James Leigh Joynes – Justice Tribute

James Leigh Joynes – Justice Tribute

We have just received word of the death of one of the pioneers of the Socialist movement in Great Britain, and it is no empty phase to say that he will be deeply regretted by everyone who ever knew him as a close personal friend, and by all who have read his writings as an invaluable worker in the cause. It seems but yesterday, and yet it is more than ten years ago, that our comrade J. L. Joynes, with his tall figure and fresh, boyish face, his high character, cultivated intelligence, and delicate literary taste, threw himself, with the earnest yet quiet enthusiasm which distinguished him, into the struggle on behalf of the emancipation of the workers of Great Britain and Ireland, and the whole world.

When Joynes entered our ranks, Socialism occupied a very different position in England from that which it holds to-day, and it needed not physical pluck only, but the far higher moral courage of being able to withstand jeers and social boycotting to take up the red flag at that time. Both qualities our friend possessed in an eminent degree, and having once made up his mind that the theories of Socialism were true, he never faltered in their support. First in the Christian Socialist and afterwards in To-day and the columns of JUSTICE Joynes did excellent literary work, which is still bearing fruit; and though agitation was scarcely agreeable to him, he never shrank from doing his full share as lecturer and propagandist so long as his health permitted. In the unfortunate misunderstanding which occurred in the Socialist party at a critical time Joynes personally took no part. It was indeed impossible from him to quarrel with any whom he believe to be actuated in the main by honest motives, no matter how mistaken he might consider their policy to be. Certainly, he himself had not a personal enemy in the world, not even, we verily believe, among those whose views he most strongly controverted.

Overwork in a London hospital and neglect to take care of himself sapped a naturally good constitution, and for the past few years our comrade has been a confirmed invalid. But he has constantly contributed verses to our paper, and on the occasion of the publication of his last little book of poetry some charming lines signed “S,” which we printed, told no more than the truth in regard to the author and his career. Conscientious and noble in all he did, Joynes deliberately sacrificed his excellent prospects of worldly success and distinction to what he believed to be the cause which he loved was making way in spite of all difficulties, and that the personal differences which he deplored had to a great extent been composed.

To the writing of thse few lines Joynes’ death comes as a deep personal grief. He died from failure of the action of the heart at West Hoathly, on Friday, January 13th, 1893, and was buried there quietly on Monday last. Later we may attempt a survey of his work and career. At the moment we can only mourn over the loss of one of the most generous, kindly, and self-sacrificing spirites who ever strove on behalf of the people as a Social-Democrat.

The following resolution was adopted by the General Council of the S.D.F. on Tuesday evening:—

“That this meeting of the General Council of the Social-Democratic Federation expresses its sincere regret at the loss of our highly-esteemed and beloved comrade J. L. Joynes. His able and earnest work in the cause of Social-Democracy has made his name a household word in the homes of all Socialists, while his kindly sympathy endeared him to all who knew him, and who will with us deeply mourn his loss.”

Henry Mayers Hyndman

Justice, Vol. X No. 471, January 21, 1893, p. 1