Cooper's Journal: Signs Of Progress

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    "AND though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple!  Whoever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?"—Milton's Areopagitlca.


No. 8.—Vol. I.] FOR THE WEEK ENDING SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 1850. [Price One Penny.



"The feudal serf—though still a clown,
Doth read; and, where his sires gave homage,
        pays—a frown!"
"The sinewy artisan, the weaver lean,
The shrunken stockinger, the miner swarth,
Read, think; and feel; and in their eyes the sheen
Of burning thought betokens thy young birth
Within their souls, blythe Liberty!"

Purgatory of Suicides.

WITH all their misery and degradation, the young intelligence of the People is a century in advance of their's who pretend to govern.  Let those who doubt this look into the Working-men's Journals, which are springing up in the land, and mark the far-advanced ideas so ardently expressed, and the thoughts that are stirring in poor men's hearts, poured forth with a fearless utterance.  It is the People's thoughts: and as all institutions are preceded by, and based on thoughts, so shall the People's institutions, social, political, and religious, follow the People's thinking.  In fact, no revolution can be wrought out that is not first thought out.  Well, we are thinking; and a revolution is going on in England now, more effectual than any yet witnessed on the continent.  True, we are not pulling down thrones, crowns, prisons, and bastiles, by force of arms.  Yet we are destroying piece-meal the ground on which they are built: so that when they fall, they fall for ever; and this is better than to demolish them, and yet leave our enemies the place and power wherewith to build others.  See, too, the many movements which, day by day, are springing into existence for the redemption of struggling Humanity: movements which our forefathers deemed Utopian.  All, blessings on the Utopians!  the practicalities of To-day were chimeras pitting about the Utopian of Yesterday; and the Utopian of To-day shall become the Realities of To-morrow!   All the world's grandest ideas have been denounced as mad, and their enunciators have been branded Utopian!   Hold on, my struggling, suffering brothers, worn heart-bare by toil and travail, in the competitive strife; crushed as you are by machinery and capital, you shall yet conquer, and wield them to your own purposes, instead of fitting iron shafts and never-tiring wheels against heart-strings and sinews, and compelling tender infancy to earn its own dear bread by the eternal cheapening of flesh and blood!   I see a light in your eyes which is the light of Knowledge; and that knowledge shall enable you to play a noble part in the redemption of the time, and the emancipation of the down-trodden of the earth.  On every hand I read, some sign of Progress.

"I watch the circle of th' eternal years,
And read for ever in the storied page
In the long scroll of blood, and wrong, and tears,
One onward step of Truth from age to age.
Men slay the prophets: faggot, rack, and crow,
Make up the groaning record of the Past:
But Error's gains are her eternal loss;
And sov'reign Freedom wins the world at last."

    Thirty years ago and the pillory stood by the walls of old Newgate.  In its grip was Daniel Isaac Eaton, an old patriarch of patriotism, and warrior for freedom of Thought.  His enemies had thrust him there, to nail him on the cross of public hatred.  The mob were gathered to pelt and insult the good old man; and there he stood looking on them, so dauntless yet so forgiving—worn, scarred and grey, yet so mildly Christ-like, that the mob could not persecute: a strange feeling of sympathy was stirring in their hearts; and, at last, a cheer burst from them—and such a cheer that shook universal Tyranny!

    Hear it priests!  hear it tyrants!  the canaille cheer your victim; and ring the death-knell of another instrument of torture—for it is the last day of the Pillory on Newgate hill. And thus, as enlightenment spreads among the masses, shall we have the down-cheer of torture and tyranny of all kinds bursting from them.  For it is in the dense ignorance which covers the people like a sea of darkness, that Tyranny lets drop its anchors. Remove this, and its mainstay is gone; and the King-craft, the Priest-craft, and the State-craft shall be swept away by the rushing waves of Progress.

    Time was when we simple "clowns" could not conceive how a man might have a sounding title, and not be a great man.  Hence you would see our villagers bowing and cringing when the "Lord," or the "Squire," or other parish-anointed notability was passing.  Poor things!  they did not see that the lordling and the squire were but paupers preying on their flesh and earnings.  They did not calculate how these wrung the life out of their hearts, day by day, to add to their own superfluities.  Poor things!  the poet's quatrain—how truly it described their blindness:—

"They do not see that the charities
Of the rich for no gratitude call:
They rob us first then demand our thanks
That they did not rob us of all!"

    But this degrading servility is fast wearing away.  We have been wont to look on a "lord" hooded in the gloom of our ignorance: now, we see him in the light of Knowledge, and, lo!  he has not even a crown on his head, like the common cock that lord's it on the dunghill; ergo, we ken not why he should be cock of the world's walk any longer.  In fact, we see that there is no difference between the heads of lords and our own, save that their brains preponderate at the back of the head, whilst ours he nearer to our eyes.  We begin to love the nobles of Nature who wear the stamp of the gods on their brows; and to loathe these miserable imposter-lords, who have so long passed current in the world for nobleness they did not possess.  We begin to value a man for the good he does, and not for the large pension of which he plunders society; for the numbers of his fellows he saves from suffering, and not for the number of throats he cuts.

    I say these are signs of Progress.  Then be not dismayed, my brothers!  Though we do not conquer in a day, have patience and still struggle on, for in struggling shall we win the iron thews that serve to throw the world!  It needs a high heart and never-tiring faith to bear up; but, let not your hearts die within you, ye who toil on thro' nights of suffering and days of pain, watering the bread of penury with the tears of misery. Remember that sacrifice and suffering are the natural inheritance of the soldiers of Liberty; but "Nil desperandum" cried Leonidas, and Greece was saved at Thermopylæ!  "Nil dasperandum" pleaded Columbus to his mutinous crew, and in three days the new World was found!  "Nil desperandum" shouted immortal Kossuth, unsheathing his sword, and like a giant roused from wine, the gallant Hungarian nation rolled back the tide of war from the shores of their loved Fatherland, with a crash that shattered the Austrian Empire to its rotten core!  "Nil desperandum" cried the heroic Mazzini to the men of Rome, and crushed and down-trodden as they were, Earth felt the tread of the Roman once more!   "Nil deaperandum" cry we, my Brothers, and yet we'll revolutionize the tides and currents of old England's heart, and make her a land worth living in and worth dying for!   Many more martyrs will yet die in the People's cause; many will fall by the way; many more tears will fall to the earth; many more groans will ascend to Heaven; yet will our day of triumph come.  Even now, the despots of the earth and oppressors of the nations, like swine swimming, are cutting their own throats by hastening the day of bloody assize.  Tyranny may as well essay to atop the planets in their orbits, as to stay a People ripe for freedom from accomplishing their destiny.

    They may ape Canute of old, and cry to the mighty waves, "Go back!" but the waters will ascend higher still and higher, and sweep to destruction the boasted bulwarks of despotism.  For even as God said, "Let there be light!" and there was light; so let the people say, "Let there be Freedom!" and there shall be Freedom.