J. Morrison (John Morrison) Davidson.

New politics for the people. Let there be light! 1.-Religion. 2.-Politics. 3.-The family. 4.-Economics. 5.-Miscellanea .. online

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teach the teachers ? Clearly none of the orthodox
Churches has been able to solve llmt problem.

Well, at the station, I found two unknown " Com-
rades " waiting for me, and in Bradford that word is
not a mere term of convention. It means that you are
of the household of faith, the member of a brother-
hood pledged to mutual helpfulness and hospitality,
by invisible bonds of fraternal love and sympathy.
I was taken to the home of one of my new friends
for the term of my visit, and was made to feel that
it was quite as much my home as his. Then I be-
thought me of Christ's " Plan of Campaign "' which
He laid down, tor the Seventy. They were not to
trouble their heads about questions of food or
raiment or hotel expenses, but when they entered
town or village, to make for the abode of the first
" Comrade " who was " worthy," and with him
abide, in true communistic fashion, till their woik
in the place was finished. Had my Anglican friend
been one of the Seventy, he would have, doubtless,
set out, armed with his pheasant well displayed, to
give his mission a proper air of respectability.

Well, Sunday came, and with it a rare old-


fashioned snow-storm, such as I used thoroughly to
enjoy in boyhood, in my native Aberdeenshire. But
now, alas, it is diflferent. Increasing years and
a chronic bronchial affection have made me very
susceptible to cold, and it was with the greatest
effort that I was able to get through my first or
afternoon lecture in any shape whatever. In the
evening, however, I got on much better, chiefly
because the Chairman or Bishop, a large-limbed,
level-headed Yorkshireman, returned with a whole
druggist's shop of remedies in his capacious pockets.
Amongst these he recommended an efficacious anti-
cough mixture of his own preparation, and to it was
it owing that I did not break down altogether.

My subjects were "The Collectivist Program," and
" Property: its Cause and Cure" and, for such forbidding
weather, the audiences were astonishingly good in
point both of numbers and character. The la rge Hall
of the Labour Institute will, at a pinch, seat twelve
hundred persons, while the smaller, sacred to all
sorts of social " functions," holds about two hundred
and fifty. The rent-charge alone amounts to five
pounds ten shillings a week. All expenditure is
met by voluntary contribution — by " collections "
at the ** services."

In the Committee Room and at my host's house 1
was repeatedly asked about The Democratic Club and
even The Isocvatic Club of the Metropolis — both,
alas, extinct — and could not but feel that, in many
important respects, such towns as Bradford are
much bigger places than London. They have
less to learn from us than we from them. Of
us they know something, and are always eager
to learn more ; of them we neither know nor care to
know aught, though we are kept wonderfully well
posted up in the affairs of Uganda and Afghanistan,
Egypt and Armenia. Sheer, crass ignorance of men
and things can be attained in London in much greater


perfection than anywhere else in the world. But
the subject is too painful to be expatiated on. If
the lectured at Bradford learned nothing from the
lecturer, the lecturer certainly, in my case, learned
a good deal from the lectured.

After the evening lecture mine excellent host and
hostess privately entertained a small party of friends
of the " Cause " — some ten or a dozen — and we
were able to exchange ideas freely. They were all
young, hopeful, well-informed and thoughtful. They
had read and digested all manner of Collectivist
writings, and had seen and heard, in the flesh, at
the Labour Church, nearly every prominent man
and woman in the Movement : — Keir Hardie, Tillett,
Mann, Herbert Burrows, Trevor, Clarion Blatchford,
Kenworthy, Curran (Pete), Miss Margaret McMillan
("Our Margaret,") Miss Stacy, Miss Martin, Mrs.
Bruce Glasier, and Mrs. Sydney Webb among

We discussed the prospects of the Independent
Labour Party, but could not see very far before us.
But Ben Tillett's chances for Bradford were re-
garded by the least sanguine as distinctly "good,"
and that Tories will come in for the other three
divisions of the borough was, with astonishing equani-
mity, taken for granted. The aversion to such
Liberal employers of labour as lllingworth and Sir
Isaac Holden surpassed anything I could have con-
ceived. Compared with the Liberal Capitalist, the
Tory Capitalist or Landlord seemed really to be
looked on as quite a minor evil.

