Robert Blatchford (1894)

The New Party in the North

Source: The New Party, described by some of its members, ed. Andrew Reid, London 1894, pp. 11-34
Note: The ‘New Party’ was proposed as a way of uniting the left by a number of Liberals, Radicals, and Christian Socialists headed by Grant Allen. Robert Blatchford was by then a member of the ILP, but hoped for a broader united party in the future.
Many of Blatchford's unreferenced quotations in this article are from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass.
Transcribed: by Graham Seaman for MIA, January 2021

I AM asked to tell what the great mass of the workers in the North of England desire. It would be easier to say what they need. Many of them would ask for more wages, many for shorter hours of work, not a few for better racing “tips,” or more beer.

Go amongst the masses of the poor in our crowded Lancashire and Yorkshire towns, and ask them what they wish for. The men will say “a living wage,” or “an eight hours’ day;” the wives, poor drudges, will tell wistfully of how their work is never done, of the struggle they have to make both ends meet. A little more money, a little more ease, a little more pleasure of their hard and jaded lives — these things they desire, and would be unreasonably grateful for. But speaking of the northern workers in the mass, I cannot, of my own knowledge, report the existence of any earnest and efficient desire for the attainment by all of the best that human life can yield. The more prosperous workers are without heed; the more penurious are without hope. In both cases the fact is due less to lack of noble impulse or of native sense than to lack of knowledge. Show the more successful workers the truth about our social system, and they are just enough and generous enough, aye, and wise enough, to wish to right it. Show the crushed and miserable poor that their suffering and debasement are not inevitable; show them that they have just claims to a better life, and sure means for its attainment, and they will prove that they possess the courage and the intelligence to fight and win.

Half a century ago Carlyle described most vividly and truly the state of mind of the northern working masses:—

“Thus these poor Manchester manual workers mean only, by fair day’s wages for fair day’s work, certain coins of money adequate to keep them living—in return for their work, such modicum of food, clothes, and fuel as will enable them to continue their work itself! They as yet clamour for no more; the rest, still inarticulate, cannot shape itself into a demand at all, and only lies in them as a dumb wish; perhaps only, still more inarticulate, as a dumb, altogether unconscious want.”

Ten years ago, perhaps five years ago, that passage was still literally true of all the masses. To-day it is true of the majority. But there are signs of change.

There is now, in the North of England, a party of progress; and, which is of more value and significance than the existence of any party, there is, blazing or smouldering amongst our densely populated districts, a new enthusiasm; almost a new religion.

The party, indeed, can hardly claim the name of party yet. It is scattered, it is badly organised, it consists of many and somewhat incongruous elements; resembling more a number of isolated clans in revolt than a unanimous people banded for revolution. I will speak of this body or party first, and will then attempt some description of the religion or soul.

The New Party, somewhat inaccurately called “The Labour Party,” is largely Socialistic. Broadly speaking, its component parts are five. There are the Social Democrats, the Fabians, the Labour Church, the Independent Labour Party, and the unattached supporters of “The Cause.” Of these constituent bodies the oldest is the Social Democratic Federation; the youngest, and, perhaps, the most progressive, is the Independent Labour Party. But the largest, and, speaking generally, the most intelligent, earnest, and unselfish, is the great mass of new converts, who, for various reasons, have not joined any organisation.

Thus in Manchester and Salford the Social Democrats certainly do not number 500 paying members, nor the Independent Labour Party four times that number. Yet at the last municipal elections the Labour vote in those towns was 8000.

The Fabian Societies in the North are few in number, and their membership is small. Many of these associations — which at best were little more than Socialist clubs — have been merged in the Independent Labour Party.

Between the Independent Labour Party and the Social Democrats there is little cordiality and no cohesion. The latter have a Federation of their own, and regard the New Party with suspicion. Firstly, because the Social Democrats did not consider a new organisation necessary; secondly, because the Independent Labour Party refuses to put the word “Socialist” into its title.

