Melton prior Institut


Linton- Life in the Collections

William James Linton:

11) A REPUBLIC. The Meaning of the Word.

n.p. / n.d. (ca. 1869)

This central statement is a slightly altered passage taken from the preface of the Ireland for the Irish pamphlet, in which Linton explicates his principles of republicanism and asks the Fenians if they can join in. It is composed like a charter of a supranational democratic constitution, and one can assume that it was published in the context of his lecture The Religion of Organization, to spread his vision of Universal Republic. Here is the wording:

“A REPUBLIC. THE MEANING OF THE WORD. / THAT one word REPUBLIC means the equal right of all men to well-being and well-doing, and the ordering of all powers and capabilities of society for the bettering of every member toward the perfecting of the whole. /  It means that none shall be uneducated, none without means for a wholesome living, or without property, none shut out, by legislative enactment or combination or chance, from the people's land, or from whatever the commonwealth can furnish for their spiritual and material advantage. / It means the abolition of the tyrannies of rank and wealth, of arbitrary distinctions and artificial disabilities calculated to prevent any individual from reaching the full growth and development of his or her nature and righteous capability. It means protection of the weak against the strong.  It means assurance each and every member of society from wilful injury or accident. It means equal care of the State that recognizes in every individual a component and essential part of the whole. /  It means also that the State shall maintain its right to efficient service from all its members, in peace as well as in war, that each shall be dutiful to all. In the Republic Duty would be no longer a vague and idle word, but would exactly express the relation of part to a whole, that which makes man or a woman a very bond- servant of the actual time or surrounding society, of family, of country, of the world, —bound to help to the utmost in the advancement of the common good , with no limit except the possibilities of individual action. / A REPUBLIC presumes a mode of government and public conduct in which all must take active part, a government not to be entrusted to rulers or ' representatives,' but to be constantly, directly exercised by the free people, originating, judging, and determining their own laws, only deputing officers for the carrying out the popular will, the expression of a people's intellect and conscience. / That word REPUBLIC should also express not only the connection between States, or Nations, and the community of Nations, the all of Humanity. As individuals are component parts of the State or body politic, so Nations are constituents of the body politic of Humanity and consequently bound dutiful toward that for the sake of general progression and for protection of each against injury or encroachment. / For there is one common object and purpose human life, however indistinctly apparent or it may be even lost sight of in various times and by many races of mankind: it is to progress, from improvements to improvements, from successive discoveries and applications of the Laws of Life: of which laws every people, and no singulary class whatever, must be the interpreter and orderer. / The duty of  all is to help toward this progress. / This is the meaning of the word REPUBLIC.”