Republicanism was in people’s minds at the start of 1871 following a short lived revolutionary government in Paris, and in April a Republican demonstration in Hyde Park. In Dundee a Republican Club was founded in a meeting at the start of May, and this was the focus of several letters to the People’s Journal. Two mocking, sarcastic letters were sent in by someone writing as if they were the Prussian Anacharsis Clootz, and concerns about Secularism within the Republican movement were debated. “What, in the name of intellectual mediocrity, is the use of a crowned head?” is perhaps a highlight of these attacks and counter attacks. Two articles about the formation and early meetings of the Republican club will appear below, hopefully giving some context to some of the more personal attacks by “Clootz”.
Republicanism in Dundee [Published 6 May, 1871]
Sir,—We never know our great men till some crisis supervenes to draw them from their obscurity. Had that Bismarck of his time, Lord Strafford, been content to walk in the laws which were set before him, the world might never have heard of Old Noll, and Hampden might have died a peaceful country squire. But great times, great men. We live in great times, and surely need great men. By a stupid and fanatical adherence to her old laws, Great Britain has managed to pass unscathed through the various political earthquakes which have shaken Europe to its centre, swept thrones away and left fair cities at the mercy of picturesque but very dirty mobs. The vulgarity of this is not to be tolerated by our village Hampdens. That the middle classes of a petty I insignificant island should go on amassing wealth, and the working classes be yearly bettering thier condition, is an insult to the understanding of those who having from large and liberal-heartedness gone in for an order of things diametrically opposed to that on which our tiresome prosperity is based, find that the old way still conducts men to very comfortable goals. People under our well-regulated Monarchical Government are happy and prosperous, but dull. Let us overthrow the Monarchy—establish the Republic, especially the Red Republic; and if they cease to be prosperous and happy, they will live lives of glorious excitement—up to the day and down tomorrow, as the local Cluseret or Dombrowski may be the idol for the moment.
The foregoing sentences may seem to some an exaggeration of the rational of Republicanism in this country. But let any calm mind turn the question over for a few minutes, and the conclusion will instinctively crop up that it is impossible to find a better argument for overturning the existing form of government. Continue reading “Letters on ‘Republicanism in Dundee’ (6 – 27 May, 1871)”