Gerald Massey: a biography - Chapter 2.

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CHAPTER TWO

CO-OPERATION AND REPUBLICANISM

1850—1853

Men of all countries are brothers, and the people of each ought to yield one another mutual aid, according to their ability, like citizens of the same state.

(Robespierre)



THE principles of the first Working Tailors' Association were founded on a resolution which stated that 'individual selfishness, as embodied in the competitive system, lies at the root of the evils under which English industry now suffers: the remedy for the evils of competition lies in the brotherly and Christian principle of Co-operation — that is, of joint work, with shared or common profits.[1]  At the commencement of the venture everything went smoothly.  Workrooms on the top floor, with offices and a shop on the lower floors were fitted out, and the building opened for business with twelve employees on 11 February 1850.  Wages for the workers soon compared favourably with those of other trades, averaging 24s per week.  That month, Maurice published the first of a series of eight Tracts on Christian Socialism which announced the term 'Christian Socialism' to the public in which he presented, so he thought, his own clear convictions on the subject.  But his aims as interpreted by the working class were misunderstood.  In general, Christian Socialism was taken to mean a restructuring of labour based on co-operation, joint ownership and with increased power to the working class.  Maurice's ultimate intention, however, was through using these means, to Christianise socialism by opposing the unsocial Christians and the unchristian socialists.[2]

    The early success of the Working Tailors' Association quickly prompted workers in other trades to make application for membership.  In the following month Massey wrote to Leno suggesting that he should, at his recommendation, move to London to take charge of a Working Printers' Association, soon to be formed.  Leno, following an interview with the proposers, agreed, but preferred to remain as an operative rather than be taken on as manager.  His printing press was moved from Uxbridge and, during the three years he was with this Association, Leno found that he was able to provide them with much valuable service, as well as maintain his active Chartist interests.[3]
 

John Bedford Leno 1826—1894. (The Commonwealth, 6 October 1866)


Leno had supported George Julian Harney and his Internationalism during the last stage of the Chartist movement.  He then involved himself with the Reform League, becoming a member of the Executive Council.  He wrote prose and poetry, his published poems with social and labour themes being highly regarded.  Although emotionally descriptive, he was not subject to over emotive idealism that featured in many of Gerald Massey's poems.  See for example, his Herne's Oak (1853), Drury Lane Lyrics (1868) and The Aftermath (1892).


    Despite much general approval for their venture from working class journals, the Christian Socialists received a sharp attack from the Daily News. Maurice and the new movement were criticised:


The case of the working tailors ... is ... to some extent, a remedial one; provided, however, the sufferers do not allow themselves to fall into the hands of persons who seek to turn their case into an illustration that humanity and political economy are irreconcilable, and to erect on their unfortunate workshops of Christian Socialism, as Mr Maurice, of King's College, in the Strand, is pleased to term his hostility to the principle of commercial competition, about which he seems to know as much as it is to be presumed he does of single stitch.  Already there are attempts to connect the working tailors' case with the teaching of the Communist doctrine . . .[4]


    The promoters of the Christian Socialists with their high clerical connections received visits from many upper class persons of distinction who were desirous of seeing at first hand the practical work being achieved by the associations.  One day a messenger hastily entered the Castle Street workshop informing the workers that the Bishop of Oxford was downstairs, and intended to visit the operatives before he left.[5]  This caused a great deal of excitement.  Hasty preparations were made and a guard was placed on the landing to inform the men of his lordship's arrival.  As the bishop started to climb the stairs to the workshops, the warning was given.  Walter Cooper entered the room followed by the bishop, with Gerald Massey close behind.  The workers heralded the bishop's entrance with a hymn to the tune of 'Old Hundredth', although the words, which differed considerably, fortunately escaped the Bishop's notice:


Old Grimes, he's dead, the good old man,
    We ne'er shall see him more;
He used to wear an old grey coat,
    All buttoned down before.


    The Bishop beamed jovially at the earnest workers and said to Walter Cooper, 'Well, now, Mr Cooper, this is really delightful, to see a number of men while engaged at their work singing praises to the glory of God.  I am delighted at this spectacle!'[6]
 

Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford. From a Carte de Visite.



    From the time Massey left Uxbridge he had not ceased writing poetry, some pieces continuing to be accepted by the Northern Star.  That had come to the attention of Maurice who wrote to Charles Kingsley in February, 'Has Ludlow told you of our Chartist poet on Castle Street?  He is not quite a Locke, but he has I think some real stuff in him.  I hope he will not be spoiled.'[7]  It is probably this remark which suggested to commentators of Alton Locke that Massey was one of the main prototypes that formed Kingsley's model for this character.[8]  Although similarities have been noted (see the letter from Massey to Samuel Smiles, Chapter 3), other proposals for this role were made for Thomas Cooper, the most likely candidate, or Walter Cooper, both of whom share early experiences similar to Alton Locke.  Although Alton Locke was not published until August 1850, the book had been completed the previous spring, and there is no evidence that Massey had made personal acquaintance with Kingsley prior to commencing at Castle Street.

    In the London radical literary sector, Massey and his paper had gained a favourable reputation.  The last issue of The Uxbridge Spirit of Freedom contained an article by Massey in which he stated his views on the middle class reformers.  He considered that it was time to question the Chartist leaders as to the direction they were heading, as he doubted there were more than two of these who knew how they would apply political reform to aid the poor:


It was the middle class reformers who obtained the Reform Bill, who then became respectable monopolists and enemies of the unenfranchised.  Had there been no Reform Bill, the workers might have had a government built on Universal Suffrage, and it should be realised that a middle class despotism is worse than the tyranny of feudalism.  Whilst the middle classes will precede us to power, they will not solve the problem of labour.  Even if we were on political equality, our interests would be at issue immediately, for while they seek a political change in order that they may prevent the coming social revolution, we work for a political revolution, thereby to consummate the social one, which must follow.  If leaders stand in the way, they must be sacrificed at the shrine of principles.[9]


    Editors of more powerful radical papers were taking stock of Massey's developing literary talent, in particular George Julian Harney of the Northern Star and the Democratic Review.  Harney was an excellent journalist and a passionate supporter of internationalism.  His Democratic Review welcomed the opinions of, and articles by, foreign revolutionaries such as Louis Blanc, Giuseppe Mazzini and Ledru Rollin.

    Thomas Cooper, imprisoned in Stafford for two years in 1843 for sedition and conspiracy, during which time he composed his epic poem The Purgatory of Suicides, had commenced in January 1850 his most noted contribution to radical journalism. Cooper's Journal: or, Unfettered Thinker and Plain Speaker for Truth, Freedom, and Progress was published weekly with a short break, until the following October.  As well as being a focus for Cooper's own series on a critical exegesis of Gospel history following the Strauss mythical system, the journal included articles by Thomas Shorter on education and association, and Samuel Kydd, a prominent Chartist who dealt with industrial matters.  In common with journals of the time, space was given for original working-class poetry.  Massey's first poem to be published in London following his arrival, appeared in the second issue.  ‘'Twas Christmas Eve!' contrasted the day celebrated at a palace with that at a poor man's hovel, and was characteristic of his socio-political stance:


'Twas Christmas Eve!  In the palace, where Knavery
    Crowns all the treasures the fair world can render;
Where spirits grow rusted in silkenest slavery,
    And life is out—panted in golden—garbed splendour ...
Love—kisses sobbed out 'twixt the rollick and rout,
    And Hope went forth reaping her long-promised treasure:
What matter, tho' hearts may be breaking without?
    Their groans are unheard in the palace of Pleasure! ...

'Twas Christmas Eve; but the poor ones heard
    No neighbourly welcome — no kind voice of kin!
They looked at each other, but spoke not a word,
    While through cranny and crevice the sleet drifted in.
In a desolate corner, one, hunger-killed, lies!
    And a mother's hot tears are the bosom-babe's food! ...

False Priests, dare ye say 'tis the will of your God,
    (And veil Jesu's message in dark sophistry),
That these millions of paupers should bow to the sod!


