William Lovett: Autobiography (2)

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CHAPTER V.


IN 1836 I was appointed, at a public meeting held at the Mechanics' Institute, one of the committee for the drawing up of an Act of Parliament for the regulation of benefit societies—an act that became law in the same year, and by which a person was appointed to certify that the rules of such societies are in accordance with the Act; Tidd Pratt being the first official appointed.

    About this period, too, I drew up a petition to Parliament, praying that the landowners may be compelled to fulfil the conditions upon which they hold their lands; namely, by defraying the expenses of the state.  The petition set forth the monstrous injustice of the land of the country—which a bountiful Creator bestowed upon all his children—being engrossed and held in possession by comparatively a few persons; and who, by virtue of an almost exclusive power of legislation, have enacted the most oppressive laws to protect what they call their property.  That no agreement, however, which gives an absolute right in land or in things which are common to all, to any man or body of men, can be binding on those who may subsequently come into existence.  The people of a country may delegate power to an individual or a body of men to use or convert certain natural productions to their purposes conditionally and for the benefit of all, but the land itself cannot be given exclusively to any.  That we had found on enquiry that all the lands of this kingdom are in fact held conditionally of the king, as the executive of the people; for Mr. Justice Blackstone has declared in his Commentaries, book 2, cap. 7, "that no subject in England has allodial property, it being a received and now undeniable principle in the law that all the lands in England are holden mediately or immediately of the king."  We have also learnt that the conditions upon which the lands of this country are held are—that the holders do defray all the expenses of the army and navy, of the household of the king, and other expenses attendant upon the carrying on of the Government and defending the country.

    This petition was signed by a great number of persons, and was presented to the House of Lords by Lord King, and to the House of Commons by Mr. Cobbett.
 
    Towards the conclusion of the unstamped warfare public opinion had so far progressed in our favour that we were enabled to get together a large and influential committee for raising subscriptions to pay off the last fines which Government had imposed on Messrs. Cleave and Hetherington.  Dr. Birkbeck and Francis Place were the joint treasurers of that committee, and Mr. J. Roberts and myself the secretaries.  The money for paying those fines was raised in a comparatively short time, and our affairs very appropriately wound up by a public dinner given to Messrs. Cleave and Hetherington, the twin champions of the unstamped.

    A short time, however, before this an attempt was made towards the formation of "A Society for Promoting a Cheap and Honest Press," but little was done beyond the publication of an excellent address on the subject, written by Dr. J. R. Black, an American, who had previously taken an active part in the collection of Cleave's and Hetherington's fines.  We found, however, that we had collected together a goodly number of active and influential working men, persons who had principally done the work of our late committee; and the question arose among us, whether we could form and maintain a union formed exclusively of this class and of such men.  We were the more induced to try the experiment as the working classes had not hitherto evinced that discrimination and independent spirit in the management of their political affairs which we were desirous to see.  A lord, a M.P., or an esquire was a leading requisite to secure a full attendance and attention from them on all public occasions, as well as among those who called themselves their betters.  They were always looking up to leadership of one description or another; were being swayed to and fro in opinion and action by the idol of their choice, and were rent and divided when some popular breath had blown that idol from its pedestal.  In fact the masses, in their political organizations, were taught to look up to "great men" (or to men professing greatness) rather than to great principles.
 
    We wished, therefore, to establish a political school of self-instruction among them, in which they should accustom themselves to examine great social and political principles, and by their publicity and free discussion help to form a sound and healthful public opinion throughout the country.  We had seen enough of the contentions of leaders and battles of factions to convince us that no sound public opinion, and consequently no just government, could be formed in this country as long as men's attention was constantly directed to the useless warfare of pulling down and setting up one idol of party after another.  We felt further convinced that no healthful tone of political morality could be formed among us sufficiently powerful to resist the bribing and treating influences of unprincipled candidates for power, so long as our fellow-workmen continued to croak over their grievances with maudlin brains, and to form and strengthen their appetites for drink amid the fumes of the tap-room.

    The result of our deliberations on those questions was the formation of "The London Working Men's Association."  It was first formed at No. 14, Tavistock Street, Covent Garden, and shortly after we took premises at No. 6, Upper North Place, Gray's Inn Road.  The objects of the Association were the following:

 
    "1. To draw into one bond of unity the intelligent and influential portion of the working classes in town and country.

    "2. To seek by every legal means to place all classes of society in possession of their equal political and social rights.

    "3. To devise every possible means, and to use every exertion, to remove those cruel laws that prevent the free circulation of thought through the medium of a cheap and honest press.

    "4. To promote, by all available means, the education of the rising generation, and the extirpation of those systems which tend to future slavery.

    "5. To collect every kind of information appertaining to the interests of the working classes in particular and society in general, especially statistics regarding the wages of labour, the habits and condition of the labourer, and all those causes that mainly contribute to the present state of things.

    "6. To meet and communicate with each other for the purpose of digesting the information required, and to mature such plans as they believe will conduce in practice to the well-being of the working classes.

    "7. To publish their views and sentiments in such form and manner as shall best serve to create a moral, reflecting, yet energetic public opinion; so as eventually to lead to a gradual improvement in the condition of the working classes, without violence or commotion.

    "8. To form a library of reference and useful information; to maintain a place where they can associate for mental improvement, and where their brethren from the country can meet with kindred minds actuated by one great motive—that of benefiting politically, socially, and morally, the useful classes.  Though the persons forming this Association will be at all times disposed to co-operate with all those who seek to promote the happiness of the multitude, yet being convinced from experience that the division of interests in the various classes, in the present state of things, is too often destructive of that union of sentiment which is essential to the prosecution of any great object, they have resolved to confine their members as far as practicable to the working classes.  But as there are great differences of opinion as to where the line should be drawn which separates the working classes from the other portions of society, they leave to the Members themselves to determine whether the candidate proposed is eligible to become a Member." [p96]


    The spirit that actuated the members of this Association when formed, may be judged of from the following extract from their Address to Working Men's Associations:—


    "It is a pleasing evidence of the progressive knowledge of those great principles of democracy which we are contending for, to find kindred minds prepared to appreciate, and noble hearts seeking their practical development in the remotest parts of the kingdom.

    "But we would respectfully caution our brethren in other societies strictly to adhere to a judicious selection of their members—on this more than on any other of their exertions harmony and success will depend.  Let us, friends, seek to make the principles of democracy as respectable in practice as they are just in theory, by excluding the drunken and immoral from our ranks, and in uniting in close compact with the honest, sober, moral, and thinking portion of our brethren.

    "Doubtless, by such selections our numbers in many instances will be few compared with the vicious many, but these few will be more efficient for the political and social emancipation of mankind than an indiscriminate union of thousands, where the veteran drunkard contaminates by his example, and the profligate railer at abuses saps by his private conduct the cause he has espoused.
 
    "In forming Working Men's Associations, we seek not a mere exhibition of numbers unless, indeed, they possess the attributes and character of men! and little worthy of the name are those who have no aspirations beyond mere sensual enjoyments; who, forgetful of their duties as fathers, husbands, and brothers, muddle their understandings and drown their intellect amid the drunken revelry of the pot-house—whose profligacy makes them the ready tools and victims of corruption or slaves of unprincipled governors, who connive at their folly and smile while they forge for themselves the fetters of liberty by their love of drink.

    "We doubt not that the excessive toil and misery to which the sons of labour are subject, in the absence of that knowledge and mental recreation which all just governments should seek to diffuse, are mainly instrumental in generating that intemperance, the debasing influence of which we perceive and deplore.  But, friends, though we possess not the political power to begin our reformation at the source of the evil, we cannot doubt the efficacy of our exertions to check by precept and example this politically-debasing, soul-subduing vice.

    "Fellow-countrymen, when we contend for an equality of political rights, it is not in order to lop off an unjust tax or useless pension, or to get a transfer of wealth, power, or influence, for a party; but to be able to probe our social evils to their source, and to apply effective remedies to prevent, instead of unjust laws to punish.  We shall meet with obstacles, disappointments, and it may be with persecutions, in our pursuit; but with our united exertions and perseverance, we must and will succeed.

    "And if the teachers of temperance and preachers of morality would unite like us, and direct their attention to the source of the evil, instead of nibbling at the effects, and seldom speaking of the cause; then, indeed, instead of splendid palaces of intemperance daily erected, as if in mockery of their exertions—built on the ruins of happy home, despairing minds, and sickened hearts—we should soon have a sober, honest, and reflecting people.

    "In the pursuit, therefore, of our religious object, it will be necessary to be prudent in our choice of members we should also avoid by every possible means, holding our meetings at public-houses; habits and associations are too often formed at those places which mar the domestic happiness, and destroy the political usefulness of the millions.  Let us, then, in the absence of means to hire a better place of meeting—meet at each others' houses.  Let us be punctual in our attendance, as best contributing to our union and improvement; and, as an essential requisite, seek to obtain a select library of books, choosing those at first which will best inform of our political and social rights.  Let us blend, as far as our means will enable us, study with recreation, and share in any rational amusement (unassociated with the means of intoxication) calculated to soothe our anxieties and alleviate our toils.

    "And, as our object is universal, so (consistent with justice) ought to be our means to compass it; and we know not of any means more efficient, than to enlist the sympathies and quicken the intellects of our wives and children to a knowledge of their rights and duties; for, as in the absence of knowledge, they are the most formidable obstacles to a man's patriotic exertions, so when imbued with it will they prove his greatest auxiliaries.  Read, therefore, talk, and politically and morally instruct your wives and children; let them, as far as possible, share in your pleasures, as they must in your cares; and they will soon learn to appreciate your exertions, and be inspired with your own feelings against the enemies of their country.  Thus instructed your wives will spurn instead of promoting you to accept, the base election bribe—your sons will scorn to wear the livery of tyrants—and your daughters be doubly fortified against the thousand ills to which the children of poverty are exposed.

    "Who can foretell the great political and social advantages that must accrue from the wide extension of societies of this description acting up to their principles?  Imagine the honest, sober and reflecting portion of every town and village in the kingdom linked together as a band of brothers, honestly resolved to investigate all subjects connected with their interests, and to prepare their minds to combat with the errors and enemies of society—setting an example of propriety to their neighbours, and enjoying even in poverty a happy home.  And in proportion as home is made pleasant, by a cheerful and intelligent partner, by dutiful children, and by means of comfort, which their knowledge has enabled them to snatch from the ale-house, so are the bitters of life sweetened with happiness.

    "Think you a corrupt Government could perpetuate its exclusive and demoralizing influence amid a people thus united and instructed?  Could a vicious aristocracy find its servile slaves to render homage to idleness and idolatry to the wealth too often fraudulently exacted from industry?  Could the present gambling influences of money perpetuate the slavery of the millions, for the gains or dissipation of the few?  Could corruption sit in the judgment seat—empty-headed importance in the senate-house—money-getting hypocrisy in the pulpit—and debauchery, fanaticism, poverty, and crime stalk triumphantly through the land—if the millions were, educated in a knowledge of their rights?  No, no, friends; and hence the efforts of the exclusive few to keep the people ignorant and divided.  Be ours the task, then, to unite and instruct them; for be assured the good that is to be must be begun by ourselves."



    The Working Men's Association was formed on the 16th of June, 1836.  Shortly after its formation we were induced by a gentleman of the name of J. B. Bernard to have an interview and discussion with a deputation from the farmers of Cambridgeshire regarding the general distress of the country, which they attributed to the operation of "Peel's Bill."  The remedy they sought to apply being an adjustment of the currency, so as to raise prices to enable them to meet their engagements, or a reduction of engagements, proportionate to their means.  To this raising of prices we objected as being inimical to the interests of working men but quite agreed with them on the reduction of burthens.  As, however, political power was necessary to this end we urged on them the necessity of co-operating with us for the attainment of the suffrage.  With this proposal they seemed, at the time, to concur but subsequently finding that we differed materially from them in our definition of universal suffrage a split took place between us.
 
    To the Working Men's Association belongs the honour, I believe, of first introducing the mode of international addresses between the working men of different countries that has since been practised by other bodies so beneficially on several important occasions.  Our first address of this description was issued to the Working Classes of Belgium in November, 1836.  It was called forth by the persecution of a working man of Brussels, of the name of Jacob Katz; who was fined and imprisoned by the authorities for calling together a public meeting of his fellow labourers to talk over their grievances.  The feeling of our address to them may be judged of by the following portion of it.


    "Brothers, our enquiry has taught us that the cause of those foolish dissensions between nations lies in the ignorance of our position in society.  Ignorance has caused us to believe that we were 'born to toil,' and others to enjoy—that we were naturally inferior, and should silently bow to the government of those who were pleased to call themselves superior; and consequently those who have governed us have done so for their own advantage, and not ours.  The existence of their power depending on the ignorance, the instilled prejudice, and cupidity of the multitude, they have formed their institutions for hoodwinking and keeping them in subjection—their laws have been enacted to perpetuate their power, and administered to generate fear and submission towards self-constituted greatness, hereditary ignorance, or wealth, however unjustly acquired.

    "Happily, however, for mankind, the floodgates of knowledge, which the tyrants of the world have raised to stem its torrent, are being broken down.  We have tasted its refreshing stream; the mist of ignorance and delusion is past; we perceive the injustice practised on us, and feel the slavery from which we have not yet power to free ourselves.  Our emancipation, however, will depend on the extent of this knowledge among the working-classes of all countries, on its salutary effects in causing us to perceive our real position in society—in causing us to feel that we, being the producers of wealth, have the first claim to its enjoyment—that as education develops the intellect and better prepares men to fulfil their respective duties in society, those who produce the means of education have an equal and a national right to its benefits—that as government is for the benefit of all, all have equal rights, according to their abilities, to fill any of its offices; and, as the laws are said to be for the benefit of all, all should have a voice in their enactment.  When these principles are well understood by the working-classes, the power which knowledge generates will soon lead to their general adoption; and then, fellow workmen, the tyrants of the world will lose their power, hypocrisy her mask, and the deceivers of mankind their credulous disciples.  We are aware that even the promulgation of these principles is fraught with difficulties and danger, opposed as they are to all existing corruptions.  Many of those who compose this association have suffered imprisonment and persecution in various ways for seeking to enlighten and instruct their fellow men, but they have been rewarded in seeing the extension of their principles, and, still more, in feeling the justice of their cause.

