abroad
for the collection and distribution of information of importance to the
working classes. These reports, which contain much valuable matter,
were known as the people's Blue-books.
Holyoake sought to enter parliament on three
occasions—first in 1857 when he issued an address to the electors of
Tower Hamlets; next in 1863, when he hoped for the suffrages of the voters
of his native town of Birmingham; and finally in 1884 when he desired to
stand at Leicester on the retirement of Mr. P. A. Taylor. He did not
go to the poll on any of these occasions. He writes in his "Sixty
Years of an Agitator's Life"—"My candidature in Tower Hamlets was the
first claim ever to represent labour in Parliament; and it was the first
time that Mr. Mill supported such an intention. It was at me request
that Mr. Mill's subscription of £10 was not made public, as I knew his
generosity would do him more harm than it would do me good." Mr.
Bradlaugh was one of his committee on this occasion. There were
points of similarity between the views of Bradlaugh and Holyoake as well
as between the men themselves. Both were agitators, both offended by
their methods as well as by their spoken and written utterances, and
towards both the hostility which they had once aroused subsided somewhat
with the lapse of time.
Holyoake was a voluminous writer and had edited a
number of periodical publications, among the latter being 30 volumes of
the Reasoner. His published works include a "History of
Co-operation in England," a "Life of John Raynor Stevens, Preacher and
Political Orator," "Self-Help One Hundred Years Ago," "The Co-operative
Movement Today," "Sixty Years in an
Agitator's Life," and "Things Worth
Remembering." He married a second time in 1885.
His body will be cremated at Golders-green, Hampstead,
by his own request, and the date of his funeral will duly be made known so
that friends who desire to be present may go. From Golders-green his
remains will be taken to Highgate Cemetery, were they will be buried in a
grave adjoining those of his friends, George Henry Lewes and George Eliot.
He had, in fact, a long time ago made this arrangement himself, desiring
that he should lie near those with whom in earlier years he had spent many
THE LATE MR. G. J. HOLYOAKE
The body of the late Mr. George Jacob Holyoake was
cremated on Saturday afternoon at the Golders-green Crematorium, Hendon.
The coffin and the chief mourners, consisting of members of the family,
were conveyed by train from Brighton to Victoria Station on Saturday
morning. The coffin, covered with a Garibaldi flag and with
beautiful wreaths, was then placed in a hearse and conveyed to
Golders-green Crematorium, arriving there punctually at 2 o'clock.
Admission to the Crematorium was confined to those who had obtained
tickets before-hand, and these persons, who seemed to represent all
classes of the community— began to take their places soon after 1
o'clock. Among those present were Mr. Manfred G. Holyoake, Mr.
Maltus Holyoake (sons), Mr. and Mrs. Holyoake Marsh (son-in-law and
daughter), Mr. Edward Priall and sons (son-in-law and family) Mr. and Mrs.
Mahood (stepson and stepdaughter), Mrs. George Holyoake (cousin), Mr.
Percy Holyoake, Mr. Rowland Holyoake, mr. W. Byron Smith, Mr. H. Bottomley,
M.P. (nephews), Miss V. C. Holyoake, Mrs. Laister, Mrs. Slade
(granddaughters), Mrs. Gallibrand, Miss E. Holyoake (nieces), Mr. and Mrs.
Theodore Wright (brother-in-law and sister-in-law), Mr. John Burns, M.P.,
Mr. E. O. Greening, Mr. R. Applegarth, Dr. J. Bonar, the Rev. Dr.
Clifford, Dr. Charles Reid, Mr. James Barber, Mr. E. W. Greening, Mr. F.
Maddison, M.P., Mr. J. J. Dent, Mr. Ralph Neville, K.C., Mr. Henry Pitman,
Dr. Eugene Oswald, Mr. A. E. Fletcher, Mr. Herbert Burrows, Mr. J.
Robertson, Mrs. Varenholz, Mr. F. J. Gould (Leicester), Mrs. E. Leach, Mr.
W. Ransome, Mr. R. A. Cooper, Mr. J. W. Jarvis, Mr. W. E. Church (Lloyd's
News), Mr. R. M. Morrell, Dr. Ryle, Mr. G. W. Foote, president, Miss
Edith M. Vance, secretary, and one other delegate (representing National
Secular Society), Mr. Joseph McCabe, Mr. Charles A. Watts, and Mr. Sydney
P. Ray (representing the Rationalist Press Association), Mr. Sydney Gimson,
Leicester (representing Secularist friends), several delegates
representing International Co-operative Alliance, several delegates, Mr.
J. Shillito (chairman) Mr. H. R. Bailey, Newcastle (representing the
Co-operative Wholesale Society), Mr. J. C. Gray, general secretary
(representing the Co-operative Union of Great Britain), and Mr. H. J. May,
secretary, and Miss Catherine Webb (representing the Co-operative Union of
Great Britain, Southern Section). Other bodies represented were the
Brighton Co-operative Society, of which Mr. Holyoake was president, the
Tribune, the Co-operative News, the Liberty Review,
Labour Co-partnership Association (by Henry Vivian, M.P., secretary), the
Reading Co-operative Society, the Co-operative Tenants' Council,
Co-operative Productive Federation, Ealing Co-operative Tenants,
Co-operative Builders, Garden City Tenants, Colchester District
Co-operative Society, Women's Co-operative Guild, South-place Institute,
South-place Ethical Society, British Secular League, Norwich Co-operative
Society, and the National Liberal Club. Delegates were also present
from the Co-operators of Italy and of France. There was nothing in
the nature of a religious service, but funeral marches were played at the
beginning and conclusion of the proceedings. When the coffin and
chief mourners entered the crowded chapel all present rose from their
seats, and thereafter remained standing for nearly an hour while several
speakers delivered addresses.
