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deprived of the advantage it would have derived; and individuals presented with a permanent excuse for all future worldly or moral failures in a career forced on them by necessity. It would thus sadly diminish the sense of individual independence, and we may add, that there would be great danger that men unnecessarily interdicted from one trade, by the error or selfishness of its ruling guild, and unfitted or unable to find admission into others, would swell the pauper-system of the country far beyond its needful extent. The moral evil of this is obvious enough. Mr. Kingsley trusts, for the counteraction of all these dangers in the social organizations for which he contends, to the Christian foundation on which they are to rise. Christian influences once planted in the heart, would dissipate the evils of the present system as well; and there is nothing which his party have been more strenuous in denying than that they trust to these new organizations for implanting Christian influences. They reply, however, that the present system would not be modified and regulated, but necessarily annihilated, by the spread of practical Christianity. This assertion appears to us so untenable and paradoxical, that we are confident it can only have arisen with men who, when they name the word Competition, think not of its sober meaning, but of its vulgar abuses in this eager, selfish, and puffing commercial world. We have examined its economical origin; we can now look at its moral and social meaning. Competition, like all other simply natural principles, is capable of being either low and immoral, indifferent or unmoral, or noble and holy, according to the other principles with which it comes into collision in life. It is in itself simply the assertion by any one of his right to seek on an equal footing with his fellow-men of similar station and like means of usefulness, his share (in proportion to his natural endowments and exertions) of the advantages open to them. If this claim be made when, from the circumstances of the case, it must end in simply taking one's share out of another's hands, who needs it more, then it is mean and wrong. This is, of course, not the normal state of trade-competition, which generally takes place where it is believed that there is some want in society which the new competitor can best supply, that part of his business will spring up specially for him, and that even that
CHRISTIAN TEACHER.–No. 53.
part which he withdraws from others, is only withdrawn because he can more completely meet the needs and convenience of those who give it him. The man who would scruple at such a kind of competition, would scruple to secure for himself a good place at a theatre, by surpassing others in exertion and skill; in short, he would be obliged to make life one long apology for his inconvenient intrusions upon space where many would willingly have spared him, and would die as a suppliant, with leaden remorse on his heart, imploring forgiveness of society for the various possibilities that his existence might have spoiled. We confess that we have no sympathy with so mawkish a moral nature as this morbid fear of any kind of competition implies. There is nothing of Christian manliness about it, and it deserves no better answer than a caricature such as Dickens would give. It must be recollected too that the right to take an equal place with his compeers in the advantages and privileges of society, becomes an imperative duty, when a man has (as is generally the case) others dependent on him, whose happiness (and not that of his fellow-men at large) is entrusted to his care. But there may be cases even in trade, as there have always been in political life, when competition may become a high and honourable duty. Where a selfish and immoral system, monopoly or otherwise, has degraded the morals of a trade, and seriously injured the interests of society, it becomes a lofty function to compete with and overthrow it. Such is the case of free-labour as opposed to slave-labour in Ame. rica; and be it remembered that a principle which can ever be noble, cannot be intrinsically base, but must have intermediate moral values (those, namely, of the ordinary trade) where it is simply natural and legitimate.
We have already exhausted our limits, without any examination of the principles and prospects of the new co-operative associations set on foot by the new Socialist party. We have however little to say upon them, except that we have the warmest interest in them, and the most sanguine hopes for their success. We have wished to examine the distinctive creed of the new party as to the organization of trade. These associations are quite in harmony with all the principles of economical science; and moreover enlist warmly the moral sympathies of those who have seen in the unhappy and not always merely apparent antagonism between the interests of capital and labour, the temptation to those misinterpretations, hard exaggerations, and unwarranted caricatures of economical science, some of which we have attempted to expose. Nothing, we think with Mr. Newman, can be more dangerous than the hand and mouth system; nothing more desirable than that labourers should cease altogether to be a distinct class from capitalists, so as to lose the dread of being compelled ever to capitulate with employers when starvation would be the alternative of refusal. All the dangers of the competitive system would be lessened, and some removed, if such co-operative associations became the ordinary constituent elements of our commercial world. We believe that such associations are destined to be a principal medium by which the large labouring class are to raise themselves into a class of small capitalists; and we feel some confidence that there is no inherent difficulty, except the common conservative fears, in extending these associations from the distributive trades to the larger manufacturing operations. At the same time we must say that at present we believe only the higher class of labourers to be fitted for this system. Such partnerships involve much moral discipline and self-control. To act harmoniously with a number of others is always difficult; and to submit implicitly to a democratically chosen head (and implicit submission alone can render the system effective) is still more difficult. Moreover, we are bound to say that the Socialist tone, which implies that it is obligatory on the trading and working classes to join such associations, and wrong to stand aloof in their separate competition, is altogether false and injurious. No doubt it is for the benefit of their class and society at large, that they should encourage such associations, as far as is possible, consistently with other duties. But their first duties are not to society at large, nor even to their class, but to those immediately dependent on them. And if care for these renders it wiser, on any account, to remain unconnected with such societies, it is their duty still to remain in their commercial isolation. These associations can only effectually recommend themselves by proving (as we believe they will be able to prove) their superior pru. dential advantages over the state of isolated traders and operatives.
