Memoirs of a Social Atom (05)

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FEARGUS O'CONNOR.
(From a contemporary engraving.)


CHAPTER XXI

FEARGUS O'CONNOR


SIR GEORGE CORNEWALL LEWIS once wittily said something to this effect, that life would be tolerable but for its amusements.  Much in the same way, it might have been said that the Chartist movement would have been tolerably successful but for its leaders—some of them.  There were many able men in the ranks—earnest and eloquent men.  Some of them were earnest without being eloquent; a few, perhaps, were eloquent without being earnest.  The great fault of all, more or less, was impatience—a desire to reap the harvest before they had sown the seed.  Next to this fault was the disposition to quarrel.  But quarrelling was almost inevitable when not one man, but many men, desired to become dictator's.  It was almost equally inevitable when such a man as Feargus O'Connor, who had few of the qualities of a powerful leader save extraordinary force of character, had acquired absolute dominion over the cause.  O'Connor quarrelled with all in turn—McDouall, O'Brien, Cooper, Harney.  There were minor quarrels too—between Bronterre O'Brien and Ernest Jones, between Ernest Jones and Julian Harney, besides other rivalries among smaller men in the movement.  And we of the rank and file took sides with one or the other—with fatal consequences, of course, to the movement itself.

    The ascendency of Feargus O'Connor would have been unaccountable but for the fact that he owned the Northern Star.  That paper, besides being the source of his power, was a sort of small gold mine to the proprietor.  It was almost the only paper that the Chartists read, and it had in consequence a very extended circulation.  Through it Feargus every week addressed a letter to his followers—"The blistered hands and unshorn chins of the working classes."  The letter was generally as full of claptrap as it was bestrewn with words and sentences in capital type.  But the turgid claptrap took.  The people of that period seemed to relish denunciation, and O'Connor gave them plenty of it.  Blatant in print, he was equally blatant on the platform.  More of a demagogue than a democrat, he was fond of posing as the descendant of Irish kings.  "Never a man of my order," he was in the habit of declaring, "has devoted himself as I have done to the working classes."  It was his delight, too, to boast that he had "never travelled a mile or eaten a meal at the people's expinse."  He even claimed in 1851 that he had spent £130,000 in the cause of the Charter.  It pleased the working people to hear themselves addressed as "Fustian Jackets," "Old Guards," and "Imperial Chartists."  Nor did it displease them when their leader assumed a royal title and called himself "Feargus Rex."

    The reports of some of his speeches indicate the kind of fustian in which he now and then indulged.  Here is part of what he is recorded to have said at a meeting in Palace Yard, Westminster, on September 17th, 1838:—


The people were called pickpockets.  Now, he would ask, what difference was there between a rich pickpocket and a poor pickpocket?  Why, there was this difference—the poor man picked the rich man's pocket to fill his belly, and the rich man picked the poor man's belly to fill his pocket.  The people had borne oppression too long and too tamely.  He had never counselled the people to physical force, because he felt that those who did so were fools to their own cause; but at the same time those who decried it preserved their authority by physical force alone.  What was the position in which the working classes stood?  Why, they were Nature's children, and all they wanted was Nature's produce.  They had been told to stand by the old constitution.  Why, that was the constitution of tallow and wind.  The people wanted the railroad constitution, the gas constitution, but they did not want Lord Melbourne and his tallow constitution; neither did they want Lord Melbourne and his fusty laws.  What they wanted was a constitution and laws of a railroad genius, propelled by a steam power, and enlightened by the rays of gas.  They wanted a Legislature who had the power as well as the inclination to advance after the manner he had just pointed out.  They wanted that the science of legislation should not stand still.  The people had only to show the present House of Commons that they were determined, and its reform must take place.  But still, such men as Sir Robert Peel and little Johnny Russell would try and get into it, even though they got through the keyhole.  But it was said the working classes were dirty fellows, and that among them they could not get six hundred and fifty-eight who were fit to sit in the House of Commons.  Indeed!  He would soon alter that.  He would pick out that number from the present meeting, and the first he chose he would take down to Mr. Hawes's soap factory; then he would take them where they should reform their tailors' bills; he would next take them to the hairdresser and perfumer, where they should be anointed with the fashionable stink; and having done that by way of preparation, he would quickly take them into the House of Commons, when they would be the best six hundred and fifty-eight that ever sat within its walls.  He counselled them against all rioting, all civil war; but still, in the hearing of the House of Commons, he would say that, rather than see the people oppressed, rather than see the constitution violated, while the people were in daily want, if no man would do so, if the constitution were violated, he would himself lead the people to death or glory.


This was a specimen of Feargus's early style. Mr. Gammage has preserved a specimen of his later. Describing a speech delivered at the Hall of Science, Manchester, in August 1846, when he was fighting with other Chartists about his Land Scheme, Gammage says:—


While addressing the meeting, O'Connor hit upon every sentence calculated to rouse the hostility of his audience against his detractors, and to elevate himself.  He told them he had the evidence of a respectable gentleman (whom he did not say), and also that of a boy, that at the Examiner office they were in league with navvies to assassinate him, which led to groans and cries of "Oh! the villains!"  Again he said, "Villains who quaff your sweat, gnaw your flesh, and drink the blood of infants, suppose that I too would crush their little bones, lap up their young blood, luxuriate on woman's misery, and grow fat upon the labourer's toil."  (Shouts of "No, never!" and waving of hats and hand kerchiefs.)  "No, I could go to bed supperless, but such a meal would give me the nightmare; nay, an apoplexy."  (Loud cheers, and "God Almighty bless thee!")  "I have now brought money with me to repay every shareholder in Manchester."  (Shouts of "Nay, but we won't have it!")  "Well, then, I'll spend it all."  (Laughter and cries of "Do, and welcome!")  Again, he said, as an instance of his condescension, "It was related of the Queen, that when she visited the Duke of Argyle's, she took up the young Marquis of Lorne, and actually gave him a kiss, and this was mentioned as a fine trait in her character.  Why, he (O'Connor) took up forty or fifty children a day and wiped their noses, and hugged them.  (Cheers, and expressions of sympathy from the females in the gallery.)  Did they think he was the man to wring a single morsel from their board, or to prevent their parents from educating and bringing them up properly?  No, he was not: he loved the children, and their mothers also, too much for that."  (A female in the gallery: "Lawk bless the man!")  For more than three hours did O'Connor address the crowded and excited meeting, which was so densely packed before he commenced that the reporters had to be pushed through the windows into the hall.


