William Lovett: Autobiography (4)

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LIFE AND STRUGGLES OF
WILLIAM LOVETT



CHAPTER XIII.


ON our release from prison, which took place on July 25, 1840, we were welcomed by a large number of people in the town of Warwick; delegates also having been sent from many towns to greet our entrance into Birmingham, the people of that town also having made arrangements for a public procession and a festival on the occasion.  My health, however, was in that state that I was obliged to decline this generous invitation, as well as a number of others I had received from different parts of the country, and to set off into Cornwall as soon as possible, to try as a restorative the air of my native place.  The members of our Working Men's Associations, the Combination Committee, and Cabinet Makers, having conjointly made arrangements for giving a public dinner to Mr. Collins and myself, I did manage to attend that before I set off.

    The dinner took place at White Conduit House, in a large tent, on August the 3rd, when upwards of 1000 persons sat down to dinner.  Mr. Wakley, the member for Finsbury, took the chair: Mr. Duncombe, the other member, and a great number of friends attended; and Mr. Richard Moore officiated as secretary.  There was also a ball in the evening.  I must also gratefully acknowledge the further kindness of my friends, composing the Working Men's Associations, the Combination Committee, the Cabinet Makers, and other kind friends who exerted themselves in various ways to procure subscriptions for the support of my wife and daughter, while I was in prison.  They had also been so far successful among my friends in different parts of the country that, in addition to their support, they had raised sufficient to pay my expenses down into Cornwall, as well as a few pounds for helping me into a small way of business when I returned.

    Before, however, I went down to Cornwall., Mr. Collins and myself made arrangements for the printing and publishing of Chartism, the little work already referred to.  The first edition of it sold off during my stay in Cornwall; and it having been very favourably reviewed by the Press, we were induced, in consequence, to stereotype the second edition; but this not selling (in consequence of the clamour subsequently raised against us by the O'Connorites) caused us to lose by the transaction.

    I may state, also, that I was no sooner out of prison than I had a variety of claims made upon me on account of the Charter Newspaper.  This was a paper devoted to the interests of the working classes, and originated in a proposal made to our Combination Committee by Mr. William Carpenter, its first editor.  It was conducted for some time by a committee chosen by the subscribers, and the paper and printing found by a printer and paper merchant, in consideration of the number of persons who had agreed to purchase it.  It was carried on, I think, for nearly twelve months, but the speculation not answering the expectation of the printer, he gave up the printing of it, and the committee consequently dissolved.  Myself and another, however, had allowed our names to be entered as sureties at the Stamp Office, and we had not formally withdrawn them when I was sent to prison.  The publisher, however—very unjustly to us—thought fit to carry on the paper on his own account; and our names standing at the Stamp Office, rendered us liable for a great variety of debts he incurred on it.  The other surety not being so well known to the creditors as myself, when I came out of prison I was dunned in all directions for these debts; and claims for a considerable amount were sent down to Cornwall after me.  As may be supposed, this was to me a source of great trouble and difficulty, but eventually some of the creditors were induced to relinquish their claims, some of the debts my friends subscribed together and paid, and others I paid myself, or compounded for, as I best could.

    As regards my journey, I may state that the bracing effects of my voyage down, the kindness of friends and the salubrious air of Cornwall, in a few months greatly served to renovate my shattered constitution; although I may now conclude that I shall never fully recover from the debilitating effects produced on my health by my treatment in Warwick Gaol.

    Having been depicted by the opponents of Chartism in the blackest colours, I was regarded as something monstrous by many, and I must mention a little anecdote in proof of it.  Riding on the top of an omnibus towards my brother's house, I got into conversation with a gentleman beside me on the subject of mineralogy, he having some specimens with him.  I said I wanted a few of a peculiar kind, but I did not know where to meet with them, when he told me he thought he could supply me if I called on him.  I thanked him, and said I would do so.  A little time before I got down I gave him my address in exchange for his own; but when he saw my name, he said "What! William Lovett, the Chartist?"  "Yes," I replied, "the same individual."  "Why," said he, scrutinizing me very earnestly, "you don't look like one"; evidently believing that a Chartist was something monstrous.  "Well," I said, "as you gave me an invitation to call on you without knowing me, now you do know that I am a Chartist, your invitation had best be cancelled."  "Not so," he replied good-humouredly; "we met on scientific grounds, and I do not trouble myself about politics, and if you call I shall be glad to see you."  I did so in a short time, when he showed me his collection, and I purchased a few specimens of him.  He proved to be a Superintendent of the Wesleyan Ministers of that district, and, I doubt not, a very estimable man, for all his notions about Chartists.

    Not possessing strength to work at the cabinet business, I was induced, on my return to town, to open a small book-seller's shop in Tottenham Court Road, conceiving that to be a business by which I might earn my bread, and which my wife could manage, and by which I might have some time to devote to politics; but here I was again doomed to disappointment.  But although I had not much business in my shop, I was kept busily engaged otherwise; for I was very soon elected a vestryman of St. Pancras, and soon after one of the guardians of the poor.  Soon after I opened my shop, I also received a letter from Mr. Samuel Smiles, the author of the Life of Stephenson, and other admirable works, offering me the situation of sub-editor to the Leeds Times, he being then the editor of that paper.  Not liking, however, to leave London, and thinking that I might be able to earn a livelihood by my bookselling business, I respectfully declined his kind offer.

    Not many months after I had opened my shop I received also a requisition, signed by a number of persons, requesting me to take some active steps for the formation of an association upon the plan set forth in our little work entitled Chartism.  I accordingly drew up the following address, and Messrs. Collins, Hetherington, Cleave, Rogers, Mitchell and others having appended their signatures to it, copies of it were forwarded to leading Radicals in different parts of the country, inviting their signatures previous to its general publication—the same means, in fact, which we formally adopted with our Irish address:—

 
    "To the Political and Social Reformers of the United Kingdom,—Brethren, in addressing you as fellow-labourers in the great cause of human liberty, we would wish to rivet this important truth on your mind:—You must become your own social and political regenerators, or you will never enjoy freedom.  For true liberty cannot be conferred by acts of parliament or decrees of princes, but must spring up from the knowledge, morality, and public virtue of our population.  Be assured, fellow-countrymen, that those who have hitherto been permitted to rule the destinies of nations, who in their madness or folly have cursed the land with wars, cruelty, oppression, and crime, will ever maintain their power and ascendancy while they have ignorant and demoralized slaves to approve of and execute their mandates.  Though revolution were to follow revolution, and changes were to be continually effected in our constitution, laws, and government, unless the social and political superstructure were based upon the intelligence and morality of the people, they would only have exchanged despotism for despotism, and one set of oppressors for another.

    "If, therefore, you would escape your present social and political bondage, and benefit your race, you must bestir yourselves, and make every sacrifice to build up the sacred temple of your own liberties, or by your neglect and apathy bequeath to your offspring an increase of degradation and wrong.  You cannot suppose that those who revel in the spoils of labour, and live by the wretchedness they have created, will be instrumental in promoting the political and social improvement of the people.  They may talk of liberty while they are forging your fetters; may profess sympathy while they are adding insult to wrong; and may talk of instructing you while they are devising the most efficient means of moulding you into passive slaves; but they will contemptuously spurn every proposal for establishing equality of political rights and social obligations—the enduring basis of liberty, prosperity, and happiness.

    "Let every man among you, then, who is desirous of seeing the bounties of heaven made subservient to human enjoyment, who is desirous of seeing our land blessed with peace and human brotherhood, and the intellectual and moral capabilities man is endowed with springing forth in all their usefulness and excellence, anxiously enquire how he can best aid the holy cause of man's social regeneration and political freedom.

    "Tracing most of our social grievances to class legislation, we have proposed a political reform upon the principles of the People's Charter; we have made it the polar-star of our agitation, and have resolved by all just and peaceful means to cause it to become the law of our country.  Believing it to have truth for its basis, and the happiness of all for its end, we conceive that it needs not the violence of passion, the bitterness of party spirit, nor the arms of aggressive warfare for its support; its principles need only to be unfolded to be appreciated, and being appreciated by the majority, will be established in peace.

    "But while we would implore you to direct your undivided attention to the attainment of that just political measure, we would urge you to make your agitation in favour of it more efficient and productive of social benefit than it has been hitherto.  We have wasted glorious means of usefulness in foolish displays and gaudy trappings, seeking to captivate the sense rather than inform the mind, and aping the proceedings of a tinselled and corrupt aristocracy, rather than aspiring to the mental and moral dignity of a pure democracy.

    "Our public meetings have on too many occasions been arenas of passionate invective, party spirit, and personal idolatry, rather than public assemblies for calmly deliberating and freely discussing national or local grievances; or as schools for the advancement of our glorious cause, by the dissemination of facts and inculcation of principles; as it is by such teachings that our population will be prepared to use wisely the political power they are now seeking to obtain.

    "We are, therefore, desirous of seeing these means applied to a higher and nobler purpose, that of developing the mental and moral energies of our population, to the great end of their political freedom and social happiness.  For as no earthly power can prevent an intelligent people from obtaining their rights, nor all the appliances of corruption permanently enslave them, we are anxious, above all things, in seeing them instructed in their political rights and social duties.

    "Although the attainment of political power is essential to enable them to improve to any extent their physical condition, yet we believe that a vast increase of social enjoyment might be effected (despite a corrupt and degrading government), if sobriety and moral culture were more generally diffused.  And, therefore, we are desirous of seeing our political teachers disseminating unpalatable truths against drunkenness and immorality of every description, and, by precept and example, endeavouring to rescue our brethren from the thraldom of their own vices, and from servilely imitating the corruptions and vices of those above them.

    "As also the children of to-day will, in a few years, be called upon to exercise the rights and duties of men, it becomes our paramount duty to qualify them for their future station, and not permit them to be moulded to the several purposes of priestcraft, sectarianism, and charity-mongers; but to devise, maintain, and execute a wise and just system of education, calculated to develop all the powers and energies God has given them, to the end that they may enjoy their own existence, and extend the greatest amount of happiness to all mankind.

    "With no disposition to oppose the associations already formed, but with an anxious desire to see all those interested in the social and political improvement of their fellow men, united in one general body to effect it, we propose that such an association be established, and that the following be its objects:―


    "NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF THE UNITED KINGDOM, for Promoting the Political and Social Improvement of the People.

    "1. To establish in one general body persons of all creeds, classes, and opinions, who are desirous to promote the political and social improvement of the people.

    "2. To create and extend an enlightened public opinion in favour of the People's Charter, and by every just and peaceful means secure its enactment; so that the industrious classes may be placed in possession of the franchise, the most important step of all political and social reformation.

    "3. To appoint as many missionaries as may be deemed necessary to visit the different districts of the kingdom, for the purpose of explaining the views of the association, for promoting its efficient organization, for lecturing on its different objects, and otherwise seeing that the intentions of the general body are carried into effect in the several localities, according to the instructions they may receive from the general Board.

    "4. To establish circulating libraries, from a hundred to two hundred volumes each, containing the most useful works on politics, morals, the sciences, history, and such instructing and entertaining works as may be generally approved of.  Such libraries to vary as much as possible from each other, and be sent in rotation from one town or village in the district to another, and to be lent freely to the members.

    "5. To print from time to time such tracts and pamphlets as the Association may consider necessary for promoting its objects; and, when its organization is complete, to publish a monthly or quarterly national periodical.

    "6. To erect Public Halls or Schools for the People throughout the kingdom, upon the most approved principles and in such districts as may be necessary.  Such halls to be used during the day as infant, preparatory, and high schools, in which the children shall be educated on the most approved plans the Association can devise, embracing physical, mental, moral, and political instruction; and used of an evening by adults for public lectures on physical, moral, and political science; for readings, discussions, musical entertainments, dancing and such other healthful and rational recreations as may serve to instruct and cheer the industrious classes after their hours of toil, and prevent the formation of vicious and intoxicating habits.  Such halls to have two commodious play-grounds, and where practicable, a pleasure-garden attached to each; apartments for the teachers, rooms for hot and cold baths, for a small museum, a laboratory and general workshop where the members and their children may be taught experiments in science, as well as the first principles of the most useful trades.

    "7. To establish in such towns or districts as may be found necessary normal or teachers' schools for the purpose of instructing schoolmasters and mistresses in the most approved systems of physical, mental, moral, and political training.

    "8. To establish on the most approved system such agricultural and industrial schools as may be required for the education and support of the orphan children of the Association, and for instructing them in some useful trade or occupation.

    "9. To offer premiums, whenever it may be considered advisable, for the best essays on the instruction of children and adults, for the best description of school books, or for any other object promotive of the social and political welfare of the people.

    "10. To devise from time to time the best means by which the members, in their several localities, may collect subscriptions and donations in aid of the above objects, [p255] may manage the superintendence of the halls and schools of their respective districts, may have due control over all the affairs of the Association, and share in its advantages, without incurring personal risk or violating the laws of the country.


"Submitting those objects for your serious consideration, and resolving to make every possible effort to establish such an association, we remain your devoted servants in the cause of human liberty and social happiness," etc. etc.


