A History of Chartism III.
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CHAPTER VI

IDEAS AT A PREMIUM


THE People's Charter had been deliberately drafted for the purpose of supplying a greatest common measure of agreement to the uncoordinated Radical-Socialist movement.  So long as those who had accepted the principles of the Charter were at liberty, their mutual differences were subject to a process of attrition.  However wide the gap between the upholders of physical and of moral force, the end in view was always the same.  For a period of nearly two years the Chartist agitation succeeded in concentrating the reformers' energies.  This period came to an end with the imprisonment of the leaders.  Isolated for a time from their colleagues, the principal Chartists' fancies strayed unchecked.  A mass of new projects came into existence, many to be promptly forgotten, others to exercise a dominant influence on the future of the movement.  Many of the new ideas came, as we shall see not from the imprisoned leaders, but from their rank and file at liberty.  For this fact the break in the hectoring dictatorship of O'Connor is largely responsible.  The "Lion of Chartism" was apt to snap off the heads of any followers who put any originality into the manner of their following.  The "new move" (as it came to be called) which was to exercise the greatest influence on the future of the movement emanated from Lovett and Collins.

    While Lovett and Collins were imprisoned in Warwick Gaol they occupied themselves by writing a book.  Chartism: a New Organization of the People, was the outcome, it would appear, of self-questioning.  Lovett must have asked himself: What course of action can we recommend that will keep our forces together, lead to immediately tangible and beneficial results, and be both legal and likely to remain so, to whatever extremes the weaker brethren take it?  We must promote unity, among ourselves as well as between all classes.  We must educate the unconverted.  We must strengthen the faith of the converted.  The result of these questions was that the greater part of the volume consisted of a Proposed Plan, Rules, and Regulations of an Association, to be entitled, The National Association of the United Kingdom, for Promoting the Political and Social Improvement of the People.  The Association was to have several objects, but the third and principal one showed such a deviation from the exclusive demand for the Charter that it may be quoted in full.

    To erect Public Halls or Schools for the People throughout the Kingdom, upon the most approved principles, and in such districts as may be necessary.  Such halls to be used during the day as Infant, Preparatory, and High Schools, in which the children shall be educated on the most approved plans the association can devise; embracing physical, mental, moral and political instruction; and used of an evening for Public Lectures, on physical, moral, and political science; for Readings, Discussions, Musical Entertainments, Dancing, and such other healthful and rational recreations as may serve to instruct and cheer the industrious classes after their hours of toil, and prevent the formation of vicious and intoxicating habits.  Such halls to have two commodious play-grounds, and where practicable, a pleasure-garden, attached to each; apartments for the teachers, rooms for hot and cold baths, for a small museum, a laboratory and general workshop, where the children may be taught experiments in science, as well as the first principles of the most useful trades.

    This statement contains the principle urged by Lovett.  Among its other objects, the Association was to establish schools for teachers, schools for orphans, circulating libraries, [p.151] etc.  Elaborate rules were suggested to govern the conduct of the body, and further were given for the circulating libraries, halls, schools.  The last batch of regulations are of great interest, and show that here, at any rate, Lovett was very considerably ahead of his times.  It would have been difficult for one who had often listened to Owen to have refrained from thinking about education.  That Lovett's mind had been influenced is shown by his publication in 1838 of an Address to the Working Classes on the subject of National Education, in which the educational ideas of The Charter were contained in virtually the same words.  That Lovett had at that time already attempted to convince the Working Men's Association of the justness of his views on these matters is shown by the fact that the entire Committee of the W.M.A. put its names to the pamphlet.  Corporal punishment was to have no place in the education of the young Chartist.  The outline of the teaching of the children in the infant and preparatory schools also contains more than a suggestion of Montessori methods.

    The slightly fantastic budget which accompanied this scheme was based on the theory that all the 1,283,000 signatories of the National Petition would be willing to become members of the National Association, and pay a subscription of a shilling per quarter.  This would provide an annual income of £256,600, which was estimated to be sufficient to build eight district halls at £3,000 each, and to cover the incidental expenses of propaganda and organization.  The advantages which the National Association would have over other political bodies would be, "it would not merely use its energies and resources in meeting and petitioning; it would not, year after year, be engaged in the useless task of endeavouring to induce corruption to purify itself; but it would be gradually accumulating means of instruction and amusement, and devising sources of refined enjoyments to which the millions are strangers; it would be industriously employed in politically, intellectually, and morally training fathers, mothers, and children to know their rights and perform their duties; and with a people so trained, exclusive power, corruption, and injustice would soon cease to have an existence."[p.152]

    Lovett, it will be seen, had ceased to believe in the omnipotence of Universal Suffrage.  If the condition of the people was to be improved, the people must themselves prepare for the change.  The little book concluded with a series of general observations on education, and some specimen "Lesson Cards" to illustrate the teaching of truth, geology, anatomy, rights, and duties.  The most interesting anticipation of Dr. Montessori is contained in the suggestion that children should be partly taught, partly teach themselves, to read, with the aid of a case of movable types. [p.153-1]  The District Halls were planned down to their minutest details and the frontispiece of Chartism was a hideously symmetrical design for one of these buildings.

    Vincent's new idea, although it was enthusiastically taken up at the time is not in these days associated with Chartism, or, indeed, with working-class politics.  He came to the conclusion that Chartists must be teetotallers.  While the imprisoned Chartists were treated in most respects with great severity, they were nevertheless allowed ample means of communication with the outside world.  Vincent's total abstinence views were therefore not kept hidden until his release; while he was still in gaol he drafted a teetotal manifesto, and managed to convince a group of his friends of the rightness of his views.  On November 27, 1840, this declaration of principle was duly published in the Dundee Chronicle, over the names Vincent, Hill, Cleave, Hetherington, and Neesom.  The manifesto was afterwards republished as a leaflet, which contained also an article strongly attacking the use of tobacco and snuff as injurious to the cause of Chartism.  Hill had already begun to recommend the readers of The Northern Star to abstain from drink.  According to him, "Teetotalism leads to knowledge—knowledge leads to thinking—thinking leads to discontent of things as they are, and then, as a matter of course, comes Chartism." [p.153-2]  The same paper records a solemn and largely-attended public discussion, held in Manchester, on temperance and Chartism. [p.154-1]  The spirit of the proceedings seems wildly removed from what we should imagine to be the reception of an analogous debate in these days.  After Vincent's release his time was very largely occupied in oratorical temperance tours, and the administration of the pledge wholesale to Chartist Organization.

    Another divagation from undiluted Chartism was known as Bible Chartism.  John Collins seems to have been affected by it as well as by the "new move," for he founded a "Chartist Church" in Birmingham after his release, but he was not the only member of this sect.  Throughout the south of Scotland, in 1840 and 1841, Chartism adopted a definitely religious basis.  This tendency, like the teetotal campaign, was supported by Hill, as a minister.  A single issue of The Northern Star [p.154-2] contains three letters from correspondents, urging the identity of Christianity with Chartism, and also the first of a series of articles on "Scriptural Chartism."  One of the just-mentioned correspondents, by the way, signed himself "Christian Socialist" (Was this the first use of the term?) and demanded, as a part of the Christian-Chartist programme, the restoration of the land to the people.

    The new movement spread best in Scotland.  Early in 1841 it had extended to such dimensions that it was thought desirable to hold a delegate meeting in Glasgow.  The Northern Star report of the proceedings [p.154-3] gives no clue to the number of either representatives or represented, but says that delegates came "from most of the Chartist Churches in the west of Scotland," and mentions about twenty names.  Bronterre O'Brien had already [p.154-4] spoken approvingly of this development of Chartism, and said that Chartist Christianity was the same as primitive Christianity.  O'Connor, as usual, had views to suit all sides.  He declares, "I never knew a grain of good to come out of 'Bible Chartism'" [p.154-5]; a little later he decides that it is a good thing for Scotland, because Scotland "has no State Church," and "in Scotland preaching unites the people, and weakens and disunites the enemy." [p.155-1]  But of English Bible Chartism, O'Connor could not approve.  However, as there was very little of it outside Birmingham, his disapproval hardly mattered.

    Feargus O'Connor had only been imprisoned in York Castle five days when one Parkin produced an original scheme, which was published in and favourably commented upon by The Northern Star. [p.155-2]  Parkin had drafted a memorial to the President of the United States, asking for his intercession on behalf of the "industrious, and deeply insulted and injured classes of this country," and to help forward the Charter agitation.  Nothing much seems to have come of this.  Almost simultaneously voices in the Chartist ranks were heard to demand "household suffrage and redistribution as a practical compromise." [p.155-3]  Less than a month afterwards The Northern Star published a scheme, drafted by Richardson, for the re-organization of Chartism in Lancashire, [p.155-4] to be extended, if possible, throughout the country.  Richardson recommended the local branches to federate and work out some benefit scheme, also to register under the Friendly Societies Act.

    In the winter of 1840-41 an expected diversion of interests drew a great many Chartists, and especially in the neighbourhood of Newcastle-on-Tyne, away from the movement.  David Urquhart, formerly a diplomatic agent in the alternate service of the British and Turkish Government, had returned to this country from the Near East overflowing with hatred of Russia and suspicion of this country's foreign policy.  In common with others who in more recent times have attempted to make out a case for the wickedness of secret diplomacy, he illustrated the wickedness by denying the secrecy.  Starting with the theory that the Chartist movement was a plot, in the hands of Russian agents, intended to embarrass the British Government, he preached to innumerable Chartist audiences on the depraved aggressiveness of Russia, and finally won over Charles Attwood, Lowery, Cardo, and Warden, who thenceforward concerned themselves with Urquhart's Foreign Affairs Committees—curiously close anticipations of the Union of Democratic Control—and had no more to do with Chartism. (See Appendix.)

    Various other Chartists urged new demands about this time, or attempted new experiments.  "Newmilns: A Chartist co-operative store has been recently opened in this spirited village, consisting of 248 members." [p.156-1]  We hear, too, that Scottish Chartists are urging Home Rule for Scotland, perhaps not very vociferously. [p.156-2]  From other Chartists we hear a demand for woman suffrage.  This idea had occupied an inconspicuous position in the background of Chartism since 1838.  In and even before that year "Female Political Unions" had come into existence, especially in the neighbourhood of Birmingham, where Attwood's influence prevailed.  Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton in 1838 inquired as to the reason of the exclusion of woman suffrage from the Six Points, and elicited a curious reply from The Northern Star.  In this the orthodox attitude on the matter of the upholders of universal suffrage was defined; no serious believer in universal suffrage could refuse the right of spinsters and widows to a vote, but the civil and political rights and interests of a married woman were bound up with those of her husband. [p.156-3]  The Annual Register for 1839, describing the meeting on Kersall Moor on May 25, says: "The only novelty worth noticing was the presence of several female political associations.  It was observed by an eyewitness that the appearance of some of the fair sex who figured on this occasion, both as to person and apparel, furnished a stronger argument than any adduced by orators, of the necessity of adopting immediate legislative enactments for improving the condition of the mass of the people."  Female Charter Unions sprang up by the dozen after the publication of the Charter, but their members seem to have generally contented themselves with giving moral support to their male relatives and, in some cases, assisting the families and dependents of imprisoned Chartists.  Vincent's special popularity among women obtained for his Teetotal Chartism crusade a strong feminine support, and led to the formation of many Female Chartist Abstinence Unions, and organizations with similar names.  But the air of novelty with which every proposer of woman suffrage explains his or her views shows that the faith was not commonly held.  During the period of new ideas, the case for woman suffrage received much attention.  It is particularly well stated in a letter signed Laone, [p.157-1] which is full of phrases familiar to twentieth-century ears.  Why should not a woman vote? . . . We are told that woman's proper sphere lies in the possession of indirect influence."  Laone heartily pounds these ideas (the words are italicized in the original).  The letter was followed up by a series of dialogues in favour of Woman Suffrage, by Colonel Perronet Thompson.  The only imprisoned Chartist of note from whom barely anything new proceeded was Feargus O'Connor, who condemned all the innovations wholesale.  From York Castle he indited a series of weekly letters to The Northern Star.  To show his irrevocable opposition to all compromise with the middle class, he addressed his letters, not always in exactly the same terms, "To the Fustian Jackets, Blistered Hands, and unshorn chins of England, Scotland, and Wales, and to the Ragged-Backed, Bare-Footed Irish."  To these he declaimed in a single commination [p.157-2] against "Church Chartism, Teetotal Chartism, Knowledge Chartism, and Household Suffrage Chartism."  A little later he writes, "Do not think of Reform of the Lords—of sponging the National Debt —of Repealing the Corn Laws—of Free Trade—of the Ballot—of purifying the church—of reducing the army or the navy—of opposing any police bill—of repealing the Poor Law Amendment Act—of stopping a war with China, Naples, America, Russia, or the whole world.  Never mind what the Queen gives Prince Albert (or rather what you give him), or whether he spends it at Crockford's or other places of debauchery—never mind corporation bills or registration bills, Dissenters' bills or Protestant bills, Canada church reserves or emigration bills; mind none of them; for your united force could not affect any of these questions a pin's point, while your interference would weaken your power of laying the axe to the root of one and all.  If every abuse of which you now complain was abolished tomorrow, your order would not derive a fraction of benefit from the change." [p.158-1]  O'Connor's contribution to the stock of new ideas is briefly told.  "My Dear Friends,—I now proceed to my plan for carrying the Charter.  You observe I do not say for agitating for the Charter, but for carrying the Charter.  Mark its simplicity, and in that you will recognize its greatest worth.  Two short words—DAILY PAPER."  So begins one of his weekly letters "To the Fustian Jackets." [p.158-2]  For the most part O'Connor prepared to wallow in self-pity and self-admiration, irrelevantly enumerating his own good deeds, and claiming in the most directly possible manner to be the only honest man in the Chartist movement.  "Good God, how I glory in the rich and consoling reflection; not one drop of blood shed through five years and a half of unparalleled cruelty and persecution upon the one side, and patient suffering upon the other." [p.158-3]  Or else, "On the eighteenth of November, 1837, I established The Northern Star, the first paper ever published in England exclusively for the people; a paper which has given a completely new tone to the whole press of the empire. . . . From September, 1835, to February, 1839, I led you single-handed and alone . . ." [p.158-4]

    Lovett and Collins were released on July 25, 1840.  A triumphant series of receptions and dinners had been more or less arranged for them, but both had suffered severely in health and needed rest.  A week after they had been restored to freedom, however, the two Chartists managed to attend a dinner given in their honour in Birmingham.  The speakers on this occasion were Wakley, M.P., Dr. Epps, and Cleave.  Lovett, in making his speech, foreshadowed the course he was preparing to take by declaring that nothing had rejoiced him so much when in prison as the news of the erection of some Trade Halls by trade unions. [p.159-1]  The book Chartism was placed in the printer's hands, and Lovett went to Cornwall to recuperate.

    Chartism promptly made a stir, and went into a second edition in a very short time.  It was followed by the launching of the National Association for Promoting the Political and Social Improvement of the People.  It goes without saying that Lovett was the moving spirit in this body.  The Rules and Regulations published by the National Association are taken wholesale from Chartism with scarcely an amendment.  Lovett, having drafted the constitution of the National Association, sent it to Place for his opinion; Place pointed out that the law was against political associations which had "divisions, branches or parts."  The N.A. was avowedly political, and it aimed at having branches; it was therefore illegal.  He suggested a large number of modifications, most of which Lovett did not accept.  Place pointed out, however, that Government prosecution was most unlikely, and that Lovett might go ahead.  Lovett was fully persuaded that his scheme would have immediate success; Place declared that Lovett "would never be able to establish even one school." [p.159-2]  Place, in spite of his discouraging opinion, obtained £50 for the Association from J. T. Leader, M.P.  Hetherington became the first secretary, followed later by Charles Westerton, "a gentleman who subsequently, as churchwarden at Knightsbridge, rendered great service to the Liberal cause by his opposition to Puseyism." [p.159-3]  Others who took an active part in starting the Association were Cleave, Vincent, Watson, J. Collins, R. Moore, C. H. Neesom, W. J. Linton, J. Stansfeld, W. Shawn, J. D. Collett, and several middle-class men.  The published receipts and expenditure of the year 1842-43 contains the names of subscribers. Dr. Epps, Joseph Hume, M.P., H. Elphinstone, M.P., J. S. Mill, T. S. Duncombe, M.P., H. Warburton, M.P., P. W. Williams, M.P., Lord Brougham, Benjamin Wood, M.P., Sir John Easthope, Lord Radnor, George Grote, R. Wason, M.P., General Johnson, M.P., W. Collins, M.P., Sir Matthew Wood, M.P., T. Milner Gibson, M.P., R. O. Cave, M.P., The Hon. C. P. Villiers, M.P., Wynn Ellis, M.P., T. Wakley, M.P., and Charles Buller, M.P., virtually all the intellectual liberals, were among those who contributed to start the movement.

