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Thus ends the strange and solemn dirge of ancient Egypt, preserving to the last its correspondence with that primæval building wherein the granite Trinity concealed within its height keeps watch over the “ Abode of Flame" far in the subterranean depth below. Once perceived, the intimate connection between the secret doctrine of Egypt's most venerated books and the secret significance of Egypt's most vcnerable monument seems impossible to dissever. The path of Illumination which is conveyed by description in the Ritual is described masonically in the Grand Pyramid; and each form illustrates and interpenetrates the other. As we peruse the dark utterances and recognise the mystic allusions of the Book, we seem to stand amid the profound darkness enwrapping the whole interior of the building. All around are assembled the spirits and the Powers that make the mystery of the unseen world: the “ Secret Faces at the Gate,” the "gods of the Horizon and of the Orbit.” And dimly before our eyes, age after age, the sacred procession of the Egyptian dead moves silently along, as they pass through the “Gate of the Hill ” to the tribunal of Osiris. In vain do we attempt to trace their footsteps till we enter with them into the Hidden Places, and penetrate the secret of the House of Light. But no sooner do we approach the passages and tread the chambers of the mysterious Pyramid than the teaching of the Sacred Books seems lit up as with a tongue of flame. The luminous veil itself melts slowly away, disclosing the Path of Illumination and the splendours of the Orbit; the celestial Powers and Intelligences shine forth from beneath their enshrouding symbols; the spirits of the Just grow lustrous with the rays that proceed from the Tribunal. And a glory which is not of earth reveals in its divine unity the full mystery of the Hidden Places, the House of New Birth, the Well of Life, the Lintel of Justice, the Hall of Truth, the Orbit of Illumination, the Throne of Judgment, and the Orient Chamber of the Open Tomb.
W. MARSHAM ADAMS.
LIBERALISM AND SOCIAL REFORM;A WARNING.
TH the Reform Bill of 1885, so far, at least, as Great Britain is
concerned, the era of political agitation may be said to have ended and the popular mind to have been directed into the comparatively untrodden paths of social reform.
Some years ago, shortly after the Reform Act of 1867, an interesting series of articles appeared in one of the English reviews under the title of “The Warnings of Cassandra.” In them the author predicted that the concession of predominant political power to the working classes would lead to the demand for reforms of a Socialistic character in the interests of that class, and that in the race for political power the leaders of both parties would sacrifice the principles of political economy and the permanent welfare of the State to the alluring and demoralising policy of panem et circenses.
It is, indeed, by no means remarkable that the industrial and agricultural classes should employ their political power for the advancement of their material interests. As was happily said by M. Laveleye,“ Equality of political rights leads inevitably to the demand for equality of conditions,” and “Equality of rights is proclaimed whilst inequality of facts still remains."
One significant feature is to be observed in the fact that the present movement for social reform springs from above rather than below. The cry for an eight hours bill, for further factory legislation, for improvement of sanitation, for the increase of allotments and small holdings, for the readjustment of the incidence of taxation, for old age pensions, is less the spontaneous demand of the working classes than the tactical inducement of the political strategist. Thus much must, however, be conceded-and the constant strikes of both organised and unorganised labour are in evidence—that the labouring classes are rapidly becoming impressed with the conviction that they do not receive that share of the value of the product of their labour to which they conceive themselves entitled, and that the time has arrived when, to use the somewhat crude phrase of Ms. Chamberlain, they propose “the exaction of ransom ” from the landlord and the capitalist.
It is a curious fact that of the two parties the Liberal was the more tardy in taking up questions of social reform. Great organic changes in the body politic, Home Rule for Ireland, disestablishment of the Welsh and Scotch Churches, the readjustment and amplification of electoral machinery, reform of the Upper Chamber—these were the cardinal features of its legislative programme, and those great social problems which now menacingly confront us were all but absolutely ignored. It is to the Tory initiative that we owe the keen solicitude now manifested by our party leaders and managers for the artisan and the labourer. The Tories joyfully availed themselves of social reform as a set-off against Home Rule, and while Liberal platforms were eloquent with the "wrongs of Ireland” the wrongs of England exercised a not less potent spell over Tory orators.
While it is beyond question that social reforms will among the people of Great Britain “hold the field” against purely political reforms, it is equally obvious that their progress will prove disappointingly slow to the “ Fabian” philosopher and the young men and old men who “ dream dreams ” at Spring-gardens. Although both parties in the State are absolutely dependent upon the working-class vote, and the days of setting off the middle-class against the working-class are at aa end, yet the control and direction of democracy is with the upper and middle-class.