    Cooper's Journal published fourteen of Massey's social protest but less overtly martial poems during its run, a notable exception being the 'Song of the Red Republican':


Ay, tyrants, build your bulwarks! forge your fetters! link your chains!
As brims your guilt-cup fuller, ours of grief runs to the drains:
Still, as on Christ's brow, crowns of thorns for Freedom's martyrs twine,
Still batten on live hearts, and madden o'er the hot blood-wine!
Murder men sleeping; or awake — torture them dumb with pain,
And tear with hands all bloody-red Mind's jewels from the brain!
Your feet are on us, tyrants: strike, and hush Earth's wail of sorrow!
Your sword of power, so red today, shall kiss the dust to-morrow
... [10]


    'The Cry of the Unemployed' demonstrates another typically more socially directed example:


There's honeyed fruit for bee and bird, with bloom laughs out the tree:
There's food for all God's happy things; but none gives food to me!
Earth decked with Plenty's garland-crown, smiles on my aching eye:
The purse-proud, swathed in luxury, disdainful pass me by:
I've eager hands — I've earnest heart — but may not work for bread:
God of the wretched, hear my prayer! I would that I were dead!
... [11]


    Massey contributed only one article to Cooper's Journal.  ‘Signs of Progress' exhibited a style that he had developed during this early period and illustrated so often in his poetry; a proselytising optimism directed at the working class.  At that time there were strong hopes of a Chartist revival, and the radical papers kept up relentless pressure on their readers to prepare them for that advent, as Massey demonstrated:


For it is in the dense ignorance which covers the people like a sea of darkness, that Tyranny lets drop its anchors.  Remove this, and its mainstay is gone; and the King-craft, the Priest-craft, and the State-craft shall be swept away by the rushing waves of Progress ... It needs a high heart and never-tiring faith to bear up; but, let not your hearts die within you, ye who toil on thro' nights of suffering and days of pain, watering the bread of penury with the tears of misery … For even as God said, ‘Let there be light'' and there was light; so let the people say, ‘Let there be Freedom!' and there shall be Freedom. [12]


    Prior to and following the 1848 revolutions in Europe, Harney had supported the Hungarian, French, Italian and German refugees, and had provided space for their opinions in his Democratic Review.  In January 1850, to give further assistance to the cause of foreign democratic and social progress, he enlarged the scope of his Society of Fraternal Democrats that he had founded in 1845.  The objects of this new association were for the fraternity of nations, the abolition of stamp duty on newspapers and the political emancipation of the working classes through the Charter.  The ‘diffusion of political and social knowledge for the purpose of deliverance from the oppression of irresponsible Capital and usurping Feudalism', would be promoted by meetings and continued through Harney's Democratic Review.[13]  This produced an immediate response from Massey's idealism, and he joined with Harney, who was secretary to the association, to serve on the committee for twelve months.

    Soon after the association had been formed, the committee decided to celebrate the ninety-second anniversary of the birth of Maximilian Robespierre, the ‘Incorruptible'.  A democratic social reformist and revolutionary leader of the Jacobins in the French National Convention, he had been guillotined in 1794.  A special supper was arranged at the John Street Institute on the 6 April 1850, to which members and friends of the Fraternal Democrats were invited to attend.  Many organisations held that pattern of social event that provided the advantage of a large meal with convivial companionship, during which they solidified their members by declarations of future intent.  Some seventy persons attended the commemoration with Harney presiding, and many toasts and speeches were given following the meal.  Harney proposed ‘To the Sovereignty of the People, and the Fraternity of all Nations', responded to by Citizen G. W. M. Reynolds.  Citizen Gerald Massey sang the English version of the ‘Marseillaise Hymn', and Citizens Reed and Massey responded to a speech by a German exile.  Massey concluded this with ‘To persecution and martyrdom in the glorious cause of freedom'.  Other toasts and responses were made by Chartists Bronterre O'Brien (the health and prosperity of the chairman, George Julian Harney), J. B. Leno (the memories of Paine and Washington), and John Arnott, general secretary of the National Charter Association (Prosperity to the Society of Fraternal Democrats, and the Democratic Press).[14]

    Very early that year in 1850, following his move to London, Massey had been invited to a demonstration of clairvoyance which, together with mesmerism and more physical phenomena, were attracting quite wide interest since the publicity of the Fox sisters in America in 1848.  This young clairvoyant had the apparent ability to read while blindfolded, and was able also to perceive the cause of some persons' illnesses, the body appearing to her as translucent during that time.  She visited hospitals and, using her powers, assisted some doctors in their diagnoses.[15]  It was reported that she had manifested this ability from the age of nine, following a head injury, and had given demonstrations to the Earl of Carlyle, the Duke of Argyle, Sir David Brewster and Charles Sumner, then Bishop of Winchester.[16]
 

Gerald Massey, Chartist, mid 1850's.
From Samuel Smiles' Brief Biographies, 1876. (Library of Congress)
A faded carte de visite shows a similar picture, probably from the same original source.

 

Thomas Hughes (1822-96), English lawyer and author.

Massey at that time was handsome and eligible.  Although short in stature at five feet four inches, his brown hair worn long and brushed back, with beard and moustache, a Grecian nose and blue eyes gave him a very distinguished appearance.  This chance acquaintance blossomed into love, and on the 8 July, 1850, Rosina Jane Knowles, aged nineteen, was married to Gerald Massey at All Souls' Church, St Marylebone, witnessed by Walter Cooper and Thomas Hughes.  Hughes was a valued member of the Christian Socialists, and later the author of Tom Brown's Schooldays.  Rosina came originally from Bolton, Lancashire, where her father was a boot and shoe maker in Independent Street, and the family had moved some years earlier to 21 New Church Street, Marylebone.  Although short-lived, Rosina transformed the whole of Massey's philosophical conceptions which he expressed so often in his lyric verse and, less fortunately, re-orientated his mundane lifestyle for the next fifteen years.  There is no description of her physical appearance, but from indirect references it may be assumed she was rather taller than her husband, of firm build, with dark brown hair, brown eyes and a pale complexion.

    Immediately following her marriage, Rosina moved in with her husband at 55 Wells Street, off Oxford Street, where he shared lodgings with Jeremire Jerome, a master tailor and his family.  Jerome may have been employed at the Castle Street workshops, or have been connected with Thomas Jerome who kept a tailor's shop in Oxford Market, sited at that time in a small area between Castle Street, Castle Street East, and Great Titchfield Street.


    The 1851 census return for 34 Castle Street (the headquarters and workshops of the Working Tailors' Association) shows that Walter Cooper, then aged 38, born in Aberdeen, was residing there with his wife, Ann, aged 43 years.  He is listed as ‘Manager of Tailors' Association.'  They had two sons and three daughters.  Also residing there was Massey's brother, Frederick, listed as a ‘Porter.'  It is likely that he left home to find work in London, and was staying temporarily at Castle Street prior to finding his later occupation as a ladies hatter.  He married in 1854.


Oxford Market c. 1870.


    Marriage did not decrease Massey's political activity, nor his idealistic enthusiasm for co-operation.  Indeed, he became more involved with the events that were shaping themselves as the last breaths of active Chartist protest.  His first advertised but unreported public lecture had been delivered on 21 April 1850 at the Institution, Golden Lane, Barbican, on ‘The Poetry of Freedom and Progress'.[17]  At the same time he was forming a closer association with Harney whose developing socio-political plans most nearly approached his own ideals.  Since 1848 there had been increasing ideological disharmony between Harney and O'Connor.  O'Connor was attempting to unite the Chartists with the middle-class radicals to form a new National Charter League, to which Harney became increasingly opposed.  In order to force a decision, Harney resigned from the provisional executive of the National Charter Association and, following elections, won the day.  Members of Harney's Fraternal Democrats now dominated the executive, which decided to reconstitute the Metropolitan District Council.  At a meeting of the provisional committee on the 19 March, following a speech by Harney, Massey confirmed Harney's objectives concisely:


    The Charter was very good, but we wanted something with it — our social rights.  The capitalists were the great bane and curse of the nation.  In 1848, kings and priests were kicking about, but the capitalist could buy up both kings and priests.  The remedy was co-operation, Chartism and Socialism united. (Loud cheers.)  They had already established a tailors, a printers, a shoemakers, and a provision store. (Loud cheers.)

    Mr Massey concluded a highly poetical speech which elicited hearty applause.
[18]


    Harney had only recently expanded his ideas that would, he hoped, provide a new impetus in revitalising a flagging interest in active Chartism.  His call for ‘The Charter, and Something More' was first announced in the Democratic Review in rather vague terms as meaning ‘The Charter, the Land, and the organisation of Labour', the Land belonging to all the people which, being the natural right of all, should be made national property.[19]  This call for ‘Something more' was echoed continuously at subsequent Chartist meetings.

