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through all the perves of society, our nature revolts against the obstinacy or self-interest which would close its ears against wisdom which crieth in the streets. Nor can we help feeling pity, checked only by higher principles from bordering on contempt, for those who, connected with civil establishments, and yet ignorant of their real relation to society, and dependence uport its will, are yet to be found in every company indulging themselves in a tone of sentiment ill-suited to the spirit of the age, and which we should hardly have supposed it could have allowed them to retain without a blush, did not a certain unsuspecting earnestness of manner convince us of their profound ignorance, amid the light that is shining around them, of the exploded fallacy of their views. . .
On this subject, and as society is now constituted, we have often been at an utter loss to account for the inanity of a large portion of it. The time is not now, when the inhabitants of a southern country are ignorant whether those of a northern one are tillers of the ground or keepers of sheep. The habit of the age is positively that of nervous sensibility: it is like a number of persons connecting their hands round an electrical machine; the slightest sensation upon any part of it, is transmitted as extensively, and almost as rapidly. And yet, ignorance still persists in being ignorant. For our parts, we have lived to see social improvements of the most momentous consequences, engrafted upon our national existence; we have lived to see a spirit of honest and rational investigation into the principles of society, take possession of even the Legislature itself; and far be it from us to be backward in throwing aside any insinuating prejudice which would stand in the way of the development of general good.
With sentiments such as these, we entered upon the perusal of the “ New View of Society.” In the spirit of candour, we would wish that similar sentiments should pervade the breast of every one by whom it shall be taken up; and if they should close it with as little satisfaction as we did, where then will be the blame?
It appears that about sixteen years since, Mr. Owen became the manager and part proprietor of some extensive cotton-works on the falls of the Clyde, within a mile of the Royal Borough of Lanark. He found the population there (now amounting to between two and three thousand souls) like the population of any other manufacturing district, depraved and dissolute in the extreme. "Theft and the receipt of stolen goods, was their • trade, idleness and drunkenness their habit, falsehood and . deception their garb, dissention, civil and religious, their daily
practice : they agreed only in a zealous and systematic opposition to their employers. After a stubborn contest of two years, Mr. O. succeeded in gaining their confidence, and from that time his attention has been occupied in the gradual development of a plan of social regimen, the leading principles of which it is an object of the present publication to disseminate ; a more particular detail being promised at some future period. We regret to say, that after we have given no inconsiderable attention to the present work, we can make but little of the plan which it proposes. It would appear to possess its chief claim to novelty, in the principle of dealing with its subjects, as rational and reasoning beings, to a greater degree than the conductors of society have yet ventured upon; and not only as such beings, but also as beings who will be ultimately guided by the dictates of reason, when properly dealt with by those with whom influence is deposited. Acting upon this principle, it discards almost entirely coercive and punitive measures; it relies more upon persuasion- more upon the confidence that men will act virtuously when they are shewn that virtue is their own interest; that they will conform to the dictates of rationality, when appealed to as rational and judging agents by their superiors. In short, the vitality of the system seems to consist in a total denial of the doctrine held by the sages of antiquity, that the populace are not the subjects for moral philosophy. In connexion with these principles, a tutelary establishment has been formed, where the community are, to be trained up from their infancy, and where they are to be, as much as possible, excluded from the contamination of the erroneous ideas of the old world. Here, not only are there schools .for instruction, but, like the ancient gymnasiu, there are places for lectures, and for various kinds of exercises *, adapted to the age and sex of the inmates.
* Among these, military drilling forms a conspicuous part. The person who attends the children in the playground is to be qualified • to drill and teach the boys the manual exercise, and he is to be fre
quently so employed. Afterwards, fire-arms, of proportionate weight ,' and size to the age and strength of the boys, are to be provided for
them; when also they may be taught to practise and understand the more complicated military movements.' As Mr. Owen's plan is announced as the archetype for general adoption, would he not have acted prudently, had he considered this ? What is the Government likely to say to it? Is there to be an existing standing army independent of the State ? It would be somewhat awkward, if riots were to break out in a manufacturing district, to have an armed and orga. nized body on the spot, to carry into execution the violent measures · usually adopted by a turbulent population. This is getting the ma..terials of civil war ready cut and dried indeed!
We transcribe the Author's awn statement of the ultimate success of his labours upon the community.
. They were taught to be rational, and they acted rationally; thus both parties experienced the incalculable advantages of the system which had been adopted. Those employed became industrious, temperate, healthy, faithful to their employers, and kind to each other; while the proprietors were deriving services from their attachment, almost without inspection, far beyond those which could be obtained by any other means than those of mutual confidence and kindness." - But as the promulgation of new miracles is not for present times, it is not pretended that under such circumstances one and all are become wise and good; or that they are free from error ; but it may be truly stated, that they now constitute a very improved society, that their worst habits are gone, and that their minor ones will soon disappear under a continuance of the application of the same principles; that during the period mentioned, scarcely a legal punishment has been inflicted, or an application been made for parish funds, by any individual among them. Drunkenness is not seen in their streets, and the children are taught and traineri in the institution for forming their character without any punishment. The community exhibits the general appearance of industry, temperance, comfort, health, and happiness.