Here we must close this discussion, already protracted beyond desirable limits. In doing so, however, we would guard ourselves against a misconstruction that some of our criticisms may have tended to originate. We would not have it said that we oppose to Socialist theories an intense individualism that considers the State simply an aggregate of individuals. We do indeed charge the Socialists with that vagueness and unreality of view which arises from studying social morality without sufficiently individualizing its problems, without asking the distinct verdict of the personal conscience, notwithstanding all the complexity and qualifications this introduces, on all its vexed questions. This seems to us the reason why many of their social canons are at once so sweeping and so vague, never true without large exceptions, and even when true, scarcely clear enough for moral guidance. But we are very far from advocating political Individualism. That only is Individualism, in the sense of adherence to the voluntary system, which gives too much play to individual wills, and acknowledges no social organization to which they ought to be subject. All that we have insisted on is, that the laws of that social organization should be drawn fresh from the provisions contained for it in each man's individual nature, and not from the loose maxims current amongst men who study society first, and themselves afterwards. We trust at least that we have not altogether failed in drawing the line between these Socialists and the ultra-economists, whose opposite error lies, not in losing sight of the individual life, but in mutilating it; in solving economic problems by suppressing their complexities, in first omitting the moral premises and then eliciting immoral results. In both cases an unreality of thought equally injurious is the consequence, since the social theory is in the one case apparently above, in the other really below, what men can admit as the actual and noble law by which they ought to shape their lives. And it is equally destructive of perfect self-sincerity, whether we quietly permit our conception of social duty to escape from our living grasp, wrapt in the garments of a mystic church; or allow it to lose its authority over us, by secretly confessing it too selfish for practice, though not too selfish for thought.
ART. II.-SERPENT WORSHIP AND THE AGE OF
1. American Archeological Researches, No. 1.-The Ser
pent Symbol and the Worship of the Reciprocal Principles of Nature in America. By E. G. Squier, A.M.
New York, 1851. 2. Cyclops Christianus. By A. Herbert. London, 1849.
The beguiling of Eve was the first, but by no means the last, piece of mischief which the Serpent has inflicted on mankind. We reckon among the evils clearly traceable to his spite against the human race, the many unprofitable volumes which he has caused to be written respecting himself and his operations. We might fill a page with the titles of treatises on Ophiolatry, in which erudition and fancy, uncontrolled by logic, have expatiated over the world, ancient and modern, in search of his trail. The list would begin with the high-priest of Byblus, Sanchoniathon, well known to the readers of the Vicar of Wakefield, who, according to Eusebius, wrote a treatise called Ethothia, in which he described the qualities of the Serpent, and the causes of his deification; and might end with the Rev. J. B. Deane, the author of “Serpent Worship.”
Mr. Squier is known as a careful and intelligent inquirer into the antiquities of America—for such there are, though we are accustomed to suppose that every thing in the Western world is new. In a former publication he has shown that long before its discovery, a large part of the Mississippi Valley was tenanted by a people further advanced in civilization than the existing Indians, and holding a middle place between the hunting tribes and the semi-civilized Mexicans. He has also carefully examined the ancient remains of the State of New York, but finds in these traces of a population so closely resembling the present Indians, that no high antiquity can be ascribed to it. The subject of his present book is one respecting which archæologists and divines have run wild in their theories, but he has not allowed himself to be infected with their enthusiasm, and has been content to collect facts without building hypotheses