    The Northern Star began to denounce the National Association even before it was under way. [p.160-1]  The new move was stigmatized as an endeavour to break up Chartist unity, and to side-track the Charter.  "Of course," wrote O'Connor, "the Charter is the object; indeed nothing else would do to bait the trap. [p.160-2]  The results of this campaign were soon visible.  A great many Chartists had put their names to a manifesto, drafted by Lovett, Collins and Vincent, and circulated among the local organizations.  But now, fearing the displeasure of O'Connor, a series of recantations took place.  One number of The Northern Star [p.160-3] published ten letters from persons withdrawing their signatures.  The next week or two the columns of the paper contained innumerable reports of Chartist meetings held all over the country, at which the manifesto was denounced and disclaimed.  O'Connor fulminated against the new move regularly once a week, with a mendacity surpassed only by his egotism.  He represents Lovett and his followers as traitors, and asks, "Who were the three most physical-force men in the Convention?  Lovett, Collins and Hetherington?" [p.160-4]  It is surprising that complete misrepresentations such as this one—and others as bad were invented every week—did not split the ranks of O'Connor's followers.  But the fact is that the dictator's reputation had never stood higher than at this moment.  During the period of his imprisonment every issue of The Northern Star contained a list, headed More Young Patriots, of the newly-born children of Chartist parents, invariably named after O'Connor.  One result of the Chartist movement was that thousands of O'Connors and Fearguses were contained among the Christian names of the English working class of the second half of the nineteenth century.  With an unlimited amount of moral support behind him, O'Connor had no need of mere accuracy.  His bluster unfortunately communicated itself to some of his followers with an unpleasant amount of force.  John Watkins, for example (the author of John Frost, a Chartist Play, in five acts, 1841), preached a sermon on several occasions, [p.161-1] demonstrating the entire justice of any assassination of Lovett.  Neesom, once a physical-force Chartist, now a member of the National Association, was boycotted by fervent followers of O'Connor until his newsagent's business became completely profitless, and he was brought face to face with starvation.

    The subsequent history of the National Association may be shortly told.  A year after its foundation it had a library of 800 volumes, a large coffee-room seating 150, and a free Sunday School for children.  Men paid a subscription of eightpence a month, women of fourpence.  Classes in dancing and phrenology were held, and well attended.  In the Hall of the Association, 242A, High Holborn, where these classes, etc., were held, there was room for 2,000.  This Hall was triumphantly opened on July 25, 1842, with J. T. Leader, M.P., in the chair.  A year later W. J. Fox took the chair at its birthday celebration.  Yet in spite of the activity at its centre, the National Association never developed in the way expected by its founder, and Place's pessimistic forecast was completely justified.  Lovett says that "efforts were made in some few places to form local bodies, similar to those of the London members, but they did not enrol sufficient numbers to make them effective." [p.161-2]  The fear that the "new move" would split the Chartist movement was indeed vain.  The Leeds Times, a neighbour and rival of The Northern Star, took up the side of Lovett.  It did not attempt to outdo the organ of Feargus O'Connor in scurrility, and, in fact, went no farther than to cast gentle aspersions on the chastity of the editor, the Rev. W. Hills.  The editor of the paper at that time was Samuel Smiles, the self-helper.  He had a great admiration for Lovett, and once offered him the post of sub-editor. (Lovett, Autobiography, p.245.)

    On Monday, July 20, 1840, a Convention of twenty-three delegates met at Manchester to consider the reorganization of the Chartist movement, which was rapidly falling into disorder with the imprisonment of the leaders.  The delegates were all admirers of O'Connor, and had a physical force bias.  The result of their deliberations was the National Charter Association of Great Britain.  This was to be a federation of all the local Chartist Societies, which had hitherto remained uncoordinated on account of the state of the law on illegal associations.  The annual subscription was fixed as a minimum of eightpence, payable in quarterly instalments.  The delegates paid lip-service to constitutional methods, and decided to adopt a proposal of Bronterre O'Brien and put forward Chartist candidates at the next general election.  James Leach and William Tillman were the first president and secretary.  Lovett was invited to join, but refused, alleging the illegality of the organization. [p.162-1]  The real difference between the N.C.A. and Lovett's organization lay in the classes appealed to.  Lovett believed that "the principles of Chartism are purely democratical, calculated to benefit all classes, and not the working classes exclusively."  He declared that if Sir R. Peel, Lord John Russell and the Duke of Wellington wished to join the Association, he, for his part, would welcome them. [p.162-2]  Place, as before, was asked for his opinion on the new organization, and gave it, in completely unsympathetic but amply justifiable terms.  "The Association is to all intents and purposes an illegal assembly and every member thereof, and every one who aids or abets it, or in any way assists it, or contributes to it by money, or corresponds with it, or any of its branches, or any members thereof as such, incurs the penalty of the Acts of 1798 and 1817, and may be transported for seven years.  It does not certainly follow that every one who pleases may, by becoming a member, etc., take the risk—but after what we have seen, he who takes the risk must be more foolhardy than brave.  Any one who thus commits himself must be a very silly fellow. . . . If these men should go on, as I suppose they will, and in time be prosecuted, what sympathy will they deserve?  What sympathy will they receive?  None.  How will they have promoted the good cause?  Not at all.  They will have played the game for the only real enemy, the aristocracy, and when they have served their purpose will be treated as the Lower Orders always have been treated by them.

    "We shall have the Charter whenever we, the mass of the people, are really fit for it, and not till then, until then we ought not to have it because we should not have kept it. . . . But the Chartists one and all, even the most rational and considerate, have been too sanguine. . . . The annunciation of the Charter has been acted upon by them as if it was something Divine . . ." [p.163]

    The immediate result of the N.C.A. Convention was a manifesto.  This reviewed the situation, pronounced against the refusal of the Government to pardon Frost, Jones and Williams, condemned the Poor Law, and referred to "Church-Chartism, Teetotal-Chartism, and Education-Chartism" to recommend those who followed these bypaths to enter the N.C.A., unity of opinion as to the end desired being of greater importance than unity as to the means.  The manifesto then embarked upon an excursion in economics.  The policy of Free Trade was condemned; then, curiously enough the total repeal of all duties was demanded, and it was argued that the probable effects of Free Trade upon labour would be deplorable.  Then finally a political programme was recommended.  "We are natural enemies to Whigism and Toryism, but being unable to destroy both factions, we advise you to destroy the one faction by making a tool of the other.  We advise you to upset the ministerial candidates on every occasion.  "Then . . . (I raise a fund by voluntary contributions for election purposes," and appoint committees "in any place where a chartist candidate is likely to be returned or a ministerial hack upset."  A special convention in London was also proposed, the members to consist of Chartist candidates.  The signatories to this document were—
 

P. M. M'Douall,

J. G. Barmby,

T. R. Smart,

M. Williams,

John Skevington,

L. Pitkeithly,

W. Martin,

M. Cullen,

T. J. Wall,

Ruy Ridley,

W. Morgan,

John Rose.


    The copy of this document in the Place Collection is decorated with a border of acid marginal comments by the man who, quite wrongly, regarded himself as the author of the People's Charter.  His note on the last proposal (that recommending the Convention of the People's Deputies) is, "This means, Keep us that we may not be compelled to work."  Truly the movement had fallen from grace since it had outgrown the W.M.A.  It may be noted that only two (M'Douall and Pitkeithly) of the founders of the N.C.A. had sat in the 1839 Convention.  The growth of the N.C.A. during its first year seems to have been regarded as satisfactory by its progenitors.  In March, 1841, the Association had less than one hundred branches. [p.164-1]  Only eighty-three branches took part in the election of the Executive in June, when the largest number of votes cast by a single branch for one candidate was 200: Merthyr Tydfil cast this number for each of five candidates.  The result of this election was as follows: P. M. M'Douall, 3,795; J. Leach, 3,664; John Campbell (secretary), 2,219; Morgan Williams, 2,945; George Binns, 1,879; R. K. Philp, 1,130. [p.164-2]  These figures suggest that the total membership of the eighty-three branches in question did not exceed five thousand.  The membership increased slowly, but the leaders watched its growth through magnifying glasses.  When O'Connor was at last released from York Castle on August 30, The Northern Star stated [p.164-3] that he was welcomed by "upwards of one hundred and fifty delegates, representing almost the entire labouring population of the United Kingdom.  Yet at the beginning of October there were still under two hundred branches [p.165-1] and only about 16,000 membership cards had been issued.  A week later [p.165-2] 204 branches are reported.  At the end of November there were already 263, [p.165-3] while at the beginning end of the month the number was 282. [p.165-4]  The membership, although but a minute fraction of the two million adherents to the Chartist movement constantly claimed by O'Connor, was largely composed of individuals whose subscriptions could not be relied on; there are such persons at the fringe of every movement, but the Chartist movement certainly had, throughout its existence, an undue proportion of such a fringe.  The members of the N.C.A. could not be trusted to support any little side-show got up by the Executive—and it is by these small special appeals that the loyalty of a body of members is best tested.  For example; the Executive of the N.C.A. decided at the end of 1841 to print a little penny weekly sheet called the Executive Journal of the National Charter Association, with the object of bringing the members into closer touch with them than was possible in the public columns of The Northern Star.  Only four numbers of the Journal were ever printed.  The members refused to respond.  Place comments on this that two thousand subscribers would have kept it going. [p.165-5]

    The membership of the N.C.A. was, in fact, very largely a paper affair.  In February, 1842, 40,060 membership cards had been issued, according to an address of the Executive Council. [p.165-6]  Yet, in spite of the growing numbers, and the most rigid economy, [p.165-7] the Secretary found himself unable to pay expenses.  In April, 1842, he complains of being £20 in debt. [p.165-8]  The Branches should pay the Executive a penny per month per member; this ought to bring in £43 a week, but the sum actually received is much smaller.  In July, Campbell publishes a very pessimistic report. [p.166-1]  The debt is now £50, and a "black list " is given, showing about 170 branches, all at least three months in arrear.  Some are of important places; Manchester, the very headquarters of the N.C.A., is among the offending branches.  The increased membership is illustrated by the number of votes cast at the Executive election of 1842.  M'Douall is still at the top of the poll, with 11,221 Votes; Leach follows him with 10,830; Campbell gets 9,712; M. Williams, 4,410; and Bairstow 4,611.  Philp receives 2,656, and so loses his seat.  Cooper gets only 2,454. [p.166-2]

    Many of the branches of the N.C.A. were extremely small.  A writer in the Leeds Times, himself a Chartist, gives an interesting inside account of the movement in 1842. [p.166-3]  He tells us that "In every hamlet where two or three Chartists can be gathered together an Association has been formed.  In most places the Association does not meet above once a quarter, except some business of importance is to be transacted—such as giving countenance to an itinerating missionary, or getting up a petition for a certain purpose."  Many of the Chartists are trade unionists, in fact, "the tact which the Chartists have displayed in conducting their affairs was acquired in the same schools in which they learned their political and economical creed—the trades' unions."  But "there is a rule in most Chartist Associations that those belonging to them shall join in no agitation but for the Charter."  The writer describes the organization of the Chartists in Dundee, where they are comparatively very strong.  Here there are 12,350 workmen, members of trade unions; and 7,000 "odd-fellows," i.e., men working in unorganized trades.  Between them they muster 1,050 organized Chartists.  There is also a Female Chartist Association, to which the male Chartists ungallantly refuse representation on their local Executive.

    The organization, it will be noted, is fragile; it exists on hope rather than on subscriptions.  But the Chartists possessed a virtue which now appears to have been lost by political bodies: in religious circles it is known as faith; to many of us it can only be described negatively, as the absence of cynicism.  When O'Connor wrote that "Six months after the Charter is passed every man, woman and child in the country will be well fed, well housed, and well clothed," his followers believed him, although Lovett derided the prophecy. [p.167-1]  If a thing is said often enough it is believed, and in sticking to the importance of Universal Suffrage, O'Connor, consistent here, if nowhere else, undoubtedly carried his hearers and readers with him.  His statements look curious to-day when examined in the cold and critical light of subsequent events.  "Let this be borne in mind," he exclaimed, for example, "and never lost sight of, that Universal Suffrage alone will make the thirty-three of each vicious hundred blush and crouch before the remaining sixty-seven" (sic). [p.167-2]  This tremendous concentration of feeling upon one point, upon which his followers were equally convinced, prevented the most arrant bluster from appearing merely ridiculous.  At a time when nearly half of the forty thousand members of the N.C.A. [p.167-3] were in arrears with their subscriptions and the stability of the organization was extremely flimsy.  O'Connor could grandiloquently declare, "We are 4,000,000, aye, and more.  Never lose sight of the fact that we are 4,000,000 and more." [p.167-4]  Financial difficulties were in the end too much for the N.C.A.  Hill got hold of various scandals and printed them in The Northern Star.  In one issue he fired a broadside of five charges [p.167-5] alleging that the Executive had neglected the duties of their office, that they had violated the organization they were appointed to enforce, that they had done so wilfully, after repeated caution and remonstrance, that they had wilfully appropriated the moneys of the N.C.A. to their own use and benefit, and that they had manifested in their own conduct, and countenanced in that of others, a disregard of Chartist principle.  Hill's virulence, here as elsewhere, probably outran the truth of the matter, but there seems to be distinct grounds for believing that Campbell, in spite of his complaints as to the lowness of the N.C.A.'s finances, helped himself freely to small sums. [p.168-1]

    It is curious that Cleave should about this time become the treasurer of the City of London Political and Scientific Institute for the Moral and Social Improvement of the Working Classes, which was virtually a branch of the N.C.A.  This body had a hall in the Old Bailey, which it outgrew, and then moved to a larger hall, holding 2,000, at 1, Turnagain Lane, Skinner Street, Snow Hill.  Here as elsewhere Cleave's behaviour suggests that it was inspired by professional motives, rather than by loyalty to Lovett.  Cleave was the London agent for various periodical publications of the N.C.A., such as the short-lived Executive Journal, and seems to have dealt in Chartism as a bookseller deals in ideas.  His behaviour is nevertheless peculiar, the more so as his "Lovettite" friends could not have approved of the action of the N.C.A. in wrecking meetings, such as one by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts held in London in October, 1841, or another in January, 1842, when a Leeds meeting of the Society for the Extinction of the Slave Trade was the occasion of a riot.  The General Election of July, 1841, caused an acrimonious discussion on election policy.  O'Brien suggested that Chartists should choose candidates who would address electors, side-by-side with the nominees of the official parties.  They would, however, retire after the show of hands and not proceed to the poll.  O'Connor gave the same advice. [p.168-2]  A dispute occurred as to the time to be taken by those Chartists who possessed votes, and as to propaganda generally.  Should the Whigs be supported, or the Tories?  The Whigs had caused Chartists to be imprisoned, but the Tories were the more strenuous opponents of reform.  Which of the two evils should be chosen?  O'Connor urged that the Tories be used in order to crush the Whigs.  O'Brien, very forcibly indeed, objected to this course of action.  "There is but one part of the Star's advice I regret to see—one part from which I dissent in toto.  I mean the editor's recommendation to support Tories against Whigs, in case the Chartists should not be able to return their own candidate.  I cannot possibly concur in this advice, nor will any of my friends throughout the country.  Our business as Chartists is, I repeat, to disavow both factions alike, even as they have disavowed us, and to make no distinction whatever between them, saving when they choose to make the distinction themselves, by agreeing to coalesce and split their votes with our party.  What!  Vote for a Tory merely to keep out a Whig!  Vote for a villain who wants to put down me, and my principles, and my party, by brute force, merely to get rid of another villain who has tried the same game and failed!  No! d――n me! if I do. . . . And as to the new hocus-pocus policy of promoting Chartism by inundating the next House of Commons with Toryism, I cannot find language capable of expressing my contempt for it.  O'Connor is certainly mad, if he imagines it; for I am certain he could never swallow such a gross lump of Cobbettism in a moment of sober reflection.  It is contrary to all his former recorded opinions, and utterly at variance with the policy he so ably and manfully followed up against the Liberator and Champion.  Let the Chartists but once make common cause with the Tories, no matter for what purpose, and that moment they annihilate themselves morally as a political party and prepare the way for their physical extinction by the very villains they would league with, covertly supported by the other villains they leagued against." [p.169-1]  This was the first blast of a controversy which has persisted in the ranks of Labour even to our own day.