    It was considered curious that Feargus's visits to towns in the provinces generally synchronised with the appearance in the same towns of a lady who was then a star in the theatrical world.  This lady was Mrs. Nisbett.  There was as much gossip in Chartist circles about the two as there was in Irish circles forty or fifty years later about Mr. Parnell and Mrs. O'Shea.  O'Connor himself does not seem to have made much secrecy of the relations between himself and the actress; for in a letter to a person who had helped him at the Oldham election, dated August 28th, 1835, he sent his best regards to the man and his wife, "in which Mrs. Nisbett begs to join."  The alliance, such as it was, was probably consecrated by some measure of affection, since it was stated that the lady, when O'Connor had to be removed to a lunatic asylum, left the stage, and nursed and tended him as long as he lived.

    The common notion of O'Connor outside the ranks of his personal followers was that he was a charlatan and a humbug—an adventurer who traded on the passions of the people for his own profit and advantage.  A correcter notion would have been that he was a victim of his own delusions.  It is certain that he did more than any other man in the movement—more probably than all the other men in the movement put together—to ruin the Chartist cause.  But this is not to say that he was dishonest.  The Land Scheme which he grafted on to the demand for political reform was one of the wildest and maddest schemes that ever entered into the mind of a rational being.  It was doomed to disaster from the very beginning, and it brought loss and disappointment upon all who touched it.  The originator of the scheme, however, was the greatest sufferer, for he lost his reason.  The fact that the failure had this terrific effect may perhaps be regarded as at least some evidence of the man's sincerity.

    The melancholy fate of Feargus O'Connor was, I think, hardly more melancholy than that of another Irishman who figured prominently in the Chartist agitation.  James Bronterre O'Brien was "a Chartist and something more."  It seemed to him that political reform was less important than agrarian reform and currency reform.  The doctrines he taught on these latter subjects made him an authority among a small school of Chartists.  But poor Bronterre ended his days as a loafer in Fleet Street.  It was there that I used to see him towards the close of his career—shabby, snuffy, beery.  A good speaker even to the last, he was in demand at the Cogers and other debating halls of the Metropolis.  For opening a discussion in a pothouse, he was rewarded with five shillings and his night's liquor.  Another O'Brien shone or flickered in the same arenas.  And of him or of Bronterre—I am not sure which—a wit of the period parodied Tennyson:


And I saw the great O'Brien sloping slowly to the West.


 
CHAPTER XXII

TWO DOCTORS AND A SCHOOLMASTER


THE more conspicuous of the early leaders of the Chartists (next to those already mentioned) were John Taylor, Peter Murray McDouall, Thomas Cooper, and George Julian Harney.  The two first were Scotchmen, both members of the medical profession, and both advocates of what were called "ulterior measures."

    Dr. Taylor, a native of Ayr, was arrested in Birmingham, during the sitting of the first Convention in that town, for alleged participation in the Bull Ring Riots of 1839.  Harney describes him as looking like "a cross between Byron's Corsair and a gipsy king," with "a lava-like eloquence that set on fire all combustible matter in its path."  It was said that he had inherited a fortune of £30,000, the greater part of which he spent on revolutionary enterprises.  Insurrections in Greece and conspiracies in France were alike in his line.  A picturesque figure was Dr. Taylor.  Hardly less picturesque was Dr. McDouall, whose long cloak and general style helped to give him the appearance of a hero of melodrama.  McDouall also was often in trouble with the authorities.  Subsequent to 1848, he settled down to the practice of his profession in Ashton-under-Lyne.  But not for long.  Agitation had unfitted him for a regular life.  Friends subscribed funds to enable him to emigrate to Australia, where, according to a sworn statement of his widow, he died "about May, 1854."  That Dr. McDouall was a man of some taste and culture may perhaps be gathered from the following lines, written to the air of the "Flowers of the Forest" while he was a prisoner in Chester Castle, previous to 1840:—


Now Winter is banished, his dark clouds have vanished,
    And sweet Spring has come with her treasures so rare;
The young flowers are springing—the wee birds are singing,
    And soothing the breast that is laden wi' care.

But loved ones are weeping—their long vigils keeping—
    The dark prison cell is the place of their doom;
The sun has nae shining to soothe their repining—
    To gild or to gladden their dwellings of gloom.

To them is ne'er given the loved light of heaven,
    Though sair they are sighing to view it again;
Though fair flowers are blowing, in full beauty glowing,
    They flourish or fade for the captives in vain.

And thus are they lying—in lone dungeons dying—
    The sworn friends of freedom—the tried and the true;
By slow famine wasted—life's bright vision blasted—
    'Tis Summer's prime shaded by Winter's dark hue.

In vain are they wailing—nae tears are availing,
    But tyrants exult o'er their victims laid low,
Or look on unheeding, though life's race is speeding;
    Their fears will depart with the death of their foe.

But I look not so proudly, and laugh not so loudly,
    Nor dream that the struggle of freedom is o'er;
Your prisons may martyr the chiefs of our Charter,
    But the bright spark it kindled shall burn as before.

And Winter is coming, wi' wild terrors glooming,
    To weaken the sunbeam and wither the tree;
The loud thunder crashing—the red lightning flashing,
    Are the might of a people resolved to be free.


    No more remarkable testimony to the exciting character of the decade from 1839 to 1849 can be adduced than the fact that almost every man who rose to prominence in the Chartist ranks during that period came under the lash of authority.  Thomas Cooper was no exception to the rule.  Either the Chartists were too much given to violent language and threats, or the magistrates and judges were too much given to a stringent interpretation of the law.  We owe to Cooper's incarceration, however, that remarkable prison poem, the "Purgatory of Suicides."  First a shoemaker, then a schoolmaster, afterwards a newspaper reporter, the author of the "Purgatory" had reached what might well be called the years of discretion before he plunged into the stormy waters of Chartism.  While serving as reporter on a Leicester journal, he came to learn the miseries of the Leicester stockingers.  Also, in his official capacity, he came to attend Chartist meetings.  The two experiences combined to drive him into the Chartist whirlpool.  From reporting Chartist lectures he came to deliver Chartist lectures himself.  Before long he was the acknowledged leader of the Leicester Chartists.  Somehow, he associated Shakspeare with Chartism, and gave to his particular society the name of the bard.  Other eccentricities could probably at this time have been laid to his charge.  But the charge which caused him to be prosecuted in the first instance was that of having preached arson at Hanley.  Acquitted on this count, he was afterwards prosecuted for sedition and conspiracy, receiving sentence of two years' imprisonment.  When he had served his time and written his poem, he varied his speeches for the Charter with lectures on literary, critical, and historical subjects.  Among his lectures was a series on Strauss's "Leben Jesu," then just translated by Marianne Evans, better known later as George Eliot.  I remember to this day the strange effect which the reading of the summary of these discourses produced on a youthful and unsettled mind.  The summary appeared in Cooper's Journal, a weekly periodical of much greater value than the common run of Chartist publications.  But the lecturer did not himself long remain steadfast to the views he expounded.  As he had changed from piety to rationalism, so he changed from rationalism to piety again.  And the rest of his long and active life was spent in preaching the Gospel to all the earth that he could reach.