The Labour Church keeps closely in touch with all the other organisations, and also with the numerous unattached adherents, but is most frequently and closely allied with the Independent Labour Party. Many of its members are members of one or other of the Labour organisations, most of them are avowed Socialists.

The Social Democrats are the pioneers of Socialism in England. Their Federation was formed by Mr. H. M. Hyndman more than ten years ago. They have worked hard and faithfully, and still show an unwavering front and an unyielding spirit. At a time when the word Socialism stank in the nostrils of the people, at a time when Socialism meant scorn, and sorrow, and even danger to those who embraced it, the Social Democratic Federation men stood up boldly to preach their gospel at the street corners, in defiance of the threats of the rich and the jeers of the poor. That their numbers are still far from large, and their influence still far from powerful, is due not to any lack of honesty or zeal. Had the Social Democrats been less abstruse and less materialistic, had they more often preached higher ideals and less often higher wages, and had their leaders realised the wisdom of making their economic doctrines more popular and simple, their progress would have been tenfold greater.

The Fabian clubs are the result of the lecturing tours undertaken by the members of the London Fabian Society. They won over a good many men who resented the rigid code and sometimes violent language of the Social Democrats, and have, as I said before, been largely merged in the Independent Labour Party, whose theories of moderate Socialism and constitutional methods are in harmony with the Fabian idea.

The Labour Church was founded by John Trevor in the autumn of 1891. It began at Manchester, and has since extended southwards to Portsmouth and northwards to Dundee. Its idea is to insist upon the Labour Movement as a religious movement, and to combine in its agitation the spiritual with the material well-being of the people. Its services consist of Labour or Socialistic hymns, a short prayer, a reading from some Religious or Democratic book, and an address on some aspect of the Labour Movement, generally delivered by a recognised leader of the Social Democrats, the Fabians, the Independent Labour Party, the Trades’ Unionists, or the Labour Church itself. It is a flourishing institution, and I believe it to be of very great value to the movement.

The great Unattached are more difficult to describe. They consist of men and women of all classes. Amongst them are parsons, doctors, lawyers, schoolmasters, artists, actors, authors, journalists, shopkeepers, landlords, capitalists, merchants, mechanics, labourers, soldiers, sailors, civil servants, policemen, and officials of all kinds. They are to be found in every town and village; in schools, post-offices, railway stations. Government offices, Liberal and Conservative clubs, and indeed in all those places where they might be the least expected. All these people are outposts, sentinels, pioneers, apostles, and recruiting officers. Of their zeal, devotion, intelligence, and unselfishness no one has more knowledge or appreciation than the present writer. To the increase of their numbers I look for the present progress and final victory of “the cause that cannot fail.”

The Independent Labour Party was formed at the Bradford Conference in 1893. It is a growing party, and will keep on growing. Its object is to secure Socialism by means of direct Labour representation, and independently of the assistance or action of the Liberal or Conservative Parties.

Such are the chief constituents of what I have called the Northern Party of Progress. So sudden has been its origin, so rapid its growth, so completely has it severed itself from all established political, religious, economic, and social ideas and methods, that as yet its significance has not been realised nor its principles understood by Aristocracy, Plutocracy, or Democracy, by Church, or Press, or Parliament. To the misgovernors and misleaders of the people the new Labour Party is an insignificant mob of ignorant men, led by a few self-seeking demagogues; to the Tories it is a mere effervescence of malcontent Radicals and windy Socialists; to the Liberals it is a “Tory dodge.” To those who are in the party, and have helped to make it, it is a vast and increasing army of educated, alert, and resolute reformers, who can neither be intimidated, nor cajoled, nor cozened, nor bribed to turn aside from the task they have undertaken — the task of securing to the British people the possession, control, and enjoyment of their own country and their own lives.

