William Lovett: Autobiography (5)

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CHAPTER XVII.


IN the following year, 1846, great excitement was called forth by the newspaper press of England and America regarding the disputed territory of Oregon.  Perceiving the lamentable results that would inevitably follow from a quarrel between two countries so connected by trade and commerce, by associations of country and ties of blood, we thought it advisable to do all in our power to allay the bad feeling sought to be created.  Knowing that the industrious millions in both countries would have to bear the brunt and burthen of war, we endeavoured to influence this class by the issuing of the following "Address to the Working Classes of America on the War Spirit sought to be created between the two countries":―


    "Working Men of America.—By our alliance of blood, of language, and religion, as well as by every aspiration we feel for the mutual freedom, peace, prosperity, and happiness of our respective countries, we would address you as brethren, in the assurance that, as brethren, our interests are identified, and in the hope that no other spirit than that of brotherhood may long continue to exist between us.

    "But the hostile threats and warlike preparations, the jealousies and prejudices now sought to be fomented by the interested, thoughtless, and immoral of your country and our own, have awakened us to a deep sense of dangers which threaten the peace and welfare of the working classes of all countries, evils which we believe our mutual understanding and wise and determined resolutions may timely avert.

    "You, fortunately possessing political power to restrain the unjust acts of your rulers, are, we fear, too apt to believe that the prosecutions, encroachments, and insolence which for ages past have characterized the aristocracy of England towards most nations of the earth, have been shared in by the great body of the industrious classes; who, unhappily, for the most part, have hitherto had neither voice nor vote in the matter.

    "That the power and influence of our aristocracy over the minds and consciences of men, their perversion of every principle of morality and precept of religion to uphold their power and monopolies, have often enabled them to enlist great numbers of our unreflecting brethren to fight their battles and espouse their cause, we readily admit; but these, we conceive, should, be pitied rather than blamed as the deluded victims of selfish and hypocritical men; persons who have perverted justice and truth for gain, and the religion of peace and good will for the purposes of war, contention, and strife.

    "Within the last few years, however, knowledge has been rapidly extending its influence among the industrious millions of England; universal right is now asserted, and is progressing, despite persecutions and sufferings; anomalies, corruptions, and vices in Church and State are being exposed; unjust privileges and monopolies decried; and mental and moral worth fast allying itself to the cause of humanity and justice.  Thus knowledge, extending and combining, is fast calling forth mental light and political power, tending to the good of our country, such as our State Church can no longer mislead, standing armies restrain, nor aristocratic influence avert.

    "This progressive improvement towards a higher state of civilization and happiness to which all good men are looking forward with delight, our aristocratic rulers would gladly mar, and nothing but war and national commotion would favour the accomplishment of their wishes.  With the high-swelling cant of 'individual glory' and 'national honour,' the din and dazzle of warlike preparation, they would speedily intoxicate the unreflecting.  They would then be enabled to turn the national mind from all social and political improvement to the prospect of foreign battles, and brilliant (though expensive) victories.  Our present moral and intellectual progress, the advance of trade, commerce, and the peaceful arts of life would be stayed and obstructed by the unholy scourge of war, and thousands of our brethren having their worst passions loosened and excited, would be transformed into savage demons thirsting for blood.

    "We beseech you, Working Men of America, do not permit yourselves to be drawn or seduced into war, and thus afford the enemies of our liberties and the haters of yours, a pretext and opportunity to produce those lamentable results; nay, it may be to jeopardize the rights and liberties which you now enjoy.  Your country has long been an asylum for persecuted freedom throughout the world, and your democratic institutions inspire the hopeful and struggling among all nations; but while your Republic offers a beacon to cheer and animate the friends of human rights and equal laws, it at the same time sends forth a light that despotism would fain extinguish.  For be assured, the despots of Europe would gladly cast aside their petty contentions to form another unholy alliance against the growing Republic of America; and though their combined power might fail to crush your liberties, they would not fail in desolating your shores, and in destroying great numbers of your people.

    "What, too, has prevented the further development of your national resources? the cultivation of your fertile soil? the increase of your capital? the progress of your commerce? and the further prosperity of your people?  What, but the same power that has retarded our liberties, paralyzed our manufacturers, crippled our commerce, and pauperized and impoverished our country?  What but the selfish, monopolizing aristocracy of England? who, by their prohibitory laws, their imposts and burthens, have raised up barriers of injustice and enmity to prevent the prosperity of both countries.

    "Despite their maddened efforts, however, those barriers are fast yielding to the progress of thought; the knell of monopoly and injustice is sounding, and the prospect of political righteousness and social happiness is lighting up with hope the cheeks of our famished and pauperized population.  Working men of America, do not, we pray you, by any unwise proceedings on your part, retard or prevent the consummation of such prospective happiness, the fruits of which you will not eventually fail to share.

    "We fain hoped that Republican America was free from that mania of kings and princes, the grasping after territory and dominion.  Think you that any amount of real power or advantage, either to you or to us, could be gained by the possession of such an inhospitable and savage region as that now disputed by your rulers and ours?  Think you that the strength of England is augmented by her dominion over her colonies, most of which she must keep bristling with bayonets to keep down her half-rebellious progeny?  It is true they may form objects of solicitude to the scions and offshoots of our aristocracy, enabling them to eat the bread of idleness, but to the mass of the English people they are far more burdensome than profitable.  Surely the disputed question regarding the territory of Oregon, might be amicably settled by arbitration, the peaceful and just mode of arranging all such matters, without plunging our two countries into war, and, it might be, the whole of Europe also; and with such an unfortunate event, all its destructive consequences—a state of desolation and misery it would take centuries to repair.

    "And surely you the working classes of America, cannot so readily have forgotten the lessons of your greatest statesmen and profoundest philosophers respecting the evils and consequences of war; nor can we suppose that you have less regard for those great principles of morality and religion, which unitedly condemn it as one of the monster evils that afflict our race.

    "Working men, this military and warlike spirit must be curbed and kept in subjection, if ever we desire the civilization and happiness of our race.  Men, indeed, cannot be called civilized who will consent to be made the tools and playthings of statesmen, or who delight in the playing of soldiers on their own account.  The constant appeals to the individual vanity and mere animal propensity of the soldier, and the narrow spirit of nationality sought to be engendered, are antagonistic to the mental and moral development of our nature, and the broad and ennobling principles of universal brotherhood and peace.

    "How much longer will the labouring population of the world submit, that that wealth which is accumulated by their incessant toils, anxieties, and privations, shall be applied to the keeping of thousands in idleness and vice; with no other object in view than that of still making them toil for the drones of society, or the going forth at the bidding of their rulers to murder and destroy?  For, in our desire of human progress, we could wish that what is called 'honourable warfare,' and 'glorious victories,' were properly designated to be NATIONAL CRIMES!  For were they for the most part stripped of their gloss and glory, and tried by our moral or Christian code, one of them would exhibit an aggregate of crime, comprising murder, robbery, and devastation—more black and atrocious than could be found in the collected annals of a century.

    "The war-spirit already excited between our two countries has prepared the way, and given a pretext to our rulers to inflict additional burthens on our working-class population.  Already they have announced their intention of adding, under the name of a militia, upwards of 40,000 soldiers to our present army; to take our brethren from their homes and avocations; and while, on the one hand, they cause us to pay upwards of ten millions annually for our clergy to preach to them the religion of peace and brotherhood, to impose additional taxes on the other hand, for the purpose of imbuing their minds with the spirit of war and vengeance.

    "This additional number of human beings, who by their skill and labour could raise food, clothing, and habitations to bless the half-starved millions of our country, are to be taken—many of them from their wives and children—for three years, to be drilled and disciplined in the arts of destruction; and, it is said, to be kept apart from their fellow-citizens in military barracks, doubtless lest sympathy and interchange of thought should disqualify them for their brutal profession.

    "This burthen, too, will, in all probability, as usual, fall upon the Working Classes for the most part; for should they seek, by fine or substitution, to avoid being taken from their homes and families, the poorest labourer, on his shilling per day, will have to pay equally with the wealthiest person in the kingdom: the consequences will be, that wealth will in most cases procure exemption, and the sons of poverty be left to their fate.

    "Such, friends, are the first-fruits of this warlike excitement here, about a portion of territory of little use to either country, and which, perhaps, in strict justice, belongs to neither.  But why should we, the industrious classes, year after year, and age after age, thus submit to injustice?  We, whose interest is in the peaceful cultivation of our respective countries—in the production of the conveniences and arts of life—in the peaceful interchange of our commodities—and in the intellectual and moral development of ourselves and children—why should we, who have no quarrels or disputes with one another, be thus continually made the victims or tools of those who delight in contention and profit by war?

    "Fellow-men! deeply impressed with the wickedness, injustice and misery, that always flow from such contentions, we would call upon all good men, but more especially on you, the Working Classes of England and America, to use every intellectual, moral, and political means you possess, to extinguish that spark of natural animosity which is now sought to be fanned into a flame; and to be prepared to make any personal sacrifice to prevent the direful calamity of war between the two countries.  On this subject we have morality, Christianity, and justice on our side; and if our firm and peaceful conduct should call forth the power of the law or the strength of the oppressor, we had better far be martyrs in the cause of right, than suffer ourselves to be coerced into the shedding of human blood, and the retarding of the civilization of our race.

    "We trust, however, that this dispute of our rulers maybe speedily settled by arbitration; and earnestly hope that the growing intelligence of the age may lead men to perceive the demoralizing and deteriorating effects of soldiers and armies, and to perceive that war is more fatal in its moral and physical effects than the plagues, earthquakes, and tornadoes of nature.  That so impressed they will speedily free themselves from the evils and expenses of Standing Armies, garrisons, and ships of war—that they will soon seek amicably to settle their national disputes by a Congress of Nations, freely chosen by the people of their respective countries—and that, through such instrumentality, universal peace and human brotherhood may be established, freedom extended, commerce promoted, and the arts, industry, and civilization of each be made to contribute to the welfare of all.  In the ardent desire for fellowship and peace, and in the hope that both our countries may advance in knowledge and happiness, and seek to promote the happiness of all others, we remain, your brethren, the Members of the National Association."


    This Address was widely circulated, both in England and America, and was warmly commended by the peaceful portion of the press, in both countries.  Our Aristocratic Statesmen, however, evinced a far greater alacrity in providing for a contest against Republican America in support of this paltry territory than they did to check the wholesale encroachments of barbarous Russia; although they knew Nicholas's intentions years before his base attack upon Turkey.  The Lords Lieutenants of Counties were at once written to regarding the enrolment and training of the Militia; and the newspapers, in their interest, informed the people that the ballot was to be renewed, and that the half of those enrolled were to be called on for duty for three years.  Now, beyond our desire to be at peace with America, we had seen enough of former ballotings for the Militia to allow of us remaining silent, when preparations were being made for restoring this unjust and obnoxious system.  We accordingly put forth our reasons against it, and by public meetings and otherwise called forth a strong expression of the working classes against the measure proposed.  The war feeling that was sought to be excited, also called forth the reprobation of many public bodies, and a great number of addresses were exchanged between the peacefully-inclined in both countries, calling loudly for arbitration, and these happily led to this peaceful means being adopted for settling the question in dispute.