We spoke also of Trades Unions. I urged against
them that in respect of strikes, the reduction of the
hours of labour, out-of-work benefit, etc., their action
was necessarily abortive, inasmuch as it was directed
towards the amelioration of the iniquitous system of
wage-slavery instead of its destruction. This position
was not very strenuously controverted. Indeed, the


general futility of strikes was readily conceded, but
I felt, in the language of brother Jonathan, as if I
"had bitten off more than I could chew," and the
matter was allowed to drop.

The Labour Church " runs " a smart, somewhat
microscopic weekly of its own, the Bradford Labour
Echo, and assuredly it needs it. There are four papers
in the town, and they with one accord ignore
the doings of the Party of Labour as if they
were absolutely of no importance. Even from
the point of view of the Capitalist Press such
conduct is, to say the least, childish and almost un-
intelligible. To reject " good copy " is always bad
journalism, and the Labour Church platform must
often supply as good as is locally going.

In returning home on Monday, I had for carriage-
mate (sole again), a very well-meaning specimen of
the Liberal CapitaUst, an engineer, with an inherited
business, employing some two hundred and fifty
*' hands," and from him I was enabled to look at
matters from the Capitalist's standpoint. He was much
worried with law-suits about contracts, &c., and had
ofiered to let his entire " plant " to his employees, if
they would each pay him a rent of sixpence per day.
It was his custom to pension his age-stricken (and
always ungrateful) " hands " liberally — to one some-
what inferior workman, he gave fifteen shillings
a week and the veteran growled for twenty — and on
his Board of Guardians he was one of three Liberals
(to six Conservatives) who did thsir best to patch up
in their own way, as the Trades Unionists do in
theirs, the existing system of wage-slavery.

But it will come, can come, to no good in the end,
and I am more disposed to look for the salvation of
the " Masses " to such bodies as our Labour
Churches, inspired as they seem to be by the true
Spirit of Christ, than to all the politicians and
political organisations on the planet.



"Behold! the Kingdom of Heaven is within
vou' Lo; I am with you alway, even to the end
of the world!" "I am the Resurrection and the
Life ! "



PRICE" (?)

Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he
that hath no money ; come ye buy and eat ; yea, come, buy
wine and milk without money and without price. — Isaiah.

Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary ? — St. Mark.

These hands ministered to my necessities, and to them that
were with me. — St. Paul.

It IS a melancholy thing to see men ^the bishops), clothed in
soft raiment, lodged in a public palace, endowed with a rich
portion of other men's industry, using their influence to deepen
the ignorarce and inflame the fury of their fellow creatures. —
Sidney Smith

Freely ye have received, freely give Provide neither gold, nor
silver, nor brass in yoy purses. Nor scrip for your journey,
neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves ; but the work-
man is worthy of his meat. And into whatsoever city or town
ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy ; and there abide till
ye go thence. — Jesds Christ.

HE question of Church DisestabHshmenx
in Wales opens the door to the considera-
tion of a graver and more vital problem
than any to be reached by legislation alone.
We constantly talk of disestablishment when we
33 D


really mean disendowment. Between a body of
State-endowed clerics and Seci-salaried preachers,
there is in the end but little to choose. Once make
religion a trade, or a profession like that of arms or
the law, and it is vitiated at the very source.

The moment Christianity became an^ affair of
profit for a select few of its professors it ceased pro
tanto to be the religion of Christ, and degenerated
into paganism and priestcraft. The salt had lost its
savour, and was and is good for nothing but to be
trodden under the feet of men.

In all profitable religions we may justly suspect the
value and sincerity of the doctrine ; for how are we
to know that it is not preached for the profit alone ?
As a matter of fact, it can hardly be doubted that
the vast majority of onr pulpits would at once be
emptied if considerations of mere lucre; social
standing and spiritual pride ceased to operate. But
with the death of priestcraft would come the re-birth
of true religion, like a babe in a manger again, pure
and undefiled from the womb of a virgin mother.
•' My house shall be called the house of prayer, but
ye have made it a den of thieves " — thieves of all
denominations, big thieves and little thieves, but
each stealing as much as he can.

In England and Wales alone there are upwards of
2S,ooo registered places of Public Worship. They
are occupied by 270 sects, each of wliich imagines
that it has got a shorter and safer cut to heaven
than all the others, jointly and severally. They are
steeped to the lips in wordliness and othev-tvordliness,
which latter is a mere projection of their selfishness
into the unseen and eternal.

