Calvin Blanchard on Art-Liberty (1860)

Works by Calvin Blanchard:

Published by Calvin Blanchard:

  • Basia; The Kisses of Joannes Secundus and Jean Bonnefons, 1860. [at Google Books]
  • Boccaccio, Giovanni. The Decameron, or, Ten day’s entertainment, 1855.
  • Brown, J. Newton, and Taylor, William B. The obligation of the Sabbath, a discussion between Rev. J. Newton Brown, D.D., and William B. Taylor, 1856.
  • Comte, Auguste. The Positive Philosophy of Auguste Comte. Freely Translated and Condensed by Harriet Martineau, 1855
  • —. Social Physics: From the Philosophy of Auguste Comte, 1856. [at Google Books ]
  • Edger, Henry, Modern times, the labor question, and the family. A brief statement of facts and principles], 1855.
  • Fourier, Charles. Brisbane, Albert. The social destiny of man, or, Theory of the four movements, 1857.
  • Hittell, John Shertzer. The Evidences Against Christianity, 1857. [at Google Books]
  • —. A New System of Phrenology, 1857.
  • MacNaught, John. The doctrine of inspiration: being an inquiry concerning the infallibility, inspiration, and authority of Holy Writ, 1857.
  • Paine, Thomas. The age of reason : being an investigation of true and fabulous theology, 1864.
  • —. Common sense, 1862.
  • Reichenbach, Karl. Somnambulism and Cramp, 1860. [at Google Books ]
  • Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. The Confessions of J.J. Rousseau, 1856. [Vol. 1 and 2 at Google Books]
  • The secret history of the court of Charles the Second, 1850.
  • Strauss, David Friedrich. The Life of Jesus, 1860. [Vol. 2 at Google Books ]
  • Taylor, Robert. Who is the devil?, 1859.
  • Volney, C. F. New Researches on Ancient History, 1856, 1860.
  • Volney, C. F. The Ruins; or Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires. To Which Is Added The Law of Nature, A Short Biographical Notice, By Count Daru, and The Controversy between Dr. Priestly and Volney.


[This discussion forms the final chapter of Calvin Blanchard’s Life of Thomas Paine.]


I have now, so far as I can discover, recorded all the facts in relation to Thomas Paine, with which the public have any concern. I have even repeated some things (under protest, be it remembered) with which the public have no business whatever.

But the most important part of the task which, on reference to my title-page, it will be perceived that I undertook remains to be completed.

Every one will unquestionably draw their own conclusions from facts or what they consider such. But I assure all whom it may concern, that I should not consider myself justified in troubling them with my views on matters of the vast importance of religion or highest law, and government or social science, had I not devoted to these subjects long years of assiduous preparation; had I not, rightly or wrongly, systemised facts; even now, I do so with a full consciousness of my need of vastly more light.

Facts, separately considered, are but the unconnected links of a chain; truth is the chain itself. Facts, in themselves, are worth nothing; it is only the truths that are deducible from them through their systemization that is of use. Brick, and mortar, and beams, are facts; entirely useless, however, until systemized into an edifice. Every man’s life is a fact, but the lives of such men as Rousseau, Paine, Comte, Luther, and Fourier, are sublime truths; which are to help to give to the lives of the individuals of our race, all that can be conceived of even “eternal” value.

Strictly speaking, all authors are, like Paine, and Rousseau, and Comte, heroes. But those writers who merely revamp, or polish up old, worn out ideas, and then sell them back again to those from whom they stole, or borrowed, or begged them, are no more authors than they are manufacturers who steal, borrow, beg, or buy for next to nothing, old hats, iron them over, and sell them back for new to their former owners, who in their delight to find how truly they fit their heads, do not suspect the cheat. It’s a somewhat difficult thing to make new hats fit heads. It’s a Herculean task to make new ideas fit them. It’s next to impossible to make new habits fit mankind.

The American Revolution, of which Paine was the “author hero,” and the French Revolution, of which Rousseau was the great mover, were, as I trust we have already seen, but closely connected incidents in the grand Revolution which began with man’s instinctive antagonism to all which stands in the way of the perfect liberty which nature has, by one and the same act, given him both the desire for, and the assurance of.

All which exists or has taken place, is connected with all which ever has existed, or will exist or take place; and unless the historian shows that connection, so far as it has a perceptibly practical bearing, history becomes but a mere collections of curious, and otherwise barren details.

I have before directed the attention of the reader to the fact, that whoever penned the Declaration of our National Independence, must have well studied Rousseau’s “Contrat Social.”

The Rev. Dr. Smith, in his “Divine Drama of History and Civilization,” speaks thus of the relation of Rousseau to his times:—

“Rousseau was the avenging spirit of the Evangelical Protestants whom monarchical France had massacred or banished. He had the blood and the soul of the Presbyterian in him: but he was drunk with vengeance, and he had, according to his own confession, imbibed with his mother’s milk the hatred of kings, and nourished that hate and kept it warm. He declared that though man was born free he was everywhere in chains. Being gifted with great eloquence, he delighted his readers. He realized the government of the people and became the soul of the Revolution.”

“Twelve hundred human individuals,” says Thomas Carlyle, “with the Gospel of Jean Jacques Rousseau in their pocket, congregating in the name of twenty-five millions, with full assurance of faith, to “make the Constitution:” such sight, the acme and main product of the eighteenth century, our World can witness only once. For time is rich in wonders, in monstrosities most rich; and is observed never to repeat himself or any of his Gospels:—surely least of all this Gospel according to Jean Jacques. Once it was right and indispensable, since such had become the belief of man; but once also is enough.”