    Thomas Cooper had the "defect of his qualities."  I have given one example of his irritability.  Many others were known to his friends.  Indeed, he was quite unfit for controversy.  This he came to acknowledge himself: so that all through his later career as a lecturer and preacher he systematically declined discussion.  Warm in his friendships, he was bitter in his animosities.  An old comrade has recorded how, while he was still on good terms with O'Connor, he broke off in a speech he was delivering in Paradise Square, Sheffield, to lead the crowd in singing the Chartist song:


The Lion of Freedom has come from his den;
We'll rally around him again and again!


When he quarrelled with the Lion of Freedom, as he did soon afterwards, he was as impassioned in denunciation as he had before been in praise.

    But Thomas Cooper had other qualities that redeemed his defects.  Innumerable instances of his kindness and generosity are recorded.  It is a loving trait in his character that he never forgot or neglected any old friend whom he knew to be living in any of the towns he visited during his later peregrinations.  These peregrinations continued till he was near or past eighty years of age.  When his work was done, and just before he died at the venerable age of eighty-eight, he received a grant of £200 from the public funds.  The grant was made on the application of Mr. A. J. Mundella, then member for Sheffield, one of his earliest political converts at the time he was leading the Leicester Chartists.  Close upon a quarter of a century before his demise in 1892 (that is to say, in 1868) he corrected an erroneous report respecting himself in an amusing letter to the Lincoln Gazette:—"The Nottingham papers say I am dead.  I don't think it is true.  I don't remember dying any day last week, though they say I died at Lincoln on Tuesday.  'Lord, Lord,' as Falstaff said, I how the world is given to lying!"'

    Thomas Cooper, besides being a preacher and lecturer of no mean ability, was a man of marked literary eminence.  Poet, essayist, novelist, he was also the author of a model biography. "The Life of Thomas Cooper, Written by Himself," published twenty years before he died, is so admirable a piece of work that it will keep alive his fame for years and years to come.  But it contains one passage which does not, perhaps, do justice to his reasoning powers.  It is a passage in which he claims that his life was once saved by what seemed like a special intervention of Providence.  When on his way from London to fulfil an engagement in the provinces, and about to enter a railway carriage at Euston Station, he was induced by a porter to take a seat in another part of the train.  The carriage which he did not enter was smashed to atoms in a collision, the people in it being killed or maimed, while the carriage which he did enter was in no way injured!  Thomas Cooper left it to be inferred from his narrative that Providence had interposed to save his life.

    The story is as little credible as another story of a similar kind about Bishop Wilberforce—Wilberforce of Oxford and Winchester.  One night, so this latter story runs, the Bishop was returning home from his club.  A man's figure passed him in the street, ran up the steps to his front door, and then suddenly turned round and faced him.  The man's figure was his own.  Back went the Bishop to his club instead of entering his house.  Next morning he heard that a chimney-stack had fallen through the roof on to his bed!


 
CHAPTER XXIII

GEORGE JULIAN HARNEY


NO leader of the Chartist movement left behind him a fairer record than George Julian Harney.  He was the last survivor of the National Convention of 1839.  John Frost lived to a greater age than Harney; but he was an older man when he associated himself with the agitation.  Frost died at eighty-nine, Harney at eighty-one.  Frost had reached years of maturity at the time of the Convention; Harney was only twenty-two.  It is likely that he was the youngest member of that notable assembly.  When he died in 1897, there died with him a fund of information about the exciting political events in which he had taken part that can now never be supplied.

GEORGE JULIAN HARNEY.
(From a photo taken in 1886.)


    It was the eventful struggle against the Newspaper Stamp Act—a struggle which filled the common gaols of the country with earnest men and women—that first drew Harney into politics.  He was then sixteen years of age.  For three years afterwards he was in the very thick of the Unstamped fight.  The battle raged most fiercely around the Poor Man's Guardian, which, as Henry Hetherington announced on the title-page, was "published in defiance of law, to try the power of Right against Might."  Harney was twice thrown into prison for short terms in London.  His offence was that of selling the Poor Man's Guardian.  Then he went to Derby to commit the same "crime."  "One Saturday evening," he wrote, "at a court hastily, unusually, and for all practical purposes privately held, I was sentenced to pay a fine of £20 and costs, or go to prison for six months."  He underwent the imprisonment; but the pains of it, as he gratefully recorded, "were somewhat mitigated by the humane intervention of the late Mr. Joseph Strutt—an honoured name—then Mayor."  The revolt of the people—for it was a revolt—was, as already narrated, completely successful.

    Three years after the imprisonment at Derby the agitation for the People's Charter was in full swing.  Notwithstanding his youth, Harney was sufficiently well known throughout the country to be elected one of the delegates for Newcastle to the Convention of 1839.  The proper title of that body—for it is as well to be particular in historic matters—was the General Convention of the Industrial Classes.  The delegates for Newcastle—Robert Lowery and Dr. Taylor were Harney's colleagues—were "elected at a large open-air meeting in the Forth on Christmas Day, 1838, which meeting was attended by deputations, in some instances processions, from the district on both sides of the Tyne."  Among other extravagant things that Harney seems to have favoured was the "sacred month."  It was one of the "ulterior measures" the Convention discussed when the House of Commons had rejected the National Petition for the Charter.  All the delegates from Newcastle supported it.  But the scheme was foolish, and, being foolish, failed—though it is fair to point out that the old Chartists differed from all later strikers in this, that they sought nothing for themselves alone, and that the sacrifices they proposed to make were intended to achieve objects that would, as they believed, benefit the nation at large.