    O'Connor's first reply [p.169-2] to O'Brien was quite courteous, although entirely irrelevant.  It was an attempt in eight columns to shuffle the blame for something or other on to that scapegoat of Chartism, Daniel O'Connell.  But O'Brien returned to the attack a week later, [p.169-3] when Hill tried to keep the peace by speaking of "the perfect unanimity of purpose" of the controversialists.

    It is curious to note that Robert Owen at this stage showed himself to be more wisely political than the Chartists.  Holding no illusions as to the value of Universal Suffrage, but keenly alive to the things that mattered most at the time, he published and widely circulated a manifesto begging the electors to demand a graduated property tax, the abolition of all other taxes, free trade, national education for those who desired it, national employment for those who needed it, free speech, a free press, and complete religious toleration.  The Northern Star printed his address [p.170-1] and said nothing.

    Various Chartist candidates were duly chosen, of whom only one, not already in Parliamentary circles, went the whole length of a formal rejection by his constituency.  This was Vincent, easily the most sanguine of the Chartist candidates.  He writes to Place on June 13, after much previous correspondence of a damping description, and asks for money: "If I had but £30, all would be right."  Four days later: "My canvass each day has exceeded my most sanguine expectations . . . £10 or £5 would save me." [p.170-2]  He received 51 votes, against the 154 given to the elected, and 101 to the other candidate.  Immediately after the General Election of 1841, the Executive Committee of the N.C.A. published a manifesto [p.170-3] claiming that the Chartists had been the principal factor in the defeat of the Whigs.  The argument is not quite clear; the Chartists had found themselves on the horns of a dilemma, from which they made ungraceful efforts to extricate themselves.  Thus the manifesto in point contains these somewhat incompatible statements: "Our party was known, but known only to be feared; hence if the truth must be proclaimed, the terror of Chartism has ended in the triumph of Toryism."  But, a little farther on, "Let not the cry of Tory and Chartist coalition be repeated, when the truth is well known that the people turned the tide of public opinion against the Whigs, but never in favour of the Tories.  What possible interest can the Chartists have in Tory government?  What possible benefit did they even deserve from Whig government?"  There has been the appearance of division in the town of Birmingham, where a collision took place between the local branch of the N.C.A. and the Christian Chartist Church. This is now subsided. "We conceive that the man who is not a member of our Association, and who endeavours to cripple our efforts or weaken our influence, exhibits great malice towards the people, or proves treachery to their cause."

    The Executive Council decided on the adoption of a National Petition to the House of Commons.  In connexion with the presentation of this, another General Convention was summoned, to be held in London on February 4, 1842.  This time the Chartists, in conformity with their own principle of Equal Representation, divided England into constituencies, electing altogether twenty-four members.  Scotland and Wales were to return not more than twenty-five others, so that the legal maximum of forty-nine should not be exceeded.  Members of the Convention were to be balloted for and paid (except two of the four Yorkshire members).  The Convention was not to sit for more than four weeks.  The 1842 Petition [p.171-1] differs from its predecessor in being a recital of economic as well as of political grievances.  The growth of the National Debt in spite of twenty-six years of almost uninterrupted peace, the disparity between the sums paid to the Queen, the Prince Consort, the Archbishop of Canterbury on one hand, and to the working classes on the other, long hours of labour, starvation wages, and the Church Establishment are all complained of, before the Six Points are demanded.  Scottish Chartists objected to the introduction of extraneous matter into the Petition, [p.171-2] especially the complaints against the English Poor Law, which differed in many important respects from their own, and had nothing to do with the Six Points in any case.  By the end of 1841, however, Chartism was astir from causes more important than the Petition and the forthcoming Convention.  Two new men had entered the movement.  The first was Thomas Cooper (1805-1892).  In spite of a boyhood and youth passed in extreme poverty, Cooper had educated himself with remarkable thoroughness and perseverance, and about 1835 became a journalist in Lincoln.  Six years later, after many vicissitudes, he became a newspaper reporter in Leicester.  His job led to his frequent attendance at Chartist meetings, and to his conversion—to the Physical Force party.  When the election of 1841 came along, Cooper worked at Nottingham for the return of the Tory Walter, the proprietor of the Times.  Writing his autobiography in 1873, Cooper explains himself: "That old and steady advocates of Freedom should have recommended us to help the Tories sounds very strange to me now.  But the poor took up the cry readily.  They remarked that the Whigs had banished John Frost and his companions, and had thrown four hundred and thirty Chartists into prison, and therefore the Whigs were their worst enemies.  'We will be revenged upon the Whigs' became the cry of Chartists." [p.172-1]  Within a year of his conversion, Cooper had become the leader of a large section of the Leicester Chartists.  The remainder, under the guidance of John Markham, disapproved of Cooper's extreme admiration for O'Connor and formed a separate Chartist Association.  Cooper's band held its meetings in "Shakesperean Room," at All Saints' Open, and thereafter called itself the Shakesperean Association of Leicester Chartists. [p.172-2]  Cooper was dubbed the "General" of these Shakespereans, and adopted the term in his signature. [p.172-3]

    More important, however, was the adhesion of Joseph Sturge (1793-1859), a Quaker.  He was born of well-to-do parents and was able to devote himself to philanthropic work from about 1826 onwards—the date when he went on the committee of the Anti-Slavery Society.  Sturge was a born reconciler, with an inspiration for making peace.  All his life he worked for the maintenance of good relations between man and man.  Soon after Lord Brougham had passed the slave-emancipation Act of 1833, Sturge and his friends came to the conclusion that the system of apprenticeship permitted by the Act retained many of the features of undiluted slavery.  But Brougham was not to be so easily moved, and demanded definite proofs.  Thereupon, it is said, Sturge quietly remarked, "Then I must supply thee with proof," and started at once for the West Indies. [p.173-1]  He collected much evidence, published some of it in The West Indies in 1837, gave evidence before a House of Commons Committee, and a year later the new evil was abolished by Parliament.  The United States negro next called for his attention.  In 1838 he was as alderman elected to the Birmingham Town Council, newly incorporated under the Municipal Act of 1835.  He was therefore one of the City Fathers during the Bull Ring riots, when he frequently appeared as peacemaker and "did much, it is believed, to mitigate the evil he could not wholly prevent.  When the crisis was over, his first efforts were directed to save the lives of the unfortunate men who were condemned to die for their share in the riots.  By indefatigable exertions, he succeeded in getting their sentence commuted to transportation." [p.173-2]  He next moved in the Town Council for a committee of inquiry into the disturbances, and was appointed its chairman, and after some time came to the conclusion that the principal cause of the disorder was the misbehaviour of the imported London police.

    Sturge's sympathies lay with the working classes during the bad years 1840-42.  As a keen democrat, he approved of the Charter, but regretted the anti-middle-class attitude of so many of its followers, partly because this alienated those whose support mattered most, but to a great extent because Sturge was a Christian and believed in peace.  A series of articles appeared in 1841 in the newly established Nonconformist London Weekly Newspaper.  These articles completely expressed Sturge's own views, and were immediately reprinted with a preface by him.  Sturge then laboured to convert the Anti-Corn Law League, of which he was a prominent member, to his own views on democracy.  Here he found little difficulty, The Free Trade leaders were keenly alive to the importance of the applause they evoked in the provinces becoming audible in the House of Commons.  Votes were needed for this.  Moreover there were a great many men on the Chartist side with pronounced Free Trade sympathies, who believed that economic legislation did not ipso facto proceed from political changes.  While Physical Force Chartists were going about breaking up Free Trade meetings, others were thinking and coming over to support Cobden and Bright.  "Every day brings us accounts of the union of Chartists with the rest of their fellow-countrymen in a determination to agitate for the repeal of the corn-laws." [p.174-1]  A good many people seem to have made the discovery in 1841 that a union between Chartists and middle-class Radicals was desirable. [p.174-2]  The very Spectator had an article [p.174-3] in which the Six Points were examined one by one, and given general support.  This article sagely concluded to the effect that the vote might be extended to "all men, women and children; and if the prejudices of society did not stand in the way of such an extension, it might be made with perfect safety."  Moreover it so happened that the great publicists of the Anti-Corn Law League were good democrats.  The influence of Bright, Cobden, and W. J. Fox upon the working classes was not to be nullified because The Northern Star called the League the "Plague" and described the breakup of its meetings by Chartists in each case as a "glorious victory."

    This tendency towards a union of forces naturally suited Lovett very well.  Readers will already have gathered from the list of subscribers to the National Association that its membership was by no means exclusively proletarian.  A month or two after the Association had come into existence, Lovett had put forth an Address to the Middle Classes, which was virtually a disavowal of the Physical Force party.  The Address began somewhat strikingly, as follows—


    "Fellow-countrymen: The political partisans of our respective classes have in too many instances succeeded in awakening our mutual prejudices; and selfishness and distrust on the one hand, and violence and folly on the other, have ripened animosities and fostered the spirit of exclusiveness, to the dissevering of those links which ought to be united for our common weal; while a selfish, corrupt, and oppressive few have flourished and triumphed by reason of such prejudices and dissensions.

    "Seeing the result of these evils in the social degradation, the commercial ruin, and political oppression of our country, we are anxious to see a mantle of oblivion cast over past differences, and to see the wise and good of all classes resolving that in future they will labour and reason together to work out the social and political regeneration of man." [p.175]


    The remainder of this document upheld the principles of the Charter with dignity.  The one statement to which the twentieth century political thinker will not readily accede is made with reference to the evils of the day.  "Satisfied, therefore, that most of these evils can be traced to unjust and selfish legislation, we have pushed our inquiries still further; we find their chief source in our present exclusive system of representation."  It would not be entirely frivolous to comment that the last statement, if true, knocks the bottom out of the theory of Lovett's own "Knowledge-Chartism."

    About a month later, in January, 1842, Sturge began his attempt to build the bridge between his own class and Lovett's.  Starting from opposite banks, these two immediately hailed each other, and entered into co-operation.

    Early in February, 1842, the Anti-Corn Law League held a Conference in London.  Sturge made use of the opportunity and got up at a day's notice a meeting of the delegates who entertained "views favourable to 'Complete Suffrage.'"  This took place on Friday, February 11, at the "Crown and Anchor."  Among those present were Sharman Crawford, M.P., the Rev. Thomas Spencer, [p.176] John Bright, Hetherington and Lovett.  The object of the gathering was a frank interchange of views; a series of private conversations presented in the form of public speeches.  Sturge took the chair.  Two clergymen, Spencer and Young, began the proceedings by emphatically stating a case for extending the suffrage to the working classes.  Spencer's argument, nevertheless, must have grated on the ears of a few of those present.  "They had laws which meddled with everything, with their money, their religion—(hear, hear, and cheers)—and with their trade; with everything they could mention.  If the working men were admitted to power, he hoped they would guard against meddling with too many things; the grand thing was to protect person and property, and to leave everything else alone.  There were no more important words than 'let alone'—the laissez-faire of the French."  The speaker then went on to explain why, in his opinion, the working men would leave things alone.  Spencer had unwittingly found the frontier line between the different philosophies of the two classes who had met at the "Crown and Anchor" to be reconciled.  The Free Traders were conscious and deliberate adherents to the individualist theory of laissez-faire.  The Chartists, permeated with Socialist ideas, were virtually committed to the opposing theory of State interference.  In theory the Six Points could be held by any Whig, Liberal, Radical or Socialist.  But in practice the Charter was too closely associated with the demand for factory legislation—to give the crucial instance--to be entirely compatible with the Anti-Corn Law agitation.  Lovett, whose speech was the great event of the evening, either did not notice, or affected not to notice, this antinomy.  The greater part of his speech was a mere exposition of the Charter.  Towards the end he explained the Chartist hostility against the Free Trade movement.  "He was an advocate for Free Trade; and the only reason why he had stood apart from the advocates of the repeal of the Corn Laws, was a conviction that they would never be able to carry it in the House of Commons as at present constituted. (Hear, hear.)  It had also been supposed by the working classes that the agitation for the repeal of the Corn Laws had been got up as a counter-agitation to the Charter.  (No, no.)  It was certain that at the time the first meeting was called in London, for the Charter, in Palace Yard, just at that time an article appeared in the True Sun, calling on the middle classes to commence the agitation for the repeal of the Corn Laws.  The working men had been led to believe that it was meant as a counter movement."

    A recent incident, which had caused some hubbub among the Chartists, probably decided Sturge's actions.  More than a year before, a large meeting in support of Household Suffrage was held in Leeds, [p.177-1] under the auspices of the middle-class Leeds Reform Association.  Chartists were present in large numbers; their intention was to make themselves heard in support of their own case, and to prevent the favourite bête noire of Feargus O'Connor, and his former employer, Daniel O'Connell, from getting a hearing.  The latter did not turn up, and the Chartists, to their own surprise, found that the speakers almost unanimously confessed a sympathy with the Six Points.

    Sturge's efforts to promote the political reconciliation of the middle and working classes crystallized in a Conference held in Birmingham from the 9th to the 13th April, 1842.  This took place at the Waterloo Rooms, Waterloo Street.  Among those present were Sturge, Rev. Dr. Wade, Rev. T. Spencer, Collins, Vincent, Lovett, Neesom, John Bright, the Rev. H. Solly, and Bronterre O'Brien.  Conferences of this nature spend much of their time in the performance of what can only be described as a ritual.  There is no need to analyse the entire proceedings. [p.177-2]  People delivered the usual complimentary speeches, made the customary platitudinous remarks—this time with more than usual sincerity—on the importance of friendly relations between the classes.  The Chartists asserted the dogmas of the Six Points, the Free Traders repeated the shibboleths of Free Trade.  Lovett moved the essential point to establish "an association, to be called the National Complete Suffrage Union, for extending an enlightened opinion in favour of the six principles affirmed by the Conference . . ." the Six Points with which we are already so familiar.  After much discussion it was decided to avoid direct reference to the Charter.  O'Brien supported this decision, wisely refusing to be bound to words.  The Conference immediately determined upon a crusade on a national scale, a petition, missionaries, and all the paraphernalia of successful political propaganda.

    These preparations for victory deeply annoyed O'Connor, who saw his supremacy in the Chartist movement seriously threatened by this vigorous incursion of intelligent and prominent middle-class men.  He had already expressed himself strongly on the subject of the Free Traders, whom, indeed, he had abused week by week for nearly four years.  A month before the Birmingham Conference he had taken as his text a resolution passed by the always intransigent miners of Merthyr.  "That every approval towards a union with the Corn Law League must be regarded as a direct step towards a betrayal of the Chartist cause; and that every public meeting which neglects to affirm the adoption of the People's Charter as the only remedy for the distresses of the people must be considered as compromising the great right of the working class to a share in the making of the laws."  O'Connor's comment is summarized in his first words, "This is the true position for the people; and the only safe one." [p.178]  He decided to break up the Conference if it were possible.  With this amiable intention, he summoned an opposition Conference in Birmingham, which met at the same time as the other, and appointed a few "delegates" to the Sturge gathering.  These were refused admission.  O'Brien managed to attend both meetings, and justified his attitude to the N.C.A. members.  Nothing came of O'Connor's intention, except bitterness.  Warm hopes of success prevailed as the immediate result of the formation of the N.C.S.U.  Vincent wrote, "The Conference has proved the existence of virtue and talent in the persons of men who have hitherto feared or disliked each other; it has shown that the seeds of democratic principles are sown in the breasts of the Middle Classes.  The objectors to the Conference he divides into two classes—"those who live by misrule, and their knavish or blind tools."