    I have mentioned, in a former part of my story, that, owing to an embarrassing debt, our Association was not able to accomplish the establishing of a Day-School for Children; one of the most important objects set forth in our prospectus.  In the beginning, however, of 1846, a kind friend (who, not liking to be talked of as the doer of good deeds, shall be designated A.B.), made a proposal to the Association, through Mr. Francis Place, for the establishing of a day school in the hall under my superintendence and management; he agreeing to provide the necessary desks and apparatus for the opening of the school, as well as to pay the fixed salary of the schoolmaster.  Indeed, the proposal was first made to myself, to the effect that I should conduct it; but having then some distrust of my own abilities for a teacher, I was fearful of undertaking the task.  I readily agreed, however, to superintend it as I best could; and hence the proposal was made to the Association in the form stated.

    The majority of our members having highly approved of the proposal, arrangements were speedily made, and certain alterations effected in the hall for carrying the plan into execution.  As soon, however, as it became known that such a school was to be established, an application was made to Mr. Place and myself by a person offering himself as a schoolmaster, for the conducting of the school, he understanding us to have the appointment.  In the note which he sent to me, stating his qualifications, he said he had written to Mr. Place more fully on the subject.  I accordingly went down to Brompton to Mr. Place, in order to ascertain his opinion on the subject, as well as to express to him my own, which was to this effect:—That as we wished to establish a secular school upon a broad and liberal basis, such as might embrace children of either Christians, Jews, or Infidels, I thought we should do wrong in giving it either a Sectarian or an Infidel character, as we should assuredly do if we placed at the head of it the person who had applied to us, he being an avowed Atheist.  That as one of the objects of our Association was to embrace persons of all creeds, classes, and opinions, in favour of our political views, and as our own members were of various religious opinions, I thought we should be acting unjustly to them, as well as thwarting our objects, were we to stamp our school as an Infidel school.  Therefore, without entering into the question of the applicant's merits or demerits, I thought him a very improper person to appoint as schoolmaster.  As, however, he (Mr. Place) was the person through whom the proposal was chiefly made, and as he was greatly my senior, I should leave him to decide on the answer that was to be given to the applicant.

    On my return home, I also mentioned the subject to several members of our committee, and they concurred with me that the applicant was not the kind of person whom we ought to appoint as schoolmaster.  By leaving the answer altogether to Mr. Place, however, it appears that I did wrong; for he neglected to give any answer for or against the appointment, so that when I met the person some days after (it might be weeks), I was greatly annoyed to find that no answer had been given to his application.  I told him, however, the steps I had taken in connection with it, and the opinions I had expressed to Mr. Place regarding him.  He said it was very possible that his appointment might have affected the school, as I apprehended, but that he was then very indifferent about such a situation, as he was about to start a new periodical.  On learning from me that we had not yet been suited with a teacher, he referred me to a person whom he thought would suit us, one, he said, who had some experience as a schoolmaster.

    Some weeks after this explanation had taken place, a few of our members, who were greatly prepossessed in favour of the applicant referred to, made a charge against me of a dereliction of duty in not answering his letter, as before stated.  Their motion, however, after a warm discussion, was lost by a very large majority.  But regarding this as one of a series of insults I had lately received from the same parties, I was induced to resign my situation as secretary to the Association.  This resignation delayed the opening of our day school for nearly two years.

    In 1846 I became a member of the Council of the Anti-Slavery League, of which Mr. George Thompson was president, and Mr. Robert Smith, secretary.  This association was formed on the occasion of Wm. Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglas, and Henry C. Wright's visit to England, three noble champions of the poor slaves.  I am induced to believe that the chief object of their visit was to impress upon religious bodies that slavery was a heinous sin, and ought to be abolished; and also to urge on them the necessity of witholding fellowship from the religious bodies of America, who were the advocates and abettors of slavery.  Among the religious bodies of England and Scotland, they endeavoured to influence the Evangelical Alliance on behalf of the slave, but were unsuccessful.  They accordingly got up a public meeting on the subject at Exeter Hall, where the mock Christianity of this body was treated rather freely.

    Our League having strongly condemned the conduct of some of these bodies, who, for the sake of filthy lucre, and the subscriptions they were in the habit of receiving from the religious slaveholders of America, persisted in recognizing them, regardless of the millions of their fellow-men in slavery; and hence we were noway popular with them.  We, however, employed Frederick Douglas for a short time as our missionary, and his and George Thompson's very eloquent discourses called forth great sympathy on behalf of the poor slave.  Lloyd Garrison, also, while he was in London, gave a very eloquent lecture on slavery at the National Hall.

    During our friends' visit, I recall to memory a very delightful evening spent with them and other friends, at the house of Mr. J. H. Parry.  On that occasion we had not only a very interesting account of the Anti-Slavery movement and its prominent advocates in America, but our friend Douglas, who had a fine voice, sang a number of negro melodies.  Mr. Garrison sang several anti-slavery pieces, and our grave friend, H. C. Wright, sang an old Indian war song.  Other friends contributed to the amusement of the evening, and among them our friend Vincent sang "The Marseillaise."

    In this year, also, I became acquainted with Mr. George Gill, of Nottingham, a gentleman whose liberal and patriotic benevolence led him to establish, in that town, the People's College, devoted to the purposes of education; the People's Hall, intended for meetings, lectures, and classes of instruction for the working classes; also a place called the Retreat, consisting of several comfortable cottages, for agèd people, rent free.  I had previously drawn up for him a constitution for his college, and in 1856 I received an invitation to come down to Nottingham to draw up a constitution for the People's Hall.  He was very infirm at the time, and exceedingly deaf, but having made myself acquainted with his wishes, I prepared the document.  This, having received his approval and that of his son, and late partner, was sent off to his lawyer to be engrossed.  My old friend, however, died before it could receive his signature, but his son, I hear, has since honourably carried out his noble father's wishes.

    Being out of employment, as before stated, I was recommended by my friend, Mr. Prideaux, to William and Mary Howitt, and was shortly after engaged by them as the publisher of their journal.  This very excellent little periodical had a very fair circulation at first, and bid fair to pay well, but a dispute between Mr. Howitt and John Saunders, the editor of the People's Journal, regarding the conduct of the latter, caused the circulation to fall off.  In the meantime Mr. Howitt became involved in pecuniary difficulties, by reason of his former connection with the People's Journal, so as eventually to lead to the discontinuance of his own journal, and the loss of what property Mr. Howitt possessed.  Fortunately, however, William and Mary Howitt possessed a mine of mental wealth that trouble and difficulty could not altogether deprive them of, although these greatly operated for a season to injure the health and spirits of both of them.  They have now, however, by great industry and unwearied application in their pursuits, mastered their enemies and their troubles, and have since delighted their readers by the production of many very excellent works, one of which, "Land, Labour, and Gold," recently published by Mr. Howitt, a work descriptive of Australia and Van Daemon's Land, forms a picture of governmental stupidity and official incapacity in relation to these fine countries, which will make future generations wonder why their ancestors were such patient, plodding animals, to be so begulled and befouled as they have been.  In expressing this opinion, I may add, that it is now many years since my first acquaintance with these very estimable people, and, the more I know of them, the stronger is my appreciation of their worth and excellence and goodness of heart.
 
    During the time I was the publisher of Howitt's Journal I had not much time to devote to politics, although I continued to take part occasionally in the proceedings of the National Association.  Perceiving, however, the variety of efforts that were then made in different directions in favour of Political and Social Objects of Reform, it struck me that the realization of most of them might be easily accomplished by some plan of co-operation, if persons could be induced to engage in it.  I, therefore, put forth the following "Proposal for the consideration of the Friends of Progress":―


    "Fellow-Countrymen,—Millions of our brethren, from their ardent desire to promote such changes, social, political, moral and religious, as they conscientiously believe will remove, or greatly abridge, the present lamentable amount of poverty, misery, vice, and crime, may all justly be considered friends of progress.

    "Knowing that vast numbers of those friends are actively engaged in their respective societies, as well as individually in forwarding each their peculiar views, too often midst difficulties and discouragement ending in disappointment, and destructive of future efforts, I have long been desirous of seeing some combined effort made, by which—as I conceive—all the various objects of reform which they are separately in pursuit of, may sooner be realized than can possibly be effected by individual or isolated effort; while, at the same time, they are cultivating principles of peace, union and brotherhood, which doubtlessly form the best foundation for social happiness and national advancement.

    "To effect any great improvement in this country, politically, or socially, we have learnt from experience the great effort that is needed, as well as the great amount of money that must be spent before public opinion can be formed and concentrated so as to influence our legislature in favour of even one measure of reform; and yet very many are needed to effect our social and political salvation.

    "Owing to this slow and tardy process of reform, misery vice and crime are perpetuated; thousands are born and die in ignorance and vice; and thousands, too, often lose to health and hope in the continuous and protracted struggle make men wiser, better and happier than they found them.

    "This slow progress for good is evidently to be attributed to the great variety of measures advocated by different bodies of reformers; also by the contentious feelings too often engendered in their onward progress, and the consequent difficulty of uniting our brethren in favour of any one object; and, above all, in the great difficulty of abrogating old laws, or instituting new ones necessary to effect or facilitate the reform desired by any particular body of Reformers, or portion of the people.

    "But as all those various classes of Reformers are equally the friends of progress, all zealous and desirous of benefiting their fellow-men, and, it may be, all equally active in promoting the especial object they have espoused, it will be useless to call upon any of them to give up their particular object in favour of any one measure that may by some persons be considered more practical and important than another; for such appeals have frequently been made, and as often disregarded.

    "As measures of progress, they are all doubtlessly important, if not equally so; and as they are all equally desirous to check evil and promote good, and, it is presumed, anxious to live to see the realization of some of the objects they are contending for, the question arises whether upon the good Samaritan principle, of each helping his fellow-man, they can be brought to unite, the sooner to realize the objects they are severally in pursuit of, and thus carry forward, simultaneously, all those measures necessary for accomplishing the greatest good in the shortest possible period.

    "In reflecting on the difficulties in the way of progress it has struck me that something might be done to facilitate such a desired object, in the formation of a GENERAL ASSOCIATION OF PROGRESS; in which might be combined all those measures of social and political reformation for which societies are established, or mankind individually are now in pursuit of; as well, indeed, as any other measure calculated to aid the great cause of mental, moral, and political progression.

    "Anxious that something should be done in favour of some combined effort for the progress of humanity, I have presumed to address you, as well as to direct your attention to the following proposal, as an outline explanatory of my views on the subject, which may be improved or altered by any persons disposed to promote or aid such an undertaking:—



"PROPOSAL FOR FORMING A GENERAL ASSOCIATION
OF PROGRESS
.


    "Its first object being to unite in one General Union of Progress all those who are now separately, or in small bodies, seeking the attainment of the following political and social objects.  Secondly, to devise some practical measures for unitedly promoting and realizing such objects in a shorter time than can possibly be done under present arrangements; and this without interfering in any way with the internal regulation of any present association.



"POLITICAL OBJECTS OF ASSOCIATION.


    "1st. The Equal and Just Representation of the whole people.

    "2nd. The Abolition of all State Religion; and the right of conscience and opinion secured.

    "3rd. The Absolute Freedom of Trade; and the abrogation of all Custom and Excise Laws.

    "4th. The Abolition of all Taxes upon Knowledge: such as the tax and securities on newspapers, stamps, and advertising duties, taxes on paper, books, pamphlets, &c.

    "5th. The General Reduction of Taxation; and a more rigid economy of its expenditure.

    "6th. Direct Taxation on Property; and the abolition of all indirect means of raising a revenue.

    "7th. The Abolition of all Political Monopolies and Unjust Privileges.

    "8th. The Legislative Improvement, Impartial Execution and Cheapening of Law and Justice for the whole people.



"SOCIAL OBJECTS OF PROGRESS.


    "9th. General Education for the Whole Population; provided by all and carried out and enforced by all, with the least possible government interference.