    Harney had the reputation of being a fiery orator.  He was certainly consumed with enthusiasm.  It was almost impossible for such a man at such a time to avoid coming into collision with the authorities.  Two such collisions occurred—first in 1839, for a speech at Birmingham; the second in 1842, for taking part with fifty or sixty others in a convention at Manchester.  For the Birmingham speech Harney was arrested in Northumberland, handcuffed to a constable, and taken back to Warwickshire.  The arrest took place at two o'clock in the morning.  There were fewer railway facilities in those days than there are now, accounting for the circuitous route the captors pursued with their prisoner.  First a hackney coach from Bedlington to Newcastle; then the ferry across the Tyne to Gateshead; then the rail from Gateshead to Carlisle; then the stage coach over Shap Fell to Preston, at that time the terminus of the North-Western Railway; and finally the train from Preston to Birmingham.  But the police in the end had all their trouble for nothing, since the grand jury at Warwick declined to find a true bill against their prisoner.  Harney was next arrested at Sheffield for the Manchester business.  The trial of the fifty or sixty Chartists was held at Lancaster in March, 1843.  Harney was appointed by his comrades to lead the defence.  This he did with so much energy and eloquence that O'Connor, in the published report of the trial, bore the following testimony:—"It would perhaps be invidious to point particular attention to the address of any individual where all acquitted themselves so well; but the speech of Harney will be read with peculiar interest, and fully justifies the position which he occupied as first speaker."  But this trial was abortive, too; for, though the prisoners, or some of them, were found guilty, the Court of Queen's Bench afterwards pronounced the indictment bad.

    Meantime, Harney had gone through his first Parliamentary contest—if such a term can be given to encounters in which never a vote was given to the Chartist candidate.  Lord Morpeth, afterwards Earl of Carlisle, was in 1841 seeking the suffrages of the electors of the West Riding of Yorkshire.  Harney was nominated in opposition.  The nomination took place at Wakefield.  It has already been mentioned that an extraordinary effect was produced when, in response to the call for a show of hands for the Chartist, a forest of oak saplings rose in the air.  But Harney's great feat in the candidate line was in opposing Lord Palmerston at Tiverton in 1847.  Nominated by a Chartist butcher named Rowcliffe, he delivered a vigorous criticism of Lord Palmerston's foreign policy in a speech two hours long.  The "judicious bottle-holder," as the noble lord was called, is said to have confessed that his policy had never before been subjected to so searching an examination.  Nor did he forget his old opponent.  Years afterwards, when somebody was soliciting subscriptions in the lobby of the House of Commons for Chartists in distress, Palmerston asked about his "old acquaintance, one Julian Harney."  Being told that Harney was in America, he replied: "I hope he is well; he gave me a dressing at Tiverton, I remember."  The contest at Tiverton was remarkable, inasmuch as the opposition candidate, though he went to the poll, did not receive a single vote.  The borough returned two members, and the result of the election is thus recorded in the Parliamentary Poll Book:—


John Heathcote (Liberal) .         .         . 148
Viscount Palmerston (Liberal) .         . 127
George Julian Harney (Chartist) .       .    0


    Besides lecturing and agitating in all parts of the country, Harney was busy with journalism.  He was first sub-editor and then editor of O'Connor's paper, the famous Northern Star.  When, owing to a disagreement with O'Connor, he severed his connection with the Star, he started periodicals of his own—first the Democratic Review, then the Red Republican, and then the Friend of the People.  I was a subscriber to them all.  Also he founded in 1849 a society called the Fraternal Democrats.  I had always voted for Harney as a member of the Chartist Executive, and now I joined the Fraternal Democrats.  A letter to him on the subject brought about an acquaintance which, becoming more and more intimate as the years advanced, lasted till his death—a period of nearly half a century.  The collapse of the Chartist movement drove Harney to other ventures.  From 1855 to 1862 he was editing the Jersey Independent.  Then he betook himself to America, where he remained till, broken in health, he settled down at Richmond-on-Thames to struggle and die.  It was under his cheerful and untiring guidance that I saw the sights of Boston in 1882.  He was then living at Cambridge, not far from the "spreading chestnut tree" under which the "village smithy" stood, nor far from the house of Longfellow himself.  The old Chartist had adorned his home in Massachusetts, as he did afterwards his apartments at Richmond, with portraits and relics of the poets he loved, of the patriots he admired, and of the friends and colleagues with whom he had worked—Shakspeare, Byron, Shelley, Burns; Kosciusko, Kossuth, Mazzini, Hugo; Cobbett, Oastler, Frost, O'Connor; Linton, Cowen, Engels, Marx.  Some of the portraits are now mine.  Among the relics was a handful of red earth from the memorial mound of Kosciusko at Cracow.

    It was Harney's opinion that the art of letter-writing was dying out.  He himself, however, did his utmost to keep it alive.  Hundreds of his letters, now lying in lavender, testify to his epistolary industry—all characteristic and all long, some long enough to fill a newspaper column.  In his letters as in his private intercourse, he was an incorrigible joker.  He joked even about his ailments and his agonies.  For years he was a martyr to rheumatism.  As far back as January, 1884, he wrote me from Cambridge, U.S. :—"I am 'all in the Downs.'  The rheumatism in the shoulder less painful (of late), but always there.  But my understandings wuss and wuss—especially my feet.  By Heaven! the man with the peas in his shoes hardly had a worse time of it.  That ass might have boiled his peas; but there is no such resource for me.  Aching, burning, shooting, and other varieties of pain; and no sham pain either—as West [18] would say, 'not a blessed dhrop.' "  Closing a longer account of his increased infirmities ten years later, he sardonically exclaimed: "Oh! what a piece of work is man!"  While residing at Richmond as the guest of a daughter of another old Chartist agitator, though he was wracked and twisted and helpless, he amused everybody with his jests.  Mrs. Harney, who had a profitable connection as a teacher of languages in Boston, had to let him come to England alone.  Once, when she had crossed the Atlantic to stay with him, she took him out in a Bath chair.  Loud were his jokes with the chairman.  "Oh, Julian!" cried Mrs. Harney.  "Ah!" said the servant-maid to the hostess, "Mrs. Harney doesn't know Mr. Harney as well as we do!"

    All his sufferings notwithstanding, he was able to the very last to write or dictate admirable contributions to the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle.  These contributions were generally on books—not formal reviews, but discursive comments on authors and their works, interspersed with delightful touches of personal experience.  It is not a matter of feeling, but of fact, that one of the most effective pieces written in 1896 on the centenary of Burns's death came from Harney's pen.  Occasionally he diverged into politics.  Here he aroused both anger and enthusiasm—anger in one party, enthusiasm in another.  The Editor had as much as he could do to keep the peace among his readers when Harney had his fling at Mr. Gladstone.  The old Chartists hated the Whigs more than they hated the Tories.  Much in the same way, Harney disliked the Liberals more than he disliked the Conservatives.  It was not quite easy to account for his intense rancour against Mr. Gladstone, whom he called, not the Grand Old Man, but the Grand Old Mountebank.  The mention of Mr. Gladstone, even after he was dead, seemed to have the same effect as a red rag is supposed to have on a mad bull.  Yet the veteran was judicious and impressive when he discussed political principles instead of political parties.  A testimonial was presented to him shortly before he died.  Replying to the deputation which presented it, he thoughtfully said: "We have not now so much to seek freedom as to conserve it, to make good use of it, to guard against faddists who would bring us under new restrictions as bad or perhaps worse than the old."  For the rest, he expressed his philosophy of government in the pregnant lines of Byron :


                                                I wish men to be free,
As much from mobs as kings, from you as me.