    At the French elections of March and April 1850, six Red Republicans had been returned at the Saône et Loire district with a great majority.  To celebrate their victory, the National Charter Association relinquished their usual meeting at the John Street Institution in order to hold a special gathering.  To a large assembly Harney, Bronterre O'Brien, Walter Cooper and others spoke in praise of the democrats of France.  Massey moved the first resolution that appealed to the French people to defend their natural and constitutional rights by any and every means, and continued:


The first French revolution had been a glorious work; it broke up the feudal power of the aristocracy, and it had brought the people upon the stage, to play, for the first time, an important part in the area of history; they mounted the platform, and crowns fell down before them like old Dagon before the ark.  (Cheers.) ... There was suffering enough in this country to make ten revolutions.  Might made the right to liberty, if they would but struggle and contend for it. (Prolonged cheering.)[20]

 

The Literary and Scientific Institution, 23 John St., Fitzroy Square
(Illustrated London News 15 April 1848).

 

    The release of a number of Chartists from prison that year was another occasion used profitably to promote the Chartist cause.  A meeting was immediately convened by the provisional committee of the National Charter Association, and was held at the John Street Institution on 23 April 1850.  Thirteen of the released Chartists mounted the platform, and spirited addresses were made by committee members, including Bronterre O'Brien and Harney.  John James Bezer, one of the late prisoners was introduced, and addressed the packed hall amid loud cheering.  Massey responded to an address by Walter Cooper, and said in conclusion that:


Ernest Jones, a true poet of labour, had thought that Englishmen would have been prepared for the revolution, but misery and degradation had done their work.  The people had fallen a prey to priests, who preached of gods of wrath, and of hells of torture as though they were the devil's own salamanders.  But the day would come when thrones and aristocracies would no longer hang as millstones round their necks. (Loud cheers.)[21]


    John Arnott, general secretary, then moved a resolution that punishment for the expression of political sentiment was a gross violation of one of the rights of the people, and that the people should labour unceasingly for the liberation of their friends and for the abrogation of those laws which denied the right of free public discussion.  Harney followed by reading a memorial addressed to Sir George Grey, Queen Victoria's Home Secretary, appealing for the release of the other Chartists imprisoned for expressing their political beliefs.  It was probably fortunate for the future release of those Chartists that Queen Victoria's ministers were unlikely to be reading Harney's Democratic Review.  In the July issue Harney referred to the birth of Prince Arthur on 1 May, as ‘a royal burden' from which the Queen ‘had condescendingly allowed herself, in her magnanimous deference to a natural law, to be relieved.'  The prince's christening on the 22 June, for which Prince Albert had composed a 'chorale', suggested a new five verse rendering to Harney:


… O! who would grudge to squander gold
    On such a glorious babe as this?
What though our babes are starved and cold,
   
They have no claims to earthly bliss.
Ours are no
mongrel German breed,
    But English born and English bred;
Then let them live and die in need,
    While the plump Coburg thing is fed …
[22]


    The Christian Socialists at that time did not rely solely on workshops to promote their ideas.  Lectures were given by members, particularly by Walter Cooper, and public meetings were held to ensure that their principles became known to the majority of the working-class.  One such meeting was held at the National Hall, Holborn, under the auspices of the Working Men's Association, on 31 July 1850, when there was a large attendance composed mainly of operative tailors.[23]  Vansittart Neale, a resolute supporter of co-operation took the chair and, with Ernest Jones released from prison on 9 July, together with Samuel Kydd, Walter Cooper and Gerald Massey as speakers, it was shown the evils that were resulting from the competitive system of society, and how these could be remedied by association.  Ernest Jones pointed out that despite increasing mechanisation over the last eighty years and extending markets, pauperism, crime and emigration had increased.  Poor rates had risen from one to eight millions and labour was shifting from the shoulders of male adults to the shoulders of women and children.  This state of things, he said, resulted from the mechanical power of the country being in the hands of capitalists, who employed it for their own profit.  The effort of the people should be directed to the formation of associative-working societies.  He moved that competition be one of the principal causes of the existing distress, and recommended association to be the best remedy.  Massey seconded, and said that:


If the working classes of England had helped themselves before, instead of trusting to the legislation of hereditary imbeciles, they would not now occupy their wretched position. (Hear, hear.) ... they ought no longer to be content to weave splendid robes for titled lords and garb their own hearts in the shrouds of misery. (Hear, hear.)


    Walter Cooper called upon the working-classes to assist the associations by becoming their customers, since co-operation tended to increase the security and value of capital.  As manager of the Working Tailors' Association, Cooper was particularly well suited to debate, lecture and write upon the conditions of working tailors.  Poverty stricken in childhood, he had experienced the slop and sweating systems during his trade as a tailor.  When his first child was born, he had no bed, bedclothes, food or fire in the room, and was working on a pair of trousers for which he would receive seven-pence.[24]  The condition of the journeyman tailors, male and female, had received attention also at a meeting of master tailors at the Freemasons' Tavern on 4 March when extreme cases of poverty and social degradation were cited.  A woman who worked in a slop shop stated that she received sometimes only 4d for making a waistcoat; a married man with three children was making a coat which would take him twenty-six hours to complete and earn him two shillings.  Although he had another coat in hand to make, this would take him two days, for which he would receive 3s 6d.  Yet another worker and his daughter had a room nine feet by eleven which had also to accommodate two young men and one young woman, and serve as workroom and bedroom for them all.[25]  An up to date statement of the Working Tailors' Association was provided by Massey for the Leader, in October, when he announced also that the terms of ‘master' and ‘employed' had been abolished, and the workman was no longer a hireling.  He applauded the Daily News for working against them, as by doing so they had helped by advertising their existence, thereby increasing custom.[26]

    On 22 June Harney, finally breaking with O'Connor over policy, and having completed his notice of resignation from the Northern Star, commenced his most famous radical unstamped paper, the Red Republican.  Through this new journal he aimed to provide a strong political perspective and revive support for Chartism by elaborating on his earlier ambition to obtain ‘The Charter and Something More'.  Due to falling sales he discontinued his Democratic Review the following September, but sustained publicity and aid for the European Democrats in the Red Republican.  The appropriately named title of Harney's new paper, together with its contents and the fact that it was sold unstamped, caused misgivings on the part of newsvendors.  So much that at the weekly meeting of the National Charter Association on 6 August, it was commented that a ‘contemptible conspiracy' existed among the newsvendors for the purpose of ‘burking' the Red Republican.  Also they opposed it because it was calculated to bring royalty into contempt (hear, hear, and laughter.)  Bronterre O'Brien informed the meeting that he was about to visit Manchester in order to agitate the doctrines of the National Reform League in connection with Chartism.  Playing down the precept that kings and queens were denounced as being the cause of the people's suffering, he asserted that the upper and middle classes were the real cause, through their monopoly of land and profits.  (Hear, hear.)  Referring to a recent election at Lambeth where a Chartist was returned, he pointed out that this person was returned by the middle class, as he was a financial reformer and upholder of the rights of capital.  What was required was extensive organisation to endeavour to secure a large number of Chartist representatives at the next general election.  Massey responded and said that, as he had passed along the streets, he had heard the drunken song of ‘Britons never will be slaves!'


Why, the working-class of this country were bought and sold like slaves in the market, and yet seemed inclined to worship and bow down to those who trampled them underfoot. (Hear, hear.)  Britons were the veriest slaves in existence; they were the slaves of a royalty which spent annually as much as would keep 10,000 families in comfort (hear, hear.); the slaves of a church which took from them £12,000,000 a year; the slaves of everyone who had nine-pence to buy them with — and, worse than all, the slaves of drunkenness . . . I long to see a real and effective union of all classes of democracy, that the power of those oppressors might be broken.  He was no true friend of the people who would oppose such a union, when, without it, no successful effort could be made for the redemption of the people.


    After dwelling upon the advantages to be derived from associated labour, Massey resumed his seat amid the applause of the gathering.[27]

    Massey had been attracted to, and aligned himself increasingly with, Harney's more fully developed ideas of ‘something more', i.e. to make the Charter more attractive to the working class by defining their societal rights as an impetus to political reform.  Harney elaborated on this theme of social regeneration in a series of articles throughout most issues of the Red Republican under his well known pen-name ‘L'Ami du Peuple.'  Massey supported Harney and solidified their friendship by writing poems and articles for Harney throughout the days of the Red Republican, continuing when it was renamed the Friend of the People.  He also acted initially as secretary to the Red Republican's committee, and made two stirring contributions to their first issue on 22 June, 1850; an article 'Cossack or Republican' and a poem 'The Red Banner':


Let us then fling ourselves into the glorious work; let Chartists, Communists, and Republicans unite in one common bond — forget all our idle feuds; and come what may — let us be found ever in the front rank, ever at the outposts, in fighting the battles of Freedom ...


