A History of Chartism I.
Home Up Chartist Movement Reviews Main Index Site Search
 


 

CHAPTER I.

THE EARLY RADICAL MOVEMENT


CHARTISM is the name generally applied to a democratic movement which came to a head in this country about 1840.  It was distinguished by certain specific demands, which came to be both its objects and its insignia.  In the course of its existence, the movement, while adhering closely to its original ends, underwent a number of changes within itself.  From a purely middle-class agitation, it developed into a working-class campaign; woman suffrage entered to a certain extent into the programme; many of the present-day problems of trade unionism, industrial unionism, and syndicalism took shape; and organized labour became for the first time a factor of importance in the life of the nation.

    The beginnings of a political movement may generally be traced, with a modicum of ingenuity, to Plato's Republic by those historians who wish to describe their subject ab ovo.  But a dawn in history differs from the dawn of the meteorologist; it may be fixed arbitrarily.  So we shall place the beginning of our movement in the year 1776, without apologies to those numerous students who have found, and will continue to find, Radicalism already existing before that year.  Since 1776, the movement we shall describe has been continuous; before that date it was sporadic.  When the Metropolitan Parliamentary Reform Association came into being in 1842, it published an Address in which 1776 was stated to be the date of the new birth.  "The first attempt," it said, "free from all party bias, to induce the people to concur in efforts to obtain a radical reform of the Commons House of Parliament, was made by the late Major John Cartwright in the year 1776, in a pamphlet entitled Take your Choice." [p.12-1]  Although students of Major Cartwright's Life and Letters will find a letter addressed to him by Lord Stanhope [p.12-2] (the third Earl, the scientist and inventor with the revolutionary sympathies), claiming that the first writing published in support of parliamentary reform was by himself, in 1774, we may nevertheless neglect his claim.  The succession does not date from him, a mere voice in the wilderness. [p.12-3]

    A slight glance at the state of thought during 1776 may be helpful.  Voltaire and Rousseau were in the ascendant.  Adam Smith published The Wealth of Nations, and a part of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire had appeared.  The Declaration of Independence was another event of the year.  North's Ministry was in power.  Dr. Johnson still dogmatized his listeners out of breath.  Louis XVI had but just ascended the French throne, and Turgot had not yet lost his control of the French finances.  Neither William Godwin nor Mary Wollstonecraft had published anything.  John Wilkes had triumphed, and, after having been Lord Mayor of London, had without opposition just succeeded in regaining his seat as member for Middlesex.  The spirit of religious toleration had made itself felt within the Houses of Parliament; the Roman Catholic Relief Act was in sight.  Bentham had published his Fragment on Government, and Cartwright issued the tract we have already mentioned.

    This tract appears to have succeeded in making a certain impression, for in 1777 we have a revised and enlarged second edition, bearing the title The Legislative Rights of the Commonalty Vindicated: or, Take your Choice! which contains Cartwright's replies to some arguments adduced by opponents.  That the publication was read at all is only to be accounted for on the ground that it fell in with prevalent opinion, for, in common with all Cartwright's works, it is intolerably dull, and very long-winded.  But the train had been laid.

    Cartwright lived to become a figurehead among the Radical reformers by sheer weight of years (he died in 1824, aged eighty-four), and by dint of saying the same thing for just under fifty years.  His mind possessed a certain originality, which, however, expended itself almost invariably upon trifling and inessential matters.  He used to invent great schemes of national defence, based upon his ideas of what existed in the Golden Age, which in his belief was somewhere about the reign of King Alfred.  He designed a new form of pike to take the place of bayonets—also based, of course, on Anglo-Saxon examples—and later spent some considerable energy in inducing the Greeks to use it in their struggles against the Turks.  Francis Place refers to him as "the old gentleman." [p.13-1]  He appears to have been universally loved by the younger generation of Radicals, for the old bore possessed a childlike simplicity that was not the mere accompaniment of second childhood.  His Take your Choice put the case directly for universal suffrage and annual parliaments—two points which remained in the forefront of the Radical programmes until the end of the Chartist movement.  The term "universal suffrage," the most common of all the shibboleths of this long agitation, had not then attained to its present meaning; it simply meant manhood suffrage.  It was never the intention of the early Radicals to allow women to be participants in the extended franchise.  When the Dean of Gloucester (Josiah Tucker) criticized Take your Choice on the ground that if all men were to be given a vote, soon all the women would demand their enfranchisement, Cartwright angrily replied in the second edition: "For want of arguments against an equality of representation, some authors have been driven to the sad expedient of attempting to be witty on the subject.  A dignitary of our Church . . . has been pleased to advance that, provided this equality be due to men, it must equally appertain to the women . . . etc." [p.13-2]  We need not proceed to quote the now familiar argument that Scripture demands that the husband should be the head of the family.  In common with certain anti-Suffragists of our own day, Cartwright preserves a discreet silence as to the spinsters and widows whom Scripture does not appear to have inhibited from voting.

    During the next few years reform ideas spread with great rapidity, especially in Middlesex and Yorkshire.  Inside the House of Commons, Burke was labouring at schemes to abolish sinecures and corruption, but without success.  Delegate meetings were held in many towns, and "conventions" met at the Thatched House Tavern and the St. Alban's Coffee House, both in St. James's Street.  Pitt, Burke, and Sheridan were among the Members of Parliament who attended these meetings.  Petitions to Parliament began to pour in, and the whole existing system of representation was subjected to raking criticism.  A majority of the House of Commons was returned by only 11,000 electors. [p.14-1]  Sir Philip Francis, in a letter to his sister, describes his election for Appleby in this ludicrous strain: [p.14-2] "I was unanimously elected by one elector to represent this ancient borough in Parliament . . . there was no other Candidate, no Opposition, no Poll demanded, Scrutiny or Petition.  So I had nothing to do but to thank the said Elector for the Unanimous Voice with which I was chosen. . . . On Friday morning I shall quit this triumphant scene with flying colours and a noble determination not to see it again in less than seven years . . . my Elector intends to hang himself in November, and then I shall elect myself: and that will do as well."  Where the electorate was more numerous and less unanimous, bribery used to take place upon a most expensive scale.  The reformers had not to seek far for ammunition, but the enemy's defences were strong.
 
    At a meeting held in Westminster at the beginning of 1780, a committee was appointed to draw up a programme for the reformers.  This formulated the following demands, which remained the basis of the Radical agitation for many years: (1) Annual Parliaments, (2) Universal Suffrage, (3) Voting by Ballot, (4) Equal Polling Districts, (5) No Money Qualifications for Members, (6) Payment of Members for their Attendance.  "At this time there was no political public, and the active friends of Parliamentary Reform consisted of noblemen, gentlemen, and a few tradesmen. . . . Their proceedings were neither adapted for, nor were they addressed to the working people, who, at that time, would not have attended to them." [p.15-1]  The Radical movement was essentially a middle-class movement, and, although the working class was not excluded to the extent indicated by our last quotation, when victory was at last achieved, it was the middle class that received the greater part of the satisfaction.

    Many years before the events of 1780, a Bill of Rights Society had been formed for the purpose of helping Wilkes with money, and for the propagation of his opinions.  This still existed; so also did the Constitutional Society, which had seceded from it.  This last combined the functions of a study circle, a dining club, and a charitable body.  Some of the more advanced members of the latter body again broke away and formed the "Society for Promoting Constitutional Information"; its members were to be chosen by ballot, each person on becoming a member was to subscribe not less than one guinea, but as much more as he pleased, and five guineas each per annum.  A considerable number of tracts were published, recommending Annual Parliaments, Universal Suffrage, and Voting by Ballot. [p.15-2]  The first President [p.15-3] appears to have been Sir Cecil Wray, M.P. for East Retford from 1768-80, who had wrested the representation of that borough, on the nomination of the Bill of Rights Society, from the Duke of Newcastle and the corporation.  This new Society was, as we may gather from the subscription, scarcely proletarian either in its membership or its aspirations.  R. B. Sheridan was one of the original members, as were a large number of Whig M.P.'s.  In its first existence, from 1780 to 1783, the Society did little more than to bear witness to the prevalence of a sentiment, and three years after its formation it was shut down by the North-Fox coalition.  But the French Revolution stimulated the dead bones into an avatar in 1791, when more was heard of it.  This Society was but one of the outward and visible signs of a movement, not yet sufficiently conscious of its own objects to be democratic, and not yet completely divorced from the Tory creed of the necessity of class subordination.  But in Parliament matters were moving in a manner all the more remarkable when the times are considered.  The anti-Catholic riots of 1780, under the leadership of the mentally defective Lord George Gordon, were an anticipation, on a large scale, of Mafeking night.  After a week's experience of entirely unprecedented mob law, the reformers in Parliament found their faith unshaken.  On the first day of serious rioting, Friday, June 2, the Duke of Richmond was actually bringing in a motion in the House of Lords in support of universal suffrage and annual parliaments.  "But no serious discussion was possible.  Pale, bruised, and agitated, with their wigs torn off, their hair dishevelled, their clothes torn and bespattered with mud, the peers of England sat listening to the frantic yells of the multitude who already thronged the lobbies." [p.16]  So Lecky describes the scene.  But no revolution was at hand.  Richmond's motion was negatived without ostentation, the riots died out, and England was herself again.    The next positive advance of the reform movement took place in 1782, and carried things to a point which was not passed for almost fifty years.

    On March 27 of that year, Edmund Burke became Paymaster-General in the Rockingham Ministry, and promptly introduced measures to abolish sinecures, to reduce the Pensions List, and to guard against the possibility of corruption.  At the moment it seemed necessary to both Lords and Commons to keep the Rockingham Ministry alive at all costs.  Nothing therefore was done to impede the progress of the Bill in which these reforms were embodied, and it passed both Houses with flying colours to the accompaniment of scarcely muffled execrations.  A few weeks afterwards, [p.17-1], Pitt [p.17-2] introduced an important resolution in a powerful speech: "That a committee be appointed to inquire into the present state of representation of the Commons of Great Britain in Parliament, to report the same to the House, and likewise which steps in their opinion it may be proper for Parliament to take concerning the same."  The extent to which the myth of a perfect constitution had gripped the imagination of all politicians is nowhere better illustrated than in the reports of the debate which followed this resolution.  Proposals of reform were, as it were, apologized for; they were, it was strenuously maintained, not incompatible with the myth.  Pitt himself kotowed before the fetish, declaring that "he was afraid that the reverence and the enthusiasm which Englishmen entertained for the constitution would, if not suddenly prevented, be the means of destroying it; for such was their enthusiasm, that they would not even remove its defects, for fear of touching its beauty." In the course of the debate the defenders of the status quo were easily out-talked, but the myth won on a division.  For the resolution, 141 voted; against, 161.  This majority of only twenty votes was not diminished till 1831.  Between 1782 and 1785, Pitt several times brought up the subject, but in vain.  His acceptance of the Premiership in 1783 made him fearful of rebuffs, and, a few years later, his views on democracy and reform came to be overshadowed by the fear of revolution.

    In July, 1782, the Society for Constitutional Information addressed an appeal "to the people of Great Britain of all denominations, but particularly to those who subsist by honest industry."  This would appear to be the first invitation to the wage-earning classes to participate in the reform movement.  About this date we find a large number of county associations had sprung up, especially in Yorkshire.  Here an indefatigable clergyman, one Christopher Wyvill, was organizing middle-class opinion with remarkable success.  Although his cloth prevented him from entering Parliament at any time, he took a prominent part in the politics of Yorkshire, where he owned considerable property, and as early as 1779 he became Secretary of the Yorkshire Association, a body with reformist objects.  He then began, by correspondence and personal effort, to secure the formation of no less than twenty-five county associations.  The six volumes of Political Papers, chiefly respecting the Attempt of the County of York, and other Considerable Districts, commenced in 1779, and continued during several subsequent years, to effect a Reformation of the Parliament of Great Britain, collected by the Rev. Christopher Wyvill, Chairman of the late Committee of Association of the County of York, contain evidence of a remarkable mass of activities.  The associated counties, however, were far from Radical in their demands.  Yorkshire in 1781 merely required (1) support of the "economical Petition" (carried in 1782 by Burke), (2) the addition of at least one hundred county members, (3) duration of Parliament not to exceed three years.  Wyvill gives a list of the associations which more or less agreed with these objects; [p.18] they number seventeen.  Here, too, Demos does not appear to have been welcomed.  The American War had undoubtedly given these bodies a great stimulus.  Wyvill could triumphantly and frequently point to the fact that while the county representatives approved of the war, the county associations did not.  Now, however, that the American War was ended, that economical reform was a fact, and that Pitt was in a position of responsibility, Wyvill suddenly found himself deserted by his former associates and supporters.  The landed interest—or that portion of it that had once helped him—crumbled away.  The county associations went to pieces.

