Chartism (1)

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THE spirit which has awakened, pervades, and moves the multitude, is that of intellectual inquiry.  The light of thought is illuming the minds of the masses; kindled by the cheap publications, the discussions, missionaries, and meetings of the last ten years: a light which no power can extinguish, nor control its vivifying influence.  For the spark once struck is inextinguishable, and will go on extending and radiating with increasing power; thought will generate thought; and each illumined mind will become a centre for the enlightenment of thousands, till the effulgent blaze penetrates every cranny of corruption, and scare selfishness and injustice from their seats of power.  Chartism is an emanation of this spirit: its aim is the regeneration of all, the subjugation of none; its objects, as righteous as those of its opponents are wicked and unjust, are to place our institutions on the basis of justice, to secure labour its reward and merit its fruits, and to purify the heart and rectify the conduct of all, by knowledge, morality, and love of freedom.  Discord and folly have to some extent unhappily prevailed, for want of sufficient investigation, but still Chartism has already been led by knowledge beyond the crushing influence of irresponsible and vindictive persecutors; and though prejudice and faction may contend with it for a season, it is yet destined to become a great and efficient instrument of moral and intellectual improvement.

    It will be well, therefore, for all those who seek the happiness and prosperity of their country—who seek to enjoy the fruits of honest industry, to extend their hands and exercise their hearts in acts of benevolence and humanity—to make wiser preparations to meet this growing spirit than are advised in the arming proclamations, and found in the acts of whiggery.  Our rulers may exasperate by coercion, but they will find it powerless in conquering the minds and subduing the hearts of the millions; of men who, tracing their burthens to exclusive legislation, are determined to obtain their just share of political right at any sacrcifice.  Those who madly rule the destinies of England may adopt the same policy their equally inane predecessors pursued towards unhappy Ireland; and like them may succeed in widening the gulph between rich and poor, and severing those feelings of justice and humanity which ought to unite man with his brother man.  They may extend their blue-coated gend'armiere from town to village; they may fortify with soldiery every workshop, and convert the peaceful hills and dales of England into one great arsenal, to keep the haughty and extravagant few in possession of unjust power and domination: but in the maddened attempt they will throw back the rolling tide of intellectual and civilizing refinement; they will generate a military, suspicious, cunning, and vindictive spirit in the people, which, with taxation, oppression, want, and misery, will afford abundant materials for the storm of a frenzied and desolating revolution.

    But will the spirit of Christianity, philosophy, and justice permit of these results?  Will those whose active charity has caused them to explore, midst dangers and death, the remotest tent and wildest glen to instruct the mind and humanize the savage heart, forbear to exercise their benevolence in favour of their care-worn brethren at home?  Shall Christian eloquence be employed against every species of slavery, but such as is found in the fields, the factories, and workshops of Britain?  Will those who esteem all mankind as "brethren, and all the nations of the earth as one great family"—whose golden rules of Christian duty are based on principles of brotherly love, equality, and justice, permit these glorious principles to be outraged by men of wealth and power, merely because they profess to tolerate the teaching of principles they once persecuted and still scorn to practise?  Will the followers of him who ever denounced extortion and injustice, and proclaimed that the poor and oppressed were the especial objects of his mission, remain silent spectators of oppression and injustice?  Will the teachers and preachers of his inspired precepts be so far forgetful of their duty, as to side with the exclusive and oppressive few, whose ambitious projects and mercenary designs have converted earth's fruitful blessings and man's happiness into the curses of war, destruction, and misery?—with men who, not satisfied with the black record of the last hundred and fifty years of blood and human wretchedness, the curse of which still crushes us to earth, [1.] are still pursuing the steps of their fathers, in warring against the rights and liberties of humanity?

    Can Christians read of those scenes of blood and carnage which exclusive legislation has engendered without horror?  Can their imagination depict the fraudulent means by which fathers, husbands, and brothers have been torn from their families and homes, to bleed and die midst hecatombs of victims, without feeling the virtuous desire to remove the unholy and brutalizing cause?  But these, say the advocates of exclusiveness, are the acts of days past, of scenes conscientiously-lamented, and never to be renewed by any government.  Friends of peace and humanity, trust not these deceitful boasters; hug not the specious deception to your hearts, but rather let the violated rights, the burning cottages, the slain, unburied, brute-devoured victims in Canada be their answers.  Nay, refer them to ominous truths nearer home, and let the formidable answers to our supplications for "justice," in the shape of rifle-brigades, mortars, rockets, and bludgeon men, convince you of the improved feelings of exclusive and class legislation.

    The black catalogue of recorded crimes which all history develops, joined to the glaring and oppressive acts of every day's experience, must convince every reflective mind that irresponsible power, vested in one man or in a class of men, is the fruitful source of every crime.  For men so circumstanced, having no curb to the desires which power and dominion occasion, pursue an intoxicating and expensive career, regardless of the toiling beings who, under forms of law, are robbed to support their insatiable extravagance.  The objects of their cruelty may lift up their voices in vain against their oppressors, for their moral faculties having lost the wholesome check of public opinion, they become callous to the supplications of their victims.

    Irresponsible, except to their own order, and equally extravagant and regardless, are those who now hold the political power of England.  The working classes, therefore, having long felt the evils resulting from this irresponsible authority, in the partial laws they have enacted and unjustly executed, in the partial and over-burthening taxation they have imposed upon them, and in the insolence of those who live on the plunder they have exacted, seek to establish a wholesome and RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT, such as shall develop the energies and promote the happiness of all classes in the state.

    And it remains to be seen whether the generous and philanthropic minds with which our country abounds will second these exertions.  Whether those who are really intent on reforming vice will perceive the necessity for beginning at the root of the evil, having so often felt the difficulty of improving the plant by merely trimming its branches.  And still more difficult will assuredly be their efforts, morally and socially, to improve the people of this country, while the present anomalous system of representation is permitted, with all its demoralizing influences.  While we see vicious examples of bribery, fraud, perjury, and intemperance held forth, in all their admitted baseness and public notoriety, as means by which the post of "honour" and seat of "justice" may be obtained; thus sapping the very vitals of morality, by diverting the aspiring minds of our country from the just and honest pursuit of public estimation and public reward.  While by far the greater number of our legislators begin their political career by the adoption of such unworthy means, can we be surprised at the corrupt, unfeeling, and often immoral conduct, so many of them display, or wonder at the varied and multitudinous crudities they dignify with the name of laws?

    And when the effects of all these corrupting and pernicious influences are seen and felt throughout the length and breadth of the land, engendering poverty, vice, and crime, are we not justified in directing the public mind to the attainment of political reformation, as the most certain and direct means of all moral as of all social reformation.

    Can it any longer be doubted that ignorance and poverty, springing from careless, extravagant, and vicious rulers, originate the numerous and increasing demands for our gaols, bridewells, penitentiaries, treadmills, and other useless means of punishment, together with our workhouses, asylums, and infirmaries—institutions which the want of proper education and encouragement to industry and frugality occasion?

    A considerable number of individuals may be found, who see and lament the evils referred to, and trace them to the source described, but are deterred from exerting themselves to effect the change we aim at, by the drunken and profligate examples they daily witness.  While they are anxious to effect a radical reform in our institutions, and turn to contemplate the proposal of political equality—of trusting men of such demoralizing habits with the suffrage, they are too often led to conclude that the change would be the greater evil.  But we would anxiously advise persons who have arrived at such conclusions, to review their facts and re-exercise their judgments; and, according to their sincerity, we think they will see just cause for changing their opinions.  Have they satisfied themselves, in the first place, that the majority of drunken and vicious characters are not already in possession of the franchise?  Else, what other reason can they assign for the extent of bribery and intemperance so prevalent at our elections; when the vicious propensities of those who have votes to dispose of are basely gratified, by men equally base and destitute of principle to administer to such servile and brutal appetites?  But, granting that the soul-degrading vice of drunkenness is still too prevalent among the most ignorant of the working classes, what is the political injury that could possibly arise from giving them votes under the provisions of the Charter?  Were the franchise, indeed, to be extended, and the present electoral arrangements preserved, the septennial act retained, and all the inducements for bribery afforded as at present; there might, indeed, be some chance of the circle of drunken voters being inconveniently enlarged, to the trouble and expense of those who purchase a seven years influence in parliament to indemnify them for the outlay.

    Nay, further, have those objectors to the rights of the industrious classes, on the plea of intemperance, examined the facts and evidence that from time to time have been published regarding the source of the evil, and still fail to perceive its origin in the misgovernment of the people?

    When they learn that the mental and physical debility arising from protracted and excessive toil, begets a craving appetite for stimulants to assist them beyond (or to restore) their natural powers, and find that wholesome and nutritious ones are not always within the reach or means of the poor; they must assuredly perceive that our social and political arrangements must be highly defective, to occasion such degrading results.

    When they perceive the mass of the population toiling from youth to age like beasts of burthen, with little means or time for intellectual or moral improvement, debarred by cruel and vexatious laws from cheerful exercise or joyous recreations, and encouraged in the pernicious habit of drunkenness by the facilities which government holds out, in order to exact its revenue of FIFTEEN MILLIONS from the sale of intoxicating and poisonous ingredients, can they any longer doubt the originating cause, or fail to perceive that the best remedy will be a just government?

    When, under all these social and political disadvantages, they find the spirit of temperance and sobriety pervading the ranks of labour, daily diminishing the amount of drunkenness and dissipation—when they perceive an enlightened and inquiring mind generating other habits and feelings among them—when they see them struggling for political rights as means of improving their class and dignifying their country, can these objectors any longer refuse to aid them in their great and noble undertaking?

    Are the patient, forbearing, hard-working population of Britain less qualified for freedom than are the working classes of Switzerland and America—countries where peace, industry, and property, bear conclusive evidence in favour of Universal Suffrage?

    In the democratic cantons of Switzerland, agriculture and manufactures, being combined, produce prosperity in every cottage.  Knowledge and Freedom, twin-sisters, have caused them to outspeed their neighbours in all the ingenuity and refinements of art.  Their laws, based on equality, are few, just, and respected; customs, excise, and prohibitory laws, are banished from among them; justice, cheaply and impartially administered, is every man's protecting guardian; morality, intelligence, and comfort gladden every home; and when the most distant infringement on their rights has been threatened, the spirit of democratic freedom has warmed each heart and nerved each arm to guard them.

    America, the home and refuge for the destitute of all nations, is as prosperous as she is free.  She is daily adding town to town and village to village, and making neighbours of her most distant population, by the most stupendous achievements of art.  Her trade and commerce, increasing with her people, give abundance to industry; and idleness is nowhere respected for its pedigree among them.  She has no debt to embarrass her industry or tame her spirit.  Her taxes are few, and applied to the education and benefit of her people.  For the last fifty years she has had poverty, prejudice, and vice transplanted from every clime to blend with her people and impede her progress.  And notwithstanding all are allowed freely to share in her institutions, upon principles of equality, she has continued to select men for her presidents and rulers whose characters, conduct, and abilities, in peace or war, are rarely equalled and never surpassed.  The only stain in her star-bespangled banner is that remnant of kingly dominion, the slavery of her coloured population; which, like its damning brother, the infant slavery of England, is more a feature of wealth and class domination, than of the spirit of her people or her democratic institutions.  But in proportion as knowledge is extending its humanizing influence over the selfishness of extending wealth, and the power and prejudices created by its dominion, so is American slavery fast sinking to that oblivious pit, where all the impediments which now obstruct the happiness of black and white are destined to sink for ever.

    Nor need the advocates of democratic government, as known in modern days, confine themselves to the two countries alluded to, for facts and illustrations in proof of its superiority over governments based on any other foundation.  During the few years the democratic principle has prevailed in Norway, the rapid improvement and increased prosperity of her people, have shone forth the more conspicuously by the dark contrast afforded by her neighbour Sweden, a country blessed by nature with far greater means of happiness, but wanting the stimulating soul of freedom to convert them to the mental and physical uses of her people.

    In Spain, a country blessed by God, and for ages cursed by the despotism of man—a country where plundering nobles and liberty-hating priests have bowed the people to the dust—even there, during the brief period of their popular constitution, their slumbering energies were awakened to generate industry, prosperity, and happiness, to which they were previously strangers, and which again vanished, when the liberty was crushed which first awakened them.