    The last days of the old Chartist were rendered as happy and as comfortable as his pains and his helplessness would allow by the devoted attentions of his wife.  That lady, sacrificing her professional business in America, came over to nurse him to the end.  When that end came, there passed away from earth no worthier citizen or braver spirit than George Julian Harney.


 
CHAPTER XXIV

THE LATER CHIEFS OF CHARTISM


THE history of the-Chartist movement is divisible into two periods—the period before and the period after 1848.  During the former period, the movement was, speaking generally, gaining strength; during the latter, it was unmistakably losing it.  Some of the leaders whose names are familiar to the student of politics were connected only with the earlier phase of the agitation; others were connected with both its earlier and its later phases; others, again, came into it only when the popular fervour for the Charter was transparently declining.

    The most noted of the later leaders was undoubtedly Ernest Jones.  Like Thomas Cooper, Ernest Jones plunged into the agitation, not as a youth, but as a man of mature years.  Feargus O'Connor claimed descent from an Irish King; Ernest Jones was the godson of a German King.  The royal favour was bestowed upon the younger chief of Chartism while his father was serving as equerry at the Court of Hanover.  The family did not return to England till Ernest had already given indications of those poetic and literary talents which he afterwards so abundantly displayed.  The fiery and sympathetic spirit of the youth had also been shown in an attempt to assist the insurgent Poles.  Although he was educated for the law and was admitted to the Bar, he had no need to pursue the profession till late in life.  Certain land speculations of his, however, cost him his fortune.  It was then that he joined the Chartists.  Mr. George Howell has told the story of these transactions in a series of articles that were published in the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle.  The narrative, based for the most part on a singularly bald diary kept by Ernest Jones, leaves the impression, whether well or ill founded, that Chartism would not have gained its conspicuous recruit if his speculations in land had not terminated disastrously.

    But Ernest Jones made up for his late entrance into the movement by the enthusiasm and even violence of his advocacy.  It came about that he shared the fate of all the other leading spirits of Chartism: he was prosecuted and imprisoned.  No consideration was at that time shown to political prisoners, and less than usual was shown to Ernest Jones.  The indignities he suffered, however, neither damped his ardour nor curbed his tongue.  But he could not keep alive a dying cause.  A last flicker of the candle occurred when it was proposed to establish a People's Paper under the joint editorship and control of Harney and Jones.  The proposed editors quarrelled; the scheme came to naught; Harney quitted the field; and his rival was left with a feeble and squalid following to carry on what remained of the agitation.  Ernest Jones kept the old flag flying till he was almost starved into surrender.  When near its last gasp, he was in the habit of addressing open-air assemblages on Sunday mornings in Copenhagen Fields, now the site of Smithfield Cattle Market.  I walked from a distant part of London, through miles of streets, to hear him.  It was during the Indian Mutiny.  The old fervour and the old eloquence were still to be noted.  But the pinched face and the threadbare garments told of trial and suffering.  A shabby coat buttoned close up round the throat seemed to conceal the poverty to which a too faithful adherence to a lost cause had reduced him.  A year or two later even Ernest Jones had to confess that Chartism was dead.  He turned his attention again to the law, settled in Manchester, and was soon on the road to acquiring a lucrative practice.

    Then came his great discussion on Democracy with John Stuart Blackie, the famous professor of Edinburgh [Ed.—see Blackie 'On Democracy'; see Jones 'Democracy Vindicated'].  It was about this time that I saw and heard him at Newcastle Assizes.  Josiah Thomas, a botanical practitioner who was highly respected in the town, was charged with some technical error.  Ernest Jones was retained for the defence.  The defence was so well managed that the accused, much to the gratification of the general public, was honourably acquitted.  Not long afterwards, just when he was on the point of being chosen one of the members for Manchester, Ernest Jones died.  Before this sad and sudden event occurred, it is satisfactory to know that Harney and Jones, comrades in a great fight, had become reconciled.

    Ernest Jones was a poet: so was Gerald Massey, the Felix Holt of George Eliot's novel.  But Gerald Massey was more fortunate that Ernest Jones in the attentions he received from authority; for while Jones was prosecuted by one Government, Massey was favoured with a pension from another.  There was nothing dishonourable in either transaction, so far as the recipients of punishment or pension were concerned.  It was Massey's poetry that won the kindly notice of the advisers of the Crown.  The poet was very young when he caught the fever of revolutionary politics.  Poor as he was, he yet found means to start a revolutionary paper—the Uxbridge Spirit of Freedom.  If it did not live long, that was not because it had not merit enough to entitle it to live.  Unfortunately, the Chartist movement, when Gerald Massey joined it, was in a moribund condition.  But he made his mark in it before it died.  Harney was publishing his Red Republican, one of the best of his literary ventures.  There appeared in it some verses in praise of Marat that seemed to ring like a trumpet.  They were written by the Hon. George Sydney Smythe, afterwards Lord Strangford.  Harney had copied them from a work entitled "Historic Fancies."  No young Revolutionist could have read them without a thrill.  Far greater was the thrilling sensation when the verses were dramatically recited.  Gerald Massey used to recite them at Chartist meetings.  A friend of mine who had heard him described the effect as magical.  But the poet not only declaimed the inspiring poems of others: he wrote inspiring poems of his own.  One of these, appearing in Harney's publication, led on to fortune.  It is Harney who tells the story.  I had a long letter from him in 1884—as long as this chapter—written from Cambridge, Boston, Massachusetts, where I had enjoyed his hospitality two years before.  The letter is full of characteristic humour—as, indeed, all his letters were.  The humour is notable even in the way he relates how Gerald Massey came to attract the notice of the authorities:—"Hepworth Dixon had no umbrella.  Taking refuge from the rain in a news-shop doorway, he saw the Red Republican.  He bought a copy, and read Gerald Massey's 'Song of the Red Republican.'  That introduced Massey to the Athenæum. The Athenæum introduced Massey to good society.  Lord Alfred and Lady Beatrice were struck by the beauty of the poetry and the face of the young R.R.; and so, and so, at last a pension."  The poet has enjoyed the pension for many years, has devoted much of his time since to inquiries into mystic subjects, but did not forget his old comrade when a testimonial, mainly promoted by the Editor of the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle, was presented to George Julian Harney on the anniversary of his eightieth birthday.