Five years ago there were not five hundred Socialists in Manchester. Now there must be thirty thousand. Two years ago Socialism was despised and rejected of men. Now it is on all lips and pens. It is written about, argued about, spoken about, and preached about. It is the foremost topic of discussion the country through. It is even recognised and sometimes acknowledged by its opponents as a thing not wholly dependent upon madness or dishonesty for its inculcation, nor upon bombs and bludgeons for its accomplishment. It has passed through the stages of contempt and vilification, and has entered the stage of discussion. It has a literature of its own, and a Press of its own. The Clarion, which is the first Socialist paper that ever paid its way in this country, has a circulation in the North of 40,000. Less than three years ago we had no Clarion, no Labour Prophet, no Labour Church, and no Independent Labour Party. If the New Party advances at the same speed for three years more, it will be a force exceedingly difficult to reckon with.

So much for the New Party: now of the new religion. Whence came it? What is it? If you asked a London Socialist for the origin of the new movement he would refer you to Karl Marx and other German Socialists. But so far as our northern people are concerned I am convinced that beyond the mere outline of State Socialism Karl Marx and his countrymen have had but little influence. No; the new movement here; the new religion, which is Socialism, and something more than Socialism, is the result of the labours of Darwin, Carlyle, Ruskin, Dickens, Thoreau, and Walt Whitman.

It is from these men that the North has caught the message of love and justice, of liberty and peace, of culture and simplicity, and of holiness and beauty of life. This new religion which is rousing and revivifying the North is something much higher and much greater than a wage question, an hours’ question, or a franchise question, based though it is upon those things; it is something more than a mere system of scientific government, something more than an economic theory, something more even than political or industrial liberty, though it embraces all these. It is a religion of manhood and womanhood, of sweetness and of light. As John Trevor said in the Labour Prophet: “It has not been to a new economic theory merely that these converts have been introduced. It has been to a new life. Their eyes shine with the gladness of a new birth.”

For this we are indebted to the idol-breaking of Carlyle, to the ideal-making of Ruskin, and to the trumpet-tongued proclamation by the titanic Whitman of the great message of true Democracy and the brave and sweet comradeship of the natural life — of the stainless, virile, thorough human life, lived out boldly and frankly in the open air and under the eyes of God.


To love each other as brothers and sisters, and to love the earth as the mother of us all, that is part of our new religion. Our new religion tears the old dogmas to tatters, hurls the old Baals in the dust, declares much of that which the economists call “wealth” to be the same thing that Ruskin calls “illth.” Our new religion turns its back upon the churches, with their symbolisms and ceremonies and display, and teaches us that love and mercy and art are the highest forms of worship. Our new religion claims man back to freedom from commercial and industrial vassalage; tells him that he is as much a piece of Nature as the birds of the air or the lilies of the field; that he, no more than they, can be healthy or fair, nor in anywise complete without fresh air, and pure water, and sunshine, and peace; tells him that since he above all his kindred of earth and sea is endowed with spirit, so must that spirit be nourished and kept sweet by spiritual sustenance and spiritual effort, else will it inevitably become corrupt and breed disease, contagion, and death.

Our new religion tells him that the body must be nourished that the soul may thrive, and that nothing which is got at the soul’s expense is cheap, nor anything which is needful for the glory and uplifting of the soul dear:—

"All parts away for the progress of souls, all religion, all solid things, arts, governments—all that was or is apparent upon this globe or any globe falls into niches and corners before the procession of souls along the grand roads of the universe."

There is no way for the body to be healthy, no room for the soul to breathe and expand, in the slums, in the factories, in the markets and exchanges, the drinking kens and casinos, the political clubs and bethels of our great industrial towns. Therefore the great industrial towns and the competitive-commercial system which produced them are anathema to us, and our religion bans them.