    "We hear, too, and deeply lament, that many of your countrymen have suffered incarceration for expressing sentiments repugnant to the aristocracy of Belgium.  That power, friends, which is founded on injustice, fears even the whispers of truth, and force, the weapon of conscious weakness, has been the only reasoning of kings.  We hope, however, that Jacob Katz and his brave associates are now doubly assured of the justice of their cause from the treatment they have experienced, and that the attempt to put down the right of free discussion will stimulate thousands in its support, and raise up a power in Belgium to frown down those enemies to truth and justice."

 
    This was replied to by an able and eloquent "Address from the Working Men of Belgium," signed on their behalf by committees of working men at Brussels, Ghent, and Liege." [p102]  Our address, and the reply to it, were printed in many of the continental papers, among others by the Journal du Peuple, which was prosecuted by Louis Philippe's Government for having copied them, but was fortunately acquitted.
 
    Following this address was the publication of a pamphlet by the Working Men's Association, entitled, "The Rotten House of Commons," being an Exposition of the State of the Franchise, and an Appeal to the Nation on the course to be pursued at that period.  The Analysis was the work of a committee, the Appeal was drawn up by myself.  A few extracts from it will serve to show its spirit:—


    "Fellow Countrymen,—Have you ever enquired how far a just and economical system of government, a code of wise and just laws, and the abolition of the useless persons and appendages of State, would affect the interests of the present 658 members of the House of Commons?  If you have not, begin now to enquire, and you will soon lose any hopes you may have entertained from that house as at present constituted.  Nay! if you pursue your enquiries in like manner respecting the present constituents of that house, to see how far their interests are identified with yours, and how just legislation and efficient reform would deprive them of the power they have used to grind and oppress you, you will be equally hopeless of benefits from that quarter.  To satisfy yourselves in this respect propose for your own judgment and reflection the following questions:—


    "Is the Landholder, whose interests lead him to keep up his rents by unjust and exclusive laws, a fit representative for working men?

    "Are the whole host of Money-makers, Speculators, and Usurers, who live on the corruptions of the system, fit representatives for the sons of labour?

    "Are the immense numbers of Lords, Earls, Marquises, Knights, Baronets, Honourables, and Right Honourables, who have seats in that house, fit to represent our interests? many of whom have the certainty before them of being the hereditary legislators of the other house, or are the craving expectants of place or emolument persons who cringe in the gilded circle of a court, flutter among the gaieties of the ball-room, to court the passing smile of Royalty, or whine at the Ministers of the day; and when the interests of the people are at stake in the Commons are often found the revelling debauchees of fashion, or the duelling wranglers of a gambling-house.

    "Are the multitude of Military and Naval Officers in the present House of Commons, whose interest it is to support that system which secures them their pay and promotion, and whose only utility, at any time, is to direct one portion of our brethren to keep the other in subjection, fit to represent our grievances?

    "Have we fit representatives in the multitude of Barristers, Attorneys, and Solicitors, most of them seeking places, and all of them having interests depending on the dissensions and corruptions of the people?—persons whose prosperity depends on the obscurity and intricacy of the laws, and who seek to perpetuate the interests of 'their order' by rendering them so abstruse and voluminous that none but law conjurers like themselves shall understand them—persons whose legal knowledge (that is, of fraud and deception) often procures them seats in the Government, and the highest offices corruption can confer.
 
    "Is the Manufacturer and Capitalist, whose exclusive monopoly of the combined powers of wood, iron, and steam enables them to cause the destitution of thousands, and who have an interest in forcing labour down to the minimum reward, fit to represent the interests of working men?

    "Is the Master, whose interest it is to purchase labour at the cheapest rate, a fit representative for the Workman, whose interest it is to get the most he can for his labour?

    "Yet such is the only description of persons composing that house, and such the interests represented, to whom we, session after session, address our humble petitions, and whom we in our ignorant simplicity imagine will generously sacrifice their hopes and interests by beginning the great work of political and social reformation.

    "Working men, inquire if this be not true, and then if you feel with us, stand apart from all projects, and refuse to be the tools of any party, who will not, as a first and essential measure, give to the working classes equal political and social rights, so that they may send their own representatives from the ranks of those who live by labour into that house, to deliberate and determine along with all other interests, that the interests of the labouring classes—of those who are the foundation of the social edifice—shall not be daily sacrificed to glut the extravagance of the pampered few.  If you feel with us, then you will proclaim it in the workshop, preach it in your societies, publish it from town to village, from county to county, and from nation to nation, that there is no hope for the sons of toil, till those who feel with them, who sympathize with them, and whose interests are identified with theirs, have an equal right to determine what laws shall be enacted or plans adopted for justly governing this country."


 
    In February, 1837, our Association convened a public meeting at the Crown and Anchor in the Strand, for the purpose of petitioning Parliament for Universal Suffrage, no Property Qualifications, Annual Parliaments, Equal Representation, the Payment of Members, and Vote by Ballot.  The petition submitted for the approval of the meeting embraced most of the facts contained in the pamphlet alluded to, its prayer being a brief outline of a Bill embodying "the six points."  In fact, the prayer of that petition formed the nucleus of the far-famed People's Charter, which may be said to have had its origin at this meeting.  The public meeting was the most crowded and at the same time the most orderly one I ever attended.  All our resolutions were unanimously agreed to, and our petition signed by about three thousand persons.  Some further account regarding our proceedings in connection with this meeting will be given hereafter.

    When Lord John Russell proposed to Parliament his infamous resolutions for the coercion of the Canadians (in 1837), proposing to destroy their right of suffrage, and to compel them to be plundered and enslaved by a few officials in the interests of England, our Association, in common with all right-thinking men, felt indignant on the subject.  We accordingly called a public meeting to petition Parliament in their favour, which, in common with our own members, was addressed by Sir Wm. Molesworth, Col. Thompson, D. W. Harvey, J. T. Leader, O'Connor and others.  As the petition agreed to set forth their most prominent grievances, as well as our own views, I deem it necessary to insert the whole of it, as it was drawn up by myself.


    "That your petitioners are deeply impressed with the conviction that the colonial policy of England has for many centuries past been fraught with tyranny and injustice towards the mass of the people.

    "That by far the greater number of our colonies have been originated by means no-ways justifiable on principles of morality; and to establish and secure which have millions of money been wasted, and millions of our brethren been doomed to an untimely end.

    "That when by their sacrifices they have been secured, instead of regarding them as auxiliaries to the progress of civilization, and teaching them the most efficient means of developing their natural resources so as to promote the general welfare of humanity, we seem to have considered them as legitimate objects of our prey, or as places where the shoots and underlings of despotism might practise their oppression, shameless and regardless of consequences.

    "That the history of our colonial government in the Canadas is pregnant with evils springing from such a source; and now, after years of complaints and petitioning for justice, we find your Honourable House about to stifle their supplications by as wanton and flagrant an act of despotism as that which, when imposed on the American people, aroused them to proclaim their celebrated Declaration of Independence.

    "That, regarding the people of Canada as brothers in interest, we have carefully investigated into their grievances, a brief outline of which we respectfully submit to your Honourable House, in order that the working classes of England may determine how far they will sanction the outrage about to be inflicted on their Canadian brethren by your House as at present constituted, how far they will suffer a brave and oppressed people to be effectually enslaved to glut the appetites of hungry officials or the peculating delinquents of an insignificant party.

    "The Canadians inform us that, though they possess an extension of the suffrage almost universal, and have representatives in the House of Assembly honestly seeking to promote the welfare and happiness of the whole people, but that these inestimable blessings are rendered nearly useless by the intolerable despotism of the Legislative and Executive Councils, whose selfish powers are continually exercised in thwarting the wants and wishes of the people.

    "That the Legislative Council is chosen for life by the King of England! that it is for the most part composed of Government officers, their clerks, their dependents, the clergy of the Established Church, and a few successful merchants; and that this Assembly is responsible to non but the King of England, acting through the officials of the Colonial Office.  They complain that this is a body factiously opposed to the feelings and wants of the people; that it is the stronghold of oppression and abuses; and that all the beneficial measures of the House of Assembly are rendered useless by this irresponsible body.

    "They complain also that the Executive Council, or privy-council of the Governor, being composed of the judges and Government officers, responsible only to the King (or rather the Colonial Office) have taken all the waste lands of the Colony, as well as the saleable timber found thereon, which they dispose of for the personal advantage of their members, their friends and underlings, as well as for corrupting the representation of the people, and with the unjust plea of their being the hereditary possessions of the King, deprive the Canadians of the means of improving their country or educating their children.

    "They complain that their judges are not made responsible to the people, nor can they be impeached for misconduct by the House of Assembly, as English judges can by the Commons' House of Parliament; that they are only responsible to the Executive Council, of which they themselves form a part, and that by this irresponsibility the source of justice is poisoned, and the cases of the grossest peculation and delinquency have received the countenance and support of this body.

    "They complain that notwithstanding four-fifths of the inhabitants are Catholics in religion, and that men of all creeds and religious opinions live harmoniously amongst them, that a Dominant Church is set up, and religious prejudices are sought to be engendered by the application of one-seventh of the whole land of the colony to support the clergy of the Established Church of England.

    "They complain that the official party seek to foment the absurd prejudices of country and religion amongst them; that the whole administration of Government is one of favouritism and injustice; that the revenues of their country are employed and squandered away by persons not responsible to the people; that they are unable to get accurate accounts of receipts or expenditure, and when delinquency is detected, are refused the power to punish, or to prevent it in future.

    "And now, after bearing with these insults and oppressions for nearly half a century; after every effort to improve their country by wise and salutary laws has been frustrated by these united aristocratic powers; and after repeated applications and petitions for justice, they have almost unanimously declared that there is no hope for the adoption of wise laws and just Government, until the Legislative Council be elected by the people—the whole revenue placed under the control of the people—and their judges made responsible to their own Legislature, instead of to the King of England.

    "These reasonable requests having been scorned and scouted by those in power, the people of Canada have, for the last three years, refused to sanction, by the vote of their Assembly, the application of the public revenues towards paying the salaries of those official persons who continue to mar all their benevolent exertions for the public weal.

    "Instead, however, of your Honourable House honestly investigating into these grievances, or conceding to those just and reasonable demands, we find you sanctioning His Majesty's ministers in setting aside the people and their representatives altogether; dispensing with the necessary vote, as guaranteed by their charter, and paying the salaries of those official persons in spite of the Canadian people.

    "This conduct appearing to your petitioners to be highly tyrannical—involving the question of liberty for the many, or despotic rule for the few—and which injustice we feel satisfied will never be tamely submitted to by the Canadian people, especially when they have the history of the past, and the bright example of the present democracy of America to refer to, of what can be effected by a united people, when free from the mercenary grasp of aristocratic or kingly dominion.  Your petitioners therefore pray your Honourable House that you will yield to the wishes of the Canadians, and allow them to elect the Legislative Council, place the revenue of their country at their disposal, and allow their judges to be made responsible to their own legislature, instead of to the King of England."

 
    Our petition was followed up by others from different parts of the country, but the Whigs, ever too proud to listen to the supplications of the humbler classes, and seconded in all their coercive plans and base proposals by "a Reformed Parliament," carried all the measures with a high hand for the subjugation of the Canadian people.  But Canada was too near America for them to bow their heads silently to such injustice; they met, and denounced the atrocious resolutions of the Whigs, from one extremity of the colony to the other.  They passed resolutions declaring that as their public revenue was imposed without their control, and was about to be made a further means of oppression in the hands of their enemies, that they would diminish it as much as possible, by abstaining from the consumption of tea, tobacco, sugar, and rum, and as far as possible from all the manufactures of England.  The excitement of the people was further stimulated by Governor Gosford, a pompous aristocrat, commencing a system of dismissing from the magistracy, and other offices, all persons who presumed to attend these patriotic meetings of the people.  It was at this period that our Working Men's Association sent the following "Address to the Canadian People."


    "Friends in the cause of freedom, brothers under oppression, and fellow-citizens living in hope—

    "We have witnessed with delight the noble spirit you have evinced against the despotic ordinances and tyrant mandates of your oppressors.  Inspired by the justice of your cause, you have nobly begun the glorious work of resistance; may the spirit of perseverance inspire you onwards, till the basely-concocted resolutions are withdrawn, your constitutional rights and wishes respected, or your independence secured by a charter won by your bravery!
 
    "While freemen stand erect in the conscious pride of thinking right and acting well their honest front will oft-times scare the tyrant from his purpose, or check his mad career; for experience has taught them that liberty in a smock frock is more than a match for tyranny in armour; but if they chance to crouch submission, or yield but a hair's-breadth to his wish, their doom is fixed; for tyrants delight to crush the yielding suppliant slave.

    "Onward, therefore, brothers in your struggle—you have justice on your side, and good men's aspirations that you win.  Nay, we trust that the wide-spreading information of the present age has so far enlightened the minds, and expanded the sympathies of most classes of men, that even the British soldier (cut off and secluded as he is from society), on turning to the annals of atrocious deeds which mark the track of kingly despotism, and more especially those which characterized its career of cruelty against American liberty, when the savage yell, the tomahawk and the scalping-knife were the frightful accompaniments of the bayonet, must blush for his country and his profession.

    "Yes, friends, the cause of DEMOCRACY has truth and reason on its side, and knavery and corruption are alone its enemies.  To justly distribute the blessings of plenty which the sons of industry have gathered, so as to bless without satiety all mankind—to expand by the blessings of education, the divinely-mental powers of man, which tyrants seek to mar and stultify—to make straight the crooked paths of justice, and to humanize the laws—to purify the world of all the crimes which want and lust of power have nurtured—is the end and aim of the democrat; to act the reverse of this is the creed and spirit of aristocracy.  Yet of this latter class are those who govern nations—men whose long career of vice too often forms a pathway to their power—who, when despotic deeds have stirred their subjects up to check their villainy, declaim against 'sedition,' talk of 'designing men,' and impiously invoke the attributes of the Deity to scare them from their sacred purpose.
 
