Auberon Herbert poet and voluntaryist

Found in Windfall and Waterfall (Williams & Norgate, London 1894) a volume of poetry by Auberon Herbert  - an advertisement for his journal The Free Life - the organ of Voluntaryism. Auberon Edward William Molyneux Herbert (Highclere, 18 June 1838 – 5 November 1906) was a writer,poet, theorist, philosopher, and 19th century individualist. A member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, Herbert was the son of the 3rd Earl of Carnarvon, brother of Henry Herbert, the 4th Earl, and father of the 9th Baron Lucas. He promoted a classical liberal philosophy and took the ideas of Herbert Spencer a stage further by advocating voluntary-funded government that uses force only in defence of individual liberty and private property. He is known as the originator of voluntaryism.

The poetry is competent and clean limbed, somewhat of its time but counter to the prevailing decadence of much 1890s verse. We are quoting the tract on voluntaryism and preceding it with a couple of poems. His ideas are still alive, especially in the libertarian fringes of American republican thinking...

It falls on my ear, now faint, now strong,
The thunderous note of the distant roar,

The surf of the sea I have sailed so long - ,
As it beats at last on the unknown shore.

Oh ! how will it be, when the hour has come,-
Unlike all hours that went before, —

Will help be near, or in pain and fear,

Shall I win my way to the unknown shore ?

For strange deep longings move us,
As betwixt the two we stand,

And share in the mystic meetings
And partings in borderland ;

When day and night so gently
Touch hands, and fall apart,

Like those in life forbidden,

Heart should be one with heart.


Organ of Voluntary Taxation and of the Voluntary State ;
Edited by Auberon Herbert. Id. Monthly.

THE FREE LIFE does not believe in creating happiness, virtue, or prosperity for the human race by Acts of Parliament. It does not believe in splitting the nation up into two or three political parties, each trying to vote down the other, and to force upon the other its own opinions and interests. It does not believe in the modern politician, always engaged in glorifying himself and his party, belittling his rival, misleading the people by passionate appeals to the interest of the moment, and too careful about his own self-advancement to speak in the scrupulous and responsible language of true friendship. It does not believe in the great game of politics ; in the traffic of votes ; in the scramble for property ; in forcible interferences with the habits and lives of men ; in great uniform systems ; in huge departments, escaping from all real control on the part of the people, their nominal owners ; or in the treatment of men and women, their faculties, and their property, as state material, which may be employed for any purpose at the pleasure of the majority which has climbed into power.

The Free Life believes in self-ownership as one of the deepest truths of human existence ; believes that the bodily and mental faculties of men and women are their own inalienable property, and that the attempt to treat them as state-material, spells pure nonsense from a rational point of view, and pure mischief from a social and progressive point of view. The Free Life believes in the widest possible differences of life and thought, in endless experiment, in the slow wearing out of vices and follies under the educating influences of freedom, in the universal diffusion of prosperity, as men abandon the mad struggle for power over each other, and the workers of all conditions, throwing aside the illusions of politics, resolutely concentrate their energies upon the reconstruction bit by bit of all the circumstances of their daily life through their own voluntary associations. It believes that it will be the function of these associations to peaceably revolutionise the life of the worker, by amassing corporate property of many different kinds for their members, until such property becomes a considerable part of the national wealth, and to provide for all the new wants — many as yet unknown and unsuspected — of a constantly growing civilisation. The Free Life looks upon all forms of war — whether between nations,or political parties, or classes, or employers and employed — as mere survivals of barbarism, as mere outbursts of senselessness, and believes that such forms of war can only be brought to their end by inspiring a general hatred of all coercion of each other, and by frankly recognizing that the free judgment and free action of every man and woman are the supreme law governing all human relations. As regards international war, when once the right of the individual to give or withhold his war-tax is conceded, The Free Life believes that the military systems of Europe, so fatal to happiness and so productive of evil,will gradually collapse of themselves. They depend at present upon a false national cohesion— the power of some to drive others along paths which they do not desire to tread.