We all know the glorious institutions and heroic ideals upon which Carlyle and Ruskin and Dickens and Thackeray poured out the vials of their irony and scorn. We all know the great Westminster windmill, where ignorant educated men grind wind with which to fill the bellies of the hapless workers. We all know how those illustrious legislators, when the people ask for bread, spend months and even years in debating as to whether or not it would be rash to offer them a stone. We all know the ragged Falstaffian army of the Press, “without drill, uniform, captaincy, or billet; with huge over-proportion of drummers; you would say, a regiment gone wholly to the drum, with hardly a sound musket in it." We all know the champion ineptitude, the adroitest of all political mountebanks at swallowing words and juggling figures, the “poor forked radish” who is raised upon the bucklers by the proverbial twenty-seven millions, as the triumphant outcome of English history, and fittest man to rule over us. We all know Bobus of Houndsditch, Plugson of Undershot, and Messrs. Bounderly, Gradgrind, Podsnap & Co. We know these men, and the things they profess, and call by the names of “political economy,” “practical common-sense,” and “religion.”

We will have no more of these Dead Sea apes nor of their heroes, nor of their creeds, nor of their aspirations. Never surely since the world went round has it harboured a race of such mean, vulgar, and impossible little infidelities as the British Snobocracy with their gospel of “enlightened selfishness.”

A whole nation ordered, or rather disordered, on the supposition that if every man were free to rob and injure every other, universal peace and prosperity would be the natural outcome! A class of useless and idle superior persons consuming and wasting the wealth produced by the toilers, and calmly assuring those toilers that the more wealth is wasted the more employment will it find the poor in producing still more! A Press, ruled less by its editors than its advertisement canvassers, prating of military glory, with half the Crimean veterans in the workhouse! A Church preaching serenely of the religion of Jesus Christ, and voting in solid phalanx against every attempt at the practical realisation of Christ’s doctrines! A populace singing “Britons never, never, never shall be slaves,” yet not so much as daring to put their thoughts into words for fear lest they should lose their work! A great nation of shopkeepers who think God only good for one day in the seven; who attach a “property qualification” to all offices where brains and probity are most needed; who describe adulteration as “another form of competition;” who brazenly pretend that greed, vulgarity, injustice, and the degradation and disfigurement of the country and the people must be maintained for fear art and enterprise and literature and heroism should become extinct! These things we know well, and despise most utterly.

Well do we know the hero beloved of Smiles: the man of “self-help,” the man who “rose from the people by his own efforts,” the man who “got on.” The New Party will have none of him. The New Party scoffs at and derides the cult of gig-respectability and successful calico-sizing; will pay no honour to selfishness, howsoever successful. Will dignify no self-made men; will erect no statues to Hudson, or Arkwright, or Jay Gould, or Masham. Will rather honour the giver than the getter, rather love the man-helper than the self-helper; will put the names of John Ruskin, Thomas Carlyle, Walt Whitman, and Erasmus Darwin above those of all the money-spinners, fame-winners, blood-shedders, and self-makers that ever encumbered the earth.

The New Party will not aspire to the huckster’s heaven of financial success, nor deliver up its soul to escape the huckster’s hell of financial failure. The New Party knows that “money never yet paid one man for service to another.” It will not value love, duty, or devotion in stolen doubloons like a buccaneer, nor in scalps like a Choctaw Indian. It will spurn self-interest and crown self-sacrifice. It will ask not what a man has got, but what he has given. It will not be led by the Bishop of Manchester to give a judge a large salary for fear he should betray his trust for bribes. It will not reward its Rorke’s Drift heroes by a present of a pair of regulation trousers. It will not be imbecile enough to suppose that Miltons, Stephensons, Turners, Harveys, Herschells, Darwins, Ruskins, Alfred Wallaces, and Florence Nightingales are to be bought in the market at current rates, and that when the supply falls below the demand, nothing is necessary but to bid higher. It will regard a man’s talent as it regards the earth and sea, as the gift of God, to be used by all for the good of all. It will answer the mere commercial hero’s demand for more wages:

“Strong men and clever men were not sent here to enslave and plunder their weaker fellow-creatures, but to serve them. It is the duty of the young to wait upon the old, of the hale to nurse the sick, of the chaste to succour the frail. It is the general’s prerogative to go first into danger, the captain’s to be the last to leave the sinking ship. The proudest motto the proudest man can take is Ich Dien, ‘I serve’”