    This address was no sooner issued than it was denounced by O'Connor and the writers in his paper, the Northern Star, as a "new move," concocted by Hume, Roebuck and O'Connell for destroying his power, and for subverting his plan—that of the "National Charter Association," and his land scheme.  All who appended their names to it were condemned as "traitors, humbugs, and miscreants," and myself in particular came in for a double portion of abuse.  A number of those who, approving of the plan, had appended their signatures to it, bowed and cringed most basely under this storm of vituperation; and the only reward they got from the Star for withdrawing their names from our address was to obtain the designation of "rats escaping from the trap."

    Votes of censure and denunciations innumerable assailed us from every corner of the kingdom where O'Connor's tools and dupes were found, but fortunately for me and my friends they had not power in proportion to their vindictiveness, or our lives would have been sacrificed to their frenzy.  Among the most prominent of our assailants in London was a Mr. A. Watkins, a person of some talent, and, I believe, of some property, who preached and published a sermon to show the justice of assassinating us.  An extract from this very popular discourse (for it was preached many times in different parts of London) will serve to convey its spirit:—"The interest of Chartism demands that we be firm friends, and as firm foes.  No truckling, no time-serving, no temporising, no surrender to the enemy, no quarter to traitors.  Despots show no quarter to traitors, except quartering their limbs.  What was the sentence on poor Frost?—to be hanged by the neck; but to be cut down while yet alive, his bowels to be torn out before his own eyes, and his limbs to be severed from his breathless, bleeding trunk.  If Frost was a traitor to government, he was true to us, and if such was to be his fate, shall traitors to the people—the worst of traitors—be tenderly dealt with—nay, courted, caressed?  No, let them be denounced and renounced; let us prevent their future treasons, and make examples of them to deter future traitors.  Washington hanged Major Andre in spite of his most urgent intercessions—hanged him for being a spy—and who will say that Washington's example should not be followed?  We are in a warfare, and must have martial law--short shrift, and sharp cord."

    All kinds of ridiculous charges were made against us in the Star, and every species of insult and abuse poured forth against every person who presumed to defend us, but seldom an argument in our favour was admitted into the columns of that paper.  Although those poor frenzied dupes who had been blindly intoxicated with the falsehoods of O'Connor were for the most part too cowardly to have recourse to personal violence, they exercised their powers in various ways to injure all those who were favourable to the "new move," as they designated our plan.  Many were the persons whose business they ruined by their persecution, and many were those who left their country in consequence; and as far as they could injure my own business they did so.  My respected friend, Mr. Neesom, who at one time was a zealous, physical-force O'Connorite, but who had seen cause to change his opinions, and to append his signature to our address, was one who was persecuted by them most relentlessly.  Living at Spitalfields, in the midst of the most virulent of them, and his newspaper business and his wife's school greatly dependent on them, these were speedily shut up, his life often threatened, and he and his wife, in their old age, obliged to seek elsewhere for a livelihood.

    Regarding the "National Charter Association" referred to, I may observe that on my return from Cornwall I received an invitation to join it, but refused, on the grounds of its illegality, at the same time referring them to an Act of Parliament, in which it was shown that all who belonged to them incurred the risk of transportation.  Mr. Collins also about the same time called the attention of the editor of the Northern Star to the same subject; and the editor, writing to Mr. F. Place for his opinion, was shown by him also the illegality of this association.

    To return to the address referred to, which had excited all this hostility, I must state that eighty-six persons having appended their signatures to it, in testimony of their approval, induced us to take further steps for the promotion of our object.  With this view we issued the following address to the Political and Social Reformers of the United Kingdom:—


    "Fellow-Countrymen.—In addressing you on subjects connected with your political rights and social duties, we are no ways anxious to proclaim our actions or our sacrifices in the cause of the people; we merely demand that justice for ourselves which we have suffered in seeking to establish it for others—the justice of being heard patiently, and judged impartially.

    "Having been mainly instrumental in embodying in the People's Charter those political principles which, for a great number of years, were cherished by all true reformers, but which previously divided and distracted them by being separately contended for; and many of us having also suffered persecution and imprisonment in defence of its principles; we thought ourselves entitled, in common with others, to put forth our views and opinions respecting the best means of causing that measure to become the law of the land.

    "Conceiving that the past conduct of a number of those who professed to subscribe to the just principles of the Charter was wanting in that integrity, honesty, and justice, which are necessary qualifications to secure the co-operation of the wise, and the confidence of the good; and believing that the falsehood, exaggeration, and violence of those who were active to scheme, but too cowardly to act, had led to the sacrifice and incarceration of hundreds of victims, by which means our cause had been retarded and defamed, we felt anxious to redeem by reason what had been lost by madness and folly.

    "We accordingly, about five months ago, put forth ago, proposal for forming a National Association, as set forth in a pamphlet, written in Warwick Gaol, entitled Chartism—a plan embracing such objects as, in our opinion, were best calculated to unite the elements of Chartism, and secure the co-operation of benevolent minds who were desirous of benefiting the great mass of the people politically and socially.

    "In publishing that plan, we explicitly stated that we had no wish to interfere with the societies then in existence; our object being to form a general association for certain explicit purposes.  These purposes being, first and foremost, to create and extend an enlightened public opinion in favour of the People's Charter, among persons of all creeds, classes, and opinions, by the means of missionaries, lecturers, circulating libraries, tracts, etc.  And in order to secure proper places of meeting for those purposes, we proposed a systematic and practical plan for the erecting of Public Halls for the People in every district of the kingdom; by which means our working-class brethren might be taken out of the contaminating influences of public-houses and beer-shops—places where many of their meetings are still held, in which their passions are inflamed, their reason drowned, their families pauperized, and themselves degraded and politically enslaved.

    "Seeing, also, that vast numbers of our infant population are the neglected victims of ignorance and vice, creating on the one hand the evils we are seeking to remove, on the other—seeing that the selfish, the bigoted, and the fanatic, are intent on moulding to their several purposes the infant mind of our country; and that the different parties in the state have for several years past been devising such national schemes of instruction as shall cause our population to become the blind devotees and tools of despotism—we urged on our brethren the necessity of remedying and averting those evils, by adopting a wise and General System of Education in connection with these Public Halls; such a system of instruction as shall develop in the rising generation all the faculties which God has given them, to the end that they might enjoy their own existence, and extend the greatest amount of happiness to others.

    "In proposing this plan, we impressed on our brethren the necessity of devoting to those ennobling purposes those means which had previously been wasted in frivolous efforts and childlike displays.  We urged them with all the earnestness which the importance of the subject merits, that all who would place freedom on an enduring basis, to adopt such a course of agitation in favour of our Charter as should unite in one bond of brotherhood the wise and benevolent of all classes, who would be intent on cherishing and propagating the noblest principles of freedom among young and old, so that the most substantial fruits might be gathered from that political power we are now seeking to obtain.

    "This proposal, while it was warmly greeted by the Press, and received the commendations of a great number of intelligent minds among all parties, was met with falsehood, intolerance and bitterest rancour, by the most prominent organ of Chartism, The Northern Star.  Its proprietor and editor jointly denounced it as a production of Messrs. O'Connell, Hume and Roebuck! as a plan intended to destroy Fergus O'Connor's political supremacy and subvert one which he had previously concocted.  Education was ridiculed, Knowledge was sneered at, Facts were perverted, Truth suppressed, and the lowest passions and prejudices of the multitude were appealed to, to obtain a clamorous verdict against us.  We were denounced by them and their hired partisans, as 'thieves, liars and traitors to the cause of Chartism,' as persons who 'if a guillotine existed in England would be its just victims.'  Nay, a sermon! has been preached by one of those professors of freedom to show the necessity for privately assassinating us.

    "As far as we have been able to obtain insertion for a vindication of our conduct, through the channel by which we have been calumniated, we have called, but called in vain, for proofs of their base assertions.  As far as they have dared reply to us, they have proclaimed themselves false, intolerant and reckless in the eyes of every reflecting man; and when the eyes of their dupes shall have been opened, they will be ashamed of the virulence they have displayed against men whose only crime has been the publication of a rational plan for the attainment of the People's Charter.

    "Strong in rectitude of our principles, and more than ever convince of the necessity of that plan, we pity those who have so vindictively assailed us.  Their vanity has inflamed their intellect, their prejudices have darkened their understanding, and toleration and charitable feeling have been blotted from their minds.  Believing themselves supremely wise, they spurn with Gothic ferocity all knowledge, truth, or justice; and, judging from their actions, they seem to think that liberty can only be realized by violence and proscription.

    "But while these are the characteristics of the most ignorant and noisy portion of the Chartist body—persons who, without thought or judgment, are empty professors of our principles to-day, but worshippers at any other shrine to-morrow—we believe that the great bulk of our Chartist brethren is composed of men whose conviction in favour of the Charter has sprung from observation, enquiry, and patient investigation regarding the causes of political injustice and social misery.  Men of this description may be deceived and misled for a season by mystification and falsehood; but their minds, bent on enquiry and ever open to conviction, will soon penetrate the flimsy veil which has been drawn over their understanding.

    "To men of this character we confidently appeal; and we ask them whether the best means of obtaining the Charter, and the placing of our liberties on the securest foundation, do not form proper and legitimate questions of enquiry for every man in the United Kingdom?  Or is it that the solving of these questions forms the exclusive prerogative of any particular individual or party among the people?—thus practically exemplifying in conduct the exclusive and despotic principles which they seek to overthrow, and bidding fair to render Chartism a by-word and derision.

    "Holding the principles of democracy, we will yield to no man's dictation; we believe that both England and Ireland have been cursed by man-worship, to the sacrifice and delay of that freedom we are now contending for; and because we have dared honestly to assert our opinions, we have incurred the highest displeasure of all those whose vanity expects the homage of a crowd, peculiar patronage, and exclusive power.  But warring against such selfish folly and mischievous authority, whether displayed in the courtly aristocrat or the social oppressor, we shall ever exert our humble powers to prevent individual or social despotism from being introduced into that just state of things which all good men are now contending for, and which, if they be united in one bond of brotherhood, no power can much longer prevent, delay, or subvert.

    "Our calumniators have falsely asserted that we are for delaying the franchise on the grounds of ignorance.  So far from this being true, we have reiterated and published in various forms the contrary of this doctrine.  We insist on the universality of the franchise on the broad principles of personal and conventional rights.  Personally, as no man has a right to enslave or starve another man into submission to his will, which is done by arbitrary and exclusive laws.  Conventionally, as every man living under the laws of society ought, in right and justice, to have a vote in determining what those laws should be.  But while as a right we thus insist on our just share of political power, we are desirous of seeing the most effective steps taken to gain it, and of seeing our brethren preparing themselves to use that power wisely when they shall have obtained it; and not to be half a century exercising the franchise, and at the end of it still find themselves the sport of cunning schemers and wily politicians.

    "First, then, as regards the best means of obtaining our Charter.—We are of those who are opposed to everything in the shape of a physical or violent revolution, believing that a victory would be a defeat to the just principles of democracy; as the military chieftains would become—as all past history affirms [p262]—the political despots; and as such a sanguinary warfare, calling up the passions in the worst forms, must necessarily throw back for centuries our intellectual and moral progress.  Believing that the attainment of the Charter would be an instrument of benefit to all—the only means through which the corruptions, monopolies, and evils of our Government can be removed, and that those who are interested in their continuance are few compared with the population—we think that all that is necessary for the carrying of that measure is, soberly and rationally, to convince all classes of our population how far it is their interest to unite with us, in order that we may peaceably obtain it; for a combined people have always numerous means for the attainment of their object without violence.

    "But it is not the mere possession of the franchise that is to benefit our country; that is only the means to a just end—the election of the best and wisest of men to solve a question which has never yet been propounded in any legislative body—namely, how shall all the resources of our country be made to advance the intellectual and social happiness of every individual?  It is not merely the removing of evils, but the establishing of remedies that can benefit the millions; and in order to check the natural selfishness and ambition of rulers, and induce them to enact just and salutary laws, those who possess the power to elect must have knowledge, judgment, and moral principle to direct them, before anything worthy of the name of just government or true liberty can be established.

    "Of what benefit would be the franchise, or what description of Government would be established by those, who, too ignorant to investigate, not only clamorously oppose, but if they had power, would even sacrifice all who differ from them?  Happily, however, for the progress of humanity, those neglected and maddened unfortunates are few compared with the vast numbers of our countrymen, whose sound sense and generous feeling prompt them to investigation, improvement, and peace.

    "But, notwithstanding this feeling prevails at present, the political and social condition of our country is such as to demand the consideration and combined energies of all who are anxious for peace, prosperity, and intellectual and moral progress.  Taking into account the vast extent of social misery, which class legislation has mainly occasioned—viewing the contentions of factions for supremacy, and their desire to perpetuate the corruptions and monopolies by which they exist—seeing the deeply-seated wrongs and extended poverty which prevail, and which, if not speedily removed or mitigated, may madden our population into a state of anarchy and direst confusion—a consideration of this state of things should call forth the benevolent feelings of reflecting men among all classes, and should prompt them to be united, in order to investigate and remedy our political and social evils, and to place the liberties of our country upon a sound and lasting foundation.

    "Having thus stated the intolerant conduct pursued against us, and briefly expressed our reasons for our opinions, we call upon men of sense and reflection to decide between us, at the same time inviting all who think with us to join the National Association."


