PROPOSALS FOR A LITERARY UNION.
UNDER this title, in the New Monthly Magazine just published, Mr. BULWER has propagated a scheme for a grand Union of Writers. The Union is improperly named Literary, for its objects are political. It is proposed, that every man connected with the Press—or, as the author calls them, "the Masters of the Press "— shall be eligible to a cooperative society or institution, regulated by certain laws, and acting upon a code of political doctrines, in which all should concur. The abolition of all taxes on knowledge, and the necessity of universal education, are to be the first articles of the creed. Officers will be appointed ; a council instituted ; and a treasury supported by the contributions of the members. What then is to be done? We confess that the business of the associa- tion appears somewhat to seek. There seems on the mind of the writer a great idea of the power of such a society; and certainly, if the members were unanimous, their influence would be para- mount, for it would imply a command of all the ordinary channels of public information. A society so composed, is, however, little likely to agree on many points; and on such points as it does. agree on, already are thg very objects ortheUnion effected : for the members that Would join such an institution, are actually work- ing on the very same objects they Would be, were they to be in- corporated in an association. The becoming a member of a so- ciety, could make no change in the individual : what he does now, he would do then,—unless he were impeded and shackled by the movements of a cumbrous body ; which is not at all impro- bable. Take, for instance, the first grand object—the Abolition of Taxes on Knowledge : they who desire such abolition, and are connected with the Press, now urge it in all the channels open to them : what could they do more, though they each wrote after his name, Member of the Great Confraternity of the Press ? All that is ever to be done by associations of this kind, depends upon the facility of intercommunication produced by the artifice' con- trivances adopted in unions for the mutual ascertainment of opi- nion. Now, it is the very nature of the Preis, and one source of its vast power, that it possesses the means of perpetual intercom- munication, without resorting to the methods necessarily used by other bodies not possessing the grand Telegraph of the Press. So far, therefore, we see no end in such an institutioit; and we fear, that were any such attempted, it would simply supply occupation for busy persons whom it might exalt into importance, or snug jobs for those who might have the good luck to slip into its sine- cures.
We ourselves have proposed Press Associations ; but the object has been only indirectly to rule the world: we never intended a new Holy Alliance with a view of directly interfering in national movements. Our great wish is, that the National Teachers, the Public Instructors, the Masters of the Press, should themselves be better taught—be better off, and hold a more respectable social existence. The Press is a great but a new power; and it is ma- naged not by hands the best qualified for its guidance, but by those under whose influence the merest accident has placed it. Now, if Mr. Buewea„—who, by education, station, and connexion, has en- joyed so many advantages which others less fortunate have failed to secure,—if he will move in the establishment of an institution which would give a stance to the literary profession—which would partly correct the precariousness of the existence of the literary man—which would secure his good education and fitness for his duties, and altogether confer permanent rank and respectable de - gree in a social point of view on the Masters of the Press,—he will administer to the attainment of objects of immense value; and we shall be most glad to lend him a helping hand. Besides, he would thus indirectly further all the aims he at pre- sent proposes by his Literary Union. The education of the People is essential, but are their teachers educated? If it were so, there would not be so many good-for-nothing advisers, so many base panderers to the worst of passions ; the Press would not be only a mighty engine of power, but of good. Referring to some hints thrown out in the Spectator a few weeks ago, we repeat our persuasion, that the only way to improve the character of our literature, and more especially of the Periodi- cal Press, is to give to its professors a "local habitation and a name"—to establish a University for their education, Fellowships, Scholarships, and Degrees for students—to clothe the whole body with the armour of personal respectability, as arising from cha- racter,rincome, station, and above all, regularity and completeness of education. At present, in Eegland, a literary man, as we have said before, is an anomalous creature, that hardly dares describe himself.