    The personality of Sturge is reflected in the Rules of the N.C.S.U.  Object VIII is "To recommend all classes of Society to refuse to participate in the horrors of war, or to be used for the purposes of cruelty and injustice, and in order that our movement may be peaceably and morally conducted, to recommend sobriety and temperance.

    Object XII.  To adopt every just, peaceful, legal, and constitutional means for carrying the above resolutions into effect, and only such.

    William Morgan was the first Secretary.  There was no fixed subscription.

    Place, in entire sympathy with the idea of an entente between the middle and working classes, on May 20, 1842, formed yet another organization, the Metropolitan Parliamentary Reform Association.  P. A. Taylor was Chairman, Dr. J. R. Black, Secretary.  The M.P.'s who had already joined so many bodies of the kind, as usual, gave their support.  The Committee was a large one, but the work of the Association was virtually left in the hands of a small Business Committee, which included Place (Chairman), Hetherington and Westerton. [p.179-1]  The annual subscription was fixed at four shillings, payable quarterly if preferred.  The objects were the Six Points, but the words Charter and Chartists, by this time so malodorous to the middle classes, were not used in any of the Association's pronouncements.  This body was the most abortive of all Place's undertakings.  It lived only one year. [p.179-2]  There is some truth in the comment of a paper, "An extraordinary idea this said Snip must have had of the vigour of himself and his allies." [p.179-3]  O'Connor's next move was dictated to him by sheer jealousy of the N.C.S.U.  He ceased to attack the middle class, and began to canvass them.  He drew a distinction between the "middle class" or "shopocracy," and the more numerous "middling class," the brainworkers, and addressed articles to the latter showing that, after all, their interests were one with those of the working classes.  His evolution in this direction was extraordinarily rapid; it was less a change of opinion than the manoeuvre of a human weathercock.  In April and May he was cursing Sturge.  In July he was supporting him at a by-election.

    Early in May, 1842, Sturge was asked to contest Nottingham at a by-election, brought about by the death of Sir G. Larpent.  He accepted, and put forward a Chartist-Quaker-Free Trade election address, in which he declared, inter alia, against capital punishment, and "not only considered all naval and military establishments in time of peace as a needless and absurd expense, but that all war is as inconsistent with true national safety as it is in direct violation of the spirit and precepts of the New Testament . . . I am not insensible to the kindness and favourable opinion of those who are anxious to promote my election; but I most strongly deprecate a single word or expression that can justly excite any angry feeling towards those who differ from them.  I hope I shall be excused for giving this caution, because on these occasions the best of men sometimes forget that charity which in private they usually exercise towards each other." [p.180]

    The date of the election was deferred for various reasons until August.  Sturge's opponent was John Walter, then Tory editor of The Times.  On this occasion, however, Sturge's supporters were of more importance than his opponents.  O'Connor actually came down to support Sturge, for whose personality he had on recent occasions begun to express a warm admiration.  His arrival was the occasion of a warm display of "physical force."  The Tories claimed that O'Connor was the cause of the mischief.  A poster announced, "An Irish bully, backed by a band of hired ruffians, strangers to your town and neighbourhood, has insulted, outraged, and severely maltreated a number of your fellow-townsmen. . . . Be not deceived.  Sturge the pacific and O'Connor 'the brave' have one common object in view—the subjugation of your town by brute force to the intolerable tyranny of strangers." [p.181-1]  It need hardly be said that this declaration could be paralleled by others emanating from O'Connor's side.  Cooper, Vincent and M'Douall also turned up to support Sturge—Cooper having supported Walter at the General Election of the previous year.  The Rev. J. R. Stephens, since his release from his eighteen months' imprisonment, had been strangely silent.  Now the silence was broken in a sufficiently noisy manner, for Stephens, remembering his erstwhile Toryism, came down to support Walter.  Hence the free fight to which allusion has already been made, resulting in the arrest of O'Connor and several others.  Evidence is cheap and plentiful at election times, and no convictions were made.  The Sturge party worked fiercely, but the Tories prevailed.  Walter received 1,885 votes, Sturge 84 less. [p.181-2]

    The result of the election mattered little.  From the point of view of every side of the Universal Suffrage movement its importance lay in the achievement of unity.  To outward appearance the Nottingham by-election was the occasion of the consolidation of the liberal forces of the country, and to the strengthening of Chartism.  Unfortunately this was not to be the case.  While most people regarded the election campaign of the Chartists as a matter of unity, O'Connor was regarding the whole affair as a matter of leadership.


――――♦――――

 
APPENDIX TO CHAPTER VI.


    The 1842 Convention duly met at Dr. Johnson's Tavern, on April 12, and talked for nearly three weeks.  The absence of Lovett's and Attwood's followers might have been expected to have produced unanimity, but this was not the case.  Even a convention of twenty-five may contain dissidents.  O'Brien and Philp were there and fought with O'Connor over the relations of the N.C.A. with the middle class.  O'Brien, O'Connor, M'Douall, Pitkeithley, Lowery, Duncan and Moir were the only delegates present who had attended the first Convention.  The other eighteen were mediocrities, and the whole assembly had neither the personalities nor the hopes of its predecessor.  The Petition was said, when completed, to have 3,317,752 signatures.  On May 2 it was taken in procession to the House of Commons and handed over to Duncombe.  According to Place only 3,000 marched in this procession, one-third of whom were not male adults.

    On May 3, 1842, Duncombe moved that "the petitioners, whose petition I presented yesterday, be heard by themselves or their counsel at the Bar of the House." [p.182]  He sketched the history of the movement for franchise reform, since the beginning of Major Cartwright's propaganda, and then went on to describe the state of the country in 1842, quoting from letters he had received from all parts.  After a long account of the terrible sufferings then being experienced by the poor, Duncombe soberly ended by assuring the House that they would not have to listen to more than six Chartists or to spend more than two days in doing so.

    The motion was seconded by Leader, who protested the sincerity underlying Chartism, and declared that the dissection or dismissal of the Petition would in no wise stop the movement, which was based on real economic grievances.  Bowring followed him, supporting the Petition on Benthamite principles.  Dr. Fielden also spoke in favour, basing his argument, as usual with him, on factory conditions.  Sir John Easthope added his voice to the same effect.  Then the opponents began.  Sir James Graham (Home Secretary) vaguely intimated that "the subversion of all our great institutions must inevitably result from the granting of the prayer of the petition," and criticized Easthope's apparent fickleness, as that gentleman had previously voted against the Six Points.  Then Easthope had to explain that he was really opposed to the Charter, but did not think that the Chartists should be denied a hearing at the Bar of the House.

    Perhaps the most interesting speech of the day was that of Macaulay, who followed.  He declared himself to be in favour of parts of the Charter, and to entertain "extreme and unmitigated hostility," to one point only—to Universal Suffrage.  "I believe that Universal Suffrage would be fatal to all purposes for which government exists, and for which aristocracies and all other things exist, and that it is utterly incompatible with the very existence of civilization.  I conceive that civilization rests on the security of property, but I think that it is not necessary for me, in a discussion of this kind, to go through the arguments, and through the vast experience which necessarily leads to this result; but I will assert, that while property is insecure, it is not in the power of the finest soil, or of the moral or intellectual constitution of any country, to prevent the country sinking into barbarism, while, on the other hand, while property is secure, it is not possible to prevent a country from advancing in prosperity."  Macaulay then attacked the least defensible clauses of the Petition, and concluded by urging the necessity of resisting "spoiliation."

    Roebuck replied to Macaulay, and urged that 3,500,000 people had a right to be listened to, more so when their cause was just, and their sufferings were great.  "Yes, it was from these sufferings that he judged of his fellow-countrymen, and not from the trashy doctrine contained in the Petition, which would be of itself ridiculous but for the grandeur of the multitude of names appended to it."  Matters were serious, and if 3,500,000 people rose up against the Government, it would "not have physical force adequate to put them down."

    The next speaker was Lord Francis Egerton who was gently sarcastic at the expense of Roebuck.

    Hawes (Lambeth) also opposed.  He was "a warm advocate for the progressive improvement of the people," but he disapproved of the "language made use of at certain public meetings which had been held of late
throughout the country."

    Hume supported the motion, pointing out that the utterance of subversive and revolutionary sentiments was not a Chartist monopoly, that the working classes were "taxed infinitely more in proportion to their means than the possessors of extensive property. . . . He was prepared to place confidence in the working classes, as they had always acted as honestly, or perhaps more so, than the richer classes."

    Wakley, also speaking in support, tried to get the discussion back to the point.  Was the existing constituency the best that could be devised?  He could not support annual parliaments, but the question before the House was, were the representatives of the petitioners to be allowed to state their own case?

    Lord John Russell followed.  He declared his sympathy with "the sufferings and privations of the working classes," and argued that venerable institutions ought to be preserved.  He denied that anybody had any "right" to a vote.  "For my own part, I think it is very likely that at many elections, even if universal suffrage were in operation, you would find that respect for property, respect for old habits, and general regard for the constitution of the country, would produce results not very different from those which are produced when property is one of the qualifications required for the franchise."  The matter was virtually reduced to, Is it expedient?  In the present uneducated condition of the working classes it undoubtedly was not.  Russell ended up by saying that it would take more than a few working men to convert him to a faith in the Six Points, and that he would therefore vote against the motion.

    He was followed by Peel.  The Prime Minister sheltered himself behind the clauses of the Petition which seemed to him to speak of the Monarch and the Established Church with insufficient respect.  "I say the Petition is altogether an impeachment of the Constitution of this country, and of the whole frame of Society."  Peel expressed his fear of the power of demagogues should universal suffrage come to be established, and claimed that the existing state of things "has secured for us during 150 years more of practical happiness and of true liberty than has been enjoyed in any country excepting the United States of America, not excepting any other country whatever."

    Macaulay briefly corrected a misapprehension.

    G. F. Muntz supported in a few words, and J. Oswald as shortly opposed the motion.

    The Hon. Charles Villiers, in supporting, said that the rejection of the Charter would make the working classes mistrust the House.

    Lord Clements opposed; as an Irishman, he wished to protest as emphatically as possible against the reference in favour of repeal contained in the Petition.

    O'Connell supported.  He claimed to be "a decided advocate of universal suffrage," and declared that nobody had yet explained where and why the line between voters and the voteless should be drawn.

    Duncombe replied to the discussion.  He dissented from many parts of the Petition, but said that confiscation was not in the minds of those who asked for universal suffrage.  "Three millions of men are entitled to a hearing, and so far from the communication of political rights to the working classes endangering your constitution, it would, in my opinion, strengthen its stability."

    The House divided—Ayes, 49; Noes, 287; Majority, 236.

    Cobden was among the Ayes, Palmerston and Gladstone among the Noes.  Disraeli was absent.


――――♦――――

 
CHAPTER VII.

THE DICTATORSHIP OF FEARGUS O'CONNOR


IN a brief account of Chartist organization, contained in the last chapter, it was stated that Chartists did not, as a rule, belong to organizations other than their own.  The Chartist leaders, in fact, discouraged the participation of their followers in trade unionism, just as they objected to any demand not covered by the Six Points.  The Executive of the N.C.A. published an address [p.186-1] very soon after the formation of that body, criticizing the principles of trade unionism on the grounds that without political power the members of a trade union were helpless.  Chartism, however, cannot be considered apart from economic conditions.  This was quite realized by the leaders.  We have Stephens' well-known dictum, "Universal suffrage is a . . . knife-and-fork question, a bread-and-cheese question." [p.186-2]  O'Connor talks of [p.186-3] "A means of insuring a fair day's wages for a fair day's work, which, after all, is the aim and end of the People's Charter."  The opponents of Chartism realized this too.  When Gladstone retired from the Presidency of the Board of Trade in 1845, he had a farewell audience with Queen Victoria.  The Queen spoke "of the reduced condition of Chartism, of which I said the chief feeder was want of employment." [p.186-4]

    The avidity with which the population of Lancashire flung itself at the anything but succulent Six Points was due to no philosophical creed.  It was caused by hunger and fear.  Let us very briefly review the economic facts which determined this ready acceptance of the Charter as a panacea.

    The gradual replacement of hand labour by machinery had made the condition of the remaining hand-loom weavers critical in 1840.  The general acceptance of the power-loom had originated in the cotton branch of the textile trades.  Here the immediate distress was less than in the branches where, as yet, the hand-loom persisted.  The displaced hand-loom cotton weavers simply drifted into linen and silk-weaving and overcrowded these industries.  To add to the distress caused by this invasion, Irish immigrants, displaced in their own country, came and sought employment in England.  The introduction of the machine-loom into linen-weaving completed the sorrows of the original employees.  Wages fell.  The hand-loom weavers were not, on the whole, town labourers.  The machine-loom weavers, on the other hand, could obviously not work in cottages and farms.  A rapid transfer of population therefore was taking place.  Uncontrolled as regards their buildings or their sanitation, the new towns were slums from the first.  Engels, in his Condition of the English Working Class in 1844, describes a new Manchester that is virtually a sink of all the foulness known to civilization.  The case of Lancashire and cotton is typical of what was happening over all the industrial districts of the Four Kingdoms.  In Yorkshire the woollen trade was passing through a similar set of conditions.

    Low wages and insanitary and insufficient houses were not the only evils rampant in 1842, the year with which the progress of this narrative leads us to be specially concerned.  In that year only, the Coal Mines Act was passed, prohibiting the underground employment of women and of children under ten.  The Commission whose Report led to the passing of this Act had a ghastly tale to tell of the vicious conditions under which women and children earned their insufficient wages.  Long hours of labour (the maximum for children was reduced to twelve only in 1846); falling wages (in the cotton trade wages fell consistently for some thirty years after 1810); a high rate of infantile mortality and the prevalence of epidemics were among the accessories of the new capitalism.

    These facts make the state of mind of the Chartists comprehensible.  The Chartist saw himself hemmed in on all sides.  The philosophy of the time was against him.  If he wondered why wages could not be raised, he came up against the Iron Law of Wages, the Wage Fund Fallacy.  Malthus was against him: "The principal causes of the increase of pauperism . . are, first, the general increase of the manufacturing system, and the unavoidable variations of manufacturing labour; and, secondly, and more particularly, the practice . . . of paying a considerable portion of what ought to be the wages of labour out of the parish rates." [p.188-1]  If he asked why his hours of labour could not be shortened, he was told that shorter hours would be worth lower wages, and would cause higher prices.  The Free Trade movement, founded by the manufacturers whom he regarded as his enemies, naturally failed to attract him.  He felt that only by some drastic and revolutionary measure could his situation be improved.  That is why Physical Force Chartism got its attractiveness.

    In August, 1842, the strain became excessive.  A great series of strikes or "turn-outs" seems to have started on the 4th of the month, when over 20,000 Stalybridge weavers marched on Manchester in consequence of an attempt to reduce their wages.  Immediately the whole district around Manchester was on fire.  In Ashton-under-Lyne, Stalybridge, Dukinfield, and Hyde a general strike appears to have taken place.  Oldham followed.  At the same time the miners on the Tyne and in the Glasgow district also went on strike.  They had good reasons for doing so.  Their wages were low, and subject to deductions, on account of the iniquitous truck system.  John M'Lay, the Glasgow secretary of a miners' union wrote this statement of the case. [p.188-2]  "The average wages of the miners of coal and iron vary from 1s. 7½d. to 2s. 5½d. for putting out one-third of more labour than they did, one year ago, receive 4s. per day for; and at same time could, in many instances, get their money when earned, while now we go to our masters' store and take our labour in goods; or if the employer has not a store, he, according to his laws, makes us pay one penny for each shilling lifted before pay day."

    The Northern Star soon had reasons to rejoice.  "We are glad the miners, like other trades, have hoisted the banner of the Charter.  In the principles of that invaluable document must centre all their hopes . . . . Trade Unions in times past were deemed the only panacea for the complicated evils endured by the operative classes—the specific was tried but its virtues were undiscovered or practically unknown."