    In fact, an example can scarcely be produced in modern history of any people, whose laws and institutions have been founded on popular control, without exhibiting distinguishing and beneficial results, above all others.

    The opponents of democracy have not failed to collect the vices and follies of the ancient republics, and to display them in all their glaring inconsistencies before us, as so many proofs of the inefficiency and mischief of popular governments.  But these ingenious sophists fail at the same time to point out a peculiar feature of modern democracy, which completely nullifies their argument; that feature is popular representation.  By this great improvement in legislation numerous evils which were felt in the ancient democracies are avoided; for while every man can exercise his influence over his representative, to effect his political desires, the passions and prejudices of the multitude are kept back from the deliberations of legislation, or the decisions of justice.  Under the representative system, the power of wealth and influence of oratory may exercise an indirect and pernicious influence in parliament; but their potent effects cannot, as in the assemblies of Greece, be brought directly to bear upon the people, whose decisions were oftener biassed by interest or feeling, than governed by reason.  Moreover, when antiquity is referred to for examples descriptive of the general or political acts of the multitude, it should be remembered that our higher standard of morality, together with the art of printing and popularizing knowledge, have given advantages in favour of our population, so as to render such references useless by way of comparison.

    But, viewing democracy under all forms, ancient or modern, and estimating its merits by the impulse it has given to intellect, morality, art, science, and all that contribute to the civilization of man, where are the results of kingly or aristocratical dominion that can outvie it in the contrast?  True it is, that man may be goaded by coercion, or compelled by necessity, to beautify and enrich the land of his tyrants; but the most noble and enduring records of his power, his intellectual and moral greatness, must spring from energies which freedom alone can awaken.  Those splendid remains and ruins of kingly dominion, those monuments of human slavery and mindless folly, which now stand in solitary and crumbling majesty, are destined to fall and be forgotten; but the moral and intellectual records of Grecian and Roman freedom still exist in all their sterling and pristine excellence, mingling with the laws, institutions, literature, and refinements of society, and will be carried down the stream of posterity, and continue to exercise their civilizing influence when the hoary pyramids are crumbled into dust.

    But what are the arguments adduced against our principles by our most decided opponents? or, rather, what are the groundless assertions their prejudices and fears have originated?  The ancient and honourable institutions of England, say they, are the cause of her greatness; her power in peace—her success in war—her holy religion—her trade, commerce, and extensive dominion—all spring from "the harmonious government of King, Lords, and Commons."

    That to uphold the power and dominion she has acquired, under these fostering influences, force has been necessary abroad and at home; offices of trust, service and rewards have had to be created, and "a debt necessarily contracted in providing all these requisites."

    That the liquidation of that debt being as impossible as it would be imprudent, (seeing its numerous claimants add to the stability of the government,) "its interest must be punctually and honourably paid."

    That to meet this annual interest of TWENTY-EIGHT MILLIONS, "taxes have been imposed to a burthensome though to a necessary extent."

    That this great amount of taxation being severely felt by the middle and working classes, and strong feelings moreover being entertained by them against the established church, the army, the corruptions of the navy, and other necessary parts of our institutions; great danger is to be apprehended from any extension of the suffrage which "may give the masses a preponderating and injurious influence in the Commons' House of Parliament."

    That Universal Suffrage may give them this influence; and from their present deficiency of political information, united with their prejudices against our well-balanced constitution, they are the more likely to be influenced by violent and designing men, to destroy it altogether, and consequently involve in that convulsion "titles, rank, wealth, commerce, and all that constitute the pride and glory of England."

    Such is the general tenor of the arguments (openly or enigmatically expressed) against the claims of the industrious classes, by the opposing factions of Whig and Tory.

    Whether the "greatness" of England has emanated from the clashing and opposing interests denominated a "well-balanced constitution," or from her great natural resources and advantages, combined with the most enterprizing, skilful, and industrious population in the world, is a question common sense observers may easily determine, especially if they take the history of our rulers in one hand, and that of her people in the other.  So far from agreeing with those constitutional admirers, in all probability they would decide, that much of what is called "greatness " is only insignificance and folly; and that THE TRUE GREATNESS OF ENGLAND HAS ARISEN IN SPITE OF THE IGNORANCE, OBSTINACY, AND WICKEDNESS OF HER RULERS.―Impartial observers might further determine, that the selfish ambition which caused our rulers to war against the rights and liberties of all nations, and to sacrificed every principle of humanity and justice in extending our colonial dominion, the more effectually to obtain power and wealth for themselves and their dependents; is treason against the God of justice, and arraign them as culprits before his tribunal, for the blood they have spilt, and the treasure they have wasted.  And therefore the enormous expenditure consequent on their atrocities, so far from being called "national," should be designated "THE BLACK RECORD OF EXCLUSIVE LEGISLATION."  That men in power should so far practise on the credulity of a people as to incur such a debt, and for such a purpose, still to go on increasing it beyond all hopes of payment; still to tax and oppress them for its support, and transmit the burthen to posterity; and still endeavour to persuade them of its numerous advantages, will form a wonder without a parallel in the world's history.  But inasmuch as these men, together with their cunning and trafficing associates, have suceeded in beguiling the innocent, the friendless, and the fatherless into the belief that the "funded debt of England" (this imaginative monster) is of all investments the most profitable and secure; and consequently have caused them to invest in it the savings of their industry, the provision for their children, and support for their old age; humanity and justice, being the great characteristics of Englishmen, will rise up in any future legislature to shield and protect such victims of our debt-contracting and liberty-destroying despots.

    When the "justice" can be demonstrated of calling upon one man to support another man's religion; when tithes, pluralities, and high church debauchery can find encouragement from scripture; when standing armies in peace, and navies useless for war, present better uses than resting places for noble and gentle fledgelings; when true merit presents its claims, and real service applies for reward, and when none but the useful and necessary expenditure of our government is presented to a British public;—the church, army, and navy, will meet their reward, and have little to apprehend from popular prejudice or popular suffrage.—Those strange apprehensions which certain persons feel from the people's desire to be admitted in their own Parliament House, and, according to their old "constitutional right," manage and economise the national expenditure, would seem to indicate troubled and guilty consciences.  Else why these dreadful forebodings about the people managing their own affairs?

    According to the "Constitution," the Commons' House belongs to the common people.  History inform us, that, at different periods, they have adopted difference modes of choosing it, from Universal Suffrage [2] to that of individual choice; and if they find their present mode an improper one, they have surely a right to change it for a better, without the interference of those who belong to the other parts of the Constitution.  If those they once elected as servants have gradually assume the mastery, and by the power they were first invested with have rendered the People's House a corrupt and subservient instrument for party and faction to plunder and oppress the industrious with impunity, it is indeed time to talk or radical reform, in order that the people's portion of the Constitution may be placed in its original position, fairly to "balance" all the others.  But if those sticklers for our Constitution, who are industriously opposing the efforts now making to reform the House of Commons, fail to recognize in their reading of that Constitution the right of Universal Suffrage; it will remain for them to prove its great and superior excellence to the satisfaction of the multitude.  And great must be their ingenuity if, in these inquiring times, they can persuade them that universal labour and universal taxation do not fully entitle them to Universal Suffrage.

    The supposition that Universal Suffrage would give the working classes a preponderating power in the House of Commons, is not borne out by the experience of other countries.  They are far from possessing such a power even in America, where wealth and rank have far less influence than with us, and where the exercise of the suffrage for more than half a century have given them opportunities to get their rights better represented than they are.  But wealth with them, as with us, will always maintain an undue influence, till the people are morally and politically instructed; then, indeed, will wealth secure its just and proper influence, and not, as at present, stand in opposition to the claims of industry, intellect, merit, freedom, and happiness.  But the great advantages of the suffrage in the interim will be these: it will afford the people general and superior means of instruction; it will awaken and concentrate human intellect to remove the evils of social life; and will compel the representatives of the people to redress grievances, improve laws, and provide means of happiness in proportion to the enlightened desires of public opinion.  Such indeed are the results we anticipate from the passing of the PEOPLE'S CHARTER.

    The assumption that the working classes would elect "violent and designing men" is equally absurd and groundless, as their public conduct on several occasions testifies.  For, setting aside, as altogether worthless, the idea our opponents entertain, that all who differ from them in politics are "violent and designing," we maintain that, taking into account the whole of the political or municipal contests of the last seven years, the candidates who have been elected by the multitude by a shew of hands, have been better qualified for their respective offices, both intellectually and morally, than those who were subsequently elected by the privileged class of voters.  It would be invidious were we to mention names, and draw parallels in proof of this assertion; but if any man of unbiassed mind will contrast the cases that have come within the range of his experience during that period, he will agree with its general correctness.  Whether such discrimination in working men betrays the "want of political information," and proves the superior mental qualification of electors, can only be partially proved, and that by examining the meritorious acts of the successful candidates.  It would be well, however, if those who taunt the industrious classes with their "political ignorance," had first reviewed their political struggles during the last ten or twelve years.  If they had considered their efforts to establish the rights of free discussion, to open mechanics' institutions, establish reading rooms and libraries, form working men's associations, and others of a like character; and, above all, their sufferings and difficulties in establishing a cheap press, by which millions of periodicals are weekly diffusing their enlightening influences throughout the empire; and then, if those scoffers at the ignorance of the millions had considered their present efforts to obtain their political rights, we think they would have reserved their illiberal taunts for others than the working classes.  True it is that individual exceptions among the middle and upper classes have meritoriously assisted in all those efforts; but the energies, sufferings, and pence of the working classes mainly effected those glorious triumphs.  The aristocracy, for the most part, have ever been active persecutors of all political improvement; and the middle classes, too intent on buying, selling, and speculating, have remained apathetic or sneering spectators of the efforts of the many till success showed the prospect of advantage, and patronage appeared profitable.

    It is further said, that considerable doubts are entertained of the propriety of trusting the working classes with power, lest they use it to the prejudice of rank and property, and the injury of our institutions.  But what foundation is there for such doubts?  In what country of the world are the rights of property more respected?  Where are there more laws to guard it, and where are such laws more easily enforced, than in England?  In fact, the patient submission to arbitrary and unjust laws for securing property (laws in opposition to their constitutional rights), constitute the weakness of Englishmen.  When property has been threatened by foreign foe or domestic spoiler, who have been more forward to defend or active to guard it, than the calumniated and unprotected sons of labour?  Petty spoilers exist in every country, but the grand enemies and violators of property in England are to be found among the enemies of the labourer.  Corrupt and blundering politicians, gambling fundholders, speculating tricksters in trade and commerce, these are the great violators of the rights of property; men who, by one specious act or knavish trick, swamp the prosperity of millions, and convert in a moment the most enlivening-prospects of industry to the desolation of despair.  But even in those convulsions of ignorance or fraud, who are keener sufferers than the working classes? or who have had more useful experience to convince them of the necessity of property being fixed on the firmest foundations, than those whose homes of comfort have been rendered miserable by those political or commercial panics?  Where, too, are the claims of merit or the legitimate influence of rank better appreciated than with us? or where are the efforts of humanity and benevolence better supported and encouraged than among the labouring population of England?  Then away with those ungenerous surmises, those fears and anxieties respecting them.  Their interests are blended width the interests of property, and they have sufficient good sense to perceive it—their hopes of happiness are based on the prosperity of their country, and all and everything appertaining to individuals, to classes, to our laws or institutions which can in any way be promotive of general prosperity, will ever be held sacred and inviolate by the industrious and generous hearted people of Great Britain and Ireland.