Fling out the Red Banner! o'er mountain and valley,
    Let earth feel the tread of the Free, once again;
Now, Soldiers of Freedom, for love of God, rally —
    Old earth yearns to know that her children are men;
We are served by a million wrongs; burning and bleeding,
    Bold thoughts leap to birth, but the bold deeds must come,
And wherever humanity's yearning and pleading,
    One battle for liberty strike ye heart home! ...


    Although the Christian Socialists were actively sympathetic with the sufferings of the working class, they were far from happy with the extreme radical activities of some of the Chartist leaders.  Harney, O'Connor and some others were referred to as 'that smoke of the pit', and it was thought that the workmen were tired of idols, and were just waiting and yearning for the Church and the Gospel which the Christian Socialists were willing and able to provide.[28]  Kingsley told the Chartists that instead of pinning their faith on the Chartist leaders, they should turn to the Bible as the true Radical Reformer's Guide.[29]

    It was understandable therefore, that Gerald Massey, a member of the Christian Socialists working for the Red Republican, annoyed Ludlow, who denounced anything of an extreme radical or irreligious nature.  He had regularly to 'blow up' Massey:


for having publicly connected himself with a thing called the Red Republican, patently treasonable.  He was bullied out of it, by my offering him the choice between association and the ‘Red' and in the note in which he consented to withdraw, he had told me that if I for instance had set up an organ of Christian Socialism he should have been quite willing to write in it.[30]


    It was due in part to this episode and the fact that Ludlow recognised other literary talent among the co-operative workmen ‘either lying idle, or forcing its way through wrong channels', that induced him to commence the Christian Socialist the following November, 1850.

    Appearing outwardly penitent following Ludlow's reprimand, Massey was not so easily discouraged and had no intention of severing his literary relationship with the Red Republican.  As soon as the second issue was published, Massey ran into the Castle Street workshop with a copy of the paper, which he placed in front of fellow worker Robert Crowe saying, ‘Crowe, we have a new poet in the field!'  Crowe immediately recognised the style of Massey in ‘A Call to the People', signed with the name ‘Bandiera'.[31] Massey had taken this name from the brothers Attilio and Emilio Bandiera, Italian officers in the Austro-Italian navy who, in 1844 had planned an unsuccessful Italian insurrection.  The poem had been published previously in Cooper's Journal, but Massey had extended and revised it to a more republican stance.  Some weeks later, with the ninth issue of the Red Republican in his hand, Massey again informed Crowe that yet another new poetic star had appeared in the literary firmament, this time in the name of 'Armand Carrel', introducing himself with ‘A Red Republican Lyric'.[32]  This was a name that Massey had used originally in the Uxbridge Spirit of Freedom, for a letter to the ‘editor' headed ‘Struggles for Freedom'.  Whether he thought it was too strongly worded to sign with his own name, or he felt that had already provided sufficient signed material for that issue is not known:


Peoples of Europe, you have looked on and calmly seen a noble nation [Hungary] murdered — its blood be upon your heads!  Englishmen, you are slaves, blind, plague-stricken slaves! you see the brave struggling for life and liberty, and will not lend the helping hand; no, you dare not help yourselves to right and freedom! all the world know this! they know that the heart of England hath become the prey of vipers! ...


    To end the letter, Massey had quoted some lines from ‘The Jacobin of Paris', a poem by the Hon. George Sidney Smythe MP in praise of Jean Paul Marat, a leader in the French Revolution:


Ho! St Antoine! ho! St Antoine! thou quarter of the poor,
Arise! with all thy households, and pour them from their door —
Rouse thy attics, and thy garrets, — rouse cellar, cell, and cave,
Rouse over-taxed, and over-worked — the starving and the slave ...
Justice shall sheathe her sword heart-home; thrones, crowns
        be swept away
And brothers, gallant brothers, We'll be with you on that day...


    Massey used to recite this dramatically at Chartist meetings with an effect on the audience which was described as ‘magical', and it was probably he who suggested that Harney print the poem in extenso in the fourth issue of the Red Republican, and again in the twenty-fifth issue of the Friend of the People.[33]  The pseudonym ‘Armand Carrel' caused some puzzlement to one ‘Nameless' reader of the Red Republican, who wrote to Harney asking if an article under that name was really written by the French patriot.  If not, why was a forgery foisted upon the readers?  Although the writer found no fault with the name ‘Bandiera', he wondered why it was used.  Harney had to explain that ‘Armand Carrel' died fifteen years previously, and that writers with good reason to withhold their own names selected their favourites.  But he hoped that correspondents would exercise discretion, having received that week letters signed ‘Marat' and ‘Robespierre'![34]

    During that time at the Castle Street Tailors' Association, steady progress had being maintained until in September Walter Cooper went on a lecturing tour to the north of England.  While he was away, the accounts of the association were found to be in some confusion and were examined by the Council of Administration.  Called to return on a suspicion of embezzlement, Cooper was investigated by the Council of the Society, and was found to have been careless and too trusting, having had no previous accounting experience.  There was no evidence of dishonesty.  The association was dissolved, and a new association elected by ballot.

    Some eleven of the original workers were not readmitted and formed themselves into a rival association, The London Association of Working Tailors.  Although that organisation lasted only until the following summer, it caused a considerable amount of acrimony while it existed.  The affair was not helped by Ernest Jones, who denounced the entire system of local co-operation in his Notes to the People in 1851, and entered into some sharp correspondence with Gerald Massey in 1852.[35]  Jones complained of ‘a tissue of virulent abuse or most fulsome adoration.  The abuse is my share, who exposes profit-mongering; the adulation is for the wealthy gentlemen, who have advanced money for the Castle-street shop, and enabled it to profit—monger.'  Massey retorted, referring to Jones' ‘strange, unwarranted, and artificial opposition to the co-operative Movement', and of his ‘vile, contemptible and infamous statements'.  Although initially supportive of associative-working societies as a primary step to the relief of distress at that time, Jones considered that social co-operation should be applied on a national basis, which could not be achieved without first having obtained political power through the Charter.  Small individual co-operative associations would only divert attention from, and weaken efforts towards full democratic political achievement.  That unfortunate episode of the Working Tailors' Association was related by Massey in a trenchant series of articles for the Star of Freedom, in 1852.[36]

    There was, however, one fortunate outcome as a result of that affair.  Had any legal action been attempted against the association through Walter Cooper as manager, there would have been even more difficulties, as no Act then in force gave the association full protection.  At the instigation of Ludlow, Robert Slaney M.P. was persuaded to establish a Commission of Enquiry to look into the position of liability in the Working Tailors' and other associative branches.  Ludlow, Walter Cooper, Vansittart Neale and the economist John Stuart Mill were among those who gave evidence.  In June 1852, Slaney's Act was passed as the Industrial and Provident Societies Act, thereby giving legal recognition to the co-operative movement.[37]

    As a result of Massey's comment to Ludlow, the first issue of the Christian Socialist appeared on the 2 November 1850, and Massey's first poetical contribution, in rather fulsome praise of F.D. Maurice, was published in the second issue as ‘To a Worker and Sufferer for Humanity':


God bless you, Brave One, in our dearth,
    Your life shall leave a trailing glory;
And round the poor Man's homely hearth
    We'll proudly tell your suffering story...


    During 1851, J. M. Ludlow had been undertaking a ‘co-operative tour' through Lancashire and Yorkshire, and in an open letter to F. J. Furnivall (Christian Socialist II, 49, 4 Oct. 1851) made reference to the Salford Working Hatter's Association.  Furnivall considered that the current eleven members making some two dozen hats per week were successful due chiefly to ideas promoted in the Christian Socialist.  Part of their trade was, of course, competitive.  Ludlow however decried the fact that they were mean enough to charge £10 per cent commission to all other co-operatives who chose to sell their hats when a small compensation of £1 per cent might be reasonable.  With the exception of the Manchester Working Tailors who refused to accept commission, all the co-operative bodies have very quickly pocketed this enormous bonus in their dealings with the Working Hatters.

    Ludlow then continued with a reference to the Oxford Street Tailors saying, "Even a certain flourishing establishment near Oxford Street, — and which shall be nameless, in the hope that it will mend its manners, and also because its manager, who is now in the north, professes to know nothing about the matter, — is stated to have given way to the money-grubbing spirit so far as to accept it."

    Massey quickly responded with a letter in the following issue to the Christian Socialist:


The Manchester Hatters and the Working Tailors' Association.