    "It gives us great pleasure to learn, friends, that you are not so easily scared by proclamation law—by the decree of a junta against a whole nation.  Surely you know and feel, though Governor Gosford may not, that 'A NATION NEVER CAN REBEL.'  For when the liberties of a million of people are prostrated to the dust at the will of a grasping, despicable minority—when an attempt is made to destroy their representative rights, the only existing bond of allegiance, the only power through which laws can be justly enforced, is broken.  Then has the time arrived when society is dissolved into its original elements, placing each man in a position freely to choose for himself those institutions which are the most consonant to his feelings, or which will best secure to him his life, labour, and possessions.  If the mother country will not render justice to her colonies in return for their allegiance—if she will not be content with mutual obligations, but seek to make them the prey of military nabobs and hungry lordlings, executing their decrees with force, she must not be disappointed to find her offspring deserting her for her unnatural absurdities and monstrous cruelty.

    "Your Legislative and Executive Councils, feeling the great inconvenience of submitting to your constitutional rights, have endeavoured to frown you into compliance by British Legislation.

    "You have wisely questioned such authority, and justly branded their decrees with the infamy they deserve.  They now loudly threaten you with Gosford-law of their own enactment.  Should you be firm to your purpose (as we think you will), they will have recourse to diplomacy and cunning.  They will amuse you with the name of Royalty, talk of your youthful Queen's affection for you, and resort to every specious art their craft can dictate—but they will carefully keep back from royal ears the wrongs they have generated—the crimes of open plunder and private peculation which have made the breach between you; they'll. tell their garbled tale of 'treason and sedition,' poisoning the youthful mind to suit their purpose.

    "Canadian brethren! hear us, though we be only working men;—trust not too much to princely promises when your own ears are the witnesses; less so, when oceans roll between, and interested chieftains tell the tale.  Trust to your righteous cause, and honest deeds to make that cause secure.

    "We have received, with considerable satisfaction, your resolutions approving of our humble exertions in your behalf—though we did but our duty in endeavouring to arouse the feelings of our fellow-men against the injustice we saw was about to be perpetrated on a distant portion of our brethren; and in this we have been successful to a degree we did not anticipate, for we have received letters of approval from considerable bodies of working men joining their feelings and sympathies with ours towards you.  Do not, therefore, believe that the working millions of England have any feelings in common with your oppressors; for if they have not unitedly condemned their infamy, it is that the severity of their own misfortunes and oppression diverts their attention from those of their neighbours.  When the voice of the millions shall be heard in the senate house, when they shall possess power to decree justice, our colonies will cease to be regarded as nurseries for despots, where industry is robbed to pamper vice.

    "We beg to congratulate you on the number of choice spirits which the injustice inflicted on your country has called into action.  With such leaders to keep alive the sacred flame of freedom, and such devotedness and self-denial as you have evinced from the onset, we augur to you success.

    "Hoping that you will continue to stir up the timid and cheer on the brave—to teach your children to lisp the song of freedom, and your maidens to spurn the hand of a slave—and that you may yet witness the sun of independence smiling on your rising cities, your cheerful homes, tangled forests, and frozen lakes, is the ardent wish of the members of the Working Men's Association."


    This Address was widely circulated in Canada and called forth an admirable spirit-stirring reply, drawn up by the Permanent and Central Committee of the County of Montreal, and signed on their behalf by twenty persons; among them Louis Joseph Papineau, Raymond Plessis, and most of the leading members of the House of Assembly. The engrossed parchment copy of the reply, however, never reached us; we heard that it was destroyed when the office of the Vindicator newspaper was burnt down by a Tory mob.

    Vain, however, were all petitions, were all efforts to check the despotic proceedings of our Government towards the Canadians; and it was not till after they had been goaded into madness and revolt, that Lord Durham was sent over to do something towards healing the wounds that despotism had inflicted.  What, however, the Whigs would not yield to peaceful prayers and petitions, they were subsequently obliged to concede, in order to quench the embers of rebellion, which their merciless soldiers and officials could not achieve.  And now, when justice has triumphed and the people are supreme, no colony so loyal, no people so true to the mother country, as the French and English Canadians.

    By this time our example in London had caused a great number of Working Men's Associations to be organized in different parts of the country; and we, being solicited from many towns for some personal aid towards the formation of others, deputed Messrs. Hetherington, Cleave, Vincent, and Hartwell, to go out at different times as missionaries for that purpose.  They were eminently successful in promoting the formation of many of those societies; and did great service by their able and stirring appeals to the people in favour of our principles.  It was to thank a great number of those associations for their kindness towards our missionaries that we issued our "Address to Working Men's Associations"; which has been already noticed in the early part of this chapter.
 
    Our petition in favour of the suffrage agreed to at the Crown and Anchor, was trusted to Mr. Roebuck for presentation to Parliament; we believing him to be one of the most staunch and resolute advocates of democratic principles in the House of Commons.  He, having resolved to found a motion on it in favour of Universal Suffrage, was desirous of having the support of all those members of the House who were considered Radicals.  This induced us to issue out a circular to all those we believed to be such, inviting them to meet us on the subject at the British Coffee-House, in Cocksure Street, on the 31st of May, 1837.  This meeting was attended by a number of our own members, and by the following members of the House of Commons:—Joseph Hume, D. O'Connell, Dr. Bowring, J. T. Leader, Col. Thompson, Benjamin Hawes, Win. S. Crawford, and Charles Hindley.

    Having been appointed by our association to introduce the business, I informed them that our object in inviting them was to ascertain how far Members of Parliament were prepared to make exertions for carrying those principles into practice, which from their speeches and writings we believed most of them to entertain.  I concluded some further remarks by putting to them the following questions:—In the first place, would they support the petition for Universal Suffrage, etc., which Mr. Roebuck had to present from the association?  And in the second place, would they bring in and vote for a Bill embracing the principles contained in the prayer of that petition?

    Mr. Hume replied by saying that he agreed with most of the principles contained in the petition; but differed on some of the details such as annual parliaments, thinking triennial preferable; and he thought the country not prepared to carry them into practice.  Mr. O'Connell also agreed with the principles, though not with all the details; but he doubted the policy of pressing them with the present constituencies.  Mr. B. Hawes did not agree with all the principles of the petition, neither with annual parliaments nor Universal Suffrage; he would have to surrender up his seat if he did.  Mr. C. Hindley agreed with all our principles, but feared the people were not sufficiently enlightened.  Dr. Bowring also agreed with the principles of our petition, but thought we should progressively seek to carry them into practice; he thought we should begin with household suffrage.  Col. Thompson agreed with our principles, but doubted the policy of forcing them at present.  Sharman Crawford agreed most fully with the principles of our petition, and differed from the other hon. members as regards their fears of impracticability; he thought the way to make these principles practicable was by agitation and enquiry.  Mr. Leader agreed with the petition, and thought some steps should be taken towards carrying the principles it contained into practice.

    After hearing the different speeches of which the above is a mere abstract, taken from our minutes, I replied, that it was evident enough that gentlemen thought more of their seats in Parliament than they did of their principles; for if they entertained a sincere attachment for them they would continue to advocate them at all times and in all places, with the view of creating a public opinion in their favour; and whether in or out of Parliament they would care little, provided those principles they believed essential to their country's welfare were rapidly extended.  But instead of doing this we found them professing our principles on the hustings, and on other occasions out of doors, with the mere object it would seem of pleasing the multitude, but never taking any steps in Parliament to cause the principles they professed to become a practical reality.

    These observations, spoken rather warmly, called up Mr. O'Connell, who began a very warm and eloquent philippic against me, commencing by saying that the gentleman who had just addressed you has spoken with all the impassioned eloquence of impracticability, not very likely to be attended with any beneficial results.  And then he continued in a strain calculated to crush me, by the mere power of words, had he been addressing an Irish audience.  But he had no sooner done than he was replied to by Messrs. Cleave, Hetherington, and others, who very soon showed him how hollow all mere professions and pretensions were regarding our political rights, unaccompanied by earnest efforts for their realization.
 
    This meeting having been adjourned, on a motion by Mr. O'Connell, on the following week he brought forward a written "Plan of an Association to procure Justice for the Working Classes, by an effectual reform of the Legislature," [p116] which he introduced by a speech in its favour.  To this I replied that the formation of a new society for this object was not necessary in England, as our own Association, as well as the various Working Men's Associations throughout the country had the same or similar objects in view as the one suggested.  What was wanted was, that some steps should be taken by Members of Parliament towards the carrying of those objects into practice.  With that view our Association had prepared four resolutions which I had been requested to submit for their approval or rejection, handing them at the same time to Mr. O'Connell.  He having perused them for a few moments got up and proposed the first of them, which, having been seconded by Mr. Hindley, was unanimously adopted.  The three others were agreed to in the same unanimous manner.  The following are the resolutions:—

 
    "1st. That we agree to support any proposition for universal suffrage, made on the Petition emanating from. the Working Men's Association, when presented to the House of Commons by Mr. Roebuck.

Proposed. by Mr. D. O'Connell,
Seconded by Mr. C. Hindley.


    "2nd. That we agree to support and vote for a Bill or Bills to be brought into the House of Commons, embodying the principles of universal suffrage, equal representation, free selection of representatives without reference to property, the ballot, and short parliaments of fixed duration, the limit not to exceed three years.

Moved by Mr. D. O'Connell,
Seconded by Mr. C. Hindley.


    "3rd. That we agree to support and vote for a Bill or Bills to be brought into the House of Commons for such a reform in the House of Lords as shall render it responsible to the people.

Moved by Mr. D. O'Connell,
Seconded by Mr. W. Sharman Crawford.


    "4th. That a Committee of twelve persons be appointed to draw up a Bill or Bills in a legal form embodying the principles agreed to, and that they be submitted to another meeting of the Liberal Members of Parliament, and the Working Men's Association.

Moved by Mr. J. T. Leader,
Seconded by Mr. Hartwell."


The following were the persons appointed:—

 

 

Messrs. D. O'Connell,

Messrs. H. Hetherington,

               J. A. Roebuck,

               J. Cleave,

               J. T. Leader,

               J. Watson,

               C. Hindley,

               R. Moore,

               Col. Thompson,

               W. Lovett,

               W. S. Crawford,

               H. Vincent.


    After these four resolutions were agreed to we told the members present that we intended to write them out fairly on a large sheet of paper, and to go round to their and other members' houses to obtain the signatures of as many as we could get; an arrangement to which they all assented.  Accordingly the next morning, Mr. Cleave and myself waited first on Mr. O'Connell, who readily signed them, and at the same time gave us a list of such of the Irish Members as he thought would also.  He expressed himself highly gratified at the result of our two meetings, and said that he believed great good would result from them.  Observing very jocosely to me, "By the powers, Lovett, you are right after all, for the Working Classes cannot be expected to strive for any extension of the franchise, unless they are made participators of the benefit."  So far did he then seem to be in earnest, of which, I am sorry to say, I have since had occasion to express doubts. [p117]

    We then took our document round to other members, and had only got nine signatures appended to it when the King, William the Fourth, died, which put a stop to our progress, for the Parliament being dissolved in consequence, the members soon posted off to their several constituencies.  We were, therefore, obliged to wait till the new Parliament was chosen, and had again assembled in town, before we could call the committee together who had been appointed to draw up the bill for the suffrage.  In the interim, however, we put forth the following "Address to Reformers on the forthcoming Elections," informing them of what had been done, and what were our intentions:—


    "Fellow Countrymen,—It is now nearly six years since the Reform Bill became a part of the laws of our country.  To carry that measure, despite the daring advocates of corruption, the co-operation of the millions was sought for, and cheerfully and honestly given.  They threw their hearts into the contest, and would have risked their lives to obtain that which they were led to believe would give to all the blessings of LIBERTY.  Alas! their hopes were excited by promises which have not been kept, and their expectations of freedom have been bitterly disappointed in seeing the men, whom they had assisted to power, spurning their petition with contempt, and binding them down by still more slavish enactments:—at seeing the new constituency they had raised, forgetting their protestations, and selfishly leaguing themselves with their oppressors.  But Liberty has a power which watches over her destiny—the selfishness of those men who sought only their own exclusive interests has been frustrated for the want of that very enthusiasm which their ingratitude has subdued into apathy.  The public voice which raised them up, by its silence alone permits their enemies to triumph over them.
 
    "The result of this ungrateful conduct must now be apparent to every reflecting enquirer; the people, seeing both parties intent on keeping them in subjection, and equally the object of their prey, have looked with apathy on their contentions for power and plunder, waiting the events of time; and thus while one faction is hypocritically talking of liberty, the other is sparing no pains to destroy the spirit of freedom that has gone forth, and to re-establish Tory ascendancy and misrule.

    "What, at this important crisis, then, is the duty of every honest reformer?  Is it to allow despotism to triumph as it inevitably will unless the slumbering energies of the millions be aroused to prevent it?

    "But the people have learnt a profitable lesson from experience, and will not again be stimulated to contend for any measure which, excludes them from its advantages.  They now perceive that most of our oppressive laws and institutions, and the consequent ignorance and wretchedness to which we are exposed, can be traced to one common source—EXCLUSIVE LEGISLATION; and they therefore have their minds intently fixed on the destruction of this great and pernicious monopoly; being satisfied that, while the power of law-making is confined to the few, the exclusive interests of the few will be secured at the expense of the many.

    "Seeing this, it will be well for their cause if honest Reformers throw their fears and scruples aside, and generously repose confidence in those who have no exclusive interests to protect, unjust privileges to secure, or monopolies to retain: but whose interest is in the peace and harmony of society, and in having a parliament selected from the wise and good of every class, devising the most efficient means for advancing the happiness of all.
 
    "But it has been urged, as a plea to keep up exclusive legislation, that the people are too ignorant to be trusted with the elective franchise.  Are Englishmen less enlightened than Americans?—and has the exercise of their political liberty proved them not to have deserved it?  Nay, in our own country, are the unrepresented as a body more ignorant than the present possessors of the franchise?—Can they possibly return more enemies to liberty, more self-interested legislators than are returned by the present constituency to Parliament?  The ignorance of which they complain is the offspring of exclusive legislation, for the exclusive few from time immemorial have ever been intent in blocking up every avenue to knowledge.  POLITICAL RIGHTS necessarily stimulate men to enquiry—give self-respect—lead them to know their duties as citizens—and, under a wise government, would be made the best corrective of vicious and intemperate habits.