    But, say some of our most captious and prejudiced opponents, while there is some truth in these observations regarding the general disposition and feelings of the working classes if they were left to their own unbiassed judgments, an exception must be made to that mischievous and discontented party who, under the names of "Reformers," "Radicals," and "Chartists," are actively engaged in spreading dangerous opinions among the people, and exciting them to acts of violence, incendiarism, and revolution.  Now, as we belong to this very "discontented party," and plead guilty to the title of "Chartist," and are as active too as our humble abilities permit in propagating what the enemies of truth call "dangerous opinion;" yet we beg to disclaim on behalf of Chartists generally the charge of "violence and incendiarism."  The term "revolutionary" may be very appropriate in characterising all effectual reforms.—But what proofs of "violence or incendiarism" have they to adduce against the great body of the Chartists? unless, indeed, like Warwickshire juries, they find their verdict on one case by the facts of another.  A few individuals may certainly be found in different parts of the country, whose feelings or sympathies have at times got the better of their judgments, and prompted them to talk violently or behave unjustly; and others from very different motives may have committed very illegal and wicked acts; but we hold it to be equally as unjust to condemn the great body of Chartists for such acts, as it would be to condemn the whole of the aristocracy or any other class of persons, because bad men have frequently been found among them.  But such conduct would appear to be a part of the tactics of our opponents, in order to afford a pretext for prosecution, and to scare the timid and unreflecting from our ranks.  It has been customary, time immemorial, for the advocates of injustice and gainers by corruption to impugn the motives and execrate the names of every man who, sympathising with his brethren, has been induced to step out of their ranks to make known their grievances and embody their feelings in the language of truth.  And the time has been when such daring conduct has met with torture and death.  The progress of opinion has, however, limited the power of despotism; and slander, persecution, and imprisonment are the modern instruments for stifling grievances, and checking the progress of truth.  If, however, those persons to whom fate has consigned the destinies of government ever profited by experience, it might be supposed that they had had already sufficient to convince them of the fallacy of such persecuting efforts.  It is true they may crush victim after victim, and by reeking swords and revengeful laws strike back one timid adherent after another, in the vain attempt to keep back just principles; but the energies and sympathies God has implanted in the human mind will ever cause such principles to be fostered, and will ever embolden new advocates to extend their dominion.  But corrupt and selfish rulers seldom reason on future consequences; they have hitherto been blindly permitted to cut through every obstacle by force, to add injustice to the misery they create, and thus transmit new difficulties to their successors.  Happy would it be however for posterity, if all those who are seeking to promote the happiness of mankind raised their voices against such monstrous injustice, and, instead of siding with unjust governors, investigated the claims of the governed.  Had this been done towards the Chartists, or had even those men who professed the principles of Chartism before they were combined in a definite and practical form, been true to their professions, and put themselves, as they ought, in front of the public will they helped to create, much of the bitterness of feeling and violence of language which disappointment and distrust occasioned would have been spared, and, ere now, one of the most important of triumphs achieved in favour of human liberty.

    What, let it be asked, are the claims of the Chartists? what is their character? and who are the men so designated?  Are their claims unjust? are they unreasonable? are their characters depraved? are they men dangerous to the welfare and happiness of society?  Let all those uninterested in the corruptions of the present system ask those questions; let them examine carefully, investigate impartially; and Chartism will soon have additional defenders.  They will find their claims to be based on just, scriptural, and constitutional foundations.  They will find their principles ably set forth in the annals of whiggery, and vindicated by the most eloquent and talented of British statesmen.  And if the most active and reflecting portion of our population, the most temperate and industrious, and the most earnest in their desire to see justice substituted for oppression, truth for falsehood, and knowledge for ignorance, have any claims of character the reverse of depravity, then such investigators would find that Chartism and the character of the Chartists have been grossly misrepresented; for of the majority of such characters are their ranks composed.  Doubtlessly they are not free, any more than other bodies, from individuals who are prompted by vain, ambitious, or interested motives; nor are they all equally temperate in language or action; but of this we are certain, from our intimate knowledge of the working classes, that the Chartists are the elite of that class, both intellectually and morally, and are influenced by the most generous and disinterested desire to promote the happiness of their fellow-men.  Their general character must not be estimated by individual or isolated cases of violence or folly.  They have often been deceived themselves by the high-sounding professions of individuals both within and without St. Stephen's; and when they have seen their most humble supplications scoffed at and disregarded, a different or a louder tone must not be set down to their prejudice.  In fact, the experience of the past would seem to indicate that the passions of the multitude are frequently God's messengers to teach their oppressors justice; for when they have spurned alike reason and argument, they have often yielded to passion what they have refused to sober justice.  There is little hope, however, that our modern rulers will improve upon the old; but if all those truly benevolent minds who are labouring earnestly to improve the condition of the multitude, would carry their investigations to the root of our political and social evils—would separate themselves from corrupt oppressors, and unite with those of the industrious classes who are in pursuit of the same object as themselves; they would find the great body of the Chartists the most efficient instruments that could be desired in carrying forward all the beneficial reforms contemplated; and the Chartists, in return, animated by such co-operation, would prove the most zealous, temperate, and powerful auxiliaries in banishing intemperance, poverty, and crime, and in raising the intellectual and moral character of the people beyond the expectations of the most sanguine philanthropist.

    But, fellow-workmen, while we ought to be anxious for the co-operation of good men among all classes, we should mainly rely on our own energies to effect our own freedom.  For if we fail in activity, perseverance, and watchful exertions, and supinely trust our liberties to others, our disappointment will remind us of our folly, and new burthens and restrictions place our hopes at a still greater distance.  Benevolent and well-intentioned individuals of all classes have warmly espoused our principles, and have zealously laboured to extend them; and thousands, we trust, will yet be found equally ardent and effective.  But when we consider the various influences of rank, wealth, and station, which are continually operating to deter all those above our own sphere from becoming the open and daring advocates of our rights; and consider, moreover, the numerous links of relationship, professions, business-connection, interest, and friendship, which bind them to our present system; we should be the more readily convinced of the necessity of self-reliance, and the more firmly resolved by the concentration of every mental and moral energy nature has given US, TO BUILD UP THE SACRED TEMPLE OF OUR OWN LIBERTIES.  The means are within our grasp, if we judiciously apply them, and no power on earth can prevent the consummation of so glorious an achievement.  Then shall we the better appreciate what we have intellectually and morally erected; then shall we stand on its threshold erect, and enter its precincts rejoicing—possessing rights and feelings which no earthly power can confer, and inspired with a mental devotedness to use them for our country's welfare.  And when we shall be no more, then may our children proudly point to that edifice raised by their hard-working progenitors when they were depressed by poverty, weakened by toil, and cursed by corrupt and plundering oppressors.  Let our hopes then be built on our own united exertions, and let those exertions be proportioned to the magnitude of our object, and success will soon yield us a bountiful reward.

    In proportion to our earnestness and perseverance will our numbers be extended, will our resources and influence increase, and will men of all ranks find it to be their interests to advocate the principles they now spurn, and to associate with the men they now stigmatize and persecute.

    Unquestionably a superficial consideration of the exertions we have made and the disappointments we have experienced, during the last three or four years, is too apt to dispirit us.  For, while lamenting our poverty and complaining of our burthens, we have seen one oppressive project after another introduced into parliament, supported by those we thought our friends, and eventually carried by large majorities.  We have exhausted reason and argument to show the injustice of such measures, and have prayed and supplicated in vain against their enactment.  Finding our rights and interests daily sacrificed by such conduct, we sought a share in the making of the laws we were called upon to obey.  We availed ourselves of the constitutional usages of our country, we met in millions, and peaceably petitioned for redress.  While our complaints were disregarded, our arguments exasperated and our numbers excited the terror of our oppressors.  Hence, every delusive scheme was invented to check the progress of our principles, and every species of force employed to silence the voice of our advocates.  The right of public meeting was invaded by despotic mandates, and a new system of espionage adopted to control our boasted freedom of speech and liberty of action.  In fact, every means that our rulers could devise and their minions execute, have been adopted to keep us in social and political bondage.

    But, fellow-countrymen, while the recollection of such injustice may cast a momentary cloud across our hopes, the voice of duty should arouse us to redouble our exertions in a cause so noble as the one we have espoused.  If we remain in apathy, be assured that the misery of the Irish peasant will be our lot or that of our offspring; for, as certain as the demon of misrule has withered the energies and drained out the vitals of that unfortunate country, so will it drive out British capital by its taxation, monopolies, and oppression; and, by drying up the resources of labour, break down and extinguish our middle-class population, and reduce us to such degradation and wretchedness as in all ages have ever followed the track of unjust government and corrupt spoilers.  But if we stand forward as a band of brothers, linked in the cause of benevolence and justice, and resolve, at any sacrifice, to avert a fate so miserable to ourselves and posterity, our numbers, our resources, and combined operations, will surely reward us with success.

    But, then, it may be asked, what other form of combination, what other means than those we have already employed, can be adopted to accomplish our political and social salvation?  Must we again spend our pence and breath in useless prayers for justice?  Must we, whose industry sustains the state, and whose arms defend it, humbly crave our rights from those who profit by our wrongs and get rewarded for our servility with blugeons and sabres?  Fellow-countrymen, while these last questions have occupied our most serious attention, we cannot recommend the repetition of such useless and hopeless labours.  The most important questions that, we conceive, have engaged our attention during the last twelve months are these:—How can we best create and extend an enlightened public opinion in favour of the People's Charter, such as shall peaceably cause its enactment; and how shall that opinion be morally and politically trained and concentrated, so as to realize ALL THE SOCIAL HAPPINESS that can be made to result from the powers and energies of representative democracy?  While we have no disposition to renew the unwise and unprofitable discussion regarding "moral" and "physical" force; and while we maintain that the people have the same right to employ similar means to regain their liberties, as have been used to enslave them, we are anxious, as we have ever been, to effect our object in peace.  And though we incurred no small share of censure from the most ardent of our brethren, for contending for the superiority of our moral energies over our physical abilities, we think the disposition we evinced, and the part we performed, both in and out of the Convention, towards carrying all and every righteous measure into effect likely to promote the passing of the Charter, will sufficiently exonerate us from any charge of cowardice, as well as from any selfish predilection in favour of our own opinions.  And, however we may regret, we are not disposed to condemn, the confident reliance many of our brethren placed on their physical resources, nor complain of the strong feelings they manifested against us, and all who differed in opinion from them.  We are now satisfied that many of them experience more acute sufferings, and daily witness worse scenes of wretchedness, than sudden death can possibly inflict, or battle-strife disclose to them.  For, what worse can those experience on earth who, from earliest morn to latest night, are toiling in misery, yet starving while they toil—who, possessing all the anxieties of fond parents, cannot satisfy their children with bread—who, susceptible of every domestic affection, perceive their hearths desolate, and little ones neglected, while the wives of their bosoms are exhausting every toiling faculty in the field or workshop, to add to the scanty portion which merely serves to protract their lives of care-worn wretchedness?  Men thus steeped in misery, and standing on the very verge of existence, cannot philosophise on prudence; they are disposed to risk their lives on any chance which offers the prospect of immediate relief, as the only means of rendering life supportable, or helping them to escape death in its most agonizing forms.  When we further reflect on the circumstances which have hitherto influenced the great mass of mankind, we are not surprised at the feeling that prevails in favour of physical force.  When we consider their early education—their school-book heroes—their historical records of military and naval renown—their idolized warriors of sea and land—their prayers for conquest, and thanksgivings for victories—and the effect of all these influences to expand their combative faculties, and weaken their moral powers, we need not wonder that men generally place so much reliance on physical force, and undervalue the superior force of their reason and moral energies.  Experience, however, will eventually dispel this delusion, and will cause reformers to hold in reserve the exercise of the former, till the latter has been proved to be ineffectual.  Nor can we help entertaining the opinion, that recent experience has greatly served to lessen the faith of the most sanguine in their theory of force, and caused them to review proposals they once spurned as visionary and contemptible.  While we never doubted the constitutional right of Englishmen to possess "arms," we have doubted the propriety of placing reliance on such means for effecting our freedom; and further reflection has convinced us, that far more effective and certain means are within our reach.