Dear Sir, In your last number, Mr. Ludlow assumes that our Association, among other co-operative bodies, has been selling the hats of the above Company with enormous profit, — permit me to explain.  The Manchester Hatters sent us specimens of their admirable workmanship, with the (wholesale prices) attached, giving 10 per cent discount for ready money.  We entered upon no stipulation — made no conditions of sale, — but simply took the hats, and exerted ourselves to sell them; and not only did we not add any profit to the wholesale price, which the manufacturers assured us would bear 25 per cent — but we gave each customer the advantage of that 10 per cent discount to the utmost farthing, and in our own unsophisticated method of doing business — so far from having nurtured the spirit of money-grubbing, we have entirely forgotten to charge the customers for the hat-box, for which, upon referring to the invoice, I find we are charged at the rate of 3s. per dozen.  So you see our profit has been of the same species as that of two Yankees, who swapped two jack-knives till each had gained 5s. by the transaction.  In conclusion, allow me to add, that with our peculiar mode of dealing, I think that the portion of the community so frequently appealed to as "Smart Young Men who want a Cheap Hat," cannot do better than apply to us for the same at 34 Castle-street East.

Gerald Massey, Oct. 2nd. 1851. Secretary.


    Two extended articles on Tennyson's poetry ("Tennyson's Princess" and "Tennyson and his Poetry") completed Massey's contribution to the second volume of the Christian Socialist, which ceased publication at the end of 1851 due to high production costs.  Both Massey's articles were over aesthetically appreciative rather than critical, and he fell into the trap of the time by quoting large passages of the poems concerned in order to illustrate facets of his commentary.  Nevertheless, he demonstrated a growing feeling for descriptive romanticism, often to excess, in marked contrast to his realistic socio-political verse.  In an article ‘Tennyson's Princess', he embraces the theme of women's rights, inherent in the poem, and made more self-evident since his marriage:


...We do not want Women to be crammed with dead language and mummified learning ... but let them be educated up to the noblest offices and holiest duties of life, which they are not now . . . the hallowing wretchedness of this inequality is often a very hell in its torments, — the clasping ring remains, a mocking symbol!


    Despite his plea for the education of women ‘as far as possible in accordance with her nature', the added proviso that ‘all attempts to train her into manhood are ... false and unnatural', deny total emancipation and equate more with the current Victorian mode of thought and unthinkable rule of society by matriarchy.  Later he was to mellow even his liberal statement and press for full equality.  However, even at that time women's rights campaigners were pressing those issues.  The Woman's Elevation League, together with individuals such as Mary Howitt, was actively campaigning for their recognition in social, moral and professional status.  This included pecuniary and political elevation, together with full franchise.

    Within the broader aspects of Chartism, Harney was attempting by means of a Democratic Conference to unite various democratic associations into one solid body, into the principles of which would be incorporated his proposals for greater social reform. These associates, in addition to the National Charter Association, would include the Fraternal Democrats, the National Reform League, and the Social Reform League, and be united under the title of the ‘National Charter and Social Reform Union'. The proposition received considerable opposition, and Harney was forced to concede that Feargus O'Connor, Bronterre O'Brien and Ernest Jones were against them, and that the Trades' Associations could not be relied upon for support. On account of this, it was decided to draw up an address to the people of the country, and the executive committee resigned for re-elections.[38] Nominations from localities for the new committee included most of the old members, represented by Reynolds, Harney, Jones, O'Connor, Thornton Hunt (editor of the Leader), Holyoake, O'Brien and Gerald Massey. But just prior to the elections because of differences over policy, Massey, Walter Cooper, Thomas Cooper and some others declined to stand. Appropriately, Massey's articles and poetry in the Red Republican during this period were appeals for unity, in which he complained that:


We, the democracy of England, are disunited and fragmentary; we are broken up into sects and parties ... we are even at war amongst ourselves, and well may the tyrants and oppressors laugh us to scorn ... they know there is little cause for disquiet so long as we are disunited. . . We can accomplish little or nothing, going on as we are—at present. What will the new organisation of the Chartists effect — singly? ... or any other body of reformers by themselves? ... Some unity policy must be adopted, or I am bound to say, that we shall be no nearer the realisation of our hopes in 1860 than we are in 1850... We are all democrats! ... Let us then unite Red Republicans, Communists, Socialists, Chartists, and Reformers. . . It is unity which is the great want of the time; and if the egotism of men, calling themselves ‘Leaders' should stand in the way of this federation, let the party behind each leader push on...


    At a Conference of Delegates for effecting a union between different classes of reformers, at the John Street Institute, in October, Massey spoke again — as he had cause to, on many occasions — on the need for greater unity:

    ‘The Chartist agitation had hitherto proved a failure; it had never been at so low an ebb as at the present time; even the Chartists themselves had acknowledged that the bulk of their body were not Chartists in time of plenty, but sat as easy and contented as even the middle classes.  Seeing this apathy among their own body, their leaders wished to extend their basis, and asked other bodies to join them; but they could not expect their co-operation, unless they admitted the claim of those parties which the committee had inserted in the programme; he believed that no party could singly obtain their objects, and that no programme could satisfy the claims of every party, but they could agree on some leading principles. He belonged to the Tailors' Association.  They were aware that they would not struggle successfully with competition without some governmental change; if they did not agree to adopt the law of Partnership, or some of their principles, they would lose aid from Christian Socialism and the young Republican party.'[39]

    At a further meeting of the Democratic Conference, it was realised that its break-up would lead to the Manchester Council middle-class supporters taking greater hold.  Accordingly, Holyoake with Arnott, Reynolds, Massey and others were appointed as a Committee of Observation to deal with business and correspondence regarding possible amalgamation with other democratic associations.

    Nevertheless, despite much effort, it became increasingly obvious that individual antagonisms together with policy differences would negate all hope of a universal union.  A Manchester conference held in January 1851 had little positive outcome, but was notable for O'Connor slandering Harney, which was refuted at a meeting of the National Charter Association on the 25 February.  At this meeting, Harney was received with a rapturous welcome and Massey, in an eloquent speech which excited enthusiastic applause, contrasted the consistency and manly conduct of Harney with the baseness and villainy of his slanderers.[40]  Despite the negative conference, a Chartist convention held in London the following March and April 1852 made more firm agreement on future Chartist and social agitation.  During these activities, there was found time to organise the annual anniversary social evening in memory of the birth of Robespierre, held as usual at the John Street Institution, on 8 April.  Harney presided, and a number of speeches were given by Samuel Kydd, Gerald Massey, Bronterre O'Brien and others to ‘the sovereignty of the people, the fraternity of nations, and the social regeneration of society'.

    Since joining the Red Republican which Harney had renamed the Friend of the People in December 1850 to make it sound more appealing to the working class and acceptable to newsvendors, Massey had been compiling his published poems with a view to producing them in book format.  Finally completed with some new material, Voices of Freedom and Lyrics of Love by T. Gerald Massey, Working Man, was published on the 21 March 1851 priced one shilling, dedicated to his friend Walter Cooper:


As the toiler-teacher you have won your diploma in the school of our suffering, and can well appreciate the difficulties which the self-educated working man has to encounter ... Who can see the masses ruthlessly robbed of all the fruits of their industry ... and not strive to arouse them to a sense of their degradation, and urge them to end the bitter bondage and the murderous martyrdom of Toil? ... But do not think me a mere railer against the classes which oppress our own, I know too well the evils that are self-inflicted, I know that our greatest curse is in being our own Tyrants...


    Reviews that appeared in the radical press and smaller journals were distinctly appreciative of his gentler love lyrics and, surprisingly, more critical of his political poems.  The Friend of the People confirmed the force and fire of his partisan political poems which were, it considered, lessened by ‘ruggedness', and compared them with the elegance of his love lyrics.[41]  A very valid comment was made when the reviewer complained of a ‘painful striving for effect by means of big words and monstrous fantasies.  "God", "Christ", "Hell", etc. are terms used far, far too often'.  But these particular words among others, together with excessive capitalisation remained an expressive feature of Massey's poetry.  Despite these obvious faults the Pioneer appreciated the 'rich fullness' in the lyrics.[42]  The Northern Star referred to ‘great force of perception, accompanied by an equal power of delineation . . .' admiring the ‘force, fervour and nervous diction', but preferred also his Lyrics of Love.[43] Eliza Cooke's Journal published a biographical sketch and appreciation of Massey written by Dr Samuel Smiles, the self-help advocate, which has since formed the basis for most early biographical details.[44The Leader, quoting from this sketch and referring to his martial poems, stated that Vehemence is not Force, while his lyrics would benefit from the laborious study of versification.[45]  Once all the reviews were published, Massey was able to edit them, and quote the most favourable extracts in an advertisement printed in the 21st June issue of the Friend of the People.