    Shortly after the publication of this address (in October, 1841), a number of persons residing in London, approving of the objects of the National Association, resolved to form themselves into a distinct and separate body for the purpose of individually and collectively promoting them in their locality, and for carrying out such portions of them as their funds would enable them to do.  This body was designated "The London Members of the National Association." [p264]  It held its first meeting at the Globe Coffee House, Shoe Lane.  Its first secretary was Mr. Henry Hetherington, and on his resignation, Mr. Charles Chesterton, a gentleman who subsequently, as churchwarden at Knightsbridge, rendered great service to the Liberal cause by his opposition to Puseyism.

    About one of the first efforts of this Association was the establishment of a cheap weekly periodical, entitled The National Association Gazette.  It was edited by my eloquent and much-esteemed friend Mr. J. H. Parry (now Mr. Serjeant Parry), a gentleman whose acquaintance (originating with the starting of that little publication) I warmly cherish, and whose many acts of friendship and generosity towards me I shall ever have cause to remember.  This gazette was continued for many months, and by its able management did our cause great service; but from its being an unstopped publication, and in consequence not able to embrace the news of the week, it never had a large circulation.

    The repeated interruptions of public meetings, by the violent portion of the Chartist body, having excited strong prejudices in the minds of the Middle Classes against our principles, led us to put forth the following address to them:—

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

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

    "Amid the multiplicity of opinions entertained by a large portion of our class regarding the causes of commercial depression and social misery, we are desirous of laying before you the views entertained by a numerous body of our working-class brethren, in order that you may be induced, if possible, to examine their merits without prejudice, and reasonably discuss their efficacy to promote the great end which, we trust, we are all aiming at—namely, the peace, prosperity, and happiness of our native land.
 
    "In tracing our monopolies, the trading and commercial restrictions of which we complain, we find them originating in the selfishness and party power of legislators.  When we ask the origin of those burthens which paralyse our domestic energies, and prevent us from coping with other nations, we find that they have sprung from the cupidity, the fears, and selfishness of law-makers.  When we investigate the origin of pauperism, ignorance, misery, and crime, we may easily trace the black catalogue to exclusive legislation, and the restrictive and intolerant laws which have been enacted to block up every avenue to knowledge, by which means the mass of society have been left to grope in ignorance and superstition; and, goaded by the poverty corrupt legislation has occasioned, they have been rendered still more desperate by the sanguinary and cruel laws which class legislators have made to hedge about their individual interests.

    "Satisfied, therefore, that most of those evils can be traced to unjust and selfish legislation, we have pushed our enquiries still further, and we find their chief source in our present exclusive system of representation.  The franchise being confined to a small portion of our population, and that portion controlled and prejudiced to an incalculable extent by the wealthy few, the legislators and governors of our country have not been a representation of the minds and wants of the nation, but of the political party through whose influence they owe their power.  Thus it is that restrictive laws are maintained, that selfish measures have originated, and class interests are supported, at the expense of national prosperity and individual happiness.

    "To remedy a state of things thus prejudicial to your interests and ours, the class to which we belong have embodied in a document, called "The People's Charter," such principles and means of just and equal representation as we believe will best secure the object we are aiming at just and honest legislation.

    "To a calm consideration of that measure of justice, and to the creating and extending an enlightened public opinion in its favour, we would especially direct your attention, so that by a cordial union of the Middle and Working Classes the originating cause of all the evils of which both parties complain may be speedily removed.  We would implore you, fellow-countrymen, to think deeply and seriously of the multitude of human beings, destined for high and noble purposes, who are, year after year, sacrificed by class legislation, while professing reformers are busily occupied with the effects of political and social wrongs, and leaving the originating cause in all its contaminating rottenness.

    "We are the more induced to call upon you at this time to examine the merits of the Charter, as we understand that some philanthropic individuals [p267] among you, dissatisfied with our present representative system, are about to propose to you some modification of the suffrage short of that which we believe essential for just government—such indeed, as is embodied in the People's Charter. If it can be shown that the principles of that document are unjust, we shall be found as ready to abandon as we are now resolved to maintain them.  If it is not so universal in its character as to place woman upon the same footing of political equality with man, propose it to us as the terms of your union, and we engage that most of our brethren throughout the kingdom will readily declare their adherence.  If its details are defective, show us in what respect they can be amended, so as to better carry out its principles, and our brethren will not be slow to adopt improvements.

    "But a determination, deep, resolute, and extensive, has gone forth; and persecution and suffering have only served to strengthen conviction and rivet our adherence that we will no longer waste our energies in combating with mere legislative effects, while the cause of such effects remains to generate more evils.  It was a conviction of the folly of such conduct, rendered still more evident passing of the Reform Bill, that led us to embody in our document what we believe essential to just legislation, believing that though our efforts to secure it might be difficult and prolonged, yet the attainment of it forms the only hope of our political and social salvation.

    "Many of you who agree with our principles may probably tell us that the intolerant and mischievous conduct of a large portion of the Chartist body, has engendered timid fears and hostile prejudices, which it is necessary to conciliate by standing apart from the name and principles of the Charter.  Shall just principles be set aside because bad men have espoused them or foolish ones diverted them to an unwise purpose?  If the principles of Christianity itself had been tried by the conduct of its professors, where would be the records of its moral sway, and Its triumphs over the barbarism of man

    "Come with us, then, and declare at once for the Charter!  Do not, we pray you, seek to get up what will be considered a counter agitation, generating distrust where we believe benefit is intended, but which will only serve to keep those asunder whose union is essential to secure the benefits our starving brethren need, whose disunion is the life-giving principle of our aristocratical oppressors, but destruction and death to the principles of true democracy.

    "Say that you disapprove of the folly, the violence, and intolerance of hundreds of professing Chartists, and thousands will honestly respond to such a declaration!  Say that you condemn the insane threats which have been ignorantly hurled against those rights and interests which experience has proved necessary for the security of our social fabric, and the well-disposed of all classes will unite with you to form a wall of adamant to protect all just laws and good institutions.

    "Say, then, that you will make common cause with us upon the broad principles of right and justice contained in our Charter, and the kind and generous feelings which distinguish our countrymen will respond with gratitude.  The anger which pinching poverty has excited would then give place to hope, and intelligence, being made the basis of our agitation, would brighten as it extends; we should then become efficient to promote all good, and powerful to guard it.

    "Trusting that you will respond to the wishes of your suffering countrymen, we remain, your fellow-citizens," etc. etc.


 
CHAPTER XIV.


THE second National Petition, which was put forth by the National Charter Association in 1842, having given great offence to a considerable number of the Scotch Chartists, on account of the question of the Repeal of the Union being introduced into it, was also for the same reason rejected by the members of our Association.  They therefore adopted the following Remonstrance to the Commons House of Parliament instead thereof:—

 
    "The REMONSTRANCE of the undersigned inhabitants of this kingdom respectfully showeth—

    "That we have just cause of complaint and remonstrance against you, who, in the name of the Commons of Great Britain and Ireland, profess to represent, watch over, and legislate for our interests.  That as the ancient and constitutional custom of public petitioning has, by your acts, been rendered a mere mockery, we are thus induced to substitute a public remonstrance against you, it being the legitimate means by which any portion of the people, whose political rights have one by one been legislated away by their rulers, can appeal to the public opinion of their country; a tribunal by whose will representation is alone rendered constitutional, and for whose benefit alone government is established.

    "We justly complain of your utter disregard and seeming contempt of the wants and wishes of the people, as expressed in the prayers and petitions they have been humbly addressing to you for a number of years past.  For, while they have been complaining of the unequal, unjust, and cruel laws you have enacted—which, in their operation, have reduced millions to poverty, and punished them because they were poor—you have been either increasing the catalogue, or mocking their expensive and fruitless commissions, or telling them that 'their poverty was beyond the reach of legislative enactment.'

    "While they have been complaining that you take from them three-fourths of their earnings by your complicated system of taxation, and by your monopolies force them into unequal competition with other nations, you have exhibited a contempt for their complaints in your profligate and lavish expenditure at home and abroad, and by a selfish pertinacity in favour of the monopolies you have created for your own especial interests or those of your party.

    "While they have been praying that our civil list may be reduced in proportion to the exigencies of the state, and, at a time like the present, when bankruptcy, insolvency, and national destitution prevail to an extent unparalleled in history, that Her Majesty and her Consort should be made acquainted with the necessity for dispensing with useless and extravagant frivolities; yet you, in ready compliance with the wishes of the ministry, have gratified such extravagancies at the expense of want and wretchedness, when, if you had been loyal to your Queen or just to your country, you would have shown her the necessity for retrenchment in every department of her household.

    "While the humane and considerate portion of the population have been demonstrating to you the evils of ignorance and the source of crime, and have been entreating you to apply to the purposes of education and social improvement, the enormous sums which you inhumanly employ in punishing the victims of your vicious institutions and culpable neglect, you have gone on recklessly despising the prayers of humanity and justice, augmenting your police, increasing your soldiers, raising prisons, and devising new means of coercion in a useless attempt to prevent crime by severity of punishment, instead of cultivating the minds, improving the hearts, and administering to the physical necessities of the people.

    "While the intelligence and humanity of our countrymen have been loudly expressed against sanguinary and cruel wars, barbarous means for brutalizing the people and perpetuating bull-dog courage under the name of glory; you, who profess to watch over our interests, have, in order to gratify aristocratic cupidity, selfishness, and ambition, been supporting unjust and uncalled-for wars, by which thousands of human beings have been led on to slaughter and to death, and through which our enormous debt will be increased, and the stigma of cruelty and injustice left upon our national character.

    "While our brethren have been praying for religious freedom, you have allowed a State Church to take from them upwards of nine millions per annum, independent of the evil it inflicts on them by its troublesome imposts, grasping selfishness, and anti-gospel, persecuting spirit.

    "While our brethren have been contending for the free circulation of thought and opinion, through the channel of an unshackled press, as a means by which truth may be elicited and our institutions improved; you have been imposing the most arbitrary measures to check public opinion, retard freedom of enquiry, and to prevent knowledge from being cheaply diffused.

    "While our social evils and anomalies have repeatedly been brought before you, you—whose duty it was to provide a remedy—have looked carelessly on, or have been intent only on your interests or your pleasures.  Your own commissioners have reported to you, that thousands of infant children are doomed to slavery and ignorance in our mines and factories, while their wretched parents are wanting labour and needing bread; and that wives and mothers, to procure a miserable subsistence for their families, are compelled to neglect their offspring and their homes, and all the domestic duties which belong to their sex; that thousands of skilful mechanics are starving on a few pence, which they obtain for fourteen hours' daily toil; that vast numbers, anxious to labour, are left to linger and perish from cold and hunger; that in Ireland alone two millions three hundred thousand are in a state of beggary and destitution; and that misery, wretchedness, and crime, are fast spreading their deteriorating influence, and gradually undermining the fabric of society.

    "Nor is your misgovernment confined to this country alone, but its baleful influence is felt in every part of the world where British authority is known.  Throughout our dominions you have permitted rights the most sacred to be invaded, in order to provide resting-places for aristocratical fledglings.  You have disregarded the constitutions you have given, violated the promises you have made, and, spurning the prayers and petitions of our colonial brethren, you have trampled upon every principle of justice to establish your power and feed your ravenous lust for gain.

    "You have therefore shown by your acts that you do not represent the wants and wishes of the people; on the contrary, self, or party considerations, are seen in almost every enactment you have made, or measure you have sanctioned.  So far from representing the commons of this country, or legislating for them, the majority of you have neither feelings nor interests in common with them.  It is seen by your proceedings, that while the supposed rights of every class and party can find advocates among you, the right of labour is left to find 'its own level.'

    "Is the justice of titles questioned, the wisdom of ecclesiastical law doubted, or a repugnance shown by conscientious men to support the church they dissent from?  The Church can always find zealous defenders among you.  Is the expensive and unjust administration of the law complained of, together with all its technical and perplexing absurdities? its wisdom and propriety is at once demonstrated by your host of legal advocates.  Does any one presume to question the propriety of our very expensive military and naval establishments, or to doubt the justice of flogging as a means of discipline?—he will soon find a regiment among you prepared to combat his opinions.  Is the justice questioned of allowing the landowners to tax the people of this country to the extent of seventeen millions annually, to support their own especial monopolies—the corn laws, etc.?—eloquent advocates will at once be found among you to plead for the vested rights of property.  In short, bankers, merchants, manufacturers, and all interests and professions can find advocates and defenders in the 'Commons House,' excepting the common people themselves.

    "That there are some well-intentioned and benevolent individuals among you, we readily admit; but far too many of those who profess liberal and just principles think more of the safety of their seats, and the prejudices of their associates, than they do of taking any active measures to carry their principles into practice.  Instead of boldly proclaiming the dishonesty, hollowness, and injustice of your present legislative system, the party cry of Whig and Tory is too often the substance of their speeches―the cheat and phantom, which you all used to silence the timid and divert the ignorant.

    "That you do not represent the people of this country may be further seen from the fact, that those who return you are not more than a seventh part of the adult male population.  For by the last returns that were laid before you, while in Great Britain and Ireland there are about 5,812,276 males above twenty years of age, the registered electors are only 812,916; and it is practically proved, that of these electors only about nine in every twelve actually vote; and of these nine, many possess a plurality of votes. [p274]

    "On analysing the constituency of the United Kingdom, it is also proved that the majority of you are returned by 158,870 registered electors, giving an average constituency to each of you of only 242 electors.