    "10th. The promotion of Scientific Institutions—Schools for Adult Instruction—and Libraries for general circulation among the whole population.

    "11th. The Promotion of Temperance, Sobriety, Cleanliness and Health amongst all classes; and the securing of places of rational recreation for the people, apart from intoxicating drinks.

    "12th. The devising means by which the working and middle classes may have Comfortable Homes, and be gradually enabled to become Manufacturers, Traders, or Farmers, on their own capital.

    "13th. To labour for the General Abolition of War, Slavery and Oppression, and the promotion of General Civilization and Christian Brotherhood throughout the world.



"SKETCH OF THE GENERAL ORGANIZATION.


    "That any number of individuals uniting, or already united, to promote any of the above objects, may become members of the Association of Progress by complying with the following conditions:—

    "1. That they be united for one or more of the objects specified, and be classified (for purposes hereafter mentioned), in classes of one hundred persons in each class.

    "2. That they individually subscribe 2d. each towards a general fund weekly; the same to be collected by one of their own body, and paid into the District Bank of the Association.

    "3. That they signify, by resolution, that any sum their class may secure by lot (or otherwise) shall not be divided, or applied otherwise than for their declared object.

    "4. That they appoint one of their own members towards forming a Committee for the district; such committee to see that the sums collected by the classes within the district are paid into the bank, as well as for promoting the objects of the Association within their respective districts.



"GENERAL COMMITTEE.


    That each District Committee appoint two members annually to form the General Committee of the Association; such Committee to meet in London (or other large town alternately) for the division and application of the money thus raised, according to the rules agreed to; as well as for promoting the general objects of the Association by all just and peaceful means.



"APPLICATION OF THE GENERAL FUND.


    "That the fund so raised be annually divided by the General Committee into portions of £2000; such portions to be appropriated by lot (or any other approved means) among the different classes of the Association, and immediately handed over to those who may be so successful; the same to be applied by them in promoting the declared objects without any further intervention.

    "Such is a mere outline of the plan proposed.  It will be seen that I have sought to include under the head of Political and Social Reform all those measures which are now advocated and contended for by different bodies, as well as others, which I deem desirable and necessary, before right, knowledge, and happiness, can be effected for our fellow-men.

    "I have not thought it necessary to enter into the details of rules and regulations, as those can be best matured by such persons as may be disposed to form such an association.

    "As, however, a mere outline of the plan is set forth, it may be necessary to explain that the chief object of classification into hundreds is for the appropriation of the fund raised; as well as to afford facilities for persons not included in any existing association to form part of such an Association of Progress.  As, for instance, 100 men, known to each other, may unite for the purpose of building themselves comfortable habitations—for raising means to take a farm—to commence manufacturing or trading or for any social or political object embraced by the Association; and in this manner may obtain £2000 capital to commence with, or forward their undertaking.  Or if they are not successful directly, in a pecuniary sense, they will by their union be indirectly benefited by the reforms they would unitedly be able to effect.

    "If in this manner the friends of progress were only combined to the extent of one million, that number paying 2d. each per week would raise money enough to give £2000 capital to 216 different classes every year.

    "The mere pecuniary advantages, however, would be trifling, compared with the great and paramount object, A UNION OF ALL THE FRIENDS OF PROGRESS; all aiding each other in the spirit of Christian brotherhood, the better to accomplish the reforms they are anxious to effect; acting in concert for the promulgation of their respective views and objects; seeking to smooth down those contracted, prejudiced, and contentious feelings, which now so much impede the progress of reform; and uniting hearts and minds to remove the poverty, misery, and oppression of their land, and to extend the blessings of peace, prosperity, knowledge and happiness among all the nations of the earth."

 
    Being, as I said, very busily engaged at this period, as the publisher of Howitt's Journal, no other steps were taken by me beyond the putting forth of the proposal; but I still entertain the hope that the day is not distant when some such general organization of the friends of progress will take place.

    In the year 1848, the year of revolutions and commotions; of frightened despots and elated and hopeful people; our Association issued the following "Address to the French":—


    "Citizens of the French Republic,—As members of an Association formed for promoting the Political and Social Improvement of the Millions, we feel that we should be wanting to the great cause we have espoused, if we failed to extend our fraternal sympathies towards you at this important crisis; especially when more than sympathy is shown by many of the privileged of our country for the perjured despot you have recently scared from his throne—a man whose regal career has been a continuous warfare on human rights, and whose last effort to grind your liberties in the dust has made your streets flow with the blood of his victims.

    "Abhorring such acts, we rejoice at his downfall—we conceive that a man so criminal should be left to the corrodings of his own conscience till repentance of his misdeeds shall have purified his heart, and caused him to proclaim his own fallen example as a warning to the despots and oppressors of mankind; to teach them the hollow foundation which courtiers and armies afford for the stability of thrones based on unrighteous power.

    "But, fellow-men, while we rejoice in your victory, we deeply deplore the fate of the slain, and sympathize with the condition of the wounded; and we earnestly hope that your liberties will be consolidated, and that our liberty, and that of the world's, will be speedily effected without any further effusion of human blood.

    "For we would fain hope that this last great example you have exhibited to the world will teach wisdom to its rulers, and cause them to proclaim a new era for humanity; by liberalizing their institutions, and freeing their people, will prompt them to redeem the past by their future exertions to promote the improvement and happiness of their race; and, instead of relying on forts and armaments, and influences of corruption, to rely on the power and stability they can build up in the hearts and minds of a free people.

    "But, whatever may be the course or disposition of rulers, the people of all countries have imperative duties to perform, in preparing themselves intellectually and morally, FOR THE COMING AGE OF FREEDOM, PEACE, AND BROTHERHOOD—an era when national jealousies shall be buried with the despotisms and privileges which have engendered them—when separate countries, brought nearer and nearer by the grand achievements of human inventions, cemented in friendship by ties of fraternity, freedom, and commerce, shall dispense with soldiers, armies, and wars; when nations bound in amity shall vie only in promoting happiness and refinement at home, and civilization abroad; and when every individual shall have learnt that his highest earthly duty is to labour for the happiness of others, with the same zeal as he would seek to promote his own.

    "The privileged and the powerful may smile at these aspirations, having only seen humanity through the distorted medium their own oppressive laws and enslaving institutions have engendered; but we have faith to believe that in the heart of lowest vice, there are chords of sympathy that may be struck to raise the fallen victim up in all the majesty of God's great image.  We judge from man's better nature, when quickened by instruction, matured by kindness, and inspired by freedom; and strong in our hopes we hail every effort tending to that great end, when our faith shall have become a reality.

    "People of France!  You have proclaimed your country a Republic, and your political object freedom for all.  In this your great resolve we are hopeful of the future, and hasten therefore to extend to you our sympathies.  We respect your form of government; we cordially approve of your object; we have faith in the good men you have selected for consolidating your liberties; and our earnest prayer is that you may have thee virtuous conduct of every French citizen to govern, guard, and guide your Republic to a successful and lasting issue—to the forming of a commonwealth, strong in the intelligence and morality of your people; secure, by pursuing a career of peaceful improvement; beloved at home, for the happiness you shall diffuse; and respected abroad, for the practical virtues you shall exhibit of the government of a true democracy.

    "But amid our hopes and congratulations we would fain mingle our fraternal advice and respectful warnings; feeling that liberty is one, and the common cause of nations identical in the great brotherhood of man.  Have faith, we implore you, in the righteousness of your object, and in the great and good men you have chosen for realizing its consummation.

    "Respect the opinions of those who differ from you abolish all jealousies and distrust of power, wealth, and influence; and, by peaceful, kind, and courteous conduct, resolve to convert even your enemies into friends.  Trust more to your individual virtues than to your collected armies, for the consolidation and security of your Republic.

    "Dignify honest labour, industry, temperance, and frugality, with national approbation; everywhere diffuse a knowledge of your political and social obligations; and make the instruction of your children your paramount object; for by so acting you will build up your liberties on a foundation, firm, lasting, and impregnable.

    "Brethren of France! we also take this opportunity of assuring you that the millions of our country cherish no other feelings towards you than those of kindness and regard; and no other desire than to see our two countries cultivating a free and friendly intercourse, and heartily promoting the peace and civilization of the world.

    "The hard-working, industrious millions of our brethren, destitute of political right, overburthened by taxation, and deprived of their earnings for the benefit of idlers, are also desirous of obtaining their liberties, and trust that their moral energies will ere long enable them to achieve them.  They are now earnestly watching every step in your progress and hopefully believe that your future career will be a beacon to cheer them, and not a brand to deter.  Your success will help their enfranchisement.

    "That your onward course may be prudent and peaceful that your Republic may be established by the united voices of France; and that the wisdom of your rulers and the virtues of your people may make it a glorious example to the nations of the world, is the sincere prayer of your English brethren, the members of the National Association."


    This address was translated by our estimable friend Dr. Bowring—now Sir John Bowring—whose signature was attached to it, as one of our honorary members; he having generously come forward when the Association was first formed with a very handsome present of books for the library, and was otherwise a kind friend to the Association.  The original document was engrossed and forwarded to the ambassador of the Republic in London, and a copy forwarded to M. de Lamartine, but the receipt of it was never acknowledged.

    Unhappily the hopes which we cherished regarding the Republic of France were but short-lived; the selfish impatience of the middle classes, in refusing temporary relief to the working classes, whose labours had been suspended by the new order of things, led to excitement and disorder—the crude and startling proposals put forth by the Socialists and Communists regarding the rights of property caused all who had anything to lose to pray for despotism as the least of evils—the unseemly squabbles and daily contentions of the representatives of the people dispirited the hopeful and emboldened the daring—the fighting propensity of the Celtic race, their warlike idolatry, and the ignorance and superstition of the peasantry, were unhappily antagonistic to freedom—all these unitedly prepared the way for priestly and imperial despotism to extinguish liberty with false and hypocritical representations, a drunken soldiery, and a river of human blood.  Unhappy France! thrice gloriously to free herself from the bit and bridle of kingcraft and priestcraft, but her people not appreciating the blessings of Freedom, to thrice again submit their backs to the burthen, their mouths to the bridle, and their sides to the spur.


 
CHAPTER XVIII.


IN this year (1848) I cherish, with feelings of the warmest gratitude, the remembrance of a numerous company of kind friends, who assembled at the National Hall, to present to me a public testimonial, as a mark of their respect for my public services.  The testimonial comprised a handsome silver tea-service, and a purse of one hundred and forty sovereigns.  A very kind and warm-hearted Address, written by my esteemed friend Mr. William J. Fox, M.P. for Oldham, and signed on behalf of the subscribers by my earnest and sincere friends Mr. J. H. Parry as chairman, and Mr. J. F. Mollett as secretary, was likewise presented to me on the same occasion. [p341]  I estimate that testimonial the more so, because I believe that the friends with whom it originated, as well as the subscribers generally, were prompted at that particular period by the purest and noblest feelings to extend their kindness towards me in the manner described.

    Shortly after this event, our day school (so long postponed) was opened in the Hall; our generous friend, A.B., not only furnishing the desks, books, and apparatus required for the opening, but also the fixed salary of the schoolmaster.  The introduction to our prospectus states that "the object in forming this school is to provide for the children of the middle and working classes a sound, secular, useful, and moral education—such as is best calculated to prepare them for the practical business of life—to cause them to understand and perform their duties as members of society—and to enable them to diffuse the greatest amount of happiness among their fellow-men."  I may add that it is now upwards of nine years since our school was opened, during which time our kind friend A.B. has handsomely contributed towards its maintenance, without it which assistance it could not, I believe, be kept open; the small payment of the children not being sufficient to pay the salaries of the teachers and assistants, together with the rent and out-goings of the place.