The working man has not yet invaded the field cí Parliamentary leadership. Indeed, so far as labour representatives are concerned, with the exception of Mr. Burns and Mr. Keir Hardie, they have not hitherto got beyond the stage of trade union delegation. So long, indeed, as Parliamentary initiative is with the upper and middle classes—and there is no reason to anticipate a speedy change in this respect-so long will progress in social reforms be comparatively gradual. Yet, though this progress will be slow, it will be certain in its operation. Trade unions are ceasing to work as disintegrated units, and are learning the value of consolidation for the protection of the commoa interests of labour. Again, the application of the powers of organised labour to objects other than ordinary trade interests is zealously taught and eagerly learnt, and the present order of labour representative, who protects the narrow and sectional interests of particular trades, is likely to find its successors in those who believe that the wider field of
Parliamentary action is to be preferred to isolated trade combinations for the uplifting of labour to a higher standard of material prosperity.
It is the purpose of this article to discuss the attitude of the Liberal party in relation to Social Reforms, but before doing so it may be well to consider the nature and tendency of the Socialistic movement in England. Scientific Socialism has not hitherto made any appreciable progress among the English working class, nor is there any indication that it will do so ; its votaries are almost exclusively to be found among the French and German settlers in London and our large towns, and in a knot of middle-class men of easy circumstances and enthusiastic temperament. There has never been on their part any serious attempt to formulate for legislative purposes a scheme by which their conception of a perfect social state may be wholly or partially realised. True Socialism-as they for the most part frankly admit-has not progressed, nor will progress for many a long day, beyond the stage of “negative criticism.” The English working man has neither the patience nor the ideality to work out the problem how “private and competing capital” is to be transformed into a "united and collective capital”; but on the other hand he is keenly alive to every reform which may work improvement in his social condition, he readily appreciates fiscal changes which may lessen his burden of taxation or cheapen the cost of commodities, he extends his approval to schemes which may secure better remuneration for his labour or may add to his sum of material comfort. But he is far too practical to be content with an attitude of “negative criticism," or to postpone immediate benefits to the distant realisation of ideals. Possibly Mr. John Burns may be regarded as a fairly representative type of the English Socialist, but between his Socialism and that of Karl Marx or Lassalle there is absolutely nothing in common. Their Socialism is a system of social polity involving a complete reorganisation of existing economical conditions ; the Socialism of his school leaves those economical conditions substantially unchanged, but by State intervention would regulate and modify their incidents and effects. In other words, English Socialism, or--as it may more properly be termed-Social Reform, is merely an expansion of the application of a principle fully established and by statesmen of both political parties recognised and accepted-namely, the occasional extension of legislative and administrative aid by the State to classes of individuals who may be at a permanent disadvantage in their contractual relations. The idea of Socialism in this modified form is widely diffused among the masses; they have conceptions, crude and almost inarticulate, that it is within the power and is the duty of the State to protect the honest and industrious against poverty and to secure decent competence for old age or sickness. They pass their working lives in a weary struggle against the aggressions of competing or inflated capital upon their wages, and when the struggle is past there is no small proportion of them to whom the workhouse is the ante-chamber to eternity. They have learnt to recognise the truth of Mr. Ruskin's epigrammatic phrase in Modern Painters, “Government and co-operation are in all things the laws of life, anarchy and competition the laws of death."
In 1885 the Liberal party were returned to power by a splendid majority. That majority was secured by dazzling promises of social reforms. Mr. Chamberlain, then the young lion of militant Radicalismquantum mutatus ab illo !-in his preface to “The Radical Programme,” the electioneering manifesto of the Liberal party, stated that “new conceptions of public duty, new developments of social enterprise, new estimates of the natural obligations of the members of the community to one another, have come into view and demand consideration.” These “new developments," as foreshadowed in the “Programme," transcended the hopes of the most visionary social reformer.
The country responded to the appeal with alacrity, the most democratic Parliament that ever sat at Westminster was returned, and, for the first time in the history of the House of Commons, a compact, though small, body of labour representatives was elected.
Home Rule blasted the hopes of the Social Reformer. With the defection of Mr. Chamberlain, the Radicals were unable to withstand the electoral effect of the wholesale exodus of the Whig section of their party. But after nearly seven years' “wandering in the wilderness they again rallied to the appeal of the “ Newcastle Programme," although they generously conceded that Home Rule should precede all other legislation.
It must not be supposed that the "Newcastle Programme” kindled the enthusiasm or was calculated in its fulfilment to satisfy the aspirations of the people. It failed to deal with many questions of which social reformers demand solution, and where it was not silent it was vague and timorous; but they regarded it as a declaration that the Liberal party were prepared to set forth on the path of social progress.
The plain, simple question the Liberal party have to answer is this: Do they mean to follow in the old lines of laissez-faire-laissez-aller, or