    "Fellow countrymen,—with these facts and convictions strongly impressed upon us, we have from the commencement of our Association diligently sought to impress on our fellow-men the necessity of contending for political power as the most certain means of redressing all their wrongs.  We have shown in the addresses and publications we have put forth the utter hopelessness of their ever obtaining justice from the House of Commons as it is now constituted; and have repeatedly endeavoured to convince them that the great work of political regeneration must begin with themselves.  We have assured them that when they shall evince such a disposition, assistance would be afforded them by all those who have their emancipation at heart.  How far we were right in this latter conclusion we are about to inform you.

    "It is now generally known to Reformers (because great publicity has been given to it), that a large public meeting was held at the Crown and Anchor, on the 28th of February last.  At that meeting a petition was agreed to, embodying the principles of Universal Suffrage, Equal Representation, Annual Parliaments, No Property Qualification, Vote by Ballot, and Payment of Members; and at the same time most of the Liberal Members of Parliament were called upon to give it their support.  We have accordingly held two meetings at the British Coffee-House, Cockspur Street, with several of these gentlemen—have amicably discussed the important principles contained in that petition—and nine Members of Parliament have voluntarily attached their signatures, and are pledged to the following important resolutions:—



(Here follow the Resolutions already mentioned at page 116.)


    "In the course of a few weeks this Bill will be prepared and printed for circulation, under the title of 'THE PEOPLE'S CHARTER,' and will form a rallying-point for Radical Reformers; a standard by which to test all those who call themselves friends of the People.

    "In the recent exertions we have made, among those called the Liberal Members of Parliament, we regret to find that a considerable number of them (who even admit the justice of these great principles, and consider them essential to the well-being of society), timidly shrink from the performance of a most sacred duty, apprehensive of the ignorance, prejudice, or selfishness of their constituents, and are, indeed, fearful of losing their seats in Parliament.  Now, to break down those narrow prejudices and lead onward the public mind, great moral courage and intellectual powers are necessary; and if these qualities are not found among the reflecting few, whose minds are convinced of the justice of their principles, where can we hope to find them?  Nay; if, on the contrary, we find them disposed to administer to the selfishness or ignorance of their constituents—to doubt publicly what they believe privately—to retard by petty measures important principles, and place greater importance on a seat in Parliament than on the enlightenment of the people, and the progress of liberty, what hopes can we have of happiness for ourselves or posterity?
 
    "In the course of a few weeks a general election will take place, and the contest will be, whether the People or the Aristocracy shall prevail; whether such timely reforms in Church and State shall be effected as the social welfare demands, or a monopolizing faction retain their power, and perpetuate their corruptions.  The time has gone by for any go-between class to possess efficient power to stem the evils of aristocratic sway without the aid of the millions.  To obtain that aid their political rights must be conceded to them; they have recently learnt to appreciate just principles and not, as formerly, to be amused in the setting up of Whigs, Tories, or Radicals, as idols of their political salvation.

    "Let those great principles, therefore, form the pledge of every candidate who presents himself on the hustings.  Fellow-men! do not be led away by promises of repealing the detested Poor Law, or any of the other infamous laws which Whig and Tory have united to enact, and to laud their excellence, unless the promise be accompanied by the pledge of Universal Suffrage, and all the other great essentials of self-government.

    "Honest electors, do not therefore shrink from the task of examining and exposing every shuffling candidate, who, from whatever pretext, seeks to perpetuate exclusive legislation.  And do you, the unrepresented, exert your utmost powers at this momentous crisis; unitedly wait upon each candidate (for as the producers of wealth you have the first claim to his attention), tell him your own tale, convince him that you are not the ignorant destructives which knaves and sycophants would fain make him believe, 'too ignorant for freedom, seeking to mar your own happiness by destroying the means and prospects of others.'

    "Fellow countrymen! we are now at the commencement of a new reign, and from the promises of youthful, unbiassed feelings, as well as from the education given to our Queen, great expectations have been generated.  But 'put not your trust in princes' was said by a wise man; and, when we find those in her council whose long catalogue of bitter deeds can scarcely be paralleled in the worst days of misrule, without mistrusting her good intentions, we had better repose confidence in the justice of our own claims, and our united efforts to advance them, than in the hopes or promises of royalty.

    "Among those appointed to prepare the bills we have alluded to, are persons of different views and various opinions on many important subjects.  But when they are thus cordially prepared to co-operate with the millions, to contend for their equal rights, and to strive to place them in a situation to manage their own affairs, politically and socially, the confidence and cordial support of the millions should be afforded them to carry those measures into effect.  We therefore earnestly call upon you to organize and prepare yourselves to render them every possible assistance.  On yourselves success must depend.  You formed yourselves into societies, you met and petitioned by thousands to force a measure in which you were not included; show therefore by similar demonstrations, that you are not unmindful of your own interests.  Arouse, therefore, you the unrepresented millions—and you honest and true-hearted electors —and call upon your representatives to join the ranks of those who resolve to contend for a just and essential measure of reform for the whole people.  Working Men's associations should be established in every town and village throughout the country, and the wise and good of every class who seek justice for the many should be enrolled among them.  The associations and unions already formed should be up and doing; they should meet legally, petition firmly, and never cease their laudable exertions till their end is accomplished.  An opinion has gone forth that it is a folly to petition.  Working men, do not give your enemies an argument that 'the people seek not to obtain those measures, as they fail to petition for them.'  True it is that your petitions are but little regarded in the Houses of Parliament, but still we know that it is the most efficient means of creating, guiding, and ascertaining public opinion.

    "We caution you not to form branch associations, because the Corresponding Act is still in force; nor to correspond privately, but publicly through the press.  We invite one or more intelligent radical reformers in every town to become honorary members of our association in London, which they can do, without payment, if recommended by some known radical, and thus they can be made acquainted with all our proceedings in a legal manner.  We intend in a few days to give increased publicity to our rules and objects, and will shortly give you further information through the columns of those newspapers which are disposed to assist us.

    "In conclusion, we urge you to organize yourselves and resolve on victory!  With Union everything will be accomplished; without Union nothing!"


    Copies of this Address were forwarded to all the working men's associations, radical associations, and political unions we were connected with; among others to the Birmingham Union, which, from its former prestige, we were very anxious should declare in favour of universal suffrage.  We had previously sent letters and messages to this important body, and finally sent down Mr. Hetherington as a missionary to urge on them the importance of the subject; but they, considering themselves pledged to the principles of the reform bill, remained for a long time staunch to that measure.  A few weeks, however, previous to our issuing the above address, Mr. Atwood had begun to talk of the reform bill being "nothing better than a witch's bantling," and of "the new set of borough-mongers being little better than the old"; and in the course of three months later, on a motion of Mr. P. H. Muntz and Mr. Douglas, they came out nobly in favour of the suffrage.


 
CHAPTER VI.


WHEN Queen Victoria ascended the throne our association, in common with other bodies, prepared what we believed to be a loyal and outspoken address to her.  Having appointed a deputation for the purpose of presenting it, I sent the following letter to the Secretary of the Home Department:—


                                         "Working Men's Association,
                                                                  "6, Upper North Place,
                                                                           "Grays Inn Road.
                                                                                   "Sept. 1st, 1837.


    "My Lord,—The Working Men's Association of London having prepared an address to her Majesty, they are desirous of having it presented to her personally by a deputation of six persons, whom they have selected for that purpose.  They have therefore requested me to ascertain from your Lordship when it will please her Majesty that they shall wait on her with the address?

                                                        "I remain,
                                                                    "Your most obedient servant,
                                                                                      "Wm. LOVETT,
                                                                                                  "Secretary.

"To the Right Hon. Lord John Russell,
       "Sec. of State for the Home Department."


The answer received to this was the following:—



"Whitehall,                               
"Sept. 6th, 1837.         


    "Sir,—I am directed by Lord John Russell to inform you, in reply to your letter of the 1st inst., that the address of the Working Men's Association cannot be presented till her Majesty holds a levée, when the deputation must attend in court dress. No time for a levee is yet fixed; but it will be publicly announced in the Gazette.

"I am, sir,                                                              
                                  "Your obedient servant,                               
"F. MAUL."
                                    


To this we sent the following reply, accompanied with the address:—



"Working Men's Association,                                                 
"6, Upper North Place,                           
"Grays Inn Road,                
"Sept. 13th, 1837.     


"My Lord,—According to your answer of the 6th inst., we find that we are precluded by those forms which Gothic ignorance has imposed, and custom sanctified, from personally presenting our address; for with every respect for those forms which make personal cleanliness and respectful behaviour necessary qualifications to approach her Majesty, we have neither the means nor the inclination to indulge in such absurdities as dress-swords, coats and wigs.  We beg, therefore, to request that your lordship, in your official capacity, will at the earliest opportunity present our address to her Majesty, in hopes she may chance to read the sentiments of a portion of her working-class population, which the necessity of appearing in court dress excludes from her presence.  We hope, my lord, that day is not distant when some better means will be devised for letting the sovereign hear of the addresses and petitions of the people.


             "We remain,                                                                                    
"Your lordship's obedient servants,                               
"The members of the Working Men's Association.
"(Signed) WM. LOVETT,                           
Secretary.

"To the Right Ron. Lord John Russell,
             "Secretary of State for the Home Department.



    "To the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and its Dependencies.

    "The Address of the undersigned Members of the Working Men's Association.
 
    "Madam,—While we approach your Majesty in the spirit of plain men seeking their political and social rights, apart from mere names, forms, or useless ceremonies, we yield to none in the just fulfilment of our duties, or in the ardent wish that our country may be made to advance to the highest point of prosperity and happiness.

    "The feelings which spring from this desire prompt us to call the attention of your Majesty to the present condition of the people, and to point out a course which we are fully persuaded is calculated to promote our wishes, and to produce that result which every sincere friend to mankind must earnestly anticipate.

    "The country over which your Majesty has been called on to preside, has by the powers and industry of its inhabitants been made to teem with abundance, and were all its resources wisely developed and justly distributed, would impart ample means of happiness to all its inhabitants.

    "But, by many monstrous anomalies springing out of the constitution of society, the corruptions of government, and the defective education of mankind, we find the bulk of the nation toiling slaves from birth till death—thousands wanting food, or subsisting on the scantiest pittance, having neither time nor means to obtain instruction, much less of cultivating the higher faculties and brightest affections, but forced by their situation to engender enmity, jealousy, and contention, and too often to become the victims of intemperance and crime.

    "We find the majority of the middling classes equally the toiling, and by far too many of them the avaricious pursuers of wealth;—often following that which eludes their grasp, or if attained, fails of imparting happiness;—racked with the cares of business, distrust and suspicion, and often filled with apprehensions of bankruptcy and insolvency which few in the present state of things are secure from.

    "And even among the exclusive few who possess the chief fruits of all this toil and anxiety; to nurture whom in idleness and pamper in luxury, all this sacrifice is made by the other classes of society, but a trifling portion can be found free from the diseases of sloth, the cares of idleness and debauchery, and of apprehensions and alarms lest the indignation of the multitude summon them to justice, despite of their wealth, powers, and possessions.

    "Hence the exclusive few have ever been intent in keeping the people ignorant and deluded, and have sedulously administered to their vices, and fomented their prejudices.  Hence the use of their privileges and distinctions to allure the wealthy and corrupt the innocent; hence their desire to retain within their own circle all the powers of the Legislative and Executive, all the riches of Church and State, and of place and emolument, by which they may bribe, coerce and overawe, and thus perpetuate their own despotic sway.

    "To this baneful source of exclusive political power may be traced the persecutions of fanaticism, the feuds of superstition, and most of the wars and carnage which disgrace our history.  To this pernicious origin may justly be attributed the unremitted toil and wretchedness of your Majesty's industrious people, together with most of the vices and crimes springing from poverty and ignorance, which, in a country blessed by nature, enriched by art, and boasting of her progress and knowledge, mock her humanity and degrade her character.

    "Your Majesty must be aware that the conscientious and reflecting few have for ages past directed their energies to the removal or reformation of those social and political evils, which have produced the present distressed condition of the people, and that persecution and death have too often been the reward of their benevolent exertions to serve mankind; yet, through their labours and exertions, have the fires of intolerance been quenched and the sword of war and persecution blunted; the moral, social, and political truths they unfolded have not altogether been silenced by the axe nor stifled by the halter.

    "The conscientious Reformer of the present day, equally intent on removing all those obstacles which oppose the progress of humanity and mar the happiness man would otherwise enjoy, is met by the same opposing interests which characterized the former times of persecution and death; and if they do not execute their desires as formerly, they refrain for want of power, and not for want of inclination.

    "These exclusive interests, under the names of Whig and Tory, have for many years past succeeded in making Royalty a mere puppet of their will.  In that name they have plundered at home and desolated abroad, and have executed their atrocious deeds, foreign and domestic.  Royalty has been schooled and moulded to their purpose, and has been imbued with the spirit and tactics of both, as either party has obtained the ascendancy; it has been the impelled or willing instrument to hide their corruptions and plead their excuses, and too often has conspired with them in defrauding and fleecing the nation.

    "These factions will still endeavour to surround your Majesty, and will have recourse to every stratagem to divide you from the, people; and it will require great strength of mind and prudence to resist their influences.  They will seek to inspire you with false notions of your own importance; they will endeavour to persuade you that to be powerful you must be terrible; they will strive to dazzle and mislead your understanding with the pomp and gaiety and false glitter of a court; they will plead the antiquity of abuses for their countenance, and praise the veneration of absurdities, because by them they live in pride, sloth and abundance.

    "But the superstitious days of arbitrary dominion and holy errors are fast falling away; the chief magistrate of an enlightened people must learn to know and respect its delegated authority—and must look for power and fame to the welfare of the people, and the exertions it makes to diffuse happiness throughout the land.