The Free Life is an organ of Voluntaryism, not of Anarchy. It is utterly opposed to State Socialism in all its forms, as a huge ill-conceived, ill-jointed, ill-balanced structure, founded by brute force in defiance of all rights upon the ruins of individual liberty, and, therefore, involving the certain degradation of human character. It is utterly opposed to the confusions, the scrambles, the contradictions, the impossibilities, of Communistic Anarchism, which offers everything to anybody, and too often, in the persons of its apostles, sanctions the most senseless and revolting violence. It has sympathies with a certain peaceable group belonging to the so-called Individualist Anarchists, — a group that believes strongly in individual liberty, individual property, and peaceful evolution, — but differs from them since it believes that the state has a rightful (and useful) existence so long as it remains in subordination to indidividual rights. The state is the creation of the individual ; it is his instrument, his servant ; it may be endowed by him with such powers and rights as he himself possesses ; but it cannot possibly be endowed with any larger powers and rights. As "self-owner," the individual has a right of using force to defend against force the self which he owns, with its faculties, and the property acquired (without force or fraud) by means of those faculties — the individual ownership of property being the logical consequence of the individual ownership of faculties, and resting upon the same moral basis — but the individual can possess no moral right to use force to dominate others, and to compel their acceptance of his own opinions or his own interests, since any such compulsion is destructive of the self-ownership of these others. Exactly the same limit is morally imposed upon the state. The state, created by the individual, can not possess larger rights than the individual. It can only receive in trust the rights which the individual possesses ; it can therefore only use force to protect self-ownership ; it can never use force to lessen or destroy self-ownership. It can protect by force against force the person and property of all persons ; it can never be made the tool of one set of persons to force either their opinions or their interests upon another set of persons. As these truths are recognised, we shall slowly get rid of human strife, and the causes of strife ; we shall be content to go our own way, and to concede the same liberty in full to our brother men. Freed from the misery of the perpetual struggle to avoid being trampled upon, whilst we trample in turn upon our rivals, we shall give our undivided energies to our own work, of whatever kind it may be ; and we shall learn to help each other, and to discharge public duties in the only worthy spirit, — that of free men, uncoerced ourselves, and with no desire to coerce others. The future of the world is Voluntaryism, for there is no other political creed whatsoever which thoroughly respects human rights, and no other creed which will not be found under searching criticism to be self contradictory and morally indefensible.

Order "The Free Life" from Messrs. Marlborough, 51, Old
Bailey, London, E.C. ; Mr. Simpson, Broomfield Road, Heaton
Moor, Stockport ; or Mr. Auberon Herbert, Old House,
Ringwood. Specimen copy and Liberty papers sent gratis.
Apply : Mr. Simpson or Mr. Herbert.

Mr. Auberon Herbert will be glad to write to all persons
interested in Voluntaryism.


Yearly Subscription Id. Send names to Mr. Simpson, or
Mr. Auberon Herbert, Old House, Ringwood, Hants. Papers
sent gratis. Friends who will help are requested to write.

By the Same Author :

Sacrifice of Education to Examination : A collection
of letters and papers by well-known persons, edited by
Auberon Herbert, price 2/- ;

Bad Air and Bad Health, by Harold Wager and
Auberon Herbert, reprinted from the Contemporary
Review, with large additions, price 1/- and 1/6. 1894.

Williams & Norgate : 14, Henrietta Street, Covent
Garden, London ; and 20, South Frederick Street,

By the Same Author :

To appear shortly : "A Politician in trouble about his
soul," new edition, altered and revised ; Under the
Yoke of the Butterflies, reprinted from the Fortnightly
Review ; Articles and Letters, collected ; Voluntary
State Leaflets, collected ; The Voluntaryist's
Catechism ; The Voluntaryist's Creed.

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