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nursed up into such fearful array; or that his former Whig allies, the political unionists, have degenerated into Chartists, and the town-council of Birmingham, composed, as is now admitted, exclusively of Whigs, Radicals, and Chartists, all appointed by the Home Secretary, without the least intermixture of any persons to represent the Conservative wealth of the town, has been compelled to take the lead in beating down their own supporters; and that Birmingham has been delivered over to the flames, and sacked, like a city taken by storm, in the midst of the "peace, law, and order" of the Chartist masses, their former supporters in the magistracy, and under the Government of their once esteemed correspondent in the HomeOffice. As little will it avail us now to find the principles of rebellion and the duties of magistracy so strangely blended together in the same individuals, that the Registrar of Birming ham is a Chartist or political union delegate; and the Clerk of the Peace for the borough, as Lord John Russell admitted, is still so implicated with his former Chartist principles, that at the very moment he is drawing out the warrants for commitment of the Chartists, for Chartist felonies, arsons, and burglaries, within the borough of Birmingham, he is defending the Chartists arraigned for offences having the same tendency, committed in the surrounding county of Warwick. All these are memorable proofs of the effects of political agitation, and of the consequences of that trade in human folly and insanity, which the Whigs have so long and so successfully driven. We record them in this place, not from any wish to embarrass Government in their now, we believe, sincere efforts to suppress the agitation which they have been so instrumental in producing; but from a desire to transfer into the durable pages of this journal, facts highly illustrative of the consequences and effects of revolutionary measures, which, if not snatched from oblivion at the time that they occur, would surpass belief in future and more tranquil times.
We have said that Government are now sincerely anxious to put down the Chartist agitation; and we commend them for the efforts, tardy to be sure, which they are now making for this all-important object, But, neverthe
less, nothing can be more apparent than that the mode which they adopted, and perhaps have been compelled to adopt, in checking these outrages, is fraught with obvious injustice; and that, while it lets the greatest criminals escape, it involves a numerous body of their deluded followers, criminal indeed, but innocent when compared with the leaders, in severe punishment. Every body knows that the Chartist Convention have now sat in London for nearly six months; and it may safely be affirmed that hardly a night has passed during all that time, in which the most rank sedition has not been spoken and delivered at their meetings. Indeed, many of their proclamations, if they are not high treason, border so closely upon it, as to be hardly distinguishable. In fact, the very idea of a National Convention—that is, an Assembly of Delegates elected by the people by Universal Suffrage, without either the authority of the Crown or the sanction of the Legislature, and issuing proclamations and orders which they expect to be obeyed by millions of the community, and certainly are obeyed and acted upon by hundreds of thousands of the people-is itself an usurpation of the royal prerogative, the establishment of an imperium in imperio, utterly inconsistent with the existence of order or security of property in the realm, and which never would have been tolerated in any other age or country. Now, what does Government do with the leaders of this monstrous usurpation of the royal and legislative functions? Why, it lets them go on day after day, week after week, month after month, gradually usurping more and more of the powers of Government, and acquiring more consequence among the disaffected, from the belief that their impunity has arisen from terror, until the people begin to act upon their repeated suggestions as to the propriety of arming, and the necessity of having recourse to physical force-till taxes are actually levied by the disaffected under the flimsy name of a contribution, to avoid pillage, to the Chartist funds; and one of the greatest cities in the empire is delivered up to conflagration and pillage, as a warning to the rest of what they may expect, if resistance to the contribution is any longer continued.
