Huddersfield Chronicle (14/Jul/1894) - Carlilian Reformer
(From Our Correspondent "Cid.")
He often uses the term “Constitutional reform.” On individual responsibility and liberty of the subject, combined with loyalty to the Throne, he speaks with the warmest zeal and fiery eloquence. Cant and hypocrisy are spurned by him, and he will have no flattery from the rich or poor. He holds that men are loosing grit and backbone, and becoming flabby and flaccid, while women are stepping into positions that men should fill. He is a firm upholder of law and order, and considers it cowardly on the part of civilians to leave the detection and prosecution of crime and criminals to the police, and he holds as firmly that punishment for an offence should completely expiate the crime. He would treat drunkenness as a disease, and remedy it from a sanitary point of view. The drunkard, wherever found, should be treated as a case of infection. He would not fine a landlord any more than anyone else when found in the company of the drunkard, but would make the landlord absolutely responsible for keeping his house in a good sanitary condition, and drunkenness is insanitary. He is a free trader in drink, and all alcoholic liquors, and holds that such liquors should pay no more taxes than temperance drinks, and that revenue should be raised in the bulk and not from the retailer. He asserts, too, that the cost of good beer is too high, and, therefore, too heavy a tax upon the poor who will have such drink, he fully believing that as much harm is done to the community by bad tea and coffee, impure water, and adulteration generally, as by alcohol in the shape of beverages. He is outraged at the thought that the Magistrates’ Benches are packed with teetotalers, while brewers, or any class of tradesmen, are excluded. Indirect taxation, now that manhood suffrage practically prevails, is to him a farce and wrong. He would raise revenue by a poll tax, and thus force men to interest themselves in the finances of the country. Providing that land is cultivated he does not care who owns it, little or much, but it should be incumbent on the owner, the occupier, and the State that the land should produce as much as possible, even if subsidies are granted to accomplish that end, so that too much dependence would not have to be placed on foreign supplies, notwithstanding their cheapness. He is a complete and thorough free trader within the British realm, and a life-long advocate of Imperial Federation, and is as pronounced a reciprocity man with respect to foreign countries. He holds it to be ridiculous and suicidal to admit, without check, manufactured goods of any kind from countries which refuse to deal likewise with us. He would reform our fiscal system every 10, or at most every 20 years, and appoint on the Financial Board representatives of every trade, profession, or occupation. The assertion that all votes should be equal, and that those who pay taxes in two or more constituencies should only have one vote in one place, is flagrant nonsense. He sees a great necessity for trades unions as educative and protective forces, but abhors the intimidation now practised by such unions. He has had much and long experience of workmen’s unions, and advocates that firms should deal directly and solely with the representatives of their employees by holding monthly conferences, at which all irregularities might be discussed, and as far as possible remedied, before outside influence or strikes are appealed to. He is, however, in favour of strikes or lockouts when gross and palpable injustice is practised by either side, but he feels sure the agitator’s occupation would be gone if monthly Boards were established and faithfully carried out. He sees through the insincerity of most paid leaders, and would prevent their interference with businesses with which they have no practical knowledge, or in which they have proved absolute failures, either as workmen or otherwise. There is, however, a great necessity for intelligent men to lead and counsel working men, especially when such men aim at assisting their individual trades in the production of the best and most profitable work, the careful protection of such trade, and the teaching of men to calculate their wages not so much by the day or the week as by the month or three months. He has seen so many acts of cruel injustice practised by working men towards their fellows that he discounts many of the complaints such men make against their employers. He fully believes that the work of the world could be done in five and a half days, and would therefore make Wednesday a secular Sunday, that there might be no excuse for not keeping the Sabbath holy. He would at once put a stop to the horrible bawling of newspaper sellers in the streets. As everybody can now read this could be done by such streetlings carrying the contents bill on paste-boards in front of them. Smoking in tramcars has no defence, and men must be deteriorating in cleanliness and manliness or they would never huddle together in the smallest rooms and prefer to stifle themselves with filthy “reek,” rather than choose spacious places and take their pleasures in the pure air. All beauty spots and places of note in the locality should be freely open to the people. He would at once establish a free library, art gallery, and museum, and speaks disdainfully of Huddersfield for doing so long without these, especially without a reference library. He ever burns with shame when he remembers that there is next to nothing, locally, to induce visitors to come to Huddersfield, and thus bring money to the town that might balance the immense sums taken out every year to places more enterprising. He boils with indignation when he sees men of the highest character and intelligence excluded from public bodies in order that men of little or no principle, of no position and