    "It is also proved by the returns that have been made, that 39 of you are returned by less than 300 electors each; 43 by less than 400; 20 by less than 500; 34 by less than 600; 34 by less than 700; 20 by less than 800; 18 by less than 900; and 23 by less than 1000 registered electors.

    "It is also notorious that, in the Commons House, which is said to be exclusively the People's! there are two hundred and five persons who are immediately or remotely related to the peers of the realm!

    "That it contains 3 marquises, 9 earls, 23 viscounts, 27 lords, 32 right honourables, 63 honourables, 58 baronets, 10 knights, 2 admirals, 8 lord-lieutenants, 74 deputy and vice-lieutenants, 1 general, 1 lieutenant-general, 7 major-generals, 22 colonels, 32 lieutenant-colonels, 7 majors, 67 captains in army and navy, 12 lieutenants, 2 cornets, 53 magistrates, 63 placemen, and 108 patrons of church livings, having the patronage of 247 livings between them.  And there are little more than 200 out of the 658 members of your house who have not either titles, office, place, pension, or church patronage.

    "These facts afford abundant proofs that you neither represent the number nor the interests of the millions, but that the greatest portion of you have interests foreign, or directly opposed, to the true interests of the people of this country.

    "Setting aside your party changes and rival bickerings, important only to those among you who are in possession of the public purse; with a knowledge of your past actions, and with these notorious facts before us, as plain-speaking men, claiming the freedom of speech as our birthright, we hesitate not to declare that, individually and collectively, you have all been tried by the test of public utility, and, with a few exceptions, have been found wanting in every requisite for representatives of an intelligent and industrious population. [p275]

    "The wide extent of misery which your legislation has occasioned, and the spread of information which your decrees could not suppress, have called up inquiring minds in every portion of the empire to investigate your actions, to question your authority, and finally, to condemn your unjust and exclusive power.

    "They have demonstrated to their brethren that the only rational use of the institutions and laws of society is to protect, encourage, and support all that can be made to contribute to the happiness of all the people.

    "That as the object to be attained is mutual benefit, so ought the enactment of laws to be by mutual consent.

    "That obedience to the laws can only be justly enforced on the certainty that those who are called on to obey them have had, either personally or by their representatives, a power to enact, amend, or repeal them.

    "That all who are excluded from this share of political power are not justly included within the operation of the laws.  To them the laws are only despotic enactments, and the assembly from whom they emanate can only be considered an unholy, interested compact, devising plans and schemes for taxing and subjecting the many.

    "In consonance with these opinions they have embodied in a document, called 'The People's Charter,' such just and reasonable principles of representation as, in their opinion, are calculated to secure honest legislation and good government.  That document proposes to confer the franchise on every citizen of twenty-one years of age, who has resided in a district three months, who is of sane mind, and unconvicted of crime.

    "It proposes to divide the United Kingdom into 300 electorial districts, containing, as nearly as may be, an equal number of inhabitants, each district to send one member to Parliament and no more.

    "It proposes to take the votes of the electors by ballot, in order to protect them against unjust influence.

    "It proposes that Parliament be chosen annually.

    "It proposes to abolish money qualifications for Members of Parliament.

    "It proposes that Members of Parliament be paid for their services, and, moreover, contains the details by which all these propositions shall be carried into practice.

    "This document, being so just in its demands, has already received the sanction of a vast portion of the population; and petitions in its favour have already been laid before you, containing a larger number of signatures than probably have ever been obtained in favour of any legislative enactment.  And though indiscretion among some of its advocates may have retarded public opinion in its favour, we are confident that the conviction in favour of its justice and political efficacy has taken deep root in the mind of the nation, and is making rapid progress among all classes not interested in existing corruptions.

    "That you may see the wisdom and propriety of timely yielding to such opinion in favour of a better representative system, and that you will speedily declare in favour of the People's Charter, or, by resigning your seats, prepare the way for those who will enact it as the law of these realms, is the ardent prayer of us, the undersigned inhabitants of this kingdom."


    The signing of this remonstrance was delayed till towards the end of the sessions, in order that it might not interfere in any way with the signing of the National Petition.  The motion, however, founded on that petition, by Mr. T. S. Duncombe, that the petitioners be heard by counsel at the bar, having only received the support of fifty-six Members, caused a great number of the working classes to avow a resolution that they would never again pray or petition the House of Commons in any form.  Our Remonstrance was, however, signed by a considerable number of people, but, the end of the session approaching, it was deemed desirable to postpone its presentation till the next session; but, other matters respecting our hall interfering, the project was abandoned.

    Among the persons who testified their approval of this document was the late persevering and consistent Reformer, Joseph Hume, who, in a letter to the Lambeth members of our Association, thus wrote:—"The principles of reform as set forth in the Remonstrance of the National Association are such as would place the people in their proper state, to protect their property and interests against the rapacity and monopolies of the present system; and I hope to see the Middle Classes soon join with the millions of industrious men in a constitutional agitation for their rights."

    I deem it but just to record this opinion of Mr. Hume in favour of what may be called extreme views of Radicalism, as O'Connor and his disciples were not sparing of their abuse of him, on account of what they called his Whig principles.  That, like too many other reformers of that day, he was often led to support the Whigs for fear of the bugbear of Toryism may be admitted; but I believe that no man was ever more persevering in seeking to carry the principles of reform into every department of the State than was Mr. Hume.  And certainly, of all men, whose efforts to free the Working Classes from the enthrallment of the infamous combination laws, he is the most worthy of honour, and of their grateful remembrance.


 
CHAPTER XV.


IN January, 1842, Mr. Joseph Sturge, whose benevolent labours in the cause of humanity and freedom are so notorious, commenced his exertions in favour of what was called "Complete Suffrage."  His first effort was the preparing of a Memorial to the Queen, earnestly entreating her to retain in her service and take to her councils such Ministers only as would promote in Parliament that full, fair, and free representation of the people in the House of Commons to which they were entitled by the great principles of Christian equity, as well as by the British Constitution; as, according to Blackstone, "no subject of England can be constrained to pay any aids or taxes, even for the defence of the Realm, or the support of Government, but such as are imposed by his own consent, or that of his representative in Parliament." [p279]

    This Memorial having been sent to our Association for signatures, it was resolved to give it all the support in our power; although, at the same time, we felt bound to express our opinion, that neither a full nor fair representation of the people could be obtained till the essentials of the People's Charter were enacted as the laws of the realm.  Soon after this, being at a Public Meeting at the Crown and Anchor, on the suffrage question, I was invited, with Messrs. Hetherington, Parry, and others, to meet some of Mr. Sturge's friends in the refreshment-room, to talk over this subject.  After some very excellent speeches, there given, by Mr. Miall, Mr. Crawford, Mr. Spencer and others, Mr. George Thompson, the chairman, called upon me for my opinion.  I told them that my definition of Complete Suffrage was found in the People's Charter; all the principles of which I thought to be essential to secure the just representation of the people.  I very briefly gave my reasons in proof of this, and urged on them a fair discussion of the subject.  Shortly after this meeting I received a letter from Mr. Sturge, informing me that a Provisional Committee had been formed at Birmingham, and that they intended to call a Complete Suffrage Conference on the 5th of April, 1842.

    This conference, composed of eighty-four persons, both of the middle and working classes—appointed for the most part by those who had signed the Memorial referred to—met at Birmingham at the time specified.  Mr. J. H. Parry and myself were appointed by the members of our Association to attend it, and Mr. C. H. Neesom and Mr. Charles Westerton, two other of our members, were also delegated—the former from the district of Spitalfields, and the latter from Knightsbridge.  The members of our Association, conceiving that there was little chance of a cordial union being effected between the two classes without the recognition of the Charter, on behalf of which so many sacrifices had been made by the working classes, were anxious to bring this document forward as one of the first subjects for discussion.  But the Business Committee objecting to this course, the consideration of it was delayed till other matters had been discussed.  These were the essential principles that were thought to be requisite for securing a full, fair, and free representation of the people; these were accordingly discussed, and after a very long and earnest debate, we were gratified in seeing most of the principles of our Charter adopted.  On the third day, therefore, according to the arrangement previously agreed on, I brought forward the following motion:—


    "That this Conference having adopted such just principles of representation as are necessary for giving to all classes of society their equal share of political power, and as the People's Charter contains such details as have been deemed necessary for the working out of such principles, and has, moreover, been adopted by millions of our brethren as an embodiment of their political rights, this Conference, in order to effect a cordial union of the middle and working classes, resolve in a future conference (in which the working classes may be more fully represented) to enter into a calm consideration of that document among other plans of political reform, and, if approved of, to use every just and peaceable means for creating a public opinion in its favour."


In the lengthened discussion which arose on this resolution, it appeared that considerable prejudice existed in the minds of many of the middle class members against the Charter; though the resolution did not call upon them to agree to that document, but only to take it into consideration, among other plans of reform, at a future conference.  However, to conciliate this feeling against us, without any deviation of principle, we Chartists eventually modified the resolution as follows, fully believing that the majority would not be opposed to a fair discussion of the Charter at the next conference:―


    "That this Conference having adopted such just principles of representation as are necessary for giving to all classes their equal share of political power, resolve at some future period to call another conference, in which the whole people may be fully represented, for the purpose of considering any documents which embody the necessary details for the working out of the above principles."


This having been adopted, the Conference next agreed to a plan, constitution, and rules for the formation of a new society, entitled "The National Complete Suffrage Union"; and, after some few other business resolutions, concluded its sittings, it having lasted four days.

    This effort to effect a union between the two classes was to some extent successful; for a great many local Complete Suffrage Associations were formed in many towns.  Great numbers of the working classes were, however, kept aloof from it, by the abuse and misrepresentations of the Northern Star; and others who, so far, approved of the principles of the Union, were not disposed to forego their own agitation for the Charter to join it till they had tested it by another conference.  In the meantime, however, the members of the Union were not idle; tracts were printed, lectures given, meetings held, and, to the best of my recollection, two motions introduced into the House of Commons on the subject of the Suffrage by Mr. Sharman Crawford.

    In September, 1842, a special meeting of the Council of the Union was called at Birmingham to arrange, among other matters, for the calling of the next conference.  Now, as O'Connor (notwithstanding his hostility to the Union) had boasted largely of his intention to get the working classes fully represented in the next conference, if he spent half he possessed;—which in reality meant that he would get it packed with his own disciples, if possible;—it became a question, with those who wanted a fair conference of the both classes chosen, how it could be best prevented.  In talking the matter over with my friends, I suggested that this could be best done by one-half of the representatives being chosen by electors, and half by non-electors; and that if they interfered with each other's meetings the election should be void.  This plan being approved of, I drew up the following Address and took it down to Birmingham to submit it to the Council, which, after some discussion, was adopted:—


    "The Council of the National Complete Suffrage Union, to Political Reformers of all shades of opinions.

    "We address you, fellow-countrymen, deeply impressed with the moral obligation of men and citizens, whose duties have been imposed on us by an authority greater than princes or rulers, commanding us to 'do unto all men as we would wish them to do unto us,' consequently requiring us to lend that aid which ourselves would desire, to extricate from their condition the millions of our brethren, who, by the oppression or neglect of rulers, are plunged in the lowest depths of misery, groping in ignorance, and daily sinking in crime.

    "Though we believe that that great Christian obligation calls upon all men to assist in freeing their brethren from the power of the oppression, yet, at this crisis, we address ourselves especially to you, the Reformers of the United Kingdom; because it is for you—the active and intelligent spirit of progression—you who desire to see justice established where injustice is enthroned—it is for you, in your energy and self-sacrificing resolution, to determine whether our country shall rise in freedom, knowledge, and happiness, or sink, as a land of beggared serfs, beneath the paralysing power of a corrupt and selfish oligarchy.

    "In thus addressing you, we desire not to arouse your passions, we would only awaken the nobler feelings of justice, humanity, and Christian duty; considering our cause too sacred to be promoted by violence, or benefited by wrong.

    "To you we need not depict the widespread misery of our country.  Most of you are familiar with it, in all its sickening forms, and vast numbers of you are already its victims.  But we ask you, with all the sobers earnestness of men and Christians, whether you will unite with us in one general bond of brotherhood—and by persevering peaceful and energetic means, resolve, at any personal sacrifice, to stay the progress of our national debasement—to check the ravages of starving poverty—to remove the drag chains of monopoly, the over-burdening pressure of taxation, the progress of crime, the race-destroying curse of war; and under the blessing of Heaven, free our country from the accumulating evils of corrupt and selfish legislation?

    "Fellow-countrymen, we are not desirous of interfering with your present local arrangements, but we call upon you to meet us in the spirit of truth and justice, to determine with singleness of purpose, what is best to be done to effect the political and social deliverance of our country? and, having once determined, to concentrate all our energies to the accomplishment of such a glorious consummation.  This, we think, can be done without the amalgamation of societies, between whom differences of opinions and modes of action exist; this can be done legally, constitutionally, and effectively.  All that is necessary for its accomplishment is union, energy, and self-sacrifice, on all points of agreement, and forbearance, toleration, and Christian charity, when differences of opinion prevail.