Their policy was exactly the same in Canada; and in the cruel devas,
tation and deep wound inflicted on that beautiful province, may be seen the fruits of that weak temporizing system which dallies with rebellion till it has spread its seeds throughout the empire. Like their brethren the Chartists in Great Britain, the CanaIdian Revolutionists made no secret either of their proceedings or intentions. They had a regularly organized system of delegates from every township of Lower Canada, who held nightly meetings, and inculcated the necessity of drilling, arming, and ap. pealing to physical force. Lord Gosford and the Government made no attempt whatever to arrest and put down these treasonable proceedings, trusting always that that sheet-anchor of Whig imbecility-the good sense of the people would prevent their breaking out into open rebellion, and that Government would be saved the irksome nécessity of bringing its former supporters and friends to trial for high treason. The most noted leaders of the sedition were promoted, entrusted with offices of authority, some even put on the bench, in order to conciliate the unruly mass of their followers; and, to show the perfect confidence of Government in their influence over the seditious, the province was left with only three thousand five hundred men, while unauthorized drilling was going on in almost all quarters, and within sight of the Governor's house. The consequences were clearly foreseen by all men of sense in this country; but they fell like a clap of thunder upon the bewildered Liberal Government. Treason, rendered audacious by long impunity, at length became ungovernable; two successive rebellions broke out; blood was shed in profusion on all sides; vast plains were devastated by fire; hundreds of human beings of both sexes and all ages were driven into the woods, amidst all the severities of a Canadian winter, to perish with cold; above a thousand persons were thrown into prison, and no less than nine-and-twenty expiated their guilt on the scaffold! The emigrants from Great Britain, who the year before were twenty-nine thousand, the year after dwindled down to two thousand; and the province, from the stream of emigration being turned into other quarters, has received an irreparable wound.
It was lately said by Lord J. Russell
in the House of Commons, that there could be no doubt that the Convention and all its members had repeatedly rendered themselves amenable to the laws of sedition, if not of treason; but that it was not deemed expedient to prosecute the members, because it was doubtful whether juries would convict, and the consideration of Government would be seriously weakened by the odium consequent upon an unsuccessful prosecution. Now, what is this but letting the really guilty parties, the principal offenders, escape, and making the law fall with unmitigated severity upon the deluded followers whom the violence of the one party, and the timidity of the other, have roused into open acts of hostility? Which is most culpable - the stupid deluded operatives who take staves in their hands, and fight the police at Birmingham, Llanidloes, Stockport, and Newcastle, in defence of what they are told are their rights, and what they believe are their duties—or the reckless demagogues in the Convention, who, though possessed of some talent, education, and information, stimulate the people to such reckless and atrocious proceedings? It has been the principle of good government in contending with revolutionary passion in all ages, obsta principiis; check the evil in the outset before it has acquired strength by long resistance, or audacity by experienced impunity, and, sparing the deluded followers of rebellion, let the severity of the law fall upon its designing and guilty authors. But our Liberal Government have now reversed all this; their maxim is cede principiis; dally with treason while in the cradle, proclaim impunity to sedition while in youth, and only arm in defence of the community when bloodshed, conflagration, and plunder, have openly begun, and then proceed rather against those who have bludgeons in their hands, than those who have sedition on their lips or treason in their hearts. If this is the Whig mode of showing their tenderness for the people, their great consideration for the ignorance of the masses, and the many allowances which they make for the extenuating plea of general delusion, we can only say that it is a novelty in human affairs; and that if, like the New Poor-Law, it is a specimen of the
blessings which they have in store for the working-classes, it is something very different from what they either promised or professed.
But, says Lord John Russell, we could not proceed against the leaders of the Convention, because we had little hope of obtaining a conviction before juries, however clearly the bench might lay down that the accused had been guilty of sedition or high treason; and, therefore, we deemed it better to let the evil go on growing till it reached such a height as to strike a panic into the middle classes, and secure their co-operation in the execu tion of the law. We admit the validity of this excuse-probably it was expedient, and even necessary in the present state of the country, and misled as the public mind has been by political falsehood, incessantly rung into their ears for a quarter of a century, to adopt such a course, how adverse soever to every principle of justice. But what inference is to be drawn as to the soundness or tendency of the political principles which have so long been poured into the middle classes, when the avowed effect of them by the Liberal Government is to render the administration of justice impracticable, and proclaim a long impunity to crimes involving a nation's ruin? What, has it already come to this, that treason must be pampered in America till its plains are reddened by the light of its burning villages, and that sedition must be winked at in England till the minds of the middle classes are illuminated by the flames of Birmingham, or the conflagration of Bristol? Is this the vast and incalculable progress of human intelligence? Is this the manner in which the middle classes have been educated under the Whig tuition of thirty, and the Whig Administration of ten years, for the great work of self government? Is this the specimen to which we are to look for an example of the manner in which the great duties of the State are to be discharged by the operative ranks? Must we always wait till cities are burned, and streets given up to pillage, before any defensive measures are adopted by the new governors of the State? Do coming events never cast their shadows before to the dominant shopocracy of the empire; and will the new governors of the State never adopt any defensive or
vigorous step till their doors are forced open by a Chartist mob, their houses in flames by Chartist torches, or their beer-barrels emptied by Chartist mouths? Doubtless, when a Radical finds a Chartist swallowing copious libations out of his butts, the obstructions of error are quickly swept away from his own mind; when he sees his property pillaged by Chartist hands, he gets a clear insight into the distinction betwixt meum and tuum ; and when the darkness is illuminated by the flames of his burning property, the shades of political delusion are rapidly dispelled. But are we to rest in the miserable and degrading conclusion, that these deplorable catastrophes must ensue before the middle classes can be roused to a sense either of their duties or their danger? Is the book of experience entirely lost upon them; and is there no way of making them discharge their duties as jurymen, or support the Government as politicians, but by bringing the horrors of civil war home to their doors? Is that the result of ten years' apprenticeship to self-government ? Is that the consequence of the extension of the suffrage, and the diffusion of political information to all classes of society? If these are the consequences of political amelioration, if these are the first fruits of Reform, we can only say that they exceed in bitterness any which the Tories ever predicted; and that the libel pronounced upon the middle classes by Lord John Russell as his excuse for not stifling sedition in its cradle, exceeds any that was ever launched against them by their bitterest political opponent.