    The founder of Reynolds's Newspaper was better known to the public of his day as a writer of romances than as a political leader.  Yet he came to the front as a Chartist chief subsequent to the ferment which the Revolution of 1848 caused all over the Continent.  George W. M. Reynolds occupied about the same position in English literature as Eugene Sue occupied in French literature.  The stories he published dealt mainly with mysteries and scandals, especially mysteries and scandals of courts and society.  To a certain extent he was before his time.  The reading public in the middle years of the century thought his romances coarse and vulgar, and left them to the appreciation of the patrons of penny numbers.  With the taste for sensation and salacious details which the modern novelist and the modern dramatist have cultivated, it is not at all unlikely that he would, if he had flourished at the end of the century, have been admitted to the hierarchy of fiction.  It was understood that he was the son of an admiral, and that he had wasted a fortune of ten thousand pounds in the attempt to establish a daily newspaper before he found his vocation as the author of highly-flavoured tales.  Reynolds's Miscellany was a popular periodical when the excitement produced by the French Revolution encouraged its proprietor to undertake another adventure.  This was Reynolds's Political Instructor, to which Bronterre O'Brien and other Chartists and Democrats contributed, and in which the portraits and biographies of prominent Chartists and Democrats were printed every week.  Reynolds's Political Instructor was the forerunner of Reynolds's Weekly Newspaper.  Reynolds himself came then before the public in person, made speeches on Chartist platforms, and was elected a member of the Chartist Executive.  I do not think, however, that any large number of Chartists accepted him seriously.  O'Connor and O'Brien, Jones and Harney, all had their followers; but Reynolds had no such distinction.  Indeed, it was rather as a charlatan and a trader than as a genuine politician that G. W. M. was generally regarded by the rank and file of Chartism.

    The movement was already fast declining when Thornton Hunt, George Jacob Holyoake, and William James Linton began to take an active interest in its fortunes.  Hunt was less of a Chartist than a Littérateur, Holyoake less of a Chartist than a Socialist, Linton less of a Chartist than a Republican.  The election of all to the Chartist Executive failed to save the cause.  R. G. Gammage and James Finlen were still lecturing in the provinces; but George White, John West, and James Leech seemed to have dropped out of the running.  The Executive consisted of nine members.  Of these nine members on January 1st, 1850, only two or three are remembered even by name now:—Thomas Brown, James Grassby, Thomas Miles, Edmund Stallwood, William Davies, G. J. Harney, John Milne, G. W. M. Reynolds, and John Arnott.  An election later in the same year gave the following result:—Reynolds, 1,805; Harney, 1,774; Jones, 1,757; Arnott, 1,505; O'Connor, 1,314; Holyoake, 1,021; Davies, 858; Grassby, 811; Milne, 709.  Not elected:—Hunt, 707 ; Stallwood, 636; Fussell, 611; Miles, 515; Le Blond, 456; Linton, 402; Wheeler, 350; Shaw, 326; Leno, 94; Delaforce, 89; Ferdinando, 59; Finlen, 44.  Thornton Hunt was elected subsequently, but Bronterre O'Brien, Gerald Massey, and Thomas Cooper had declined to stand.  It will be noted that the highest vote in 1850 was 1,805, indicating that the number of active members of the National Chartist Association was probably not more than two or three thousand.  In 1852, however, even this small membership must have fallen off one half, for the highest vote recorded then was only 900.  Four new names appear in the list of the Executive for that year—those of W. J. Linton, John Shaw, J. J. Beezer, and Thomas Martin Wheeler.  Anthony came to bury Cæsar, not to praise him.  The new members must have come to bury Chartism, not to praise it.  Funds were falling short, too.  The subscriptions for the first quarter of 1852 amounted to no more than £27—hardly sufficient to pay the secretary's salary, not to speak of office expenses, with never a penny for printing or propagandism.  The Chartist movement was indeed dead, though neither then nor later was there any formal burial.

    But the movement could not in one sense be considered to have failed.  The principles embodied in the Charter have been at least partially recognised.  The suffrage has been extended; the property qualification has been abolished; vote by ballot has been enacted; and the anomalies connected with electoral divisions have been rectified.  Payment of members and annual Parliaments are really the only two of the six points of the Charter that yet remain untouched.  The changes effected in the law, however, are less remarkable than the changes effected in public sentiment.  People who have not shared in the hopes of the Chartists, who have no personal knowledge of the deep and intense feelings which animated them, can have little conception of the difference between our own times and those of fifty or sixty years ago.  The whole governing classes—Whigs even more than Tories—were not only disliked, they were positively hated by the working population.  Nor was this hostility to their own countrymen less manifest on the side of the "better orders."  More or less of the antagonism here indicated continued down to the death of Lord Palmerston.  Then a transformation was worked in the sentiments of the great body of the people.  Thanks to the political earnestness, but still more to the political intrepidity, of later statesmen, working men, enfranchised by household suffrage, commenced for the first time to associate themselves closely and actively with the orthodox parties in the State.  We still have our disputes; we still differ materially in opinion on questions of the day; we still prefer Mr. Balfour to Sir Campbell-Bannerman or Sir Campbell-Bannerman to Mr. Balfour; but we are no longer, in the sense we once were, two nations.


 
CHAPTER XXV

A ROMANCE OF THE PEERAGE


DURING the whole period of the Chartist agitation, and indeed for years before and after it, the representation of Cheltenham was controlled and practically owned by the Berkeleys.  But who were the Berkeleys?  The answer to that question is a romance of the peerage that has frequently been recounted before the law courts.

    The romance begins towards the end of the eighteenth century.  Berkeley Castle, the Berkeley estates, and the Berkeley earldom were held in 1784 by Frederick Augustus, the fifth Earl of Berkeley.  Frederick Augustus seems to have been a rake of the first water.  The evidence adduced at the several trials to establish the claim to the earldom leaves no doubt on that point.  Nor does the lady whom he married after many years of illicit connection appear to have been a model of virtue.  The lady was Mary Cole—called by the common folk Moll Cole—the daughter of a Gloucester butcher.  Mary, as well as at least one of her sisters, fell an easy prey to the blandishments of rank and wealth.  Both were no doubt attractive in person, and both became the mistresses of men of fashion.  Susan figures only in the chronicles of scandal; but Mary, owing to the attempts that were made to prove that she was married to the Earl of Berkeley eleven years before she actually was married, figured also in the chronicles of the law.  None of these discreditable facts would perhaps have become public property if the illegitimate products of Mary's misalliance had shown the same respect for the honour of their mother as the eldest of her legitimate sons did.