    Both preceding and following the review of Massey's book, Ernest Jones' journal Notes to the People, which contained Jones' own poems written while he was in prison, received an equally honourable mention.  It may have been due to these reviews that at a casual meeting between Jones and Massey in Fleet Street, Jones grasped Massey's arm, and was reported to have exclaimed, ‘Massey, you and I are the two greatest poets in England!'[46]  Despite Harney having changed the name of his paper it was steadily losing circulation, and to save it he was trying to persuade Ernest Jones to join with him in producing a new Friend of the People.  But his advertisements of the proposed format for the paper were premature; Harney's paper was unstamped, and fear of prosecution together with greater concern for his own Notes to the People made Jones decide against the proposition.  Harney therefore was forced to discontinue the Friend of the People at the end of July 1851.  Having now no effective mouthpiece, he was obliged to rely on accounts of his meetings being reported principally in O'Connor's Northern Star and Reynolds's Weekly Newspaper which, despite policy differences particularly in the former, were by comparison, accurately reported.


Ernest Jones: a carte de visite.


    The Fraternal Democrats and foreign refugees during this period continued to receive Harney's attention, which culminated in the arrival in England of the Hungarian leader and patriot Louis Kossuth on 20 October 1851.  Massey wrote a special poem for the occasion, ‘A Song of Welcome to Kossuth':


... Ring out, exult, and clap your hands
    Free Men and Women brave—
Shout Britain! shake the startled lands
    With ‘Freedom for the Slave!'
Come forth, make merry in the sun
    And give him welcome due;
Heroic hearts have crown'd him one
    Of Earth's Immortal few! ...


    Published first as a broadsheet, it was seen by the deaf John Plummer in a Chartist bookshop near the corner of Fleet Street and Fetter Lane.[47]  This would have been John Bezer's shop, at 183 Fleet Street, the headquarters of The Society for Promoting Working Men's Associations.  Plummer was living then in Whitechapel, working as an errand boy for his mother, a needlewoman, and had taught himself the rudiments of reading by studying the London street names and advertising placards.  It was principally Massey's poem that induced him to continue with self-education.  He eventually became a writer and earned the praise of John Stuart Mill and Lord Brougham.  Later, he said that he had ‘passed through the same fiery ordeal of poverty, neglect and suffering ... as Gerald Massey', and that he deemed ‘the poetry of Gerald Massey to be the most in accord with the general tone of opinion entertained by the majority of working men of the present day'.[48]

    Massey's first child, Christabel, was born the following day, on the 22 October 1851 at 50 College Place, Camden Town, where the family had moved earlier that year.  At that time Massey was obtaining material in order to extend his range of lectures, and had been writing to Charles Kingsley, asking for some suggestions.  In a letter dated Christmas Day 1851, Kingsley replied:


    My dear Mr. Massey,
Being in your debt three or four moderate letters, I condense them all into one enormously long one.  You must not think, however, that want of interest in you has kept me silent; not that, but business, daily & hourly & unwillingness to write to you at all, without writing carefully & at length.  Now this Xmas night I seem to have time to put on paper the many thoughts about you, which your letter etc. this morning, re-woke in my mind; and I begin by wishing you & your wife & child all the blessings of this most blessed of seasons, for the sake of the Baby of Bethlehem.

    Next, the reviews which I promised you.  I have (to my shame) not yet sent.  Nevertheless next week you shall have a parcel containing 1 or 2 nos. of
Frazer, and one no. of the North British.  The Review of Poetry in each of them being mine ... Also, in the same parcel, the only 2 books about the commonwealth which I have which can help you, Milton's Prose works, and Carlyle's letters & speeches of Cromwell ... & lastly, a sermon which I preached today, which I wish you would read, as a sample of the way in which to my mind, the great doctrines of Xtianity have to do with these poor country clods of mine ... The man to ask about books is Ludlow.  I am very ill read in original authorities of that period.  Mr. Maurice also would give you information ... [49]


    The ensuing twelve months were to be virtually the last of any form of Chartist organisation and Massey's involvement with its media propaganda came to an end.  At a meeting of the National Charter Association Massey was one of thirty — later reduced to twenty two — persons proposed to act on the executive committee.  The South Lancashire delegate meeting referred to Massey and some others as those ‘in whom the greatest amount of confidence can be placed ... '[50] It was decided also at that time to reconstitute the Metropolitan Delegate Council, two persons from each locality to be nominated to serve.  More schisms developed within the executive when the Northern Star was purchased from O'Connor by its editor and printer, and the tone of the paper became more allied to the middle-class reformers.  Massey, together with Bronterre O'Brien and another member, then declined to serve on the committee.  Additionally, Harney was away in Scotland, and Ernest Jones resigned when Holyoake, a supporter of the middle-class reformers was elected.  W. J. Linton also declined to serve unless the movement joined the middle class, believing that it was impossible to resuscitate the Chartist movement.  Furthermore, the association was in debt, and had to relinquish its offices at 14, Southampton Street, Strand, and John Arnott, their general secretary, refused to continue voluntarily, without payment.  The association complained that it, and Chartism, had been abandoned by Harney and Jones, who had represented that body in public estimation.

    Harney, away in Scotland and aware of the censure he was receiving, could exert little influence without his own paper.  Immediately following his return from Scotland in January, he started a new Friend of the People on 7 February 1852.  Massey had been waiting for an opportunity of leaving the Tailors' Association for some time since the Christian Socialist had changed its name to the Journal of Association, and had ceased publication in June 1852.  Additionally, there was no outlet for his writing when the first Friend of the People ended in the following July through lack of support, so he was anxious to obtain a position which would provide him with greater opportunity.  Since his marriage, Massey had been experimenting with mesmerism.  To supplement his finances he and his wife started to demonstrate the phenomenon, but initially only on a private basis.  Now that Harney was back in London, Massey wrote to him, regarding his new venture:


It's now a settled thing that I leave the Tailors' Association.  They intend advertising at once for a Cutter who will also keep the books.  Therefore, I am at liberty to make further arrangements with you if agreeable, with regard to the Friend of the People ... do not think I have any utopian idea of living out of it! ... I can make as much money in 2 hours by Mesmerism as I get here in a week.  What I have to propose is that I become Conductor and that name, influence and writing be all directed to extend the circulation of the Friend with this object in view ... With regard to remuneration for the present I waive that till you get something for yourself.  My object is if possible to be building something up for the future ...[51]


    Although not referred to as ‘co-conductor', Massey did assist Harney by writing a considerable number of articles and reviews.

    At a meeting of the Chartist Executive Committee on 24 March, it was obvious that Massey's earlier pleas for unity had been disregarded.  They were forced to admit officially, that it was ‘The Executive of a society almost without members, and without means — members reduced by unwise antagonism without, and influence reduced by repeated resignations within   … '[52]

    The Northern Star had been equally affected by the Chartist movement's decline, its weekly sales decreasing to less than two thousand.  The owner therefore decided to put it up for sale.  Harney immediately commenced negotiations to purchase it, the finance being provided by Robert Le Blond, a Chartist supporter and head of Benetfink, ironmongers of 81 Cheapside.  It was first renamed the Star, then the Star of Freedom from 24 April 1852.  That caused Ernest Jones a considerable amount of annoyance, as he had also wished to acquire it.  In an article in the Star of Freedom Massey commented on reports by Jones regarding the purchase of the Northern Star:


It has been stated — and the statement has been assiduously circulated to our prejudice and injury — that this Paper was purchased by Mr Le Blond, with Middle Class gold, for the purpose of advocating the Middle Class interest as opposed to that of the Working Classes.  Now, Mr Le Blond has distinctly denied this in a communication to Mr Ernest Jones (the author of the said statement), at the same time reminding him, that he has been the recipient of Middle Class gold!  This was forwarded to him for publication, but Mr Ernest Jones has burked it in accordance with his usual policy regarding truth …[53]


    Massey left the Working Tailors' Association about May 1852, when the family moved from Camden Town and took up rooms at 56 Upper Charlotte Street, Brunswick Square.  There he continued writing for both Harney's Friend of the People, and the Star of Freedom.  A preliminary notice by Harney in the Friend of the People had informed its readers that for the Star of Freedom ‘my able and enthusiastic friend, Gerald Massey, is engaged as literary editor, and will, in addition to the Review department, superintend that portion of the paper devoted to subjects coming under the general denomination of Social Reform.'  Ernest Jones, determined not to deviate from his principle of priority for the Charter, and to publicise his programme of reform without joining the middle class reformers, commenced his new People's Paper in May.