“They have made the Constitution, these Twelve Hundred-Jean-Jacques Evangelists.”

“A new Fifth Evangelist, Jean-Jacques, calling on men to amend each the whole world’s wicked existence, and be saved by making the Constitution.”

Thomas Carlyle in innumerable other cases speaks most lovingly of “Poor Jean Jacques.” In an elaborate critical estimate of Rousseau and the men of the 18th century, he says: “Hovering in the distance with use—woe-struck minatory air, stern-beckoning, comes Rousseau. Poor Jean-Jacques! Alternately deified and cast to the dogs: a deep-minded, high-minded, even noble, yet woefully misarranged mortal, with all the misformations of nature intensified to the verge of madness by unfavorable Fortune. A lonely man; his life a long soliloquy! The wandering Tiresias of his time;—in whom, however, did lie prophetic meaning, such as none of the others offer. His true character, with its lofty aspirings and poor performings; and how the spirit of the man worked so wildly like celestial fire in a thick, dark element of chaos, and shot forth etherial radiance, all piercing lightning, yet could not illuminate, was quenched and did not conquer; this with what lies in it, may now be pretty accurately appreciated.” etc.

The. world-famous “Confessions”[1] of Rousseau, have also powerfully stimulated revolt against the most despotic of tyrannies that ever enchained the human race. No romance was ever half so interesting. With resistless power their author compels us to himself. Every page chains the reader with electric fascination. With absorbing interest we follow him in every step of his strange sad life. Not a scene in the Confessions but what has formed the subject for a master piece by some great artist. Rousseau was one of those men whose fame the world has taken into its own hands. One of those big-hearted, truth-loving, high-aspiring yet sad-fated, stumbling men, whose sufferings have been made up for by an eternal meed of tenderness and love. He has been taken into the heart of mankind.

Perhaps nothing could more markedly manifest the place Jean Jacques holds in the heart of the world than the love and reverence which have been lavished on him by all the high-souled poets and writers in every land since his day. Goethe, Schiller, Jean Paul, Shelley, Brougham, Byron, Carlyle, Tennyson, etc. etc. All that is fresh and lofty and spiritual in the new French school of Poetry and Literature, is distinctly traceable to Rousseau. Bernadin de Saint Pierre, Mad. de Stael, Chateaubriand, Lamartine, etc., etc., were successively formed under his influence and adoringly worshipped him as their master. Thomas Carlyle in a conversation with Emerson, (see English Traits, p. 22,) while speaking of the men who had influenced the formation of his character, declared that Rousseau’s Confessions had discovered to him that he (Carlyle) was not a dunce.

R. W. Emerson, too, speaks of “The Confessions” as a book so important in literature, that it was well worth while to translate * * its courage and precision of thought will keep it good.”

And the high-souled Schiller hymns Rousseau thus:

“Hail grave of Rousseau! here thy troubles cease!
Thy life one search for freedom and for peace:
Thee peace and freedom life did ne’er allow:
Thy search is ended, and thou find’st them now!
When will the old wounds scar! In the dark age
Perish’d the wise. Light comes—how fared the sage?
The same in darkness or in light his fate,
Time brings no mercy to the bigot’s hate!
Socrates charmed Philosophy to dwell
On earth; by false philosophers he fell:
In Rousseau Christians marked their victim—when
Rousseau endeavored to make Christians men!”

Reader, please to skip the next six paragraphs, unless you can pardon a digression, (and I must confess to have given you some exercise in that respect already) and unless you furthermore love liberty, justice, and equal rights, not as things to be merely talked about, sung about, and “fought, bled and died” about, but as practical realities.

In a state of bliss in perfect contrast with what generally passes for married life, Rousseau spent several years with Madam De Warens; a lady of noble birth, who was in comfortable circumstances, enjoying a pension from Victor Amadeus, king of Sardinia. She was the wife of a man with whom she could not live happily, and from whom she therefore separated. Rousseau, in his “Confessions,” thus describes her: “All who loved her, loved each other. Jealousy and rivalry themselves yielded to the dominant sentiment she inspired; and I never saw any of those who surrounded her, entertain the slightest ill will towards each other.” “I hazard the assertion, that if Socrates could esteem Aspasia, he would have respected Madam de Warens.” “Let my reader,” continues the enamoured philosopher, “pause a moment at this eulogy; and if he has in his mind’s eye any other woman of whom he can say this much; let him, as he values his life’s repose, cleave to her, were she, for the rest, the lowest of drabs.

After eight years of bliss with Madam de Warens, that lady’s taste, though not her affections, changed. Rousseau, also wishing to visit Paris, they parted in perfect friendship. At Paris, Rousseau resumed the free-love connection with Therese Le Vasseur, a young girl of small accomplishments, but of a most amiable disposition. Some of the highest nobles in France (including the king and queen) did not disdain to treat her with marked respect; and after Rousseau’s death, the government of France pensioned Theresa, instead of letting her die of hunger, as the government of England, to its eternal disgrace, suffered Lady Hamilton, the mistress of Lord Nelson, to do, although to that accomplished Lady and to her influence and shrewd management at the court of Naples, England owes the victory of Trafalgar. One morning, whilst the king and his ministers lay snoring, she managed to obtain from her intimate friend the queen, a permit for her gallant, free-lover, Nelson, to water his fleet at Naples; but for which, he could not have pursued and conquered the French at Trafalgar. His last request of the country for whose cause he was dying, was,—“Take care of my dear Lady Hamilton.”