    Mary Cole gave birth to several sons before she became Countess of Berkeley.  William Fitzhardinge Berkeley, afterwards Earl Fitzhardinge, was the eldest of these sons.  Among the others were Henry Fitzhardinge Berkeley, member for Bristol, the mover of an annual resolution in favour of the Ballot; Craven Fitzhardinge Berkeley, member for Cheltenham, but not otherwise notable; and Maurice Fitzhardinge Berkeley, an Admiral of the Fleet and member for Gloucester, who, on the death of his elder brother, was elevated to the peerage as Baron Fitzhardinge.  There were also legitimate sons of the connection between Mary Cole and the fifth Earl of Berkeley, for the couple were married at St. Mary's, Lambeth, in 1796.  The eldest of these legitimate sons was Thomas Moreton Fitzhardinge Berkeley, while another was Grantley Fitzhardinge Berkeley, who made some little noise as a novelist and a writer of books on sporting matters.  When the fifth Earl of Berkeley died in 1810, William, the eldest son, who had sat in the House of Commons as Viscount Dursley, claimed the earldom, but, as the result of a great trial in 1811, failed to sustain the claim.  Some years later, probably for political reasons, Colonel Berkeley, as William came to be called, was created first Baron Segrave and then Earl Fitzhardinge.  The eldest of the legitimate sons of the Earl of Berkeley, Thomas Moreton Fitzhardinge Berkeley, chivalrously declined to claim the peerage and property because it would have been necessary, in order to establish his title, to asperse the character of his mother.  The earldom at his death went, therefore, to a distant kinsman, a descendant of the fourth Earl of Berkeley.  The ruling of the House of Lords in 1811 was confirmed, after another and last trial, by the House of Lords in 1891.  Many extraordinary facts adduced in the case were recited by the Lord Chancellor in delivering the final judgment of the law.

    A desire seems to have entered the minds of the Earl and Countess of Berkeley, somewhat late in life, to make out that they had been secretly married in Gloucestershire in 1785, eleven years before they were admitted to have been married in Lambeth.  To bolster up this claim there were believed to have been tamperings with the parish register of Berkeley, the earl himself, it was alleged, having had a hand in the forgeries.  But Mary Cole, according to her own testimony, was at the very time when the banns of marriage were said to have been published at Berkeley (published, by the way, in an inaudible voice by the officiating clergyman) living in Kent in the service of a Mrs. Foote.  Other evidence of the butcher's daughter, contravening the pretensions she subsequently set up, was given at second hand by the Rev. John Chapeau.  Mary Cole at the period of the conversation to which the reverend gentleman testified was known as Miss Tudor, the mistress of Lord Berkeley.  Mr. Chapeau, taking shelter from the rain in Miss Tudor's house in London, found her discharging a servant who had come from the country, and trying to persuade her to return to her friends.  The girl refusing, "saying she liked to stay in London better," Miss Tudor remarked to Mr. Chapeau that "a girl with a good countenance, and dismissed from service without money, would be sure to fall a prey to some man or other."  And then she added that she had once been in a similar situation herself.

    The story Miss Tudor thereupon related to Mr. Chapeau, as given in Mr. Chapeau's evidence, is one of the most extraordinary, that was ever told, even at second hand, in a court of law.  Being discharged and destitute, so she is said to have said, she at first found refuge in the house of a friend of her mother's.  The kindness she received there, however, was not long continued; for the gentleman, fearing scandal, informed her that she must go down to her friends in Gloucester.  So she was turned adrift with a present.  Mary had two sisters in London, one of whom, Ann Farren, was living in dirt and penury.  The other sister, Susan, she had been enjoined by her mother never to speak to again.  But she was so distressed at the miserable circumstances in which she found Ann Farren, and so reluctant to remain in her house, that she resolved to disobey her mother.  And now comes the most wonderful part of the narrative she is alleged to have imparted to Mr. Chapeau:—


I went to my sister Susan's, took up the knocker, and gave a loud rap.  Who should come to the door but (as if it had been on purpose) my sister Susan herself, dressed out in all the paraphernalia of a fine lady going to the opera?  She took me into her arms, carried me into the parlour, and gave me refreshment; began to tear a great many valuable laces of 16s. a yard to equip me for the opera, and when I was so dressed I looked like a devil.  I went to the opera, and was entertained with it, and at night returned again to my sister's; and there I found a table well spread, not knowing that my sister ever had any fortune.  At that table were Lord Berkeley, Sir Thomas Kipworth, I think a Mr. Marriott, and a Mr. Howarth.  The evening went off very dull, and they soon left the place.  The next night we went to the play in the same manner and returned in the same manner, and with no other difference than a young barrister, whom I thought agreeable, and if I had been frequently with him should have liked him very much.  When they went away, I requested my sister to give me a cheerful evening that we might recount over our youthful stories.  The day was fixed, and our supper consisted of a roast fowl, sausages, and a bowl of punch.  In the midst of our mirth a violent noise was heard in the passage, and in rushed two ruffians, one seizing my sister by the right hand and the other by the left, trying to drag her out of the house in order to carry her to a sponging-house.


The rest of this amazing story is given in Mr. Chapeau's own words:—


She told me the men declared they would not quit Susan, her sister, unless they received a hundred guineas.  She fainted away; then, when she came to herself, she found Lord Berkeley standing by her sister Susan who was not there before.  Miss Tudor fell upon her knees, and desired my Lord Berkeley to liberate her sister; that she had no money to do it herself, and, if he would do it, he might do whatever he would with her own person.  He paid down a hundred guineas; the ruffians quitted their hold; and my lord carried off the lady. "Mr. Chapeau," she concluded, "I have been as much sold as any lamb that goes to the shambles."


    Strange and almost incredible as this narrative is, it was accepted by Lord Eldon in 1811, and was not questioned by his successor eighty years later.  Further, as the Lord Chancellor of 1891 remarked, not only was Lady Berkeley not called to contradict it, but evidence was given by the Marquis of Buckingham that corroborated it.  Lord Berkeley told him, the marquis deposed, that "he had got hold of Mary Cole in London, and that he had paid a large sum of money for her."  The Marquis of Buckingham's story was in other particulars hardly less astounding than that of Mary Cole.  The Earl of Berkeley, he said, was afraid, from the circumstances of his family, that the castle and honour of Berkeley would be severed from the title.  To avert this catastrophe, as he thought it, he entertained the idea that his brother's son, who would probably inherit the title, should marry his (Lord Berkeley's) illegitimate daughter.  The child who was thus to be bartered was at the time only three years old.  But the device, as the Lord Chancellor explained, was not pursued, not because of the infancy of the girl, but because she died before it could be accomplished.