    Massey's prose writing in the later editions of the Friend of the People showed continuing development.  Articles on John Milton and Tennyson's poems, reviews of Wordsworth's and Poe's poems demonstrated, among others, a greater positive critical appraisal of his subject matter.  A portrait of Béranger, in which he compared unfavourably the poems of Thomas Moore with those of his subject received a sharp response from Austin Holyoake, and a corresponding retort from Massey.[54]  Writing to Harney at that time, he suggested writing portraits of Kingsley, Howitt and Carlyle — which was not taken up — and he complained that ‘ … you don't use what I do send  …'[55]  In an article on co-operation to which he had become firmly aligned, he emphasised his stance regarding Chartist policy, and the solution to social inequities.  These views owed no little affinity to the cause of the Christian Socialists, and the ultimate higher aim of Ludlow—but lacked the orthodoxy of organised religion:


[the parsons] have gone on preaching and teaching, announcing the redeemer not yet come, and the redemption that is scarcely yet begun ... yet we have little more of true and practical Christianity welded into our life ... this it appears to me because they have merely gone on preaching and teaching, praying and talking, and have not set about any practical realisation of the redemption they prophesied.  They have always sought to inculcate Christianity instead of so arranging the social machinery and so moulding humanity, that Christianity should have been developed as the outcome of a natural growth ... the advocates of the Charter have pursued the same course of talking everlastingly, talk, talk, nothing but talk these past twenty years, save countless martyrdoms and endless sufferings; and never was Chartism at so low an ebb as at present; never did we appear farther from obtaining the Charter than now … We have to reconstitute society on such principles as shall render the fruit of a man's labour the natural reward for his toil; and this I maintain, can only be done on the principle of co-operation …[56]


    Harney's support for the democratic refugees continued despite his being relegated from the National Charter Executive.  A meeting of leading democrats was convened on the 9 May 1852 at the John Street Institution to discuss the possibility of giving aid to a large number of the refugees who were living in squalor, unable to obtain employment.  Harney, Thornton Hunt and Massey were appointed to act as a sub-committee to draw up a public address to the people.  They decided to make a direct public appeal for funds, and to hold a soirée at the John Street Institution on 8 June in honour of the Star of Freedom.  Among those present were Louis Blanc and Colonel Karl Stolzman, and speeches were given by Harney, Walter Cooper, Louis Blanc and others, amid general approval.  Massey gave an eloquent and lengthy address which called forth the enthusiastic applause of the assembly.

    The Star of Freedom, meanwhile, was receiving opposition from some members of the Metropolitan Delegate Council who considered that Jones' new People's Paper should receive the support of the council.  The dissension continued throughout subsequent council meetings.  At a reorganisation of the John Street locality on 25 May, James Grassby, formerly on the executive committee, and Massey were elected as representatives to the Metropolitan Delegate Council.  An address was then moved condemning some despotic members of the executive.  The following week's meeting resulted in a ‘disgraceful uproar', with policies being attacked and Jones' People's Paper accused of gross misrepresentation.  These schisms were partly responsible for Massey ending his active association with the Chartist movement.  But he continued to write for the Star of Freedom until it ceased publication in November, due to Ernest Jones' more successful People's Paper.  Unsigned items recognised as Massey's include reviews of Longfellow's Poetical Works, William Whitmore's Firstlings, Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Casa Guidi Windows and an article ‘A Visit to the Royal Academy'.  This latter show an effect that is demonstrated in much of his poetry; a colourful chiaroscuro of aesthetic description, in some parts extremely effusive:


Frith's ‘Pope makes love to Lady Mary Wortley Montague' is a most masterly composition.  The colouring is very white, but it is of the complexion of the eighteenth century.  And what an antithesis is made out!  God and the devil—hell and heaven—were scarcely greater.  Pope has had the temerity to declare his love for that brilliant beautiful woman, and she has burst into a fit of laughter.  And such laughter—rich, ringing, spontaneous laughter, it swims like glory in her sweetly-drunken eyes, dimples and bickers on her cheek, flashes from her pearly teeth, so real and genuine you forget its tragic cruelty, until you see the writhing victim sit there crushed into ghastly, livid despondency, bitter mortification, and implacable hatred of himself, her— everything! …[57]


    About August of that year, John James Bezer, active Chartist and publisher, had been given money by Lord Goderich, the Christian Socialist supporter, in aid of the Star of Freedom.  Harney, not having received the money, made enquiries via Goderich, who found that Bezer had fled to Australia in an emigration ship, leaving his family in England.[58]  It was stated also, by Ludlow, that he had run off with another man's wife!  In further research I have shown that Bezer, an interesting minor Chartist activist (1816—1888) made a bigamous marriage in Australia.  There he raised a large family and continued with some literary and political activities.[59]  Emigration to Australia had received a sharp impetus following the discovery of gold in that country in 1851.  Massey was disgusted at this behaviour from a previously valued upholder of Chartist and co-operative principles, and sent a five verse poem with his opinions on the subject to Harney for publication in the Star of Freedom:


Another gone back, when our battle went sorest!
    Another soul sunk, like a star from the night!
Another hope quencht, when our progress was poorest!
    Another barque wreckt, with the haven in sight!
Our Brother once — Traitor now: nay, we'll not curse him,
    O Freedom forgive him, he knew not the cost! ...


    Titled ‘The Deserter from Democracy' it was not published by Harney, but was included much amended as ‘The Deserter from the Cause' in Massey's later poetical works.[60]

    Probably due to the knowledge that all was not well with the Star of Freedom and that he could soon become jobless, Massey decided to increase the scope of his lecture subjects.  He therefore arranged to give a special series of three at the John Street Institution commencing on 1 October 1852, during which he would be assisted by his wife.  On the occasion that he had first witnessed Rosina hypnotised, prior to his marriage, he was indignant at the treatment to which she was subjected in order to satisfy people's curiosity.  They then restricted such demonstrations to small private gatherings.  Unfortunately their financial state now determined the contrary, so under the broad heading of ‘Mesmerism and Clairvoyance' Massey advertised the subject matter to include:


The truth of Phrenology illustrated by Phreno—Mesmerism . . . Catalepsy induced by means of Mesmeric passes and Readings of Books, Papers, etc., by means of Inner Vision, the ordinary visual means being suspended by way of the audience, closing and holding the eyes of the Clairvoyante with their own hands.  The Clairvoyante, Mrs. Gerald Massey, long known as the ‘Somnambule Jane', has manifested the peculiar power of Clairvoyance or Second Sight, for a period of eleven years, during which time she has been satisfactorily tested by numerous persons ... Admission to the Hall, 3d.; gallery, 4d.; Reserved seats on the Platform, 6d.[61]


    A Star of Freedom reporter recorded that there were good attendances, the last lecture being very well received as Mrs Massey was in better health than previously, and the demonstrations therefore more successful.  At the last lecture her husband:


... attempted to explain the phenomenon of Clairvoyance, and show how it was produced, which was very startling and interesting, and to judge from the audience, received with satisfaction.  There were some medical sceptics, well known in the scientific world, present, who came to doubt and expose the ‘humbug', and it was very interesting to watch their change from doubt to wonder, from wonder to belief, and as the experiments went on, to hear them assert their full and perfect conviction to the audience.[62]

 

Scientific & Literary Institute.
[63]

    The success of these demonstrations encouraged Massey to give repeat lectures on 18 October, 25 October and again on 22 November (just to give the sceptics another chance), with an intervening lecture on ‘Rienzi and Mazzini — an historical parallel' on the 14 November.  He also announced his availability to deliver a programme of forty-four lectures on tour the following spring.  A wide range of subjects included Cromwell and the Commonwealth, six lectures on English Literature, six lectures on living poets, the poetry of Wordsworth and its influence on the age, Thomas Carlyle and his writings, the song literature of Hungary and Germany, as well as lectures on Shakespeare, Chaucer, Tennyson, and American literature.  Also on offer were his lectures on Mesmerism and Clairvoyance.  Massey had been wise in making his plans at that time as, due to decreasing circulation, Harney was forced to discontinue the Star of Freedom from 27 November.  One month prior to this, Harney had reasserted his previous declaration, now so obviously apparent, ‘… that the Chartist organisation is literally dead.  Yes, dead; and no galvanised efforts can revive it.  [But] its principles are immortal.  They can never die …'[64]

[Chapter 3.]


NOTES
 

1.

Motion quoted in Raven, C.E., Christian Socialism 1848-1854 (London, Macmillan 1920, Cass 1968), 151.

2.

Christensen, T., Origin and History of Christian Socialism 1848-54. p. 135, in Acta Theologica Danica, 3, (Aarhus, 1962).

3.

Leno's activities can be noted in reports of the National Charter Association and other association meetings in which he was involved, which were published in the Northern Star.

4.