Yet England was too “virtuous” to prevent Lady Hamilton from depending on the charity of a poor French washerwoman; and from having, at last, to starve to death, in a garret, in the capital of the nation whose navy had been almost destroyed through her management and her lover’s bravery. “Virtue” and “piety” readily accept the services of those they impudently style “vicious” and “profane,” but generally consider it very scandalous to reward them.

Some of the most “virtuous” citizens in every country in Christendom, do not hesitate to eat the bread and wear the clothes purchased with the rent of those curses inseparable from present social institutions,—prostitution dens; and churches and missionaries, draw large revenues from these “necessary evils” as they are cantingly called. Necessary evils? If there is a “sin” which a just “God” could punish, it is that of admitting that there exists “necessary evils;” for this “sin” is a most efficient prolonger of the damnation of the human race.

But England did build monuments to Nelson, and he has had all the honor of the victory of Trafalgar. Why did not Lady Hamilton come in for a share of that honor? In addition to what we have seen she did to procure that victory, can any gallant man doubt, that her charms were the main stimulus of Nelson’s courage? What dangers would not a man that was a man brave, in order to swell with delight, admiration, and just approval, the heart of her whom he adored, and who freely loved him?

Reader, did you ever ask yourself why it is that gallant men (and almost all notable men are gallant) are applauded in high society, and are comparatively little blamed or frowned upon among the million? Surely, gallantry in woman is really no more “vicious” than it is in man; it is simply because, owing to ignorance with respect to the regulation of love affairs, it is more inconvenient, that it is more discountenanced. It is because women have to be, under present institutions, considered as chattels; as articles of luxury; which no man wants to be at the expense of, except for his own pleasure, of course. But for ignorance of how to fully gratify every natural desire, there would be no such words as either virtue or vice in the dictionary; and however amiable it is for people to forbear to gratify themselves in any respect, at the expense of others, still, we should constantly bear in mind, that all the honor that has ever been bestowed on “virtue” and self-denial, is primarily due to ignorance and poverty; to ignorance of how to create the means whereby to dispense with “virtue,” self-denial, ay, and even that most virtuous of all the virtues,—charity; to ignorance of how to develop, modify, and combine the substantial, till desire is but the measure of fulfillment—till to will is but the precursor of to have.

Human progress is generally divisible into three ages:—the age of mystery, the age of reason, and the age of practical science and art. These answer to the theological, the critical, and the positive stages of the Grand Revolution just alluded to; of which revolution, the “author hero” was Auguste Comte.

Rousseau and Paine had their forerunner in Martin Luther; Comte’s John Baptist was Charles Fourier.

To Martin Luther and Charles Fourier, mankind are almost as much indebted, as to those for whom these prepared the way.

Fourier was far more in advance of his time than was Luther; still, Luther’s step was much the most perilous to himself. Whoever can look on the picture [I saw it in the Dusseldorff Gallery] of Luther at the Diet of Worms, with dry eyes, without feeling an admiration near akin to adoration for The Man who would go where the cause of liberty called him, “though there should be there as many devils as tiles on the roofs,” must be made of sterner stuff than I am.

Look on that incarnation of bravery. See how undaunted that single representative of the cause of the human race stands, amidst the terrible array of princes and bishops. There were six hundred of them; headed by the Emperor himself.

As fearlessly as Paine first openly pronounced those treasonable words—“American Independence,” Luther has dared to burn the Pope’s bull, even when there was not a crowned head in all Christendom, but trembled at that awful document. Surely the heart that warms for Paine must glow for Luther. Materialist though I am, I do reverence that brave monk. Had the Elector of Saxony been the most absolute monarch that ever reigned; and had the Landgrave of Hesse, taken as many wives[2] and concubines as the wisest man, in Jehovah’s estimation, that ever was or ever will be, is said to have had, these princes would nevertheless deserve the eternal gratitude of mankind, for the protection they afforded to the great apostle of reform, but for the division, in the ranks of despotism, which he created, a Rousseau and a Paine could not so soon have preached liberty, nor could a Fourier and a Comte as yet have indicated how to put it into practice.

To the zeal and liberality of Mr. Albert Brisbane, and to the scholarship of Mr. Henry Clapp, Jr., are English readers indebted for an introduction to Fourier’s great work, “The Social Destiny of Man.”[3] And the same class of readers are similarly indebted to Mr. Lombe and Miss Harriet Martineau[4] (the latter aided by professor Nichol) for being enabled to acquaint themselves with “The Positive Philosophy of Anguste Comte.”[5]

These great works are carrying on a constructive, and therefore noiseless and unostentatious revolution; they do not (particularly the latter) appeal to the common understanding, and the masses will know but little about them, until they feel their beneficient effects. But the keen observer and the social artist perceive that they have already given a new tone to all the higher literature of Western Europe, and even, to some extent, to that of the United States.

’Tis strange that they who are capacitated to think truth, should so generally have made the unfortunate blunder of not seeing that by the masses, truth of any great degree of complexity can only be felt. Their religion is addressed almost wholly to their feeling. Their knock-down argument to all opposition, is, “I feel it to be true.” A more unreasonable scheme never emanated from Bedlam, than that of plying the masses with reason, on subjects so complicated as are religion and sociology. Has not the experiment uniformly proven the truth of what I here assert? Reason is, of course, connected with, every thing which a sane person voluntarily does or thinks of. It is connected with the construction of the steam engine; and should be similarly, and only similarly connected with social architecture.