    "But, in the election of representatives to meet in such a conference as we contemplate, a party spirit must be excluded; all efforts for forcing individual views through the power of numbers must be avoided; a victory obtained by such intolerant, overbearing policy would be defeat to our object—that of having a fairly-constituted NATIONAL CONFERENCE, a body in whom all shades of reformers, among the middle and working classes, may place confidence, and under whose peaceful and legal guidance we may unitedly contend, till we have secured the blessing and fruits of freedom.

    "We are all desirous that the ensuing conference shall be the means of effecting a better understanding and closer union between the middle and working classes than has hitherto existed; feeling convinced that, so long as the enemies of the people can keep them divided, so long will they both be victimised by a corrupt and liberty-hating aristocracy.  We call, therefore, upon the middle classes to send their representatives to confer with those of the working classes, to see how far they can remove the state of animosity, apprehension, and disunion that prevails; how far arrangements may be made to secure our mutual objects speedily and peaceably, and thus free ourselves from the grasping insolence of faction, guard against the storm of anarchy, be secure against military despotism, and unitedly raising up the intelligence and virtues of the democracy on the basis of free institutions, hasten the consummation of that happy period when 'our swords shall be beaten into ploughshares, and our spears into pruning hooks,' and when every man shall sit down in peace and security to enjoy the fruits of honest industry.

    "Having been appointed to make arrangements for the calling of a conference, to consider the details essential for the carrying out of the principles on which the National Complete Suffrage Union is founded; and as its paramount object is to effect a union between the middle and working classes, to secure the just and equal representation of the whole people, we think it our duty to submit such propositions for the consideration of the Conference as may be best promotive of that end.  We, therefore, submit the following propositions for the consideration of the Conference, which we call upon you, the Reformers of the United Kingdom, to elect:―


    " '1. To determine on the essential details of an Act of Parliament, necessary for securing the just representation of the whole adult male population of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; such Act to embrace the principles and details of complete suffrage, equal electoral districts, vote by ballot, no property qualification, payment of members, and annual parliaments, as adopted by the first Complete Suffrage Conference.

    " '2. To determine what members of Parliament shall be appointed to introduce the said Act into the House of Commons, and in what manner other members of the house shall be called upon to support it.

    " '3. To endeavour to ascertain how far the friends of unrestricted and absolute freedom of trade will unite with us to obtain such an Act of Parliament, provided we resolve to use our newly-acquired franchise in favour of such freedom of trade, and to vote only for such as will pledge themselves in its favour.

    " '4. To devise the best means for maintaining competent parliamentary candidates pledged to our principles; the most effectual means by which assistance may be rendered to them in all electoral contests; and also the best means for registering the electors and non-electors throughout the kingdom who may be disposed to promote our objects.

    " '5. To consider the propriety of calling upon the municipal electors to adopt immediate measures for securing the election of such men only to represent them in their local governments as are known to be favourable to the principles of complete suffrage.

    " '6. To call upon our fellow-countrymen seriously to consider the great extent to which, in various ways, they now willingly co-operate with their oppressors, and to ascertain how far they may be disposed to prove their devotion to the cause of liberty, by refusing to be used for the purposes of war, cruelty, and injustice, and particularly by the disuse of intoxicating articles.

    " '7. To express an opinion as to the duty of the people giving their countenance and support to all those who may suffer from espousing their cause.

    " '8. To determine the best legal and constitutional means for energetically and peaceably promoting the above objects; for checking all kinds of violence and commotion by which the enemy triumphs; for disseminating sound political knowledge; for spreading the principles of sobriety, peace, and tolerance throughout the country, and by every just and virtuous means preparing the people for the proper exercise of their political and social rights.

    " '9. To devise means for raising a national fund for the purpose of promoting the above objects, as well as to protect all persons, who, in their peaceful prosecution of them, shall become victims of unjust laws or despotic ordinances.'


    "And in order to convince the middle classes that the working population have no ulterior object inimical to the general welfare of society, we advise that they meet in the forthcoming conference on terms of perfect equality to discuss these important propositions, feeling convinced that our principles need no other aid than their own intrinsic excellence; having truth for their basis, and the happiness of the human family for their end, and affording the best guarantee for the security of private property, which we regard as sacred and inviolable, equally in the poor man's labour and rich man's possessions.

    "We, therefore, advise that public meetings be called, by advertisement or placard, of not less than four days' notice, in every town throughout the kingdom, inviting the inhabitants to elect representatives to hold a National Conference at Birmingham, on Tuesday, the 27th of December, 1842, for the purpose of deciding on an Act of Parliament for securing the just representation of the whole people; and for determining on such peaceful, legal, and constitutional means as may cause it to become the law of these realms.

    "That two representatives be sent from the smaller towns and boroughs, having less than 5000 inhabitants, and four from the larger ones, excepting that London, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, and Liverpool, may send six representatives, but no more.

    "That one-half of the representatives shall be appointed by the electors, and half by the non-electors.  The meetings for such purposes to be held separate, unless that both classes can agree in having all the representatives chosen at one meeting, which we earnestly recommend; but where they do not so agree, the two classes are not to interfere with each other's meetings, otherwise their election shall be declared void.

    "That, should the authorities interfere or trespass on this constitutional right of public meeting, so as to prevent any meeting from being held, the leading men of the two classes shall then cause nomination lists to be made out, recommending their respective candidates; such lists to be publicly notified, and left in public situations to receive the signatures of the inhabitants; those having the greater number of signatures to be declared elected.

    "That the places sending representatives make arrangements for defraying their expenses.

    "That as our Irish brethren are prohibited, by exclusive and oppressive laws, from sending representatives to such a conference, we especially invite, and will receive as visitors, all who approve of the object of our meeting, and who share the confidence of the people of that country.

    "Should the police or the authorities of any town, in their desire to stifle public opinion, wilfully interrupt or unjustly interfere with the right of public meetings called for legal subjects, we advise that the people in those places cause proper evidence to be taken of such interruption, so that the question may be tried in our higher courts of law; and that Englishmen may learn whether those rights, of which they are proud to boast, the rights of publicly assembling, and reasonably declaring their opinions, are sacred and inviolable, or whether they depend on the fiat of some local magistrate, or on a portion of those who hate liberty, or on a servant of the government armed with staff and sabre.

    "Believing that the above objects are perfectly just and legal, being in conformity with our ancient constitutional usages, being the only rational and proper means for ascertaining the public opinion of the country upon any great question affecting the general welfare, we especially invite your co-operation and support.  We remain your friends and fellow-citizens, the members of the National Complete Suffrage Union," etc.


    The plan for electing representatives to the conference, as set forth in this Address, though agreed to by the council, was not, as might be supposed, approved of by the O'Connorites, who took every opportunity of denouncing it as anti-democratic and unjust.  The Complete Suffrage party, however, instead of defending it as a fair and just mode for choosing a deliberative assembly, where reason and argument were to prevail instead of the power of numbers, foolishly gave way, on this very important point, at almost the first meeting they attended after its publication.  The result was that O'Connor immediately began his preparations for securing a majority in the conference, recommending as candidates those of his own party to every town where he thought their election could be secured.

    The middle classes among the Complete Suffrage party, finding that they were likely to be outnumbered by the O'Connorites, and being, moreover, prejudiced against the charter, adopted a plan by which they thought they should get rid of Fergus and his party without ultimate injury to their union.  They, therefore, got two legal gentlemen in London, to prepare a bill, founded on the principles they had adopted, and which they designated "The New Bill of Rights," intending to give that the priority of discussion at the forthcoming conference.  This course was not only unwise—as it proved—but was also unjust, for although myself and Mr. Neesom were members of their council, we were never made acquainted with their intentions or proceedings until I was shown the bill in print.  I then expressed to Mr. Sturge my great regret at this course of proceeding, as I thought that the putting forth of this measure in opposition to the charter would destroy all chance of union between the two classes, as myself and others who had joined them could not with any consistency vote for their "Bill of Rights" in opposition to the charter, and that I believed that the majority of the working classes would not desert the document they had so long fought for, for this new measure the council had prepared.

    When, therefore, we had forwarded to us the programme of the conference, as prepared by the council, and found by it that they proposed to bring forward "the bill of Rights" for priority of discussion, those of our friends who had been delegated from London met together to determine what was best to be done.  In looking at the programme it was seen at a glance that on the Bill of Rights being proposed some of the O'Connorites would propose an amendment in favour of the charter, on which we, if true to our principles, would be compelled to vote.  It was, therefore, recommended to me that, when this measure was proposed, I should do all I could to induce them to withdraw it, or otherwise to propose the People's Charter as an amendment, as by this course a breach might possibly be avoided, which otherwise was sure to take place.

    This second conference, consisting of 374 members, met at Birmingham on Tuesday, Dec. 27th, 1842, according to the arrangement made.  After some minor business regarding the letters received, and the election of members, they proceeded to consider the most important part of their programme, this new bill.  When, therefore, my friends Mr. Thomas Beggs and Mr. John Dunlop had proposed the resolution, "That the bill to be presented by the Council of the National Complete Suffrage Union be taken as the basis of discussion," I rose to urge on the Complete Suffrage friends the necessity for withdrawing that part of the resolution if union were to be maintained.  I endeavoured also to remind them, that I was induced to modify my resolution regarding the charter at the last conference, on the understanding that its details would be discussed at the present one; and I informed them that if our friends were not disposed to do this I should consider it my duty to propose, that the People's Charter be taken as the basis of discussion as an amendment to the resolution proposed.  It being then, however, near the time of adjournment, the conference broke up its sittings to give our Complete Suffrage friends sufficient time for considering the proposal made to them.  The next morning, they not being disposed to yield the point regarding their bill, I proposed the following amendment, which O'Connor seconded:—


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


    To this there were two other amendments proposed—one to the effect "that neither of the bills proposed take priority, but that both be laid on the table"; and the other, "that the Bill proposed being founded on the Charter, it was not necessary to discuss any other document."

    Previous to the vote being taken, I informed the Conference that in my anxiety for union I had made the following propositions to the leading members of the Complete Suffrage Union:—


    "That both the propositions for priority should be withdrawn"; "That the two documents (the People's Charter and the Bill as proposed by the Council) should be laid on the table"; "That the clauses of the two documents should be read and discussed alternately"; "That thus having extracted all that was valuable in both, and formed a Bill, that this Bill should go forth to the country without any other title than 'A Bill to provide for the just representation of the people.'"


But, I regret to say, that this reasonable proposal was not acceded to, those gentlemen rather wishing that the motion and amendment should go to the vote.  The vote being consequently taken, there appeared for the original motion of Mr. Beggs 94, and for my amendment 193.  After this decision the minority left the conference and met at another place to discuss their Bill; and the majority continued their sittings to discuss the details of the Charter; to which some slight amendments were made, and ordered to be printed for the consideration of the people.  I may here state my conviction that the split was not so much occasioned by the adverse vote, as from the strong resolve of the minority to have no fellowship with Fergus O'Connor; but they did not, in my opinion, adopt the straightforward method to effect it.


 
CHAPTER XVI.


IN returning to the subject of the National Association I may state that efforts were made in some few places to form local bodies, similar to those of the London members, but they did not enroll sufficient numbers to make them effective.  Our London Association, however, continuing to increase, it was deemed advisable to look out for a larger place of meeting.  A large building, known as Gate Street Chapel, Holborn, being to be let about this period, it was thought to be a very desirable place, if we could raise the means for putting it in substantial repair, for, having been long unoccupied, it was in a very dilapidated state.  Some few wealthy friends having been consulted, among others Mr. J. T. Leader, who promised us £50, it was resolved to take it for the purposes of the National Association.  Four of our members were accordingly selected as persons in whose names it should be taken, and forty others subscribed to a legal document, agreeing to pay each a pound annually, should the means not be forthcoming to pay the rent, rates, and taxes, for which the four were legally responsible.

    It was accordingly taken on a lease of twenty-one years, we agreeing to rebuild a portion of one of the walls, and to otherwise put it in good repair.  It having been also taken on the understanding that it should not be used for socialist purposes, as the chief object of our Association was to unite persons of all creeds and opinions in favour of Chartism, the members deemed it necessary to come to the following resolution:—"That the shall shall not be used for purposes of controversial theology."  This was subsequently made one of our fundamental rules, as was another, "That no intoxicating drinks should be allowed on the premises."  It was also agreed that the hall should "be managed by twelve directors," four of them to be those of us who were legally responsible for rent, etc., four to be chosen by the forty guarantee members, and four on behalf of the London members.  I deem it necessary to state this, as the divided management and the rule regarding the letting of the hall were constant sources of contention, and contributed in no small degree to weaken the efficiency of the Association.

    This, however, was not felt to begin with, as all our efforts were directed to the raising of the means, and the fitting up of the place.  The repairing and fitting it up, together with the furniture, cost us upwards of £1000 to commence with; £600 of which were paid by subscriptions raised from members and persons favourable to our objects, leaving about £400 unpaid, a debt which, during the existence of the Association, was a constant source of embarrassment to the directors, and, finally, was one of the chief causes that led to the dissolution of the society.  For, owing to the enthralment of this debt, we were unable to meet the expenses necessary for public meetings, lectures, schools, periodicals, newspapers, etc., essential for creating an interest sufficient for the public to join us, or for retaining a great number of those who had; and many of our officers were frequently obliged to subscribe together to pay pressing debts.