Contrast the new religion with the old. The old religion obeys half the command: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself.” It stops short before it comes to its neighbour. The new religion begins at its neighbour, though it does not necessarily e^id there. In place of Anglicism with its gentility, Romanism with its pomp and circumstance, and Calvinism with its fire and brim- stone, it gives us a charity which “beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things” of men, and endureth all things for men. It gives us a charity as broad, as sweet, as merciful as Whitman’s “profound lesson of reception, nor preference, nor denial” whereby “the black with his woolly head, the felon, the diseased, the illiterate person are not denied ... none but are accepted, none but shall be dear.” It gives us a hope which will not be satisfied with a “gentleman God,” nor daunted by the terrors of a whitewashed devil and a burnt-out hell. It tells us that while a single English child is hungry or ignorant, a single English woman disgraced and cast out as unclean, a single Englishman denied the work he asks for, or deprived of the light he needs, or the love he desires, or the honour he deserves, there shall be no money for the conversion of the heathen abroad, nor the decoration of cathedrals at home. It tells us, in the words of Ruskin, “Whether there be one God or three, no God or ten thousand, children should be fed, and their bodies should be kept clean.” It tells us, in the words of Christ, “Inasmuch as ye have not done it unto one of the least of these, ye have not done it unto Me.” It will hearken to no platitudes about holiness from priests who do not pay trade union prices:—

“While women are weeping and children starving; while industrious men and women are herding like beasts in filthy and fever-haunted hovels, to build art-galleries and churches, town-halls and colleges, is like putting on a muslin shirt over a filthy skin, a diamond crown upon a leprous head.

“The religion and the culture which demand riches and blazonry while vice and misery are at their side are like painted harlots, hiding their debaucheries with rouge, and their shame with satin and spices.

“The cant and affectation of piety and culture which lisp sentiment and chant hymns in drawing-rooms and chapels while flesh and blood are perishing in the streets, and while the souls of our sisters creep shuddering to hell — this religion and this culture, these maudlin, sickening things, with their poems and sonatas, their chants and benedictions, are things false and vain and nothing else but lies.”

There can be no true culture, there can be no true art, there can be no true progress, there can be no true religion without sincerity. I have seen in Manchester a noble picture of Greek women at the fountain, hung up to instil into the minds of the citizens of that sordid, sooty, vulgar, and hideous town a love of beauty, and outside the art-gallery I have seen a grey-headed old English woman staggering along, bent double under a sack of cinders.

When the Ship Canal, through mismanagement, was in financial straits, the Manchester city fathers advanced a loan of some two millions — of the ratepayers’ money—because the “honour of the city was involved.” Two or three years before that, when attention was called to the fact that the Manchester slums were the largest, the foulest, and the most deadly in all England, those same city fathers were afraid to incur the expense of demolishing and rebuilding them. There was much talk then of the burdens of the ratepayers, but not one word about the honour of the city. The honour of the city, it seems, is not concerned with the lives of its people.

Manchester is called a great city. It has a great population, a costly and hideous town-hall, a high death-rate, and a lord mayor. But in the eyes of the New Party Manchester is in nowise great.

A great city is that which has the greatest men and women.
If it be a few ragged huts, it is still the greatest city in the whole world.
The place where a great city stands is not the place of stretched wharves, docks, manufactures, deposits of produce merely.
Nor the place of ceaseless salutes of newcomers, or the anchor-lifters of the departing.
Nor the place of the tallest and costliest buildings, or shops selling goods from the rest of the earth.
Nor the place of the best libraries and schools, nor the place where money is plentiest.
Nor the place of the most numerous population.
Where the city stands with the brawniest breed of orators and bards.
Where the city stands that is beloved by these, and loves them in return, and understands them.
Where no monuments exist to heroes but in the common words and deeds.
Where thrift is in its place, and prudence is in its place.
Where the men and women think lightly of the laws.
Where the slave ceases, and the master of slaves ceases.
Where the populace rise at once against the never-ending audacity of elected persons.
Where fierce men and women pour forth as the sea to the whistle of death pours its sweeping and unrippled waves.
Where outside authority enters always after the precedence of inside authority.
Where the citizen is always the head and ideal, and president, mayor, governor, and what not are agents for pay.
Where children are taught to be lords to themselves, and to depend on themselves.
Where equanimity is illustrated in affairs.
Where speculations on the soul are encouraged.
Where women walk in public processions in the streets the same as the men.
Where they enter the public assembly, and take places the same as the men.
Where the city of the faithfulest friends stands.
Where the city of the cleanliness of the sexes stands.
Where the city of the healthiest fathers stands.
Where the city of the best-bodied mothers stands.
There the great city stands.