    The year 1788, the centenary of the Revolution, saw a revival of sorts.  But the revival was less in the nature of a national movement than of a celebration.  Such political impetus as the reform movement gathered was materialized ignobly into dining clubs.  A few of the reformers—Cartwright, for example—were in deadly earnest, but to large numbers reform was merely a toast.  The following year saw the outbreak of the French Revolution.  Only a few observers understood that the National Assembly was not to be the end; the majority of Whigs welcomed the new development, while few, Whigs and Tories, actually disapproved.  "Cautious and reflecting politicians like Grenville, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs—afterwards, indeed, to be swept along unresisting in the race of political reaction—looked on with the placid content of some petty tradesman who sees his rival's premises destroyed by fire; and his view was typical of the prevailing orthodoxy." [p.19-1]  The first Englishman to adopt the view which afterwards became orthodox—detestation of the Revolution—was Edmund Burke.  He could not sympathise with those who believed with Fox that the taking of the Bastille was "the greatest and the best event that ever happened in the world," and broke his friendship with Fox on account of the difference of opinion.  Alarmed at the spread of Radical societies in this country with avowedly revolutionary sympathies, Burke published, in November, 1790, his Reflections on the Revolution in France.  This was, despite its name, largely a glorification of the British status quo, alleging a perfect constitution, a wise distribution (i.e. concentration) of property and power, and a necessary and beneficent Church in close combination with the sovereign power.  The book evoked an extraordinary outburst of applause and brickbats.  In the dispatch of the latter a number of those who were to give the Radical and, later, the Chartist movements their ideas first emerged into publicity.

    An American writer [p.19-2] has counted up no less than thirty-eight replies to Burke's Reflections.  The first in the field was Mary Wollstonecraft, whose Vindication of the Rights of Man even to-day reads freshly.  On sheer points of reasoning, of keenness of assault, of clear-cut statement of contending principles, the statesman is unmistakably second to the schoolmistress.  Only a few months later she followed up her attack on the fastnesses of the conservative intellect by what must be regarded (considering its time) as one of the most daring political essays ever penned.  A Vindication of the Rights of Woman remains a standard textbook of feminism to this day.  It contains the first plea—left undeveloped, however—for the political enfranchisement of women, and much other matter accurately calculated to shock.

    The Rights of Man, by Thomas Paine, published in 1791, had an enormous and immediate influence.  This was far less revolutionary than Mary Wollstonecraft's reply, and is to-day frankly out of date.  But its racy style, its positive proposals for amending the Poor Law and reducing taxation, made the book extraordinarily popular.  Paine received no less than £1,000 in royalties from the first part, which he handed over to the Constitutional Society for the further dissemination of the book.  The second part (1792) was equally successful.  "In the end it was adopted by the Constitutional Society as a kind of democratic Magna Charta, and sent by them to all the Corresponding Societies in England, France, and Scotland." [p.20-1]  Before Paine fled for France in September, 1792, he had collected round himself a small circle of Radicals who were greatly to influence the events of the coming years.  Godwin (who became Mary Wollstonecraft's husband), Horne Tooke, Holcroft (the dramatist), William Blake, John Frost, Romney, and Lord Edward Fitzgerald were among his close friends.

    Side by side with this development of Radical theory, societies had been springing up to carry the new doctrines into effect.  About this time we begin to notice the first signs of the working-class Radical, although the movement remained almost completely in middle-class hands.  On April 11, 1792, a new body was formed, calling itself The Friends of the People, associated for the Purpose of Obtaining a Parliamentary Reform. [p.20-2]  Erksine, the barrister who made so brilliant a reputation by his defence of Horne Tooke a few years later, was perhaps the most important promoter of the new society.  This too was bourgeois—with a vengeance.  Election was by ballot, and the annual subscription 2½ guineas.  It had a general declaration, which was signed on admission to membership.  "First, to restore the Freedom of Election and a more equal representation of the people in Parliament.  Second, to secure to the people a more equal and more frequent exercise of their right of electing their Representatives."  It is interesting to note that the Friends of the People disclaimed all connexion with the Society for Constitutional Information, although their membership was largely duplicate.  This Society was to a very large extent merely a pious Whig body, and its members, though distinguished, were never unduly strenuous.  The indefatigable Major Cartwright was, as ever, one of the founders.  A mildly reformist petition to the House of Commons presented by this society in 1795, found only forty-two supporters. [p.21-1]

    The society of which most was heard during this period was the London Corresponding Society. [p.21-2]  This differed essentially from all the bodies of which we have been speaking.  Its aims were similar, but its membership was largely plebeian.  The subscription was one penny a week.  The first secretary was Thomas Hardy, an ex-shoemaker.  The L.C.S. came out into the open about the beginning of 1793.  Branches sprang into existence all over the country.  The greater part of Hardy's work consisted of correspondence with these local societies.  Leaflets were scattered broadcast.  The Journal of the L.C.S. and Hardy's incomplete manuscript history of it are in the Place MSS. at the British Museum.  They are interesting reading, and are written with a flow of optimism for which we to-day cannot account.  The conquest of England seemed easy to those pioneers.  The trumpets had but to be blown, and the walls of Jericho would collapse, surely enough.  "Clergy and courtiers are not so numerous as they appear," Hardy cheerfully remarks in a personal letter to a faint-hearted editor. [p.22-1]  The reformers of the old school, Major Cartwright for example, had on the whole a clear notion of what reform would mean.  But not so the new enthusiasts.  The London Corresponding Society's Addresses and Resolutions (1794) contains a large instalment of that enticing utopianism which, in the long run, was to destroy the Chartist movement.  "Numerous as our grievances are, reform one alone and the others will disappear.  What we must have is—


An Honest Parliament,
An Annual Parliament,
A Parliament where each individual will have his representative.


Soon then we shall see our liberties restored, the press free, the laws simplified, judges unbiased, juries independent, needless places and pensions retrenched, immoderate salaries reduced, the public better served, and the necessaries of life more within the reach of the poor." [p.22-2]  This, as we shall see, was the type of thing which the movement of fifty years ahead suffered from, more, perhaps, than any other cause.  The Radicals accepted the constitutional myth so sedulously cherished by Burke and Blackstone, and dressed it up in clothes of their own fashioning.  "Return to us the true English constitution," they cried, "and the Golden Age will be with us again."

    Events altered their course when, after the execution of Louis XVI, war broke out between England and France, on February 1, 1793.  Many of the Corresponding Societies had carried their sympathy with the French Revolution farther than was to the taste of the authorities.  They had corresponded with French societies; their principal source of inspiration, the author of The Rights of Man, had had French citizenship conferred upon him, and had actually been elected a member of the Convention.  The Whig reformers, be it noted, had gradually withdrawn their sympathy from the Revolutionary cause, until the execution of Louis changed them to active opponents.  But the working-class members of the L.C.S., numbering certainly not less than 10,000, [p.23-1] had cut themselves adrift from Whig opinion.  Numbers of societies sprang up in London and the provinces, willing and anxious to make trouble.  Subscriptions were collected for the Jacobin army, and addresses of congratulation poured in upon the Convention. [p.23-2]  The Government began to take action.

    On May 21, 1792, a royal proclamation [p.23-3] had already been issued against "seditious practices," "all proceedings tending to produce riots and tumults," and "seditious writings," [p.23-4] but no deliberate efforts at repression were made for over a year.  In the meantime the movement among the working class spread, and, as it grew, it acquired a distinct individuality, which, allied with its Jacobin sympathies, caused in the end the L.C.S. to be disowned by the Friends of the People.  In December, 1793, the first severe blow was struck.  A "British Convention" was held in Edinburgh, attended by a hundred and fifty-three delegates, two of whom, Margarot and Gerrald, had been sent to represent the L.C.S.  The proceedings adopted a French phraseology, delegates addressed each other as Citizen, and matters were conducted with a solemnity beside which a modern Labour Party Congress assumes an almost frivolous aspect.  But "Convention" was now a word that stank in official noses.  Margarot, Gerrald, and three Scotsmen (Muir, Palmer and Skirving) were arrested and tried for sedition.  The unlucky five were most unfairly treated; [p.23-4] and were sentenced to transportation to Botany Bay for fourteen years, with the exception of Palmer, whose sentence was seven years.  But only Margarot, the least reputable of them all, survived the sentence and returned to his own country.  It seems fairly certain, from the line taken by the prosecution, that the Government of the day had overestimated the quantity of revolutionary sentiment, and sincerely believed that it might overflow and plunge the nation into confusion.  Gerrald had published a pamphlet in 1793, [p.24] in which he had suggested the formation of a legislative assembly, on the lines of the French Convention.  But the Government, after all, is not greatly to be blamed for taking the Radicals as seriously as they took themselves.  A few months later Pitt introduced a Bill to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act.  This passed through both Houses with large majorities.  It is specially to be noted that in the speech introducing the Bill, Pitt referred at great length to the London Corresponding Society, for whose particular benefit the measure was intended.  He made the extraordinary statement that the Society wished to upset law and order, property and religion, and generally indicated a belief in the extreme gravity of the situation.

    A few days before the introduction of this Bill, thirteen members of the London Corresponding Society had been arrested in London on a charge of high treason.  Only three were eventually brought to trial.  These were Thomas Hardy, Horne Tooke, and John Thelwall.  The three were tried separately and all enjoyed the defence of the brilliant Erskine.  Hardy's case came first—the report of it covers 1,208 pages of State Trials.  Erskine's cross-examination of some of the witnesses for the prosecution practically settled the case.  They were forced to admit to such a depth of their own rascality that the jury had no alternative but to return a verdict of "not guilty."  The case of Horne Tooke was far more piquant, and less voluminous.  This man was a philologist on the one hand, and a champion of fair play on the other, and his life appears to have been evenly divided between these two pursuits.  He entered upon a stormy political career by embracing the cause of Wilkes thirty years previous to the trial of which we are speaking.  He had founded the Constitutional Society in 1771, to uphold the rights of Wilkes and the American colonists.  He had served two sentences of imprisonment in connexion with his political activities.  Now, in the dock, after Erskine had once more rent to pieces the characters of some of the witnesses for the prosecution, Tooke asked the embarrassed Prime Minister, cited as a witness, "whether or no he had been present, with the prisoner himself, at a meeting at the Thatched House Tavern in 1780, which was a 'Convention of delegates from great towns and counties of England, with the object of animating the people to meet in districts and petition Parliament for a reform.'  Pitt awkwardly responded to his shrewd questioner that 'he had no distinct recollection of the composition of the meeting.'" [p.25-1] And Tooke was found "not guilty."

    Lastly came the trial of Thelwall.  This man was a type altogether different from either Hardy or Tooke, although the latter had so far recognized his abilities as to have offered his help to Thelwall on several occasions.  He became a peripatetic lecturer who preached the extremest Radicalism, and delighted in clothing his sentiments in parables.  He thus secured the applause of audiences keenly alert for the concealed sting, while the police officers—always in attendance at his lectures—listened in vain for an indisputably seditious phrase.  He had the gifts of the mob-orator to an altogether exceptional extent.  In writing to his wife he says: "Two lectures in particular . . . have shaken the pillars of corruption till every stone of the rotten edifice trembled.  Every sentence darted from breast to breast with electric contagion, and the very aristocrats themselves—numbers of whom throng to hear me—were frequently compelled by irresistible impulse to join in the acclamations, however they disliked the doctrine." [p.25-2]  He had gone farther than his fellow-prisoners.  His sentiments may have been the same as theirs, but his allusions—not in the best of taste—to George III and the desirability of his removal from this earth were entirely his own.  But the witnesses for the prosecution had been discredited, Erskine was as convincing as before, and, for the third time, the jury returned a verdict of "not guilty."  The incendiary powers of Thelwall thus received an enormous advertisement, of which he fully availed himself for three or four years.  He then dropped politics and taught elocution.