    Thus far we have deemed it necessary to explain our views on this point, and now let us cast the mantle of oblivion over all past follies and by-gone dissensions; we have one great object in view, and must be one in soul to achieve it.  We have suffered persecution for that object, but have not been convinced of the justice of our enemies—we have been crushed with severity, but our spirits have not been broken—calumny has assailed our cause, but has failed to lessen our attachment to it—the triumph of our principles has been delayed, but it will not be the less certain.  But, fellow-countrymen, in order to ensure this speedily, we should endeavour, in the first place, to satisfy ourselves as to the most efficient kind of combination, and then direct all our energies to its accomplishment.  And in this pursuit we must avoid all contentious feelings, and carefully and calmly consider the different propositions that may be submitted for our consideration.  With this desire, we respectfully submit that our combination should be such as to induce all those to join us who are sincerely interested in the social and political improvement of the millions—such as shall render us the most efficient aid to effect these objects, while it places us in the best possible position to enforce our political claims—and such as in our progress will afford ourselves and children the means of superior education, so that permanent benefits and substantial fruits may result from our labours.  As some persons, however, may imagine that such important results are not within the compass of practicability, while others may suppose that the numerous objects embraced in such a plan are calculated to place our political emancipation at a greater distance, we proceed at once to submit the following "Plan, Rules, and Regulations," for the consideration of our brethren; hoping we shall hereafter be able to demonstrate its practicability, and prove it to be the nearest means towards the accomplishment of our great object—that of securing to all men THEIR EQUAL POLITICAL AND SOCIAL RIGHTS.


For Promoting the Political and Social Improvement of the People.

WHILE general or local associations are not wanting for extending in charity the dogmas and exclusiveness of sects, or proclaiming the ostentatiousness of pride—for spreading knowledge and sympathy abroad, while both are greatly needed at home—for the mitigation of the physical and mental ills of life, while the originating causes are neglected—for the acquisition of languages, literature, and professional skill—for refining the tastes and enriching the imaginations of mankind—for investigating the properties of all nature, from the most minute object to the most stupendous—and for rendering the powers and uses of every element subservient to the production of wealth; there seems to be wanting an association paramount in importance to all—ONE FOR POLITICALLY AND SOCIALLY IMPROVING THE PEOPLE.  To supply this great national deficiency, it is proposed that an association be established, and that the following be its objects:

    First.  To unite, in one general body, persons of all CREEDS, CLASSES, and OPINIONS, who are desirous to promote the political and social improvement of the people.

    Second.  To create and extend an enlightened public opinion in favour of the principles of the PEOPLE'S CHARTER, and by every just means secure its enactment; so that the industrious classes maybe placed in possession of the franchise, the most important step to all political and social reformation.

    Third.  To erect PUBLIC HALLS or SCHOOLS FOR THE PEOPLE throughout the kingdom, upon the most approved principles, and in such districts as may be necessary.  Such halls to be used during the day as INFANT, PREPARATORY, and HIGH SCHOOLS, in which the children shall be educated on the most approved plans the association can devise; embracing physical, mental, moral, and political instruction;—and used of an evening for PUBLIC LECTURES, on physical, moral, and political science; for READINGS, DISCUSSIONS, MUSICAL ENTERTAINMENTS, DANCING, and such other healthful and rational recreations as may serve to instruct and cheer the industrious classes after their hours of toil, and prevent the formation of vicious and intoxicating habits.  Such halls to have two commodious play-grounds, and, where practicable, a pleasure garden, attached to each; apartments for the teachers, rooms for hot and cold baths, for a small museum, a laboratory and general workshop, where the children may be taught experiments in science, as well as the first principles of the most useful trades.

    Fourth. To establish, in such towns or districts as may be found necessary, NORMAL or TEACHERS' SCHOOLS, for the purpose of instructing schoolmasters and mistresses in the most approved systems of physical, mental, moral, and political training.

    Fifth. To establish, on the most approved system, such AGRICULTURAL and INDUSTRIAL SCHOOLS as may be required, for the education and support of the orphan children of the association, and for instructing them in some useful trade or occupation.

    Sixth.  To establish CIRCULATING LIBRARIES, from a hundred to two hundred volumes each, containing the most useful works on politics, morals, the sciences, history, and such instructive and entertaining works as may be generally approved of.  Such libraries to vary as much as possible from each other, and to be sent in rotation from one town or village in the district to another; there to be placed in the hands of a responsible person, to be lent out according to the rules, and, after a stated time, forwarded to the next district.

    Seventh.  To print, from time to time, such TRACTS and PAMPHLETS as the association may consider necessary for promoting its objects, and, when its organization is complete, to publish a monthly or quarterly national periodical.

    Eighth.  To offer premiums, whenever it may be considered advisable, for the best essays on the instruction of children; for the best description of school-books for infants, juveniles, and adults; or for any other object promotive of the social and political welfare of the people.

    Ninth. To appoint as many MISSIONARIES as may be deemed necessary, to visit the different districts of the kingdom, for the purposes of explaining the views of the association, for promoting its efficient organization, for lecturing on its different objects, for visiting the different schools when erected, and otherwise seeing that the intentions of the general body are carried into effect in the several localities, according to the instructions they may receive from the general board.

    Tenth.  To devise, from time to time, the best means by which the members in their several localities may collect subscriptions and donations in aid of the above objects, may manage the superintendence of the halls and schools of their respective districts, may have due control over all the affairs of the association, and share in all its advantages, without incurring personal risk, or violating the laws of the country.




THE affairs of this association shall be conducted by a general board of management, a president, vice-president, treasurer, secretary, and such sub-committees and assistants as may be found necessary.


    Every county possessing five hundred members of this association shall be privileged to elect one member to the general board of management; and if possessing more than twice that number, may elect two members, but no more.  Their election shall take place in the month of May in each year, in the following manner:—A public meeting of all the members of the association within the county shall be called, by public advertisement, for the purpose of electing a member or members of the general board, of which meeting six days' notice shall be given.  On the day of meeting, after the proposers, seconders, and candidates have explained their views, the voting shall commence, and the votes be collected as follows: As many balloting boxes as may be found necessary shall be placed in different parts of the meeting, each box having as many partitions as there are candidates (or one box for each, if found more convenient); and on the top and front of each partition shall be legibly affixed the names of the respective candidates.  Two scrutineers shall be appointed by each candidate to stand by each balloting place, to see that none but persons qualified do vote, and that the voting is conducted fairly.  The members of the association shall then vote with their cards of the last quarter, and them only (and persons unwell or residing at a distance may send their cards, and empower their friends to vote for them); which cards they shall drop into the partitions of their favourite candidates, through a slit on the top of each partition. [3]  After it has been publicly announced from the hustings that the balloting is about to be closed, and a further reasonable time allowed for all members present to vote, the balloting shall cease.  The boxes shall then be sealed, and taken away to the first convenient place, where, in the presence of the candidates, or their friends, the scrutineers shall count the votes.  After which they shall at once proceed to the hustings, and publicly announce the names and numbers of the respective candidates, and declare the persons who are elected.


    The president, vice-president, treasurer, secretary, and such other officers as may be required, shall be elected by the general board on the first day of its sittings in each year; the election shall be by ballot, and decided by a majority of votes.  All members of the association (whether elected to the general board or not) shall be eligible to fill any office according to their competency.


    All persons, male and female, approving of the objects, and conforming to the rules of the association, are eligible to become members, and share in all its advantages, on paying in advance the sum of one shilling for a card—the same to be renewed every quarter.


    It shall be the duty of the president to attend all meetings of the general board, and preside over their deliberations.  He shall see that all questions are discussed consecutively, according to the notices given; that no member speak more than once on the same question, unless in reply; and that proper order and decorum be preserved.  He shall sign all official orders or documents passed by the board, as well as all money orders voted by them, or commissioned by their authority.  He shall be empowered to order an especial meeting of the board to be summoned on any extraordinary occasion, as well as to order a meeting of the officers of the association to be called, whenever he may deem it necessary.


    During the time the president is present, the vice-president shall assist in the business of the board, and when he is absent, shall preside over their deliberations.  He shall also perform such other duties appertaining to the office of president as he may require of him under his written authority.


    The treasurer shall cause all moneys received by him to pass through the hands of the bankers, and shall keep a correct account from their books of all moneys transmitted to them, and the names of the persons from whom sent.  He shall pay all bills of the association under an order of the general board, and signed by the president or vice-president, but not otherwise.  He shall see that all checks on the bankers are signed by himself and the president or vice-president.  His accounts of receipts and expenditure shall be open for the inspection of the general board, and other officers of the association, whenever they meet; and every year he shall prepare a general balance-sheet, to be laid before the board the first day of its sittings.


    The secretary shall attend all meetings of the general board, as well as all meetings of the officers of the association, and keep correct minutes of their proceedings; which minutes he shall read over at the next meeting.  He shall conduct all the correspondence of the association, and confer with its officers respecting all business of importance.  He shall see that new cards are issued for the members (of a different colour each quarter), and are forwarded to the members of the general board, as hereafter provided.  All moneys, either subscriptions or donations, which pass into his hands, he shall hand over to the treasurer, and keep a correct account of the same, as well as of all petty cash he may have expended, and make out a balance-sheet of the same, to be laid before the general board the first day of its sittings.


    The members of the general board shall meet in London the first Monday in June in each year, for the transaction of business; they shall hold their sittings from day to day (Sunday excepted), but shall not prolong them beyond a fortnight; and in case an extraordinary meeting be convened by the president, their sittings shall not exceed that time.  Their meetings shall be open to gentlemen of the press, and such members of the association as the room will accommodate.  The expenses of the members of the board to and from London must be defrayed by the members of their respective counties.  It shall also be their duty to receive, from the secretary, the new cards for the members every quarter; as well as to appoint responsible and proper persons to issue the same to members (or persons desirous of becoming members) in different parts of their respective counties.  They shall keep a list of the names and residence of the persons they may so appoint, as well as a correct account of the cards they entrust to them for distribution.  They shall also see that such persons do properly fill up the cards, and keep a correct list of the members who purchase them; so that the numbers not disposed of may be returned when required.  It shall also be their duty to see that no cards are issued on credit, and that the receipts of those sold are returned to them before they send out the cards of the next quarter.  At the commencement of every quarter they shall cause all sums in their possession to be transmitted to the bankers of the association in the names of the treasurer, president, and vice-president for the time being; and at the same time send the particulars to the secretary, who, on ascertaining that the money is received, shall transmit them a receipt.  They shall be paid the portages of all letters and carriages of all parcels by the treasurer of the association.


    The president, vice-president, treasurer, and secretary, for the time being, together with such members of the general board as choose to attend, shall be considered a perpetual sub-committee when the board is not sitting.  They shall meet every three months, or oftener if required, for the purpose of performing such business as may be necessary, their powers having been previously defined by the general board.


    The missionaries shall be appointed by the general board, at a weekly salary, out of which they shall pay all the expenses of their mission.  It shall be their duty to visit such places and perform such duties as the board may require, according to a plan of their route and written instructions they shall receive.  It shall be their especial duty to perfect the organization of the association in each county they may be called upon to visit, to explain its objects and advantages, to visit the different schools, see that the books and tracts of the association are properly circulated, and that its rules are everywhere properly observed.  They shall be supplied by the association with placards for calling such meetings as may be required, together with tracts for distribution, and cards and rules, if necessary.


    In order to divide the different counties into districts, according to such numbers of the association in each as would render the erection of a hall and establishment of schools useful, it shall be the duty of the members of the general board to call a general meeting, on the first of October in each year, of all the persons they have appointed to issue members' cards in different parts of their respective counties.  The persons so assembled in each county shall determine the number of districts in their county, according to the number of paying members, which shall be denominated hall districts.  They shall then make out a proper list of such districts, which, having been signed by the chairman of the meeting, and five others, shall be forwarded to the secretary of the association, for purposes hereafter mentioned.


    At the annual meeting of the general board, they shall determine, according to the funds in the hands of the bankers, how many district halls shall be erected; and in order that the funds may be usefully and justly apportioned, the following plan shall be adopted:—The names of all the counties in which there are five hundred members of the association shall be written on as many different slips of paper, which slips shall be carefully folded and put into a balloting box properly constructed for the purpose.  A person shall then be called into the room, and requested to draw out as many of the said slips as it has been previously resolved to erect halls; the names on which slips shall be the counties in which they shall be erected.  The counties having been so determined on, the names of the districts in each successful county shall be written on similar slips of paper, and each county separately balloted for in like manner; the last drawn slip in each county shall be the district in which the hall shall be erected.  As soon as the balloting is concluded, the secretary shall write to each of the successful districts, requesting them to call a general meeting of the members of the association residing in the district, for the purpose of electing twelve proper persons for superintending the erection of the hall, and for its management when erected, as well as seven trustees, in whose names the property shall be invested in trust for the benefit of the district, according to rules and regulations which the general board shall provide for those several purposes.  It shall also be the duty of the association to appoint a qualified person to see that the hall is erected in accordance with its plans and objects; but if any additional sum be added by the subscriptions or donations of the district, such sums may be applied to beautify or enlarge it in any manner, so long as the original design be complied with.