    About this period I put forth a small pamphlet, entitled "Universal Suffrage in the Moon."  The merits of this little work, however, I deem it necessary to state, I have no claims to, it having been written by a friend, who was desirous of its being published in my name, from the belief that it was more likely to be circulated among the working classes; an idea, however, which was not realized.
 
    The last political association I was actively connected with was the People's League, which originated in the following manner:—Soon after the outbreak of the French Revolution, in 1848, the members of the National Association were desirous that we should make another effort to unite the Radical Reformers of the United Kingdom in favour of the Charter.  I was therefore requested by them to prepare an Address, such as I might deem likely to be promotive of that object.  It having been suggested that such an Address was likely to be more effective if we could obtain the sanction of the members of the "National Alliance," [p343] and some of the leading reformers among the middle classes, such as Mr. Hume, Cobden, Miall, and others.  I was requested to see some of these men and confer with them on the subject.

    I accordingly drew up a brief proposal for the formation of a new political association, to be entitled the People's League, having the following objects:—


    "1. To obtain the just and equal representation of the whole people, as set forth in the People's Charter, with such alterations or amendments in its details as may here after appear necessary.

    "2. The reduction of our National Expenditure in every department of the State.

    "3. The repeal of all Customs and Excise Laws and all indirect means of raising a revenue.

    "4. The substitution of a Direct Tax on Property, in an increasing ratio upwards, according to its amount."


    This proposal readily met with the support of the committee and secretary of the Alliance; but Messrs. Hume and Cobden, while they expressed themselves favourable to our views of reform, were fearful that the Middle Classes could not be got to unite in any plan for its attainment.   The chief point dwelt upon by both of them was, that O'Connor and his disciples had, by their folly and violence, made the name of Chartist distasteful to that class.  Mr. Hume, however, being exceedingly anxious that something should be done at that crisis, requested me to leave the above proposal with him, as he wished to submit it for the consideration of some of his friends belonging to the " Free Trade Club."  I did so, and when I called again he informed me that he had got about fifty of his friends to agree to certain resolutions in favour of Financial Reform and Household Suffrage.  This not coming up to our views of reform, our Proposal was subsequently modified in the form of the following "Address to the Radical Reformers of the United Kingdom":—


    "Fellow-Countrymen,—Desiring the peace, prosperity, and happiness of our country, we deem it our duty to address you at this eventful period, believing that correct views, just feelings, and a cordial union among all classes of Reformers, would be the most effective means of peacefully removing all unjust obstructions to our national prosperity; and would form the best security for the advancement of our people.

    "But, in inviting your aid in the formation of such a union, we deem it necessary to declare that we are opposed to every description of outrage or violence, and that we have no feeling inimical to the present constitution of the realm.  We only wish the Commons House to be a true representation of the industry, intellect, and good feelings of the whole population—that our reforms should be peacefully and justly effected—that the security of person and property should be maintained—that our trade, commerce, and enterprise should be justly extended—our brethren improved and educated—and that our country should progress politically and socially as the first among the nations of the world.

    "We have faith also to believe that all this can be effected by peaceful and moral effort; as our combined industrial energies, our united capital, our moral courage, our intelligence and will alone, give strength to our state, and constitute the only power of our rulers.

    "But, judging from the legislative effects and burthens of the last few years, we have just cause for apprehending that the longer reform is delayed, in every department of the state, the more difficult will it be to effect it—the more destructive will be its results to the middle and working classes, and the greater will become the danger lest an impoverished and oppressed people overturn, in their frenzy, the accumulated wealth, power, and improvement of ages.

    "For should our present system of privilege and corruption be prolonged, we may confidently predict that our Manufacturers and Traders, overburthened by taxation, cramped by monopolies, and fettered by exclusive laws, will, year after year, find it the more difficult to compete with less-burthened countries; and that their markets, being thus restricted, will afford less profits on labour and capital, and will cause less employment for our continually-increasing population.

    "Our ingenious Artizans and industrious Mechanics and Labourers, compelled to strive with each other for such limited employment, would inevitably bring down their present inadequate wages to the subsistence point; and with that would speedily come the fast deterioration, the pauperizing and destruction of our country's hope and pride, her intelligent and industrious people.

    "Our Shop-keeping and Middle Classes, chiefly dependent on the consumption of the industrious millions, would most assuredly sink with them; as, in addition to their loss of business and profits, they would have to sustain the burthen of that pauperism and misery such a state of things would engender.

    "With an unemployed and impoverished people would come turbulence and disorder—for a people steeped in misery will not always listen to the dictates of prudence—and, to escape such a state of commotion, the capital, the enterprise, and the intellectual stamina of our country, would wing their way to other lands, as we have seen in the case of unhappy Ireland.

    "But, fellow-countrymen, with all our apprehension of the future, we need not to point beyond present evils to afford abundant cause for awakening your sympathies and stimulating your benevolent resolves.

    "Misery, starving wretchedness, and ill-requited toil have been proclaimed by our rulers to be the daily lot of millions of our working-class brethren.  Over-burthening taxation, restricted trade, debts, bankruptcy, and insolvency, are making rapid inroads on the industrial energies and previous accumulations of our middle and upper classes; and yet, amid all this social deterioration, our rulers are adding burthen to burthen, and seem resolved to perpetuate them.

    "The Commons House, which ought to be a true representation of the wants and wishes of the whole people, and composed of men whose aim and object it should be to reduce and keep down our present extravagant expenditure, and to determine how the mental, moral, and industrial energies of our people should be developed and extended, so as to add to the prosperity and happiness of all, seems but a mere instrument in the hands of our privileged orders for maintaining the monopolies, perpetuating their unjust powers, and taxing our population.

    "For the present franchise, being so limited and unequally distributed, and the means of bribery and corruption so extensive, the legislative efforts of the few representatives of the people in that House are generally neutralized, or rendered hopeless, by the overwhelming power of aristocratic nominees, army, navy, and mere privileged representatives.

    "Fellow-countrymen, the intellectual and moral energies of Reformers have for years been contending against this power of corruption.  Thousands of lives have been sacrificed, and millions of money have been spent, in striving to make the House of Commons an instrument of progress—an organ for effecting the welfare of our country.  To move every reluctant step it has grudgingly been compelled to take, a social tornado has been required; and, that subsiding, it has again sought to retrace its progress, and to again build up and strengthen its oppressive powers.

    "Believing, therefore, that the House of Commons must truly and justly represent the whole people before it can become effective for lessening our burthens, removing restrictions and monopolies, or for helping onward the intellectual, moral, and truly religious progress of our people, we invite the good and true among all classes to unite with us for the forming of a PEOPLE'S LEAGUE; the chief object of which shall be to obtain the equal and just representation of the whole people, as set forth in the People's Charter, with such alterations and amendments in its details as may appear necessary.

    "But, in adopting the principles of this document, we deem it necessary to state, that we adopt it in the spirit of those with whom it originated, whose object it was to create and extend an enlightened public opinion in its favour, and to endeavour to unite all good men for peacefully obtaining its legislative enactment.

    "At the same time, we repudiate, with all earnestness and sincerity, the violent language and mischievous conduct which selfish and unprincipled individuals have associated with that measure of political justice—persons who have sought to maintain their notoriety and to acquire an ascendancy over the multitude by lauding their vices and administering to their intolerant and persecuting spirit.  By which malevolent conduct they have fostered and perpetuated divisions between the different classes of society, given support to oppression, delayed the cause of reform, and consequently prolonged the poverty and misery of the millions.

    "Hopeful, however, that the time is now arrived for a union of all true Reformers, and having full faith that there is sufficient intelligence, moral energy, and true feeling among our countrymen for restraining all acts of violence and folly, and for peacefully effecting all those reforms necessary for the prosperity of our country, and the elevation and happiness of our people, we resolve to attempt the formation of such a union, and invoke the blessing of Heaven for our success."


    This Address, meeting with the approval of the Committee of the National Alliance, as well as of our own Association, was printed and sent forth to a great number of the leading Radicals of the country; accompanied with a circular (signed by a number of well-known Reformers) inviting them to attend a friendly conference on the subject, at Herbert's Hotel, Palace Yard, on the 3rd of May.  The circular, however, had no sooner been issued than some of our leading friends, who had appended their signatures to it, began to raise doubts and state difficulties about the extent of the suffrage we had proposed in our Address; so that when the conference took place a considerable modification was made from our first proposal, and from what I and several of my friends, thought to be essential for the basis of a union calculated to call forth the spirit of the country.  And what rendered it the more mortifying was, that the objections came from the ultra-Chartists, and not from the more moderate Reformers; our friend Vincent having been about the first to raise doubts and difficulties.  The conference was, however, attended by about 300 persons; and, after much discussion, a resolution was agreed to in favour of universal suffrage; the subject of the People's Charter having been deferred till some future conference.

    In fact the resolution agreed to, forming the basis of the union, was a great falling-off from the basis of the Complete Suffrage Conference held at Birmingham in 1842; and the result turned out as I anticipated; we failed in securing the co-operation of the millions, and only received a lukewarm support from some few of the Middle-Class Reformers.  The League, however, was formed, and some few hundreds joined it, among those myself; hopeful that it might grow in numbers and improve in principle.

    The plan of organization having been agreed to, the first object was to appoint a deputation to wait upon the leading members of the Free Trade Club to impress on them the superiority of Universal over Household Suffrage as a practical and conservative measure—the gentlemen of the Club having recently declared in favour of the latter.

    An inaugural meeting was next called at the London Tavern on the 24th of May, for the purpose of submitting our views to a larger body of Reformers, Colonel Thompson having been appointed our chairman; but the O'Connorites—headed by Ernest Jones—having forged admission cards to a large extent, interrupted and broke up the meeting in disorder.


    An Address, written by Mr. John Robertson, was next circulated to a wide extent, setting forth the defective state of the franchise, showing the steps taken by the League for its improvement, and invoking the people to join in a peaceful and powerful demand for their enfranchisement.  A subsequent one, written by Mr. Thomas Beggs, was put forth by the Executive Committee, inviting attention to the object of the League, and calling for active sympathy and support.  These, as well as a great number of private efforts, having failed to call forth the spirit of the country, and that pecuniary support necessary to meet the ordinary expenses of the League, caused the secession of a large number of the members of our Council in the following September; among whom were Dr. Price, Mr. Miall, Thomas Box, Charles Gilpin, Stafford Allen and others.

    A number of us, however, indignant at the effort made by the Whigs at that time to stifle the reform movement, determined to keep together; to greatly economize our expenditure, and to use every means in our power to keep up the agitation for the suffrage.

    The Whigs, having effected a triumph over O'Connor and his boasting physical force followers by their blundering demonstration on the 10th of April, and having, moreover, exposed the frauds and fallacies in connection with the "Monster Petition" presented about that period, resolved to crush, if possible, the right of petitioning altogether.  The Government had previously rendered the right of petition nearly a nullity, by preventing the members presenting them from explaining or supporting them; and now they thought to effectually silence the public voice by raking up an old law of the Stuarts, which declares that political petitions shall not have more than twenty signatures.  And this, be it remembered, was effected by Whig Reformers.