Numerous experiments to which the name of Fourier has been attached, have failed. But there was not one of them which bore the most distant resemblance to the system of the great master, whose name they so over-zealously and rashly appropriated.

A very successful trial of the household economies of Fourier has been going on in New York for the last three years, under the management of Mr. E. F. Underhill. His “Cosmopolitan Hotel” comprises four elegant five story brownstone front houses, situated in the most fashionable part of Fourteenth-street.

The world has been prevented from becoming acquainted with Fourier’s magnificent discoveries in social architecture, mainly through the agency of the blackest and most impudent falsehood ever uttered. Fourier’s system has been denounced as communism; whereas it is the very opposite of that. Our present social hodge-podge is Skidmoreism itself, when compared with the system of which “The Social Destiny of Man,” notwithstanding its incidental and non-essential errors is a bold and true outline. Next in importance to the discoveries of Comte, are Fourier’s with respect to the human passions, and with respect to the equitable adjustment of the claims of labor, skill, and capital.

But Fourier’s system was, so to speak, the edifice in advance of the foundation on which alone it could stand. Real liberty, substantial happiness, all practical goodness must have a material basis. That basis has been furnished by Auguste Comte.

Mr. Lewes, in his Biographical History of Philosophy,[6] says: “Comte is the Bacon of the nineteenth century. Like Bacon, he fully sees the cause of our intellectual anarchy, and also sees the cure. We have no hesitation in recording our conviction that the Course de Philosophie Positive is the greatest work of our century, and will form one of the mighty landmarks in the history of opinion. No one before him ever dreamed of treating social problems otherwise than upon theological or metaphysical methods. He first showed how possible, nay, how imperative—it was that social questions, should be treated on the same footing with all other scientific questions.”

And Mill, in his “System of Logic,”[7] speaks thus of “The Positive Philosophy:”—“A work which only requires to be better known, to place its author in the very highest class of European thinkers. * * * A sociological system widely removed from the vague and conjectural character of all former attempts, and worthy to take its place, at last, among established sciences. * * * A work which I hold to be far the greatest yet produced in the Philosophy of the Sciences. * * * He [Comte] may truly be said to have created the. philosophy of the higher mathematics. * * * Whose view of the philosophy, of classification is the most erudite with which I am acquainted. * * * His works are the only source to which the reader can resort for a practical exemplification of the study of social phenomena on the true principles of the Historical Method. Of that method I do not hesitate to pronounce them a model.”

“Clearness and depth, comprehensiveness and precision have never probably, been so remarkably united as in Auguste Comte,” says Professor Gillespie, of Union College, New-York.

The following extracts from an article (understood to be by Sir David Brewster) which appeared in the Edinburgh Review will also give some further idea of the aim and character of The Positive Philosophy:

“A work of profound science, marked with great acuteness of reasoning, and conspicuous for the highest attributes of intellectual power. It comprehends Mathematics, Astronomy, Physics, and Chemistry, or the sciences of Inorganic Bodies; and Physiology, and Social Physics, or the sciences of Organic Bodies.

“Under the head of Social Physics the author treats of the general structure of human societies, of the fundamental natural law of the development of the human species, and of the progress of civilization. This last Section is subdivided into three heads—the Theological Epoch, the Metaphysical Epoch, and the Positive Epoch —the first of these embracing Fetishism, Polytheism, and Monotheism.”

Referring to the Astronomical part of the work, the Reviewer says, “We could have wished to place before our readers some specimens of our author’s manner of treating these difficult and deeply interesting topics—of his simple, yet powerful eloquence—of his enthusiastic admiration of intellectual superiority—of his accuracy as a historian, his honesty as a judge, and of his absolute freedom from all personal and national feelings.”

But the mental effort which produced the “Positive Philosophy” was too much for the brain of any one man to make with impunity, as the subsequent writings of the great positivist show. With respect to these, and particularly to Comte’s Positive Religion, Mr. Lewes very considerately remarks,—“let us draw a veil over them;” and I, who have made Comte a study, will add, that any other view than this, with respect to the writings which Comte sent forth to the world after the Positive Philosophy, is most unjust.

The clergy are at length aware that the slander and abuse which they have bellowed forth from the pulpit against Paine, have advertised his works more effectually than ten per cent of their own salaries could have done through the newspapers; and hence the profound silence which they maintain with respect to the personalty of Comte, and to the name of “The Positive Philosophy.” Priests know that the world’s old religion is dead; but they mean to prolong its decay to the utmost, in order to feed, like carrion crows, on its rotten carcass; they therefore take every precaution against having it stirred up.

Observe in what general terms the “black coats,” as Humboldt styles the parsons, denounce the materialism with which all the high talent of the age in which we live is imbued. They do not wish to let their dupes know that such men as Humboldt and Comte did not believe in the existence of the extra-almighty pedant whom they seat on the throne of the universe.

We have already seen that the author of “Cosmos”[8] not only held superstition and its ministers in as utter contempt as did he who wrote “The Age of Reason,” but that he was furthermore a thorough materialist; and the author of The Positive Philosophy has mathematically annihilated a God who can have no practical existence to man, together with the supposed foundation of a faith, the further teaching of which, can but hold human perfection in abeyance. Yet the aristocracy of Europe were proud of the companionship of Humboldt, and emperors and kings presented him with testimonials of their high regard.