Mr. E. O. GREENING was the chief
speaker. He said it was the last request of Mr. Holyoake, in the
name of a friendship which lasted unbroken for nearly half a century, that
he should speak some words of comfort and of courage to them there that
day. Among Mr. Holyoake's inmost qualities he placed first absolute
bravery and utter fearlessness of mind. Of delicate physique, he
possessed in his light frame a soul of courage and a will of steel.
Never did he forget courtesy. He was in public affairs the very
embodiment of chivalry, true courage, and gentleness combined—a knight of
the people without fear and without reproach. Next among his high
qualities he ranked his instinctive love and pity for all who were
undermost in the fierce struggle of our modern civilization. He new
well how the poor suffered, but he knew, too, that it was not the poor
only who were sick. He saw clearly that the miseries of our
half-developed industrial state touched all who were
concerned—capitalists and workers, employers and employed, officials and
people. Like all great religious teachers—and he was a great
religious teacher—he felt that the salvation of men must come from the
inward centre and work from the heart and mind outwards. So he
advocated with all his strength and power the course of voluntary
co-operation. He wanted men and women to grow in mental strength and
material well-being by working together in mutual self-helpfulness.
For this reason he never could accept theories of mechanical and
governmental socialism which had spread so widely in Germany and found
acceptance by many good men among ourselves. He feared the
regimenting of people in industrial armies under Government officers.
He felt it would kill the spirit of self-help and mutual help, the two
great factors in the making of men. He said with almost his last
words, "What I have cared for most in life is co-operation." Inside
co-operation, he was the stout and strenuous advocate of co-operative
partnership of the worker. He could not understand how working
people, when they came to own stores and work-shops of their own, should
leave their employees under the bondage of wage-serfdom. The fact
that the millions must still toil for private employers by piece-work or
time-work seemed to him a mean reason for continuing some of our
co-operative workshops on the same old lines. A work-shop in which
the worker had no voice and no interest, no cause to fear loss and no
reason to hope for success, was not a school of men— it had not in it the
elements of democracy, it was a body without a mind.
Mr. SIDNEY GIMSON,
of Leicester, next delivered an address on behalf of Secularist friends,
remarking that, if today they had greater freedom to express their
opinions, they should remember that they owed that to those who had gone
before. The humanizing of theology, too, during the last few years
was largely due to the work done by George Jacob Holyoake and those who
worked with him.
Mr. A. E. FLETCHER, speaking on
behalf of the National Liberal Club, said that such men as Mr. Holyoake
did not die—they passed into the eternal, bequeathing to their countrymen
an honoured name and a hallowed memory of a life devoted to the cause of
humanity. His strength was like the strength of ten, because his
heart was pure.
Mr. J. C. GRAY, of the
Co-operative Union of Great Britain, and Mr. JOSEPH
MCCABE of the Rationalist
Press Association, also spoke, the former referring with gratification to
the presence of delegates from the co-operators of Italy and France, and
the receipt of messages of sympathy from other representatives of
co-operation in those countries and in Germany, Switzerland, and India.
Mr. E. O. GREENING, by the desire
of the foreign delegates present, gave an expression of their sympathy,
and Mr. HENRY VIVIAN, M.P., of
the Labour Co-partnership Association, made special reference to Mr.
Holyoake as a friend to international arbitration.
The "Dead March" (Handel) was then played on the organ,
the coffin, still draped with the Garibaldi flag, disappeared into the
cremation chamber, and the proceedings closed. The numerous wreaths
were then conveyed to Highgate Cemetery, to await the internment of the
ashes there, which will take place privately today. Mrs. G. J.
Holyoake, the widow, was not well enough to be present.
A memorial service was held yesterday at the
South-place Institute, Finsbury-pavement. Among the congregation
were several of Mr. Holyoake's family. The hymns were "Praise to the
heroes who struck for the right" and "Calmly, calmly lay him down," and
the anthems "Tell me not in mournful numbers" (Kinross) and "O may I join
the choir invisible" (Troup). The reading was a selection from Walt
Mr. J. A. HOBSON, in the course
of an address, said that the younger members of that congregation had
regarded Holyoake as the admired spokesman of an earlier age. He had
been well described as the survival of what might be called the heroic age
of reform. He would rank as a great thinker and fighter and a
conqueror in many contests. Even to enumerate the causes for which
he stood would be to tell the history of the working classes of this
country for three-quarters of a century. There were two words,
tarnished and degraded by the contempt and prejudice of the upper classes
of this country, which more than anything else described his work.
In the first place, there was the term "demagogue"—a leader of the
people. What finer title could any man claim that that, and who had
a greater claim to it than Holyoake? he never mislead the people by
putting before them false hopes, by dazzling and exciting them to
ephemeral and fevered energy in some cause which was delusive and which,
if achieved, would be unfruitful. The other term was "agitator"—a
man who generated energy of action. Holyoake never contented himself
with arousing passion, but always insisted on a clear direction of popular
interest. He would rank down the ages with a succession of great
agitators for the allied causes of religious and political liberty.
Mr. J. MCCABE
also delivered an address, in which he spoke of Mr. Holyoake more
particularly as an apostle of rational and ethical culture in the second
half of the 19th century. The service terminated with Beethoven's