    I ought to have stated before this, that the first secretary to the League was Mr. Robert Lowery; the second, my friend Mr. Thomas Beggs; but he having resigned, I was appointed their Honorary Secretary.  Shortly after my appointment I was requested to prepare an "Address to the People of London," on the subject of petitioning for the suffrage in the form the Whigs allowed.  The following is the Address agreed to:—


    "Fellow-Citizens,—We live in a city distinguished for its wealth, enterprise and commerce, above most of the nations of the earth.  Our public buildings are numerous and costly, and the mansions of our wealthy citizens vie in elegance and magnificence with those of princes.  Our shops are gorgeous in the display of splendid and ingenious merchandise; our warehouses overflow with every description of productions; our freighted ships are seen on every sea; and in every part of the world our manufactured produce affords ample proofs of the industry and ingenuity of our untiring people.

    "But what, fellow-citizens, has been the power that has most contributed to the raising up and supporting of this our wealthy and populous city?  What was the power that chiefly sustained her in her numerous struggles against feudal freebooters, despotic kings, and grasping courtiers?  What, but the spirit of freedom—that noble resolution to guard, at any sacrifice, the fruits of honest industry—that undaunted determination which so often aided the right and protected the oppressed, in the teeth of base rulers, furious chieftains, and armed retainers—and that spirit, that power, in proportion as it manfully resisted the attacks of despotism, or withstood the cajolery of kingly or aristocratic domination, made our city wealthy, and her citizens prosperous?

    "And be assured, fellow-citizens, that in proportion as that spirit of freedom is allowed to decline among us, to be usurped by open foe, or undermined by plausible pretensions, so assuredly will our trade languish, our power diminish, and that superstructure raised by the combined industry and freedom of our forefathers fall to ruin and decay.  The concentrated rays of healthful activity, which serve to render a city prosperous, must beam upon it from without; but if the chill of poverty and oppression is once allowed to extinguish the outward sun, the warmth of city life will soon become exhausted.  On the activity, the wages and consumption of the millions, the prosperity of our manufacturing and distributing classes depend; but on the profitable interchanges of all must our towns and cities rely for their prosperity.

    "And are there no alarming symptoms now stirring, warning us both from within and from without―symptoms which should serve to recall the freedom and independence of the past, and awaken our apprehensions of the future?  In our social arrangements is not a spirit of reckless gambling fast usurping the trade of honest, plodding industry? and a course of chicanery and fraud, ending in bankruptcy, becoming too frequent and too fashionable to be thought dishonourable?  Are not the fearful and increasing evils of pauperism, vice, crime, and disease annually displayed in facts and figures, giving us dreadful warning of social disorder?  Is not the gulf fast widening between the different classes of society? and have not the careless indifference, the hauteur and oppression of the rich too long left the poor a prey to their own misery and heartburning meditations?  Are not the substantial realities and real pleasures of wealth—the means of promoting knowledge and rewarding goodness—fast being exchanged for the empty pride of distinction, or the ambition of a name?

    "And, politically, are not the mass of our industrious people, the bound, padlocked, and plundered serfs of our aristocratic factions?—this coalition, this league of political despots and social spoilers, whom General Foy once described as 'a band of those who wish to consume without producing, live without working, occupy all public places without being competent to fill them, and seize upon all honours without meriting them.'  Is not the grasping and despotic power of this class, their annual drainings, their monopolies and exclusiveness, the searing blight which everywhere prevents industry from blossoming, and cankers commerce in its bud?  Yet this is the class whose unrighteous power you are daily taught to uphold as necessary to your country's salvation! persons for whom places must be found, and taxes paid; for whose dominion armies must be raised, battles fought, spoils won, and men bleed;—and for all of which you, and your children, must not only toil and pay, but the labour of generations unborn must be mortgaged to give them cause for remembering this aristocratic race.

    "Under the specious plea of upholding the Crown and dignity of England, the two aristocratic factions have gradually been undermining our institutions and robbing us of the rights and liberties our forefathers wrested from their despotic progenitors.  They have graspingly monopolized the best portion of our possessions at home and abroad, and have dexterously shifted every burthen from their own shoulders on to those of the people.  They have made church, army, and navy, their especial property and instruments—have filled the people's house (for the most part) with the vassals of their will—have selfishly stripped royalty of its possessions, and (judging from their conduct) would fain usurp its power.

    "Where, fellow-citizens, are these institutions our fathers once gloried in?  All the great provisions of Magna Charta, the Petition of Right, the Habeas Corpus Act, the Bill of Rights, and the Act of Settlement, with numerous other constitutional privileges, have, one after another, been gradually undermined and nearly rendered a nullity by these two factions; who now, through their corrupt organs, call upon us to bless God for our invaluable political blessings!  And this, too, at a time when they have nearly deprived us of our political rights—the right even of the criminal at the bar, the right of making our grievances known and our prayers for justice and redress public and notorious,

    "In addressing you, fellow-citizens, we beg to assure you that we are no destructives, seeking to undermine society—to destroy our institutions—or to subvert the monarchy.  But we deem it our duty to declare, that society is not safe while honest industry fails in procuring bread—that our institutions are in danger while the prison is sought for as an asylum—and that the monarchy has more to fear from the oppressive rule and grinding exactions of our aristocracy, than from those of their victims, whom despair and poverty have rendered desperate.

    "The people of England are far from being changeful in their character; for even their turbulence oftener proceeds from justice outraged, or rights deferred, than from any anxious desire for other institutions.  Their humble homes and kindred hearts are more entwined with their lives and aspirations than is seen among the mere roving exquisites of fashion, or lords of millions grasping still for more.

    "As for the Monarch of England, she has more true hearts in huts and hovels than are found in court circles or lords' mansions.  With the former she is respected as a monarch, and esteemed as a woman; and could she but contrast their honest feeling with that of those 'Ins and Outs' of place, profit and preferment that hover round her person, she would soon see on whom reliance could be placed if she ever needed protection.  For recent examples are not wanting to convince her of the faithlessness of courtiers, and the insecurity of armies.

    "But in thus declaring our opinions of aristocratic rule and dominion, we desire it to be understood that it is not the men but the system we condemn—it is not against their rank or possessions we so much complain, as against their oppressive and unjust power;—they, in fact, may be said to constitute 'The State.'  For them England has warred, and is still warring against freedom at home and abroad —for their benefit and domination, and not for the support of the monarchy, are our present expensive establishments maintained—and by their laws, their monopolies, their rule, has England been pauperized, and her people enslaved.

    "Need we remind you, fellow-citizens, that the organs of this class, taking advantage of the strife now waging on the Continent of Europe—between the despots who would bind and the victims who would escape their thraldom—are now seeking, by every perversion of fact and sophistry of argument, to alarm your fears and awaken your prejudices, the more easily to make you the instruments of your own slavery.  They would fain make you believe that your social and political salvation are dependent on standing armies and aristocratic sway! and they sneeringly denounce all those who remind you that these have ever been the instruments of oppression in all ages; and that the warlike spirit they have engendered is the chief evil which continental liberty has now to cope with.

    "Those who tell you that the freedom and happiness of England would be best promoted by endeavouring practically to carry out the great lessons of the Gospel, in seeking to promote peace, extend knowledge, and do justice to all our brethren, are made the scoff of those venal instruments, who do the bidding of our oppressors.  The landed aristocracy of England, they would fain cause you to look up to as your hereditary fathers and best defenders; and would teach you to despise all those who by the industrial arts of trades and manufactures, and the peaceful intercourse of commerce, have scattered far and wide the blessings of knowledge, and enriched this land of oaks and acorns with the multifarious productions of the globe.  Exceptions they would doubtlessly make, where accumulated wealth was necessary to enrich an empty title, or where intellectual greatness was willing to forswear the gifts of nature to become the willing puppets of their order, but even then the feudal pride would be manifest in the blending.

    "Fellow-citizens, and you who make up the two million inhabitants of this great metropolis, it is for you to record your verdict against this social and political injustice; and, though humble ourselves, in all but earnestness of purpose, we implore you to do so by the remembrance of the past, by the gloom and despair of the present, and by the hopes of a brighter future.

    "It is evidently your interest as it is ours, to live in free and friendly intercourse with all nations; but our aristocracy are constantly fomenting fresh quarrels, devising new conquests, demanding more soldiers, and fresh sacrifices of our fellow-men.

    "It is surely your desire,—as it is our own,—that our industrious people should be fully employed in raising productions to supply their famishing and destitute brethren at home, or to exchange for commodities which all classes desire from abroad; but our aristocracy, by their lavish expenditure in armies, navies, and in every department of the state, are continually abstracting from the productive energies of the country; and, by their monopolies and quarrels, have called forth a host of competitors, who are constantly limiting our exchanges with the nations of the world.

    "It is your and our interest to retain in our own hands the largest amount of our own earnings; but our aristocracy demand by far the largest share to support them in their idle extravagancies, their expensive pomp, power and dominion.

    "If, then, you would promote your own interest, and seek to diffuse the greatest amount of happiness among your fellow-men, you will join your voices and will add your exertions to those of others, in peacefully promoting such a reform in this country, and especially in the Commons House of Parliament, as shall prevent this grasping aristocracy from much longer impoverishing our country and degrading our people.  This great work against a powerful and continually-increasing body is not to be effected by partial or party measures; the heart and soul of the kingdom must be enlisted in the struggle to secure such reform peacefully and effectively; and to do this the suffrage must be personal—must be universal.

    "We need not here stop to define this measure, nor to afford additional arguments in favour of its justice.  It is now notoriously understood as pertaining to every man of full age and sound mind, having a fixed residence and untainted by crime.  The right of it is founded on the great brotherhood of humanity, is based on the justice of all conventional arrangements, and is such as our moral and Christian codes inculcate and approve.

    "While, however, we feel bound, by every principle of political morality, ardently to contend for the legislative enactment of this great right, we are most anxious to obtain it peacefully and constitutionally.  But it behoves every lover of peace, order, and progress, to be prompt in the exercise of those means, as, year after year, our aristocratic factions are blocking up those constitutional channels through which our social grievances may be made known, or political reforms effected.  Almost the last right left of us, the right of petition, has gradually been curtailed and restricted; and the legislative shearing of the last session has almost rendered it a nullity.  But under this last constitutional rag the friends of peaceful political progress should speedily rally; lest, this, too, be struck down by some aristocratic fiat.  And, poor and scanty as it is, such an act would be a matter of solemn moment, as there are fearful facts on record of evils occasioned by the stifling of the public voice, and by the blocking up all peaceful channels of constitutional redress.

    "Believing, then, that multitudes in this great city are anxious to see our social and political wrongs redressed, and sufficiently imbued with the spirit of their forefathers to abide by this constitutional right of petitioning, we would respectfully urge them still to get up petitions, though they be 'limited to twenty signatures,' according to the provision of the despotic law of the Stuarts, which has recently been raked from oblivion by our fair-promising, but liberty-hating Whigs.

    "We, therefore, earnestly request that they will, in brief and clear language, record their opinions on the great question of universal suffrage, the only effective measure that can allay the increasing discontent of the millions—the only radical cure for those political corruptions and social burthens which exclusive legislation has generated, and which our aristocratic rulers seem resolved to maintain.

    "We will not call upon them to petition in this or that form, or for those points and details which we deem essential to make the suffrage effective.  Let each petition be in accordance with the views of those who sign it; but let the occupant of every apartment, the inhabitant of every street—let each and all record their signatures upon this great and growing subject.  A general expression of the feelings of the metropolis, couched in respectful language, and to every signature the address carefully appended, would be the best reply to those who proclaim the people's political satisfaction with things as they are, as well as the best rebuke to those who have driven us to such a mode of petitioning."