    In order to provide such schools as the association may establish with efficient teachers, it shall be the duty of the general board to establish, as soon as possible, such normal schools (with model schools attached to them) as may be required.  They shall found them in such places, and on such rules and regulations, as in their judgment will best promote the objects of the association.  They shall also see that such normal schools are provided with proper school-teachers or directors, and supplied with the best works on physical, mental, moral, and political training; as well as such school apparatus as will best serve to perfect the teachers in the art of properly training the rising generation.  The rules referred to shall declare the qualifications for admitting persons to be instructed as teachers, and after they have studied the time required by the rules, and have been declared fully competent by the directors, they shall be provided with credentials of the association attesting the same; and after a sufficient number of such teachers are properly qualified, none shall be employed in the schools of the association but those provided with such certificates.


    It shall be the duty of the general board to establish (as soon as their funds will enable them) such agricultural and industrial schools as may be found necessary for the educating, supporting, and instructing in some useful trade or occupation the orphan children of the association.  They shall be established on the most approved plans, and in such situations as the board may consider desirable, and shall be provided with such efficient means of instruction and support as shall hereafter be set forth in the rules and regulations of the association.


    After the first election of the superintendents of the halls and schools as before provided for, an annual election of them shall take place in the month of July in each year, in the following manner:— The old superintendents (or any twenty members, if they refuse), shall cause a notice to be stuck on the front of the hall door a fortnight previous to the election, announcing the time when and place where the meeting of the members of the district shall take place for the purpose of electing twelve superintendents for the next year, and stating the time when all nominations must be given in.  Lists of the persons so nominated shall then be printed, and one be sent to each of the members, who shall mark off on the list the twelve persons he or she approves of; and on the day of the meeting shall drop such list in a box made for that purpose.  Four scrutineers shall then be appointed to examine such lists, and declare who are the persons elected.  The superintendents of the last year shall be eligible to be re-elected.


    On the resignation or death of any member of the general board, his place shall be filled up in the same manner as is pursued at a general election; excepting that the members shall be supplied with voting tickets instead of their quarterly cards.  On the resignation or death of any general officer of the association, his place shall be filled up or supplied by the sub-committee, till the next meeting of the general board.  And on the resignation or death of any district superintendent, the duties shall be performed by his colleagues till the next annual election.


    Any member of the general board desirous of proposing any alteration or amendment in the rules and regulations of the association, shall give two days' notice of the same, and the alteration be determined on by a majority of votes.



    The general board shall determine, from time to time, the number of circulating libraries, and the description of books, that shall be provided in conformity with the objects of the association.

    The case for each library shall be fitted up with moveable partitions, and so constructed as to form a strong box when shut, and (by hinging it in the centre of the back) a book-case when open.

    The books in each case shall be properly numbered, and a catalogue and rules enclosed in each case, which shall be fastened with a lock and key.

    The district teachers shall be the librarians, and in the event of there being none in a district, the members of the association therein shall select responsible persons to act as librarians, and shall send the names of such persons to the secretary of the association.

    The general sub-committee shall cause the libraries to be sent in rotation to the difference counties; and the librarians shall send them in rotation to the several districts in each county.

    Each library shall be retained in a district three months, and when the arrangements of the association will permit, four libraries shall be sent to each district every year.

    The expenses of conveyance to the several counties shall be paid by the association, and the expense from district to district by the members of each; all fines to be applied to that purpose.

    The loss of any books, or injury of any library, shall be made good by the district in which such loss or injury occurs.

    The books shall be lent out under the following regulations, or such others as may hereafter be necessary.

    The librarian shall issue any volume contained in the library to any member of the association who produces a card of membership.

    No member shall have more than one volume at a time, nor keep it longer than one week; but any volume may be re-issued to the same person, if not bespoke.

    If any member keeps a volume longer than a week, he or she shall pay a fine of one halfpenny per day for every day above that time.

    If any book already issued shall be bespoke by a member, that member shall have it next.

    Any member injuring a volume shall pay such reasonable fine as the district superintendents shall require.

    Any person not a member may be allowed the use of the library, on leaving the value of the volume in the hands of the librarian, and by paying a penny for each volume.

    The librarian shall keep an account of all the receipts and fines of the library, which shall be open for the inspection of the members, and applied as before mentioned.

    The district halls shall be erected on such plans as the general board may conceive best calculated to promote the objects of the association.

    Each hall shall be fitted up and furnished with such seats, tables, desks, school-apparatus, and other requisites, as may be necessary, at the expense of the association.

    Every district hall, when erected, shall be invested in the names of such trustees as the members of the association residing in the district may think proper to elect, and be legally secured for their benefit, and that of the working classes of the district, for all future time.

    The officers of the association shall also provide, by every legal means in their power, that such halls be hereafter devoted to the purposes originally intended, and as declared by their rules and objects.

    The sole management and superintendence of the hall and schools shall be in the power of the twelve superintendents for the time being.

    The superintendents shall be elected annually, as provided by the rules of the association, but may be removed for misconduct or neglect of duty; the same to be decided at a general meeting of the members of the district, called for that purpose.

    The trustees shall have no other power or control in the management than such as is vested in them by the title-deeds, unless they are appointed superintendents as well.

    It shall be the duty of the superintendents to see that the hall is applied to such purposes as are declared in the objects of the association, and that its rules and regulations are properly enforced.

    At any general meeting of the members of the district, they may make such bye-laws as they may consider necessary for the regulation of the hall, for the furnishing the museum, laboratory, and workshop, and for the management of the baths, but they must not contravene the laws and objects of the association; such bye-laws to be enforced by the superintendents.

    The superintendents may let out the hall (at any time when not required by the members) for any object promotive of the welfare of the people; the proceeds to be applied to the purposes of the hall or schools.

    Every member on entering the hall shall be compelled to show his or her quarterly card; and none but members shall be admitted, unless by such bye-laws or regulations as may have been previously agreed on by the members.

    Any member wilfully violating any general rule, regulation, or bye-law, may be expelled the association by a vote of the members belonging to the district, at a general meeting called to investigate such conduct.

    The great object of the association being to advance the social happiness and political dignity of the people of the United Kingdom, and intoxication being one of the greatest obstacles to that end, it shall be the especial duty of the superintendents to see that all intoxicating drinks are carefully excluded from the hall, school, playgrounds, or garden adjoining, as well as from all public meetings, festivals, and entertainments of the members.  Nor shall the hall, rooms, or grounds adjoining, be let to any parties, for any purpose, where intoxicating drinks shall be introduced. [4]


    Every district hall shall be constructed on such a plan as to have (in addition to its other apartments,) two lofty and spacious rooms, one above another, to serve the purposes of school-rooms during the day, and lecture, reading-rooms, &c., of an evening.

    The lower room shall be used as an INFANT SCHOOL for boys and girls from three to six years of age; and the upper room as a PREPARATORY SCHOOL for children from six to nine, and HIGH SCHOOL for children from nine years of age and upwards, of both sexes.  In all the schools the boys should sit on one side of the room, and the girls on the other.

    Both school-rooms shall be fitted up on the most approved principles, and the arrangements in the upper room shall be such that the children of the high school shall be separated from those of the preparatory school.  The upper room shall be furnished with tables instead of writing-desks, and so constructed as to answer the purposes of the school, and that of the lectures, festivals, &c.

    The play-grounds shall be fenced round, and a border round each of them shall be tastefully laid out with plants, flowers, and such fruit and other trees as maybe suited to the locality.  There shall also be such gymnastic arrangements made, as may be considered necessary for the exercise of the children.  The play-ground on one side of the hall shall be for the children of the infant school, and that on the other for the children of the other schools.  Whenever locality and circumstances will permit, a piece of ground shall be attached to the hall, for the purpose of teaching the children a knowledge of horticulture and gardening, as well as for the pleasure and amusement of the members of the association.  No child under six years of age shall be admitted into the preparatory school until he has gone through the rudiments of the infant school, nor shall any pupil be admitted into the high school until he has been qualified by the instruction of the preparatory school.

    The plan of education in all the schools shall be THE BEST THE GENERAL BOARD CAN DEVISE for giving the best physical, mental, moral, and political training to the children, so as to prepare them in strength, morality, and intellect, to enjoy their own existence, and to render the greatest amount of benefit to others.

    In the INFANT SCHOOL cleanliness and punctual attendance should be scrupulously insisted upon, as one of the best means of amalgamating of class distinctions, and preserving the children from corrupting influences.  The first object of the teachers should be to place the children in accordance with the laws of their organization.  And it is doubtless in opposition to those laws to confine them in close atmospheres, drilled to sit in one posture for hours, and to have their little feelings operated upon by the fear of the rod, of confinement, and of all the numerous follies at present practised to compel submission.  The air and exercise of the play-ground are the first essentials at this early stage, where their teachers should as carefully watch over them as in the school-room, and, when all their faculties are in full activity, infuse those principles of action, justice, and kindness, necessary to form their character, which at that age will be more impressive than book instruction.  They should be taught a knowledge of things as well as of words, and have their properties and uses impressed on their senses by the exhibition and explanation of objects.  Principles of morality should not be merely repeated by rote, but the why and wherefore familiarly explained to them; their leading precept and practice should be to "love one another."

    In the PREPARATORY SCHOOL the same habits of regularity and cleanliness should be enforced.  They should, as best fitting to their physical development, have sufficient time for healthful exercise and recreation.  They should be carefully taught the laws of their organization, and the evils of infringing them; as forming the most important lessons to inculcate temperance in eating and drinking, and all their physical enjoyments.  They should be equally taught the evils that are certain to arise to themselves and society from the infringement of the moral lams of their nature.  It should be the duty of their teachers familiarly to acquaint them with the social and political relations that exist between them and their fellow-beings.  They should be taught by the most simple explanations and experiments to perceive and discover the use, property, and relationship of every object within their own locality, and learn to express in writing, and in correct language, the ideas they have received.  The use and principles of arithmetic should be taught them by the most simple methods.  They should be taught to understand the principles and practice of music, a gratification and a solace even in the hut of poverty.  Their imagination should be sedulously cultivated, by directing their attention to everything lovely, grand, or stupendous, around them; as affording a wholesome stimulus to greatness of mind, and a powerful antidote against the grovelling vices so prevalent in society.  In fact, the end and object of their teachers should be the equal and judicious development of all their faculties, and not the mere cultivation of the intellect.

    The HIGH SCHOOL should be for the still higher development of all those principles taught in the preparatory School.  In addition to which the children should be taught a more extensive acquaintance with the topography, resources, pursuits, and habits of the country they live in, and with the physical and natural phenomena of the globe they inhabit.  They should be instructed in the principles of chemistry, and its general application to the arts, trades, and pursuits they may hereafter be engaged in; in the principle of design, and its general utility in all their avocations; a general knowledge of geology and mineralogy, and their most useful application.  With the variation required by sex, they should be taught the first principles of the most useful trades and occupations in the laboratory and workshop.  In addition to which, if a portion of land be attached, they should be practically taught a knowledge of horticulture and gardening.  They should be fully educated to love knowledge and morality for their own sakes, and prepared to go out into active life with sound practical information to direct them, and a moral stamina to withstand its numerous temptations. [5]

    As the primary object of the association is to unite the members in one bond of brotherhood, the more effectually to secure their political and social welfare, to train up their children to appreciate the excellence of knowledge and virtue, the spirit of universal benevolence and mutual forbearance ought to prevail among them regarding all religious creeds and doctrines.  And as the attempt to introduce any particular forms of religion would tend to create dissensions among them, and lead all those whose own views had not been adopted to be jealous and distrustful of those of others, the aim of the general board should be carefully to exclude from their system of education all such questions of dispute.  That great precept of "love one another" should be the basis of their educational discipline, and the moral and intellectual virtues should be developd in the minds of the children, that their parents may perceive that more genuine Christian charity will result, than if their children were drilled to the constant reading of what they could scarcely comprehend, or in repeating precepts by rote without their importance being exemplified by practice.  Surely, when abundant time can be found for imparting religious instruction beyond that dedicated to the school, and when so many religious instructors, of all denominations, can be found most willing to impart their peculiar opinions, it would seem to be more in accordance with the precepts of Christ, mutually to unite in morally educating our children to dwell in peace and union, which are the great essentials of religion, than by our selfish desires and sectarian jealousies suffer ignorance, vice, and disunion to prevail.