    The effect of these trials was, in the first place, to direct the attention of the country to the Radical movement.  The London Corresponding Society enjoyed an unprecedented accession of members, Francis Place amongst them.  In the second place, the movement was made to appear as supplying the only possible escape from the apparent economic impasse into which the revolutionary war had already led the country.  The year 1795 was one of the most trying in the history of England.  It was during this year that the extraordinary distress among agricultural labourers found a solution that was no solution in the "Speenhamland Act of Parliament," which brought almost the whole population of the South of England on the rates within the next thirty years.  Enclosures were also beginning their dislocation of village life.  High prices of food prevailed [p.26-1]—the invariable concomitant of working-class unrest.  When George III went to the House of Lords to open Parliament on October 29, he was hooted the whole way from Buckingham House and back again.  The mob was so dense as actually to impede the progress of the state coach.  The cries raised were, "Bread!  Peace!" and one man was taken up for shouting, "No King." [p.26-2]  The struggle between the Government and the Radicals was distinctly embittered as a result of these events. [p.26-3]  The fight on the Radical side was concentrated on the London Corresponding Society, for the Friends of the People evaporated in 1795, and the Society for Constitutional Information melted away rather than face prosecution.  A few great meetings were held by the L.C.S., which insisted on demonstrating its growing vitality.  Pitt passed the "Two Acts," which extended the definition of treasonable practices, and placed obstacles in the way of public meetings.  There is no doubt that he, and the Government generally, had been really frightened by what appeared to them to be preparations for an armed rising.  The L.C.S. adroitly reconstituted itself to escape the penalties prescribed by the new Acts.  A comic interlude is supplied by the Reeves affair—the one event of 1795 at which the reformers could afford to laugh.  John Reeves was a worthy civil servant who founded and became chairman of a comic opera Association for preserving Liberty and Property against Levellers and Republicans.  This was all very well, but Reeves allowed his enthusiasm to make him plus royalists que le roi.  He published an anonymous pamphlet, Thoughts on the English Government, which was so royaliste as to suggest the superfluousness of Parliament, all authority resting with the King.  The House of Commons regarded this as a breach of privilege, and, praying in an undertone for deliverance from its friends, caused Reeves to be tried for libel.  He was not convicted, however; the jury applauded his motive and forgave his indiscretion.  But the whole case must have been an immense source of delight to the Radicals. [p.27-1]

    The events of the year led the L.C.S. to issue, on November 23, An Explicit Declaration of the Principles and Views of the London Corresponding Society. [p.27-2]  This document is of special interest, as showing both the theoretical position of the Radicals and the direction into which persecution was already beginning to force the movement.  "In their ideas of equality, they have never included (nor, till the associations of alarmists broached the frantic notion, could they ever have conceived so wild and detestable a sentiment could have entered the brain of man) the equalization of property, or the invasion of personal rights and possessions.  This levelling system they know, and all rational men must immediately perceive, to be equally unjust and impracticable."  Having thus obliquely dealt with Reeves, the manifesto proceeds: "Peaceful reform, and not tumultuary revolt, is their object; and they trust to the good sense and candour of the nation that something more than vague accusations and interested calumny will be expected to discredit their protestation that They abhor alike the FANATICAL ENTHUSIASM that would plunge into a sea of anarchy in quest of speculative theories, and the Villainous Hypocrisy that would destroy the very essence of existing institutions, under pretence of preserving them from destruction!!!"  Here the existence of "Fanatical Enthusiasm" is at any rate admitted.  But, such as it was, it was certainly not fomented by the Committee of the L.C.S.  In 1796, their principal action was the sending out of two missionaries to address meetings (limited now by Pitt's "Two Acts" to audiences not exceeding forty-nine) up and down the country.  John Gale Jones and John Binns both did much this year to strengthen the provincial Corresponding Societies; both men were arrested in Birmingham, but when, after a long delay, they were brought to trial, one was acquitted and the Court released the other after he had been found guilty.  This year and the next efforts appear to have been made by the L.C.S. to obtain the sympathy of the army and navy.  But the evidence is inconclusive; it is tolerably certain that both services were growing heartily sick of the war, and were consequently becoming disaffected, especially in Scotland.  It also appears from recent research that the naval mutinies of 1797, off Spithead and the Nore, were spontaneous; and not, as was believed, encouraged by the L.C.S.  But no unqualified assertion is possible.  The Government about this time began to discover "plots."  We cannot take the evidence in support of their existence very seriously.  Pikes and battle-axes were found in the houses of suspected persons, and were regarded as proof positive of preparations for an attempt at armed insurrection.  The conquest of Britain with a handful of battle-axes may be dismissed as a notion that would appeal to a hero of a novel by Mr. G. K. Chesterton, rather than to any conspirator in possession of his senses.  But, little by little, the London Corresponding Society was beaten down.  In 1797 a number of its more thoughtful members left it in protest against the Committee's decision to hold meetings in defiance of the law. [p.28]  The secretarial work was conducted incapably.  Funds were low.  On April 19, 1798, the Committee—or what remained of it—was arrested en masse, and the Society may be said to have come to its end.  Not until 1801 were the prisoners released.  By that time O'Coigley, an Irish priest, who had attempted to reanimate the dead bones of the Society, had been hanged for treason, and the L.C.S. was all but forgotten.  "The close of the eighteenth century marks an epoch in the history of the Radicals.  They were then at their nadir of depression." [p.29-1]  The Combination Acts of 1799, amended in 1800, were further blows struck at political organization in general.  Although the Combination Acts were intended to suppress trade unions and working-class associations in particular, yet in general they extended to all combinations whatsoever.  The intention, however, was revealed in the administration of the Acts.  During the whole epoch of repression, whilst thousands of journeymen suffered for the crime of combination, there is absolutely no case on record in which an employer was punished for the same offence." [p.29-2]

    With the turn of the century the whole movement changes.  Francis Place, the greatest organizer English democracy has ever known, had retired from public life after the closing up of the London Corresponding Society.  He did not emerge from his tailor's shop in Charing Cross at all between 1800 and 1805, but stuck to his business and built up that material security which was later to enable him to give up his whole energies to the movement.  Major Cartwright, almost alone of the first radical generation, kept the old flag flying.  He was now over sixty years of age, and as active and as hopeful as ever.  But his propaganda, as in former years, was confined to the upper and middle classes.  His niece illustrates his activities and the responses they earned.  "In the month of October (1805) Major Cartwright wrote to the Dukes of Norfolk, Northumberland, Bedford, to Lord Dundas, to the Earls of St. Vincent and Stanhope, to Messrs. Grey, Fox, etc., etc., urging the necessity of calling another meeting of the county of Middlesex! [p.29-3]  From most of these distinguished persons he received very flattering replies, but they seemed generally to have adopted an opinion that it was not the time to agitate the question, and Mr. Fox in particular observed, that 'to stir it at that time would not only be highly prejudicial to the interests of reform itself, but to every other measure that could be taken for the general good, in this critical and disastrous state of public affairs.'"  Then follows the pathetic comment, "It is a little remarkable, that during so long a life as that of Major Cartwright, he never, in the opinion of some persons, found out the happy moment for agitating a question which they acknowledged to be of the highest importance, and that whenever he proposed any public measure, the country should be either in a state too apathetic and prosperous, or else too critical and disastrous." [p.30-1]

    A figure curiously characteristic of these disheartening times is that of Thomas Spence (1750–1814).  This man was the author of a scheme of land nationalization and social reform, the diffusion and acceptance of which, in view of its crudeness, is a valuable illustration of that strange combination of mental receptivity and uncritical outlook that was the bane of so many of the Radical reformers.  Spence wished the inhabitants of each parish to be a corporation in whom the land should be vested, while his scheme of social reform embraced a five-day week.  About 1780 he came to London from his native Newcastle and opened a bookstall, at which, however, the principal commodity sold was saloop.  This appears to have been a sassafras tea, considered a sovereign remedy for drunkenness.  The books sold were frequently "seditious," and Spence was imprisoned for a few months in 1794, and for a year in 1801.  It is curious to note that Spence invented a simplified spelling system, on phonetic principles.  But as he had a Newcastle accent, the scheme was promptly disqualified. [p.30-2]  Two years after his death evidence as to the widespread currency of his views was furnished by the formation of the Society of Spencean Philanthropists, which had several branches in London.  The period was one of inquiry, and in the country of the blind, the one-eyed are leaders.

    A far more exhilarating personality is that of William Cobbett (1762–1835), who returned to England from America in 1800, preceded by a strong Tory reputation.  The same year he started The Porcupine, a daily paper with anti-republican, anti-Gallivan, and anti-reform politics.  The views expressed in the paper were extreme; it stood practically alone among the opposition periodicals in deriding the Peace of Amiens, which gave the country a moment's breathing-space.  For which reason Cobbett's house was mobbed, and publication was suspended.  When resumed the paper soon had to be dropped.  "He who has been the proprietor of a daily paper for only one month wants no Romish priest to describe to him the torments of purgatory," [p.31-1] said Cobbett, whose talent for locating wasps' nests was not compensated by any power of destroying them.  Then, curiously enough, the views of this sturdy bull-like publicist began to undergo a change.  From 1802 to 1835 he edited the Political Register, which, always independent, veered gradually from an almost entirely negative to an advanced reformist standpoint.  After 1806, Cobbett is perhaps the most influential exponent of the popular demand.

    Between 1800 and 1806 the reform movement, with the exceptions we have named, was all but inarticulate.  Among the people the coercive measures of Pitt's Government had suppressed the outward signs of Radicalism.  Industrial conditions were such as to leave little room for hope in the minds of the most ardent reformers.  The price of provisions had doubled between 1783 and 1803, and the poor rates had more than doubled within the same period. [p.31-2]  Every now and again the police were alarmed at the possible consequences of a Popular demonstration against high prices; the French Revolution was still recent enough to make any popular outbreak appear an embryonic national catastrophe.  On December 3, 1800, a royal proclamation exhorted the public to exercise the utmost care in the use and consumption of grain of all kinds.  At the end of 1802, the Despard conspiracy, with its chimerical projects for seizing the reins of government, showed the extent of the terror that was beginning to brood over the country.  Not until the Napoleonic spectre had been finally disposed of did the reform movement find the necessary psychological atmosphere for a successful fruition.  The period provides a unique quantity of material to the student of psychology who would attempt an estimate of the dependence of belief upon terror, for there is no doubt that many of the most fundamental tenets of the ruling class underwent an essential transformation by the fear of a revolution.  The accentuated cleavage between the ruling and the ruled classes has been observed and described [p.32-1]  But perhaps the most significant fact illustrating the new relationship is that the ancient virtue of working-class thrift was discouraged in many quarters, lest more power be added to the labourers. [p.32-2]

    During such a period, where all was incoherence, there is no simple series of finger-posts to guide the direction taken by the reform movement.  Certain general tendencies are all that can be noted; there is little to be gained by drawing a chart of the sporadic outbreaks that may or may not have been connected with the reform agitation.  The first fact that is to be borne in mind is that the burden of life was pressing with ever-growing intensity upon the working classes. [p.32-3]  This was the cause of a restlessness that, inchoate and at first undirected, found expression at the start in a long series of riots, and later in the reform movement.  The internal history of England, from 1795 to 1832, is virtually a long tale of riots, the objects of which were diffused in the beginning among a whole array of grievances, and later came to be concentrated on parliamentary reform.  The following quotation conveys an idea of the diversity of the irritants and the area of disturbance in 1815 and 1816 alone: "In London and Westminster riots ensue, and were continued for several days whilst the (Corn) Bill was discussed; at Bridport, there were riots on account of the high price of bread; at Bideford, there were similar disturbances to prevent the exportation of grain; at Bury, by the unemployed, to destroy machinery; at Ely, not suppressed without bloodshed; at Newcastle-on-Tyne, by colliers and others; at Glasgow, where blood was shed; at Preston, by unemployed weavers; at Nottingham, by Luddites, who destroyed thirty frames; at Merthyr Tydvil, on a reduction of wages; at Birmingham, by the unemployed; and at Dundee, where, owing to the high price of meal, upwards of one hundred shops were plundered." [p33-1]  Elsewhere the enclosure movement [p.33-2] and municipal corruption [p.33-3] were also responsible for riots.  It became a capital offence to preach reform to a soldier or to smash a frame.  The cure for all these things, in the eyes of working-class leaders, was reform, and by degrees they managed to convert a large number of their followers.  "Quoting scripture, we did in fact say, first obtain annual parliaments and universal suffrage, and 'all these things shall be added unto you.'" [p.33-4]  Thus Bamford, who was at one time a sort of link between the middle-class body of reformers—Cobbett, Cartwright, Hunt, etc.—and the trades clubs, where annual parliaments and universal suffrage were discussed in an atmosphere of beer and cheap tobacco.  Bamford (1788–1872) lived to be a patriarch of the labour movement, acquiring a prestige entirely unaccountable on any theory of deserts.

    A chapter of the reform agitation that should not be overlooked is the peculiar series of election campaigns which took place in Westminster between 1807 and 1815.  This enabled Francis Place to make his reputation as an organizer of victory, by securing the return of Sir Francis Burdett for the constituency.  Burdett was a pugnacious Whig with much wealth [p.34-1] and high principles. [p.34-2]  He had to undergo a large number of prosecutions in the course of his long parliamentary career (1796-1844).  But it has rightly been said of him, that, after the repressive measures of the early years of Radicalism, it was he who restored the right of free speech.