    O'Connor's first endeavour after the outbreak was to turn it to his own strategic advantage by declaring that the Anti-Corn-Law League was responsible for the disorder and should be made to pay the bill.  "Every succeeding day furnishes additional proof of the villainy inherent in the despicable middle classes; of their hostility to the interests of the masses; of their hatred of justice, and, consequently, of the absurdity of the doctrines propounded by the defunct 'New Movers,' and the expiring League, who profess to desire an amalgamation of the middle and working classes." [p.189-1]  It was surely inconsistent to allege that an "expiring" body could work such evil.  But O'Connor was not to be turned from his purpose.  The League might be a dead donkey, but it had to be flogged.  The next week The Northern Star returns to the charge: "They have gotten the people out.  How will they get them in again?  How will they compensate for the loss of life and the personal injuries—the shootings, and cuttings, and slashings; the imprisonments, and the transportings that are to follow; how will they compensate for these things which they, and they alone, have caused?" [p.189-2]  On Tuesday, August 16, a mob entered Cleckheaton and attempted to make the employees at the various mills stop work.  They met with brickbats, but gained a partial success.  The strikers are thus described by the historian of Spen Valley.  "Many of the men had coarse grey blankets strapped to their backs, and were armed with formidable bludgeons, flails, pitchforks, and pikes.  Their appearance as they came pouring down the road in thousands was one which it would be impossible to forget—a gaunt, famished-looking, desperate multitude, many without coats and hats, hundreds like scarecrows with their clothes in rags and tatters, and amongst them were many women.  Some of the older men looked footsore and weary, but the great bulk were in the prime of life, full of wild excitement." [p.190-1]  On their second appearance the strikers were able to stop work at several factories by drawing the boiler-plugs, before the soldiers arrived and put an end to the proceedings by sabring part of the crowd and arresting those of its members who did not act on this hint and disperse.  The same writer tells us elsewhere that the Spen Valley was the centre of an insurrection which would not have broken out had it not been for O'Connor's shiftiness. [p.190-2]  The movement swiftly spread through the North.  In Halifax, Skipton, Keighley, the Potteries, Chorley, Bingley, Stafford, Preston, Heywood, Rochdale, Bacup, Ashton-under-Lyne, Sheffield, Wigan, Blackburn, and innumerable other towns, men went out on strike.  In some places—e.g., Rochdale—no breach of the peace appears to have taken place.  In others—e.g., Preston—the military were called out and were ordered to fire on the crowd.  Even lethargic London was affected.  A meeting was held on Stepney Green, and the police, frightened thereat, made many arrests, although the intentions of the speakers seem to have been peaceable.  Thomas Cooper went on a crusade in the Midlands and preached the Charter to the colliers of Wednesbury, Wolverhamton and Stafford.  He was arrested at Burslem, but released almost at once.  These risings made an impression difficult to account for at this time of day.  An old Chartist, describing his recollections of the movement, [p.190-3] tells us that he was in Bourne (Lincolnshire) in August when news was received of the riots in the North.  "In the course of the day a rumour spread through the town that a Chartist army of several thousands was collecting at Nottingham, intending to march through Lincolnshire on its way for Dover.  The greatest alarm prevailed."  It appears on the evidence of the same writer that the shopkeepers and farmers belonging to the villages in the neighbourhood of Bourne were so terror-stricken that they invariably attended to casual callers with a loaded gun in their hands, fearing that he might be a precursor of the direst.

    On August 16, 1842, Cooper, M'Douall, Leach, Bairstow, O'Connor, and other Chartists, some sixty in all, had assembled in Manchester.  Cooper, who throughout his tour in Staffordshire had been preaching "Peace, Law, and Order," now told this conference that he wanted a universal strike, "because it meant fighting."  O'Connor protested against this; they had met, he said, to try to turn the strike to the advantage of the Charter, and not to talk about fighting. [p.191-1]  Hill supported O'Connor, and so, curiously enough, did Harney.  M'Douall, on the other hand, was out for trouble.  He drew up a fiercely worded address to the strikers "appealing to the God of Battles for the issue, and urging a universal strike." [p.191-2]  This was printed the same day, and circulated on the responsibility of the executive of the N.C.A.—of which, of course, O'Connor was not a member.

    The police promptly got on to the tracks of the signatories.  Bairstow was arrested at once; the others managed to escape, either for the time being, or altogether.  M'Douall got away to America.  Bussey, a truculent member of the 1839 Convention, a Bradford grocer and beer shop keeper by trade, also fled to America about this time.  Cooper was arrested and tried at Newcastle-under-Lyne on a charge of aiding in a riot at Hanley, but was acquitted.  Later on Cooper was found guilty on a charge of conspiracy, and eventually sentenced to two years' imprisonment in Stafford Gaol.

    By the second week of August the deliberate attempts made by the followers of O'Connor to turn the strikes for higher wages into strikes for the Charter already showed signs of success.  Trade unionist after trade unionist was excavated from a previous nonentity by The Northern Star reporters and made to give testimony to the intentions of a union, of a trade, or of a town, to strike for nothing but the Charter, to declare that he would not strike for wages, as these were sufficient, but for the Charter that alone could keep them from falling.  A meeting of 200 delegates from Lancashire and Yorkshire was held in Manchester on August 12, and passed two resolutions.  "We"—the delegates—"do most emphatically declare that it is our most solemn and conscientious conviction that all the evils which affect society, and which have prostrated the interests and energies of the great body of the producing classes arise solely from class legislation; and that the only remedy for the present alarming distress and widespread destitution is the immediate and unmutilated adoption, and carrying into law, the document known as the People's Charter."  The second resolution was, "That this meeting recommend the people of all trades and callings to forthwith cease work, until the above document becomes the law of the land." [p.192]

    All this time the Chartist interventionists never ceased to assert that they were wholly opposed to the use of physical force.  In Manchester a number of them enrolled as special constables the better to be able to keep the peace.  Lovett published a characteristic address, on behalf of the National Association.  "To the Working Classes of England, Scotland, and Wales, now on Strike for additional wages."  The writer's insistence, even at this critical hour, on the necessity of employing only moral force, illustrates the finest trait in his character.  "To you who have declared for the Charter we would say, avoid violence.  The enemies of liberty have their emissaries among you; do not allow them to betray you into wrong, do not furnish a pretext for their letting loose their hired bravoes to cut you to pieces.  The loss of life has already tainted our glorious cause; we pray you use your efforts to restrain outrage, and by your wise and peaceful conduct win all good men to your cause."  The end of this outbreak of strikes was followed by a large number of arrests, on charges of sedition. [p.193-1]  Feargus O'Connor and John Campbell were arrested in Manchester on September 30, 1842.  Harney, with ten Manchester Chartists, were next apprehended.  Within a week or two, the Rev. W. Hill, Thomas Cooper, and several other prominent Chartists of the Midlands and the North, had followed them.  A Special Commission sat at Stafford to try 180 alleged incendiaries, during the first week of October, 1842.  The total number of prisoners for trial was 274.  Of these no fewer than fifty-four were sentenced to transportation, eleven for life, thirteen for twenty-one years, and the remainder for shorter periods.  A hundred and forty-six were sentenced to imprisonment and hard labour for periods varying from two years to ten days.  Eight were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment without hard labour, and fifty-five were acquitted, two discharged on entering into recognizances, six discharged by proclamation, and finally, three, among them Cooper, traversed till the next assizes. [p.193-2]

    The attempt of the N.C.A. to dominate this industrial unrest had come to an unsuccessful end.  A few leaders had been imprisoned, a few others had fled, and the People's Charter seemed as unattainable as ever.  After the collapse of the August "Turn-out" only one thing kept the Chartist movement from drifting into complete apathy.  This was the hope that, after all, something might come of the proposed "union" with middle-class reformers.  O'Connor's invective on this account is relatively subdued after August.

    On April 21, 1842, Sharman Crawford had moved in the House for a Committee to consider the demands contained in the second National Petition.  On that occasion, in spite of Sir J. Graham's declaration on the part of the Government, that the Charter, if conceded, would endanger the monarchy, the reformers, if they did not have things their own way, at least put up a better case than they had ever done before, or were to do again in the course of the Chartist movement.  Sir Charles Napier supported the motion.  So too did Cobden, who tried to show that the support for the Six Points did not come from one class alone, and concluded his speech by glowingly eulogizing Joseph Sturge.  On the division, 67 members followed Crawford into the Aye Lobby, against 226 Noes, among whom were both Gladstone and Disraeli. [p.194]  Sixty seven supporters were not to be despised.  If the House could be made to feel that Sharman Crawford was the mouthpiece of but a small minority of reformers, who knows how many M.P.'s might be coerced into supporting the Charter?  This, roughly speaking, was the moral drawn by the Chartists from the debate and the division.

    The practical union of the forces of the Chartists and of the N.C.S.U. had been left to a Conference, which was to meet in Birmingham on December 27.  The members of this were to decide on a common plan of action, to take the form of "deciding on an Act of Parliament for securing the just representation of the whole people; and for determining on such peaceful, legal, and constitutional means as may cause it to become the law of these realms."  Lovett and the Council of the N.C.S.U. had then to face the practical difficulty of providing for the fair representation of all parties at this Conference.  A scheme of Lovett's was adopted which fixed the number of delegates each town was to send, and contained this proviso, "That one-half of the representatives shall be appointed by the electors, and half by the non-electors."

    O'Connor's chief anxiety at this time was the representation of his followers.  If these could but form a majority of the Conference, all would be well.  He therefore went about denouncing the plan of representation as undemocratic, and stirring up his followers to elect delegates.  The result was that by way of a prelude to their future unity, "a fierce battle was now fought between the Complete Suffragists and the Chartists in the election of delegates.  The Chartists were anxious to get their men elected if possible at the Complete Suffrage meetings, in order to avoid the expense falling on themselves alone, and in many cases they succeeded in so doing.  At Leicester the electors held a separate meeting, but the redoubtable Cooper and his 'Shakesperians' were at their posts and effected an entrance, to the great discomfiture of the parties present." [p.195-1]

    The Complete Suffragists were well justified in fearing that they would be outnumbered and committed to a course of action more compatible with the greater glory of O'Connor than the success of their cause.  Even out-and-out Chartists like Bronterre O'Brien could foresee this probability.  O'Brien writes: "A conference composed of such materials as Mr. Feargus O'Connor would pack into it, would soon find itself utterly powerless, and without influence for any purposes but those of mischief.  In that lies the cure of the evil.  The conference would prove a perfect failure, and from that failure the people would derive a wholesome warning, as to the election of future conferences or conventions.  From which the very best results would be sure to follow." [p.195-2]  In other words, get rid of O'Connor.  The Council of the N.C.S.U. (or part of it), unable to take this advice, took a step of doubtful wisdom.  The business before the Conference, they argued, was to decide on a Bill.  But the Conference could not be expected to make up a Bill as it went along.  The People's Charter, it was true, was roughly in the form of a Bill.  As it stood, however, it could not be presented to Parliament: it had been deliberately drafted with a view to being readily understood by working-class readers, and would need some revision before it could be laid on the table.  They therefore had a "New Bill of Rights" drafted.  This presented the Six Points in parliamentary form, in a document containing ninety-nine clauses.  The B section of the Council of the N.C.S.U. responsible for the "New Bill of Rights" apparently had no time to submit it to the remaining members.  Lovett and Neesom, both members of the Council, saw the document for the first time only at the Conference.

    On December 27 the Conference met at the Mechanics' Institute, Newhall Street, Birmingham, attended by 374 delegates.  O'Connor showed from the first moment his intention of dominating the proceedings.  He spoke frequently; the reports of the Conference suggest that the only periods when he was not on his feet were those immediately following his own speeches.  Sturge is moved into the Chair; O'Connor seconds the motion.  He gets up to points of order; he attempts to make the Conference accept a list of members of the N.C.A., which he draws out of his pocket.  Those responsible for the Bill of Rights had naturally put it into the forefront of the proceedings.  The morning of the first day is spent in formal business.  In the afternoon the Bill is produced.  Lovett and O'Connor rose simultaneously to attack.  The latter deferred, and Lovett, feeling that he had been badly treated, moved that the words "The bill or document entitled the People's Charter" be substituted for "The bill presented by the council of the National Complete Suffrage Union in the resolution committing the Conference to the consideration of the 'New Bill Rights.'"  O'Connor rose to the opportunity thus offered him, and seconded, complimenting Lovett on his honesty.  The discussion was carried over to the next day, in order to allow the delegates to confer.

    Lovett's motives are as plain as his feelings.  He was the father of the Charter, and the N.C.S.U. men were proposing to drown his offspring without a word of regret.  He had worked so keenly for union with the middle classes that his defection was the cause of unbounded joy to the O'Connorites, and regret to the N.C.S.U. members.  It was sheer ill-luck that brought him into the company of O'Connor.  "If O'Connor intended by his gross adulation to win over Lovett to his party, he never made a sorrier mistake.  All the time that he stood speaking the lip of Lovett was curled in scorn." [p.196]  However, he had to let himself in for association with O'Connor, and the business had to be gone through.  The next morning Lovett moved:


"That the document entitled the People's Charter, embracing all the essential details of just and equal representation couched in plain and definite language, capable of being understood and appreciated by the great mass of the people, for whose government and guidance all law ought to be written—that measure having been before the public for the last five years, forming the basis of the present agitation in favour of the suffrage, and for seeking to secure the legal enactment of which vast numbers have suffered imprisonment, transportation and death, has, in the opinion of the meeting, a prior claim over all other documents professing to embrace the principles of just representation.  It is, therefore, resolved that we proceed to discuss the different sections of the people's charter, in order to ascertain whether any improvement can be made in it, and what these improvements shall be, it being necessary to make that document as clear and perfect as possible."


O'Connor seconded in an able speech.  He said that the Charter had the moral support of three and a half million persons, who were not in way committed to the Bill.  After which he denied most emphatically that he had ever advocated or recommended a recourse to physical force.  Then the N.C.S.U. began, and the squabble lasted the whole day.  The division was taken; 193 supported Lovett, 94 supported the Bill.  Sturge thereupon announced that "After the most minute consideration he felt that he would now best promote the cause they had in view by no longer occupying the chair.  At the same time he earnestly hoped that although they could not work together in exactly the same steps they would not consider each other enemies, but as men all working heartily and anxiously in the same road."  Answering a question put by O'Connor, Sturge said that they would best promote the cause of the people by discussing the bill in another room.  Lovett said that he blamed himself for having led people to believe that the Complete Suffrage movement was in any way connected with the Anti-Corn Law League, and regretted the course that had been adopted by Sturge and his followers, whom he believed to be actuated by the best motives.  He moved the cordial thanks of the conference to Sturge for taking the chair.  He was seconded by O'Connor, who once more became fulsome in praise of the Quaker.  Vincent walked out with Sturge.  The next day the minority met at the Temperance Hotel, Moore Street, and there went ahead with the Bill, which Sharman Crawford was to present to Parliament.  The majority Conference discussed a plan of Cooper's as to the reorganization of the N.C.A.  Lovett withdrew.  The remaining members indulged in acrimony, and their numbers rapidly fell to thirty-seven on the fourth and last day.

