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say that works of fiction and amusement must and will be read, and that they ought to be read. There is a deal of religion in an earnest, hearty laugh that comes ringing from the heart. That man is a bad man who has not within him the power of a hearty laugh. Therefore it cannot be denied that it is part of the duty of the committee to furnish works of amusement; but I cannot but acknowledge that it is a matter of surprise and regret, that, even by an oversight, the committee should have represented it as their duty chiefly to furnish works of mere mental amusement. Rule declares that "The objects of this Institution are to provide means for the moral and intellectual improvement of its members." What has become of that high moral tone which characterised your first addresses to the public? Where are the men from whom I have heard, in the room below, language which did my heart good, and made me feel proud of my country, which made me compare it triumphantly with the language that men of the working classes were holding on the other side of the water? Men of the Brighton Working Man's Institute! how comes it that the language of your publications now is so immeasurably inferior in moral tone?
Once more, you owe it to the cause in which your society is enlisted, to reject peremptorily these infidel publications.
Every man, if he is not deterred by feeling for his own character, is deterred by feeling for his cause. There are many things that a soldier will do in his plain clothes which he scorns to do in his uniform. You have a cause, and I must acknowledge that the cause has received a severe blow by the proceedings of your last public meeting. I must admit, as I said before, that free institutions are looked upon now with eyes of jealousy and suspicion by many who lately felt towards them very favourably. I have heard again and again this taunt,-"These are your friends, the working men; this comes of your philanthropy." And others, in a less bitter spirit, have said, "I fear you will be disappointed in your hopes of these working men." My friends, the working men! Would to God they were my friends. Would to God I were more their friend. I look back once more two thousand years, and dare not forget Who it was that was born into this world the Son of a poor woman, and probably laboured for thirty years in a carpenter's shop, a Working Man!
In reply to that sarcasm, I observe, it is to be remembered that the first use a man makes of every power and talent given to him, is a bad use. The first time a man ever uses a flail, it is to the injury of his own head and of those who stand
around him. The first time a child has a sharpedged tool in his hand, he cuts his finger. But this is no reason why he should not be ever taught to use a knife. The first use a man makes of his affections, is to sensualise his spirit. Yet he cannot be ennobled, except through those very affections. The first time a kingdom is put in possession of liberty, the result is anarchy. The first time a man is put in possession of intellectual knowledge, he is conscious of the approaches of sceptical feeling. But that is no proof that liberty is bad, or that instruction should not be given. There is a moment in the ripening of the fruit when it is more austere and acid than in any other. It is not the moment of greenness, the moment when it is becoming red, the transition state, when it is passing from sourness into sweetness. It is a law of our humanity, that man must know both good and evil; he must know good through evil. There never was a principle but what triumphed through much evil; no man ever progressed to greatness and goodness but through great mistakes.
There have been great mistakes made in this society, and there are many difficulties; but you will weather the difficulties yet. The mistakes will become your experience. Nay, I believe that the discipline of character which many of you will have gained by this struggle with an evil
principle, and the practical insight which it has given you into the true bearing of many social questions, in which I personally know that wild and captivating theories have been modified in your minds by this recent experience, will be invaluable. If only this had been gained, I believe the institution would not have been established in vain. But if men say that all these difficulties tell against inquiry and education, I can only say that it proves we want more education. If I wanted a proof of that, I should find it in this,— that the working men of Brighton have not yet got beyond Tom Paine.
This, then, brother men, is the reply to the taunts that have been made use of. But still I am bound to acknowledge this, and I do it with shame and sorrow,—that there has been a handle put, by some of yourselves, into the hand of the bigot and the timid man. What then, is all that the tyrants of the past have said, true; and all that the philanthropists have said, false? Were all their gloomy predictions sagaciously prophetic? What have the tyrant, the bigot, and the timid said? That it is impossible to give power to the people without making them revolutionary, or to give them instruction without making them infidel. You owe it to yourselves and to your cause to cast the imputation from you. And if Infidelity pre
sumes to lay her hand upon the ark of your magnificent and awful cause, the cause of the people's liberty, and men say that it is part and parcel of the system, give that slander to the winds, and prove, men of Brighton, by the rejection of these books, and by the re-organisation of your society, that the cause of instruction and the cause of freedom are not the cause of infidelity.