    A middle-class movement with working-class ramifications that was to achieve a great deal was the Hampden Club, which came into being on April 20, 1812.  British political movements, we may note, appear generally to select a tavern for their birthplaces.  The Thatched House Tavern fathered this one.  The first Hampden Club was brought into existence through the energies of the inexhaustible Major Cartwright, although, as his niece tells us, he left at once on hearing that certain influential persons were refraining from membership because he himself was a member.  The original papers of this Society show unmistakably that its prime object was purely to benefit the freeholding class. [p.34-3]  The original Rules and Regulations made one of the qualifications for membership £300 a year in land, or heirship to as much; there were to be half-yearly dinners; and the annual subscription was fixed at £2.  The statement of principles made the wonted reference to King Alfred.  The work of the Club consisted in organizing and financing missionary tours through the country, to get petitions sent to Parliament.  Cartwright, though not a member, also undertook distant journeys with the same purpose.  More popular Hampden Clubs were opened on the model of the original.

    The Annual Register for 1816 is largely a list of riots.  The best known of these was the Spa Fields meeting on December 2, noteworthy because it seems to have been the first deliberate effort of the Whig reformers to obtain the support of the working classes.  It was addressed by Hunt, [p.35-1] Cartwright, and an inflammatory doctor named Watson, and his son.  The military and the police assembled in large numbers, whereupon the meeting dispersed into small gangs, which spent the night in terrifying the City. [p.35-2]  Another such fiasco in the early part of 1817 was followed by a second suspension of Habeas Corpus.  Incidentally the Seditious Meetings Act was hurried through both Houses, and made all public meetings and most lectures illegal.  This measure, introduced by Castlereagh, stiffened up all the preceding legislation of repression, but, in the end, overreached itself by its severity.  However, the danger of being known to be a Radical became so great that Cobbett promptly fled to America.  But when the Act came to be put into operation, the patent vindictiveness of some of the prosecutions, no less than the calibre of one of the accused, resulted in a temporary reaction against the Government. [p.35-3]

    A climax was reached in 1819.  During the early months of this year numerous mass meetings were held all over the country, especially in Lancashire and the Midlands.  The crowds present were frequently very large; one meeting near Leeds is said to have been attended by 35,000 persons.  We have the authority of the Annual Register—whose bias at this time was distinctly Tory—for the somewhat striking statement, in view of the line taken by the Government, that: "Not the slightest breach of the peace occurred on any of these occasions, for the leaders were strenuous in their exhortations to the People to preserve an inoffensive demeanour." [p.35-4]  A meeting was organized to take place at St. Peter's Fields, Manchester, on August 16, with Hunt in the chair.  The magistrates decided to prohibit the meeting, then, finding this impossible, to arrest the speakers.  Large numbers of soldiers and special constables were assembled, and made virtually to surround the place of meeting.  No sooner had Hunt stepped to the front of the hustings than the military began to clear the square.  Although it is improbable that bloodshed had been intended from the outset, yet the soldiers, as usual on such occasions, got out of control.  Five or six lives were immediately lost, some thirty persons were seriously wounded, while at least forty others required medical assistance for their injuries.  Hunt was arrested with some others; Bamford, who had been present, was also taken up, a week later.  After much delay Hunt was sentenced to two years' and Bamford to one year's imprisonment.  The principal outcome of the "Manchester Massacre," or of "Peterloo," as the affair came to be called, was that reformers of all shades of opinion coalesced into an unanalysable conglomerate.  Whig Radicals, [p.36-1] incipient Chartists, Socialists, Spenceans, and the most Utopian of dreamers were forced into association, from the sheer necessity of self-defence.  To this day traces remain of the cohabitation of Socialist and Chartist.  Adult suffrage, an invariable item of Socialist programmes, obviously proceeds from the time when franchise and freedom were held to be synonymous.  In point of fact, it is fairly certain that Socialism would stand to gain less from the granting of adult suffrage than the other political parties.

    About 1818 the woman suffrage movement appears to have first taken root.  At a small reform meeting in Yorkshire, addressed by Bamford, the women present were invited, on his initiative, to take part in the vote on the resolution.  The men present made no objection, and the women were much pleased with the suggestion.  After this, the participation of women in votes, and even in discussions, became general. [p.36-2]  Although Bentham, the "Grand Old Man" of Philosophic Radicalism, was a supporter of woman suffrage, Cobbett violently dissented. [p.37-1]  But the most startling development of this side of the reform movement is that which the Annual Register for 1819 describes, with bated breath, as follows: [p.37-2] "An entirely novel and truly portentous circumstance was the formation of a Female Reform Society at Blackburn, near Manchester, from which circular letters were issued, inviting the wives and daughters of workmen in different branches of manufacture to form sister societies, for the purpose of cooperating with the men, and of instilling into the minds of their children 'a deep-rooted hatred of our tyrannical rulers.'  A deputation from this society attended the Blackburn reform meeting, and, mounting the scaffold, presented a cap of liberty and an address to the assembly.  The example of these females was successfully recommended to imitation by the orators of other meetings."

    In terror at the possibilities of an operative Habeas Corpus Act, [p.37-3] Sidmouth, then Secretary of State for Home Affairs, rushed the Six Acts through Parliament in the autumn of 1819.  At no other time have Englishmen ever been deprived of so many of their privileges.  The possession of arms, and military training were both interdicted.  Public meetings were only to be held subject to extremely difficult conditions, until 1824.  Seditious libels could be punished by banishment, a stamp duty was imposed upon small pamphlets, and powers of summary judgment were given to magistrates.  The discovery of the Cato Street Conspiracy in 1820, the object of which was the assassination of George IV, only a few months after his accession, and the execution of Thistlewood, the chief conspirator, embittered the situation still more, as Thistlewood was well known as a Spencean and the organizer of the Spa Fields demonstration in 1816.  About the same time the authorities were frightened by the reports of attempts to force a revolution, which had been taking place in Scotland.  Something like a Pitched battle took place at Bonnymuir, between cavalry and Radicals, ending in the capture of several alleged conspirators and the execution of three of them.  Before we pass on to another subject it may be added that at the end of 1819 Cobbett had returned to England, to continue his campaign.  Incidentally he had, at the time, added enormously to the gaiety of nations by bringing back with him the bones of Thomas Paine.  Cobbett would have given sepulture on a national scale to the corpse, but everybody refused to take him seriously, and Paine's relatives themselves professed to be annoyed.

    The reform movement after 1820, as far as the working classes were concerned, sank underground for a time.  Cobbett continued to influence his readers to an extent which has been equalled by few subsequent journalists.  The greatest event between the years of suppression and the passing of the Reform Act was the repeal of the Combination Laws in 1825.  The credit for this is very largely due to Place.  He played his moves with the deadly accuracy of a champion chess player who meets a novice, and with the assistance of Joseph Hume and a handful (a small one) of M.P.'s this revolutionary measure was carried.  Combinations of workmen were now permitted, and the right of collective bargaining was recognized.  The story of the way in which the strings were pulled is contained in the Place MSS. in the British Museum. [p.38]  This measure, the increasing prosperity of the country, and the prominence given to reform by Whig Members of Parliament, together took the edge off the working-class agitation.  And it remained off.  As 1832 drew closer it was the middle-class campaign that stimulated the working-class agitation back into life.  The Annual Register from 1825 to 1831 mentions no serious insurrectionary outbreaks.  The economic justification of such movements had receded from its former prominence.  The working classes looked with approval and admiration upon the conduct of the struggle in Parliament by Lord John Russell, Brougham, Hume, and others.  Not until the Reform Bill was very nearly an accomplished fact do we once more have signs of organized working-class participation in the reform movement.  And that is so largely due to the influence of a new generation that we may defer the consideration of this new factor until the next chapter, which will, in effect, largely deal with the new doctrines.

    There is no need to describe the final victory of the middle-class Radical reformers.  The Reform Act of 1832 is, of course, a landmark of the first importance, but the details of its passing do not concern us here.  The tactics, the excitements, the failures of 1830-32, the studied histrionics of Brougham, and the ineffectual opposition of Wellington, have little immediate relation to the working-class movement which is our subject.

    The generation that had achieved the Reform Act differed entirely in its personnel from the pioneers who had struggled for the suffrage in the years immediately following the French Revolution.  Thomas Hardy, the secretary of the London Corresponding Society, just lived to see the Reform Act carried, and died four months afterwards, aged eighty years.  Cartwright had also passed away in 1824, aged eighty-four.  Only three years before his death the indomitable old man had managed to get himself fined £100 for sedition.  The working life of Bentham, the philosopher of the movement, exactly coincides with the agitation.  He had published his first book in 1776; he died two days after the Reform Act had been carried through the House of Lords, and on the eve of the Royal Assent.

    An older generation had led men's attention to certain theories of government; economic distress had emphasized their teachings.  Born of the industrial revolution, a new type of man was arising who was to attempt to put the theories into practice.  Chief among them was Robert Owen.


――――♦――――

 
CHAPTER II.

THE FOLLOWERS TAKE THE LEAD


WE have seen that Labour, scarcely organized, had at this time a political programme too heterogeneous to be practicable, an inchoate mass of aspirations, and was at the same time faced by the triumphant philosophy of the successful middle classes, the laissez faire-creed, to which the answer was not yet understood.  Consequently personalities came to matter more than theories.  They at any rate provided something tangible even if inconsistent.

    It would be useless to attempt to understand the history of this period without taking into account the life and ideas of Robert Owen.  Although he was not directly concerned with the Chartist movement, yet Owen's views were a permanent feature in the background of industrial politics for many years after his death.  He always held a patriarchal position: a "thing to wonder and admire."  He was born in 1771, began to earn his living at an extremely early age, exercised his intelligence, and by the time he was nineteen years of age found himself in charge of a cotton mill employing five hundred persons.  Improvements suggested by him enormously increased the output of his firm, then he went into business on his own account, and by 1800 he had become principal partner and manager of mills at New Lanark.  Here he proceeded to put into practice his theories of education and management, although it was not until 1814 that he had bought out the other partners and could do what he liked.  He established infant schools, reduced hours of labour and succeeded in greatly strengthening the financial position of his business.  By 1824 he had left New Lanark to give full play to his theories.  In a vague sort of way Owen had anticipated most if not all of the theories which have been under discussion since his time.  But so far as political economy was concerned, Owen was entirely uneducated.  His views were of the crudest.  He believed that labour was the standard of value and made a local effort to supersede currency by paper "labour notes."  He attempted to found self-supporting communities in Scotland and the United States, and reaped the inevitable failure which comes to those who try to bring Socialism about by private enterprise.  The peculiarity of many of his views—he was antipathetic to all religion and privately believed that marriage was an unnecessary institution—caused him to quarrel time and again with those who were most inclined to aid him in his schemes.  Yet with all his theoretical crudities and practical failures, he succeeded in influencing the Socialist and Co-operative movements as no other man has done.  He was on the whole inclined to deprecate the value of political action; hence he was not directly connected with Chartism.  His peculiar glory lies in two things: first, he upset the theory of laissez-faire by making a fortune under conditions the reverse of those advocated by the philosophers of that unholy doctrine; in the second place, he produced a body of ideas, which came to be superseded, it is true, but which nevertheless gave people a clue to the future of working-class movements at a time when such a clue was badly needed. [p.41]

    An illustration of the material bent of Owen's theories is afforded by his cordial reception of phrenology.  "There can be no doubt whatever that Phrenology is founded in fact: the functions and manifestations are truly found in present society to the extent represented; the question, however, is, how we came by them, and whether with or without the knowledge of Phrenology it is not practicable so to train human beings from infancy upwards, that in all the ordinary instances of organization they shall become highly intelligent and greatly conducive to their own and to others' happiness?  The Phrenologists probably will not dispute this, but may insist further that their science will make such result the more certain, forasmuch as they bring into operation additional facts to assist the development when weak, and to correct where it is most liable to deviation." [p.42]  These sentiments are, of course, only those to be expected of a paper which bore on its title-page the motto "The character of man is formed for him—not by him."

    At New Lanark Owen had been brilliantly successful.  He had anticipated in experiment what is being done in our own day.  He made New Lanark a kind of Bourneville under infinitely more difficult conditions than those which Messrs. Cadbury had to overcome.  His educational schemes have a touch of the Montessori Method, and we have not yet caught up with his views on the treatment of crime.  Between Owen's experiments and his theories a sharp line draws itself.  Owen saw the world as a larger New Lanark, to be managed on much the same lines.  His ideas ran away with him.  He insisted that "circumstances"—or what we now call environment—determined everything in the life of the individual, and that it was therefore impossible for improvement to come as the gradual outcome of individual efforts.  In other words, the method of political democracy was not likely to give results as efficacious as those of informed and benevolent autocracy.  Perhaps this needs a little qualification.  The force of "circumstances" could be altered by education, and Owen never ceased to persuade all with whom he came in contact to adopt some system of education.  The pages of the numerous periodicals conducted by Owen are full of the need for universal and free education.