experience, who pay little or no rates, should rule their betters, and is outraged when he sees posts of honour usurped by party, party, party in everything, especially with respect to the Mayoralty and the School Board. He sees clearly that secular education will fail to uplift and sustain society, and holds emphatically that high moral precepts should be promulgated, and deep religious sentiments awakened and nurtured, and should occupy the chief places at all times. He often wonders why those who refuse to accept the deeper teachings of the Bible do not advocate the book for its history, biography, grand imagery, and its high moral precepts. No scientist can fail to perceive in it the very foundation of truth, while it is unsurpassed in romance and the faithful representation of the good and the bad of its chief characters. There is food for thought for a lifetime in the Book of Genesis. If full of mystery the Bible is full of interesting truths that will suit old and young, or any age. Its dusky shades have wondrous flashes of light thrown on them, while the spectres of its thick darkness are by revelation turned into angels of light. Look at its geology. It teaches a common origin, and, substantially, the common chemical composition of all organic things, and indicates an evolution from the simpler to the more complex forms of life up to man. As a product of an unscientific age and race it is marvellous, and it seems improbable that unaided imagination should have originated its story of progress, which largely agrees with modern geological science. Yet, notwithstanding all this, School Boards are afraid, or hesitate, to read it or teach it in their schools! He would assist by subsidies the teaching of science and art, and keep from the fear of want men of towering intellect. Each individual should be expected to take up some study other than his trade, that it might act as a solace in the general troubles of life. All teachers and preachers should know, thoroughly, two branches of science outside their profession, especially should this be the case with theologians and religious instructors. He scorns the ministers who usurp every meeting by their unending talk, and who treat all present as if they were children. He is afraid that instead of being priest-ridden, parsons are in danger of being tea-ridden. He wants more backbone in the ministry, and is pained at the piteous spectacle of educated men going from door to door like insurance agents or tract distributors. He rarely meets with one of them who will rise above the parochial and the insipidly small and weak, and talk of
matters of intellectual interest. Next to the Bible, Shakespeare’s works are his delight. He has examined every line of thought, and been to all kinds of lectures and religious meetings, and, as far as possible, run to earth error and embraced the truth. He always tries to hear all who profess to have something new to say. He revels in scientific reading, in history, and biography, and reverently examines, before he accepts, theological doctrine and the deep mysteries of revelation. He never shrinks from attacks on his faith, and invariably finds such flaws in the principles of those who would demolish Christianity, and the settled laws of high morality, that their utterance alone condemns them. He has seen people leave the Christian faith through pique, or because they failed to understand its mysteries, and has watched them flounder from port to port, or be lost in the valley of indecision, or spend themselves in the pursuit of peace, settled thought, and doctrine. He has examined Roman Catholicism and is deeply impressed with its grand ceremonial and its profound reverence for the sanctities of revelation, but perceives in it discrepancies that intelligent and independent minds must generally rebel against. He has probed Dissent in all its forms and sees in it a laxity of reasoning, a want of fixity of principle, and a disregard for the holy verities that have withstood ages of criticism. He knows and has heard bright examples of good living and intellectual attainments amongst Dissenters, but has been shocked to discover beneath it all bitter and unreasoning hatred towards the Church of England. His sympathies are with the Wesleyan Methodists and the Established Church, and he sees so little difference between them that he is sore they most ultimately join hands for mutual defence and the advancement of true religion. The parish church system and the mode of appointing vicars, so that they are not subject to the vote of the majority, or the whim of the powerful minority, have his fullest approval. He considers the Church Service a grand conception, and the Book of Common Prayer unsurpassable. Christ was a carpenter, Paul a tent maker, and the other disciples had trades and professions, and if all ministers were taught a trade they would be more independent and not less able preachers. Discoveries are frequently made, and might be made, that more than balance those which seem to tell against the Bible, therefore, he considers it weakness on the part of those who seem horror-stricken when they meet with attacks on their faith. Personally, he is convinced of the truths of the Scriptures, not so much because he finds them in the Bible, but because, after thoroughly examining them, he finds that they have withstood, and do withstand, attacks of every kind, and that no product of human conception meets the wants of life for poor and rich, for old and young, and illumines the future with hope as they do. The room now fills again, and there is more noise than ever. Young men, old men, and middle-aged clamour to be served. All are smoking, and if there is more uproar in pandemonium I don’t want to experience it. The Carlilian reformer and I part, each expressing a hope that we may meet at “Waterloo” or “Kirk Stile,” Kirkheaton way, before long.