    "We trust that your Majesty will not permit either of the factions who live on abuses, and profit at the expense of the millions, to persuade you to any course of policy other than that of right and justice.  And we respectfully submit to your Majesty, that it is not just, that out of a population of twenty-five millions of people, only eight hundred thousand should have the power of electing what is called the Commons' House of Parliament; since so small a number, divided as it is, subjects by far the greater portion to be bribed or intimidated by the wealthy and the powerful; but, that in accordance with justice, those who by their industry support and defend their country have the first claim to political rights.

    "That it is a flagrant act of injustice that the affairs of a great nation should be made dependent on two factions; each seeking its own exclusive interest, and both opposed to the progress of knowledge and the happiness of the people.

    "That it is cruel as well as unjust that our Dissenting and Catholic brethren should be compelled to support a Church from whose doctrines they dissent, and whose profligate expenditure they hold in abhorrence.

    "That the injustice which the Whig and Tory factions have for a long time past inflicted on our Irish brethren has generated and perpetuated the extremes of want and wretchedness amongst them, and calls for an immediate and radical remedy.

    "That the poverty and ignorance which pervade numerous districts of the kingdom justly call for investigation and immediate redress; which can only be effected by a Parliament selected from the wise and good of every class, to consult all interests, and to protect all just rights.

    "To effect, however, these essential reforms your Majesty must not be persuaded to believe that a Whig or Tory administration is necessary to secure the peace and safety of your government; but you must call to your cabinet those who are disposed to render an equality of political rights to the millions; who earnestly desire the progress of knowledge, and a just diffusion of the bounties of heaven.

    "But we entreat your Majesty that, whoever may be in your councils, you will instruct them, as a first and essential measure of reform, to prepare a Bill for extending the Right of Suffrage to all the adult population of the kingdom; excepting such as may be justly incapacitated by crime or defective of the light of reason; together with such other essential details as shall enable all men to exercise their political rights unmolested.

    "Then will the voice of the millions be raised to bless you, their arms to defend you from factions at home or despots abroad, and then will they transmit your name to posterity, as the first to break through the trammels of courtly prejudice to render them justice."


    In about a week's time from the sending of this Address to Lord John Russell we received the following letter:—



"Whitehall, Sept. 22, 1837.  


Sir,—I am directed by Lord John Russell to inform you that he has not failed to lay before the Queen the Address of certain of 'the Working Men's Association of London' which you transmitted to his Lordship for presentation.
                                  "I am your obedient servant,
                                                                                   "F. MAULE.
"Mr. William Lovett, &c."


    This Address and correspondence were circulated very widely by the newspaper press of that period, and called forth praise or censure according to the politics they espoused.  The policy, however, of the Secretary of State in refusing its personal presentation to the youthful Queen by a portion of her working class subjects, unless in court dress, was very generally condemned, even by many of those who differed from us in principle.  And by many of them the free mode of presenting addresses and petitions to the chief magistrate of Republican America and Despotic Turkey was strongly contrasted with our court's pompous folly, and that with all our boasted freedom.
 
    About this period, also, the Whig and Tory press neglected no possible opportunity of putting forth their embittered attacks, or vending their sneers against the Republican Institutions of America.  The deeds of individuals, the clamours of party, or the bickerings of rival states, always afforded in their eyes conclusive proofs of the evils of Republican Government; they never once presuming to entertain the notion, that similar follies and contentions at home, told equally powerful against the evils of our own blessed Monarchical Institutions.  Our Association―conceiving that they might do something to neutralize the prejudice thus sought to be engendered between the people of two countries; at least show to the Working Classes of America, that we their working class brethren in England entertained far different views respecting them, although not insensible to their defects—sent them the following Address:—


    "Citizens of the American Republic,—We address you in that spirit of fraternity which becomes working men in all the countries of the world; for, as the subjugation and misery of our class can be traced to our ignorance and dissensions—as the knaves and hypocrites of the world live by our follies, and the tyrants of the world are strong because we, the working millions, are divided—so assuredly will the mutual instruction and united exertions of our class in all countries rapidly advance the world's emancipation.

    "In addressing you, our fellow-workmen, we are influenced by no other desires than those of mutual enquiry and brotherly friendship; and we therefore hope you will not allow our mutual enemies to influence your opinions by impugning our motives, should our sentiments not altogether accord with your own.

    "We are not of that number who seek to stigmatize your institutions because there may be defects in your general or local legislation; but of those who would urge you to purify them of every blemish which mars their excellence, and keeps you from the full enjoyment of their fruits; so that the king and priest-ridden nations of the earth might witness the results of a true democracy, producing abundance to the labourer, and indigence only to the idle.

    "We are anxious to express our admiration of those republican institutions which were won by the valour, and secured by the wisdom of your forefathers—men who justly proclaimed the rights of humanity without privilege, and made liberty and equality the basis of social happiness.  Little did the fanatics of 'the altar and the throne' imagine when they shook their bloody crests in defiance of human rights, and by their envenomed decrees caused the sons of freedom to go forth to combat with the savage and the brute, that among the tangled recesses of your forests a secure resting-place for liberty would be found; and that among her sons a Jefferson would arise to proclaim those principles which will be revered and honoured when kingly and priestly follies are despised or forgotten.

    "You have practically exhibited to the world that a throne is not a necessary appendage to a nation's greatness; that wars are not necessary, either to maintain dignity or to balance power; that liberty and property may be secure without police spies, or hirelings in armour; that the arts and sciences may flourish without the fostering of either title or privilege; that morality may survive the downfall of a state religion; and that presidents perform their duty for £4,000 a year, much better than kings or queens ever did, or ever will do, for £400,000.

    "You have surmounted difficulties yet to be overcome, and climbed heights of political liberty yet to be attained by all the nations of Europe; and if you have not realized all the social and political advantages of your commanding position—nay, if you possess not the power to assist in the emancipation of others, it is high time to ask yourselves the reason, and to investigate the cause.

    "Why, when your institutions are so excellently founded, when your noble race of philosophic statesmen legislated, fought, and bled, to invest you with political power, and left you as their choicest legacy the best advice to use it— why, after sixty years of freedom, have you not progressed further?

    "Why, are you to so great an extent, ruled by men who speculate on your credulity and thrive by your prejudices?  Why have lawyers a prepondering influence in your country?—men whose interests lie in your corruptions and dissensions, and in making intricate the plainest questions affecting your welfare?  Why has so much of your fertile country been parcelled out between swindling bankers and grinding capitalists; who seek to establish (as in our own country) a monopoly in that land which nature bestowed in common to all her children?  Why have so many of your cities, towns, railroads, canals, and manufactories, become the monopolized property of those 'who toil not, neither do they spin'?—while you, who raised them by your labours, are still in the position of begging leave to erect others, and to establish for them similar monopolies?  Tell us also, we pray you—for you have the privilege of investigating the whole machinery of government—why the industrious pursuits of the millions are subject to be suspended, and the homes of happiness of to-day converted into those of misery on the morrow, through the instrumentality of numerous bits of paper which the cunning few have dignified with the name of money?

    "Whence also the opinionative distinctions which prevail in your schools or colleges? or why has sectarianism its undue influence among a people whose institutions are established on an equality of political and social rights?  Why has education partaken more of party views and class-contracted interests, than in the desire of training up a great nation, physically, morally, and intellectually, to progress onwards in holy brotherhood, to the attainment of all the physical and mental enjoyments destined for humanity?

    "With no disposition either to question your political sincerity, impugn your morality, or to upbraid you for vices you did not originate, it is with feelings of regret, brethren, that we deem it is even needed to enquire of men who for more than half a century have had the power of government in their hands, why the last and blackest remnant of kingly dominion has not been uprooted from republican America?

    "Why, when she has afforded a home and an asylum for the destitute and oppressed among all nations, should oppression in her own land be legalized, and bondage tolerated?  Did nature, when she cast her sunshine o'er the earth, and adapted her children to its influence, intend that her varied tints of skin should be the criterion of liberty?  And shall men, whose illustrious ancestors proclaimed mankind to be brothers of nature, make an exception to degrade to the condition of slaves, human beings a shade darker than themselves?

    "Surely it cannot be for the interests of the Working Classes that these prejudices should be fostered—this degrading traffic be maintained.  No! no! it must be for those who shrink from honest industry, and who would equally sacrifice, to their love of gain and mischievous ambition, the happiness of either black or white.  We entertain the opinion, friends, that those who seek to consign you to unremitting toil, to fraudulently monopolize your lands, to cheat you in the legislature, to swell your territory by injustice, and to keep you ignorant and divided, are the same persons who are the perpetuators and advocates of slavery.

    "That they are rich and powerful, we judge from their corrupting influence; for, with few honest exceptions, that surest guarantee of liberty, the Press, is diverted to their purpose and subject to their power, instead of performing its sacred office in developing truth, and in extirpating the errors of mankind—and shame to their sacred calling, there are preachers and teachers, and learned men among you, who plead eloquently against the foibles of the poor, but shrink from exposing vice in high stations—nay, who are even the owners of slaves, and the abettors and advocates of slavery!

    "That wealth and title should command a preponderating influence where the power of government is alone vested in men of wealth (as in our own country), we can readily imagine; but that such baneful power and influence should exist for so long a period where the franchise is vested in the millions would be hard to be believed, if we had not been taught that knowledge is the best auxiliary of political power.

    "We doubt not your general knowledge in the arts, sciences, and literature, commonly taught in your schools—nay, that your country has an advantage over ours, as far as the rudiments of knowledge are taught; but with all this we greatly doubt your knowledge of the very principles on which your government is founded.  We judge from your present position and the facts before us, that, with all your general knowledge, you do not understand the democratic principles contained in your Charter of Independence to the extent which it becomes you to understand them.

    "We have been thus candid in pointing out what we conceive to be the cause of such evils as we find you complaining of, and of others which we think it should be your duty to attend to; and, in saying this, we are not unmindful of our own degraded condition.

    "But, fellow-workmen, we are now desirous of informing you of the steps we have taken to correct our own evils, which may not be altogether unprofitable or unworthy of your notice.  And it will at all times afford us the highest gratification to hear of each progressive step you are making towards that consequence and happiness the producing classes ought always in justice to enjoy.

    "Seeing the result of our ignorance and divisions, subjecting us to be the tools of party, the slaves of power, and the victims of our own dissipations and vices, we have resolved to unite and mutually instruct ourselves; and, as a means to that end, we have formed ourselves into Working Men's Associations.

    "We seek to generate a moral stamina in the ranks of the millions, and accordingly make moral conduct the test of membership; convinced, as we are, that a drunken, a dissipated, and an immoral people, will never attain to political or social greatness; that whatever may be the form of their government, they will be the slaves of their own vices, and, consequently, the fitting slaves of others.
 
    "Feeling satisfied that true liberty, its obligations and duties, are never appreciated by the ignorant, we seek to instruct ourselves and fellows in all that regards our political and social rights.  To that end we seek to establish libraries of the best and choicest works appertaining to man and society.  We seek to promote conversations, discussions, and public meetings among us, and thus not only make the sons of labour acquainted with their rights, but qualify them also to carry their knowledge into practice.

    "We seek to make the mothers of our children fit instructors to promote our social and political advancement, by reading to and conversing with them on all subjects we may be acquainted with; and thus, by kindness and affection, to make them our equal companions in knowledge and happiness, and not, as at present, the mere domestic drudges, and ignorant slaves of our passions.

    "Such are the means we are pursuing to correct our vices and attain our rights; and we would respectfully urge you to enquire whether similar means might not be more advantageously and extensively employed in your country, and whether they might not tend to place you in a position the better to enjoy the fruits of your democratic institutions.  We remain, yours in the cause of human liberty,

"THE MEMBERS OF THE                                    
WORKING MEN'S ASSOCIATION."

 
    As also one of the objects of our Association was "to promote, by all available means, the education of the rising generation, and the extirpation of those symptoms which tend to future slavery," it was to some extent incumbent upon us to put forth our views on this important subject.  For, while a large portion of the hawks and owls of society were seeking to perpetuate that state of mental darkness most favourable to the securing of their prey, another portion, with more cunning, were for admitting a sufficient amount of mental glimmer to cause the multitude to walk quietly and contentedly in the paths they in their wisdom had prescribed for them.  A few, indeed, had talked of education as a means of light, life, liberty, and enjoyment for the whole human family; but these were, of course, the Utopians of the world; men who failed to perceive that God had made one portion of mankind to rule and enjoy, and the other to toil for them, and reverentially obey them.  When, however, the wide-spread poverty, the drunkenness, vices, and crimes of society were clearly traced to the absence of mental and moral light, and the necessity was shown for some comprehensive means for imparting these blessings to all men, bigotry at once commenced its ravings from every church and conventicle in the kingdom, declaring all light to be impious and godless, unless it were kindled at their particular altars.  Thus, from that period to the present, have those so-called "Christians" been able to selfishly thwart or retard every effort in favour of a wise and general system of education; and, better far, that they should continue to do so, and education depend on individual effort, than that bigotry under the name of religion, should be allowed to mar and stultify the great effort of making education the instrument of mental freedom and national progress.

    The following is the Address which was issued to the working classes on the subject of education in 1837:—


    "Brethren,—At this important era of intellectual enquiry, when the moralist begins to doubt the efficacy of his precepts to counteract the torrent of pernicious example—when the rigid deviser of punishments has become sceptical of the efficiency of his enactments—and when the speculative philanthropist is urging an enquiry into the merits of national education, as the most efficient cure for our national evils; we trust it will not be thought presumptuous if we—a portion of that class most in need of education—should state our ideas on the subject in common with others.

    "We are the more induced to do this, as we fear that class interests in some, and unfounded jealousies in others, have their pernicious influences to prevent, or mar the unbounded good that the working millions must derive from a wise and just system of education.

    "As, however, various honest opinions seem to be about equally divided between a national and an individual system of instruction, we are desirous of testing both these views by what we conceive to be first principles, the best criterion by which to judge all national and important questions.

    "We assume then, as a principle, that all just governments should seek to prevent the greatest possible evil, and to promote the greatest amount of good.  Now, if ignorance can be shown to be the most prolific source of evil, and knowledge the most efficient means of happiness, it is evidently the duty of Government to establish for all classes the best possible system of education.