We proceed to notice more particularly that part of Mr.. Owen's work, which is devoted to the development of his view of the moral systein of the world. It appears, that after long and attentive examination of human nature, Mr. 0. has discovered that any general character, from the best to the ' worst, froin the most ignorant to the most enlightened, may
be given to any community, even to the world at large, by " the application of proper means, which means are, to a great
extent, at the command, and under the controul, of those who
have influence in the' affairs of men. Of this position, which constitutes the first principle of the “ New View of Society," the correctness will, we believe, be controverted by very few; and among those even, who have not been so close observers of human nature as Mr.Owen, although some doubt may possibly be entertained as to its novelty. We stop, therefore, only to remark the singular contrast afforded by the cautious and accu- . rate form in which Mr. 0. has clothed this position, with the indiscriminate and unguarded generality of the succeeding parts of his treatise *. The general character of mankind is to a great extent the result of external circumstances. Who could
* At p. 90, we find the same proposition stated thus in Capitals: • The character of man is, without a single exception, always formed * for him ; it may be and is chiefly created by his predecessors; they "give him, or may give him, his ideas and habits, which are the powers • that govern his conduct. Man therefore never did, nor is it possible he ever can, form his own character: A little further we are told,
have quarrelled with Mr. Owen, had he kept sight of his own premises. From this principle, however, he has found reason
to infer two positions of the most extensive consequences. · "First ; That the members of any community may, by degrees, “ be trained to live without idleness, without poverty, without crime,
and without punishment; each of these being the effects of error in the various systems prevalent throughout the world, and the necessary consequences of ignorance :' (p. 65.)
Secondly; . That the will of man has no power whatever over his opinions; he must and ever did, and ever will believe what has been, is, or may be impressed on his mind by his predecessors, and the circumstances which surround him. It becomes, therefore, the essence of irrationality, to suppose that any human being, from the creation to this day, could deserve praise or blame, reward or punishment, for the prepossession of early education.' (p. 107.)
These positions are enlarged upon in still more objectionable language throughout the bulk of the present work.
Every one who is at all acquainted with the various contro..versial writings on ethical metaphysics, which have exerted the
talents, and exercised the ingenuity of some of the most capacious minds and penetrating intellects which have ever existed, will perceive that Mr. Owen has involved himself in a most arduous and extensive field of discussion ; in which, moreover, the good sense of mankind has already begun to triumph over the subtle logomachies of those who have preceded him in the track which he has chosen. Either Mr. Owen is ignorant that every inch of the ground on which he treads, is disputed property, or he thinks that, like some other litigants, the parties have pursued the contest till they are tired of it, and have left the field at large for any casual sojourner to erect his tent upon without danger of molestation*. that under a system of government founded on the principles, for
! the truth of which we contend, the whole (world) may continue to. - live in abundance and happiness; without one check of vice or
* Should Mr. Owen at any future period be inclined to put his lucubrations into a more metaphysical form, we beg to refer him to Mr. Hume's theory of moral necessity, for very material assistance: Whether upon this subject Mr. Hume is now fairly to be considered as standing firm and unshaken in the lists of controversy, is a question which we desire to leave altogether to Mr. Owen's candid consideration and inquiry. If, however, he recollects how long a time Berkéley's ingenious system of the non-existence of matter kept the world at bay, how nearly the learned had despaired of a confutation of it, and how signal and complete a detection of its fallacy, it at length experienced, he will possibly feel no immediate cause of triumph, should he find, in prosecuting his inquiries, that the world was both backward and diffident in attempting a logical confutation of Hume.
But apart from metaphysics, to imagine that under the existing organization of human nature, the adoption of any system of discipline or tutelage, founded upon principles of political ethics, can ever have the effect of exterminating crime from the species, is, we are compelled to think, the speculation of a warm inagination, glowing under the elation of partial success ; because the innate determination of the human inind to vice, and the momentum of the surrounding incentives which must exist under every possible state of society, will always be too powerful for the resistance of self-control which has no stronger sanction than the dictates of morality. Depravity may be routed out of its hordes; it may be discountenanced as a habit of life; it may be taught by the influence of self-interest to wear the garb of decency,-nay, of virtue : but to suppose that, by the upassisted application of human means, it can be so rooted from the constitution of man, as altogether to indemnnify society from its consequences, is, we regret to think, a supposition inconsistent with that observation of human nature, to which the writer before us lays claim.
The Author's principle necessarily assumes, that crime is a thing merely accidental to the human species,--the sole result of external excitements. "We permit the human character to
be formed so as to commit it. (p. 22.) It is the accidens, not the proprium, in the logical definition of man. Now, if depravity is a mental tinge acquired merely by exposure ; if it is the sun-burnt tan of the European, and not the native swarth of the Indian ; tben is it true, that by the removal of all excitement, were that possible, crime must necessarily cease. But even here Mr. Owen's plan would provide only a partial remedy, because many of the temptations to vice are irremovable in their own nature. It may be very true, that take away intoxicating liquors, and men will not get drunk ; take away the means of gaming, and men will not game : so also we might go a step further, and say, take away property, and men will not steai. But it must be recollected, that there are vices, of which it might be even yet more difficult to remove the causes.
As, on the one hand, we are anxious that the errors of Mr. Owen should not mislead the unwary, so, on the other, we desire to be exempt from misapprehension in our own strictures. Society is a great inachine, the operations of which experience has proved to be capable of the most momentous improvements : it would be blindness to deny that it may : yet be capable of others not less so. It is a trite remark, but not without value, that it is only by aiming at perfection that we meet with success in our attempts to approach it. If we cannot make men angels, let ưs at least prevent them