And Manchester does not stand there, nor does any city in all England, for great cities we have none.

A gulf parts the masses from the classes. This gulf is the gulf of ignorance, and only knowledge can bridge it. It is astounding, the utter ignorance of the lives of the poor, the complete misapprehension of their conditions, their trials, their hopes, and their ideals, which the rich manifest in their words and deeds. For some years past I have been engaged in helping to make and to preach our new religion. Yet, not many weeks ago, a well-meaning clergyman, of Liberal views, who had just read one of my books, came to see me, and asked, “Who is it you are writing for? What is it you complain of? Are you thinking of the residuum — the submerged tenth?”

This from a Manchester clergyman, a man professing great interest in the workers, a man who sat at the time he spoke within a stone’s-throw of the Manchester slums.

He thought the workers, except the idle and incapable, were pretty well off, and that poverty would cure itself. He held the notion, common to his class, that the question is simply one of wages. He thought the colliers and the cotton operatives had a good deal to be thankful for. Have they not a living wage?

Yes, they have a living wage. But have we forgotten the long and deadly struggles they were forced to undertake to keep that wage? and is there nothing to be given to the workers but wages?

Even if we accept wages as the one thing needful; even if we go as far as the man in “Our Mutual Friend,” and consider the labour question simply as “a question of so many pounds of beef and so many pints of porter,” can we say that the masses have as much beef and porter as they need?

What of the wages of the tailors, the shirtmakers, the match-makers, the dockers, the sailors, the railway men, the farm-labourers, the lead-workers, the slipper-makers, the shop-assistants, the domestic servants, the canal-boat workers, the chain and nail makers, the old soldiers, the match-hawkers, the feather-dressers, the silk-dyers, the artificial flower makers, the fishermen, the costers, the news-boys? What of all the workers’ wives ?

But wages are not all. We have to ask how hard and how long these people work; we have to ask what their homes are like, what health they enjoy, how much rest and culture, and fresh air, and wholesome recreation they obtain.

And we find that their homes are dismal and mean, that their labour is long and hard, that they have scarcely any fresh air, or sweet rest, or pure amusements.

And we find that the death-rates are terribly high, that the duration of life is short, that the bill of health is bad. In one district of Manchester a committee of ladies found that 60 per cent. of the population were sick. In some of the slum districts Dr. Thresh found death-rates of 75 and 90 in the thousand, as against rates of 9 and 16 in the suburbs.

Consider again the dangers, the hardships, and the sickness incidental to the work of the sailors, the fishermen, the colliers, the chemical workers, match-makers. Go amongst the cotton operatives and see how factory work in factory towns deteriorates the people mentally and physically.

No; it is not of the submerged tenth we are thinking only. It is of the English people. Over all is the shadow of fear — the fear of failure and the workhouse. But I could not in a volume so much as enumerate all the evils of our present English civilisation. There is a whole library of blue-books filled with the statistics and the evidence of the hardships and labours and sufferings of those who create the wealth of this rich miserable country. Not the least of the wrongs of the poor is one of which blue-books take no cognisance, the denial to the best brain and bone and sinew of the nation of the respect due to all men by virtue of their manhood. Our workers are honoured and loved too little; they are governed, and patronised, and lectured overmuch.

What, then, do we demand? We demand that national co-operation shall displace individual competition; we demand to this end the nationalisation of the land and all the instruments of production and of distribution. We demand that our industry be organised, and that production be for use and not for sale.