    The early Radicals made occasional endeavours to gain the support of Owen.  But his aloofness from working-class politics was unconquerable.  He was by nature an autocrat, longing to impose a system upon the world, and not in the least anxious that the world at large should have the opportunity of examining it before its wholesale imposition.  He regarded the middle and governing classes as his most natural audiences.  The annual subscription to the Institution in the Gray's Inn Road was a guinea and upwards, well above what a working man would be likely to pay. [p.43-1]  This criticism is contained in a few tactful phrases in a letter to Owen from Bronterre O'Brien, dated May 27, 1832, begging him to use his influence to stimulate working-class opinion in London in favour of the Reform Bill.  The letter goes: "To you who know human nature so well, and whose writings afford abundant evidence that you are as well conversant with the nature of existing governments, I need not say that these governments have ultimately no other basis of support than public opinion.  Be they ever so complicated or simple, be they monarchical or Republican, they stand or fall, move retrograde or forward, solely in obedience to Public Opinion.  It is therefore of vital importance to gather up this Public Opinion, to concentrate it on the social system and make it bear irresistibly on the government, by the weight, unity of direction and simultaneous action of all its parts.  With this view I respectfully suggest that the Association in Gray's Inn Road should be made of a more popular character.  I would in fact recommend you to . . ." [p.43-2]

    It need hardly be said that the writer's suggestions for the democratization of Owen's Institution were not attended to.  Owen would almost certainly have refused to accept the theory that Public Opinion greatly mattered.  He considered it his mission to change rather than to convert, to mould the public and let its Opinion look after itself.

    The word Socialism, as far as can be ascertained, originated in 1837, and was used as label for the whole bulk of Owen's theories.  His followers annexed the use of the word Socialists to themselves, in contradistinction to the believers in political reform, especially of the franchise, who had long been known as Radicals. [p.43-3]  The two sections soon began to show signs of divergence, although to the outside world Radicals were Socialists, and Socialists were Chartists for many years to come.  A leading article in Owen's New Moral World [p.44] declares that the Radicals blame the Socialists for not exerting themselves in obtaining universal suffrage, etc., as a part of the objects they have in view, or a step towards the realization of these objects.  But, "when the Socialists know that the whole jar of sweetmeats could more easily be obtained, by perseverance in their measures, than a few of the sweetmeats could be wrung from the grasp of enemies of freedom, by the proceedings of the Chartists—when they knew that the whole journey can be accomplished, with far less time and fatigue, by the superior roads they propose, than by the obstacle-encumbered roads to universal suffrage—knowing this, would it be wise in them to consume in pursuit of the fraction, more time and energies than would suffice to place them in possession of the whole?  We say, without fear of refutation, that, if the individuals who are now straining every nerve in the righteous cause of giving to the working classes those rights and privileges which have so long been most unjustly withheld from them—were to apply their zeal and energies to the establishment of Union among the working classes themselves—with the co-operation of the numerous bodies from the other classes who are willing to make common cause with them—for the purpose of establishing communities—they possess amply sufficient of talent and influence to secure the accomplishment of that great object; and by so doing, to obtain at once far more than all the advantages which they are now struggling for, by more difficult and circuitous proceedings."

    Owen, in fact, believed in the possibility of changing the whole composition of human society and the abolition of every human evil at a single stroke.  The two-and-a-half sentences quoted above, however, contain a promise to the Radicals.  For Owen's invincible optimism and his faith in the ready malleability of humanity communicated itself even to his opponents.  If the "whole jar of sweetmeats" was to be obtainable virtually for the asking, not all his ponderous eloquence could make a Chartist believe that one particular sweetmeat could not be had.  Owen's unfaith in political evolution—as we now regard the idea—made him regard the creation of political societies much as his contemporaries regarded the creation of the animal world.  A society, like an elephant, entered the world as the outcome of an order given by a higher authority.  The idea of time as a factor necessary for the stability of political changes had not yet been formed.  Just as Plato was quite prepared for the acceptance of the constitution of his Republic by any State, so Owen readily believed that the transition from the "Old Immoral World" to the "New Moral World" would be a mere shifting of scenery between the acts of a drama.  The Chartists shared his absence of a sense of time, probably acquiring the mental characteristic subconsciously from Owen.  This explains their keenness, their faith in the vast and radical changes to be instantly effected by universal suffrage, and their willingness to sacrifice themselves for its achievement.  And because their belief in the instant and permanent changeability from one state of civilization to a very different one was implicit and nor brought out and argued about, it was tacitly accepted by the enemies of Chartism and embittered their opposition.

    About the time of the Reform Act, Owen's life was being spent mainly in the delivery of interminable addresses on what he called Co-operation, a theory bearing a distant relation, which we need not stop to examine, with the practice of the co-operative movement of to-day.  These lectures attracted to themselves all the young men in whose minds ideas of social and political betterment were beginning to arise.  These came, listened, met one another, found congenial spirits, and substituted for their attention to Owen's theories the foundation of their own.  One little group of young men who had been brought together by an interest in Owen's lectures became, as we shall see, the intellectual centre of the Chartist movement.  Their names were Lovett, Hetherington, Cleave, Watson, and a young man named Richard Moore.  They came together from all ends of England, attracted to London and to one another through a variety of reasons.

    Some time in the second decade of the eighteenth century a young man named Richard Carlile had come up to London from his native village in Devonshire, and earned his living as a tinman.  Extreme radicalism and atheism soon claimed him for their own.  Carlile began to sell unstamped periodicals and to publish anti-Christian works.  This, in 1817, cost him eighteen weeks' imprisonment; and in 1819 he was sentenced to three years' imprisonment and a fine of £1,500.  As he was unable to pay this amount, Carlile remained in prison until 1825.  His publications, his works composed in his cell, and the report of his three days' trial, gained him a widespread popularity, and the sympathy of innumerable persons who had never even seen him.  During his second incarceration his business was carried on by his wife and sister.  In 1821 the Government, after a period of quietness, took up the prosecution of blasphemy with greater vigour than ever.  Carlile, fearing that his business would now certainly succumb, called for volunteers to serve in the bookshop.  The first to sacrifice himself in this manner was promptly arrested and sentenced to eighteen months' imprisonment.  The second volunteer was James Watson, a young man of twenty-three.  A few months afterwards he was arrested and sentenced to one year's imprisonment, during which he read prodigiously.  Soon after his release he returned to Carlile's shop, and managed it until its master's liberation at the end of 1825.  These experiences determined Watson's subsequent career.  To the end of his long life he fought, in every possible manner, for the freedom of the press.  Through the kindness of Julian Hibbert, who held the same views, Watson was able subsequently to set up as a printer and publisher, specializing, of course, in Radical and freethought works.  He became noteworthy as a publisher who took special pains with the type and appearance of the works (mostly pamphlets) he put on the market.

    In 1825 Watson was introduced into Owenist circles, [p.47-1] and gave up his whole time from April, 1828, to May, 1830, in the propagation of Owen's co-operative associations.  During the first year of his employment in this capacity, he was agent of the Co-operative Store at 36, Red Lion Square.

    In the course of this work, Watson must have become acquainted with William Lovett.  Born in 1800, a cabinetmaker by profession, Lovett came to London from Cornwall at the age of twenty-one, and soon found himself in touch with Owen and his followers.  He also met many of the more serious working-class leaders of the time.  His allegiance seems to have been peculiarly divided between Owenism and Radicalism for some years, and his autobiography contains little to enable us to understand the evolution of Lovett's political views earlier than 1833 or so.  He was a man of extraordinary tenacity of purpose and of thorough sincerity.  From him proceeded many of the ideas which dominated the moral-force Chartists, a few years later.  Lovett gained the friendship and confidence of Place, and had great discussions with him, opposing the opinions he had acquired from Owen to those which Place had inherited from Bentham.  The following is an extract from one of those few letters of Place which lead one to conclude that his character had its softer side.  "You can hardly sufficiently appreciate the pleasure I should receive on observing that you were happy.  I conclude that the causes of your disposition towards despondency date from two causes: (1) Your health not being robust, (2) that you dwell too much on the misfortunes and miseries of your fellow-men." [p.47-2]

    Watson had two great friends, with whom he "made up an inseparable triad." [p.47-3]  These were Richard Moore (who subsequently married Watson's niece), a woodcarver, born in 1810, and Henry Hetherington.  The latter was the eldest of the three, having been born in 1792.  He was a printer and, like the others, an atheist.  Like Watson, he opened a small shop and sold the same class of wares.  In evading the Stamp Acts he displayed wonderful ingenuity, which did not save him, however, from several imprisonments.  In 1832 he shared a cell with Watson for six months for the usual offence.  Another member of this group, who does not appear to have joined it before 1830, was John Cleave, who carried on the same type of business at 1, Shoe Lane, E.C., and was on closer terms of friendship with Watson than with the others.  He had been a sailor, and later, the keeper of a coffee-house (as Lovett had also been for a time).  "He was a sturdy fellow, and totally devoid of fear, and, like Lovett, ready to undergo any persecution, to bear any punishment.  He was not, however, so well informed or so placed a man as Lovett, he on the contrary was passionate and revengeful and not at all scrupulous as to the use of any means of accomplishing his purpose, the end of which was improving the condition of the working people.  His notions were all vague." [p.48-1]  Such is Place's verdict.  Holyoake, on the other hand, tells us that Cleave did not convey the impression that he was prepared to take risks.  There was a meeting held in 1830 to form a Metropolitan Political Union; on its council Cleave, Hetherington, Lovett and Watson all had seats. [p.48-2]  In a sense these men had collected together because of Richard Carlile.  This very fact brought them indirectly into touch with the leaders of philosophic Radicalism.  Carlile's "mission was to afford a test case of liberty of thought; and, in that view, the advanced Liberals stood up for him.  Bentham came forward in his behalf.  John Mill's first appearance in print was to denounce the persecution of him and his wife.  I have reason to believe that he received substantial aid in his long imprisonments from the Bentham circle." [p.48-3]  Yet the interests of this circle were by no means limited even to the numerous ones provided by the agitations for freedom of thought, an unstamped press, Owenist Socialism, the individualistic Radicalism of Place, and the Reform movement.  Given such teachers and such pupils, the existence of a spirit of inquiry is not to be wondered at.  By 1830, when this little group was complete, its members had educated themselves in the teachings of all the heterodox economists of the day, and it so happened that these, especially Hodgskin and Thompson, were on the side of social revolution.  It is not intended to convey the impression that Lovett, Watson, Hetherington and Cleave held identical views on everything.  Cleave, it is fairly obvious, assented rather than believed.  Lovett did not share the militant atheism of the others, and was a strong feminist.  They agreed, however, on certain basic ideas.  In the first place, definitely rejecting Owenism, they upheld working-class political action.  They accepted Owenism, however, to the extent of refusing to regard laissez-faire as the highest limit of political wisdom.  They shared strong views on freedom of thought and of the press.  Their co-operation at first was based on this last common article of belief.  They united in the fight for an "unstamped press."

    In 1831, Hetherington started a weekly paper, The Poor Man's Guardian, which lived until 1835, in spite of endless prosecutions. Its raison d'être was the abolition of the "taxes on knowledge " which made newspapers a luxury the poor could not hope to enjoy. The newspaper tax had been steadily rising. It began in 1712 with a penny per copy, rose to 1½d. in 1756, 2d. in 1789, 2½d. in 1795, 3½d. in 1804, and 4d. in 1815. In 1836 a reduction to 1d. took place, and this was finally removed in 1855. As may be expected, infringements of the law between 1815 and 1836 were sufficiently numerous. They were also of a unanimously revolutionary tendency. Seditious and blasphemies were freely propagated by the publishers of the "unstamped" papers, who knowing that prosecutions were in any case inevitable, resolved to make the most of their delicts. The Poor Man's Guardian was pugnacious and provocative. It described itself as "A Weekly Newspaper for the People. Established, contrary-to Law, to try the Power of 'Might' against 'Right,'" and was sold for a penny. It was studiously offensive to the representatives and upholders of established things, and contained frequent references to "Miss V. A. Guelph " and "Mr. and Mrs. William Guelph.", There is a reference to the "profligate hypocrisy and unchristian pride of old mother church" [p.50-1]—this as a gentle comment on an official Church pronunciamiento against the paper. With its fifth number its price was changed to "Lent to Read, without Deposit, for an unlimited period. Charge, one penny." In it first appeared a little poem which is quoted continually in Socialist literature a proclamation of faith and an embryonic political programme. [p.50-2]


Wages should form the price of goods;
    Yes, wages should be all,
Then we who work to make the goods
    Should justly have them all;

But if their price be made of rent,
    Tithes, taxes, profits all,
Then we who work to make the goods
    Shall have—just none at all.