    Under the system of education adopted in the schools, all corporeal punishments should be dispensed with, as highly mischievous under every form, as they serve to call forth revengeful propensities in some, and cow others into slavish subjection.  Reason may direct the intellect to see impropriety of conduct, and kindness subdue the feelings of anger; but blows and injudicious privations only strengthen a harsh disposition.

    As the association, in its infancy, will not be able to render any pecuniary assistance towards supplying the districts with as many efficient teachers as it would be desirable to retain for the purposes of the schools, it will be necessary for each district to make such prudent arrangements, at first, as their means will enable them, till assistance can be afforded.  Two QUALIFIED teachers (man and wife, if possible,) with two female assistants, will serve in the commencement for both rooms; and, when the arrangements of the association are complete, there should be two such qualified teachers, and one assistant to each school-room.  The female teacher (if qualified in a normal school,) will, with a competent assistant, be able to manage the infant school; and the male teacher, with an assistant qualified to teach the girls in their sewing, knitting, cutting out their own clothing, &c., will serve at the commencement for the upper schools.

    The teachers should be chosen by the members of the district, and the assistants by the teachers, subject to the approval of the superintendents.

    The mode of admitting children to the schools, as well as their payments, ought to be decided by the members, and declared in their bye-laws; but, while one of their objects should be to obtain cheap education for their children, they should remember that its efficiency will greatly depend on the talents and energies of the teachers and assistants; therefore their payments should be such as to procure for them a handsome and comfortable subsistence.






Fellow-countrymen, we have now laid before you, for your consideration, a PLAN which, if carried into effect, would, in our opinion, speedily secure our political and social rights; and, by training up our children in knowledge and virtue, place the liberties of our country on a basis corruption could not undermine, nor tyranny destroy.  We have chosen to present you with its details in the form of RULES AND REGULATIONS, as conveying clearer and more concise ideas of our views than we could hope to convey in any other form.  It now remains for us to point out to you the abundant means you have to carry such a plan into operation, and consequently to realize greater social and political advantages than have ever been attained by the working classes of any country—the advantages of effective union, efficient political power, with knowledge and virtue to use it for your children's welfare, so that freedom and happiness may be perpetuated among them.

    Few persons, we think, will be disposed to doubt that there is any considerable number of the industrious classes who cannot afford the small pecuniary amount we have mentioned as necessary to constitute them members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION.  We grant that exceptions may be found among them, persons to whom a penny per week would be an important sum, but from our knowledge of the working classes in general, we feel satisfied that where there is one so wretchedly situated as not to afford so trivial a sum towards the salvation of his country, or the education of his children, there are hundreds who waste twice that amount daily; by expending it on that which neither contributes to their health, their happiness, nor their freedom.  But admitting that great numbers of our class are, either from prejudice or ignorance, altogether careless respecting their political rights or social obligations, and will not for some time render us any assistance; let us form our estimate for carrying this plan into effect from the numbers and professions of those Radical Reformers who from their position were free to sign the NATIONAL PETITION.  And we have abundant evidence to convince us that vast numbers both among the middle and working classes, were so circumstanced that, if they had appended their signatures to that petition, it would have involved them and their families in ruin.  The numbers, however, who did sign it were ONE MILLION TWO HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-THREE THOUSAND; these at a penny per week from each person would realize the sum of five thousand three hundred and forty-five pounds and upwards weekly.  But we have estimated the payment of members for the National Association at less even than a penny per week, at only a shilling a quarter; and we may reasonably conclude that those persons who, at the risk of losing their employment and connection, and in despite of all opposition, so far interested themselves in preparing and signing that petition, and in contributing to the support of their delegates, have the same earnest desire to follow up the great cause of their political and social salvation by enrolling themselves members of an association such as we have described.  And when we further take into account the great personal advantages to be derived from belonging to such an association, apart from the great political and social objects of our pursuit—when the benefits of the halls, schools, and libraries are considered, they will supply additional reasons for forming our estimate from the numbers who signed that petition.  Supposing, then, that such a number of members as signed it belonged to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, their payments at a shilling a quarter would produce AN ANNUAL SUM OF TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY-SIX THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED POUNDS ! ! !  This amount would enable the association to effect every year the following important objects:―



To erect eighty district halls, or normal or industrial
schools, at £3000 each   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …



To establish seven hundred and ten circulating libraries,
at £20 for each    …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …



To employ four missionaries, (travelling expenses
 included) at £200 per annum   …   …   …   …   …   …   …



To circulate twenty thousand tracts per week at 15s. per
thousand     …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …



For printing, postages, salaries, &c.     …   …   …   …   …




Leaving for incidental expenses    …   …   …   …   …   …




    But then it might be urged against this calculation, that against numbers of persons signed the National Petition who would not contribute a shilling a quarter to support such an association; that thousands of men are to be found who talk loud and threaten fiercely on any political question that comes before them, but are silent and apathetic on all pecuniary propositions for promoting the object of their boastings.  While there may be some truth in these assertions, we cannot readily believe that these persons are very numerous; for surely when men are convinced that their excessive toil, their scanty earnings, the wretchedness and injustice they daily experience, can all be traced to corrupt and exclusive legislation, they must also be convinced that a public opinion, extensive enough to effect a thorough reform, cannot be created without money or personal sacrifices; and as some persons must be prepared to make them, there are few right-thinking, conscientious men so mean as to expect political benefits, without contributing their mite and their exertions to obtain them.  But if such mean and despicable adherents to our cause are to be found—men who, by their hollow professions and apparent sincerity, seek to generate a spurious and fleeting public opinion, they are far greater enemies to reform than its bitterest opponents—their hypocrisy serves to mislead men of honesty and principle, and gives the enemies of liberty new pretexts for new oppressions.  Mere lukewarm professors, too, are of little use to any cause, but are absolutely mischievous to ours, as they deceive us by swelling our ranks with "men of straw."  The cause of political and social reformation cannot exist by mere sentiment—there must be action to give it vitality; and if men were once thoroughly convinced that most of the evils of life are created by vicious institutions, and that all its solid enjoyments are to be realized by their purity and excellence, they would be as zealous to effect the desired change as to banish disease and misery from their dwellings, and fill them with means of happiness.

    The best test of every man's political principles is not what he will profess, but what he will do for the cause.  No man should excuse himself for lacking intellectual attainments, or great pecuniary resources; every man, however poor or humble, has means to forward it, if he be honestly and zealously disposed towards it.  Isolated and divided, we are poor and powerless; but, banded together, our aggregate pence will enable us, as we have shown, to perform prodigies in the cause of liberty.  And when the importance of such an association as we have described is calmly considered—when the trifling sum required to support it, and render all its objects practicable, is viewed in connection with similar sums many persons spend foolishly and uselessly in the course of a year, we are sanguine in our anticipations that the great body of the Radicals, at least, have sufficient political virtue to rally round such an association, whenever it is formed.  We seek not to influence your feelings, fellow-countrymen, so much as to awaken your judgment; and therefore we wish you to consider whether there is any other form of combination likely to be so politically and socially effective, to enable us more readily to obtain Universal Suffrage, and all the principles of "the Charter," than that we have presented to your notice.  There are no political advantages which the numbers, resources, or combined operations of any other form of association would afford, that would not be possessed in an eminent degree by the members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION.  But then its great superiority over all others would be these;—it would not use its energies and resources in meeting and petitioning; it would not, year after year, be engaged in the only task of endeavouring to induce corruption to purify itself: but it would be gradually accumulating means of instruction and amusement, and devising sources of refined enjoyments to which the millions are strangers; it would be industriously employed in politically, intellectually, and morally training fathers, mothers, and children to know their rights and perform their duties; and with a people so trained, exclusive power, corruption, and injustice would soon cease to have an existence.  Need we particularize the numerous advantages that would result from such an association, if the millions of the working classes alone performed their duty towards it?  In the first place, the great benefits of the district halls must be apparent to Radicals above all others, as they experience greater difficulties than others to obtain places of meeting.  Their political opinions generally render them so obnoxious to those in authority, that it is seldom they can obtain the use of public buildings; and the proprietors of public houses and private rooms are so completely in the power of the great men of the town, that they dare not, in many instances, let their rooms for radical purposes.  And no later than last year the police of the metropolis were employed to go from one public house to another, to threaten the proprietors with the loss of their licenses, if they let their rooms to the Chartists; and doubtlessly the same system is practised in other places.  But even if these difficulties did not exist, the great expense of private rooms forms no trifling obstacle to the frequent meetings of the working classes.  If they turn their attention to the green fields, or to the common heritage their forefathers possessed for their "folkmotes," their "tithemotes," and other public purposes, they are there met by the law of trespass, the power of exclusion, and the opposition of all the squirarchy of the town.  The right, therefore, of public meeting and free discussion being subject to and controlled by such despotic influences, form additional reasons for the people having their own district halls to meet in.  It is true the working classes in some towns do not labour under these disadvantages; some have sufficient control over their authorities, and others have places of meeting which already serve their purposes.  But we are satisfied that these are the exceptions to the evil; and it should be remembered, that the little good that can be effected with those advantages is neutralized by the obstacles our brethren experience in other places.  There are towns, too, where the working classes are powerfully assisted by the middle classes, and where they have abundant means to erect their own hall, independently of any association; but still no such exclusive advantage ought to prevent them from assisting their brethren who are differently situated.  THERE IS NO POLITICAL GOOD TO BE ACHIEVED BY A SPIRIT OF EXCLUSIVENESS.  We must therefore diffuse our means of knowledge; we must feel an equal interest in the political enlightenment of the most distant and indifferent inhabitant of our island as in that of our nearest and best disposed neighbour, as the political ignorance or corruption of the one is as fatal to freedom as is that of the other.  We have too long been playing the game of political selfishness; and hence it is we have been contending in vain for our rights.  One town boasts of its public spirit and political knowledge; the people of one district esteem themselves politically superior to another; one part of the country prides itself on its preparedness for freedom, and speaks with contempt of the apathy of another: and the result of this contracted spirit is exhibited in one part of the country counteracting the good effected by another.  The well-populated and enlightened town, where two Liberals are triumphantly elected, has its votes neutralised by the petty borough where the light of political knowledge has never dawned, where votes are bought and freedom sold.

    Let us in future, then, look beyond this useless system of setting up a Liberal here and there to be knocked down by Whigs or Tories; let us seek to carry our principles into the camp of our opponents—to instruct the dupes of those corrupt and plundering factions;—and ere long the ignorant supporters of oppression and misrule will become zealous advocates of freedom.  To effect this object, we must cast aside all those local and foolish prejudices which render nugatory most of our exertions: our aim is the emancipation of all, and political enlightenment one of our principal means to effect it.  In assisting to erect halls in Ireland or in Wales, we are as effectually promoting our own and our children's freedom as if we erected them in our own district.  Wherever they may be situated, all will be politically benefited, though it will depend on the chances of the ballot, whether we or our distant brethren will first enjoy the social advantages to be derived from them.  But if, as we have shown, a trifling portion of the working classes can effect so much in one year, we may reasonably conclude that by union and perseverance they would soon be established throughout the kingdom.  And there is little doubt but that other classes would contribute to such laudable object, if the working classes were to show a disposition to begin the good work.