    The Conference has an intensely pathetic side.  It represented the downfall of the hopes of so many decent men that we cannot laugh at its futility.  "The whole affair has proved so abortive," wrote a local paper, "that, had it depended on us alone, we should have preferred to bury it at once in the oblivion to which in a few weeks it will be certainly, and with universal consent, consigned." [p.198-1]  The Northern Star leading article of the issue following the Conference begins: "We presume that by this time at all events the mind of the people will be pretty well settled upon the fact that our worst suspicions of the Sturge men have been more than realized." [p.198-2]  In a similar feeling of peace and goodwill, Francis Place spent Sunday, New Year's Day, 1843, in the composition of an extremely acid but far-sighted Memorandum on the Conference. [p.198-3]

    The fate of the N.C.S.U. Bill may be briefly described here.  It was introduced by the indefatigable Sharman Crawford on May 18, 1843, before a small and bored House.  The usual speakers spoke.  Ross, M.P. for Belfast, surprised those present by asserting that he "was in the manufacturing districts in the north of England [near Rochdale, it was subsequently explained] for some time last year, and there he heard doctrines propounded which appeared to him so monstrous, and, he was sorry to say, so widely spread, that if this Bill became law the country would have such a deluge of these doctrines as would carry all before it."  The Bill was lost by 101 to 32. [p.198-4]

    On January 31, 1844, the Complete Suffrage Union held its first important public meeting in London after the failure of Sharman Crawford's Bill.  The Crown and Anchor Tavern was, as usual, the scene.  Crawford himself took the chair; Sturge, Spencer, and in fact all the prominent members of the N.C.S.U. were present.  Lovett and Vincent were also there; the presence of the former is significant.  The meeting had been called to give moral support to a proposal for moving amendments on motions of supply until the grievances alleged by the N.C.S.U. members of Parliament had been heard and redressed.  O'Connor and Duncombe were however present, with a large number of disciples, and the meeting was compelled to listen to O'Connor and much uproar. [p.199-1]  The N.C.S.U. is little heard of after this.  If it, working in the name of democracy, was opposed by O'Connor, also in the name of democracy, obviously there was little to be done.

    The movement over which O'Connor had established his predominance had sadly degenerated from its original enthusiasm and vigour.  The years 1843-45 are marked by apathy, declining numbers, and the absence of a definite programme.  The N.C.S.U. men, in their withdrawal, took the agitation for the Six Points with them.  This was soon recognized by Lovett who once more begins to appear on Complete Suffrage platforms.  For a while O'Connor was in the position of a hermit-crab which has come into possession of an empty shell of uncomfortable largeness.  His denunciations are chastened; he is less keen to detect and to denounce heresy; in his speeches and writings the quality of flamboyant egotism is softened down.  Even the optimism evoked for the purpose of arousing enthusiasm for another year's campaigning is qualified by regrets and the admission of past futility.  "1843 was the year of slumber: 1844 the year of waking and thought." [p.199-2]  Six months later O'Connor significantly heads an article "The Revival of Chartism." [p.199-3]

    What were the Chartists doing in these dead years?  So far as the followers of O'Connor are concerned, the answer is: Extremely little.  The pages of The Northern Star are opened to the discussion of innumerable matters outside the four corners of the People's Charter.  The arrest of Daniel O'Connell, his trial, conviction, and subsequent acquittal, as well as the whole new Repeal agitation, are the subjects of innumerable articles.  The Maynooth grant, the Young England party, the failure of the potato crop, and the Young Ireland party, are all studied.  O'Connor made an attempt to promote an interest in Chartism among trade unionists.  The Northern Star, indeed, becomes very largely an organ of the workingmen's societies.  O'Connor's sympathies are extended towards the National Association of United Trades for the Protection of Labour, of which body Duncombe became President.  This had an ambitious programme, but its active life was only three years, [p.200] and is mainly of interest on account of the experiments with which it was associated.

    Experiments, indeed, alone redeem this period from complete uselessness.  There are three classes of these: (1) the experiments in co-operative production encouraged by the National Association of United Trades; (2) the great experiment in co-operative distribution; (3) the experiments in the co-operative ownership of land, with which O'Connor is specially concerned.  The first group were all failures; their history is difficult to chronicle, as records of the death and dissolution of such undertakings are not kept.  An interesting example of the type is supplied by The Northern Star of June 14, 1845.  Four days before the date of issue, a little ceremony had taken place in a field three miles from Oldham.  In consequence of reductions of wages and general ill-treatment, a body of miners on strike, members of a Miners' Protective Association, had borrowed £1,250, and bought the right to mine for coal under 18 acres.  W. P. Roberts, a solicitor, raised the first clod of the shaft.  The attempt to run a self-governing mine, like the Christian Socialist attempts, a few years later, to found self-governing workshops, appears, from the absence of subsequent news, to have unostentatiously failed. [Ed.—regarding "self-governing workshops", the reader might be interested to refer to Gerald Massey's experience of the Working Tailors' Association.]

    We now come to the humble birth of the most prodigious child of the Chartist movement.  A small group of working men in Rochdale had got into the habit of meeting in a room in Mill Street.  Here many opinions were discussed, and many schemes nurtured with a fierceness stimulated by the poverty prevailing in the town.  A strike of flannel weavers in 1843 had been a failure; some other line of advance was eagerly sought for.  Chartists, Socialists, and Free Traders met to argue, and at last decided on something positive.  They saved hard for a year, and collected £28 capital.  With this, twenty-eight Rochdale working-men opened a shop in Toad Lane, the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers' Society, and spent their capital on a stock of flour, salt and bacon, bought at wholesale prices.  Here they made their purchases, sharing part of the profit, using the remainder to extend the business.  The majority of the twenty-eight were Chartists; the remainder were mostly Socialists, although a few had no definite political colour. [p.201-1]  This shop, at first opened only on two week-nights, derided by the passers-by and the local children, was the herald of the co-operative movement as we know it to-day.  From the Toad Lane experiment the great Wholesale Societies gradually developed.  In 1914 the English Co-operative Wholesale Society alone had a capital of £6,196,150, a reserve fund of £1,883,921, and sold goods to the value of £34,910,813.  In the same year the 1,390 retail distributive societies had a total membership of 3,054,297, a capital of £46,317,939, reserve and insurance funds of £2,912,853; did a trade of £87,964,229 and employed 103,074 persons. [p.201-2]

    The growing distress had directed the attention of the Chartists' leaders to possible remedies.  The land naturally suggested itself.  In November, 1841, Bronterre O'Brien recommended small holdings, in a speech in London, as a partial solution of the prevailing difficulties. [p.201-3]  The Northern Star took up the subject and discussed the relation between unemployment and agriculture without suggesting anything definite.  John West, of Halifax, produced a scheme for buying up waste land and planting Chartists on it; this was condemned by Col. T. Perronet Thompson. [p.201-4]  O'Connor then took up the subject and declared that Great Britain was capable of supporting her own population, if only her lands were properly cultivated, [p.201-5] and published a variant of West's scheme, in a pamphlet The Land.  This appears to be now lost but Col. Thompson's Letters [p.202] quote the most important passages.  In the United Kingdom there were fifteen millions of acres of waste land capable of reclamation.  The expenditure of £100 on a million small farms of 15 acres each would make these waste lands productive.  The sale value of this territory would be about £120,000,000.  The Government would buy the lands and allot them to tenants, who would pay a rent of £5 for eleven years.  After that they would pay £10 yearly.  Twenty-one years after the scheme had been started the original £120,000,000 would have been paid off, with interest at 4 per cent.  After that the tenant need only pay the original chief-rent, a mere trifle estimated at one shilling and fourpence an acre, unless Government decreed otherwise.

    During 1842 O'Connor's interests were absorbed in the growth and development of the N.C.A., and the struggle with the Complete Suffragists, and the land schemes had little attention paid them.  In 1843, the Sturgists had been disposed of, interest in the Anti-Corn-Law League was thin, and another bone of contention was required to enable O'Connor to prove once again that his were the strongest jaws.  Again, therefore, did he direct his followers' attention to land, and to the marvellous things that might be expected of it, if only they were to have the use of it.  The Northern Star, towards the middle of the year, fairly overflowed with estimates of what could be done with a four-acre holding.  As was only to be expected, a certain amount of expert ridicule was at once forthcoming.  The Leeds Mercury was especially caustic in its criticisms.  However, luck enabled O'Connor to turn the tables, in a dialectical sense, upon this particular opponent.  In 1819, a number of Leeds gentlemen had been appointed a committee by the Overseers of the Poor of the town for the purpose of inquiring into the causes of poverty and into the best means of providing some productive work for the unemployed.  The secretary of this committee was one Baines, of the Leeds Mercury.  Baines produced a Report, which O'Connor now exhumed.  This interesting document declared that machinery was the principal cause of unemployment, and that "as to manufacturers—we cannot get a glimpse of hope respecting them."  The Report asserted that "The Soil—the Earth, is our last, our only resource," and recommended the cultivation of wastes, quoting Arthur Young and Robert Owen as authorities for suggesting this remedy. [p.203-1]  O'Connor probably did not realize that the progress of enclosures and the intensified difference between those who worked on the land and those who did not, had invalidated this remedy, if indeed, it ever had been a remedy.  However, here, in the kernel was a promising scheme and O'Connor set to work to get it put into operation.

    A Conference convened by the N.C.A. was held in Birmingham from September 5-8, when this body converted itself into the National Charter Association, established for the mutual benefit of its members.  This had two objects: to better "the condition of man" by peaceful and legal means only, and "to provide for the unemployed, and means of support for those who are desirous to locate upon the land."  The principles of the new N.C.A. were those of the Charter.  The subscription was to be a penny a week.  The organization was complicated, branches were grouped into districts, and the highest authority lay in an annual convention, which was to elect the Executive Committee.  A special Land Fund was to be started: members were to subscribe 1d. a week upwards for £1 shares.  This was to be applied to the purchase of land, stock, and the erection of dwellings.  The land bought by means of the fund was to be divided into four-acre farms, to be distributed among the applicants by lot. [p.203-2]  The first Executive of the new N.C.A. contained among its twenty-eight members, O'Connor, Harney, Joshua Hobson (the publisher of The Northern Star), a handful of the old N.C.A. members, Bairstow, Marsden, etc.  The rest were nonentities: Morrison, Clark, M'Grath, Doyle and Wheeler were supposed to be in O'Connor's pocket.  To enable O'Connor to get absolute control over the agitation, now converted, so far as he was concerned, for ever into a movement into settling people upon the land, only one thing was necessary if only Lovett could be won over, all the Chartists would be with him—or under his thumb.  All the working-class leaders of Chartism would be united into one body, with O'Connor in undisputed and indisputable command.

    Since the Birmingham Conference of December, 1842, had found him on the same side as O'Connor, Lovett had been waiting for an opportunity of publicly dissociating himself from the Dictator.  The Birmingham Convention gave him his chance.  A. H. Donaldson and J. Mason, two of the principal delegates, wrote to Lovett on behalf of the N.C.A., asking him to become its General Secretary.  Their letter was all that such a letter should be.  It tactfully hinted at the loss entailed upon the "furtherance of the principle of Democracy" by Lovett's virtual withdrawal, and urged the importance of the "union of all the ablest spirits of the age."  It assured him that his election would be unanimous, and implored (its own word) an immediate answer.  Lovett politely acknowledged the complimentary tone of the invitation, and went on to talk about his bête noire.


"Whatever may be the merits of the Plan you are met to discuss, I cannot overlook O'Connor's connexion with it, which enables me at once to form my opinion as to any good likely to be effected by it, and which at once determines my course of action.  You may, or may not, be aware that I regard Feargus O'Connor as the chief marplot in our movement in favour of the Charter; a man who, by his personal conduct, joined to his malignant influence in The Northern Star, has been the blight of Democracy from the first moment he opened his lips as its professed advocate.  Previous to his notorious career there was something pure and intellectual in our agitation.  There was a reciprocity of generous sentiment, a tolerant spirit of investigation, an ardent aspiration for all that can improve and dignify humanity; which awaked the hopes of all good men, and which even our enemies respected.  He came among us to blight those feelings, to wither those hopes."


The rest of the letter is in a less lofty strain; but it reads throughout as the work of a passionately honest and indignant man, to whom the Cause was an ideal so high that it claimed the utmost of truth and energy in its service.  With this letter Lovett renounced his hold upon the Chartist movement.  Truth and honesty were not, as it seemed to him, likely to have an influence; he would withdraw and let O'Connor do as he would.  Perhaps the future would offer him another opportunity of leading the movement back to its original decency.

    On November 23, 1844, O'Connor announced the removal of The Northern Star from Leeds to London.  The paper had been running at a loss since March, 1840, O'Connor paying up the deficit.  It had been started before the establishment of the penny post, and it had consequently been at first a mere local paper.  Seven years later the introduction of railways had changed that.  "From London," said O'Connor,


"I shall be able to give a portion of my readers two days' later news than they have hitherto had, and some, four days' news.  In London The Star will be the means of rallying the proper machinery for conducting the Registration Movement—the Land Movement—the National Trades' Movement—the Labour Movement—and the Charter Movement."  The title was to be changed to The Northern Star and National Trades Journal.  Hobson and Harney were to continue in charge.  The price was raised from fourpence halfpenny to fivepence.  The editorial office was to be 340, Strand; the printing was to be done at 17, Great Windmill Street.  But for some time O'Connor could not make up his mind definitely to start a land movement.  He looks longingly at the trade unions, with the eye of a would-be leader: "I invite you to keep your eye steadily fixed upon the great Trades' Movement now manifesting itself throughout the country, and I would implore you to act by all other trades as you have acted by the Colliers.  Attend their meetings, swell their numbers, and give them your sympathy; but upon no account interpose the Charter as an obstacle to their proceedings.  All labour and labourers must unite; and they will speedily discover that the Charter is the only standard under which they can successfully rally: but don't interpose it to the interruption of their proceedings. . . . I assert, without fear of contradiction, that a combination of the Trades of England under his (Roberts') management and direction, would be the greatest move ever witnessed within the last century.  It would be practical Chartism; and therefore it is our duty to aid and assist it, and not to mar it by imprudent interference." [p.206-1]


However, at last he made up his mind to take the plunge.


"I have been much thwarted and harassed on this subject.  When the Birmingham Conference unanimously, and wisely, adopted the Land plan in 1843, the acrimony of the knavish for a season triumphed over the judgment of the prudent; and I, among others, was compelled to 'bide my time ' till common sense had resumed its place."[p.206-2]


The National Charter Association held its Annual Convention at the Parthenium, St. Martin's Lane, on April 21, 1845.  It was attended by only fourteen delegates, of whom six represented London districts.  On the second day a long Report on the Land was read.  This document had been drafted by O'Connor and was enthusiastically received.  It was rich in suggestions, but, as usual, committed its author to nothing definite.  The Convention, again in accordance with the ritual practice of Chartist conferences, gave birth to The Chartist Land Co-operative Society.  This was to consist of shareholders, number not limited, holding shares of £2 10s. each, which were to be paid in weekly settlements of 3d., 6d., 1s. and upwards.  The "Means" is interesting.  "Good arable land may be rented in some of the most fertile parts of the country at the rate of 15s. per acre, and might be bought at twenty-five years' purchase—that is, at £18 15s. per acre; and supposing £5,000 raised in shares of £2.10s. each, this sum would purchase 120 acres, and locate 60 persons with 2 acres each, besides having a balance of £2,750, which would give to each of the occupants £45 16s. 8d., £30 of which would be sufficient to build a commodious and comfortable cottage on each allotment; one-half of the remaining £15 16s. 8d. would be sufficient to purchase implements, stock, etc., leaving the residue as a means of subsistence for the occupant until his allotment produced the necessaries of life.  These allotments, with dwellings, might be leased for ever to the members of the society at an annual rental of £5 each, which would be below their real value.  The gross annual rental would thus amount to £300.  This property, if sold at 20 years' purchase (which would be far below the market value), would yield to the funds of the society £6,000, which sum, if expended in a similar manner to the first, would locate other 72 persons on 2 acres of land, provided with homes.  These 72 allotments, sold at the rate of the first, would bring £7,200; and this sum, laid out in the purchase of other land, buildings, etc., at the original rate, would locate 86 persons.  These 86 allotments, if sold, would realize £8,634, 8s.; and with this amount of capital the society could locate other 1031/6 persons.  These 1031/6 allotments would produce £10,317 3s. 4d.; and the last-named sum expended as before would locate 123 persons.  Thus the original capital of £5,000 would more than double itself at the fourth sale; and so on in the same rates.  The benefits arising from the expenditure of the funds in the manner stated may be seen at a glance in the following summary:
 

 

 

    £

s.

 d.

Purchase
acres

Local
persons

Original Capital

 . . . .

  5,000

0

0

120

60

First sale produce

 . . . .

  6,000

0

0

144

72

Second    Do.

 . . . .

  7,200

0

0

172

86

Third       Do.

 . . . .

  8,634

8

0

206

103

Fourth     Do.

 . . . .