As to Auguste Comte, it is rumored that the Emperor Napoleon III. held frequent conferences with him; and the encouragement which that monarch is giving to men of science is matter of public notoriety.

But how does “The Model Republic” compare with monarchical Europe in these vitally important matters? Is not the noise which, in the United States, is made about freedom, as hollow as is the din with which our loud-belled churches call their congregations to the worship of him who they nevertheless say enjoined secret devotion?

In a country where no throned sovereign bears sway, where no crowned pope sends forth his bull forbidding the offices of human kindness to be extended to those who have incurred his displeasure, what dread tyrant willed that Thomas Paine should be shunned by many of his illustrious compeers;—that his bones should be refused a resting place beside those of even the least persecuting and vindictive of all the Christian sects; that his name should be almost left out of the history of the glorious deeds which his inspiration caused to be performed, and even to this day, be held, in utter abhorrence, by nearly all those for whose welfare his life and spendid talents were so cheerfully devoted? Who, is that tyrant?

“Priestcraft!” readily answer they who zealously advocate popular free discussion, and an appeal to popular opinion, as a means of finding out how to deal with those most important and complicated of all affairs,—religion and government. “Priestcraft!” they exclaim; (as they lavish their carefully unsystemized sociological facts, their critical expositions, and their logical deductions, upon the horrified, astounded, and enraged, but not at all edified multitude.

Well, my friends, between you and me, I must acknowledge that you have slapped that tyrant’s prime minister full in the face. Try it again. But first gather up your pearls, lest the many before whom you have indiscriminately cast them, and who want something of which they can make a far more practical and satisfactory use, turn upon and “rend you.”

“Ignorance! of course we know that priestcraft thrives on ignorance. Ignorance is that tyrant;” methinks I hear you further answer.

Yes, my friends, ignorance is that tyrant. But still, the most important, and by far most difficult question remains unanswered. He is not ignorance of the fact that the Bible is of human origin. The Bible is but one of the weather-cocks which tell which way the wind of popular folly blows. The Koran is another, and so is the Book of Mormon. And they are all rather useful than otherwise, as they furnish suggestions as to the course to be pursued by scientific and artistic reformers. He is not ignorance with respect to reading, writing, geography, grammar, arithmetic, Greek, Latin; in short, he is not ignorance of anything which has hitherto been taught or thought of in any school or college.

I’ll tell you what he is ignorance of, presently; and, at the same time, I will demonstrate how to liberate man from his despotism, and rescue the memory of Thomas Paine from the reproach which has been so unjustly, so blindly, or else so unintentionally heaped upon it.

Are such rights as English Constitutionalism can give us worth contending for? Independence is the only measure that can be of any avail; substantially said Thomas Paine to those more cautious rebels who, at the commencement of “the times that tried men’s souls,” were glooming over the miserable effects which half measures had produced.

Are such shams of rights as caucus-and-ballot-boxism can give us, worth spending any more time, and money, and agitation upon? I ask, and appeal to what has been most lyingly named free government in Greece, Rome, England, Venice, France, the United States, and wherever else it has been attempted to make permanent the crisis stage of progress which marks the departure from monarchy. No, my friends, Art-Liberty alone, can be of any avail.

Art-Liberty may now sound as strange as did American Independence when first pronounced by Thomas Paine; ay, and as treasonable, too. Still, I repeat, nothing short of Art-Liberty can prevent the freedom-experiment which Paine so powerfully incited, from failing in the United States, as badly as it has in every other country where it has been tried.

How far short of such failure is that experiment now? when statesmen, and philosophers, ay, and philanthropists, are seriously discussing the question, whether “free laborers” or “slaves” have the most uncomfortable time of it?

Look at the opaque web of entanglement which our “representatives” have wove, or “enacted” for us, and called “law.” Look at the wretched and expensive farces which the administerers of these “laws” play, under the name of “trials.” Are caucusing, balloting, “constitutions,” “laws,” and jury-trial-justice the sum and substance of the liberty for which Paine stimulated that glorious band which Washington led, to sacrifice their lives? Is this the end of the revolution which “Common Sense” instigated?

Was the earth fertilized and the ocean reddened with human blood, and were both earth and ocean strewn with the ashes and the wrecks of human skill and industry, in order to achieve demagogism? In fine, are nature’s resources fully exhausted, only to produce such a miserable abortion that her highest being, man, abjures her for the “supernatural?” Surely this cannot be so.

Reader, did you ever notice the fact that the United States Government and that of Russia are, and have always been on remarkably loving terms with each other? Well, this is but as natural as it is for “birds of a feather to flock together.” The political systems of both Russia and America, are, about equally, as pure absolutisms as governments can be. In Russia, the head of the majority-despotism which tyranizes, is designated by birth. The Russian Government is a simple despotism, modifiable by assassination. In the United States, the band of conspirators for wholesale Violence and wrong,—the head, or directory of the majority despotism which tyrannizes, is designated by caucus fraud, and ballot-box jugglery; aided by perjury, bribery, corruption, and by the occasional use of the fist, the bludgeon, the dagger, and the pistol. The difference between Russian and American despotism is so non-essential, that no two great governments in the world have shown such marked good feeling for each other, as have that of the Czar and those favorites with whom he shares the spoils, and that of the President, by whom and his sycophants, the United States is freshly subjugated and plundered every four years.

But what do you mean by Art-Liberty? Methinks I hear those ask who have not already hid their stupidity from themselves, under that common cover of dullness,—“Utopia.”