One of the Know-Nothings.


This little poem contains, in a succinct form, the whole case for "the right to the whole product of labour."

    The Poor Man's Guardian was very largely concerned with the doings of the various Radical working men's societies of the time, of which a large number came into existence between 1829, and the passing of the Reform Bill.

    The most important metropolitan society was the National Union of the Working Classes.  This was in a sense a grandchild of Robert Owen.  Several of his followers, among them Lovett, Cleave and Hetherington, had in 1829 founded the British Association for promoting co-operative knowledge in order to give currency to his ideas.  But Owen's anti-parliamentarianism made him see in the reform agitation merely an obstacle to his own schemes for saving the human race, and he therefore quarrelled with some of his strongest admirers.  The National Union was founded while Owen was in America. [p.50-3]  As soon as he returned the original British Association broke up, and its remaining members formed the General Metropolitan Trades Union, which later merged into the National Union of the Working Classes.  It will be seen that here, as it were within the four corners of a handkerchief, trade unionism, co-operation, and working class politics are united as closely as they ever have been in the course of their history.  The objects of the Metropolitan Trades Union, while it lasted, were two: "first to obtain for all its members the right of electing those who make the laws which govern them, unshackled and uninfluenced by any property qualification whatsoever; its second object, to afford support and protection, individually and collectively, to every member of the Metropolitan Trades' Union; to enhance the value of labour by diminishing the hours of employment; and to adopt such measures as may be deemed necessary to increase the domestic comfort of working men."  The National Union of Working Classes, we find a little later, differed from the National Political Union.  Benbow, a member of both, once moved at a Committee meeting of the former, [p.51-1] "that the Whig Union of which Sir Francis Burdett was at the head was a Jesuitical attempt to cajole the working classes to employ their moral and physical force in support of the Whig Reform Bill, and that no union deserved or ought to receive the support of the working people which did not declare its purpose to be the attainment of Annual Parliaments and Universal Suffrage."  Cleave, another pluralist, and others disagreed, and Benbow withdrew the resolution at the following meeting.  But the changing temper of the resolution is significant, especially in view of Benbow's subsequent career.  A few days later, Burdett, Benbow's bête noire, resigned from the National Political Union.

    The Metropolitan Reform Society, consisting "almost wholly of working men," [p.51-2] was holding crowded meetings.  Unparalleled depression in trade and agriculture prevailed at the time, and added fuel to the agitation.  Moreover, the gloomy cast of things had led to searchings of heart in unexpected quarters.  "The pension lists were dissected, the Scotsman, the Times, the Morning Chronicle, the Examiner, and several other ably-conducted newspapers made such extraordinary exposures of abuses as tended greatly to keep up the excitement and promote the demand for reform of Parliament." [p.52-1]  On March 8, a Metropolitan Union was founded.  Its personnel is interesting, its influence nugatory.  Daniel O'Connell was in the chair, and Hunt was among the speakers and was appointed treasurer.  "This appointment ruined the Union . . . nobody would subscribe money to be put under the control and care of Mr. Hunt, and the Union was soon extinguished from want of money to pay its current expenses." [p.52-2]

    Another body of sufficient importance to warrant its mention was the National Political Union, with which Sir Francis Burdett was at first connected, but which he left just before the passing of the Reform Bill—whether on account of an honest misunderstanding, or of the enfeebling Toryism of senility, is open question.  This association repudiated the extreme Radicalism, verging on Republicanism, of some of the existing bodies, and was more frankly bourgeois.  So it fell out with the Birmingham Union, which in spite of the more numerous social strata from which its members were derived was, in fact, far less democratically governed.  The N.P.U. was founded on October 31, 1831, and had amongst its original members, besides Burdett, Thelwall, W. T. Fox, Cleave, Place, Lovett, Benbow, and Erskine May. [p.52-3]  Its tone may be gathered from the following resolution, adopted unanimously at a meeting of the Council on November 16, 1831.


    1. That all true reformers ought to rally round the throne at the present crisis, and support the King in his attempt to wrest the liberties of the people from the Boroughmongers' grasp.

    2. That the increasing stagnation of trade, and the nearly exhausted patience of the nation, occasioned by the rejection of the Reform Bill, convince this Council, that it is more than ever imperative to support His Majesty's Ministers in effecting the great measure by which they have pledged themselves to stand or fall.

    3. That if the arts of a faction should have triumph over a patriot King, and his present Ministry, this Council will not listen to any illusory promises of Reform that a Tory or any other Ministry may proffer to a disappointed people.

    4. That if the enemies of this country should succeed in producing anarchy and confusion, this Council will devise means by which the Members of the Union may effectually protect their own lives and properties and establish the liberties of the country.


    London was not the only centre of this kind of activity.  The nine bulky volumes of Place's manuscript Narratives of Political Events in England, 1830-35, [p.53] give us an extended view of such doings all over England.  Care is needed in reading these documents.  Place's anxiety to record every available fact took precedence of all considerations of proportion or relevance.  His tedious prolixity and his humourless and none-too-condensed summaries of innumerable unimportant speeches impede the reader's understanding of those matters reported by him which really deserve attention.  Yet his MSS. are the best contemporary history of their subject, for the contemporary historians overlooked the origin of democracy, while the popular press of the time was too deeply concerned in fighting the battle for its own existence to serve as an altogether reliable record of passing events.  Cobbett, for example, as energetic an editor as ever lived, made no attempts to supply his readers with news.  If any was forthcoming, so much the better, otherwise the paper consisted of editorial matter, generally signed, comments, abuse, and advertisements of Cobbett's books.  Cobbett was a master of the "straight talk."  His readers bought the paper to enjoy his heart-to-heart chats on whatever subjects he wished to expound.  For news they went elsewhere.

    To begin, then, with 1830, we find that, on January 25, The largest meeting ever assembled in this Kingdom within the walls of a building took place at Mr. Beardworth's Horse and Carriage Repository . . . there were at least from 10,000 to 15,000 persons present." [p.54-1] That those present meant business may be inferred from the fact that the meeting began at 10.30 and went on till nearly 5 p.m. The Birmingham Union was formed, having for its first object, "To obtain by every just and legal means such a Reform in the Commons House of Parliament as may ensure a real and effective representation of the lower and middle classes of the people in that house."  The principal speaker was Thomas Attwood, to whom, more than to anybody else, the foundation of the Union may be attributed.  This was unfortunate, as Attwood belonged to the genus politician, species currency crank, and his odd and well-known views on money held off many sympathizers with reform from joining the Union, as it was believed that he would use it to propagate his own doctrine.  The Birmingham Political Union, it will be seen, was Radical in the modern sense.  Attwood began as a Tory, but, apart from his views on currency which always kept him on the circumference of any movement he supported, his opinions underwent a process of democratization as he grew older.  When the Reform Bill passed he had become enormously popular with the working classes, especially in London and Birmingham.  He entered Parliament immediately after the Bill had passed into law, and remained there for seven years.  Attwood was the member for the town who was most popular with women.  When he was canvassing they were abundant in the courts and streets.  He not only kissed the children—he kissed their mothers.  At one election he was reported to have kissed 8,000 women. [p.54-2]

    On the whole Thomas Attwood was the most influential extra-parliamentary protagonist of Reform.  His methods were summed up in his motto, "Peace, Law and Order."  In order to demonstrate to the House of Lords that the public enthusiasm in favour of the Bill had not abated, Attwood determined to astonish the world with the unprecedented spectacle of 100,000 undisciplined men assembled together. . . . Hitherto no one had supposed it possible to bring together so huge a mass of men without the inevitable result of riot and bloodshed, but Attwood knew his power, he knew the men he had to deal with; he decided to make the magnificent experiment, and complete success fully justified his boldness." [p.55-1]  This was the meeting held on October 3, 1831, to which J. S. Mill refers in the letter to Sterling quoted above.  The total number of those present was officially given as 150,000; whether or not this is an exaggeration, there is no doubt of the immense moral effect of so large and so orderly a demonstration.  In 1831, be it remembered, monster gatherings of this description were not, as now, an almost weekly affair, to which only a limited attention is paid.

    We shall meet Attwood later in the course of this narrative acting as parliamentary spokesman for the Chartists.

    About the same time as Thomas Attwood was agitating in Birmingham, his brother Charles was stirring up Newcastle-on-Tyne to the same ends, and less distinguished men were exciting the rest of the country.  Political Unions were being formed everywhere.  A check was placed on the multiplication of these bodies by royal proclamation issued on November 22, 1831, within a few weeks of the formation of the National Political Union.  This scarcely affected existing bodies, as it held up for reprobation and declared to be "unconstitutional and illegal" only bodies which "under the denomination of Political Associations" were "composed of separate bodies, with various divisions and sub-divisions, under leaders and with a gradation of ranks of authority, and distinguished by certain badges, and subject to the general control and direction of a superior committee or council."  The National Political Union pointed out that this did not apply to them, or, for the matter of that, to the great majority of unions in existence. [p.55-2]

    Why was the Government so nervous?  Throughout the whole course of the working-class agitation for enfranchisement there was always a section, varying in its importance, belonging to what later came to be known as the "physical force party."  These, like the franchise-seekers of a later day, were more or less completely to pin their faith to militant methods.  At the time of which we speak these men were in a small minority, and counted for little in the councils of the Radicals.  As a whole the political unions stood for peaceful methods, while their militant members must have been fully aware that while Wellington was in existence any insurrectionary outbreaks would be dealt with drastically.  The farm labourers' revolt in 1830, so graphically described by Mr. and Mrs. J. L. Hammond, [p.56] must have still been fresh in the men's recollections, and Wellington had then identified himself with the landed interest with an enthusiasm that approximated to ferocity.  It was in connexion with this revolt that Cobbett secured his greatest triumph.  Tried in July, 1831, for publishing articles in the Political Register alleged to have had an incendiary influence on the agricultural labourers, Cobbett put up an unexpectedly smashing defence, and he emerged from the trial unconvicted, with his influence enhanced enormously.  But Sir Robert Peel and the Duke of Wellington had shown their teeth in the most unmistakable manner, wherein lay a lesson for the Radicals and understood by them.  For which reasons the agitation, widespread as it was, undertaken during a period of intense industrial depression, and with an intensely exaggerated importance attached to it by so many of its keenest participants, was nevertheless conducted on strictly constitutional lines.  There were, of course, exceptional occurrences, which we shall consider, but they were never the rule.  The battle for reform was not won by militancy.

    John Stuart Mill, a young man of twenty-five, in a letter to Sterling, says: "I am convinced that we are indebted for the preservation of tranquillity solely to the organization of people in political unions.  All the other unions look to the Birmingham one, and that looks to its half-dozen leaders, who consequently act under a most intense consciousness of moral responsibility, and are very careful neither to do nor say anything without the most careful deliberation.  I conversed the other day with a Warwickshire magistrate, who told me that the meeting of 150,000 men a few days previous would have done any thing without exception which their leaders might have proposed.  They would have passed any resolutions, marched to any place, or burnt any man's house.  The agricultural people are as determined as the manufacturers.  The West is as exalté as the North.  Colonel Napier made a speech at the Devizes meeting the other day for the express purpose (as I hear) of letting the men in the North perceive that the West is ready to join in any popular movement if necessary; and since that speech (which the leaders in vain attempted to prevent him from delivering) he has received numbers of letters from all parts of the country saying that they all look to him as their leader, and are ready to place themselves under his command." [p.57]

    Yet a fortnight before Mill wrote this letter, riots had taken place in Derby and Nottingham as a result of the rejection of the Reform Bill of 1831.  At Derby a mob attacked the city gaol and released the prisoners, and a few lives were lost.  At Nottingham the Castle was burnt down, for which, early in 1832, three men were hanged.  In London demonstrations took place.  A few anti-Reform peers were recognized and mobbed, and the windows of Apsley House, the Duke of Wellington's residence, were smashed for the second time that year, but no bloodshed seems to have occurred.  Mill, in fact, was a trifle too optimistic.  A week after his letter had been posted, the Bristol riots broke out.  This affair has been consistently held up during the last few years as a justification of militancy, and it is therefore advisable to survey what really happened, and whether the riots were, in fact, justified by their results.