Among them are to be found the greatest variety
of belief and the richest diversity of nomenclature.
Latter Day Saints, Peculiar People, Christadelphians,
Second Adventists, Ranters, and such like are more
or less known to us ; but who, on earth, are


*' God's Own," the " Army of the King's Own," the
"Christian Eliasites," the "Open Brethren," and
the " Recreative Religionists ? " I am sure I know
not, and still more certain am I that 1 cannot afford
time to go on a voyage of discovery ; but one iceuld
like to ascertain, if possible, with approximate
accuracy, what it costs the country to keep alive so
vast and varied a propaganda. In very many cases
we can do little more than conjecture and deplore
the subvention of error, ignorance, and chimera.

To begin with, tlie Episcopate of the State Church,
with its two Archbishops and thirty-two bishops,
swallows up in hard cash close on ;^i 70,000 per
annum, or at the rate of ^5,000 per man. These
" Successors of the Apostles '' may be as inefficient
in other respects as their worst enemies allege ; but
no one can truthfully say that, as shepherds, they
fail to shear the sheep to some purpose. And they
are followed in the discharge of this self-imposed
pastoral function by an army of twenty-three thou-
sand assistant-shepherds of all grades. These divide
among them a settled income amounting to
_£'7,25o,ooo. In addition to this not insignificant
sum there are Army and Navy chaplaincies, besides
voluntary subscriptions galore. Altogether the
Anglican Clergy must devour not less than
^10,000,000 per annum, or at the rate of more than
^400 per head.

In Ireland the disestablished, but not disendowed,
Anglican Church enjoys an annual revenue from all
sources, which cannot be much under ;^40o,ooo.
The boasted Disestablishment Act of i86g was a
farce, inasmuch as the " compensation " to interested
claimants, cleric and lay, amounted to about twelve
out of the estimated sixteen millions of capitalised

In Scotland the three Presbyterian Churches,
Established, Free Church, and United Presbyterian,


in 1 89 1 raised respectively ^442,000, ^624,000, and
£^372, 000 ; while in England this denomination con-
tributed ^236,000, and in Ireland ^245,000.

Next in importance to the Presbyterians come the
Methodists of all kinds. They have an army of
4,000 ministers, and 40,000 lay preachers. What
their aggregate revenue amounts to is only a matter
of conjecture, but it may be safely set down at not
less than ^1,300,000.

Then we have the Congregationalists, whose
revenue is reckoned at ;^472,ooo ; the Baptists at
;^35o,ooo ; the Welsh Calvinists at ^214,000; the
Unitarians at ;^70,ooo ; the Society of Friends at
;^30,ooo ; Jews at £^150, 000 ; and various minor sects
at ^"250,000.

Last, but not least, is the Church of Rome, with
its well-drilled army of eight Arch-bishops, forty-three
bishops, and 6,170 priests. Its revenue in the United
Kingdom has been guessed at ^1,500,000, but it may
be much more, and can hardly be less.

On the whole, therefore, it may be safely assumed
that, for " sky-pilot " purposes, the people of this coun-
try expend annually the vast sum of seventeen viillions
sterling. And of this amount the "pilots" pocket
probably not less than ^i 3,000,000 or ;^i4, 000, 000 per
annum! And the sky-piloted — what of them ? Have
they received value for their money ? Who will
dare to say they have ? Spiritual things can only be
discerned spiritually, and those alone who have had
true spiritual experience can be of any service to those
who have had it not. And those who have had such
experience would no more dream of imparting it for a
stipend, than St. Peter thought of selling the Holy
Ghost for money to Simon the Sorcerer. " Thy
money perish with thee, because thou hast thought
that the gift of God may be purchased with

Preaching or teaching the Gospel of Christ Jov hive


has been the destruction of Christianity from the
end of the third century downwards, and the
rehgion of the Master will never recover its pristine
power over the conscience and conduct of men until
the heathenish practice is entirely abandoned. The
example set in this respect by such men as Trevor,
Bruce Wallace, and Kenworthy is simply invalu-
able, and cannot fail to do a world of good, whether
they live to see the fruition of their Apostolic
endeavours or not.