    The National Hall, capable of containing nearly two thousand persons, was opened in July, 1842, with a public festival.  It was devoted to public meetings, lectures, concerts, and classes of different kinds, to most of which the public were admitted on reasonable terms.  Our coffee-room and library were for the use of members, although the public were subsequently admitted when business was not being transacted.  Among the most prominent and talented of our lecturers were Mr. J. H. Parry, Mr. W. J. Fox, Mr. Thomas Cooper, and Mr. P. W. Perfitt.  The lectures Mr. Fox delivered there have since been published in three volumes. [p293]

    Soon after our opening, being desirous of establishing classes for the teaching of music and dancing, we applied to the magistrates of Middlesex for a licence, but were refused on account of our Chartist principles; these worthies, doubtless, conceiving that Chartists should not be allowed to sing or dance under the aegis of authority.  Although these same discriminating guardians of the principles and morals of the people, very shortly after licensed a place, at no great distance from us, where pugilistic contests were publicly given for the amusement of the people, and where girls of the town were admitted to their dances as an attraction, free of payment.

    Owing to our embarrassing debt, we were not able to establish, what we all desired, a day school for children, but in 1843 we managed, with what apparatus we could afford, to open a Sunday School upon a small scale.  Free admission was given to all who came cleanly in clothing and person; the education given being reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar, and geography, with such other kinds of information as was in our power to bestow.  It was kept open for about four years, and was conducted by myself and such of the members as we could induce to sacrifice their time to Sunday teaching after the toils of the week.

    The great exertions made by the people of Ireland in this year, in favour of the Repeal of the Union, induced our Association to send them a very excellent address on the subject, written by Mr. C. H. Elt.  A few weeks after Mr. O'Connell, at a meeting at the Corn Exchange, Dublin, in noticing this document, was pleased to make a very severe attack upon me, which induced me to put forth the following reply:―


    "Sir,—A few weeks ago the National Association, of which I am a member, deemed it advisable to put forth an address to the people of Ireland on the subject of their present agitation.  That address was couched in respectful terms, and expressed no other wish than the welfare of that country, however it might differ from you as to the most efficient means for its attainment.  As the representative of Ireland you promised to reply to it, but the only fulfilment of that promise was a sneering doubt regarding the existence of the Association from which it emanated, and an unjust attack upon me, as the person whose signature was attached to it as Secretary.

    "Sir,—It would seem that this mode of answering arguments is peculiarly characteristic of you, of which I have lately seen so many examples, as to be induced to pity it as a natural infirmity; and this last attack of yours would have been unnoticed by me had you not charged me with political dishonesty, had you not accused me of uniting with your self-important countryman Fergus O'Connor.  To rebut these accusations, and to show that I could not have acted otherwise than I did act at the Birmingham Conference without being politically dishonest, are the chief inducements for thus publicly addressing you.

    "Sir,—It is somewhat singular, after your 'minute enquiries,' that you should not have heard of the National Association, seeing that you were the first to publicly praise it in Ireland, about two years ago, and for which praise of yours the Association was contemned by that luminary the Northern Star and its august chieftain as a 'new move,' chiefly of your concoction, and was consequently denounced and condemned by all the faithful vassals of Fergus throughout the kingdom.

    "But, sir, I am not going to defend the merits nor prove the existence of the National Association; the men who compose it will not yield to you in their desire to benefit mankind, though they doubt the propriety of effecting it by threats, abuse, and individual calumny; and if the Address represented only the person whose signature was attached to it, if it did not merit an answer, at least it did not deserve your slander.

    "The public papers represent you as saying, that you could not think me politically honest, because I joined Fergus O'Connor against Joseph Sturge.  Now, sir, this is not true.  The Council of the Complete Suffrage Union deemed it advisable to draw up their plan of Complete Suffrage in a Bill which they called a 'Bill of Rights'; and at the last Conference brought forward a resolution for giving that Bill priority of discussion.  I, who with you and others, had framed the People's Charter, and who had frequently at public meetings pledged myself, never to cease agitating for it till it should become law, I who had joined the Complete Suffrage movement as a Chartist, regarding the Charter as my definition of Complete Suffrage, and having moreover been induced to believe that the Charter would become the chief subject of discussion at the Conference, could not allow that same Charter to be passed over, or superseded by another Bill.  Therefore, after saying all I could to do away with the question of priority, so as to admit both Bills to be fairly discussed, and finding it unavailing, I proposed a resolution expressive of my opinion on the subject, which resolution was seconded by Fergus O'Connor.  Now, how this can legitimately be construed into 'a union' with him, or how this conduct of mine can any ways be considered 'dishonest,' I leave the public to determine.  But, sir, let me briefly contrast this adhesion of principle with your conduct as regards the People's Charter, and let the public then determine who ought in justice to be accused of political dishonesty.

    "In 1838 a meeting was convened by the Working Men's Association for the purpose of inducing professors of Radical principles to adopt and contend for some definite plan of reform.  At that meeting you, among other Members of Parliament, attended, and after much discussion (which took up two evenings), a series of resolutions were agreed to, pledging you and others to draw up, and introduce a Bill embodying Universal Suffrage and all the other essential points of Radical Reform.  The resolutions thus agreed to were subsequently signed by you and others, which signatures I have still by me to remind you, if you need it, of your perfidy to Chartism.  When Mr. Cleave and myself waited upon you the morning after the meeting, to obtain your signature, you gave us the names of several of the Irish Members who you thought would also sign them, and by your conversation induced us to believe in your sincerity.  The Bill thus promised was subsequently drawn up; you attended the Committee when it was finally adopted, you suggested amendments, some of which were adopted, some rejected, and were in all respects a party to it.  The Bill thus prepared and agreed to was the People's Charter.

    "But, previously to our commencing any active agitation in its favour, your Whig friends had given you power and patronage in Ireland, which seems to have greatly influenced your views of Chartism.  You began by accusing the English Chartists of a desire for blood, although, as the originators of the Charter, we declared from our first meeting in its favour, that we were opposed to force and desired only to create and extend an enlightened public opinion in its favour.

    "Your ex-favourite O'Connor (who had hitherto burked the Charter in his Star), with the Rev. Mr. Stephens and others, finding Chartism becoming popular, and likely to be more profitable to them than the anti-Poor-law movement in which they had been engaged, began by denouncing us as 'moral-force humbugs,' and having means at their disposal for tramping the country, began to undermine the good that had been effected, by their unmeaning threats and vaunting rhapsodies.

    "You cunningly seized the advantage thus given you; you began your fulminations against the whole Chartist body; you condemned all because of the conduct of the few; the Marplots of our cause you held up as our leaders; and your loyalty to Whiggery became so rampant as to cause you to offer the whole force of Ireland to put down and extinguish that which you had helped to kindle.

    "We, still wishing to undeceive you (not knowing the Whig game you were playing), sent an Address to the Irish people signed on behalf of 136 different Associations, clearly setting forth our principles, disclaiming leadership of every description, repudiating the doctrine of force, and earnestly beseeching the people of Ireland to join us in our just and peaceable object.

    "But no, you persisted in your opposition to Chartism, your threats of force to put it down called forth feelings of retaliation; your talents, your energies, were fearfully wielded on the side of oppression; persecution begat bitterness, treachery, defiance, till at last the best feelings of some of the best men in our ranks were carried to a point beyond which reason cannot extenuate, nor our calmer judgment approve of.

    "Sir, it is my deliberate conviction that you are mainly responsible not only for the persecutions and sufferings which thousands have undergone for the sake of Chartist principles, but also for the political policy, and subsequent oppression, of the last six or seven years.  If you, instead of joining the Whigs in their persecution, had been true to your professions, and had sincerely laboured for the equal representation of the people, as is proposed by the People's Charter, we should never have heard of the violence, the folly, and intolerance, which the enemy has so successfully introduced into our ranks.  Your bitter invectives caused some of the best men in the country to doubt, to desert, or regard us with horror; so that those who wished to establish the Charter, by conviction of its justice, were soon left in the minority by those who found their profits extended by excitement, and their vanity gratified by being regarded as political saviours by a famished and oppressed people.

    "You talked of my joining O'Connor against Joseph Sturge, thus seeming to possess great anxiety for the cause of Complete Suffrage.  You talked largely, legally, and patronisingly, respecting it in its infancy; but what practical steps have you ever taken to render it effective?  None.

    "You talked of it as you formerly talked of Universal Suffrage, making it the flourish of some flowery harangue, but still regarding it as a beautiful theory, too good to be practised even in your newly-proposed 'Domestic Legislature.'  If you were sincere, you had the means of making Complete Suffrage the opinion of Ireland as much so as your present Repeal project; which you have fondled into being as the bugaboo of Toryism, and which, there is every reason to believe, you would again strangle if it stood in the way of your individual supremacy.

    "Sir, whatever may be your aspirations, be assured that (with some advantage of talent in your favour), O'Connor and yourself will afford parallels in history of two lawyers the most popular in their day, because the most eminent in the art of political gulling.  Of two professing reformers equally skilled in the art of retarding all social improvement, and of checking all political reform.  Men, who stood chieftains in their arena by vituperation and blarney; who silenced their opponents by denouncing them, and who retained no colleagues but subservient lackeys who daily trumpeted their virtues and their sacrifices.  Men, who, scorning every elevating sentiment, continually appealed to the passions and prejudices of the multitude, setting man against his brother man till the intolerance, bitterness, and persecution they had engendered, aroused all good men to unite to restrain the evil and pre cut the further demoralisation of their brethren.  Sir, I have seen sufficient of your proceedings to know that these sentiments, expressive of my opinion of you, will be construed into a 'Saxon's hatred of Ireland,' and opposition to her just rights.  But, though I yield to no man in an ardent desire to see the wrongs of Ireland redressed, I cannot help believing that you, by your conduct, for many years past have mainly contributed to keep both England and Ireland in political bondage.

    "In support of your miserable instalment principle you dragged the people of the two countries through the quagmire of Whiggery for years; to maintain your paltry patronage, you encouraged the Whigs to acts of despotism they dared not otherwise perpetrate; till the nation, sickened of their perfidy, was glad to embrace Toryism as the least of two tyrannies.

    "But, sir, so long as the people of any country place their hopes of political salvation in leadership of any description, so long will disappointment attend them; and if the people of Ireland would have 'justice,' they must relinquish their leading-strings, and win it for themselves, they must build up their own liberties, or they will never be truly free.  The principle of political right, and knowledge to use it wisely, must go hand-in-hand, otherwise no change of masters will benefit them; they will be cheated and enslaved by their 'Domestic Parliament,' as they have been by their 'Imperial' one."


    In September, 1843, I received a very kind letter from Mr. A. H. Donaldson, of Warwick, and Mr. J. Mason, of Birmingham, two members of the National Charter Association, requesting me to allow them to nominate me for the Secretaryship of O'Connor's newly-proposed Association, his well-known Land Scheme.  Having, however, no faith in the originator, or in the scheme, I gave them the following reasons, publicly, for refusing:―