We demand that the factory system and the manufacturing system be curtailed or abolished because they are mechanical and unpleasant, because they make our towns and cities ugly and dirty and unhealthy, because they annually destroy thousands of useful lives.

We demand that our agricultural resources be developed because agriculture is more pleasant and more healthy than manufactures, because in an agricultural nation the towns would be cleaner and handsomer and more wholesome, and because the destruction of our agriculture renders us dependent upon foreign countries for our food, and so exposes us to certain defeat and ruin in case of war.

At present the people of the North have not only ceased to possess their own country, they have ceased to know it. They never see England. They see only brick walls, chimneys, smoke, and cinder-heaps. They are unable to so much as conceive the fairness and sweetness of England. They are strangers and aliens in their own land.

We say, then, give the English people their own country. But we do not stop there. We demand that they shall not only be made the free possessors of their own country, but also of their own earnings, of their own lives, of their own bodies and their own souls.

We regard work as a means and not as an end: men should work to live, they should not live to work. We demand for the people as much leisure, as full and sweet and noble a life as the world can give. We want labour to have its own; not merely the price of its sweat, but its due meed of love and honour. In our eyes the lifeboat man is a hero, and the African machine-gun soldier “opening up new markets” is a brigand and assassin. In our eyes the skilled craftsman or farmer is a man of learning, and the Greek-crammed pedant is a dunce. In our eyes an apple orchard is more beautiful and precious than a ducal palace. In our eyes the worth of a nation depends on the worthiness of its people’s lives, and not upon the balance at the national bank. We want a religion of justice and charity and love. We do not want pious cant on Sundays, and chicanery and lust all the rest of the week. We want a God who is fit for business, and a business that is worthy of God. We want the code of private honour and the bonds of domestic love carried into all our public affairs. We want a realisation, in fact, of the brotherhood we hear so much about in theory. Because we know the meaning of heredity and environment, because we believe that men are what their surroundings make them, we want justice for all, love for all, mercy for all.

We are the party of humanity. Our religion is the religion of humanity. “The black with his woolly head, the felon, the diseased, the illiterate are not denied.” The thief on the Cross, the Magdalen at the well are our brother and our sister; bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh. If you persecute these, if you insult them, if you rob them, you rob and persecute and insult us. Without the love, and the counsel, and the aid of our fellow-creatures, the best of us were savages — little more than brutes. What we are they made us, what we know they taught us, what we have they gave us; we are theirs, and they are ours, and for them we will speak and write, and fight, if needs be.

For me, I am of the people, and I know them. I know them to be capable of the best. I speak for them in the words of Milton —

“Lords and Commons of England, consider what nation it is whereof ye are, and whereof ye are the governors; a nation not slow and dull, but of a quick, ingenious, and piercing spirit; acute to invent, subtle and sinewy to discourse, not beneath the reach of any point, the highest that human capacity can soar to.”

I speak for them in the words of Christ —

“Inasmuch as ye have not done it unto one of the least of these, ye have not done it unto Me.”

I speak for them of my own knowledge, for the brave and clever and good people who have been so kind, and so faithful, and so affectionate to me; and I say that they are so capable and so worthy that the greatest men and noblest women of our time are only indications of the height which the masses may reach and surpass.

Just as by cultivation the acrid wild crab has been developed into the beautiful and luscious apple, may the unripe, ill-fed, neglected wild fruits of the fields and slums be developed into pure and noble and beautiful men and women.

And the means to this end are justice and freedom, and peace and culture, and love and honour from man to man.

Some day, near or far, “the slave shall cease, and the master of slaves shall cease,” the hideous mirk and squalor of our modern cities shall be swept away, and in the flower-starred meadows, under the sweet blue northern sky, the men and the maids of merrie England shall dance and sing, and “think lightly of the laws.”

God bless them, say I, these our children. We shall rest none the less peacefully under their glancing feet because we have helped to make them happy,

Robert Blatchford.