Of course there is a sense in which the Christian
religion may be taught professionally, on the same
terms as any other topic involving close investigation
and sound learning. Christianity is unquestionably
an historic religion, but as such its reverend official
exponents are, in nine cases out of ten, the last men
in the world to go to for enlightenment. They have
almost no critical knowledge of the text of Scriptures,
and are quite at sea about the faith of the Christians
of the first three centuries before its paganisation was
unhappily consummated. In that arena they are
helpless in the grasp of a Bradlaugh, a Saladin, a
Watts, or a Foote.

It is to learned sceptics like Strauss, Renan and
others that we are really indebted for the recovery of
the resplendent lineaments of the true historic Christ
— the Son of Man. It is they and such men as they
that have rescued the Nazarene from the stifling
embrace of clericalism, and made Him once more
human, credible, and — though they meant it not —

And Christ came " not to be ministered unto but
to minister." How, therefore, may we conclude
would He dispose of these precious seventeen millions
were He here among us now ? He would say : *' They
were earned by the sweat and tears of My toiling
brethren, and for their benefit must they be applied.
Do they not need Free Education in the higher,t




branches of Science, Free Railway Travel, a Free
Breakfast Table and Free Crematoria ? Until
you have achieved these and other matters of
even weightier obligation you are no followers of
Mine. Go to! Without money and without price
must my Gospel ever be preached."









And, methinks, the work is nobler,
And a mark of greater might,
Better far to make a thinkcy
Than to make a proselyte ;
Nobler for the sake of Manhood,
Better for the cause of Truth,
Though your thinker be but rugged,
And your proselyte is smooth.



(Published originally before the General Election of 1895 )



I do not disguise from you my impression that, if Liberalism
were to receive a severe blow at the next General Election, it
might be a blow from which it might be more difficult to
recover than from former defeats. . , . You have it in your
power either to increase the scope and soHdity of that edifice
(of Liberalism), or you have it equally in your power, by apathy
and half-heartedness, to shatter^ for all time, perhaps, what has
been so laboriously built up. — Lord Rosebery at Cardiff.

EYOND question this oracle is true, and
candid as it is true. Right ahead of us is
a mighty parting of the ways, and the
"Peer Premier" apprehends the fact as
distinctly as does the" Member for the Unemployed "
The latter contemplates with a light, or indeed, with
an exultant heart, " the wiping out of the Liberal
Party " at the General Election, and all that is
involved in that fateful proceeding. His lordship
naturally does anything but exult at such a prospect ;
but exult or not, it is a contingency too possible and
too grave not to be reckoned with beforehand as far
as one may.



Now as to the probability of a serious Liberal
collapse when the national suffrage comes to be
recorded, I hazard no opinion whatever. There is
a depression in Mahatma Stock just at present, and
investment in predictions is unwise ; but, assuming
the debacle of the Liberal Party — and the assumption
is very general — it may be permissible to inquire —
What then ?

Hitherto, with more or less fidelity, from the day
that John Lilburne, the Leveller — " Free-born
John " of Commonwealth renown — and other stout-
hearted Democrats drew up the famous Agreement
of the People of England, demanding for Englishmen a
free and equal Representative (Assembly), there has
never ceased out of the land a party, ofttimes sorely
attenuated, which has stood up for the enfranchise-
ment of the politically outcasted, and the Liberal
Party to-day, with all its shortcomings, is unques-
tionably the true depository of that honourable

And, in the order of evolution, that emancipatory
mission is, unfortunatel}', by no means exhausted.
Every man and every woman. One Vote of One
Value ; Annual, or at most Triennial Parliaments ;
Second Ballot ; Payment of Members and Election
Expenses ; All Round Home Rule ; and to crown
theedifice of citizenship, iho. Initiative and Refeyendiim —
all these are debts which, in the natural course of
political events, we had a right to look to the Liberal
Party to discharge, before its Nunc Dimittis was said
or sung.

Nay, more, as the Agreement of the People was born
of Republican revolution, so might one have hoped
its final realisation would be revolution once more,
and that the memorable words of the Act of 1649, con-
stituting England a Republic, would be re-enacted,
to the consternation and destruction of the privi-
leged " Classes," throughout the world.