    "We further assume, that poverty, inequality, and political injustice, are involved in giving to one portion of society the blessings of education, and leaving the other in ignorance; and, therefore, the working classes, who are in general the victims of this system of oppression and ignorance, have just cause of complaint against all partial systems of education.

    "Now, the annual catalogues of crimes in this country afford lamentable proofs of the great neglect of public duties.  They will stand in the records of the past as black memorials against the boasted civilization and enlightened philanthropy of England, whose Legislators are famed for devising modes of punishing, and in numerous instances for fostering crime, but exhibit, year after year, presumptuous proofs of their great omission to prevent it.  It will be said of them that they allowed the children of misery to be instructed in vice, and for minor delinquencies subjected them to severity of punishment, which matured and hardened them in crime; that, when callous to consequences, they had gone through all the gradations of wretchedness, from the common prison to the murderer's cell, that their judges gravely doomed them to die, gave them wholesome advice and the hopes of repentance; that eventually, when the fruits of their neglect and folly were exhibited on the gallows, they gave the public an opportunity of feasting their brutal appetites with the quivering pangs of maddened and injured humanity.
 
    "Apart, then, from those benevolent feelings of our nature, which should urge us to save a human being from destruction under all circumstances—should it not stimulate us, fellow citizens, to prevent those beings from becoming the ignorant and degrading disturbers of our peace, against whom our lives and property are not secure, with all our vigilance and precaution?  As parents, too, is it not our especial duty to prevent the evils of vice by the regenerating influence of knowledge, when our children may hourly suffer from pernicious example, and whose eyes and ears, with all our anxiety, we cannot shut against the brutal behaviour and foul language which ignorance engenders?  Nay, how many fond parents, who have carefully trained up their offspring free from such contamination, and have sought, by the most judicious education in their power, to fortify them against the evils to which they might hereafter be exposed, have yet been compelled to witness the powerful and seductive vices which the want of intellectual and moral training has encouraged and made fashionable in society, blighting all their hopes and desires.  There is indeed, scarcely a situation in life, as citizens, fathers, or brothers, where the pressing demands of duty should not awaken us to the dangers and consequences of ignorance, and the necessity of a more useful and extended system of education.

    "But, unhappily, though the time has gone by for the selfish and bigoted possessors of wealth to confine the blessings of knowledge wholly within their own narrow circle, and by every despotic artifice to block up each cranny through which intellectual light might break out upon the multitude, yet still, so much of the selfishness of caste is exhibited in their fetters on the Press, in their Colleges of restriction and privilege, and in their dress and badge-proclaiming charity schools, as to convince us that they still consider education as their own prerogative or a boon to be sparingly conferred upon the multitude, instead of a universal instrument for advancing the dignity of man, and for gladdening his existence.  Yet the selfishness of those exclusives fails not to react upon themselves; the joint influences of the poverty and ignorance their own folly has produced, fill them with the cares of the present, and dark forebodings of the future.  The modicum of mental light they have permitted, or failed to restrain, has been sufficient to expose their gross selfishness, but not to generate the spirit of enlightened benevolence and justice.
 
    "Thanks, however, to those latent energies which have stimulated the few to investigation and enquiry, that light is now diffusing itself in spite of all the barriers of pride and power, and, we hope, is teaching all classes to perceive the importance, not merely of cultivating the arts of reading and writing, but of all those higher faculties which bountiful Nature has so universally bestowed—not to sleep in ignorance, or be diverted to vice, but, doubtless, to reciprocate and swell the amount of human enjoyment.

    "Is it consistent with justice that the knowledge requisite to make a man acquainted with his rights and duties should be purposely withheld from him, and then that he should be upbraided and deprived of his rights on the plea of his ignorance?  And is it not equally cruel and unjust to suffer human beings to be matured in ignorance and crime, and then to blame and punish them?

    "Let our rulers ask themselves, when they see our prisons filled with victims, our land covered with paupers, and our streets infested with intemperance and prostitution, how much of those terrible evils are occasioned by ignorance, the consequence of their own neglect?—and how many of their sanguinary laws might have been spared, how many of their Prisons, Bridewells, and Hospitals dispensed with, and how many millions of public and private wealth, arrogantly given and ungraciously received, might not have been better appropriated in diffusing the blessing of education?
 
    "We are certain that enquiry will convince them of the fact; and will lead them to perceive, that knowledge, like the balmy breeze, cheers and refreshes in its progress, but ignorance, like the tainted air, scourges with disease as it sweeps onwards in its desolation.

    "We trust we have, in some degree, succeeded in showing the great importance of education, and the necessity of publicly extending it; not as a charity, BUT AS A RIGHT, a right derivable from society itself.  As society implies a union for mutual benefit, and consequently to publicly provide for the security and proper training of all its members, which if it fails to effect, the bond of social obligation is dissolved, and it degenerates into an unholy compact, selfishly seeking its own advantage, to the prejudice of the excluded.

    "Independent of which, charity, by diminishing the energies of self-dependence, creates a spirit of hypocrisy and servility all just governments should seek to prevent.  We contend, therefore, that it is the duty of the Government to provide the means of educating the whole nation; for as the whole people are benefited by each individual's laudable exertions, so all ought to be united in affording the best means of developing the useful powers of each. [p142]

    "But how, it may be asked, are the means to be provided?  We may reply, by asking how were the means provided for less worthy purposes?  We remember that twenty millions were paid to compensate the owners of slaves for relinquishing their unjust traffic.  That the means were provided for paying extravagant pensions, and for erecting useless palaces for royalty; and are still found to support an almost interminable list of idlers from year to year.  Whence, too, we may enquire, came our means to war against freedom wherever it raised its head, and to assist all the despots in Europe to keep their people in ignorance and slavery?  Were but half the anxiety evinced to train the human race in peace and happiness, as has hitherto been exerted to keep them in subjection to a few despots, abundant means would be afforded for the purpose.

    "But though we hold it to be the duty of Government to raise the means of education, by taxation or otherwise; to see it properly apportioned in the erecting of suitable and sufficient schools, and for superintending them so far as to see the original intention of the people carried into effect, we are decidedly opposed to the placing such immense power and influence in the hands of Government as that of selecting the teachers and superintendents, the books and kinds of instruction, and the whole management of schools in each locality.  While we want a uniform and just system of education, we must guard against the influence of irresponsible power and public corruption.  We are opposed, therefore, to all concentration of power beyond that which is absolutely necessary to make and execute the laws; for, independent of its liability to be corrupt, it destroys those local energies, experiments, and improvements so desirable to be fostered. for the advancement of knowledge, and prostrates the whole nation before one uniform, and, it may be, a power of, despotism.  We perceive the results of this concentration of power and uniformity of system lamentably exemplified in Prussia and other parts of the continent, where the lynx-eyed satellites of power carefully watch over the first indications of intelligence, to turn it to their advantage, and to crush in embryo the budding of freedom.

    "We think, therefore, that the selection of teachers, the choice of books, and the whole management and superintendence of schools in each locality should be confined to a SCHOOL COMMITTEE of twenty or more persons, elected by universal suffrage of all the adult population, male and female.  And to prevent local prejudices or party feuds from being prejudicial in the choice, the district for selecting the committee should be extended beyond the locality they should be called on to superintend.  They should wholly, or in part, be elected annually; should give a public report of their proceedings, and an account of the money received and expended every six months, and be responsible at all times to the majority of their constituents.

    "We conceive that the erection of Schools and Colleges should be at the expense of the nation, and that the numerous endowments and charitable bequests given for the purposes of education would be justly devoted towards that object, as well as other lucrative branches of public revenue.  That the whole application and management of them should be confined to a COMMITTEE OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION, of twelve persons, selected by Parliament every three years.  They should report annually, they should be responsible for all monies received and expended, and for the due fulfilment of all their duties, which duties should be publicly defined to them from time to time by Acts of Parliament.

    "We think also that the whole expenses of conducting and keeping those schools in proper condition should be provided for by an annual rate, to be levied by the School Committees in local districts; these districts to be divided, so as to embrace as nearly as possible an equal number of inhabitants, in order that all localities may share as equally as possible in the expenses and the advantages.

    "In order to provide competent and efficient teachers for those schools, NORMAL OR TEACHERS' SCHOOLS should be established in different districts throughout the country, in which gratuitous instruction should be afforded to a competent number of persons, who by their dispositions and abilities were fitting, and might wish, to become teachers.  Those schools should be managed and conducted by competent professors of every useful branch of art and science, who should be responsible to the local committees, and to the Committee of Public Instruction for the time being.  No teacher should be permitted to teach in any school who had not properly qualified himself in a Normal School, and could produce a certificate to that effect.  We think that one of the most essential things to be observed in the education of those teachers, is to qualify them in the art of simplifying knowledge, of imparting it with effect, and kindness of disposition.  Beyond these, we think there should be four different descriptions of schools:—

    "1st. INFANT SCHOOLS, for children from three to six years old.

    "2nd. PREPARATORY SCHOOLS, for children from six to nine.

    "3rd. HIGH SCHOOLS, for children from nine to twelve.

    "4th. FINISHING SCHOOLS, or COLLEGES, for all above twelve, who might choose to devote their time to acquire all the higher branches of knowledge.

    "A sufficient number of all those schools, for both sexes, ought to be judiciously erected, to suit the convenience of each locality.  The general training in all ought to embrace the harmonious development of the physical, moral, and intellectual powers of each child; to best preserve him in strength, morality, and intellect, so as to enable him to enjoy his own existence, and to render the greatest amount of benefit to others.

    "THE INFANT SCHOOLS should be open to all children between the ages of three and six; cleanliness and punctual attendance should be scrupulously insisted upon, as the best means of amalgamating of class distinctions, and preserving the children from corrupting influences.  We think the first object of the teachers should be, to place the children in accordance with the laws of their organization.  And it is, doubtless, in opposition to those laws, to confine them in close atmospheres, drilled to sit in one posture for hours, and to have their little feelings operated upon by the fears of the rod, of confinement, and of all the numerous follies at present practised to compel submission.  The air and exercise of the playground and garden are the first essentials at this early stage, where their teachers should as carefully watch over them as in the schoolroom, and, when all their faculties are in full activity, infuse those principles of action, justice, and kindness necessary to form their character, which at that age will be more impressive than book instruction.  They would be taught a knowledge of things as well as of words, and have their properties and uses impressed on their senses by the exhibition and explanation of objects.  Principles of morality should not be merely repeated by rote, but the why and wherefore familiarly explained to them.  Without dwelling on minute details, such we conceive should be the general outline of Infant Education.

    "The next step should be THE PREPARATORY SCHOOLS for children between the ages of six and nine.  In these, as in the infant schools, habits of regularity and cleanliness should be enforced.  They should, as best fitting to their physical development, have sufficient time for healthful exercise and recreation.  They should be carefully taught the laws of their organization, and the evils of infringing them—as forming the most important lessons to inculcate temperance in eating and drinking, and in all their physical enjoyments.  They should be equally taught the evils that are certain to arise to themselves and society from the infringement of the moral laws of their nature.  It should be the duty of their teachers familiarly to acquaint them with the social and political relations that exist between them and their fellow-beings.  They should be taught by the most simple explanations and experiments to perceive and discover the use, property, and relationship of every object within their own locality, and learn to express in writing, and in correct language, the ideas they have received.  The use and principles of arithmetic should be taught them by the most simple methods.  They should be taught to understand the principles and practice of music, a gratification and a solace even in the hut of poverty.  Their imagination should be sedulously cultivated by directing their attention to everything lovely, grand, or stupendous around them; as affording a wholesome stimulus to greatness of mind, and as powerful antidotes against the grovelling vices so prevalent in society.  In fact, the end and object of their teachers should be the equal and judicious development of all their faculties, and not the mere cultivation of the intellect.

    "THE HIGH SCHOOLS, as the name implies, should be for the still higher development of all those principles taught in the preparatory schools. In addition to which, the children should be taught a more extensive acquaintance with the topography, resources, pursuits, and habits of the country they live in, and with the physical and natural phenomena of the globe they inhabit. They should be instructed in the principles of Chemistry, and its general application to the arts, trades, and pursuits they might hereafter be engaged in; also the principles of design, and its general utility in all their avocations. They should possess a general knowledge of Geology and Mineralogy, and their most useful application; also of Social Science, of Physiology, and the laws of health, and the outlines of such other sciences as may be found useful. With the variation required for male and female, they should be taught the first principles of the most useful trades and occupations, by having workshops, tools, &c., attached to every such school. In addition to which a portion of land, where practicable, should be also attached, on which they should practically be taught a general knowledge of Agriculture and Gardening. In fact, they should here be fully educated to love knowledge and morality for their own sakes, and prepared to go out into active life with sound practical information to direct them, and a moral stamina to withstand its numerous temptations.

    "THE COLLEGES, in our opinion, should be gratuitously opened for all those who choose to cultivate the highest branches of knowledge.  We think that an intimate acquaintance with all known facts would be a valuable addition to antiquated lore, and greatly superior to the mystical absurdities at present cultivated more from vanity than for utility.  That the acquisition of the living languages should also be preferred to the dead; not that we advocate the neglect of the latter, but in order to promote a more intimate acquaintance with the inhabitants and literature of other countries, and thus help to break down those national prejudices which the tyrants of the world are too prone to take the advantage of in fomenting the evils of war and all its terrific consequences.  We think further, that the education at these colleges should comprise a knowledge of all the higher branches of the Mathematics, Chemistry, Geology, Mineralogy, Agriculture, Botany, Architecture (Civil and Naval), Natural Philosophy, the Science of Government, Political Economy, and every other science fitted to the capacity of the scholars.

    "In furtherance also of the great object of education, we think those schools, should be open every evening, to enable all the adult population who choose to avail themselves of the benefits of mutual instruction, societies, singing, lectures, or any other rational pursuits or amusements, unassociated with the means of intoxication and vice, that they wish to indulge in.

    "Such we conceive to be the outline of a system of education necessary to be established for extirpating the ignorance and immorality that prevail, and for training up our people to be politically free, morally honest, and intellectually great.