Daily News, 1 Apr. 1850, 4. Reynolds's Political Instructor, 1, (27 Apr. 1850), gives extracts from this article, together with generally supportive comments towards the Christian Socialist experiment of the Working Tailors.

5.

Samuel Wilberforce (1805-1873) was appointed as Bishop of Oxford in 1845.

6.

Crowe, R., The Reminiscences of Robert Crowe the Octogenarian Tailor (New York, n.p., n.d. [1902]), 15. Chapters 12 and 13, dealing with his experiences at the Westminster House of Correction following his arrest at the Chartist meeting on Kennington Common in 1848, were published separately as 'The Reminiscences of a Chartist Tailor' in the Outlook, (New York) 71, (9 Aug. 1902), 915-20.

7.

Maurice, F., Life of Frederick Denison Maurice 2 vols. (London, Macmillan, 1884), 2, 36.

8.

Introduction to Alton Locke (Oxford, OUP, 1983 ed.), ix, by Elizabeth Cripps.

9.

'The Middle-Class Expediency', quoted in the Northern Star, 9 Feb. 1850, 3.

10.

Cooper's Journal, 15 Jun. 1850, 376.

11.

Ibid. 16 Feb. 1850, 104.

12.

Ibid. 23 Feb. 1850, 113-15.

13.

Democratic Review, 1, (Nov. 1849), 240.

14.

Ibid. 1, (May 1850), 463-4. The Literary and Scientific Institution, 23 John Street, Fitzroy Square, (thought originally by W.E. Adams to have been a chapel, see also illustration p. 55) had been used as a venue by the delegates to the Chartist Convention in 1848 to prepare for the Kennington Common demonstration. John Street—since renamed Whitfield Street—was sited parallel to the west side of Tottenham Court Road, extending approximately from Goodge Street to Warren Street.

15.

Medium and Daybreak, 17 Mar. 1872, 177. Although no names are given, it is possible that there was an involvement with Dr John Elliotson (1791-1868), Professor of Medicine from 1832-1838 at King's College Hospital, and Founder of the Phrenological Society. Using treatment by mesmerism, lecturing and demonstrating the subject, he founded his own London Mesmeric Infirmary in Weymouth Street, Portland Place, in 1849, also publishing a journal, the Zoist, a Journal of Cerebral Physiology and Mesmerism. Due to his earlier activities he had to resign his professorship, but his clinical abilities were always highly regarded. J. M. Ludlow, the main founder of Christian Socialism mentions some mesmeric experiences in his autobiography, including a visit that he made to Elliotson's Infirmary. See John Ludlow. The Autobiography of a Christian Socialist ed. Murray, A. D., (London, Cass, 1981), 319-22. Captain Richard Burton also frequently mesmerised his wife, Isabel, and consulted her whilst she was in trance. See: Lovell, M. A Rage to Live. A biography of Richard Burton (London, Little, Brown, 1998, 460-461).

16.

Banner of Light, 10 Jan. 1874, 1.

17.

Cooper's Journal, 20 Apr. 1850, 246.

18.

Northern Star, 23 Mar. 1850, 1.

19.

Democratic Review, 1, (Feb. 1850), 349-52.

20.

Reynolds's Weekly Newspaper, 12 May 1850, 7. For an account of the background of the French elections, see Harney's Democratic Review, June 1850.

21.

Northern Star, 27 Apr. 1850, 1.

22.

Democratic Review, 2, (July 1850), 48-50.

23.

Reynolds's Weekly Newspaper, 4 Aug. 1850, 7.

24.

Reynolds's Political Instructor, 1, (16 Mar. 1850), 1.

25.

Northern Star, 9 Mar. 1850, 3.

26.

Reynolds's Weekly Newspaper, 6 Oct. 1850, 4.

27.

Ibid. 11 Aug. 1850, 7.

28.

From a letter dated 13 January 1851, quoted in the 'Prefatory Memoir' to Kingsley's Alton Locke, by Thomas Hughes (London, Macmillan, 1876).

29.

Christensen, op. cit., 76.

30.

Ludlow, J. M., The Christian Socialist Movement, 1850-4. Lecturing and Literary work. Chap. 25, 7-8. Cambridge Univ. Library, Add. 7450/5. Reprinted in John Ludlow. The autobiography of a Christian Socialist, op. cit., 189.

31.

Crowe, Robert, op. cit. 14.

32.

Jean Armand Carrel (1800—1836). Often misspelled 'Carrell'. Army officer and republican, later a political journalist editing the Nation. Was praised by John Stuart Mill in his Dissertations and Discussions. Fought several duels of honour from the last of which he received a fatal wound.

33.

Adams, W. E., Memoirs of a Social Atom 2 vols. (London, Hutchinson, 1903. New York, Kelley, 1968), l, 232.

34.

Red Republican, 21 Sep. 1850, 109.

35.

Notes to the People, 1, (1851), 27, and 2, (1852), 731-2, 745-6, 883-4.

36.

Star of Freedom, 24 Apr. 1852, 5. 8 May 1852, 5. 22 May 1852, 5. 5 Jun. 1852, 6. For an abridgement of Massey's articles, see Appendix 'A'. C. E. Raven's Christian Socialism 1848-1854 gives further details and later outcome of this and co-existent working associations at that time. Note also Christensen, op. cit. 231, and passim.

37.

Raven, op. cit. 289-300, and commentaries in the Christian Socialist.

38.

Reynolds's Weekly Newspaper, 12 Oct. 1850 to 24 Nov. 1850, also Gammage for a general account.

39.

Red Republican, 31 Aug. 1850, 82-3; Northern Star, 26 Oct. 1850.

40.

Friend of the People, 6 Mar. 1851, 101.

41.

Ibid. 26 Apr. 1851, 171-2. 3 May 1851, 185-87.

42.

Pioneer, 26 Apr. 1851, 27-8.

43.

Northern Star, 12 Apr. 1851, 3.

44.

Eliza Cooke's Journal, no. 102 (12 Apr. 1851), 372-74. Although Samuel Smiles' Self Help (1859) does not mention Massey, his early life was the theme of a lecture given by Smiles in Leeds prior to his article in Eliza Cooke's Journal, while a revised edition of the latter appears in his Brief Biographies. Cited in Medium and Daybreak, 10 Oct. 1873, 450.

45.

Leader, 3 May 1851, 417-8.

46.

Medium and Daybreak, 10 Oct. 1873, 450.

47.

Newcastle City Libraries.

48.

Plummer, J., Songs of Labour, Northamptonshire Rambles and Other Poems. (Edinburgh, Tweedie, 1860), preface. See also the Chimney Corner, 28 Jan. 1871, 122.

49.

National Library of Scotland, Ms. 3218.f.141-2.

50.

Northern Star, 27 Dec. 1851, 1.

51.

Black, F., Black, R., The Harney Papers (Assen, van Gorcum, 1969), letter 54. Massey letters held in the private Métivier collection, Jersey.

52.

Reynolds's Weekly Newspaper, 28 Mar. 1852, 5.

53.

Star of Freedom, 5 Jun. 1852, 4.

54.

Friend of the People, 6 Mar., 27 Mar., and 3 Apr. 1852. [see Index]

55.

The Harney Papers, op. cit. letters 55 and 56.

56.

Friend of the People, 29 Feb. 1852, 27.

57.

Star of Freedom, 29 May 1852, 2.

58.

Wolf, Julien, Life of the First Marquess of Ripon 2 vols. (London, Murray, 1921), 1, 51.

59.

John Ludlow. The Autobiography of a Christian Socialist op. cit. 190. See also the section on Bezer on the website gerald—massey.org.uk and in John James Bezer, Chartist and John Arnott, National Charter Association by David Shaw (lulu.com 2008) for a full account of this interesting Chartist.

60.

Massey had written on it 'That blasted Bezer'. The Harney Papers, op. cit. letter 57.

61.

Star of Freedom, 25 Sep. 1852, 104. Phreno-mesmerism was used for purposes of demonstration. The operator pointed to phrenologically defined areas of the skull on a mesmerised person, and responses appropriate to each defined area were elicited from that mesmerised person. See Alfred Russel Wallace's account in My Life, 2 vols. (London, Chapman & Hall, 1905), 2, 234-36.

62.

Ibid. 23 Oct. 1852, 172.  See also "Clairvoyance at Tring", Bucks Advertiser and Aylesbury News, 21 Jan., 1853.

63.

Facade of the Scientific & Literary Institute, Whitfield St., 1940's. Previously John Street. (Survey of London, vol 21, 1949)

64.

Ibid. 16 Oct. 1852, 171.

 

 



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