    The M.P. for Bristol in 1831 was Sir Charles Wetherell, Attorney-General and Recorder of Bristol.  He had throughout the struggles in the House of Commons for reform shown himself a determined opponent of parliamentary reform, university reform, law reform, municipal reform, and Catholic emancipation.  He had come to be accepted as a symbol of the status quo, a sort of embodiment of a past that refused to die.  He had never swerved from the path of resistance to proposed changes, although once, in 1817, he brilliantly defended James Watson when he was tried for high treason after the Spa Fields affair. [p.58]  On October 29 he made a state entry into Bristol to open the assizes.  Wetherell's reputation among the local working classes was an emphatic one, and he knew it, but he came nevertheless out of bravado.  On his arrival at the city he was greeted by large crowds, but nothing more exciting than a few hoots appeared to have been emitted.  As the procession made its way towards the Guildhall, a few stones were thrown, and one constable was struck.  The assizes were opened in the usual way, the public being restive, but tractable.  After Wetherell had returned to the Mansion House, the constables bethought themselves of the stone-throwers and made several rushes upon the crowd.  The crowd, numbering about 10,000, gradually became wilder.  After four hours of skirmishing, its temper approximated to fury, while, on the other hand, some of the constables were sent home.  The Riot Act was then read by the mayor, who threatened to call out the troops.  That was the last straw.  The Mansion House was immediately attacked and all the windows and outer doors broken.  The ground floor was invaded and the furniture smashed.  Wetherell wisely beat a retreat and fled from the city.  The soldiers arrived and by midnight both troops and mob had got out of hand and a few of the latter were killed and wounded.  The next day, Sunday, the mob returned to the Mansion House, and gained admittance to the upper floors and to the cellars.  Here a large quantity of wines and spirits were found and immediately consumed.  Numbers of men and women, maddened by drink, continued the work of destruction.  When the troops arrived, the mob was on the offensive (on the previous day it had been merely on the defensive), and a good deal of bloodshed took place.  Later on, the New Gaol was attacked, the governor's house sacked, and the prisoners set free, and the building fired.  Two other prisons, the Gloucester County prison and the Bridewell, were similarly treated.  The bishop's palace was next attacked and burnt to ashes.  After this, nothing less than a general conflagration appeared sufficient to the insatiable mob, and a whole block of buildings in Queen's Square was destroyed.  By Monday morning the riot had begun to subside and the military cleared all the streets.  About a hundred had been killed or wounded. [p.59-1]  The Bristol riots provided those who believed Reform was a precursor of revolution with a strong argument, of which full use was made during the final debates on Reform.  The author of the Greville Memoirs merely expresses what was in many minds when he says: "The spirit which produced these atrocities was generated by Reform, but no pretext was afforded for their actual commission; it was a premature out-breaking of the thirst for plunder and longing after havoc and destruction, which is the essence of Reform, in the mind of the mob." [p.59-2]  About the same time other less important riots were also taking place, in Worcester, Coventry, and Bath, but they were of insignificant size when compared with the Bristol affair.

    It must be conceded that these affrays did not win the Reform Act.  They were engendered, for the most part, by unemployed labourers, driven to riot by the futile hope of frightening the class they held responsible for their economic distress into granting some measure of alleviation.  In these riots they had not the support of the political unions.  The Poor Man's Guardian has neither praise nor blame for the Bristol rioters.  It has never been shown that any connexion existed between the political unions and the actions of the rioters.  Nor has it been shown that the Reform Act was expedited by these methods.  Indeed, it was claimed by Sir Francis Burdett, on behalf of the National Political Union, that "The Riots, Conflagrations, and Bloodshed at Bristol have been at length arrested.  By whom?  By the Bristol Political Union, to whom the Magistrates had delegated their authority, and whose members have been sworn in as Special Constables." [p.60-1]

    Apart from the demonstrations against the Duke of Wellington and the anti-Reform peers, London kept cool, and in doing so disappointed those who hoped that a conflagration would provide an opportunity for suppressing the always constitutional National Political Union and the other Radical bodies.  There is no doubt that in November, 1831, Wellington anticipated violence especially from his own side.  A factitious terror was widely advertised; it could have had no other motive than the encouragement of mob-violence.  The King and Queen were to have driven through the City to the Lord Mayor's banquet on November 9, on Wellington's advice the royal visit was postponed.  "In the end the disturbances in the metropolis proved so trifling that Ministers had to stand ridicule, more deadly to an administration than any hatred, for their unfounded apprehensions." [p.60-2]  A few months later something more nearly approaching an act of provocation took place, with ludicrous results.

    In 1831 an outbreak of cholera took place, with the result that several hundreds of persons died: almost all of the working class.  As the plague gave no promise of abatement, a general fast was proclaimed on February 6, 1832, to take place on March 21.  The suggestion met with ribaldry from a large number of Radicals, who saw the cause of the disease in the chronic deprivation of food under which so many of the working classes existed.  Thus, a contemporary unstamped journal, Figaro in London, published this epigram, which The Poor Man's Guardian duly reprinted.


Found lately dead, a bishop (quite aghast),—
Verdict—The prospect of a general fast.


The same papers organized a protest against the fast, a "general feast."  A procession was to be formed and to walk round London in an orderly way, then disperse to various places and eat large dinners.  According to The Poor Man's Guardian 100,000 gathered, but this is an obvious exaggeration; it is fairly certain that not more than 1,000 took part in the march.  These walked through various streets and were frequently turned aside by the police, who appeared to wish to keep the demonstrators off the main road.  At no point where the police interposed was there a scrimmage.  However, three arrests were made, of Benbow, Lovett, and Watson—the most prominent of the processionists.  Benbow was tried, enjoyed himself a great deal making frivolous replies to his interrogators, and was finally found "not guilty."  The same verdict, of course, was delivered in the other cases.

    These arrests, and the general behaviour of the Government, are only to be explained by the theory that everybody believed that anything might happen at any time.

    We find it difficult to-day to realize the position of the reformers of the eighteen-thirties in the face of such strange facts as that stated by Holyoake in his autobiographical Sixty Years of an Agitator's Life.  "Only Unitarian ministers at that time would pray for Liberals, or would pray among them." [p.61-1]  It is not easy to reconcile the fervent faith of so many reformers—"Mr. Owen this day has assured me, in the presence of more than thirty other persons, that within six months the whole state and condition of society in Great Britain will be changed, and all his views will be carried fully into effect" [p.61-2]—with the apathy with which the Government treated Oastler's pleas for the factory slaves.  Remedies and diagnosis both were at fault.

    Cobbett in his Register cursed Parliament for having caused prices to fall. "Such a picture of ruin no eyes ever beheld before; no war, none of the causes of ruin in trade was ever equal in effect to the acts of this Parliament.  If the acts had been passed for the express and avowed purpose of producing ruin, they could not have been more effectual." [p.61-3]  He then goes on to show how the prices of hardware, manufactured in and near Birmingham, have fallen.  A quantity of ironmongery, which in 1818 fetched £15 15s. 10d., was now sold for only £6 12s. 6¾d.  Cobbett demanded a paper currency to remedy this "ruin."  But, apart from such impracticable prescriptions, which abounded, the sense of political perspective appears to have vanished.  Long years of conflict had exaggerated the views both of the supporters and opponents of Reform.  Both parties had come to expect that revolutionary changes would be the outcome of the Reform Bill.  Democracy came to be synonymous with revolution.  Wellington resisted the Bill almost to the bitter end, saying, on one occasion, that distribution and enfranchisement would lead to the election of "a democratical assembly of the worst description."  The events of 1789 were near enough to be insistent reminders of what a revolution might involve, and yet sufficiently distant to be considerably exaggerated while the Revolution of 1830 stimulated the elements of both Radicalism and Toryism.  Thus John Stuart Mill, in a news letter to John Sterling in the West Indies, wrote: "If the Ministers flinch or the Peers remain obstinate, I am firmly convinced that in six months a natural convention, chosen by universal suffrage, will be sitting in London.  Should this happen, I have not made up my mind what will be best to do.  I incline to think it would be best to lie by and let the tempest blow over, if one could but get a shilling a day to live upon meanwhile; for until the whole of the existing institutions of society are levelled with the ground, there will be nothing for a wise man to do which the most pig-headed fool cannot do much better than he.  A Turgot even could not do in the present state of England what Turgot himself failed to do in France—mend the old system.  If all goes at once, let us wait till it is gone; if it goes piece by piece, why, let the blockheads who will compose the first Parliament after the Bill passes do what a blockhead can do, viz., overthrow, and the ground will be cleared. . . . You will perhaps think from this long, prosing, rambling talk about politics that they occupy much of my attention; but, in fact, I am myself often surprised how little I really care about them.  The time is not yet come when a calm and impartial person can intermeddle with advantage in the questions and contests of the day." [p.63-1]  If a "calm and impartial person" reared in the frigid atmosphere of Utilitarianism was thus contemplating the immediate overthrow of the established state of things, what must have been the feelings of less disciplined minds?

    Another circumstance may be alluded to here.  The Radical movement, and later on, and far more emphatically, the Chartist movement, were looked upon as anti-religious by the orthodox Tories, and this to a certain extent explains the bitterness of the opposition.  In those days, too, it must be borne in mind that atheism was a far rarer, and also a far more strongly reprehended point of view than it is to-day.  To the orthodox mind, unseasoned by any knowledge of economic fact, the French Revolution was the triumph of atheism.  And it so happened that a very large number of the most prominent Radicals and Chartists were atheists, while not a few were Unitarians, who were almost as obnoxious to the orthodox.  Place, Owen, Bentham and the Mills made no secret of their atheism, while of the generation that preceded them, Godwin and Paine had gone so far as to put their atheism before their Radicalism, instead of keeping it, like their successors, decently in the background.  One of the results of these divergencies was that the prominent middle-class Radicals were regarded by the working-class leaders with virtual hostility, as a body of self-seekers, from whom nothing was to be expected.

    The gulf between the working-class and middle-class Radicals is nowhere better illustrated than in the tone of The Poor Man's Guardian.  In July, 1831, a dinner was held in honour of Major Cartwright, the particular occasion of the celebration being the erection of a statue to him in Burton Crescent, where he lived and died. [p.63-2]  "Hunt is the only man in the House of Commons whom Cartwright would have called 'consistent'; he would have been ashamed to own, as his colleagues, such a crew of apostates as Burdett, Hume, O'Connell, Jones, Brougham, Grey, Denman, etc." [p.64-1]

    Working-class disapproval of the Reform Bill, in fact, began to show itself long before that measure was passed.  An eruption of political associations took place from 1830 onwards, far more Radical in their objects than those supported by the main body of Whig M.P.'s.  When the Bill was passing and was passed, Cobbett's Weekly Political Register broke into no salvos of applause; it merely printed an article with a list of those "Die-hard" peers who had fought Reform to the bitter end, employed a great quantity of the characteristic causticity which Cobbett wielded so effectively, and passed on to the consideration of more pressing subjects.  The Poor Man's Guardian took the new Act with equal calmness, suggesting "the following pledges to the consideration and adoption of such of our readers as will obtain the right of being represented under the Reform Bill." [p.64-2]  These may be regarded, in a sense, as the original Labour programme, and are as follows:


    1. Will you pledge yourself to propose or support a measure to obtain for the nation an effectual reform in the Commons House of the British Parliament: the basis of which reform shall be short parliaments, extension of the suffrage to every adult male, vote by ballot, and especially No Property Qualification for Members of Parliament?

    2. Will you propose or support the total abolition of all taxes on knowledge?

    3. Will you propose or support the total abolition of tithes and the dissolution of the alliance between Church and State: thus leaving every man to adopt and pay for that religion which he most approves?

    4. Will you propose or support a measure to restore to the people the right of electing Sheriffs and Magistrates?

    5. Will you propose or support a Bill to exclude from the House of Commons placemen and pensioners?

    6. Will you propose or support a measure that will render justice cheap and expeditious, so that the poor man may no longer continue the victim of oppression?

    7. Will you propose or support the abolition of all monopolies, the repeal of the corn laws, and of all the taxes pressing upon the necessaries and comforts of labouring men?


    It will be seen that this programme included not only the later Chartist proposals (except payment of members and equal electoral districts) but also several industrial reforms.  The absence of factory legislation or of free education is somewhat surprising; but none of the reforms demanded, it will be noted, call for a centralized administration, which would be needed by the two desiderata we have suggested.  The first factory inspectors were appointed in 1833, before which date control from London was an impossibility.