    Gossip was making free with Lord Berkeley's affairs even before Lord Berkeley died. Thus Lady Jerningham, whose correspondence was published in 1896, wrote from Brighton in 1806:—


Lady Berkeley was a Housemaid, but always a Virtuous Woman.  Lord Berkeley's Fancy for Her was so Imperious that he resolved upon regular matrimony.  After a time, Repenting of this measure, he prevailed on the Clergyman to tear the Leaf out of the Register that witnessed his being a married man.  But then again Regret Came, as a Child had arrived every year, so He married the same Maid again; and the fourth Son was Supposed to be the inheritor of his title.  But soon after, the Clergyman who had first tied Him in Wedlock dyeing, He then declared the date of his previous marriage and proclaimed that his first Born Son was Lord Dursley.  He Could not Say this during the Clergyman's Life, as the tearing the Register is Felony.  So all this made a sad work, but Lord Thurlow declared there is not a doubt but that the first marriage was Legal, and the Eldest Son is accordingly Stiled Lord Dursley.


    The sons of the fifth Earl of Berkeley, legitimate and illegitimate, washed a lot of their dirty linen in public.  William, the eldest son, was, like his father, a desperate rake, and made his house at Cheltenham—where he lived at one time with the wife of Alfred Bunn, the "poet Bunn" of Drury Lane—the centre of many scandals. [19]  A fascinating Don Juan he must have been too; for it was said that prudent mammas made it a point of sending their daughters away when his lordship came to town.  Nevertheless, it was the custom to ring the bells of the parish church when Lothario paid his periodical visits to German Cottage.  Moreover, he propitiated the fashionable classes by providing stags for them to hunt and hounds with which to hunt them.  But it came to pass one day that the parish bells were silent when Earl Fitzhardinge honoured the place with his presence.  Loud was the clamour which arose, especially as about the same time the nominee of Berkeley Castle was rejected by the electors.  The august patron of the borough, we were told, would withdraw his patronage; his house and furniture would be put up to auction; the glory of German Cottage would be no more.  As a matter of fact, he did for a season refuse to supply the stags for the hunt, and imperiously demanded that the hounds should be at once returned to Berkeley Castle. A furious quarrel broke out among the brothers also. Grantley, who figured conspicuously in the quarrel, was member for one of the divisions of Gloucestershire. As I remember him, he was a tremendous dandy. It was during the general election of 1847, when Grantley Berkeley had revolted against his brother, and when Grenville Berkeley, a cousin of his, was set up in opposition, that the family's dirty linen was washed in public. Grantley, in spite of his dandified appearance, or perhaps because of it, was the more popular candidate ; anyway, he carried the election against Grenville. [20]  The political literature of the time, however, throughout the whole constituency of West Gloucestershire was besmirched with personal scandals.

    The story of the Berkeley family, interesting as a romance of the peerage, is not without interest also as exemplifying the enormous political influence which territorial nobles, notwithstanding the scandal of their private lives, exercised in England even after the Reform Bill of 1832.


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FOOTNOTES.


18.    John West was a comrade in the Chartist agitation.

19.    Macready, the celebrated tragedian, described Bunn at this time as living on the price of his wife's infamy.  The poet's wife, it was alleged, was loaned to the peer for a handsome consideration.

20.    Grantley Berkeley's blackguardism is another story.  The facts of the matter, or some of them, have been pieced together in a letter from an old friend in Chicago—Mr. James Charlton, the doyen of American passenger agents.  What follows is a mere re-arrangement of Mr. Charlton's narrative.

    William Maginn, the Captain Shandon of Thackeray's "Pendennis," and peradventure the "most protean genius that ever appeared in literature," was a writer in Fraser's Magazine, as well as one of the largest contributors to the "Noctes Ambrosiana" in Blackwood.  It was in the former capacity that he came into conflict with the Hon. Grantley Fitzhardinge Berkeley.

    Grantley wrote a novel entitled "Berkeley Castle," which was reviewed and scarified by Maginn in No. 123 of Fraser's Magazine.  The author of the novel took his revenge on the publisher of the magazine.  Fraser was physically weak, while his assailant was physically powerful.  The result was that Fraser never recovered from the shock of that brutal assault, and finally died of it.  An action at law cost Berkeley £100, and a cross-action, Berkeley v. Fraser, ended in a verdict for forty shillings.

    The legal proceedings were followed by a duel.  Maginn acknowledged the authorship of the article in Fraser.  Then came "coffee and pistols for two," Honour was satisfied when the heel of Maginn's boot and the collar of Berkeley's coat were both grazed.

    Failing to shoot his critic, Grantley Berkeley did his best and wickedest to blast the reputation of an innocent girl.  Years after, when he came to write his "Reminiscences," he wove together a tissue of falsehoods and misrepresentations relating to Maginn and Miss Landon, the unfortunate L. E. L.

    The story of L. E. L. is one of the saddest in English literature.  Miss Landon was at one time engaged to John Forster, the biographer of Dickens.  As Forster "never hesitated to correct Dickens, or anybody else, about almost everything, and as he knew everything and a great deal more, and had absolute faith in his own point of view and in nobody else's," it is doubtful whether the gentle poetess would have had a happy life with him.  Anyway, affected by the slanders which "spiteful scoundrels" like Grantley Berkeley had circulated about her, Miss Landon declined the offer of Forster's hand.  Afterwards she went to Cape Coast Castle. The mystery of her death there has never been satisfactorily solved.

    Ernest Jones, subsequent to his release from prison, published several poetical pieces in his "Notes to the People."  One was entited "The New World," which, during the Indian Mutiny, he re-issued under the more attractive title of "The Revolt of Hindostan."  In the original publication the following four lines occur:—


Pale rose an anxious face from Niger's wave,
And murdered Park one groan of anguish gave;
While distant ocean, starting at the knell,
Washed from its sands the letters L. E. L.


    Grantley Berkeley died on February 23rd, 1881, at the age of eighty-one.  Ten years before, Mortimer Collins published a novel, "Marquis and Merchant," which he dedicated "to the Hon. Grantley Fitzhardinge Berkeley, who, both in Life and Literature, shows the true meaning of the adage—'Whom the gods love die young.'"  To appreciate the force and sting of the dedication one has to remember that the Honourable Grantley was even then more than seventy years old.

 


 

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