 10,317

3

4

246

123


Continuing to increase in the same proportion until the tenth sale, which would realize £37,324, and locate 372½ persons.  Thus the total number which could be located in ten sales—which, if the project be taken up with spirit, might easily be effected in four years—would be 1,923 persons; in addition to having in possession of the society an estate worth, at least, in the wholesale market, £37,324, which estate could be resold, increasing at each sale in value and capability of sustaining the members, until, in the space of a few years, a vast number of the 'surplus labour population' could be placed in happiness and prosperity upon the soil of their native land, and thus become valuable consumers as well as producers of wealth."

    The Executive of the N.C.A. appointed five of their number as a Board of Directors.  These were O'Connor, T. M. Wheeler (Secretary), P. M'Grath, T. Clark and Christopher Doyle.

    Money began to come in almost immediately; of criticism, plentiful outside the N.C.A., scarcely a breath was heard within.  The Coventry N.C.A. hazarded the suggestion that the proceeds of the tenth sale, £37,324, might be used to buy up some of the smaller estates previously sold, and so keep them in the hands of the N.C.A.  Wheeler replied [p.208-1] that the rent which the N.C.A. would be receiving after the tenth sale, amounting to about £2,000 yearly, could be used, if thought fit, towards the repurchase of the first estates.  O'Connor was no doubt influenced in his advocacy of the Land Scheme by the success which the Owenite communities were then appearing to enjoy.  In 1837 Owen had formed the National Community Friendly Society.  In 1841 this body had started the Queenwood Hall colony at Tytherly, and made a very good show there until 1845, by which time even Owen had come to the conclusion that the Millennium, whenever it chose to make a start, would not make it at the Queenwood settlement. [p.208-2]  Three months after the formation of the Chartist Land Cooperative Society, O'Connor came out with another version of his Scheme.  This time he asked for £5,000 in shares of £2 10s. as before, but estimated its expenditure differently.  Fifty persons were to be located, each on two acres, bought on the same terms.

 

£   s. d. 

Two acres of land @ 15s. an acre at 25 years' purchase

 37  10  0

Cost of cottage

30    0  0

Capital advanced

  15    0  0

 

£82  10  0


The cost of fifty holdings would therefore be £4,125, leaving £875 capital in hand.  The tenants would each pay £5 rent; total, £250.  The estate would not be sold, but mortgaged for £4,000.  With this sum, plus £125 taken out of the £875 in hand, fifty more tenants would be located.  The mortgaging process would then be repeated until seven payments of £125 had exhausted the £875.  Then the society would own eight estates, seven of which would have been mortgaged for £28,000 secured upon rents totalling £2,000 per year.  This would seem to be pretty good going for an undertaking with a capital of only £5,000, but the ingenious brain of O'Connor saw even wider possibilities.  "And now, what I do assert is this, and I will abide by the decision of any twelve men of common sense.  I do assert, that whereas the first allotment, if sold at once, would be dear at twenty years' purchase, or £5,000, though it would fetch it, that at the end of the first two years it would fetch thirty years' purchase, or £7,500," so that at the end of four years upon that amount of purchase alone the society would be able to sell its estates for £60,000.  Having paid off the mortgages and the £5,000 original capital, it would then be left with £27,000 clear profit in hand.  A small Land Conference of the National Chartist Co-operative Association was held at the Carpenters' Hall, Manchester, in the week beginning December 8, 1845.  Most of the talking was done by O'Connor, who flung masses of figures and estimates at the heads of the delegates and succeeded in getting the discussion, acrimonious at times as it was, confined strictly to details.  W. P. Roberts had resigned the post of treasurer, and O'Connor refused to accept it for himself, "though the office had been offered to him, not all the land that could be purchased by the society would induce him to accept it." [p.209]  He would, however, consent to act as "sub-treasurer."  Wheeler presented a financial report showing total receipts of £3,266, and an expenditure of £184.  Seven trustees were elected: Duncombe, Titus Brooke (of Dewsbury), James Leach (of Manchester), W. Sewell, Duncan Skerrington (of Scotland), William Dixon (of Manchester), and J. G. Dron. Hardly anything had previously been heard in the movement of five of these men. Roberts was subsequently re-elected treasurer."  In his Practical Work on the Management of Small Farms, O'Connor's optimistic ingenuity is so fertile in schemes as to be beyond summarizing.  He bristles with suggestions and throws upon every other page a mass of recommendations guaranteed to enable the Chartists to settle on the land to their eternal profit.  O'Connor does not definitely bind himself anywhere to any estimates of profits or expenditure, he merely outlines general principles, and illustrates them.  Certain things are always postulated, the chief one is that a hand-loom weaver with a family can make a profit from a small holding, if he gives his whole time to it.  It is always assumed that the value of the holding will grow from year to year, so that after one year's working a mortgage can be raised upon a farm very nearly, if not quite, equal in value to the original capital outlay.  The tenant is required in all the schemes to pay a yearly rent equivalent to 4 per cent. upon the capital outlay, the expenditure of the income from this source is, however, the subject of several suggestions.  The tenants are, in all the schemes put forward, to be selected by lot from the subscribers to the fund which is to pay for the land.  O'Connor produced a delightfully optimistic statement as to what could be done with these acres.  Somebody wrote to him saying that all that was required to convince him and many of his class of the practicability of the Land Scheme was some definite light on the ability of the occupants of even a four-acre holding to live and pay rent.  O'Connor replied: "I will take three acres for consideration, that being the mean; and what I state three acres will do, two will do, as I am going to place it before you in the roughest aspect of husbandry, stating the lowest price for produce to be sold, and the most extravagant for outgoings."  He recommended that the three acres should be disposed of as follows: 1 acre of potatoes, 1 acre of wheat, 3½ roods cropped with cabbages, mangel-wurzel, turnips, tares, clover, and flax, and the remainder kitchen-garden.  The produce was estimated as follows:


Produce of acre of potatoes, 15 tons.
Produce of acre of wheat, 200 stone.
For growing stuff for cows, 2½ roods.
For flax, 1 rood.
For kitchen garden, ½ rood.


    This absurdly exaggerated crop was to be disposed of as follows:
 

For cows—from November to March, two tons of potatoes, or
        nearly one and a half stone each per day.
For family—one and a half tons of potatoes, or about nine
        pounds per day.
For six fatting pigs—from November to March, eight tons of
        potatoes, or nearly two stone each per day.
For sale―3½ tons of potatoes.
        «        milk of two cows.
        «        100 stone of wheat.
        «        produce of quarter of acre of flax, pounded,
                     scutched, heckled, and spun by the family,
                     during the winter.
        «        4 bacon pigs in March.


    The prices to be paid on this basis for the produce to be sold were to bring in a tidy little sum.

  £ s. d.

Milk of two cows, at 8 quarts a day each: 16 quarts
    at 1½d. per quart

36

10

0

Four bacon pigs in March

20

0

0

100 stone of wheat, at 1s. 6d. per stone

7

10

0

3½ tons of potatoes, at 6d. per stone.

14

0

0

¼ of an acre of flax, spun

12

10

0

Fruit and vegetables

   5

  0

  0

 

£95

10

  0


    This would leave over various items of produce for the consumption of the family.


2 bacon pigs, 3 cwt. each, or nearly 14 lb. of bacon per week.
1½ tons of potatoes, or 4½ stone of potatoes per week.
100 stone of flour, or 1½ stone of flour per week.
Six ducks, or 20 eggs a week.
Fruit and vegetables.
2 hives of honey, or 2 lb. per week.


    The annual expenditure would be:

 

£

 s.

 d.

Rent, rates, and taxes

13

 10

 0

Two tons of best hay for cows, December to March

8

 0

 0

Clothing of family

15

 0

 0

Fuel, soap, candles

8

 0

 0

Repairs

1

 0

 0

Six pigs in May

    6

   0

  0

 

£51

 10

  0


    This amount, deducted from the selling-price of the produce, left £44 per annum, "after consumption, and the best of good living."

    The value of the produce consumed by the family itself was estimated at 17s. a week, so that living would be at the total rate of about £1 17s. a week.

    Finally, O'Connor estimated the employment of time of the family at only 157 days in the year.

    John Revans, secretary to the Poor Law Commission of 1832-34, who was examined as an expert witness by the Select Committee of 1848, declared that the estimate was utterly absurd, the more so when considered in reference to the exhausting nature of the cropping proposed.  He also pointed out various details which the lay eye is liable to overlook.  The fact a cow is generally dry for about three months before calving would either reduce the total output of milk by one-quarter, or else force the unhappy creature to supply at least ten quarts daily during the available period.  Moreover, O'Connor was ignorant of the fact that a cow fed as he proposed his tenants' cows to be fed, would produce milk of an extremely unpalatable flavour, that is, so long as it did not die of diarrhoea.  Finlaison, an actuary, examined by the Select Committee on the National Land Company, also pointed out various flaws in the scheme.  If it took two years to buy, settle and mortgage any estate to its full value, with the original capital of £273,000, a hundred and fifty years would be required to locate "the 75,000 shareholders.  The scheme was therefore utterly impracticable in point of time." [p.212]  O'Connor had probably confused Irish with English acres; the former being three-fifths as large again as the latter.  In any case he had allowed for an impossibly high degree of productivity. [p.213-1]

    However, mad as the scheme was, money began to come in.  That it should have done so is to be explained by two reasons.  The first is O'Connor's extraordinary domination over the movement.  The second is the fact that among the factory workers who followed O'Connor the agricultural tradition was not yet dead.  The vast majority of the Lancashire cotton operatives, for example, had agricultural fathers or grandfathers.  "Back to the land" did not sound in their ears as an invitation to take up the simple life, but to return from their own hated surroundings to the work which a long line of forefathers had carried on before their descendants were gripped by the lengthening tentacles of the towns, and dragged away from their original employment.  By the end of March, 1846, over £7,000 was in hand; money was coming in quickly and a new account was started for a second experiment.  On April 10, in Manchester, O'Connor conducted the ceremony of selecting by ballot the winning allottees.  Thirteen persons became the "landlords" of 4-acre holdings, five of 3 acres each, and seventeen of 2 acres.  An estate of 130 acres was immediately bought at Herringsgate, near Rickmansworth.  For some weeks The Northern Star re-echoes the praises of those who visited the place.  O'Connor constituted himself the "bailiff," and went down to put things straight, sharing a cottage with a "Chartist cow" named Rebecca.  A few weeks later, [p.213-2] O'Connor bought, for £3,900, a second estate, "Carpenter's Farm," also of 130 acres, near Pinner, and promptly sold it again for £5,250, giving the profit to the Chartist Co-operative Land Society.  The Herringsgate estate was renamed O'Connorville and exhibited on August 17, 1846.  According to the Daily News, [p.213-3] not less than 12,000 persons attended the demonstration; according to O'Connor, over 20,000.  The wildest enthusiasm seems to have been felt by all save Rebecca, the Chartist cow, which had been decorated for the occasion, and was annoyed.  Besides the abundancy of speeches and refreshments, there were present a number of minstrels to cheer the hearts of the demonstrators.  Songs were sung such as


Those beautiful villas, how stately they stand,
A national honour to this our land,
Triumph of labour itself to employ,
And industry's fruits fully to enjoy;
Let fame on thy founders her laurel bestow,
And history's page their true value show;
We have seen many schemes, none can rival thee,
Thou beautiful villas, the pride of the free.


    O'Connorville was duly opened on May 1, 1847.  O'Connor made a marvellous speech which began: "And must I not have a cold and flinty heart if I could survey the scene before me without emotion?  Who can look upon those mothers, accustomed to be dragged by the waking light of morn from those little babes now nestling on their breasts (Here the speaker was so overcome that he was obliged to sit down, his face covered with large tears, and we never beheld such a scene in our life; not an eye in the building that did not weep.)"  The greatest enthusiasm was aroused by O'Connor's promise that "I am not afraid to tell you, that no man who is industrious, sober, honest, and affectionate, shall ever leave the castle in which I have placed him, so long as I have a coat to sell, or a second shirt to pawn."  All this time the scheme had no legal basis.  The Chartist Co-operative Land Company was provisionally registered on October 24, 1846.  On December 17 its name was changed to the National Co-operative Land Company.  On March 25 it changed again to the National Land Company.  Complete registration was refused by Tidd Pratt, Registrar of Friendly Societies, as he contended that the Land Company was not a Friendly Society, and was an undertaking of a form not sanctioned by law.

    The Chartist Land Company held another small Conference in Birmingham in the week beginning December 7, when O'Connor was able to report that total receipts amounted to £22,799.  The chief decision at which the delegates arrived was that the Company's lands should not be sold, nor mortgaged to outsiders, but that a bank of deposit should be established.  It was also resolved that the maximum-sized cottage should not contain more than four rooms, of twelve feet square each.  The directors were empowered to build school-houses and to appoint teachers, dismissable by a vote of two-thirds of the occupants of the estate on which they were to teach.  The location of the Herringsgate allottees was deferred to May 1, 1847.  This resolution implied that things would take a longer time to adjust themselves than originally planned, hence O'Connor came in for a little adverse criticism.  He, however, pinned the responsibility for the future upon the bank, and claimed that with its assistance, 20,000 Chartists would be settled upon the land within five years.

    In conformity with the resolution of the Conference, the National Land and Labour Bank was founded.  It was to consist of three departments: a deposit, a redemption, and a sinking fund department.

    The deposit department was to be open to all "who wish to vest their monies upon the security of the landed property of the National Co-operative Land Company."  3½ per cent. interest was to be paid.

    The redemption department was to be open to the members of the Land Company, who were to get 4 per cent.  The funds collected by this department were to be used for purchasing land, or, in the case of occupants' deposits, to "fining down their rent-charge," until, presumably, he could have his allotment, if he wished, free of rent.

    The sinking fund department was to be credited with a capital equivalent to five-sevenths of the deposits received by the first department.  The theory was that the bank could afford to pay 6 per cent, on the security of the land, but only paid 3½ per cent.  The balance of 2½ per cent. was to go to the sinking fund department, to be used for the same purposes as the funds of the redemption department.

    The first effect of these three departments was expected to amount to this: they would borrow money from the public at 3½ per cent., and make it earn 5 per cent. by investment in the Land Scheme.  How firmly O'Connor believed in the possibility of perpetual motion in the economic sphere!  The plan of the bank had to be explained over and over again.

    The prospectus of the Bank made things no clearer.  "The National Land Company has been called into existence to pioneer the way in the glorious war of social emancipation. . . . The company aims at the realization of its purpose by the location of its members upon the land, and by aiding them with funds for the cultivation of their farms."  The manner in which this was to be achieved is thus explained: "Suppose the company make a purchase of 300 acres of land at £40 per acre (£12,000), and built 100 cottages at £100 each (£10,000), besides advancing aid money to 100 allottees at £22 10s. each (£2,250), the aggregate cost of location, including land, building and aid money, would amount to £24,250.  In order to locate a second hundred of its members, the company purpose to reproduce the sum of £24,250 by making the land, buildings, etc., liable to the National Land and Labour Bank, for deposits to that amount; the depositors in the bank having a legal claim upon the property of the company for the amounts advanced by them." [p.216]  The National Land and Labour Bank was the private property of O'Connor, and was housed under the same roof as the National Land Company.  It did all the business of the Land Company, and, in addition, received a considerable amount of deposits at 4 per cent., from sources unconnected with the Land Scheme.  The Company, in fact, was to mortgage its estates with the Bank, and buy another estate with the money.

