Anarchy's Apostles

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[November 19, 1891]

The native country of Anarchism is England. It has often been shown how the Revolution of 1688 committed both her parties to extreme ideas of liberty, pledged the Government to promote those. opinions which most Governments discourage; drove the very champions of authority to oppose authority, to refuse allegiance, to resist taxation, to clamor against encroachment, to foment rebellion. Such was the school in which Englishmen learned to suspect that the blessings of what is called Order had been exaggerated.

Edmund Burke, the Cicero of the English senate, was,like his prototype, born a sophist according to the better sense of that misused word. No other thought acquired so firm a hold on his brilliant though unstable mind as this, that any proposition can be defended with equal plausibility, from which he readily drew this very Saxon conclusion that the only rule of practice is the rule of thumb. It would have been well for the effect of his influence, if not for his fame, had these opinions induced philosophic indifference. But with the intellect of Pyrrho, he united the eloquence of Aeschines, and the passions of a Gracchus. At the bar he would have been esteemed the prince of advocates. Such was the man who first in his "Vindication of Natural Society" exposed the glaring fallacies of that superstition which assumes that prince or pontiff, oligarchy or elective chamber, can do anything for a people which they cannot do for themselves. At a latter period he was able to represent the" Vindication" as a satire on the deistical arguments of Bolingbroke. But no student of the times or the man need doubt that it represents;, with sufficient fidelity suspicions which had floated across his own restless mind. A few years had passed since the" Vindication" appeared. A reactionary Government had thrown a people long accustomed to freedomjnto a state bordering on revolution. Amid world-wide mutterings of the coming tempest, tlie attention of all England was suddenly riveted to that intellectual meteor which bore the ever formidable name of Junius. After all the discussion which they have elicited, the authorship of the letters usually attributed to this person remains as great a mystery as ever. But a theory recently defended with much plausibility, and very interesting in connection with our present subject, did not fail to strike the most sagacious of observers long ago. For sometimes he like Cerberus would seem "Three gentlemen at once," (as sagely says Good Mrs. Malaprop); now you might deem He was not even one " now many rays Were flashing round him; and now a thick steam Hid him from sight like fogs on London days. Now Burke, now Tooke, he grew to people's fancies, And certes often like Sir Philip Francis. I've an hypothesis-'tis quite my own, I never let it out till now, for fear Of doing people ha


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VIII (Henry Cohen)

April 14, 1892 - OKArticles from "The Twentieth Century" Articles lacking full citations