    Several hundreds of these "Score Petitions," as they were called, were forwarded to us for presentation to Parliament; but the mass of the Chartist body, discouraged by the result of their different petitions to that House, seemed doggedly resolved to petition it no more, but to wait the chances of events, the conflict of parties, or the pressure of circumstances, for the attainment of that "justice" which their prayers and petitions had failed to secure for them.  Thousands of the most enterprising and thoughtful among them—men who, by their industry, skill, and economy, had accumulated the means of emigration—shook from their feet the dust of their unjust and ungrateful country, and are now enriching other lands with their labours.

    The tools of our aristocracy are often prone to talk of the bad feeling and ingratitude displayed by a large portion of the American people, as well as by many of our Colonists, towards the mother country; forgetting that these feelings had their origin in their own base ingratitude; they having refused to acknowledge (save as serfs and instruments) the men, who, by their skill and labour, had contributed to their country's greatness—men who, when ground down and forced from the homes of their fathers, with the bitter remembrance of their past treatment, have very naturally stirred up hearts to sympathize with them, among those into whose ears they have told their tale of wrong.

    I may here state that the People's League lingered on, without being able to do anything very effective, till September, 1849, when it was dissolved, since which time I have chiefly devoted my energies to Education.

    Some efforts, however, having been made in this year, by a portion of Middle-Class Reformers, in favour of Household Suffrage, induced me individually to put forth an appeal to them on this question, entitled "Justice safer than Expediency."  In this I endeavoured to show that justice was likely to be compromised, and misery and discontent prolonged by the course they seemed disposed to adopt; and that it was an expedient as foolish as it was unjust to give the right of suffrage to the tenement and not to the man.  That while Household Suffrage would embrace the ignorance that might be found in cot and hovel, it would exclude the intelligence of clerks, mechanics, and professional men who live in lodgings, and single men who live at home with their friends.  That it would also carry with it the thousand legal quibbles of house, tenement, land, rating, and taxing which have rendered the Reform Bill a nullity; and which have wasted a countless amount of time and money in the vain attempt to unravel their legal and technical mysteries.  And that they might be assured that the adoption of a Household Suffrage would not settle the great question of representative right; for the excluded class would keep up and prolong the agitation, and be more and more clamorous as the injustice towards them would be the more apparent.


 
CHAPTER XIX.


IN this same year I published in Howitt's Journal an "Address to the People of the United Kingdom on the State and Condition of Ireland." [p359]  The following extracts will convey its character:―


    "Fellow-Countrymen,—We presume to address you on this important subject because we conceive that we have, 'each and all,' a common interest in all that concerns our country or our race; and because we believe that we shall all be wanting in our moral and political duties if we remain apathetic when starvation and misery abound, or keep silent when justice is withheld, or wrong about to be perpetrated on any portion of our brethren.

    "And, without undervaluing the exertions that have recently been made to mitigate the wretchedness of Ireland—and feeling a deep interest in the warm and generous sympathy that from the hearths and homes of England has been extended to relieve the starving people of that country—we, nevertheless, believe that justice is about to be withheld, and wrong perpetrated towards the millions in both countries, unless the voice of England shall unite with that of Ireland in a demand for Justice, and not Charity.

    "Fellow-Countrymen,—We have no desire to lacerate your feelings with the horrible details of starvation, outrage, and revenge, which years of oppression have engendered, and famine and despair recently aggravated; but we would direct your attention to the necessity that exists for your thoughtful enquiry and earnest resolve, so as to prevent, if possible, an annual recurrence of this unparalleled misery.

    "You have seen that our rulers, instead of providing effective remedies to prevent a recurrence of these evils, are content in administering mere palliatives or doles of charity, which are to be extracted from the industrial energies of the many to support the unjust privileges of the few.  An additional burthen of eight millions is to be placed upon the back of industry—the blight of heaven—producing starvation to thousands—is to be made a pretence for improving the fortunes of absentee idlers, and maintaining domestic spoilers in their unjust possessions—the canker is still to be left to prey upon the heart of Ireland—English industry must continue to bear the burthens the disease engenders, and Parliament must again, session after session, be engaged in the old routine of coercion or delusion for Ireland.

    "Seeing, then, this system of injustice, and having so long felt its baneful results, is it not high time to demand from our rulers that those annual legislative tinkering for the evils of Ireland shall speedily be put an end to, by a measure that shall at once be just and comprehensive?—a reform aiming at the elevation and enlightenment of the people, and the prosperity and happiness of the country, instead of permitting the unjust privileges of individuals to stand in the way of all just reformation, and to retard the improvement of a nation.

    "The causes which have produced, and which serve to perpetuate destitution, periodical famine, and misery in Ireland, and the means that can be devised for the improvement of that portion of our brethren, are questions in the solution of which all are interested, physically and morally, from the poorest labourer in the kingdom, whose scanty wages are dependant on the causes which bring competitors from Ireland, to the possessors of wealth and affluence, whose capital is often wasted or rendered profitless by reason of the wrongs inflicted on that unhappy country.

    "Forming, therefore, a portion of those interested in the peace and prosperity of our Irish brethren, and urged by a sense of duty to endeavour to stimulate your enquiries and active interference in their behalf, we respectfully submit for your consideration what we conceive to be the causes which have mainly contributed to the deplorable condition of that country, and at the same time to suggest such remedies as we conceive would greatly mitigate the misery of the people, and form the means of gradually elevating their social condition.

    "The primary cause of most of the evils which afflict Ireland, we humbly conceive can be traced to the legislative and executive power having hitherto been vested in the few instead of the many, those few having legislated for, and governed Ireland for their own individual interests and aggrandisement, instead of seeking to improve the country and elevate her population.

    "That by virtue of this unjust power the few have gone on gradually extracting the wealth and productive capital of the country—too often to spend out of it, in supporting their extravagancies and debaucheries—till they have beggared and pauperized the greatest portion of the people.

    "That these evils have been greatly augmented by the Established Church of Ireland, to support which the people have been unjustly taxed and cruelly treated; and which Church has only served to perpetuate religious feuds and animosities, instead of uniting the people in the bonds of charity and human brotherhood.

    "This state of destitution, misery, and religious antagonism, has naturally engendered strife, violence, and frequent commotion; to subdue which Ireland has been still further drained and coerced, till she is nearly converted into one great arsenal of soldiers and policemen.

    "That this turbulent state of things has gradually driven out the trade and commerce of Ireland, nearly annihilated her manufacturing and trading classes, and left few others than victims and their oppressors.

    "That instead of the resources afforded by trade and commerce to employ her continually-increasing population, the greater portion of them have been thrown back upon the soil, for their miserable subsistence of potatoes which has increased the competition for land to a degree to which no other country affords a parallel.

    "That this rife competition has been greatly augmented, and the evil extended by the present rent and profit-grinding system; with its land-agents, underletting, minute divisions, and short and uncertain tenures; which in their operation prevent farming from being carried on successfully, so as to employ labourers at decent wages, or to increase the capital of the country.

    "That this struggle for a subsistence out of the soil has placed the millions of Ireland, both farmers and cotters, in a state of wretched dependence on their landlords, too many of whom are regardless of every principle of humanity and justice; and who, when the people are likely to become burthensome or troublesome, scruple not to turn them out upon the world to starve and die.

    "That these conjoint evils have depressed the energies of the people, and paralysed the hand of improvement, which, joined to the neglect of education, have fostered feelings of enmity between the two countries, when sympathy and union are essential for the progress and emancipation of both.

    "Fellow-countrymen, we have thus endeavoured to trace some of the prominent causes which we think have produced the present misery of Ireland; but whether we have traced them correctly or not that misery exists, and is such as demands prompt and efficient redress.  The evil of a destitute and famishing people maddened by oppression, and filled with despair, is not to be depicted in all its naked hideousness; but our imaginations may form some conception of the mental and physical wretchedness that must be concealed, in secret and in sorrow, from the soul-harrowing records which have recently been proclaimed through a thousand channels.

    "In venturing, fellow-countrymen, to suggest such remedies as we deem necessary in the present state of Ireland, we do not conceal from ourselves the difficulties which stand in the way of such being rendered effective, nor do we expect to escape censure for presuming on a task which has perplexed abler heads.  But we put forth our suggestion in the hope of leading you to the investigation of the subject, so that, ere long, still more effective measures may be devised, and your combined efforts force them on the attention of our rulers, as being far better means for securing the peace of Ireland than wretched Charities or Coercion Bills; for it is to you, the industrious millions, that the people of Ireland must ultimately look for redress, and not to political parties or class interests.

    "The remedies we conceive should embrace:—


    "First, means to provide for the pressing and immediate wants of the destitute, the agèd, and infirm.

    "Secondly, means to check the deteriorating process, by which farmers are converted into cotters, and cotters eventually turned out of their wretched holdings, to become mendicants or starve.

    "Thirdly, to open up other sources of employment than that of the present wretched system of agriculture, so as to prevent those contentions and crimes, which have their origin for the most part in the present competition for land.

    "Fourthly, to remove the chief cause of religious strife and contention, and provide for the general education and improvement of the people.


    "To provide for the pressing wants of the people, the landowners of Ireland, we respectfully conceive, should at once be made responsible to the claims of justice, by the enactment of a just and comprehensive Poor Law; a law by which their property should be directly taxed to meet the wants and necessities of their respective districts; and which law should be administered in a humane and just spirit, instead of being made exclusive and degrading.

    "To improve the present state of agriculture in Ireland, and to give the farmer some reasonable chance of increasing his capital, some legal enactment is necessary to do away with the present sub-letting system, and its deteriorating evils; and to compel landlords to grant leases of not less than fourteen years, free from all unreasonable restrictions, and at the same time to secure for the tenant at the end of his term a fair equivalent for what improvement he may have made on his farm.

    "To provide for great numbers now dependent on casual labour, and often in extreme destitution, the waste and unreclaimed lands of Ireland, amounting to upwards of 5,000,000 of acres, now nearly profitless to the owners, and injurious to the country, should be appropriated by Government, and improved and applied by them to meet the wants of the people.

    "That the superfluous, wealthy, Established Church of Ireland—a lasting source of national contention—should be removed, its existence being as unjust in principle as its tithe gleanings and merciless exactions have been anti-religious and criminal in practice, and its land and revenues, producing an annual income of nearly £2,000,000, should be applied to the improvement of the country, leaving only a suitable income to each clergyman where there are actual congregations.

    "That the property and income tax should be extended to Ireland, and the revenue raised from that, and the sources referred to, be applied for the next ten years at least to the reclaiming of waste lands, the making of improved roads, the establishing of mines and fisheries, the improvement of harbours, the erecting of schools, and for promoting other national improvements.

    "That the reclamation of the waste lands and all other national improvements should, in our opinion, be placed under the superintendence and direction of a General Board in Dublin, and as many district boards as may be found necessary throughout Ireland: such boards to be appointed by Government, and composed of such competent persons as have the confidence of the Irish people, without reference to their creeds, class, or political opinions.

    "In putting forth the suggestions we shall probably be reminded of our proposed interference with 'the rights of property.'  We may be told that a Poor Law to relieve the destitution of Ireland, would swallow up the landed revenues of that country; that an appropriation of the waste lands of that country would be a monstrous and unjust confiscation; and that the lands and revenues of the Established Church should be held as sacred and inviolable as any other property in the kingdom.