But the truth is, that this memorable declaration of Lord John Russell suggests matter for deeper and more serious reflections. Under the old Constitution of England, no such difficulty of administering justice as he so forcibly points out, was experienced. Juries then fearlessly and honestly discharged themselves of their oaths; judges deliberately tried cases without the dread that the law would be thwarted by those intrusted with the evidence; Government acted vigorously without an apprehension that their weapons would be broken when wielded by their arm; sedition was prevented from ripening into treason, and treason from involving provinces in the pains of rebellion. What is it, then,
that has wrought so fearful a change in the temper and judgment of the people, as their admitted disinclination to administer justice or act with decision necessarily implies? Is it that the public mind has become so de bauched and corrupted by the incessant promulgation of Liberal principles, that, till a fatal catastrophe arises, the bonds of society are loosened, the obligation of oaths forgotten, and the sense of justice in the middle classes extinguished? Is it that the exercise of political power is destructive to the sense of political duties; that, in proportion as men are intrusted with self-government, they become insensible to its obligations; that, as political discussion is more largely entrusted to the working-classes, public sympathy will be more largely bestowed upon the violators of the law and the disturbers of public tranquillity; and that the boasted dreams of political regenerators are at length to terminate in a demonstra. tion on the greatest scale, that the old position of Hobbes is well-founded, and that the original state of nature was that of general war against life and property? Or are we to rest in the less alarming but not less melancholy conclusion, that the days of British freedom, and the due administration of justice by its unbought citizens, are numbered; that the vehement discussion of public affairs, and the excitement of political passion which now takes place, are inconsistent with the due discharge of their judicial functions by the middle classes ; that terror, intimidation, and violence, have rendered the verdicts of juries precarious and suspected, and that the boasted and long-tried institution of juries itself, is a security only against the attacks of the monarch in front, but none against the assaults of the populace in rear? Are we doomed to see the institutions of Alfred melt away under the dissolving liberalism of the nineteenth century; is popular intimidation, political passion, or personal fear, to bring into discredit, in all but times of manifest danger, the ancient institution of trial by jury; and is necessity to force even upon the wisest heads, and warmest hearts, and stoutest patriots of the realm, the deliberate conviction, that the ancient popular administration of government in England, must give place to the powers and
the oppression of a centralized despo tism? Is the unpaid juryman in the end to be every where supplanted by the stipendiary judge; the churchwarden by the poor-law commissioner; the parish constable by the paid policeman; the yeomanry by an armed gendarmerie; the militia by a powerful regular army?-And is all this to take place, not only without the opposition, but with the cordial support of every friend to humanity and his country, from the dear-bought but melancholy conviction forced on them by experience, that the days of tempered freedom, and the real administration of public affairs by the people, are past? These are vital and momentous questions. They are questions on which many a thoughtful mind is now ruminating, and which successive events will in all probability erelong present in still clearer colours to the national mind. We mention them without any wish to weaken at this moment the hands of Government, but from a deep sense of their vast and growing importance, and the conviction that it is not by vainly lamenting the past, which is now irrecoverable, but attending to the present and altered features of society which it has induced, that the great end of government, security to life and property, is in this country hereafter to be obtained.