By Art-Liberty, my friends, I mean the practical application of all science and art systemized, as fast as unfolded. The only law which can govern a free state, must be discovered; it must be drawn from the whole of science and art; not “enacted;” human law can no more be “enacted” than can physical law.

Art-Liberty will be the crowning art of arts of developing nature’s resources, of discovering and modifying her laws, and of combining her powers till “creation” shall be complete; till supply shall be adequate to demand; till nature’s grand end, which the aim of her highest consciousness instinctively indicates, is attained; till nature’s highest organism, man, attains to happiness not only perfect, but lasting enough to fully satisfy his five-sense nature without recourse to “beyond the skies;” till all physical obstacles to man’s liberty to be happy are removed, even to the unfriendliness of climate! Not, by such fanciful means as that great seer, Fourier, supposed, but wholly through the working, with nature, of science and art, which have conquered steam and electricity, and made so many other things which were inimical to man’s happiness, the very means of promoting it; and which will make the good of everything, through use, in exact proportion to its present evil, through abuse or neglect.

Man’s leaders, must find out how to satisfy man’s highest aspirations, instead of catering for his prejudices; instead of confirming him, by flattery and cajolery, in his false, supernaturalistic notions; instead of studying the trickery of representing and plundering him. And they will rapidly find this out, as soon as a knowledge (already attained) of the unity of science, spreads among them, and along with it, its correlate,—that all mankind are one organism, no individual of which can be indifferent to each and all of the others. Enlightened, far-seeing, all-benefiting selfishness will then take the place of short-sighted, suicidal, penny wise pound foolish cunning; and that barricade of hypocrisy,—duty, that most fallible of all guides,—conscience, and “virtue” and “vice,” those most unscientific and mischievous expressions that have ever crept into the vocabulary of human folly, will be obsolete.

Let us draw a picture of the condition of things which the current schemes of politics, religion, moralism, “virtue,” and “law” must very shortly produce, if they had unopposed sway—if the requirements of both our civil and religious guides were fully complied with:—

If all contracts in accordance with present “law” were fulfilled to the letter, and if all the “duties” enjoined by present moralism were unflinchingly performed, and if all which “virtue” styles “vice” was entirely abstained from, and if what is now “free trade” according to “law,” had a “fair field,” how long would it take a millionth of the earth’s inhabitants to accumulate all its wealth? In my opinion, it would not take ten generations to produce that reign of “law,” “principle,” morality,” “virtue,” and “free trade,” or “mind-your-own business,”—and-every-one-for-himself-ism, on the earth.

But there must be no stealing, swindling, or robbery, as legally defined, on any account; and there must be no sexual intercourse out of the bonds of monogamy, even for bread; and above all, there must be no acts, or even words of treason. The laboring man and the laboring woman, must patiently and slowly (nay, not very slowly-I’m thinking) die on such wages as they who, in perfect security, held all the wealth, chose to give; and those out of work must brave martyrdom to “principle” by starving, straightway, unless they can obtain a “permit,” to drag out a few months, possibly years, in sack-cloth and on water-gruel in an alms-house.[9]

In all soberness, I ask, is not this a fair statement of the case? and, therefore, is not an entire change, religious, social, and moral, the only thing that can cure present religious, social, and moral disease? And who are nearest to the “kingdom of heaven?” who are least obstructive to the “millenium?” they who are now considered moral, virtuous, and respectable, or they whom such term immoral, vicious, and the vilest of the vile?

The only thing that ever made me seriously consider whether or not “Jesus” was a divine personage, was, the preference which he uniformly gave to “sinners,” “publicans and harlots,” even, over the “Scribes, Pharisees and hypocrites,” who performed all which “the law” and moralism required. And I must confess that I am still astonished that any one should, almost two thousand years ago, so fully have understood what so very few, even now, have any conception of. Yet this, the strongest argument which can be adduced to prove “Christ’s” divinity, the doctors of that divinity have never, to my knowledge, brought up. Need I add that the reason is very evident? Of course, were the doctors aforesaid to make a thorough use of this argument, they would upset the whole present political, legal, and moral scheme. Well, would it not be best to overthrow it by any means whatever? or, to put the question more justly, can present “institutions” be too soon or too thoroughly superseded by those which Art-Liberty, but for them, would produce?

Opinionism and moralism, like “supernaturalism, (of which they are the refinement) have ages since, exhausted what little power for good they ever had, and became so exceedingly morbific to the social organism, that they cannot be too speedily excreted. Reason and free discussion were once, in the fifth century, I believe, seriously engaged on the question as to whether angels could go from one point to another without passing through intermediate space; and I myself, in the nineteenth century, have heard reason and free discussion on the question as to whether there was or was not a personal devil; nay, that devil’s tail was actually discussed and reasoned upon. How much progress have reason and free discussion made since the fifth century? Have they made any? Are we not indebted for every bit of liberty we enjoy now, more than mankind did then, to science and art? always excepting what little good reason and free discussion or subjectivism have done as very common and proportionably subordinate auxiliaries, during crisis-stages of revolution. Then, these weapons, when wielded by such men as Thomas Paine, were of use: nay, would have been of use, had the social structure which they were the instruments of tearing down been replaced by one really new, instead of by one built of the damaged, ay, even rotten materials of the old one. Paine did all which he could be expected to do; but his noble efforts were not seconded; for they who wield his weapons now, resemble those soldiers who, instead of attacking fresh foes, continue to thrust their swords into the bodies of the slain. Was Thomas Paine here to-day, his old remedies, religious and political popular free discussion and reasoning would be thrown aside; or only used to assist science and art to displace them in religious and state affairs. How otherwise could he be Thomas Paine? He who was the very incarnation of revolution? True, he trusted that he should “never use any other weapons than those of reason;”[10] but he had before trusted that British constitutionalism was the best possible thing for the State. Yet how widely and nobly did he afterwards change his course in that respect; and would he not now see full as much cause as he did then, for taking another tack? Can any sensible person, who would honor his memory, say that he would not? say that he would be satisfied with the despotism which caucus-and-ballot-boxism has palmed off on us, or with any of the means hitherto used to get rid of it?