    "To all such assertions we would reply, that all property originating in conventional arrangements, and founded on public utility, must be ever tested by that standard; and when the wants of starving millions, and the luxuries of a selfish few, are so tried and tested, justice and humanity will find little difficulty in settling the question.  And as the rich and powerful have hitherto found, in their legislative appropriations of waste and common lands, no very formidable obstacle in the claims of the poor man to his share and property in the village green or common, we can discover no just obstacle in the way of legally appropriating the waste lands of Ireland to relieve her famishing people.  And as to the property of the Irish Church, that too, must yield to the claims of utility and justice.  It had its origin in cunning, fraud, and force; it has changed its possessors with the opinions of the times, or the power of rulers, and it must speedily yield its unjust accumulations to the better fulfilment of its mission; that of 'relieving the poor and binding up the broken-hearted.'

    "In our proposals we have suggested that for the next ten years the revenue raised from the sources referred to, should be solely devoted to the improvement of Ireland, and applied under the direction of those who possess the confidence of the people, who, having means at their disposal, would doubtlessly seek to call forth new energies and improved habits among their present forlorn and destitute countrymen.  Such an arrangement, we believe, would not only be advantageous to Ireland, but to the people of this country also; for the people of Ireland, on perceiving a just and comprehensive plan of reform being carried out under the direction of their friends and advisers, would, we believe, cordially co-operate with the Government to render it effective; so that our labour market would soon have fewer competitors, our present expensive establishment of soldiers and police for the ruling of Ireland might be dispensed with, and all classes peacefully bent on the improvement of their country, would soon cause capital, trades, and manufacture to take root there; which, with extended education and increased freedom, would speedily spread peace and happiness where contention, misery, and desolation dwell."


    Since this was written many of the suggestions contained in it have been carried into effect, with many benefits resulting from them.  Other beneficial reforms would doubtlessly have taken place, but for the impractical projects of Irish politicians, directing people's minds away from real grievances, to such projects as a Repeal of the Union, Fenianism, Home Rule, etc.  The Home Rulers, however, have one special grievance to complain of, in common with the people of England, Scotland, and Wales—that of the great difficulty of having local matters, readily attended to by the General Parliament.  This grievance I think, ought to be at once redressed, and that by having the kingdom divided into districts, to each of which should be referred for legislation all local matters pertaining to the district.  The General Act of Parliament, for establishing such kind of Home Rule, should, however, carefully name the various subjects of which these district legislatures should take cognizance; taking care that no locality should have it in its power to restrict public liberty, or the right of public meeting, speaking, writing, or printing, nor meddle with the rights of property, nor interfere with religious liberty, and the right of conscience, nor have power to interfere with the education of the people, other than Parliament prescribes—all such subjects, and many more, should be matters of legislation and control by the whole Kingdom through the General Parliament.

    Stopping at Birmingham a few days in this year with my kind and amiable friends Mr. and Mrs. Goodrick―he being now Alderman and Justice of the Peace—whose cordial hospitality, and warm and generous friendship, for a great number of years I shall ever remember with feelings of gratitude, my attention was directed to some peculiar doctrines on the "Peace Movement," in a periodical entitled the Family Herald. [p367]  As one of the advocates of that important movement—conceiving it to be, not a sectarian, a party, or merely a national question, but a question of universal humanity, embracing all nations, yet existing on the earth, and concerning all that are yet to be—I deemed it my duty to reply to it as I best could.  A note, however, by the editor, expressing his wish to steer clear of controversy, determined my friend George Goodrick to get it printed in a pamphlet form.  It was entitled "The Peace Principle—the Great Agent of Social and Political Progress."  It being of a controversial character, I shall refrain from making any quotations from it.  From a kind letter which I received from Mr. George Combe respecting it, I think it well to extract the following as evidencing the philanthropic, and hopeful disposition of the man:—


    "But the prevalent religious creeds do not recognize man's moral character with sufficient force and faith to give the religious members of the community confidence to act on it as a natural truth.  Hence we have armies with Christian chaplains going to battle in the name of God, not in defence of their own soil, which would be justifiable, but to conquer nations half the globe distant, and the public at home applaud their achievements.  There is no remedy for this, that I see, but to preach and teach the true nature of man and his relations to the physical creation and to God; and when these are understood soldiers will be disbanded and ships of war discontinued, as no longer necessary.  It appears to most people utopian to expect such a day to arrive; but so did your ancestors and mine think it utopian to imagine that a day would ever come when the walls of Carlisle and Berwick-upon-Tweed might be dismantled, and Englishman not fear Scot nor Scot fear Englishman, and yet we have lived to see that day.  What has been practicable between England and Scotland, is perfectly practicable between England and France, and so with all other nations, whenever they have experience, as the English and Scotch have, how much more it is for their interest and moral welfare to live in peace than to fight. But all this is your own doctrine," etc.



    It will now be necessary to mention, that on my resignation of the secretaryship of the National Association in 1846, its business was carried on for a short time by a Sub-Committee, and eventually by my friend Mr. Neesom, who was frequently appointed Secretary.  The Secretary and General Committee, having however, experienced great difficulty in carrying on the business by reason of the large sum of £434 then owing by the Association, being under the necessity of frequently subscribing sums of money out of their own pockets to meet pressing difficulties; resolved in April, 1849, on advising the members to transfer the hall to the trustees, who were legally responsible for rent, taxes, and other outgoings.  This proposition having been adopted by the members, and there being no other alternative than that of carrying it on, or giving it up to our landlords; I was requested, on the part of the then trustees, to undertake its future management.  The large debt was a serious difficulty in the way at first; but with the help of my testimonial money, already referred to, and by the aid and assistance of Messrs. Mollett, Neesom, King, McKenzie, and other kind friends, the difficulty was lessened year after year, and has been long surmounted.

    For the first eighteen months of the establishment of our school I could not devote much time to its superintendence, being employed, as I have stated, in the service of Mr. Howitt.  As soon, however, as I was at liberty, I applied myself to the task of making it as efficient as possible, by the introduction of such subjects as I conceived indispensable to a good school.

    The subject of Social Science, or "the science of human well-being," my kind friend, Mr. William Ellis (the founder of the Birkbeck Schools), kindly undertook to introduce into our school, in connection with several others in which he gave lessons on this very important subject.  I may here state, that my acquaintance with this clear-headed and kind-hearted man, formed a new epoch in my life—for my attendance at his various lectures, and the many interesting conversations I had with him, gradually dispersed many of my social illusions, and opened my mind to the great importance of this science, as forming the chief and secure basis of morality, of individual prosperity, and national happiness.  In fact, the little knowledge I was thus enabled to glean regarding social science, was the means of enabling me to concentrate and apply my previous knowledge in a manner I could never otherwise have done.  I may further state, that few persons have done more for promoting a sound, useful education among our people than this earnest good man; not only by building and supporting a great number of schools, but in writing many admirable schoolbooks, and by personally teaching in various schools the important subject of social science, or human well-being.  To him, in fact, is due the high honour of first introducing the teaching of this important subject in our common schools, and in simplifying what at one time was considered a very abstruse subject, so that children can readily comprehend it.  It is, however, to be greatly regretted that this important subject is not yet generally taught, and until it is made a most necessary part of education, I fear society will have to pay the penalty of this neglect, in the social wrecks so many of our people become.  For, being turned out of their schools without any notion of the conditions to be fulfilled for securing well-being, nor any knowledge of the duties they owe to society, social or political, we need not wonder at the ignorant blunders so many of them make.  In most of the schools, however, established by Mr. Ellis—and known mostly as the Birkbeck Schools—this important subject is taught, as well as a knowledge of their own nature and the laws of health; a knowledge also of the existences around them; and a large amount of elementary science—in fact an education that will cause them to remember with gratitude the lessons received at school.

    I may here name a few schools, which I can remember, built, or supported, by Mr. Ellis, though it is difficult to give a complete list, as many of his good deeds in this particular are known only by himself.  The first established—after our own—were the schools at the Mechanics' Institute, formerly conducted by Mr. John Runtz.  Another one near the Hall of Science, City Road, formerly conducted by Mr. Cave.  One at Cambridge Road, Mile End, under the management of Mr. Pike.  Another fine school built by him at Kingsland, conducted by Mr. James Runtz.  Other fine schools built by him in Peckham Fields, under the management of Mr. Shields.  Another built by him in Gospel Oak Field, conducted by Mr. Teither.  Another established in Westminster, under the direction of Mr. Runtz.  In addition to these, he has given thousands towards building or supporting other schools, under the control of others.

    Conceiving all education to be defective which did not seek to impart to children some knowledge of their own physical, mental, and moral nature, I was desirous of having the subjects of Elementary Anatomy and Physiology taught in our schools; but not being able to succeed in getting either of the masters I had engaged to prepare themselves for teaching these important subjects, I resolved to set about the work myself.  Not having had much school instruction, and having devoted myself, for the most part, to political and social matters, I found the task of qualifying myself to teach those difficult subjects by no means an easy one.  I had just read sufficient to perceive the great importance of physiology, but had little or no idea of it scientifically when I began.

    The first work I got hold of on the subject was an old copy of "South's Dissector's Manual," which, with its technical phraseology and long Latin names, puzzled me exceedingly—for of Latin I knew nothing.  It at first gave me the headache and the heartache, and I almost began to despair of even understanding the subject, much less of being able to teach it.  I persevered in my task, however, day after day, and gradually obtaining a little mental light regarding its perplexities, I began at last to take a pleasure in my work.  Subsequently I obtained the loan of other works more easily to be understood, and having eventually prepared a set of brief lessons, such as I thought I should be able to make children understand, I set about devising such diagrams as I thought essential to make a beginning.  I was fortunate in meeting with Mr. Tuson, at that time draughtsman of the University College, and having explained to him, and given him rough sketches of what I wanted, he drew for me my first set of diagrams.

    Having formed a class of boys, and another of girls, I commenced my teaching, and was gratified as I proceeded to find that even the youngest in the class took an interest in the lessons, and very readily mastered the rather difficult names of the bones, muscles, etc.  When I had taken my young ones through their first course, I was greatly encouraged to persevere in my work by Mr. George Combe, of Edinburgh, who, in hearing me give a lesson to my class of girls, was pleased to make some very complimentary observations respecting their knowledge of the subject.  At the suggestion, also, of Mr. Ellis, and at the request of three of the masters of the Birkbeck Schools, I formed classes for teaching elementary anatomy and physiology in those schools; and subsequently opened a class at our hall for giving what information I could on the subject to the teachers and assistants belonging to them.

    Having so far progressed, I thought it might aid others who might be disposed to teach these important subjects, and be the means of introducing them into other schools, if I printed the lessons I had prepared, accompanied by coloured drawings of the diagrams I had used.  This idea induced me to write a more advanced series of lessons to print with them, in addition to others on diet, intoxicating drinks, tobacco, and disease.  When I had prepared them, I thought it advisable to have the opinion of some experienced physiologist regarding them before I ventured their appearance in print.  I accordingly wrote a note to Dr. Elliotson (who had manifested great kindness towards me on several previous occasions), informing him of what I had written, and requesting him to favour me by his perusal of it.  He very kindly undertook to do this, and was pleased to express his warm approbation of my performance, at the same time correcting some few inaccuracies I had made.  The work thus prepared, entitled, "Elementary Anatomy and Physiology, for Schools and Private Instruction," is now nearly through its second edition; [p372] has been favourably reviewed by the press, and has found its way, as a text-book, into many schools.  Among them I may name the Herriot Hospital Schools of Edinburgh, the directors of which kindly sent me a vote of thanks for the use of my diagrams for illustrating Dr. Hodgson's very able lectures on the subject given to the pupils and teachers of that institution.

    Since, also, I commenced the teaching of those two sciences to the children of our own and the Birkbeck Schools, those subjects have been introduced into the boys' school of the London University, and the subject has recently been taken up by the Directors of the School of Design, who have published a set of large diagrams, prepared by Mr. Marshall, for illustrating them.