    Such comments as have been made on O'Connor in the course of this work have been invariably adverse.  A succession of such criticisms may not be unjust in themselves, but nevertheless convey, in sum, a false impression.  It is desirable in the interests of justice to make an attempt to present O'Connor to ourselves in the light in which his followers saw him.  In the years 1846 and 1847 he was at the summit of his leadership, and his intellectual force was at its strongest.  We shall not attempt to look for the early traces of the insanity which subsequently overcame him.  It is clear that there were periods when O'Connor's reasoning faculties were not in working order.  One instance of this is supplied by the wretched fiasco of his one debate with Cobden in Northampton on August 5, 1844.  Accounts of what actually took place differ considerably. [p.217-1]  We only know that O'Connor's argument broke down, that he wandered away from the point, and that the majority of the meeting voted in favour of Free Trade.  The wildest rumours grew up around O'Connor's maunderings on this occasion; principally to the effect that he had been bought over by the Anti-Corn Law League.  O'Brien declared [p.217-2] that O'Connor had danced to the tune of two thousand golden sovereigns.  This explanation seems most unlikely.  Cobden, who presumably must have known of this, was not the man to bribe O'Connor, or anybody else.  Nor was O'Connor the man to accept a bribe; he would have been far more likely to publish an attempt to buy him and so discredit his adversaries and bask in the warm glow of the righteous indignation of the Chartist movement.  In point of fact O'Connor was quite extraordinarily and inexplicably disinterested in the pursuit of his chimeras.  He demanded limelight, but scorned lucre.  He was undoubtedly careless, and in consequence provoked the wrath of Joshua Hobson and many another, but his carelessness always left himself and not the movement out of pocket.  No charge of actual dishonesty was ever proved against him.  The Land Scheme had its critics, and the charge of dishonesty was made by them, but demonstration never accompanied it.  Many were these critics even in the early stages of the Scheme and its heyday.  O'Brien disapproved on economic grounds, preferring his own plan of land nationalization, which, according to O'Connor, would make the people the serfs of the Government. [p.217-3]  John Watkins objected on the strongly individualist grounds that the owners of the soil have prescriptive rights, and that dispossession was immoral—an argument which would seem to apply to land nationalization rather than to the scheme.  Carpenter also assailed it.  The Manchester Examiner appointed Alexander Somerville as its special commissioner, and he, signing himself as usual, One Who Has Whistled At The Plough, first picked holes in the economic then in the agricultural side of the business.  Finally he went down to Herringsgate, had a talk with some people in a public-house, and returned to Manchester with the feeling that he had devastated the Scheme.  He was wrong: it was Somerville who was devastated, for O'Connor produced newspaper evidence [p.218-1] showing that he had in 1841 committed quite a respectable number of little forgeries before severing his connexion with the army, and was, in fact, not as virtuous as he might have been.  His criticisms thereupon followed his character overboard.  Later on, however, the Land Scheme became a staple topic of the newspapers.  The Daily News headed a chorus of protest. [p.218-2]  The Globe, Chronicle, and Dispatch followed it: the provincial, as usual, taking up the note.

    Yet O'Connor had never in his life worked so hard and so sincerely as in connexion with the Land Scheme.  He had given it birth, and the ever-changing forms and names he gave it indicate his fears that it might never arrive at maturity.  He spared himself no effort to make it a success, describing himself on one occasion as the "Land Company's Bailiff, Contractor, Architect, Engineer, Surveyor, Farmer, Dung-maker, Cow and Pig
Jobber, Milkman, Horse Jobber, etc." [p.218-3]  His writings and speeches during this period are seldom efforts to raise a horse-laugh at somebody's expense; they show considerable restraint and closeness of reasoning.  He no longer generalizes wildly in order to drive home each point, however minute, by sweepingly stating a probably irrelevant and frequently inaccurate proposition.  Typical of this habit is his dictum that Locke was the most profound politician that ever lived, [p.218-4] which may be easily paralleled.

    Under the energetic guidance of the revived O'Connor, the response to the Land Scheme grew in a most extraordinary manner.  O'Connor was fully alive to the strategical importance of the Land Scheme.  "The great advantage of the Land movement is this—that it supplies food for sensible agitation in good times and in bad times.  Good times have always been destructive of Chartism, but now assist it, because it is then that the working classes have the best opportunity of subscribing to the Land plan; while bad times compel them to think about the land as the only means of escape." [p.219-1]  Was this merely cynicism?  We think not; a cynical O'Connor could not have been so energetic.

    Money flowed in.  On October 31, 1846, O'Connor announced his purchase of a second estate: Lowbands, in Worcestershire, nine miles from Gloucester and the same distance from Tewkesbury.  Lowbands, costing £8,100 for its 160 acres, is "one of the most heavenly spots in creation."  In February, 1847, he buys for £10,878, 297 acres at Minster Level, ten miles from Lowbands, and eight from Worcester, "in the loveliest valley in the world," in June another 270 acres are bought at Snig's End, 2½ miles from Lowbands, and 6½ from Gloucester. [p.219-2]

    During 1846 subscriptions came in in small but increasing amounts.  In 1847 there was a leap upwards.  Between December 7, 1846, and August 14, 1847, no less than £49,520 was received by the National Land Company and by the Land Bank. [p.219-3]  In November there were 42,000 shareholders, who had paid £80,000. [p.219-4]

    But we are anticipating.  In July 1847 the attention of England was distracted by a General Election.  Lord John Russell had become Prime Minister in succession to Peel.  Fielden had at last got his Ten Hours' Bill through the Commons, while Lord Ashley guided it through the Lords.  Peel had embraced Free Trade.  O'Connell had just died, leaving this life at the moment when Ireland was in the throes of the Potato Famine.  The Repeal agitation had surged up to such an extent that the frightened Government had asked for repressive powers, and being refused them, had resigned.  Maynooth still echoed in parliamentary ears.  A great trade boom was hastening, unsuspected, to its collapse.  Parliament was dissolved.

    The Chartists resolved once more to contest a few seats at the hustings, but not to proceed to the poll.  With the admirable intention of making themselves as conspicuous and objectionable as possible to the members of the Government, O'Connor fought Sir John Cam Hobhouse (President of the Board of Control) at Nottingham; Harney went down to Tiverton, to oppose and to be taken very seriously by Lord Palmerston; Ernest Jones opposed Sir Charles Wood, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, at Halifax, and so on.  W. P. Roberts at Blackburn, Sturge at Leeds, Vincent at Ipswich, and M'Grath at Derby, stood against smaller fry.  O'Connor went to the poll.  Nottingham was a two-member constituency, and was being wooed by John Walter, the son of Sturge's erstwhile opponent, and Gisborne, in addition to the two others.  The day before the poll, the elder Walter died.  Nottingham expressed itself by giving the son 1,830 votes, and O'Connor 1,340.  Hobhouse, at the bottom of the poll, received only 974.  Truly the Times was justified in observing on the next day "The result of the Nottingham election is about as surprising an occurrence as could possibly arise from the mere movements of human opinion and feeling." [p.220-1]

    So now O'Connor was an M.P.  The country had chosen him, had given its endorsement to his claim for leadership.  Is it to be wondered at that during election week the receipts of the Land Company reached the record figure of £5,099? [p.220-2]

    We now see O'Connor at the height of his power, and inclined to magnanimity. Immediately after his election, he published an address to the "Old Guards of Chartism," exulting in his victory, which he magnified into the victory of his cause.  "These are events which call for a reunion of all the dissevered elements of Chartism.  The O'Briens, Lovetts, Vincents, Coopers, and all.  Now is the time, if their honest fears have been dissipated, to return to the popular embrace and join in a national jubilee.  A good general takes care that execution shall follow upon the heels of design; and now is the time to sign your petition sheets, to prepare for the election of your delegates who shall meet the new parliament as a national Convention of Chartism. . . . Will you, then, Old Guards, join with me, in spite of derision, in winning our old friends back to our cause? . . . Without the slightest recollection of the past I will cheerfully shake hands with every man who has honestly differed from me, and I will zealously struggle with him, a good soldier in the good fight." [p.221-1]

    The end of the Land Scheme may be told here, as after 1847 it ceases to be an integral part of the Chartist movement.  As a result of the newspaper campaign, a Select Committee of the House of Commons was appointed early in 1848 to consider the Land Company.  Financial irregularities had been alleged, and things were going none too well at Lowbands, while the Snig's End allottees never paid a pennyworth of rent for at least three years.  O'Connor published an attempt at exculpation, describing in detail how he had spent £90,837 of the Land Company's money, in the course of which expenditure he had paid large sums out of his own pocket, and charged nothing for his own time and labour.  The Select Committee on the National Land Company reported in August, 1848.  They found that the Company was not consistent with the general principles upon which Friendly Societies are founded, and therefore was strictly speaking illegal, and should not have the protection of the Friendly Societies' Acts extended to it.  "The Committee was of opinion that the Company's minutes and accounts had been most imperfectly kept . . . but Mr. Feargus O'Connor having expressed an opinion that an impression had gone abroad that the monies subscribed by the National Land Company had been applied to his own benefit, this Committee are clearly of opinion, that although the accounts have not been kept with strict regularity, yet that irregularity has been against Mr. Feargus O'Connor's interest, instead of in his favour; and that it appears by Mr. Grey's account there is due to Mr. Feargus O'Connor the sum of £3,298 5s. 3½d., and by Mr. Finlaison's account the sun, of £3,400."

    The Committee went farther than merely to exonerate O'Connor from the charges of malversation.  The Report went on to state that in view of the large number of persons interested in the scheme, and the bona fides with which it appeared to have been carried on, the parties concerned ought to be granted powers to wind up the undertaking, and relieved "from the penalties to which they may incautiously have subjected themselves."  The Committee merely put this out as a suggestion, leaving the future of the Scheme an open question, and pronouncing, after discussion, no verdict as to its practicability.

    The Land Company did not collapse as rapidly as might have been anticipated after the publication of the Report of the Select Committee.  Feargus O'Connor, in Hilary term, 1849, made an application to the Court of Queen's Bench for a mandamus to the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies.  This writ was duly granted, and the Registrar, Tidd Pratt, was thereby ordered to register the National Land Company.  He refused to do so, and the matter came up for argument a year later, when the Court of Queen's Bench finally decided that the Company was not entitled to registration, and gave judgment for the defendant.  On July 9, 1850, Sharman Crawford, M.P., presented a petition to the House of Commons asking for leave to present a petition for a Bill to dissolve the Land Company. [p.222-1]  This roundabout method was due to the expiration of the time within which, according to the rules of the House, petitions for leave to present Bills could be deposited.  This petition was signed by O'Connor, Doyle, Clark, Dixon, and M'Grath.  Things had been going badly at Minster Lovel, and no rent was being paid.  O'Connor, raging against the "located ruffians," had them ejected by process at the Oxford Assizes, "and now the estate will be sold, and thank God for it." [p.222-2]  Still he did not lose his hope of making an ultimate success of the idea.  "I will carry out the Land Scheme, until I see it become the national system whereby your order will cease to be slaves," he declares in August. [p.223-1]  The situation at O'Connorville, as a matter of fact, was such as to promise eventual success to the most optimistic of leaders.  In August the allottees at this estate sent him a letter expressing their sympathy with him, and their indignation with Minster Lovel.  The O'Connorville settlers, indeed, somehow or other managed to keep going, in spite of defections—perhaps because of them.  In May, 1851, O'Connor and T. M. Wheeler started the National Loan Society, which had a short and unprofitable existence, [p.223-2] and was wound up in 1852.  This body was to fulfil the orthodox functions of a building society, and to buy up the Land Company's estates.  It only illustrated O'Connor's tenacious hold upon his idea, and his complete inability to recognize its superabundantly demonstrated weaknesses.  In August, 1851, the Royal Assent was at last given to the Bill which had followed the petition, which had succeeded the one mentioned above. [p.223-3Bona fide purchasers of land through the Land Company were to remain in possession; the portions of the estates not bought by allottees were to be sold, and the scheme liquidated.  But many years were to elapse before the last was heard of the scheme.  Throughout the 'fifties and early 'sixties newspaper references are to be met with.  It would appear that the winding-up involved heavy costs, which fell upon the estates, and that the tenants had to be dealt with individually: after the first year's working of the scheme, many of the allottees had complicated matters by subletting or selling their land.  In 1875 the Newcastle Daily Chronicle sent a special commissioner to O'Connorville.

    It should be remembered that the land scheme was one of many experiments in the same direction.  Building Societies, as we know them to-day, are a result of this experimentation.  A more modest attempt in the same direction as the land scheme was initiated by one James Hill, who founded the National Land and Building Association.  The members of this were to take up twenty-pound shares, payable in small instalments.  The Association was to build with the capital, and convey one room per share, in perpetuity, to each investor.  On payment of smaller amounts, proportionate to the expectation of life of the investor, he could buy the use of a room, rent free, for the rest of his life.  A man of sixty, to give an example, would pay £9 5s. 9d. for his room, or £18 1s. 6d. if he desired two rooms.  The plan was based on the assumption that the cost of erecting a house would average £20 per room.  T. Wakley, M.P., was enthusiastic over the plan, and Richard Moore also gave it his support at a meeting held at Lovett's hall, on March 25, 1846. [p.224-1]  The Association bought its first estate of 100 acres in July, 1846. [p.224-2]  There were many other such attempts made about this time, the most productive of ideas and the least studied in the history of the English working classes.

    This chapter should not conclude without some reference to O'Brien's activity in the formation and dissemination of ideas.  In 1846-47 he edited, from Douglas, Isle of Man, The National Reformer and Manx Weekly Observer.  The reason of its habitation was the freedom of the Isle of Man from the operation of the Newspaper Tax.  Here he spent much energy attacking O'Connor and his ideas, and drawing up a Chartist-Socialist programme.  "The National Charter Association is no National Charter Association.  It is neither National nor Chartist.  It does not include one in a thousand of the Chartists who signed the National Petition, nor ever will, and its object is not the Charter, but the bolstering up of that demagogue and the hunting down of every man of worth and spirit who wily not submit to his dictation . . . " [p.224-3]  Like so many predecessors, he expects great things of paper money, or "symbolical currency."  "Paper money, like machinery, and science, and religion, etc., has hitherto worked only for the rich.  It has never been made to work for the poor.  In no country have the working classes been allowed any of the advantages of paper money.  In no country has there been allowed a symbolic currency to represent the products of their labour, and to enable them to interchange, at sight, with one another their respective productions, on the equitable principle of equal labour for equal labour.  Till this is done the inestimable value of symbolic money, as an instrument of exchange, must remain unknown.  The paper money which excited the suspicions and hatred of Paine and Cobbett was, generally speaking, the paper money of schemers and usurers, often that of needy adventurers and desperate blacklegs.  It did not represent actual wealth.  It did not represent houses, railways, merchandise, or any other valuable production of skill and labour.  It represented only the credit of certain great names. . . . This is not the sort of paper money we counted for, though even that might be better than no paper money at all.  What we contend for is, equitable Labour Exchanges, between man and man, through the medium of a paper currency that shall represent the exact value of the goods deposited, measured or estimated by the labour expended in producing them." [p.225-1]  He attacks private ownership of land, and, as a corollary, the Land Scheme.  "Instead of forming a National Organization to improve the hellish principles of Landlordism and Usury from the soil, they are actually incorporating themselves into Societies, under Government licence, to extend those principles downwards to the working classes, by erecting petty fractions of working men into petty landlords and usurers, to prey upon the rest. . . . Every man who joins in these Land Societies is practically enlisting himself on the side of the Government against his own order.  He is trying to get interest for his pence and shillings at the expense of those who can save nothing; and he is trying, by becoming a part owner of the soil, to make that his private property which ought to be no man's private property, but ought to be public property, as much for the use of him who can save nothing as for him who can." [p.225-2]  Instead, he advocates nationalization.  "On the subject of land you cannot have honest laws—i.e., laws founded upon first principles—without making the land public property; the only rational way of doing which is to make the State sole landlords, the rents applicable to public uses, and the right of occupying the soil (as tenant-farmers under the State) the same, or equal, for every citizen or subject, without that you inevitably have monopoly, injustice, and eventually despotism." [p.226-1]  And to conclude this series of quotations, O'Brien draws the distinction between his own Socialism—which the twentieth-century Socialists have adopted—and the Socialism of Owen and the Communists, of whom William Morris was perhaps the best exponent, outside the ranks of the philosophic anarchists.  "Mr. King, like a great many others, appears to lose sight of this great essential difference between all such systems as that of Owen, and Mr. O'Brien's, namely that Mr. O'Brien contends only for what are strictly the rights of the people, and what any people may establish practically by law; whereas the systems of Owen, Fourier, St. Simon, etc., transcend the capabilities of all human legislature, and may, for all we know to the contrary, be incompatible with the essential character of man, and therefore impossible of realization on a universal scale." [p.226-2]  But events, as usual, came in and upset every calculation.  Once again Chartism was to change its form, but not as foreseen by O'Connor or O'Brien.


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