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And yet, no section of British reformers are more worthy of admiration for the principles they avow, or of sympathy for the persecutions they have endured. It has been my good fortune to make the acquaintance of several of these men, to attend some of their meetings, and read many of their publications. I have never taken by the hand nobler members of the human family, nor listened to speeches that glowed with more eloquent devotion to the rights of man, nor perused papers more thoroughly imbued with the democratic sentiment, and which inculcated lofty principles in a style of more calm and lucid reasoning. Their publications dwell with emphasis upon the blessings of peace, the superiority of moral over physical means in the attainment of ends, the importance of education, of industry and economy, of self-reliance without arrogance, and of an independent and manly bearing in their intercourse with the world. Bad men are among them, who have often imposed upon their ignorance or inflamed their passions, goading them to violence and crime. But the mass are as far removed from the state of barbarism and brutality, which their traducers have assigned to them, as they are from the utterance of truth or the practice of charity.

It stirs the blood not a little to see such men as Lovett, Collins, Vincent, O'Brien, and Cooper, suffer through long years, in dark and filthy cells, for teaching the people to be “discontented” with a Government that first denies them any voice in its administration, and then taxes them down to the staryation point, that it may pamper a bloated priesthood and an overbearing aristocracy at home, and build navies and equip armies to scour the seas and scourge unoffending tribes in the uttermost parts of the earth. However, those who know John Bull best say the only way to manage him is to mingle a little threatening with a good deal of blarney, when the conceited old bully, after a fearful amount of bluster, will yield a point -as witness Catholic Emancipation, Parliamentary Reform, and Corn-Law Repeal. Perhaps these pacific counselors are

right; though a James Otis, or a Patrick Henry, with the cry of “No taxation without representation !” on their lips, would recommend that the towers of Windsor, and the minarets of Lambeth, be pitched instantly into the Thames.

A more particular notice of some of the persons who have acted prominent parts in the transactions above detailed, will be given in the next chapter.

FEARGUS O'CONNOR-WILLIAM LOVETT.

311

CHAPTER XXVIII.

Chartists and Complete Suffragists-Feargus O'Connor-William

Lovett-John CollinsHenry Vincent-Thomas Cooper-Edward Miall-Reverend Thomas Spencer.

In this chapter, I will give brief notices of some of the more prominent Chartists and Free-Suffragists.

Feargus O'CONNOR has been styled “ The Great Chartist Leader."

In advocating the cause, he has suffered for his imprudences, if not for his principles. He is made up in about equal degrees of the braggart and the coward, the demagogue and the democrata legitimate product of the rotten institutions and turbulent times in which he was born and has flourished. With many good qualities and many bad ones, he had not the moral bravery to lead a reformation, nor the physical courage to head a revolution. Aspiring to do both, and wanting capacity for either, he failed in each. Respect for an impulsive man who has proclaimed good principles in bad times, and sympathy for a weak man who has felt the thorn of persecution from worse hands than his own, induce me to forbear further remark on the foibles and follies of one who is shorn of his influence to do much future good or evil.. Better for Chartism if he had lived and died a Tory; though, with all his sins, he will be kindly remembered when Toryism rots in contempt.

William Lovett's manly virtues and vigorous sense adorn a noble enterprise. Born in extremest poverty, he has struggled upward against the crushing weight of factious systems, to an influential position in society. While a young man, he was drafted into the militia—refused to be degraded into a machine to kill men at the word of command-was arraigned before a magistrate for the offense-terrified the justice by the boldness and ability of his defense—and was discharged from the service after seeing his little property confiscated and his family reduced almost to beggary. This petty tyranny fixed him in the purpose of preparing himself to aid in remodeling institutions that taxed him to the marrow, without allowing him any voice in the selection of his rulers. He worked at his trade of cabinet-making by day, and cultivated his mind by night. Throwing himself into all movements for the improvement of the laboring classes, he first attracted general notice by his connection with the London Working Men's Association, established in 1836. The many able addresses which this central body issued to the working men of the kingdom, and to the laboring classes in Belgium, Poland, and Canada, were prepared by him, These led the way for the Chartist movement. In 1838, he assisted Messrs. O'Connell, Roebuck, and other members of Parliament, in preparing “The People's Charter;" his part of the work consisting in drafting, theirs in revising, this noble and painfully celebrated document.

One of the main originators of the Chartist enterprise, he now gave to it his whole energies ; and well would it have been had his pacific disposition controlled its direction. The National Convention of Chartists was in session in Birmingham in 1839. The people of that town, as was their wont, were holding a meeting in “ The Bull-ring,” to discuss questions of reform. The police, part of whom had been specially sent from London, were ordered to break up the meeting. They rushed upon he assemblage, and, with their bludgeons, knocked down men,

, women, and children, and dispersed the meeting. Mr. Lovett, who was secretary to the Convention, drew up and presented to that body a manly protest against these outrages. It was printed and circulated through the town. For writing that paper,

he and John Collins (who had carried the manuscript to

the printer) were arrested for sedition, thrust into a dungeon, indicted, tried, convicted, and sentenced to a year's imprisonment in Warwick jail. On the trial, Lovett defended himself with skill, and his address to the jury commanded general admiration. While in prison, Lovett and Collins published a pamphlet of 130 pages, entitled “ Chartism: A Plan for the Education and Improvement of the People.” It is able and eloquent, filled with the noblest sentiments, and contains suggestions for the instruction and elevation of the masses, which would, if acted upon by the government, place England a century in advance of her present position. Near the close of their confinement, they wrote another paper, which I transcribe entire. The Melbourne Administration, “which meant but little, nor meant that little well,” became ashamed of its treatment of Lovett and Collins, and offered to release them on their entering into bonds to keep the peace. Here is their reply. Read it, and see how contemptible a nobleman looks in the hands of a cabinet-maker and a tool-maker :

"WARWICK JAIL, May 6, 1840. "To the Right Honorable the Marquis of Normanby, Her

Majesty's Secretary of State for the Home Department :

“MY LORD : The visiting magistrate of the county jail of Warwick having read to us a communication, dated Whitehall, May 5, and signed S. M. Phillips, in which it is stated that your Lordship will recommend us to Her Majesty for a remission of the remaining part of our sentence, provided we are willing to enter into our recognizance in £50 each for our good behavior for one year, we beg respectfully to submit the following

To enter into any bond for our future good conduct would be an admission of past guilt; and however a prejudicial jury may have determined that the resolutions we caused to be published, condemnatory of the attack of the police, were a violation of the law of libel, we cannot bring ourselves to believe that any criminality attaches to our past conduct. We have, however, suffered the penalty of nearly ten months' imprisonment for having, in common with a large portion of the public press, and a large majority of our country,

as our answer.

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