    "Dear Sirs,—I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your kind letter of yesterday, expressive of your regret of the circumstances which have kept me from your union, and requesting that I would give my consent to your nomination of me as Secretary of your newly-proposed Association.  My good sirs, if I could perceive any change in the circumstances you refer to, calculated to render any union effective, no personal feelings should stand in the way of my cordially uniting, in any rational measure, for carrying out the great object for which I have so long laboured, the just representation and social happiness of my fellowmen.  But I will be frank with you, though I have every reason to believe that this frankness will be construed into personal feelings against individuals.  But still, as you have referred to the subject, this shall not prevent me from stating my opinions regarding an individual as introductory to my reasons for not complying with your request.  Whatever may be the merits of the plan you are met to discuss, I cannot overlook O'Connor's connection with it, which enables me at once to form my opinion as to any good likely to be effected by it, and which at once determines my course of action.  You may or may not beware that I regard Fergus O'Connor as the chief marplot of our movement in favour of the Charter; a man who, by his personal conduct, joined to his malignant influence in the Northern Star, has been the blight of democracy from the first moment he opened his mouth as its professed advocate.  Previous to his notorious career there was something pure and intellectual in our agitation.  There was a reciprocity of generous sentiment, a tolerant spirit of investigation, an ardent aspiration for all that can improve and dignify humanity, which awakened the hopes of all good men, and which even our enemies respected.  He came among us to blight those feelings, to wither those hopes.  Not possessing a nature to appreciate intellectual exertions, he began his career by ridiculing our 'moral force humbuggery,' as he was pleased to designate our efforts to create and extend an enlightened and moral public opinion in favour of Chartist principles.  By his great professions, by trickery and deceit, he got the aid of the working classes to establish an organ to promulgate their principles, which he soon converted into an instrument for destroying everything intellectual and moral in our movement.  Wherever good was to be undone, principles to be uprooted, and honest men's reputations to be undermined by calumny, there he posted, like the spirit of evil, to gratify his malignancy; and the Star, a mere reflex of the nature of its master, only sought to outvie him in his attacks upon everything good in democracy, or to place Toryism once more in the ascendant.  By his constant appeals to the selfishness, vanity, and mere animal propensities of man, he succeeded in calling up a spirit of hate, intolerance, and brute feeling, previously unknown among Reformers, and which, had it been as powerful as it was vindictive, would have destroyed every vestige and hope of liberty.  I refer not to those persons who, from feeling and conviction, believed that liberty might be won by force, and who, with all the enthusiasm of their nature, were ready to die for the cause they had espoused; but I refer to that brutal spirit which denied the free utterance of thought, and which, had it possessed power, would consequently have silenced every opposing tongue.  The men who, in the time of persecution and danger, had stood courage-proof, were among the first victims selected by this physical-force blusterer and his brawling satellites; no means, however despicable, no lie, however hollow, were neglected to destroy all those who dared to think, or who refused to bow to the golden calf, who had deified himself as the only object worthy of Chartist worship.  The credulous were therefore fed from week to week with forged and slanderous romances against individual character and reputation; the envious were gratified in the work of persecution, and the unthinking captivated with the man who, according to his own professions, had lost class, station, and fortune in their cause; and they therefore readily joined in the warwhoop of the Northern Star till they had driven thousands into exile, and had consigned many noble-hearted victims to an untimely grave.  Did any man, or body of men, venture to assert that they had equal rights with others, to proclaim their views, or to agitate for their principles, their motives were at once impugned by this great 'I am' of Chartism, they were crucified in the columns of the Star, and the fawning pack of intolerants who, from gain or fear, were its zealous retainers, were hounded on to hunt and clamour down those presumptuous sticklers for individual right and freedom of action.  Nay, so inconsistent and blind have those professing democrats been, that while they have joined O'Connor in his endeavours to put down every other kind and shade of agitation, except Chartism as defined by the Star,' they have been led away and befooled by a hundred crotchets which he has set up for the purpose of bringing new readers to his paper.  Need I allude to his recent panegyrics on Dan, and his unsuccessful attempt to divide the honours of 'repeal' with that illustrious deceiver of the working classes; or to his still more recent project, 'The Land,' and his six-acre scheme, which I understand is to form the prominent object of your new organization.  The conduct and character of this man, which I have thus briefly referred to, have prostrated all hopes of success of any plan which he may be connected with; and I fear that my Chartist brethren will never redeem their cause from the odium which he and his satellites have cast upon it till they relinquish his pernicious counsels, return to the just and rational course of agitation which he caused them to swerve from, cultivate tolerant and brotherly feelings in their ranks, invite the co-operation of the wise and good of all classes, and instead of trusting to leadership of any description endeavour to work out their own political salvation.  For myself, I will have nothing to do with such a man as O'Connor, not only believing him to have done irreparable mischief to our cause, but knowing him to be politically and morally dishonest; I believe he will still further injure every cause he may be connected with.  With no other feelings towards you but those of personal respect, I must nevertheless decline your offer for nominating me for your secretary."



    In June, 1844, the late Emperor of Russia paid a visit to this country, with the object, it has since appeared, of getting our Government to consent to his possession of Turkey; a piece of information, kept back by our rulers from the people, with which they ought to have been at once acquainted, and the dangers at the same time pointed out to them of the contemplated aggression.  Had this been done, the probability is, neither the Menschikoff mission nor the Crimean war would have taken place, nor all the horrible consequences that have since ensued.  It was, I believe, our courtly shilly shallying with a tyrant that induced him to believe that he could bully the Turks out of their possessions, without any other danger than a few paper pellets from the diplomatists of Europe.
 
    Rumours of his coming having reached the members of our Association, we resolved on calling a public meeting, to lay an account of some of his atrocious deeds before an English audience.  It so happened that about the same period Joseph Mazzini was induced to believe that his letters had been opened at the post office, and that in consequence of such a nefarious act the Austrian Government had obtained information which led to the sacrifice of a number of Italian patriots, the Bandean Brothers especially.

    How to ascertain positively this letter-opening business became a question.  In furtherance of it I was requested—among other friends of Mazzini's—to write a letter to him, and to fold it up in such a way, with some small matters inside, that if it were opened I should be perfectly assured of it.  I accordingly wrote a letter to him, stating the rumours I had heard of the Czar's intended visit, and wishing to know whether he (Mazzini) knew anything positively of his coming, as we intended to get up a public meeting on the occasion.  This letter was folded up and put in the post office, in presence of Mr. Hetherington, and it having been brought back from Mazzini's as he received it, was again opened in Mr. Hetherington's presence.  Before, however, it was opened, we were both satisfied, from its appearance, that the seal had been broken, and when opened we had proof positive.  Others having discovered, in a similar way, that their letters to Mazzini were opened, presented a petition to Parliament on the subject.  Mr. Thos. Duncombe, having patriotically taken up the matter, was successful in bringing to light the whole of this Grahamizing system, a proceeding which was very properly reprobated from one extremity of the kingdom to the other.

    The Emperor Nicholas having arrived, and having been very courteously received at Court—lauded by the Royal Society as "the friend of science"—and otherwise toadied and flattered by a large portion of the public press, our Association put forth the following bill for the calling of a public meeting:—


    "Nicholas of Russia in England!—A public meeting will be held at the National Hall, on June 6th, 1844, for the purpose of ascertaining how far the people of England are prepared to welcome to their country the Russian Emperor Nicholas.

    "He, who by butcheries and cruelties unparalleled effected the subjugation of unhappy Poland; and when he had massacred, tortured and expatriated her bravest sons and defenders, and extinguished every vestige of freedom, amid the silence of destruction proclaimed that 'Order reigns at Warsaw.'  He who, not satisfied with his brutal conquest over a brave people, has since sought to extinguish their name and blot out their memory.  By his despotic edicts he has closed the Universities of Poland, abolished her schools, forbidden her language, destroyed her religion, commanded that her children should be brought up in that faith which makes the emperor equal with God! and enforces his horrible mandates with the knout, with death, or banishment to the mines of Siberia.

    "He, who has pursued with vengeful cruelty every brave spirit who, seeking the elevation of his brethren, has dared to strive against his despotism.  Torture, lingering captivity in grated cells, banishment and death; women publicly flogged and tortured to death for favouring the escape of their relatives; thousands of virtuous females forced from their parents and handed over to gratify the lust of his soldiers; black atrocities like these form but a small portion of the catalogue of his iniquities.

    "Englishmen!  It is said that this active, scheming, wily tyrant; this chief personification of European despotism; this despiser of human right, and persecutor of all who dare defend it, has been invited to the court of St. James's.  Can it be possible that Englishmen who talk of sympathy with the wrongs of Poland, and talk of Jewish emancipation, will welcome to the Royal table the direst oppressor of Poles and Jews?

    "Englishmen!  You who love liberty, hate tyranny, and are loyal to your country, be on your guard against foreign corruption; be especially vigilant when tyrants like Nicholas are invited to your country; and above all urge your Queen to guard against the contaminating influence of despotism."


    The numbers who attended this meeting were sufficient to fill to overflowing two other public meeting rooms, besides the National Hall, which was crowded to excess.  The following resolution, being one agreed to on that occasion, will serve to show that we were intuitively right in our apprehension of the Czar's visit, which after ten years of secret diplomacy has recently been made manifest. [p306]  "That the people of England have just cause for suspecting that some infringement on the rights of humanity or public liberty is contemplated when a tyrannical and despotic sovereign visits their country; and it behoves them earnestly to watch lest those in power betray the trust reposed in them, to gratify the desires of such a man as Nicholas."

    In the same year the fire-brained son of Louis Philip, Prince de Joinville, with the war ministry of Thiers, together with a number of other combative animals on both sides of the channel, exerted themselves in various ways to stir up a quarrel between England and France; two countries which of all others ought to be allied in the cause of peace, liberty and progress.  Knowing the incalculable evils that would inevitably result to the working millions of the two countries by such a contest, we deemed it our duty to do all we could to allay the bad feeling that was being excited, and with that view issued the following "Address to the Working Classes of France on the subject of War":—


    "Brethren,—By this title we presume to address you; for though the channel divides, just principles and mutual interests should unite us, and though, at this crisis, bad men would foster prejudices and strife between us, the spirit of Christian brotherhood should recall us to our duty, and cause us to spurn all those who would urge us to break every moral obligation, and plunge our respective countries into a ferocious and devastating war.

    "We are, for the most part, working men who now address you—men, who intent on the political and social improvement of our brethren, conceive we have some claim to the attention of those of our own class upon any subject of mutual and vital importance; and considering war as paramount for evil, in its demoralising effects, as well as for retarding the intellectual, moral, and physical progress of mankind; we deem it our duty to invite you, fellowmen, in the spirit of fraternity, to a calm consideration of its evils as they respect ourselves, our countries and our race; and would urge your co-operation in appealing to the higher and nobler feelings of our brethren, to devise means for extinguishing this destructive spirit, which has cursed our race from the beginning of time.
 
    "We are induced to make this appeal to you, the working classes of France, in particular, as the warlike spirit has of late been sought to be fomented between us, by those who have either party views to promote, exclusive interests to protect, or who, like vultures, hope to thrive on the carnage of war.

    "The press, too, of both countries, with few exceptions for some time past has unhappily been administering to our combative feelings; and by sallies of wit, boastings, and threatenings, seeking to fan our old (and we trust never to be revived) animosities into a flame of destructive war.  Nay, to the disgrace of those who shared in it, we have seen professed followers of Him who preached forgiveness and mercy, vindictively inciting those they could influence to revenge the real or supposed insult to an individual, by plunging whole nations into war.

    "The prevalence of this insane conduct has caused us to appeal to you, the Working Millionsyou, by whose industry the munitions of war must be raised—you, who are mainly selected to be the tools and instruments of warfare—you, who must perform the bidding of some aristocratic minion, were it to war against freedom abroad or to exterminate your brothers at home—you, who have most cause for lamenting the sacrifices and bereavements of war—you, who must bear (and are now bearing) the burthens in peace which past wars have inflicted—to you we appeal, who with the working millions of England, must bear the brunt and sacrifices of war, and of you we ask for a verdict condemnatory of the strife which the parties we have alluded to are seeking to foment.

    "We address you, the working classes, because we believe that the interests of our class are identified throughout the world.  Our interests are evidently in the peaceful cultivation of our lands, the feeding of our flocks, in the ingenuity and extent of every manufacture and production capable of administering to human happiness; the reciprocal interchange of our commodities, the full enjoyment of the fruits of our labour; and the cultivation of freedom, intellect, morality, religion and brotherly affection among all the nations of the earth; in all these we believe there is an identity of interests, and when the majority of our brethren have knowledge to perceive it, the advocates of national strife will be few, and the trade of war will fail to bring either glory, honour or fame.

    "Can men so readily forget the enormous expenditure of money, and immense sacrifice of life, wasted in the last wars between your country and ours, that they are so anxious to renew them?  The Revolutionary War and the war against the Empire have already cost England £2,229,830,000, and the destruction of more than 700,000 human beings, and if to this amount we add the sacrifices made by your country, we should imagine that such a holocaust of life and wealth sacrificed to the demon of war, sufficient to glut the sanguinary appetites of men to all posterity.  Does not every generous mind already revolt at the record of blood between two nations said to be foremost in civilization and refinement? and shall the page of history be still further defiled with the atrocities of war between people who ought to lead the world to freedom by their intellect and moral greatness?  Forbid it every tongue! condemn it every mind devoted to human happiness!

    "Imagine, fellow-workmen, that the wealth and human energies sacrificed in our last wars had been devoted to the instruction, comfort and happiness of our neglected, ill-used, and unhappy fellow-labourers, what imperishable and glorious results might now be realized.  What schools, what colleges, what smiling happy villages, might be covering the soil beneath which repose the dust of beings once madly incited against their fellows, to glut the vengeance, or gratify the vanity of those whom the world is still taught to worship as 'heroes.'

    "We would also direct your attention to the amount annually expended by our respective countries in consequence of the demoralizing spirit of war.  The annual war expenditure of England at present is £14,513,916; of France, £20,418,730, an enormous amount annually drained from the sinews of our brethren, and used to enslave and degrade them.  Yet the only excuse for this mischievous and useless warlike array, is the mutual fear or jealousy entertained by one country of another: mutual folly, which it is high time the common sense of our brethren condemned and scouted, not only as a pernicious waste of the fruits of their industry, but as an instrument for perpetuating national feuds and political slavery.  If England and France were to set an example to the world, if two powerful nations united in amity, relying on the interests, energies, and affections of their people to repel all who dared assail them, we should soon witness the holiest of all national alliances, one for promoting the peace and happiness of the world.

    "But those who would excite your prejudices, remind you of the evils which our country has inflicted on France.  They condemn our rapacity and lust of power—they point with jealousy to our colonies, and with envy to the extent of our commerce: and for past ills would fain invoke present retaliation.

    "Now, fellow-men, we are not of those who would frame an apology for injustice, and we also condemn, and have the burthen of our debt to remind us of, the monstrous injustice of warring against the rising liberties of your country.  We have also great cause for lamenting all the wars which our aristocracy have waged for the preservation of "their order," as for providing resting-places for their children and dependants; and would greatly rejoice if every colony of England were self-governed, and attached to us by no other tie than that which should unite all countries—that of enlightened self-interest, and the brotherhood of man.  We class our late wars in China and Afghanistan with the war you are now waging in Algeria, as unjust wars; the power of might being immorally exercised in all, as it always is when force and destruction take the place of reason and justice.

