The Chartists had not hitherto concealed their determination to carry the Charter at all costs, even that of a revolution; the bourgeoisie, which now perceived, all at once, the danger with which any violent change threatened its position, refused to hear anything further of physical force, and proposed to attain its end by moral force, as though this were anything else than the direct or indirect threat of physical force.
This is the Conservative party. 'I care not whether men are called Whigs or Tories, Radicals or Chartists, or by what nickname a bustling and thoughtless race may designate themselves; but these two divisions comprehend at present the English nation.
'They are quite unworthy of so distinguished a name. These Chartists consist of the most ignorant people in the land the rabble, in fact, headed by a few scheming malcontents: professional agitators who are not above picking the pockets of the poor.
I was staying at "The Fleece," and on a Saturday evening was told by the landlord that if I wished to go to church the following morning, I had better be early, as the Chartists were expected there, and the hotel pew might be full. Dr. Close, the present Dean of Carlisle, was then the rector, and was a very popular preacher.
The alliance is marked by his great speeches for Lord Grey's Reform Bill: it is marked even more significantly in his speech against the Chartists. Cobbett was dead.
'And now the curse of the Lavingtons had truly come upon her. To perish by the people whom they made. Their neglect, cupidity, oppression, are avenged on me! Why not? Have I not wantoned in down and perfumes, while they, by whose labour my luxuries were bought, were pining among scents and sounds, one day of which would have driven me mad! And then they wonder why men turn Chartists!
There was, however, no response to their excited appeals, and from that day Chartism was practically extinct. It is not, perhaps, generally known that the principles embodied in the famous "Charter" were not new. In 1780 Charles James Fox, the great Whig leader, declared himself in favour of the identical six points which were, so long after, embodied in the programme of the Chartists.
Universal suffrage, he replies, would be incompatible with the 'institution of property. If the chartists acted upon their avowed principles, they would enforce 'one vast spoliation. Macaulay could not say, of course, what would actually result, but his 'guess' was that we should see 'something more horrible than can be imagined something like the siege of Jerusalem on a far larger scale. The very best event he could anticipate 'and what must the state of things be, if an Englishman and a Whig calls such an event the very best? would be a military despotism, giving a 'sort of protection to a miserable wreck of all that immense glory and prosperity. So in the criticism of Mill he had suggested that if his opponent's principles were correct, and his scheme adopted, 'literature, science, commerce, manufactures' would be swept away, and that a 'few half-naked fishermen would divide with the owls and foxes the ruins of the greatest of European cities.
"Fine him a kivarten for quarrelling," cried another; and the bully subsided into a minute's silence, after a sotto voce "Blow temperance, and blow all Chartists, say I!" and then delivered himself of his feelings in a doggerel song: "Some folks leads coves a dance, With their pledge of temperance, And their plans for donkey sociation; And their pockets full they crams By their patriotic flams, And then swears 'tis for the good of the nation.
But if I'd let that in as it stood, bedad, I'd have lost three parts of my subscribers the next week. Every soul of the Independents, let alone the Chartists, would have bid me good morning. Now do, like a good boy, give us something more the right thing next time. Draw it strong.