    The advantages of the CIRCULATING LIBRARIES would exist independently of the halls; and what man or woman, with a taste for reading, or the hearing of books read by their children, would think the pleasure dearly purchased with less even than a penny a week? We have seen sufficient of country places to know the great difficulties of procuring books of any useful description, and that the expense is often beyond the means of working people; but by belonging to the National Association, (independently of other important benefits,) they would have the choice of hundreds of volumes in a year for the merest trifle. What lover, then, of his species can reflect without pleasurable sensations on the great political and social advantages that must eventually arise from the circulation of good and useful works throughout every district in the country? For, by combining the instructive with the entertaining—by bringing within the reach of the isolated cottager and country mechanic works they would never otherwise hear of, regarding the improvements in art, the discoveries in nature, the beauties of ancient writers, productions of modern literature, and the most useful and instructive of our political writers, habits of reading and reflection would be generated among them, their rights and duties appreciated, their tastes improved, their superstitions and prejudices eradicated; and they would become wiser, better, and happier members of the community.

The LECTURES on physical, moral, and political science would be a never-failing source of instruction: the great volume of nature presents such variety, beauty, utility, and perfection, that the instructed mind sees new objects for daily admiration and nightly reflection.  For the want of that mental culture, how much of nature appears barren and cheerless, which otherwise would teem with fruitful and never-ending sources of delight!  But, unhappily, the deficiency of this mental pleasure, this intellectual stimulus, is not the only loss, for the void is too often filled up with sensual and vicious gratifications, hurtful to the individual and prejudicial to society.  To illumine such minds—to interest the young, and stimulate the mental energies of the adult, should be the especial object of the lectures; plain truths, clearly demonstrated and aptly applied—facts well attested, authentic evidence, and close reasoning—useful and interesting experiments, with their practical application—and, as far as possible, made clear by diagrams and pictorial representations, would bring conviction home to the most obtuse, and be found at all times the readiest mode of imparting information.  After a hard day's toil it often happens that, when the mind has lost its energies for useful reading, it is stimulated and improved by oral discourses, lectures, and experiments.

    The public READINGS might vary according to the tastes of the members, either for conveying political or moral information, or for improving them in the useful art of correct reading.  For the latter purpose, one of the best modes we have seen adopted is the following:―A chairman having been appointed, the names of all those who are desirous of reading are written on slips of paper, folded up, and thrown into a hat or box opposite the chair.  A list of select pieces in prose and verse (which are generally selected on the previous evening,) is then read over; and the chairman, having drawn out one of the slips, reads over the name, and calls upon the person to read any piece he chooses from the list.  After the person has read, the chairman invites the criticisms of the company: those who feel their competency give their opinions, as brief as possible, and in a spirit to encourage improvement, regarding the person's manner, pronunciation, emphasis, &c.  After which, another is called on in the same manner; though it is sometimes advisable to call on one person to prepare himself while another is reading.  Independent of the improvements in reading which we have seen effected in a short period by this method, we believe it to be an excellent means for giving confidence to young persons, and preparing for public speaking.

    The utility of public DISCUSSIONS on useful subjects, when properly conducted, is beyond estimation; for, independent of the facilities they afford for instructing men in the art of publicly imparting knowledge, instructing their fellows, and defending their rights, discussion is the best touchstone of truth.  A man may spend a lifetime in reading and storing his mind with knowledge; but without subjecting his intellectual stores to the test of discussion, by which the sterling ore may be separated from the dross, he will continue to carry about with him as of equal value, false theories, romantic speculations, crudities, and conceits of every description.  A man may possess great intellectual riches—he may comprehend all the mysteries of art and nature; but unless he cultivate the art of imparting his knowledge to fellow-men, he lives, with all his knowledge, but for himself: he is in the intellectual world what the miser is in the social.  He may plead his defects and his inability in vain; for if he employed but a small portion of his time in cultivating the art of public speaking or writing, he would soon become useful in proportion to his knowledge.  In every country, especially where its institutions are founded on popular power or subject to its control, it becomes the duty of every man to cultivate the abilities God has given him, so that by speaking and writing he may preserve its liberties, by exposing private peculations and public wrong.

    We are aware that strong feelings exist in many parts of the country against DANCING and MUSICAL ENTERTAINMENTS and it will be well to inquire whether those feelings are founded on reason or prejudice: if on reason, we should obey their dictates; but if on prejudice, we should pursue an onward course, regardless of the contracted notions of those whose views have no foundation in reason.  First, as regards MUSICAL ENTERTAINMENTS, the great objection to them seems to be against a particular description of music, which the religious world has designated "profane;" and it would seem that the profanity is not in the cheerfulness or peculiarity of tune—for they often adapt those of the most lively description to their own hymns and psalms: from which it would appear that the primary objection is in the sentiment, and not in the tune.  Now, though it is admitted that many of our songs abound in foolish, ridiculous, unmeaning, and objectionable sentiments, which all men of sense will readily unite to condemn, and expel from all rational society, yet this should form no valid argument against the introduction of songs of an opposite description into our entertainments.  We have in our language songs conveying sentiments of the most exalted description, inculcating the love of freedom, social and domestic happiness, giving great praise to good deeds, exalting virtue and condemning vice, and depicting in glowing language the beauties of earth and skies.  Sentiments of such description generally excite the admiration of the most fastidious; and surely their excellence cannot be depreciated by being conveyed in verse, and expressed in all the melodious witchery of the human voice.  As music has an irresistible influence on all, and as the burst of joyous feeling generally gives forth its expression in song, the sentiments of which greatly influence individual and national character, it is not for man to war with nature, by attempting to stifle her expressions, but to change and purify the sentiments in which they are expressed.

    Among the social recreations in which both sexes can participate, the exercise of DANCING seems pre-eminent: its lively and graceful evolutions, and healthful, spirit-stirring tendency, have ever rendered it a favourite amusement in all countries.  Whence, then, have originated the objections against it?  Surely there can be none against a description of exercise which most medical men agree is, of all others, the best for enlivening the spirits, and strengthening the muscles of the body!  Nor is there any reasonable ground for supposing it more prejudicial to morality for both sexes to meet in the dance, than in any other public assembly.  The virtue of either sex is not a whit secured by any fastidious exclusion from each other's society; nor is the moral character of youth any way preserved by denying them those cheerful and agreeable recreations congenial to their dispositions.  The objections to badly ventilated rooms, late hours, bad characters, or improper conduct, should lie against those particulars, but not against dancing; for it by no means follows that these should be associated with the amusements and entertainments of our respective districts.  The generality of people are so constituted as to seek, at times, cheerful society and lively enjoyments; and it should be the great object of all reformers to prepare legitimate means for the gratification of these feelings, without allowing them to be exposed to vicious associations.  Many of those who frequent public-houses in their hours of relaxation, are not so much induced by the love of drink, as to spend their hours in cheerful society; and if places were provided (unassociated with the means of intoxication) where they could spend a pleasant and agreeable evening, we should have little cause for lamenting the prevalence of intemperance, and its demoralizing consequences. [6]

    The advantages of HOT AND COLD BATHS being attached to such an establishment must be obvious.  The difficulties our labouring population meet with in large towns and inland districts, in getting access to convenient bathing-places, are productive of more serious consequences than many persons imagine.  We are told by medical men that the perspiration of the body, which is continually going on, causes a species of incrustation on the skin, which materially interferes with its functions, which, if not removed by frequent ablutions, occasions a weakness of body and depression of mind; and, further, that the evil is greatly increased when persons have to work at dusty employments and in unhealthy atmospheres.  Hot or cold bathing, then, according to the state of the person's health or constitution, will be found a great preservative of health, independently of the habit of cleanliness it would serve to generate.  And when the great benefit of the hot bath, in many kinds of disorder, is considered, its importance will be still further appreciated.

    The small MUSEUM we have referred to could be furnished in a short time by the collections and contributions of the members; and in proportion as they progressed in a knowledge of the productions of nature or art, so would it engage their attention, and be a source of great pleasure to themselves and their children.

    The LABORATORY would serve for scientific experiments by the members in their leisure hours, as well as for the instruction of the children; and the GENERAL WORKSHOPS would possess similar advantages in other respects.

    How far the exertions of a few intelligent and active MISSIONARIES, constantly engaged in propagating the principles of the association, are likely to be effective, may be estimated, in some respects, by the good that has already been effected by such means.  Four or six persons, thoroughly acquainted with all its objects, political and social, inspired with sufficient zeal for the cause, possessing business habits, and having a capacity for lecturing on most of the important points we have referred to, would soon effect a complete organization of the country, and would do more in twelve months to create an enlightened public opinion in favour of our views, than could be effected by any other means in thrice the time; more especially so if we provided each of them with tracts, to be distributed, (at the rate of twenty thousand weekly,) containing explanations of our principles, as well as facts, statements, and expositions, regarding our objects generally.

    We have referred to the necessity of offering premiums, from time to time, for the best essays on the instruction of children, for the best description of school-books, and for any other object likely to promote the social and political welfare of the people.  Though much has been written on the subject of education, we think that very little of it has been to the purpose: most of the writers have founded their systems on erroneous notions, and it is only within the last few years that anything approximating to truth or utility has been written.  Believing the science of education (for as such we consider it) to be but in its infancy, we think that every means should be devised to induce men of intellect to devote their attention to a subject of such vital importance, and that for similar reasons they should be encouraged to prepare a better description of school-books than those in present use.  The social and political welfare of the millions is paramount to all other questions, and we think that an annual premium, given by the National Association for the best plan or essay in furtherance of that great object, would call forth much valuable information on the subject.

    While proposing these various means for the political and social amelioration of the people, let it not for a moment be supposed that we agree with those "educationists" who consider the working classes "too ignorant for the franchise."  So far from giving countenance to such unjust and liberty-destroying notions, we think the most effectual means to enlighten and improve them is to place them on a footing of political equality with other classes.  We have seen one contracted scheme of improvement after another prove abortive; and we feel certain that theory on theory will continue to be promulgated in vain, till the millions can be interested to carry them into effective operation.  But what faith can the people have in the professions of men who, while they talk of instructing them, are devising and executing the most infamous of laws for restricting the freedom of opinion, the right of public meeting, and the free circulation of knowledge?  How can they expect any portion of intelligent workmen to join in any plan of education which excludes one of the most important branches of knowledge—a knowledge of their political rights and obligations? and how can this be taught to and appreciated by men, without the possession of the rights and privileges of freemen?  How can they trust the sincerity of those persons who would mould them into more tractable and ingenious machines for the production of wealth, but would deny them any political power to determine how that wealth should be distributed?  And how can they who make a profession of liberality suppose the working classes are so blind and ignorant as not to see through their speciousness and hypocrisy, when their speeches, votes, and conduct on all questions affecting the rights and interests of labour, prove them either staunch supporters of the present oppressive and fraudulent system, or humanity-mongers, who would make the millions comfortable slaves, ignorant of the rights and privileges of freemen, and content at all times to obey the desires of their political and spiritual masters?

    Those men who talk of the franchise of the millions as a boon, and insist on its being given for particular talents or conduct, seem to forget that in doing so they assume the position of despots; nor can they defend it by any other argument than the usual one of despots—that of force.  For it stands as evident to reason as the existence of the sun, that all "NATURAL RIGHTS" must justly appertain to all in common.  That as the injustice and force of tyrants led men to congregate in society to protect themselves against aggression, and to secure their natural rights by CONVENTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS, every man in society must stand upon a footing of perfect equality, to determine the nature and extent of those arrangements.  In other words, all men are politically equal to decide what the Constitution of their country shall be, and what laws shall be enacted to carry that Constitution into effect.  And whatever power stands opposed to this just principle being carried into operation is a despotic power; worse in character, if possible, than the first savage tyrants who interfered with the natural rights of their fellows, and first caused them to have recourse to conventional security.  For men in their primitive state stand on nearly an equality to contend with their fellows for the subsistence nature affords them; but in an unjust state of society despots plunder and murder in the name of the laws, and bribe one part of the community to keep the other part in subjection.  It forms no argument against this clear principle of political equality, to say that the origin of society is involved in mystery—that principles cannot be recognized in old countries which might suit a new colony or infant state of society—that this being a conquered country, the terms prescribed by the conqueror and his descendants led to a state of political thraldom from which we are being gradually emancipated.  To all this we reply, that neither antiquity, custom, nor force can be made to usurp and supersede human rights, without a violation of justice.  We are therefore justified in designating as despots all those who, under any plea whatever, withhold or oppose our political rights, and in maintaining that they cannot defend their conduct upon any principles of justice.  By usurpation and injustice have the few obtained power and ascendancy, and fraud and force are their only title-deeds; and it would be far more honest for them to assume the frank and open daring of other despots, than to be continually cheating us with unmeaning sounds of freedom.  Let men and things be properly designated: England with all her professions is but a despotism, and her industrious millions slaves. For men possessing the same natural capabilities, cast upon the same kindred spot, with the same wants and mutual obligations, who are constrained by the mandates and force of their fellows to labour to support them in idleness and extravagance, are social slaves; and all who oppose their emancipation from such a state are political despots.