Man’s right to be self-governed is, equally with his desire to be so, self-evident. But what is most insultingly termed “elective franchise,” is the farthest thing possible from self-government. It is, except as a transient or crisis-stage expedient, of all fallacies the most monstrous. As a permanency, it has no type, and consequently no warrant throughout nature. In every instance where majorityism has become chronic, it has proved as bewildering and destructive to the social organism, as the worst insanity proves to the individual. There is no record of society’s being afflicted with the caucus-and-ballot-box mania for any considerable length of time, without having to be confined in the straight jacket of military despotism; or prescribed a double dose of essentially the same kind of tyranny from which it had been so madly supposed that an escape had been made. What, then, I ask, in behalf of Thomas Paine, whose distinguishing characteristic, was to “go ahead,” is the use of fooling any longer with the speculative, abstract, tantalizing shadows of human rights, which our corrupt, spoil-seeking demagogues impudently palm off on us for liberty? And why persist longer in repeating the miserable religious and moral failures into which our religious and moral quacks plunge us?

To what purpose have both religion and politics been so freely discussed, for nearly a century past, in the United States, by all who had more tongue than brain, and more vanity than depth of research? This is not saying that some wise and very worthy people have not also been led into the fallacy that abstract subjectivism was sufficient to remedy despotism. I was once in that unfortunate predicament myself; and the axiom of Thomas Jefferson (I believe it was Jefferson’s, at any rate it is the axiom of his loudest followers) was, that error may be safely trusted where reason is left free to combat it. But I ask in all soberness, has error been safely trusted in the United States, though reason is there as free to combat it as the majority will let it be? And with what good effect, so far as social architecture is concerned, have carefully culled, and almost as carefully isolated facts been, laid before the multitude, whose views are necessarily confined to the specialities which constitute their calling, since the acute stage of revolution in this country?

I tell you that facts, to be worth any thing, must be systemized; and that, too, immeasurably more in social or state affairs than in any others; and that this requires the wisest heads that can grow on human shoulders, aided by all science and art, and by the most laborious and uninterrupted preparation. Social Science is the art of arts; not the art of political trickery.

In spite of all the freedom of the tongue and of the press which the majority will allow to be exercised, or can allow to be exercised till social science and art take charge of education, is not our political system corrupt to the very core? Are not they who have charge of the public treasury a very gang of thieves? And are not they whom “elective franchise” places at the head of affairs, plunging the nation into bankruptcy every few years, and at shorter and shorter intervals, by their reckless wastefulness, in letting the life-blood of industry, as now carried on—money—pour abroad like water, for the sake of catching their dippers full of it?

And as to religion:—has not the empire state, New York, in 1860, enacted Sunday-laws which would have done credit to the Blue Code of Connecticut in 1650? Are not church-building, and church-going, and revivalism, ay, and Mormonism, rife among that very multitude—that highest court from whose dread decrees there is no present appeal, to whom free discussion and facts have been presented to the extent they can be by present methods?

The popular free-discussion or affairs of the last degree of complication—religious and state affairs—except during the crisis period of revolution, only renders that worst of despotisms, anarchy, chronic: it seats in the social organism, that political gangrene—demagogism—which has always hitherto, sooner or later, required the cauterization of military despotism, (a remedy all but as bad as the disease) in order to be got rid of—in order to save even-civilization. Despotism is the most inveterate of all the diseases of the social organism which ignorance has inflicted; nay, it is a complication of all its diseases. What, my fellow-man, would any of you think of the physician who should consult with an individual organism with a view to taking that organism’s opinion as to what course he (the physician) had best pursue in order to cure him, (the organism) of scrofula, complicated with every other bodily disease to which flesh is heir? Would not the patient, if he had one spark of common sense left, order such a doctor out of doors? with “Sir, I expected aid from your science and your healing art; and did not employ you to mock and insult me in my wretchedness.”

Would any one who possessed a spark of reason, even, venture at sea in a vessel, with respect to the management of which, the vote of all who happened to go on board was going to be taken? And do the managers of the ship of state require less preparation, than do common sailors? Do they not require so much more useful knowledge than they have ever been qualified with, that they have always wrecked or capsized the ship of state, except where it is only a question of time when they will do so? Evidently, church and state management require art and skill infinitely superior to what “super-naturalism” and its legitimate child, monarchism, or its bastard issue, caucus-and-ballot-boxism, are capable of. From the dissecting room; the chemical laboratory; the astronomical observatory; the physician’s and physiologists study; in fine, from all the schools of science and art, should human law be declared, instead of being “enacted” in legislative halls, by those who, in every respect besides political trickery, fraud, and “smartness,” are perfect ignoramuses.

Nature throughout, must be so modified (not changed); so liberated from the thralldom of antagonism or counteraction; in short, so improved by art, that the conditions which now necessitate despotism and evil will be superseded by those which will make liberty, and all that is desirable, as spontaneous as is the order of the spheres.

