In 1887, on the occasion of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, a radical had A JUBILEE DREAM. She envisioned all the privileged of England, including tax evaders, usurers, nobles, clergy and even the Queen herself waking up to a full consciousness of the meaning of jubilee and proclaiming an end to debt slavery. The richest paid off the national debt by voluntary contributions, bankers ended their practice of usury and Merrie Old England set the renters and debtors free…
“Oh, the Jubilee has come. Then we must set our bondsmen free, and for once in our lives let mercy and justice rise above law.”
The article appeared in the Colonist, Volume XXX, Issue 4829, on the 8th June, 1887, page 3:
To the editor of the Colonist.
SIR – The following extracts from a long article which appeared in the London Weekly Dispatch, of April 10th (1887), may be interesting to your readers. It points out, or rather “dreams” a means by which the Jubilee business might be the means of conferring a lasting benefit upon the nation, if, knowing the characters as we do, it were not too good to be true. The article is headed A JUBILEE DREAM.
After describing from the Old Testament what “jubilee” means, and other introductory matter, the dreamer goes on to say:
I imagined that the great ones of the nation had awakened to the consciousness that professed beliefs and creeds had to be reconciled.
‘Jubilee, Jubilee, the Queen’s Jubilee?’
I heard great lords, great rack renters, high placed tax shirkers, tithe fed priests, usurers (Jewish and Gentile), and the great army of the privileged explain, ‘Oh, the Jubilee has come. Then we must set our bondsmen free, and for once in our lives let mercy and justice rise above law.’
And I saw the Queen take the lead. ‘My people,’ she seemed to say, ‘these fifty years have I drawn a great portion of substance from you, I and my German cousins and the multitude of my menials. This have I done until the sum total of my revenues and pickings and pensions is nearly five-and-thirty million pounds. Behold, my people, I pity you in my heart. And inasmuch as for these many years, I have saved more than half my income, so that now I am one of the richest mortals in the world, I mean to make restitution. All my family and connections have been handsomely provided for at your expense, down to my latest pet, the young Battenberg. Having then nothing more in this world to wish for, and knowing I can take nothing hence with me, I now give to you my savings. They amount to about £10,000,000, and these my private goods I give to you in celebration of this Jubilee, which I desire to make the first Jubilee of the nation. Use this gift to redeem some of the war debts laid upon your backs in my time, or in any way that seems for the good of the nation at large.’
Following the Queen I saw the great nobles come forward each with his gifts and emancipations. ‘Rack rents shall be at an end,’ cried all the landlords,’for we recognize that the earth is not ours, but God’s and therefore we have no right to the exclusive use of its increase”. . .
Ah, yes, I thought I heard his Grace of Westminster exclaim, ‘And I as the spokesman of all owners of all London freeholds, proclaim aloud that we shall henceforth be ready to set all leaseholders free on terms which shall allow them full value of the houses they have enriched our lands by building, and henceforth we are prepared to bear our just proportion of the local taxation which we now escape.’. . .
‘At last I am indeed an Israelite!’ cried Lord Rothschild, as he led the way – taking precedence even over them of the tribe of Levi for once- in the great surrender of bonds, forged by kings and politicians upon the lives and labours of the people. ‘For well nigh a century’ he exclaimed, almost weeping as he spoke, ‘over nearly two jubilee periods-God forbid us!-I and my relatives and race have drawn millions upon millions out of your pocket in the shape of interest on the consolidated debt of the kingdom; but now we feel it is time that this injustice should cease, and what we give we give freely.’ . . . With that he poured into the Treasury MILLIONS of obligations held since his father’s and his grandfather’s day.
And all the tribe of Levi followed, and they of Benjamin and Judah- all the children of the dispersion came with their release offerings, until, when they had ended, they had reduced the accursed debt of the nation- a debt the product of crimes and bloody wars- by the full £50,000,000. What the Jews did the Gentiles could ill afford doing, and so Lord Revelstroke, as the head of the mighty house of Baring, came and also laid his gifts of release from debt at the nation’s feet. Grumbling a little was he, and inclined to rap out an oath or two, but giving of his store nonetheless, he and all his brethren.
Then, as if by magic, the opinion of the whole people changed on the question of public debt. ‘We have been fools and blind,’ they said. It is monstrous that this debt should have been suffered to crush down the people- some of it for nearly 200 years, the great bulk of it for more than three parts of a century. . . Who are we that we should take the place of God, and decree that the sins of the fathers shall be borne by the children, not to the third and fourth generation, but for ever and ever? We have done a great wrong, be we cannot’ they said ‘abolish this debt today, but let us now fix a period when all that a generous multitude of repentant usurers have suffered to remain of it shall cease to weigh on the necks of the poor, causing every infant born into this old land, once known as Merrie England, but now so sad withal, to be a debtor to the State from the cradle to the grave’. . . ‘England shall set the world an example of righteousness, and we therefor hereby decree that at the next National Jubilee, fifty years hence, all interest on the remainder of the existing Consolidated Debt shall cease for ever, and that in the future no debt, public or private, shall be allowed to exist in a legal form for a longer period that fifty years on any pretext.’ . . . And the hearts of the people rejoiced.
But there was one class which had not yet spoken The holders of the benefices and endowments of the English Church establishment held back and clung to their goods, all but a few who were powerless to move the mass. ‘These revenues are not ours,’ said the bishops; ‘we hold them in trust for the service of God’ . . . and the cure of souls,’ by the virtue of the tithes he had appropriated, defied the people in many a parish throughout old England, played the part of a little Pope, and thought he had gained the right to waste the tithe of the poor. And these people stood gloomily apart.
‘Theirs, they said, by virtue of Henry III laws and thievings, where the revenues of the tithes of the lands, fraudulently obtained by priests and monks. . . Theirs were the privileges and emoluments of the great Universities: their the endowments of the great charity schools . . . To abandon anything would be to yield to Dissent. What had they to do with Jewish Jubilees? And to this position they held, until the great reaction towards justice and freedom on the part of all other privileged and hitherto wealth-hording classes had left them conspicuously standing alone.
At last the new spirit seemed to be infused in these men also. There was a stirring of dry bones amongst them. They became ashamed, roused themselves, and manfully looked upon the truth to do it. ‘The tithes are not ours at all.’ Archbishop and Bishops, Deans and Archdeacons, and all the ‘inferior’ clergy at last voted in convocation assembled. ‘According to the Scriptures, whose teachings it has been too much to our habit to despise, the tithe is not exclusively for the maintenance of the preachers – cannot by the New Testament be theirs at all; for there all who preached lived either like Paul, by the labour of their own hands, or by the free will offerings of the people. Tithes were originally, in the laws and customs of England, designed for the succour of the poor, far more than for the sustenance of the clergy. They were God’s own poor rate, and we have in course of centuries corruptly appropriated them for our own use, and hid the theft beneath a cloud of pious phrases. But we are able to do so no longer. . . We, therefore, surrender the pretensions of our sect:
We give back to the poor what has always been theirs, and henceforth, we agree to live by faith. As our deeds are, so be our reward from this day onwards. There will be less millinery, upholstering, and tailoring about our religion, but we trust it will be at least genuine in its unselfishness. . .
This Jubilee Spirit spread to the remotest corner of the British Empire. . . New heart and energy was infused into the lives of the poor everywhere. It was a Jubilee which blossomed into an era of concord and peace. . . Redeemed from her bondage, free and giving freedom to all her children and dependents, this brave old land of ours became an envy and a wonder among the nations of the earth.
This is how they write in England, and that a millennium of the kind may soon arrive in reality, is the earnest prayer of