How straiglit to the mark do these virile words

go compared with the circumlocutory anti vetoing

' resolution " of a National Liberal Federanon : —

That the people of England and of all the Dominions and
Territories thereunto belonging are, and shall be, and are hereby
constituted, made, established and confirmed to be a Common-
wealth and Free State, by the Supreme Authority of the People
— the Representatives of the People in Parliament — and by such
as they shall appoint and constitute officers and ministers for
the good of the People, and that without any King or Housi of

Ah, there were giants in those days which old-
fashioned Republicans like myself, with somewhat
of an " historic conscience," fcndly love to dwell
upon. But in these exclusively bread-and-butter
times, they concern but few, and at best, it must be
conceded, they furnish us with a political ideal only.

And beyond that the Liberal Party, as such, cannot
go. In the domain of econojnic legislation, it has
proved itself, in some respects, a less efficient instru-
ment than the Tory Party, which may by comparison
almost arrogate to itself the title of the Party of
Social Progress. The Magna CJiarta of the Factory
"hand," it can never be Jorgotten, had for its worst
foes. Bright, Cobden, and Gladstone!

And yet are the Tories a sorry reed for the
workers, in any circumstances, to lean on. They
will do a good few things for the people, but little or
nothing by them. The Liberals, on the other hand,
at their worst, generally concede to the toilers the
one thing supremely needful, to wit, the means of work-
ing out their own salvation, for if the Political Common-
wealth is not within a measurable distance of the
Co-operative Commonwealth, the fault clearly lies
with the workers themselves.

Let us now consider where we shall find ourselves
in the event of the " Liberal Party being wiped out,"
at the General Election, by the votes and abstentioBS
of the Independent Labourists. The Tories, we


shall suppose, come back with a clear majority of a
hundred or a hundred and fifty, while the Inde-
penden. Labourists number five, or let us even say
ten. The threatened " Classes " will feel them
selves safer than they have done at any time since the
i^eform Bill of 1832. With tlie prospect of an in-
definite spell of power before them, prince, peer,
plutocrat, bishop, brewer, London liveryman, land-
lord, and J. P. will swell with rejuvenated pride and

From the faithful Commons Royalty will receive
almost any grant it has tlie impudence and avarice
to demand. The Peers will feel that at last they
are a co-ordinate, if not a superior, branch of the
Legislature, and will act accordingly, no longer con-
fining themselves to the humble walks of the
mangier and the vetoer, but striking out boldly, as
of old, in the interest of what "Wee Johnny
Russell" used magniloquently to call " my order."'

The Established Churches of Wales and Scotland
will exult like men unexpectedly saved from the
gibbet ; whil* the staunch ally of the Bible, Bung,
will more than ever feel convinced that he is a chief
estate of the realm.

The "Squire and his relations " may be depended
on to see that everybody in rural England belong-
ing to the " lower orders" is kept well within the
limits of his " proper station." and that the agri-
cultural labourer in particular shall derive no undue
benefit, or sense of personal independence, by reason
of the Parish Councils Act or any similarly ob-
noxious measure.

But for so many blessings to the " Classes " there
must of course be some quid pro quo for the " Masses."
The Salisbury-Balfour-Chamberlain "combine" is
far too astute not to discern that, if the new Tory
regime is to be permanent, it must pay " ransom " to
the New Democracy, which has done so much to


make it even temporarily dominant, by the efface-
ment of the Liberal Party. Already Lord Salisbury
has begun tentatively to discriminate between the
"brigandage " of "Socialism," and the "reasonable-
ness " of " Social Reform," and has not Baron Orchid
de Screwe, that is to be, yet another " unauthorised
program " to touch with the wand of legislative
authority ?

What shape then will the inevitable " ransom "
assume, and will it compensate the Independent
Labourists for their exertions in bestowing on the
•' Classes" a fresh lease of life by "wiping out the
Liberal Party," are the questions which it behoves
us to consider, as dispassionately as is at all possible,
ere yet the parting of the ways is actually reached.

First of all, it may be safely assumed that the
Neiv Toryism, in return for the preservation and
consolidation of the interests of the " Classes," will
be prepared to formulate some sort of scheme for

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Online LibraryJ. Morrison (John Morrison) DavidsonNew politics for the people. Let there be light! 1.-Religion. 2.-Politics. 3.-The family. 4.-Economics. 5.-Miscellanea .. → online text (page 3 of 13)