Mr Buller lately said in the House of Commons, that the Government of the country was now, for the first time, brought in contact with the educated masses, and that they would now find what it was to contend with the working-classes, whom the system of Bell and Lancaster had elevated to a knowledge of their rights. Lord John Russell, in the same debate, (August 2, 1839,) said, that the state of society which pervaded the operative classes in almost all the manufacturing districts in the empire, was deplorable in the extreme; that they had obtained education, without any provision being made for either their moral or religious instruction; and that they are now banded together in a confederacy which must be numbered, not by its hundreds of thousands, but by its millions, the object of which is, by force, intimidation, and violence, to obtain a total change in the Constitution of the country. Both statements, so far as they go, are correct; the
wide spread of mere intellectual edu cation, and the total absence of moral or religious tuition, are undoubtedly two of the elements in the composition of the perils with which the social system of Great Britain is now so widely overspread. Add to these "the enormous lying" by which Mr Bulwer tells us the Reform Bill was carriedthe political delusion, exaggeration, and error, so copiously poured into the nation by the whole Whig journalists, orators, and writers, for the last thirty years-joined to the excessive expectations wilfully excited in the mind of the country, for selfish purposes, by the authors of the Reform Bill, which is the real cause of the distracted and discontented state of so large a portion of the working-classes throughout the manufacturing dis
What is the prevailing cry of the Chartists and Universal Suffrage men? It is, that they have not obtained the fruits of Reform; that they have been misled and deceived by their Whig leaders; that all the real and practical grievances of which they formerly complained, are still in existence; that wages are as low, provisions as high, taxes as heavy as ever; that the sway of the middle classes has proved more oppressive than even that of the old boroughmongers; and that the New Poor-Law has deprived them of their rights of birthright inheritance in a way which would never have been attempted by the ancient guardians of the realm. What they call for, therefore, is Universal Suffrage, Annual Parliaments, a paid Legislature; in other words, the total command of the property, education, and intelligence of the kingdom. What they would do with these powers when acquired, is now sufficiently evident. They would pillage all the property of the kingdom, and divide the whole possessions of the wealthy classes among themselves. Now, to what is this monstrous cupidity and insatiable desire for power, with a view to pillage, to be ascribed? Clearly to the exaggerated expectations and unbounded promises held forth by the Whigs during the Reform agitation, and to the strenuous efforts which they have ever since made to prevent any extension of the religious institutions of the country. They told them during the Reform mania, at every public dinner, at every public meet
ing, and on every hustings in the kingdom-and the statements were repeated till the very air rang with the sounds-that their whole sufferings were owing to the Tories and the boroughmongers; that the Reform Bill would at once relieve the whole distresses of the country; that taxes would be reduced, wages high, provisions abundant; and that, instead of Government acting as heretofore, merely for the interest of the few and the oppression of the many, it would be directed solely to the interests of the many, and the restraining of the few; that the reign of corruption would be at an end, and that justice, patriotism, and disinterestedness, were to pervade every part of the administration. When, therefore, instead of the fulfilment of these exaggerated expectations, the people, seven years after the Reform Bill was passed, found every thing going on much the same as before, with this difference only, that political abuses are far more frequent than ever; that commissions, prolific of advantage only to the Whig employés, which in the end lead to nothing, abound in all quarters; that the revenue is sinking while the expenditure is continually increasing; and that the blessings of moral and political economy have been brought home to the working-classes in the shape of the New Poor-Law Bill; it is noways surprising that universal discontent has been awakened amongst the highly excited operative classes; and that, in utter despair at the total failure of the grand nostrum which was to have worked out their salvation, they have listened to leaders who tell them that nothing remains but to take the administration of public affairs into their own hands, and throw overboard at once the whole property, respectability, and education of the kingdom. They had no difficulty in finding leaders who would head this new and formidable plebeian movement; the example of the success of former agitation was too instructive to be thrown away. They saw that the Whigs had contrived to keep themselves in office for seven years by Reform agitation; and they saw no reason why, by the aid of a similar movement from an inferior class, the assistance of the Chartist mania, and the terrors of the torch and the dagger, they might not also, in their turn, get possession of the