Man naturally desires to be good. There is not, never was, and never can be, a sane human being who would not like to have things so arranged, that every human desire could be fully gratified, instead of, as now, almost wholly denied gratification; man’s “holy” or “heavenly” desires,—the very quintessence of sensualness, are a constant, and will be an everlasting testimony to the truth of this.

Priestcraft cannot be put down, till man obtains his “being’s end and aim,” or is satisfied that it is attainable, in this material, this perceptible, this sense-world. To desire must be to possess, with the exception (if it can be called an exception) of the intervention of just exertion enough to give to possession its due value. Mankind will, with few exceptions, scorn reason, so long as it arrays itself against human instinct; against what man feels to be true. And until science and art give man (or assure him that they can give him) the perfect and sufficiently lasting happiness which he instinctively knows that the power which created him owes him and stands pledged to give him or turn out to be an almighty failure, he will pursue that happiness even beyond the grave; with priestcraft for his guide, of course.

Can nature or all existence, fail? and allow the drafts which, on the indisputable testimony of the human passions, she has authorized her highest beings to draw on her, to be protested? Surely, “supernaturalism” itself is less absurd than this.

Friends of human rights! Believers in progress! Is anything more certain, than that combined science and, its corresponding art, or full and complete development, must prove adequate to all for which “miracle” can be intelligibly invoked?

Ignorance with respect to this, then; ignorance of how to develop nature’s resources, and modify and harmoniously combine her powers, so as to liberate her tendency to perfection from all obstructions—so as that her means will correspondent to her ends,—constitutes the tyrant in search of whom we started. There he stands! But he is not invulnerable, nor is his fearfully, ay, all but “supernaturally” strong fortress impregnable. Let us “up and at him,” then, as determinedly as our sires of glorious memory charged his minions at Bunker Hill. Parleying, as we have learned by long, sad experience, is sheer nonsense; quarter being out of the question. This arch enemy of mankind must be annihilated before liberty can be an actuality. And the religious faith of the human race must be transferred from the mysterious and impossible, and from their correlates, the subjective and speculative, to the intelligible and practical. And these must be shown capable of fulfilling man’s highest aspirations, before he can truly understand the mission, and fully appreciate the worth of Thomas Paine.

I trust I have shown that, to conquer the tyrant which ignorance of how to be free constitutes, was the common aim, and the real, however glimmeringly perceived object, of the exertions of Rousseau, Paine, Comte, and all the other author-heroes and heroines, who have ever written. In conclusion allow me to propose a crisis-question for the practical consultation upon, of my friends, whose religion (if I may be allowed to accuse them of having any) reason and free discussion compose:

How can man be extricated from having to grovel round and round and round in the hopeless orbit which has mystery for its center, monarchy for his aphelion, demagogism for its perihelion, and unvarnished wretchedness or gilded misery for its whole course, except by scientifically, artistically, and unitedly creating the requisite conditions for Actual Liberty?

All have their hobby. Mine, it will be pretty clearly perceived is,—that nature, through development, will prove all-sufficient.

Come, all ye who delight in the amble of that well-tried hack,—popular religious, political, and sociological discussion, and who do not like the complexion of present religious, political, and social institutions, and who are not enamoured of the millennium which I have shown would constitute their ultimatum:—If you object to Art-Liberty, please to let the world know definitely, what you do propose.

[1] Published by Calvin Blanchard.

[2] “All the theologians of Wittemberg assembled to draw up an answer [to the Landgrave’s petition to be allowed to have two wives,] and the result was a compromise. He was allowed a double marriage, on condition that his second wife should not be publicly recognized.”

“If, nevertheless, your highness, is fully resolved to take a second wife, we are of opinion that the marriage should be secret.”

“Given at Wittemberg, after the festival of St. Nicholas, 1539,—Martin Luther, Philipp Melancthon, Martin Bucer, Antony Corvin, Adam, John Inning, Justin Wintfert, Dionisius Melanther.”—Michelets Life of Luther.

[3] Published by Calvin Blanchard.

[4] Between whom and Mr. Atkinson, there took place that admirable correspondence on the subject of the “Laws of Man’s Nature and Development,” republished in a neat volume by Mr. J. P. Mendum, publisher of the “Boston Investigator.”

[5] Published by Calvin Blanchard.

[6] This work should be in the possession of every scientific lover of liberty. It is published by D. Appleton & Co.

[7] Published by Harper & Brothers.

[8] Republished by Messrs. Harper & Brothers.

[9] I claim to have here made a very liberal concession; for I have strong doubts as to whether old fogyism, if it had it all its own way, and had not the slightest fear of being disturbed, would furnish even alms-houses, sackcloth, and water-gruel to any of its victims; to those who were too “shiftless” to take care of themselves.

[10] “The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is Reason. I have never used any other, and I trust I never shall;” says Paine, in his dedication of “The Age of Reason” to his “fellow-citizens of the United States of America.” But he had dreadful experience of the rebound against himself, which the blows that he dealt with that weapon caused. And superstition is fully as rampant with the multitude now, as it was before the “Age of Reason” was written; and it is as rife now, as it then was, even with the higher classes; with the exception that is clearly traceable to science and art. Every man of intelligence at all above the vulgar knows, that not only Ethan Allen, Jefferson, and Franklin “were infidels” as the phrase is, but that Lafayette, and, in fact, nearly all the other revolutionary worthies, no more believed in the “divinity” of “The Bible,” than Paine did.

About Shawn P. Wilbur 2096 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.