    In May, 1849, I was examined before a Select Committee of the House of Commons on the question of establishing "Public Libraries for the People"; a subject first submitted for the consideration of the House by Mr. William Ewart.  I need scarcely state that my evidence was in favour of this laudable object; and among other means which I suggested for the improvement of the people was that of opening our Museums and Galleries of Art and Science on Sundays.

    In March, 1850, I was invited by the Bishop of Oxford, and Mr. Henry Cole, to form one of the "Working Class Committee of the Great Exhibition."  My time being fully occupied with my physiological teaching, as before described, I was unwilling at first to accept of a situation, the duties of which I might not be able to attend to.  But having expressed myself warmly in favour of the Exhibition, the Secretary requested that I would allow my name to be appended to the list, although I might not be able to give as much attendance as I could wish.  With that understanding I formed one of a Committee of five and twenty, consisting of persons of all creeds, classes, and opinions; among whom were Lord Ashley, Chas. Dickens, W. M. Thackery, Rev. J. Cumming, Chas. Gilpin, Sir J. Walmsley, Hy. Vincent, Thos. Beggs, Robt. Chambers and other well-known personages.  The objects which this Committee were called together for were the following:—


    1st. To take means for informing the Working Classes throughout the United Kingdom of the nature and objects of the Exhibition.

    2nd. To assist in promoting the visits of the Working Classes to the Exhibition.

    3rd. To ascertain what means exist for accommodating the Working Classes in the metropolis during their stay, and to publish the information accordingly.


    These objects, which would have entailed on the Committee a large amount of labour, could not be carried out without money, which it was suggested should come out of the General Fund, our Committee to be considered a Branch of the General Committee for these specific objects; for we thought it unwise to appeal to the country for funds for this particular purpose, and the more so unless we had authority so to act.  It would seem, however, that there was some aristocratic prejudice, on the part of some of the General Committee, against acknowledging us as a branch or part of their fraternity; which, being taken in dudgeon by some of us, caused us to vote for our own dissolution; the motion being proposed, as far as I can remember, by Mr. Chas. Dickens.

    The second schoolmaster, whom I had engaged for our school, having resigned his situation for another business in 1851, and I finding it difficult to get another trained teacher, on account of the school being a secular one, I resolved—(having now acquired some little experience in teaching)—to undertake the management of the school myself, with the aid of an assistant-master.  The school, being a large one, entailed on me much mental and physical labour; the more so, as I had not only to devote myself to the acquisition of new branches of knowledge, but to digest and simplify that knowledge as much as possible, in order that it might be understood by the children.  Liking the work, I entered upon it with some little enthusiasm; and, if I might judge from the satisfaction expressed by parents, and the increased numbers of the school, I believe I gave satisfaction.  Unfortunately, however, my bodily strength did not keep pace with my mental effort; for fits of illness frequently interrupted my labours during the time I conducted it.  I may also add, that of all the kinds of labour I have undertaken, physical and mental, that of teaching I have found the most wearing to the system.

    I may here state that in addition to the elements of such sciences as I was able to teach in my school, I introduced a mode of teaching spelling, that I think might be useful in most schools; and that is the teaching of it as a game and amusement—by means of small cards, with two words on each, and graduated according to the class—instead of teaching it as an irksome and disagreeable task, as it was in my boyhood.

    In 1852 my poor old mother died at the age of 74, she having laboured and toiled hard up to within a few weeks of her death.  She had buried her husband—a miner—some few years before, by whom she had two sons, John and Thomas, both living; the former a shopkeeper, and also in a small way of business as carpenter and wheelwright, at Fraddam, near Hayle; and the latter, a builder and surveyor, at Penzance.  They are both married, and have families; and are both intelligent and industrious men.  I need scarcely say that it gave my poor mother great satisfaction to be surrounded by her three sons in her dying moments; for I was fortunate enough to arrive about two days before her death.  Although dead, poor woman, she yet lives in the memory of her children as the best and kindest of mothers; and, I believe, in that of her neighbours as one who was ever ready with acts of kindness and words of cheering consolation.

    Soon after my return from Cornwall I was laid up with a severe attack of bronchitis, having taken a severe cold on my journey back.  The prevalence of the east wind and cold weather having prevented me, with my weak lungs, from going out of doors during a period of three months, I availed myself of this leisure time to finish a little work I had commenced some years before, on "Social and Political Morality."  I had long conceived the idea that there were moral principles (apart from those enjoined by religion) which formed the basis of our social and political arrangements; although I had not a very clear notion of those principles, and of the reasons by which they were to be enforced, till I had acquired some knowledge of Social Economy.  Having by that study satisfied myself, that national liberty, social prosperity, and individual happiness, have their origin, security and stability, in the morals of our population, I thought I might be the means of directing some portion of my fellow countrymen to the study and practice of this important subject, if I put it before them in a clear and intelligible form.  It was with this hope that I commenced my labours, which I occasionally pursued from time to time when leisure served me, till the time of my confinement from illness, when I made an effort to complete my work.  This little book was published in 1853, and I may here add that, while I have every reason to be satisfied with the manner in which it was spoken of by the press, by Mr. Cobden, Mr. Hume, Mr. Fox, and others, I regret to say that it was not circulated so as to effect the object aimed at.

    About this period, too, I have to record a debt of gratitude, which I owe to my respected friend Mr. Thomas Beggs, and a few other friends, who were kind enough to raise £70 to pay up an insurance of £100, which I had commenced some time previous, in the Temperance Provident Institution, so as to afford some little aid to my wife should I die before her.  This kindness I cherish with grateful feelings, for my prospects then were not very favourable.
 
    Beyond the daily routine of my school, and the many difficulties and annoyances I met with in the carrying on of the hall in Holborn, I have very little to say of my proceedings for the next two years.  In 1856, however, when the lamentable disasters and loss of life in our war with Russia, owing to incompetent management, had induced the public to believe that some system of examination was necessary in the appointment of persons to office, I thought they did not carry back their principle of examination far enough.  I therefore drew up the following Petition to the House of Commons which Mr. Roebuck presented for me.  The idea, however, of such self-exalted personages as legislators, being brought to the same test of examination as "puir folk " for the Civil Service very much excited the risibility of some of them.  But after all their laughter it is very probable that, in our progress to perfection, "to this complexion must they come at last"; for the rising generation are not likely to be always contented with the wasteful and blundering management of aristocratical fledglings; with the law-making of interested cliques; or with the shortcomings of those who have only their money-bags to bribe their way to place and power.



"A Higher Intellectual and Moral Standard for Members
of Parliament.


    "To the Honourable the Commons of Great Britain and Ireland in Parliament Assembled.  The petition of William Lovett of 16, South Row, New Road, London, humbly sheweth—


    "That your Petitioner is one among a large number of his countrymen who believe that your Honourable House is exclusively and unjustly appointed by a select and trifling number of electors, compared with those who ought in right and justice, to have (through their representative) a voice and vote in the enactment of the laws they are called upon to obey, and in the expenditure of that revenue to which they contribute their part.

    "That in the opinion of your Petitioner this restricted mode of election, coupled with the inefficient qualification or membership, have caused the Commons House to be in a great measure, composed of the representatives of parties and factions; of persons whose interests in too many instances have been opposed to the general welfare and prosperity of England.

    "That in the neglect of their public duty, or in the pursuit of their own interests, they have, Session after Session, allowed their country to be governed by the two aristocratic parties of Whigs and Tories, whose incompetent and selfish administration, in various departments, has within the last few years led to a lamentable sacrifice of human life, and to a wanton and lavish expenditure of the resources of the nation.

    "That the chief and prominent cause of so lamentable a neglect of public duty is evidently to be traced to the want of some higher standard of intelligence, information and morals, for those who are chosen to make the laws and rule the destinies of our country, than that which now prevails, for (with a few honourable exceptions) the possession of wealth, party interests, title, and privilege, are the only qualifications thought of.

    "That in order to redeem the folly of the past by a wiser future, it is necessary that means be at once adopted through the instrumentality of which the future legislators and rulers of our country may be properly prepared and qualified for their important duties, so that the wisest and best of our countrymen may be chosen to govern and direct us; and by which the titled pedant, the purse-proud, ambitious, and the selfish deceiver of the multitude may be prevented from being placed in a position to waste their country's means, and to retard its prosperity, enlightenment, freedom, and happiness.

    "That for the better instruction of the Legislators and rulers of England, and for a more conscientious discharge of theirs duties, it is necessary that the property qualification for Members of Parliament be at once abolished, and an intellectual and moral standard substituted instead thereof; as intellectual and moral fitness for the proper performance of legislative and administrative duties are of far greater importance than any property considerations.

    "That, as a means of eventually securing persons intellectually and morally qualified to become the Legislators and rulers of England, it is necessary that the intellectual and moral requisites for these important offices should be publicly set forth in an Act of Parliament, and a Public Court of Examiners appointed, before whom all persons qualified and aspiring to become Members of Parliament, or to fill any other important office in the State, might present themselves for examination.

    "That an examination of candidates should be made before the said court, at stated periods, and all such as should be found fully qualified should be provided with a diploma to that effect, and hereafter no candidate should be eligible to offer himself as a representative of the people in Parliament, or to fill any important office in the State unless he possessed such a diploma of his competency.

    "That members of the Legislature, possessing such diploma, who should have diligently attended to their duties in Parliament for the term of seven years, should—on a vote of the House—be entitled to have their names inscribed on a list of 'Persons Competent to Share in the Government of their Country,' and in the choice of Cabinet Ministers, Secretaries of State, Ambassadors, and all important public servants, her Majesty should be respectfully informed, that save such, no others possessed the confidence of Parliament.

    "Your petitioner therefore prays that the property qualification for Members of Parliament be abolished, and an intellectual and moral qualification of a higher standard than now prevails be substituted in lieu thereof; that a Public Court or Courts of Examiners be held at stated periods, before whom persons desirous of becoming Legislators, or of taking part in the government of their country, may present themselves for examination.  That all such persons as may be deemed qualified be presented with a diploma to that effect, and that no candidate be eligible to sit in Parliament, or to fill any important office in the State, without he possesses such a diploma of his competency.  That Members of Parliament possessing such diploma who have diligently performed their parliamentary duties for seven years, be entitled (on a vote of the House) to have their names inscribed on a list of 'Persons Competent to Share in the Government of their Country,' from which list Her Majesty's Ministers, and all important public officers may be chosen; and as such means for securing intellectual and moral fitness in legislators and rulers would remove all apprehensions of ignorance, violence, or party having any undue ascendancy in Parliament, the franchise may be universally extended, and every means safely taken for securing a full and free representation of the whole people of these realms, granting which your petitioner, as in duty bound, will ever pray."



    Towards the end of this year was published a little poem of mine, entitled "Woman's Mission."  This was written about fourteen years previous to its publication, in compliance with the request of my kind friend, Mrs. Goodrick, of Birmingham, at whose house I was then staying for a short time for the benefit of my health.  It was written, for the most part, during my visit, and I believe was greatly helped to its completion by her kind encouragement, and shrewd and sensible remarks thereon.  One of my poetic friends (Mr. Thomas Beggs) having seen it some years after it was written suggested that I should make an effort to render it more complete than it was; the measure of the early part of it not being accordant to rule.  My school duties and other matters prevented me from doing this until the time referred to, and I believe it would not have then been published had not my generous friend, Mr. Isaac F. Mollett, kindly taken upon himself the charge of printing it.



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