    During the years which immediately followed the Reform Act, the Government showed itself at least concerned in the state of the country.  The propertied classes had had their attention occupied for so many years with the wars, and had then been so distracted by the exaggerated importance given to the Reform Agitation, that they suddenly found themselves in 1832 in a state of mind very similar to that of the working classes.  They found themselves confronted with a new industrial England different in all respects from the almost wholly agricultural country of seventy years earlier.  They clutched at such doctrines as seemed simplest, and the views of "Parson Malthus" were invoked to help them out of their difficulty of dealing with an immense proletariat with powers that might well be dreaded, though they were not yet understood.  Almost the first action of the reformed Parliament was the appointment of a Poor Law Commission, which reported two years later, and on the strength of the recommendations of which the Poor Law was drastically reformed.  The next year the Municipal Corporations Act, 1835, removed some of the outstanding abuses of town life.  The Poor Law Amendment Act by no means pleased the working classes.  It became the subject of much vituperation in The Poor Man's Guardian and elsewhere.  In Bedfordshire there were numerous riots: a pamperized agricultural population rose up in revolt at outdoor relief being given in kind instead of in money as previously. [p.66-1]  At Henfield, Sussex, an attempt to limit outdoor relief resulted in a riot which necessitated calling up the military.

    Cobbett died in June, 1833, having been a member of Parliament just long enough to betray an utter incompetence in political matters.  His only success was the unmasking of Popay, an agent provocateur who had actively incited to violence against the Government the members of two political unions in South London.  Less than two years later another veteran died.  This was Henry Hunt, M.P. for Preston since 1832.  In the opinion of their common biographer, Robert Huish, "it is scarcely possible to mention two failures more decidedly confirmed than the parliamentary career of Hunt and Cobbett."  This condemnation, however, must be discounted by the fact that Huish regarded the House of Commons as "the most enlightened assembly in the world," [p.66-2] but it is clear that the two agitators were somewhat out of place there, and consequently ineffective.  Moreover, they were in the difficult position of having no distinct political programme to guide them.

    The Reform Act, having become law, appears to have exercised a curious psychological influence upon working-class thought.  For many years, almost for generations, Reform had been the one subject of propaganda; the sheer lapse of time had given it some of the features of an established tradition.  And now the tradition had been killed, beyond all hope of resurrection.  Although it was perfectly true to say that the Reform Act had not given the working classes what they demanded, or, indeed, anything at all, yet many who noticed the jubilations caused by the passing of the Act, as well as the fear-stricken opposition it had encountered, must have felt a keen sense of disappointment, a subtle discontent due to impotence.  The thousands who shouted with Attwood must have experienced this feeling when they realized that the middle classes alone were to benefit by the measure.  The organized working men were in the unfortunate position of a savage tribe which has captured, at considerable cost to itself, a supposed wonder-working idol, only to find that it was a completely useless golliwog.  Some of the exasperation found a safety-valve in amorphous discontent.  In April, 1833, the National Union of Working Men indulged in a series of fierce debates, and wound them up by a fiery resolution, denouncing in the same breath "the pretended reformed House of Commons" and cursing "a pampered Monarchy, an indolent Aristocracy, and a bloated Hierarchy."  This explosion proved to be a swan-song, for the Union shortly disintegrated.  Its low subscription (2s. per annum) doubtless contributed to its decease.  The greater part of the zeal for reform, however, did not roam about in the void, but attached itself to other causes, of which there were several competing for popularity at the time.  Oastler had begun his agitation for a ten-hour day, Hetherington and Cleave exerted themselves to procure the abolition of naval and military floggings, and the Corn Law agitation began to show its head.  On August 6, 1832, the Macclesfield Political Union passed a series of resolutions demanding manhood suffrage, etc., and with this clause:

    "That we further request of the electors to demand from candidates, if they are returned, that they will not absent themselves from their duty in Parliament without sufficient cause; and when in their seat in Parliament, that they will, to the utmost of their influence or power, have the following obnoxious laws repealed, namely, the law of Primogeniture, the connexion between the Church and State, the Tithes, the Corn Laws, the East India Company's Charter, the Bank Charter, all Taxes on Knowledge, and all useless Places and Pensions under the Crown, and all other abuses, whether in Church, State, or Law, that are injurious to the people of these realms." [p.67]  A further resolution, we should add, declared a consumers' boycott of doctors, grocers, publicans, butchers, bakers, flour dealers, innkeepers, drapers, barbers, and all others who were known to assist any candidate who would not pledge himself to the above.  We see therefore that a political programme was gradually coming into being.  A method of enforcing these demands also came into existence.  This was the General Strike.  Even before the Reform Bill had passed into law, one William Benbow had urged this method of securing the inclusion of working men within the Bill.  On August 31, 1831, a large meeting of the National Union of the Working Classes took place at the Rotunda, Blackfriars Road.  Benbow is reported to have said, inter alia, [p.68-1] that "he hoped to see a cordial co-operation among the unwashed artisans, and when so united, they had only to say, 'We must be free,' and they would be so two days after.  He never did nor would recommend violence of any kind, and at the approaching conference he would advise the working classes that produces everything, and gets only the husks, to dress themselves in their Sunday clothes, and all and every one of them to take a month's holiday, and they might rest assured their rights would be quickly restored. (Great cheering.)"  On November 2 he repeated his proposal, which is reported to have evoked (tremendous cheering). [p.68-2]

    Benbow, in fact, has a strong claim to be regarded as the inventor of the General Strike.  Owen was spending an appreciable part of his energies at the time in deprecating strikes, [p.68-3] on the grounds that they were wasteful, and that if only the strikers wished it they could do without employers.  Let them but adopt Owen's plan of a "Labour Exchange" and all would be well.  Benbow, on the fringe of the whirling social movement of which Owen was the centre, was thrown off centrifugally and produced a theory flatly opposed to the latter's.  Little is known about Benbow.  He appears to have been, in 1831, the keeper of the "Commercial Coffee House, 205, Fleet Street, London."  His address and his occupation lead one to suggest the probability that Vincent, Hetherington, Cleave and Watson were known to him.  In 1831 he himself printed a pamphlet, Grand National Holiday and Congress of the Productive Classes.  This contains the General Strike scheme.  The whole of the "productive classes" were to take a month "off."  This "holiday" was to be organized by local committees all over England, who were to see that holiday-makers behaved with proper respect to economy and sobriety.  "The working classes cannot lay in provisions for a month; this is not wanted, but every man must do his best to be provided with food for the first week of the holiday.  Provisions for the remaining three weeks can be easily procured.  As for wearing apparel, since the holiday will take place in the summer, there can be no great difficulty in being provided with sufficient covering for one month." [p.69-1]  During the first week, the local committees were to act; "they will be enabled to inquire into the funds of their respective cities, towns, villages and parishes, and to adopt means of having those funds, originally destined for their benefit, now applied to that purpose."  Finally, "When all the details of the above plans are put into execution, the committee of each parish and district shall select its wise men to be sent to the National Congress.  A parish or district having a population of 8,000 shall send two wise and cunning men to Congress, a population of 15,000 four, a population of 25,000 eight, and London fifty wise and cunning men.  The advice of the different committees to be taken as to the most convenient place for conference.  It should be a central position and the mansion of some great liberal lord, with its outhouses and appurtenances.  The only difficulty of choice will be to fix upon a central one, for they are all sufficiently vast to afford lodging to the members of the Congress, their lands will afford nourishment, and their parks a beautiful place for meeting.  It may be relied upon that the possessor of the mansion honoured by the people's choice will make those splendid preparations for the representatives of the people that are usually made for the reception of a common sovereign." [p.69-2]  Then, the Congress was to reform society.  The agenda for the Congress needed too much discussion and explanation to find a place at the end of a pamphlet, so Benbow produced a weekly paper, the Tribune of the People, in order to elaborate the proceedings at length.  The first number was published on June 17, 1832, and does not appear to have had many successors.  This is unfortunate, for the early issues contain the imperfectly redeemed promise of a series of articles exposing Owen. [p.70-1]

    Although Hetherington was nominally the editor of The Poor Man's Guardian, much of the actual work was done by a young man named James O'Brien, who wrote elsewhere over the nom de plume "Bronterre," and subsequently came to be known as James Bronterre O'Brien.  He was born in 1805, and came to London to study law twenty-four years later.  Here he fell in with Cobbett and Hunt, and soon Lincoln's Inn knew him no more.  In his own words, written in 1837: "About eight years ago, I came to London to study law and Radical reform.  My friends sent me to study law; I took to Radical reform on my own account.  I was a very short time engaged in both studies, when I found the law was all fiction and rascality, and that Radical reform was all truth and matter of dire necessity.  Having a natural love of truth, and as natural a hatred of falsehood, I soon got sick of law, and gave all my soul to Radical reform. . . . I feel as though every drop of blood in my veins was Radical blood, and as if the very food I swallowed undergoes at the moment of writing a process of Radicalization." [p.70-2]

    While he was working on The Poor Man's Guardian, Bronterre O'Brien also contributed largely to the innumerable and ephemeral journals which voiced the democratic opinion of the time.  He was one of the few among the Chartists who had had the advantage of a good education, and his intellectual powers were among the greatest assets of the movement.  As an orator, Bronterre O'Brien seems to have been effective, but not overwhelmingly so; he lacked the irresistible fury of Feargus O'Connor, or the easy style of Henry Vincent.  On this point it is worth while remembering that "down to about this period, with the single exception of the time of the Consolidated Trades Union, even the more enlightened of the working class had been but little accustomed to public speaking.  The platform had been almost exclusively occupied by the upper and middle classes, and it could hardly be expected that the working men, deprived in a great measure of educational advantages, would become adept speakers in a day." [p.71]  This to a certain extent accounts for the success of educated sympathizers among the Chartists.

    Bronterre O'Brien appears to have spent the interval between the closing down of The Poor Man's Guardian and the appearance of the Charter by translating Buonarotti's History of Babeuf's Conspiracy, and by gathering material, here and in France, for a Life of Robespierre, of which the first volume, published in 1837, showed that his object was to clear the memory of the Jacobin from the calumnies of such writers as Montgaillard, Mountjoye, and Desodoards. In January, 1837, he started a weekly paper, Bronterre's National Reformer.  This only ran for eleven weeks, but is nevertheless of interest as showing the revolutionary cast of O'Brien's views.  The object of the journal is "To promote a radical reformation in Government, Law, Property, Religion, and Morals," practically the whole paper was the work of the editor, who signed his articles, even when they only extended to a single paragraph, with the pen-name "Bronterre."  Long letters to the editor, signed "Philo Bronterre," appeared in every number, including the first, obviously the work of O'Brien himself.  The National Reformer anathematized vigorously, interjecting short articles annexed from other papers, on such diverse subjects as the History of Influenza in Europe, and the Amazing Strength of the Whale.  The new Poor Law was of course strenuously assailed.  The Petition of the Working Men's Association was printed in full in the issue of February 11, and approved in the leading article.  After that, for the remaining month of its life, the new programme received the lion's share of the journal's attention.  This was symptomatic of the future concentration of O'Brien's energies on the Chartists' demands.  If in later years Chartism came to be popularly identified with Socialism, the reason is to be found in the intellectual leadership of Bronterre O'Brien.  All the theories and most of the shibboleths bound up with Marxian Socialism are to be found in his pronouncements.  The characteristic Marxian denunciation of the role of the middle class is O'Brien's.  He asks: "Does the artisan or labourer receive a farthing of wages, save through the middle class?  Can the landlord receive a farthing of rent, save through the middle class?  Does not the Government receive almost all the taxes through the middle class?" [p.72-1]  Place, commenting on an article written to the greater glory of O'Connor by O'Brien early in 1839, calls it "a rhodomontade" and its author a "three-parts insane and savage man."  He also adds in a footnote that when these two Irishmen quarrelled, a little later, they "abused each other to an extent as well as to time and in as bad language as perhaps never before had been done by any two men since newspapers were first published." [p.72-2]

    We can perhaps best realize this period, as it appeared to the Radical working man of the time, by presenting to ourselves a picture of a crowd dominated by two great giants, Wellington and Owen, the Ahriman and Ormuzd of a long-lived generation.  The Duke represented force, corrupt monarchy, flogging in the Army, opposition to reform of whatever character.  Owen typified the energies which, if rightly used, could make the depressing world of William IV blossom as the rose.  Lovett was one of the sanest of men, but even he could not completely resist the vision.  Perhaps the extreme limit of his adherence to Owenism is indicated in a speech delivered at the Co-operative Congress held in London on April 23, 1832, Owen being in the chair.  Lovett concluded this oration by declaiming that "the system which they sought to establish was the reverse of the competitive—it was all for each, and each for all; and if carried into execution would sweep away all this world's cares and troubles, and make it bloom like a terrestrial paradise. (Continued cheers.)" [p.73]


――――♦――――


[Next Page]

 


 

[Home] [Up] [Chartist Movement] [Reviews] [Main Index] [Site Search]

Correspondence should be sent to Webmaster@Gerald-Massey.org.uk