    "On the subject of corporal punishments, it may be necessary for us to express our opinion.  We think them highly mischievous at all times, and in every form.  They call forth and strengthen the most revengeful propensities in some, and cow the timid minds of others into slavish subjection.  Reason may direct the intellect to see impropriety of conduct, and kindness subdue the feelings of anger, but harsh blows and injudicious privations only strengthen a harsh disposition.

    "Taking also into account the numerous religious sects and political parties that exist in our country, to many of whom we are highly indebted for our present mental and moral improvement, we think no particular forms of religion should be taught in the schools.  We conceive that no particular doctrine can be safely determined on without just cause of complaint to some who might, notwithstanding, insist upon and urge its great importance when otherwise taught.  No particular creed or form of religion can be justly adopted; [p149] those who would impose them in the public schools upon the children of parents of all denominations, have profited little, we think, from the advice of Him who associated with publicans and sinners, who said he was 'no respecter of persons,' who cautioned his disciples to 'love one another,' and to 'do unto all men as they would that others should do unto them.'  Surely when abundant time can be found for imparting religious instruction beyond that dedicated to the purposes of the school, and when so many religious instructors of all denominations can be found most willing to impart their peculiar opinions, it would seem to be more in accordance with those precepts of Christ, mutually to unite in morally educating our children, to dwell in peace and union, which are the great essentials of religion, than by our selfish desires and sectarian jealousies, suffer ignorance, vice, and disunion to prevail.

    "We submit these views and opinions in the spirit of brotherhood, hoping you will investigate the subject and judge for yourselves."


 
CHAPTER VII.


IN the general election, consequent on the death of the King, the Liberal cause sustained a loss, for a season, in the defeat of Messrs. Roebuck, Colonel Thompson, Ewart, and Sharman Crawford.  The defeat of the two first was, I believe, occasioned by their freedom of opinion in opposition to some of their sabbatarian constituents; and of the others by the Whigs and Tories uniting their influence against them.  In furtherance of the cause of Radicalism, we deemed it necessary to entertain those friends of the people, by giving them a public dinner at White Conduit House; at which all the other Radical Members of the House of Commons were invited, and most of them attended; among others Mr. D. O'Connell, whose invitation, it would seem, gave great offence to Mr. Fergus O'Connor, a gentleman whose subsequent career proved so injurious to the Radical cause.

    The first time we heard of Mr. Fergus O'Connor in London was, I believe, at a meeting at Cockspur Street Tavern, where he avowed himself a follower and supporter of the great agitator of Ireland; in fact, he then regarded himself as one of O'Connell's tail.  Shortly after this, I have been given to understand, some electioneering matters gave rise to a quarrel between them; then O'Connor came over to reside in London, and began to attend our Radical meetings.  Soon after his quarrel Mr. Hetherington, myself, and some other Radical friends, believing him, at first, to have been unjustly treated by Mr. O'Connell, called a public meeting at Theobald's Road, to express an opinion on the subject.  A great number of Mr. O'Connell's friends attended on that occasion, and gave their version of the subject, so that we were all but outvoted on the resolution proposed; and, although Mr. O'Connor was in the gallery at the time, he left us to fight his battle as we best could.

    In December of this year, the Birmingham Political Union having put forth an admirable address to the Reformers of Great Britain and Ireland in favour of the suffrage, our Association replied to it as follows:―


    "Fellow-countrymen,—We have read with delight the noble declaration of principles you have put forth in your address to the reformers.  Your determination to firmly contend for those great principles of liberty, Universal Suffrage, the Ballot, and short and certain parliaments, entitle you not only to our cordial approbation and generous confidence, but also of all other similar Associations of Working Men.

    "We would merely direct your attention to what we feel satisfied was not an intentional omission in your address, we mean the abolition of Property Qualifications for Members of Parliament; without which men of wealth must be universally selected, instead of men of honesty and talent.

    "On reading your excellent introductory observations, we felt that if there were any just cause for regret, it was that you, the men of Birmingham, who in 1832 stood among the foremost ranks of reformers, who by your daring front drove the Tory minions from power, have so long and patiently been silent with the hypocritical, conniving, and liberty-undermining Whigs—have silently suffered them to pursue their treacheries and persecutions, foreign and domestic; to equally undermine the freedom of labour, the rights of man, and the liberty of nations.

    "We accept, however, with confidence, your honest explanation.  You gave them credit for virtues and intentions as remote from Whiggery as honesty of purpose is from Toryism.  We cordially join therefore with you, in calling upon our brethren in all parts of the kingdom to make another enthusiastic effort for freedom; to re-organize their Political Unions, and form themselves into Working Men's Associations, in every district, town, and parish in the country; and never to cease their agitation, nor rest satisfied till they have established our representative system upon a just and equitable basis.
 
    "Uniting upon the broad principle of universal right, we shall have the confidence and support of all good men with us.  The exclusive few alone, who seek for selfish power and benefits, will stand apart till the diffusion of knowledge shall have taught them correct principles of truth and justice.

    "We all think with you, that the cause of England and Ireland is one; and that our representatives are wanting, either in judgment or honesty, who under the plea of 'justice' to our country, will maintain by their influence persons in office who have declared against the further progress of reform, and consequently of liberty in both.

    "Justice, therefore, we say equally for Whig and Tory.  They are equally opposed to the rights of the people (they differ only in their policy), and every man who is the advocate of those rights ought never to hesitate in driving and keeping both factions from office.  Let not the Tories therefore believe that the old game of ins and outs is continually to be played for their especial advantage.  The time has arrived when no set of men can long retain office who refuse to progress with the intelligence of the age, and to accord justice to the millions.

    "The absurd notion entertained by the Court must yield to the dictates of reason found without its precincts—that there is no necessity for the Tories coming into office, for the want of more efficient persons to fill it than the Whigs.

    "With every respect for the judgment of Her Majesty, we think a cabinet could be selected of neither Whig nor Tory principles, yet possessing greater talent than have hitherto been found in the councils of Royalty—men disposed to the carrying forward of such measures of Reform as will give equal political rights and equal means of instruction to all the people, and consequently to afford the only efficient means by which our country shall progress in liberty, knowledge and happiness.

    "But in order to enable any set of men to progress in favour of liberty, against the corrupting influences that exist to oppose it, the people must be united to support them; and as power has a corrupting influence, the people must carefully watch over and remind them of their duty.  If the people will do this, their cause will succeed to the extent of their desires; but if they are indifferent to their rights, their enemies will enslave and eventually triumph over them.  Strong in the hopes that our brethren will respond to your call for union, we remain, &c., &c."

 
    In the commencement of the following year (1838) our Association having heard of still further excesses committed by the officials of Canada, under the sanction and authority of our Whig Government, presented another petition to the House of Commons, praying them to impeach the ministers for high crimes and misdemeanours.  This petition was drawn up by Mr. Hetherington, and contained a reiteration of the grievances to which the Canadians were subjected.  But as the House of Commons had previously sanctioned the Whigs in their wrongdoings against Canada, our prayer for impeachment was very much like appealing to culprits for a judgment against themselves.

    Our Association, about this period, having received a great number of addresses and communications from different bodies, among others from the Polish emigrants, thought it a suitable opportunity for putting forth their views on European politics.  These were embodied in the following "Address to the Working Classes of Europe, and especially to the Polish people":—


"Brethren,—In reply to the Polish Democrats who have recently addressed us, we beg it might be understood, not only by them, but by the working classes of Europe, that while we are zealously labouring to diffuse a knowledge of true principles among our own brethren, we are not unmindful of that great principle of democracy that, 'all mankind are brothers.'  And though the perversion of truth and justice has called forth the exclusive feelings of the few, to conspire and rebel against the happiness of the many; yet, when knowledge shall have expanded the intellect of mankind, they will assuredly perceive that all the nations of the earth have in reality but one brotherly interest.
 
    "Possessing this conviction, we feel persuaded that every effort that can be made towards eradicating those national prejudices and bigoted feelings which the selfish and despotic rulers of mankind have implanted and perpetuated for their own advantage, will tend towards that great consummation of national and universal happiness, when equality of rights shall be established, and when 'men shall love one another.'

    "And we know no better means of effecting this righteous object, than by availing ourselves of those great rights and privileges of humanity our countrymen have achieved through persecution and death, and which your oppressors have unjustly deprived you of, or prevented you from obtaining—we mean the right of investigating and enquiring, through the means of public meetings, open discussions, and the press (stamped and trammelled as it is), which is the most desirable form of government—the best mode of instructing the people—the most economical mode of producing wealth, and the best means of its just distribution—and of causing all the corruptions and anomalies of church, state, and individuals to pass in review before the great tribunal of public opinion, from which all power should emanate, and to which alone it should be responsible.

    "True it is that the friends of freedom throughout the continent have just cause to remember with feelings of execration the base conduct of the Government of England, in secretly undermining, or openly opposing every attempt they have made to check the inroads of despotism, or to advance the cause of democracy.  But it should be remembered that the same rampant spirit of aristocracy, which, by a corrupt legislative assembly, a hypocritical money-loving priesthood, and a standing army of soldiers, placement, pensioners, and expectant, keep the working millions in ignorance and subjection, have been, and still continue to be, the persecutors of liberty throughout the world, and not the reflecting portion of the people of England.

    "But, brethren, we think we have discovered the great secret of their power: it is our own ignorance of society and of government—our prejudices, our disunion, and distrust—and we feel that our enlightenment, union, and confidence will best dissolve this unholy compact of despotism.

    "Fellow workmen, have you ever asked yourselves by what powerful spell the productive millions of Europe are held in subjection to a puny insignificant number of human beings?  If you have not, begin now to enquire; and we think that reflection will convince you, that the people themselves have raised up and continue to support those few idols of wealth and power, which constitute at once their fear and adoration.  The foolish aspirations after power, the lust of riches, and the servile fear diffused throughout society, prepare mankind for the concentration of their own feelings, in the power, pomp, and pageantry of a crown.

    "Who, instead of questioning the choice, and fitness for office, are the first to bow before the antiquated name of royalty—to admire the splendid show and littleness of folly—to swell the slavish train of flatterers, who by their cringing make and mould the tyrant?—who but the giddy unreflecting people?

    "By whose labours are the citadels and fortifications of despotism erected, and all the waste and profligacy of courts and camps upheld?—The people's, who glory in the means which keep them slaves.  Where, but from the ranks of labour, have the despots of Europe raised their fighting slaves to keep their brother slaves in awe?  Who, but the people themselves, form the warlike phalanx round their tyrants' thrones, and glory in the privilege to wear their slavish trappings, and at some minion's bidding drench the land with blood?

    "Who, but the people, toil from birth till death, and thousands pine in misery—to support these idle few in all their oppressions and debaucheries, and think it just to do so?—nay!  Vow before the hireling priest who impiously declares that God has ordained it!

    "Democrats of Europe—you who aspire to place liberty upon the throne of justice—to establish the laws on the basis of equality—and to awaken the dormant faculties of mind to appreciate the social and political happiness of our race—be assured, that though the power of despotism can check the progress of knowledge, it is the ignorance of our brethren which generates and fosters the despot.

    "What thousand ineffectual efforts of freedom have been crushed by ignorance!  How many millions of generous hearts, panting for liberty, have been sacrificed by the allied despots of Europe, backed up as they have ever been by the ignorance and fanaticism of the millions?  When young freedom first broke her bonds of servility in France, and proclaimed the eternal rights of humanity, how few of her enthusiastic sons could appreciate the blessing!  When, in noble daring, she stretched forth her hand to emancipate Italy, to enfranchise Germany, and to raise up Switzerland from her political lethargy, what were the powers that paralysed her generosity?  The ignorance and prejudices of the masses, subjecting them to be the slaves of priests and nobles, and blind instruments of the wealth and title-hunting minions of despotism.  The 'altars and the throne' formed the magic spell by which European despots kindled the flame of loyal fanaticism, and the blind confidence reposed in an ambitious chieftain, rivetted anew the chains of kingcraft and priest-craft.  The subsequent struggles for freedom have again been fruitless of benefits to those who bled to effect it; the courageous few who broke the dominion of legitimacy in France, and who sought to establish equal rights for all, were constrained by the prejudices of the many in favour of royalty to set up the idol of wealth on the ruins of privilege.

    "The strange infatuation and foolish fears which cause the present electors of France to support a soulless tyrant in power, who, despite of oaths and protestations, has sacrificed one by one the liberties of their country, and now mocks them with his boasted alliances with despots, afford another presumptuous proof that principles are sacrificed by ignorance, or that conviction of mind has not yet engendered determination of purpose to expel such a perfidious tyrant from their soul.

    "The brave Belgians, touched by the electric spark excited by the heroes of July, united in subduing one species of despotism to fall the disunited victim of another.  Their foreign king, by exciting national prejudices against Dutchmen, by a corrupt press, and a system of German espionage, has succeeded in nullifying their revolution, and in keeping back the tide of political improvement—the work he was set by Whigs and Tories to perform.

    "In turning to Poland, the land of Kosciusko, what, let us enquire, was the curse that withered the principles of her ancient liberty, and hastened her downfall?  It was the curse of privilege.  It was the prejudice of caste, the offspring of ignorance, the source of political and social degradation, that paralysed the enthusiasm of the generous few who sought to free their country.  For it should be remembered that the nobility of Poland, by diplomacy, intrigue, and domestic despotism, were the immediate or accelerating cause of her subjugation.  Taking advantage of national prejudices, by holding the millions as property inseparable from their soil, they destroyed the only effective energies that could resist the desolating progress of Russian barbarity.

    "When the news of her recent struggle called forth the sympathy of every friend to freedom, what was the reason assistance was withheld them?  The people of France had foolishly prostrated their liberties before their Citizen King—the prototype of Nicholas himself.  The English, charmed with their sailor idol and his "reforming ministry," lauded and admired their pacific policy!—like their successors, very pacific when despotism is crushing the liberties of a country, but vigorous and warlike when liberty has the chances in her favour, as their present policy in Canada testifies.  The Russian tyrant, thus secure, and openly encouraged by the despots of the Continent, recklessly pursued his victim; not a voice was raised to cheer, nor an arm to defend her; Poland was eventually conquered, her sons have been persecuted and scattered through the earth, and her daughters have become the reward of her ferocious spoilers.  Heaven grant that her children may gather such seeds of democracy in their exile as, at no distant period, may be planted in their cherished country to produce fruits of national freedom and enlightened brotherhood.

