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SOCIAL REFORM ASSOCIATION., Issue 8048, 26 October 1889
SOCIAL REFORM ASSOCIATION.
The monthly lecture under the auspicus of the Social Reform Association was given in the Athenteum Hall last evening by tl to Rev. R. Waddell, who chose for his subject some notes on Socialistic literature of the day. There were about eighty persons present, including many ladies. Mr A. Bathgate, president of the Association, in introducing the lecturer, remarked! that Mr Waddell was the "Apostle of Socialism in Dunedin."—(Laughter. The Rev. Mr Waddell said the present; occasion was the first public meeting of the Social Reform Association which he had attended since it took body and form twelvemonths ago, and he congratulated the Association on its progress. His object that night was a very simple one. It was only to draw attention to some recent Socialistic literature and add a few notesi and comments by the way. Four years ago,, when he began to give some attention to social, questions, it waß difficult to get a distinctly Socialistic book. Now it was difficult to avoid them. Socialism was now all the range, and even when a book did not say it was socialistic, yet the themes of Socialism were in it under other names. Four years ago most so-called sensible people sneered at Socialism. To-day, according to the Prince of Wales, everybody was a Socialist. The progress that was being made towards the goal of Socialism was really amasing. The truth was that the middle and upper classes had been living in a fool's Paradise, and the recent revolution of 150,000 workmen threatening the civilisation of the greatest empire in the world showed us the forces that were silently at work beneath the social structure. The lecturer then referred briefly to the most important of the recent Socialistic works, pointing out the most telling passages in them. The works referred to were: 'What to Do' (Tolstoi), * Profit Sharing' (Gilman), ' Social Studies' (Heber Newton), 'Labor and Life of the People—East of London' (Booth), also ' The Quintessence of Socialism,' ' Practicable Socialism' (Rev. Mr and Mrs Barnett), and several of Ruskin's. The latest addition to the Socialistic stock, ' Looking Backward' (Bellamy), waß referred to at length. ' Practicable Socialism' was an interesting essay on town councils and social reform, in which was pointed out, with great truth, the duty of civic bodies. The essayist urged that these should be made to feel that their duty was " not political but social —not to protect the pockets of the rich, but to seryethe people." This they could do in various ways, as, for instance, in insisting upon sanitary dwellings, in erecting publio baths, libraries, playgrounds, gardens and conversation rooms, public musical performances, etc. He (Mr Waddell) would like to see this essay in the hands of all our City councillors. It was a disgrace that in this City there were dwellings for the poor unfit for human habitation ; and, if we were doing our duty here to ourselves and our posterity, there should be a law compelling every house to have a small plot of ground attached to it as a garden or playground for the young.— (Applause.) It was from Russia that one gets the most searching analysis of the injustice of the present state of things. In ' What to Do' Dr Tolstoi relates how he reached his present social principles. It opens with a singularly vivid description of the life of the poor in Moscow. He goeß on to narrate his effort to help these people, first by giving them money; then uniting others and organising a charity association ; then taking some of them into his house and trying to teach them, and getting them to do likewise; and then the total abandonment of all these schemes as absurd and irrational. He then proceeds to show how he oame to see this. He sets out to. analyse the causes that produce all this pauperism and misery; he finds it to be in one thing—the withdrawal of a large class of the nation frosa, manual labor. This class lives upon, the other, consumes all that they produce, and keeps them in a constant state of poverty and of crime. H&vjng reached this conclusion there was nothing else for him but to put , into practice his own theories, and this he resolutely did. He xid, himself of all his property as far aa he legally could, and took :up manual labpr,.—(Applause.) He worked ' daily at his bench and in his fields, devoting six to eight hours per day to toil of this kind, and four or five to mental work. He asserts that this is the natural condition of things, and that man will never be happy till he obeys onoe more the primal law of his existence—iu the sweat of thy faoe Bhalt thou earn thy bread ; and he affirms that for himself, since he entered upon this new mode of living he has known a. joy and a satisfaction, and a health o$ body and mind that he was a total stranger to before. In the course of h\s concluding remarks Mr Waddell said i *'l for one believe that we are on the. vergi of great changes. I for one i atn certain that this generation will not pass away without seeing a tremendous revolution in the social destinies of tfe/e AngloSaxon race. Everywhere 4h,erQ is unrest and upheaval. The whole balance of powey is passing from th,o bands that have held it for generations. There is a yearning for a higher; s.ta,te.. of. existence. The masses who have borne the heat and burden of the day are demanding that they shall have somo reward for their toil beyond the mere necessaries of life—heyoud a life-long struggle with hunger and burial in a pauper grave. They are demanding, for the first time in history, neither money, nor ohsrity, nor party, but justice. Justice has yet to be done to the patient multitudes who have built up our civilisation and keep it stable to-day; and. justice is not done to them when tbgy who work most do get, perhaps, the least Justice is not don§ to, ibem when members of families aye. forced into competition with eaoh, either to keep the household in life. Justice is not dang to them when a small class bold ia their hands all the resources of wealth land, mines, machinery— and. oompel them to pay a rent foi thair oj»ag*> Justice ia not done to them ./hen the luxuries of life are shut cut rrom them for ever—when forced into theft to save as much as will pay the doctor or bury their bodies/ They linow nothing of the joys, of art or literature, nothing of the ease and leisure of educated life, vufc all this is changing." The laotyrer conoluded his, remarks by paying that we were on ths eye.
of a transition epoch, and that Socialistic theories must: spread. Mr W. D. Stewart, M.H.R., moved a very hearty .vote of thanks to Mr Waddell for bis very thoughrf ul and eloquent lecture. I'bey might look jpon Mr Waddell as the apostle of social reforms in this part of the colony. The vote of thanks was carried with acelamatio n.
SOCIAL REFORM ASSOCIATION., Issue 8048, 26 October 1889
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