    "But our object is not the mere condemnation of particular wars, but of all war; believing war in principle to be vengeance in practice, a vice equally opposed to our morality and condemned by our religion; its tendency being to deteriorate the noble faculties of man, and strengthen those which level him with the brute.  It stands the most formidable impediment to the civilization of our race, rendering nearly nugatory the best devised efforts for elevating humanity; for, by polluting the youthful mind with tales of blood, by stamping public approbation on deeds of vengeance, and idolizing as heroes those who have excelled in crime, we sap the very foundations of virtue, and offer the highest premium to vice.

    "Be assured, fellow-men, the evils of our age cannot be remedied by the sword; the steady increase of knowledge is the harbinger of freedom to the millions, and individual and national morality must be the basis upon which political and social prosperity must be founded.  The arts of peace are fast preparing a highway to the world's happiness; the ingenuity of invention and triumphs of genius are fast breaking down the barriers which separate nations; gothic prejudices are yielding before human sympathies; the productive classes are fast learning the lesson of human reciprocity, and eventually the freedom of nations will be placed on a foundation not to be endangered by official folly, or destroyed by the whim of a despot.

    "And shall this promise of good be marred by the ill-intentioned or unreflecting? by those who plan battles on paper, and prefer fighting by proxy; who talk of national 'honour' being purified by 'blood!' who invoke the specious name of 'glory' to induce our brethren to leave their peaceful pursuits, their homes and relatives, to deal destruction and death against those who have given them no just cause for resentment?  Let but the united voices of the millions proclaim it madness, and the civilization of the world is secure.
 
    "Unhappily for the cause of peace and human progress, State and Church are combined in favour of war.  We have seen your bishops and ours bless its flags and symbols! invoke the Deity for its success, and pour out their thanksgivings for victory!  But, fellow-workmen, though the highest authority may sanction, it cannot establish the justice of crime.  The principles of religion and morality stand out broadly in condemnation of war, and to these we would refer you, against all power and all authority.

    "In furtherance then, of this sacred cause, in the spirit of brotherhood, in the love of peace and hatred of war, we respectfully submit the following propositions for your consideration, amendment, or approval, hoping that they may form a preliminary bond of fellowship, to unite us for every good object tending to advance the intelligence, morality, freedom and happiness of mankind:—


" '1. That we, the working classes of France and England, respectfully present our different legislative bodies with a solemn Protest against all war, as being in principle opposed to morality, religion, and human happiness.

" 2. That we request them to use their influence with the nations of the world, to establish a Conference of Nations; to be composed of three or more representatives, chosen by the people of their respective countries, to meet annually, for the purpose of settling all national disputes that may arise, by arbitration, without having recourse to war.

" 3. That we urge on them to devote the enormous sums now expended in war and warlike preparations to the education and improvement of the people of their respective countries.

" 4. That we impress on them the necessity of setting an example to other nations, of that justice, forbearance, morality and religion, which they preach the necessity of to their own people.

" 5. That we earnestly beseech them to set the bounds of justice to their acquisitions of territory, and seek to amend their institutions, and improve the condition of their people.'


    "Should you concur with these propositions, or with others more effective, for the just and peaceful accomplishment of the object aimed at, we shall be ready to co-operate with you; excepting that we do not desire to enter into any new agitation short of our primary object, The Political and Social Improvement of the People.

    "But it is not on our rulers alone we should rely for support and sympathy in this great cause but on our own combined intellectual exertions.  We have too long relied on others for effecting our political and social redemption; each and all must labour in this grand work, and every individual must be religiously impressed with the necessity of exertion and sacrifice to effect it.  The increasing progress of knowledge is rendering opinion powerful, and it lies with the millions to make that opinion conducive of good to themselves and posterity.  Let us therefore, brethren, begin by directing our own thoughts to the examination of great principles, and honestly proclaim them bad or good, regardless of consequences to ourselves.

    "If, on examining the principles of peace and war, we think the former should be extended and the latter condemned, we should commence our reform at the source of pollution, and begin with our children.  We should remember that the warlike tales and toys of the nursery are the seeds of strife and battle; and that our admiration of warlike splendour and gory 'glory' is fitting instruction for moulding our sons into soldier slaves, or tyrant chieftains.

    "Instead of stamping our approbation on the heroes of war and oppression, let us seek to generate a more ennobling opinion in favour of those who have contributed to the intellectual greatness or physical happiness of their country; then indeed would Art contribute her best efforts to elevate and dignify humanity, instead of representing the mementoes and horrors of war, to brutalize and degrade it.

    "Nor must we, in our pursuit, forget the power we possess to render the press one of the most powerful instruments for human benefit, instead of being, as it too often is, the ally of power and corruption.  Let us wisely discriminate and generously encourage that portion of it which maintains its exalted character, as the proclaimed of truth and asserter of right, and thus shall we gradually lead it onward to perform its highest duties—the improvement of human institutions and the perfecting of human character.

    "Sincerely hoping that your country and ours may long be cemented in fellowship, that our people may unitedly seek to secure the peace and tranquility of the world, that our rulers may effect timely reforms, and apply the vast resources of our fair countries to the happiness of our brethren, and that we may all fast progress in knowledge, morality, and universal brotherhood, is the ardent hope of the Members of the National Association."


    This address was translated both in France and Switzerland, and, from letters we received from friends, I am induced to believe that it had a very fair circulation in those countries.  But, although it was very generally commended by our own press, it did not altogether escape censure.  The Liverpool Journal put forth an article in reply to it, entitled "An Apology for War," which was replied to by another from our Association, entitled "An Apology for Peace."  Wishing, however, to compress these pages within reasonable limits, I shall give but two paragraphs from it:—


    "But looking to the black record of our race with feelings of pity and regret to think that so many nations should have risen up to be swept away by the scourge of war, to think that highly-gifted man should be urged, tiger-like, to prey upon his brother, and to destroy and desolate his brother's home; looking, we say, to the past as the necessary phases of ignorant and degraded humanity, we would appeal to the intellectual light, the moral and religious feelings of the present, and would ask our countrymen, is there no other road to individual and national liberty but the gory road our ancestors have trod?

    "If war is the only path to civilization, what a mockery is it to preach up the religion of Christ.  If brute force is to be the instrument of human happiness, why talk of cultivating the mental and moral nature of man, the more he partakes of the nature of the savage the better will he be prepared for the work of war and destruction."


 
    In the later end of this year (1844), I took part in the formation of a society entitled, "The Democratic Friends of All Nations," its chief object being to cultivate a brotherly feeling among the people of different countries, by meeting together at stated periods for the purpose of friendly conversation, and for rendering assistance to those who were driven from their country for seeking to advance the cause of freedom.  It was chiefly composed of refugees from France, Germany, and Poland, to which were joined a few English Radicals.  Their first public "Address to the Friends of Humanity and Justice among all Nations" was written by myself.  I was given to understand, however, that the following portion of it gave great offence to the physical force party, and caused many of them to stand aloof from the Association during the short time that I continued a member of it:—


    "Not that we would incite you to outbreaks or violence, for we have faith in the mental and moral combinations of men being able to achieve victories for humanity beyond the force of armies to accomplish.  What is wanting are men armed in all the moral daring of a just cause, and resolved at all risks to pursue and achieve their righteous object.  Let but the same daring mind and resources which have so often warred with tyranny, and so often been worsted in the conflict, be once morally applied and directed, and citadels, armies, and dungeons will soon lose their power for evil.

    "A cheering prospect to encourage you to espouse the cause of humanity is seen in the extent of mental light which is so rapidly being diffused among the productive classes.  They are gradually awakening to a sense of the wrongs inflicted on them by exclusive institutions and privileged orders, and are beginning to declare that they, too, are brethren of the same common family.  Many of them may have mistaken the forms for the principles of true democracy; may have had too much faith that others would accomplish that freedom for them which each individual must strive to attain, and may still have too much confidence in arms and sinews, and too little reliance on mental and moral effort.  But the spark of mind once kindled is inextinguishable; it will spread silently and surely to the destruction of old errors, time-worn institutions and gothic privileges, till the mind-illumined ranks of labour shall rise up in all their moral grandeur to declare them vain and puerile, and that henceforth the brotherhood of man shall be their rule and motto, and that the heroes of their veneration shall be the wise, the good, the true, and useful, who have laboured to redeem the world from slavery, oppression, ignorance, and crime."

 
    From an Address to the Chartists of the United Kingdom, put forth by the National Association in 1845, in consequence of the anti-democratic conduct of O'Connor and his disciples, I extract the following:—


    "Amid this state of disunion and despondency we deem it our duty to address you, for we cannot be brought to believe that you would knowingly consent to be the instruments of your own slavery.  We are persuaded that numbers of you have been deceived by sophistry, and led by falsehood to injure the cause you have so warmly espoused.  We seek to call you back to reason; we have no interests apart from yours; we may honestly differ from you regarding the best mode of effecting our object, but we are all equally agreed on the necessity of its attainment.

    "For, amid the present distracted state of our cause, we have the strongest faith in the justice of Chartist principles.  We still believe that those who have once espoused them will always cherish them, and we still hope that you, the Chartists of the United Kingdom, will yet arise in your mental and moral might, purified from past errors, and will unitedly and ardently strive for the attainment of those rights proclaimed by the Charter, by conduct which shall win the esteem of the wise and good of all classes, so that, ere long, Government will be powerless in opposing your claims.

    "We would ask you, then, in all sincerity, whether the conduct we have referred to is in accordance with your professions of democracy?  Democracy, in its just and most extensive sense, means the power of the people mentally, morally, and politically directed, in promoting the happiness of the whole human family, irrespective of their country, creed, or colour.  In its limited sense, as regards our own country, it must evidently embrace the political power of all classes and conditions of men, directed in the same wise manner, for the benefit of all.  In a more circumscribed sense, as regards individuals, the principle of democracy accords to every individual the right of freely putting forth his opinions on all subjects affecting the general welfare; the right of publicly assembling his fellow-men to consider any project he may conceive to be of public benefit, and the right of being heard patiently and treated courteously, however his opinions may differ from others.

    "We regret to say, fellow-countrymen, that in almost all these particulars the principle of democracy has been violated by a great number of professing Chartists.  What would you think of your arguments and resolutions in favour of the Charter being continually met by speeches and amendments in favour of any one political measure?  Of every public meeting you got up being invaded by your opponents, and your proceedings drowned by clamour?  Would you not justly denounce them as despots, thus to assail and obstruct your right of public meeting, by constantly introducing a subject foreign to the object for which you had assembled?  And is it just, we would ask, to do that to others which you yourselves would condemn?

    "Be assured, fellow-men, that such proceedings can never serve our righteous cause; and the proof is afforded in seeing that those who have indulged in it are only powerful for mischief; are the disgust of all reflecting Chartists, the dupes of the enemy, and blind to their best interests; not only disgusting their friends, but affording their enemies plausible arguments of their unfitness for the suffrage.  We can readily believe that some persons may find their interests promoted by such insane proceedings.  But surely you who desire to see the Charter the law of England, can never suppose it can be realized by such disgraceful means.  We would ask the thoughtful and considerate among you, whether such conduct has not driven from our ranks hundreds of intelligent and active individuals, who, in different localities, once formed the stay and strength of our cause?  Nay, are not hundreds to be found who lament the loss of parents and friends sacrificed by violence and folly, instigated by those same individuals who are still the fomenters of strife and disunion?

    "Judging from their conduct towards the middle, the trading and commercial classes, persons might be led to suppose that the Charter was some exclusive working-class measure, giving licence for abuse, threats, and violence, instead of a measure of justice for uniting all classes in holy brotherhood for promoting the common good of all.  That the working classes too often experience wrong and injustice from persons in all those classes, as well as from those who possess the political power of the state, is admitted; but surely those evils can never be redressed by such conduct.  No, friends!  There is a principle of goodness, of right and justice, pervading universal humanity.  To that principle we must appeal, that we must cultivate, that combine, if ever we hope to see political justice established.

    "Be assured that those who flatter your prejudices, commend your ignorance and administer to your vices, are not your friends.  'Unwashed faces, unshorn chins,' and dirty habits, will in nowise prepare you for political or social equality with the decent portion of your brethren, nor will the ridiculous title of 'Imperial Chartists' prepare you for the far better one of 'honest democrat'!  Empty boastings, abusive language, and contempt for all mental and moral qualifications, will rather retard than promote your freedom; nay, if even you possessed political power, would still keep you the slaves and puppets of those who flourish by popular ignorance.

    "But it is for you, the reflecting portion of the Chartist body, to determine whether renewed efforts shall be made to redeem our cause from its present position whether the enemy shall continue to avail himself of those means hitherto so successfully applied to divide us whether we shall continue to be pitied by the good, feared by the timid, and despised by all those who batten on the fruits of our industry; or whether we shall purge and purify our ranks of those who now disgrace it, and by a combination of the wise and good, once more rise into vitality and strength."



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