    "Passing onward to the German and other despotic states, what, let us ask, has generated their iron system of injustice?  Why are all the powers of each state—the laws, revenues, church, education, and the press—all vested in one man?  Evidently because of the ignorance of the multitude!  An enlightened people would never submit to despotism.  Whence came their soldiers, spies, and informers, but from the ranks of the people? and who would consent to be such miscreant tools of despotism but the amorally depraved and mentally ignorant?

    "It has been the enlightened few in all countries, whose generous efforts to improve their species have been frustrated through the cowardice or servility of the masses; and who have been made to bleed on the scaffold, to pine in the dungeon, or to become wanderers through the world.

    "Need we revert to Hanover, where the prejudice in favour of hereditary sway has enabled a Tory chieftain to set aside constitutional rights, and to play the tyrant with impunity.  And shame to the servility of that country, the conscientious professors of Gottingen have been banished at his royal mandate, because they would not break their oaths to enslave their country.  Think you, if the intelligence and courage found among the professors and students of that city pervaded the multitude, that such infamous tyranny would escape the justice it so highly merits?

    "In Italy, where liberty has stamped immortality on her very ruins, where every step recalls the greatness of the past to mock the littleness of the present, the multitude—slaves to priest or prince—are insensible to the lesson.  The ardent few who, brooding over their illustrious forefathers, catch the inspirations of freedom, are, by the supineness of treachery of their brethren, made the victims of Austria, or of the petty princes who are the jackals of his power.  YOUNG ITALY, like the young in all countries, where knowledge has enlightened the understanding, is virtuously resolved in favour of liberty; but the old sins of ignorance, prejudice, and fanaticism, diffused among the masses, form a drag-chain to their progress, a barrier to their freedom.
 
    "Throughout the Continent the efforts of democracy have ever been checked and blighted by the same retarding curse.  The Greeks shook off the yoke of Turkey; the despots of Europe united to give them a child to rule them, and England the means to uphold his despotism.  The Spanish democrats rose against the union of priests and nobles, and proclaimed the Constitution of 1812, and abolished that retarding curse of just legislation, a privileged House of Nobles.  Our rulers and yours, through the ignorance of the multitude, intrigued and re-established it.  Under the plea of fighting against bigotry and absolutism, our rulers sent their bands of ignorant soldiers, to enable another set of plunderers, worse even than the former, to keep back the progress of freedom.  And, by their well-organized system of falsehood, too successfully imposed the belief on popular credulity.  But the republican insurrections at Cadiz, and all the principal towns, in favour of the Constitution of 1812 (which was suppressed by English soldiers and sailors), give the lie to those who contend that they were sent there to fight in favour of freedom.

    "Similar demonstrations in favour of liberty have been crushed in Portugal, and that by similar means; proving that, though the despots of the world may quarrel for territory or plunder, they are cordially united to keep the people in subjection.

    "Fellow producers of wealth! seeing that our oppressors are thus united, why should not we, too, have our bond of brotherhood and holy alliance?  Seeing that they are powerful through your ignorance, why should not we unite to teach our brethren, a knowledge of their rights and duties?  Perceiving that their power is derived from our ranks, why should not we unite in holy zeal to show the injustice of war, the cruelty of despotism, and the misery it entails upon our species?

    "Be assured, brother Democrats, that the success of our principles, and the consequent happiness of mankind, will best depend on our union and knowledge.  We must not rely on the mere excitation of the multitude to condemn bad men or measures, or to change one despot for another—we must labour to diffuse such political, social, and moral information among them, as shall enable them to found their institutions on principles of equality, truth, and justice.

    "And what man can look around him, and witness the governments that any ways approximate to those principles of liberty, and contrast the comfort and happiness of the inhabitants, with those founded on exclusive power and privilege, without being prepossessed in their favour?

    "Those of the cantons of Switzerland, where universal suffrage is established, where trades, manufactures, and agriculture are greatly combined—in spite of foreign intrigues and persecutions—are blessed with intelligence and happiness in proportion as they are free.  The Republic of America, cursed as it is with slavery and the remnants of royal dominion, is a beacon to freedom: and even the inhospitable shores of Norway bear witness in favour of democracy.

    "Let us, therefore, brethren, cultivate feelings of fraternity among nations, and brotherly union in our respective countries.  Let us not be so ignorant as to allow ourselves to be converted into soldiers, police, or any other of the infamous tools by which despotism is upheld, and our brethren enslaved.  Let us be prepared to make any sacrifice in the dissemination of truth, and to cultivates feelings of toleration between Jew, Catholic, Protestant, or Dissenter.  Let us respect the conscientious belief and opinions of each other; knowing how much depends on the education we receive, the books we read, the conversations we hear, and the government we live under.  Let us leave persecution for opinions to despots, and resolve that henceforth it shall not be found in the ranks of labour.
 
    "The organs of government, at this moment, are endeavouring to weaken our sympathies, by exciting our prejudice against the French Canadians.  The party who seek to keep Ireland in subjection, seek to excite our feelings against Catholicism from the same motives; therefore let us be assured, friends, that all those are the enemies of the people who seek to oppose the great Christian precept of 'love and charity.'

    "With the view of generating enquiry among the masses, and stimulating the few to renewed exertions, we have stated what we conscientiously believe are the great obstacles to human liberty.  But let not our enemies believe that we think our brethren less competent to exercise their political rights than those who now possess them.  No! we regard the franchise as the best of schoolmasters, and we point to the intelligence of America and Switzerland as proofs of the correctness of our opinions."


    In 1837 a furious attack was made upon the trade unions of the kingdom by Mr. O'Connell and a large portion of the master manufacturers, aided by a portion of the press devoted to their interests.  It had its origin in a strike made by the journeymen cotton-spinners of Glasgow against a reduction of wages proposed by their employers.  During this strike a person of the name of Smith was shot in the public street, which was at once charged upon the cotton-spinners, and a number of them were arrested and put upon their trial.  The indictment and evidence against them (forming two folio volumes) embraced charges of conspiracy, fire-raising, and murder, extending backwards over a period of twenty-five years.  The principal charges against them, however, could not be proved; but on one charge, that of conspiring together to intimidate a person from working, they were sentenced to transportation for seven years.

    The horrible charges trumped up against these men were re-echoed through the press, as the acts and deeds of trade unions in general, and no language was thought too severe to be used against them.  This attack induced the trade associations of Glasgow to appoint a deputation to come up to London to lay the case of the cotton-spinners before the public, as well as for petitioning Parliament to institute a fair enquiry regarding the charges made against them.  Mr. Daniel O'Connell, however, having previously joined in the attack made upon trade unions, opposed the enquiry, unless the investigation extended also to the Dublin trades.  This the Government agreed to, and the enquiry was made general; a Select Parliamentary Committee having been appointed in February, 1838, to enquire into the operation of the Combination Act, and the Constitution and Proceedings of Trade Unions in general.

    The trade unions of the kingdom, while they were fully prepared for any investigation into their proceedings, could not but feel indignant in being charged with the acts of individuals committed before many of them were born; as was the case on the cotton-spinners' trial.  They, therefore, viewed the parliamentary enquiry as an attempt to establish some plea for repealing the Combination Act, and for thus crushing, if possible, all union among working men.  This feeling caused the majority of trades in town and country to make every arrangement for securing, if possible, a fair investigation by the Parliamentary Committee.  A General Committee was accordingly appointed by the trades of London; local committees were appointed in other towns; a Parliamentary Agent was engaged; and I was so far honoured by their confidence as to be chosen their Secretary.


    It was on the eve of this enquiry that Fergus O'Connor sought to prejudice public opinion against our Working Men's Association, in attributing the enquiry to us.  The charge was made in a letter to John Fraser, of Edinburgh, the Secretary of the Edinburgh Radical Association; in which he said "the first step in this deadly course was taken by the Working Men's Association of London."  The following letter in reply to him will best convey what part we took in the affair, as well as our opinion of that gentleman at this early period of his history:—


"Sir,—In the Northern Star of last week, you were pleased to make an unprovoked attack upon our Association.  Alluding to the appeals that had been made to the House of Commons on behalf of the unfortunate cotton spinners, you said that 'the first step in this deadly course was taken by the Working Men's Association.'  And then you proceed to say that you attended our meeting to point out the fallacy of our proceeding—and it would seem, because we did not yield to your dictation, we have grievously offended.  Sir, we are exceedingly obliged for your unusual bit of candour in thus speaking out the venom of your spleen; your language has hitherto been cautiously enigmatical, abounding in inuendoes, wishing by the hackneyed terms of 'Whigs Malthusian,' 'Working Class Coadjutors,' and such like epithets to convey a slanderous meaning, your courage never till now embodied in plainer language. 

    Now it so happens that you do not speak truth when you say that the first step in this 'deadly course' (which you are pleased to call it) was taken by us, for the Committee of Trade Delegates were the first to petition Parliament on the subject, and their motives in that step were doubtless as pure as our own—that of endeavouring to remit the sentence of the unfortunate men.  Indeed, the odious colours in which the press depicted the proceedings of Glasgow; the horrid recital of oaths, secrecy, murdering and fire-raising—said to have been committed by the Cotton Spinners' Association—had created in many of our minds (as we have no doubt it had in those of thousands) a strong impression of their guilt, until the trade delegates from Glasgow had fully explained to us the whole of those horrid charges which were gleaned together over a period of twenty years and upwards, to suit the purposes of the prosecutors.  And we appeal to Messrs. McNish, Cuthburtson and Campbell, whether they were not urgent in their desire that the whole affair should be fully investigated in order to prove the innocence of the men, and to remove the foul calumnies which a corrupt press had fastened on the Cotton Spinners' Association; and through them to a great extent on trades' unions in general.  The feelings, which conscious innocence inspires, caused them to court the fullest inquiry into their affair, and we appeal to every reflecting mind whether we were wrong in seconding their praiseworthy exertions.

    But, sir, it is your evident intention to impress the working classes with the belief that the enquiry into trades' unions in general originated with us.  So far from this, we appointed a deputation on the 9th of January last to wait on Mr. O'Connell whenever he came to town, to know his reasons and intentions regarding the enquiry he had threatened to make several weeks previous, so that we might be prepared to meet any evil arising from a partial enquiry in a House of Commons constituted like the present.  Indeed, as most of us are members of trades' unions, we have the motives of self-preservation to be tremulously alive to every circumstance that may in any way injure or impair the usefulness of trade societies.  But when the black charges of conspiracy and murder are made against a trade society, and when the lives of five men are jeopardized by prejudiced public feelings, we think it little serves the purpose of justice or humanity to shrink, or advise shrinking, from that investigation which would serve to dispel the one, and save the other from destruction.

    Sir, you might have beaten the big drum of your own vanity till you grew sick of its music, and revelled in your own selfish idolatry till common sense taught your audience that the sacrifice was greater than the benefit, had you been pleased to excuse us from worshipping at your altar.  But no, your own vain self must be supreme—you must be 'the leader of the people'—and from the first moment that we resolved to form an association of working men, and called upon them to manage their own affairs, and dispense with leadership of every description; we have had you and patriots of your feelings continually in arms against us. You have made three or four attempts to get up associations in London where you might be 'the leader'—not brooking that working men should dare presume to think of principles instead of public idols.  You have failed in all your attempts.  You have christened public meetings 'great associations' to suit your purposes—you have dubbed yourself 'the missionary of all the Radicals of London,' your constituents being your own presumptuous boastings.  You 'are the founder of Radical Associations!'  Heaven save our ignorance! or blot out the memory of Cartwright, Hunt and Cobbett.  You tell the country that you alone have organized the Radicals of London'—and tell the Londoners the wonders your genius has performed in the country.  You carry your fame about with you on all occasions to sink all other topics in the shade—you are the great 'I AM' of politics, the great personification of Radicalism—Fergus O'Connor.

    Could self-idolatory do more, without blushing, than you did in your paper last week?  The mechanics of London, met to hear the statements of the Glasgow delegates—their eloquent and pathetic tale at once annihilated the prejudices formed by a corrupt press.  You intruded yourself on that meeting in opposition to a resolution that none but members of trade societies should speak.  In your expressly made report, your sympathy to the cotton spinners gave about a dozen lines of what all others had said, and about three columns of your own speech, whole sentences in which, by-the-bye, you had not the courage to speak, though you had the vanity to insert them in your paper.

    We beg to remind you that these sentiments have been called forth by your slanderous attack on us; you would have it believed, to our prejudice, that we have been neglectful of the interests of working men, because we choose another path from yours.  But time will show, and circumstances soon determine, who are their real friends; whether they are 'the leaders of the people' who make furious appeals to their passions, threatening with fire and sword, or those who seek to unite them upon principles of knowledge and temperance, and the management of their own affairs."


    O'Connor published a shuffling reply to this in the Northern Star, which concluded with a threat, that "we must either crush him, or he would annihilate our association"; a threat which evinced the spirit of the man, who, after he had made a false charge, threatened us with annihilation for complaining.

    To detail our labours in the "Trade Combination Committee" would form a lengthened story; suffice it to say that we commenced our proceedings with an "Address to the Working Classes, in reply to the attacks made upon Trade Unions"; that we opened up a correspondence with most of the trade associations in the three kingdoms, and got them to send up competent persons to be examined before "The Select Committee," to rebut the charges made against them.  Unfortunately, Mr. Wakley and Mr. Findley, the persons on the committee on whom we chiefly relied to examine our witnesses, were taken ill soon after the examination commenced, which gave our opponents a great advantage over us, for Mr. O'Connell was the masters' exclusive advocate, and our bitter opponent, supplying them secretly with the evidence given.  Several witnesses were examined regarding the cotton trade and some of the Dublin trades, and, although both masters and men were proved to have been guilty of many foolish and unjustifiable acts, the horrible charges previously made against trade associations were not substantiated.  The evidence was printed, but no report made; a Commentary on and an analysis of which was drawn up by myself and subsequently published by our committee, entitled "Combinations Defended."



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