    But while we contend that the suffrage should not be dependent on any amount of education, we are far from being satisfied with the education or knowledge possessed by the working classes, or, indeed, by any other class in society.  The rich and the middle classes are said to be better educated than the poorer classes; but if by "education" is understood the just development of all the faculties, to the end that men may be morally as well as intellectually endowed, we think the fruits of that great superiority would be more strikingly exhibited than they are.  If, for instance, our titled and wealthy aristocracy were "properly educated," we should perceive its effects in a diminution of their luxury and extravagance—in their abhorrence of war, duelling, seduction, and adultery—in their renunciation of gambling, demoralizing sports, and brutal pastimes—in their giving up the dishonourable practices of bribery and political corruption—in their anxiety to abolish the game laws, corn laws, poor laws, and all the cruel and atrocious enactments they have called into existence for their own exclusive and selfish purposes; and, in lieu thereof, we should see them devoting a large portion of their extensive revenues to such works and means as are best calculated to upraise the toiling millions, and employing the power and talents they possess in promoting knowledge and happiness at home, peace and civilization throughout the world.  If our clergy received "a proper education," they would be more disposed to practise the precepts of their "lowly master"—they would think less of splendid endowments, and more of their toiling curates—they would abjure fox-hunting, gluttony, and excess—they would leave tithes to their rightful owners, and would honestly and fearlessly denounce "the oppressor, and him who grindeth the faces of the poor."  If our commercial, manufacturing, and middle classes of society were "well educated," they would abjure the fraud and gambling transactions of the stock-exchange; there would be less commercial swindling—less lying, cheating, and over-reaching in trade; and bankruptcies and insolvencies would be seldom heard of.  And if our own brethren were properly educated, the despots and tyrants of the earth would soon become rational members of society, for want of tools to work with; but as long as they can engage knaves and fools to carry their dishonest purposes into execution, they will continue to maintain their pernicious authority over all the rest of society.  If men were morally educated, they would shrink with abhorrence from the mercenary occupation of a soldier, and spurn the livery and brutal instruments of his profession.  They would greatly question the honour of being enlisted in a service in which they would be compelled to fight against liberty abroad and the rights of their brethren at home.  The thirst for glory, by which despots and tyrants induce their ignorant and brutal slaves to rush like blood-hounds to the slaughter of their fellow-men, carrying rapine, famine, and desolation in their train, would, if men were morally instructed, be properly designated a thirst for blood.  Glory and honour would change their character with the enlightenment of opinion.  While the trade of human butchery would be execrated, men would win the glory and approbation of their fellows by just deeds and benevolent actions; and him whose exertions were the most useful would be esteemed as the most honourable.  Nor would true courage be wanting when necessity required it; for while intellectual men, in possession of their rights, would always be inspired with bravery to defend them, they would scorn to be used as instruments of aggression or defenders of injustice.  If our countrymen were properly instructed, all attempts to establish a new standing army of policemen would have been fruitless.  They would have inquired the necessity for those blue-coated auxiliaries of oppression—this new amalgamation of watch, spy, and bludgeon-men—this new concentration of force in the hands of an exclusively-elected and irresponsible power; and finding them intended to check the advancement of liberty, and perpetuate the reign of wrong, they would indignantly refuse to become such degrading instruments of injustice, and the fingers of scorn and derision would be pointed against their badge, livery, and calling.

    Were all men educated in a knowledge of their rights and duties, we should not find any so base as to sell their votes for money, place, or influence; nor so self-degraded as to fight the election battles of the aristocracy for a modicum of drink.  Those who would buy their seats to sell their country would find an empty market; their "open houses" would be opened in vain, their false professions would be disregarded, their threats and intimidations would be treated with contempt.  Men politically wise would be strong in principle and united in justice against all such conspirators against their liberties.  They would weigh against each proffered bribe the political and social evils it would be certain to entail on themselves and their neighbours, and all selfish considerations would yield to conscientious duty.  They would carefully scrutinize the professions and principles of their candidates, and would prefer political honesty to shining talents.  They would consider their representatives as worthy servants, to be rewarded for their irksome duties; and not political masters, to scorn and oppress those they have purchased.

    If men, too, were generally imbued with that independent feeling which springs from the cultivation of intellect, they would never permit their children to wear the badge and livery of charity.  Wealth and pride might then devise their ridiculous dresses, their foolish decorations, and servile rules in vain; men would have more regard for their children than to suffer them to be exposed to the taunts and ridicule of their fellows, and would fear that the feelings of inferiority and dependence which the circumstances of a charity-school engender in the youthful mind would tend to destroy the independent spirit and dignity of manhood.  Though poverty might prevent them from educating their children to the extent of their wishes, they would never allow it to plead an excuse for their degradation; but love and duty would prompt them to employ their leisure hours in instructing their families, or they would abridge their own necessaries to pay others for doing it.

    While we rejoice at the progress of knowledge and the improvement that is being effected among our brethren, we cannot fail to perceive the obstacles to their liberty and impediments to their happiness which ignorance still presents, and the glorious change which a wise system of education would produce.  Were men mentally and morally educated, most of those social dissensions which now mar the peace and happiness of society would cease to exist.  That contentious, jealous, and undermining spirit, which is still too prevalent amongst them, would give place to unity, honesty, and plain dealing; and an interchange of kind feelings and benevolent actions would serve to lighten their toil, and cheer their hours of leisure.  Intellectual men, too, would regard their homes and their families with far different sensations than are felt by those superficial and thoughtless members of society who seek for pleasure and gratification anywhere rather than at home; by which conduct habits of dissipation are generated on the one hand, carelessness and bickerings on the other; and domestic happiness, being thus undermined, tends to the destruction of their peace and the ruin of their families.  Rightly constituted minds, on the contrary, would feel that, of all other pleasures, those that spring from domestic happiness are the most enduring and substantial.  Esteeming their wives as their equal companions, and not the mere slaves of their passions, they would labour to cultivate their mental powers, to the end that they should participate in their views and feelings, and be the better prepared to train up their children in knowledge, virtue, and the love of freedom.

    A deep conviction, therefore, of the necessity of some practical scheme of education being adopted for the working and middle classes in particular, has induced us to submit for their consideration the plan described, so that whilst they are labouring to obtain "the Charter" they shall be instructing themselves, so as to realize all its advantages when obtained; and not for them to be engaged, as reformers have heretofore, in periodically arousing the public mind to the highest state of excitement, suddenly to sink into apathy with or without the attainment of their object, as their unity of action, strength or sternness of purpose, may chance to have been exhibited.  Those fits of political excitement, however necessary under existing circumstances, betoken an unhealthy state of public feeling; for were men generally acquainted with their rights and duties, they would be ever on the watch to prevent political evils, and be continually perfecting their laws and institutions, coolly, deliberately, and determinedly.  Sound views and just principles, as soon as promulgated, would be caught up, and the resolution to carry them into practice would be recorded with their votes, and expressed by a unity of sentiment and action no government could resist.  But while we would urge on our brethren to contend for the principles of the PEOPLE'S CHARTER, and think the plan of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION the best means to effect it, we feel satisfied that they will still have to acquire the knowledge and cultivate the feelings we have described, before they can enjoy the full fruits and blessings of freedom.  Let us remember that the power each individual may possess to effect good of any description is of little value, unless the necessity for effecting it is made evident to his understanding, and his feelings sufficiently interested to prompt him to action; and as society is a congregation of individuals, the political power they may possess to promote their social or political welfare will be alike fruitless, unless they possess the knowledge and virtuous disposition to use it to the public advantage.  Hence it must be evident to every reflecting observer, that true liberty cannot be conferred by acts of parliament or decrees of princes, but must spring up with public enlightenment and public virtue. The power of the people may subdue tyranny, remove corruption, and establish just and free institutions, but the fruits of their victory and noble purposes will principally depend on the amount of the public patriotism and private virtue which exists among them.
    In the plan of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, we have provided for the admission of female members on the same conditions as males; and as some prejudices exist on the subject of female education, and especially against their obtaining any knowledge of politics, it may be necessary to give a few reasons in support of our proposition.  As regards politics, the law does not exempt women from punishment any more than men, should they trespass on the rights or injure the person or property of their neighbour; and therefore, by all just constitutional arrangements, all should share in the enactment of laws to which they are amenable.  If a woman be a householder, she must contribute her share of direct taxes, and if not, on all her eating, drinking, and wearing, she contributes her portion of indirect taxes equally with men: and according to the unperverted spirit of our Constitution, there should be no taxation without representation.  Again, if a woman is married, her influence, for good or evil, is still exercised in all the political affairs of her husband; and if single, her political knowledge or ignorant prejudices are equally powerful in society.  Therefore, their rights and influence being manifest, the necessity for their political instruction must be equally obvious.  But, what is still far more important, women are the chief instructors of our children, whose virtues or vices will depend more on the education given them by their mothers than on that off any other teacher we can employ to instruct them.  If a mother is deficient in knowledge and depraved in morals, the effects will be seen in all her domestic arrangements; and her prejudices, habits, and conduct will make the most lasting impression on her children, and often render nugatory all the efforts of the schoolmaster.  If, on the contrary, she is so well informed as to appreciate and second his exertions, and strives to fix in the minds of her children habits of cleanliness, order, refinement of conduct, and purity of morals, the results will be evident in her wise and well-regulated household.  But if, in addition to these qualities, she be richly stored with intellectual and moral treasures, and makes it her chief delight to impart them to her offspring, they will, by their lives and conduct, reflect her intelligence and virtues, throughout society; for there has seldom been a great or noble character who had not a wise or virtuous mother.  Our first ideas are received from a mother's eye, and much of our temper and disposition depend on the characters we trace there; her kindness and benevolence give us peace and joy, but her angry frowns and capricious temper terrify us, and injure our whole infantile system.  As our perceptions are awakened and faculties matured, her wise or foolish conduct towards us leaves lasting impressions of good or evil; her habits, conversation, and example are readily imitated, and form the foundation of our future character.  Seeing, then, that so much of our early education depends on the mental and moral qualities of women, should we not labour, by every means in our power, to qualify them for these important duties?  And when, in addition to these considerations, we take into account how much of men's happiness depends upon the minds and dispositions of women—how much of comfort, cheerfulness, and affection their intelligence can spread in the most humble home—how many cares their prudence can prevent, and their sympathy and kindness alleviate, it ought to redouble our anxiety to promote the education and contend for the social and political rights of women.

    While treating of the advantages to be derived from the establishment of district halls, we have, in a great measure, confined our observations to the improvement of adults; and now we think it essential to point out to our brethren the importance, necessity, and advantages of properly educating our children, the faculties such places would afford for that purpose, and to add our meed of information as to the best means of effecting it.

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The war of 1638 lasted nine years, and cost, at the time


Borrowed to support it, twenty millions, the interest
on which, in one hundred ands fifty-two years, at
three and a half per cent, amounts to    …   …   …   …


The war of the Spanish succession lasted eleven years,
and cost    …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …


Borrowed to support it, thirty-two and a half millions;
the interest, in one hundred and twenty-seven years,
amounts to …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …


The Spanish war, ending in 1748, lasted nine years,
and cost      …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …


Borrowed to support it, twenty-nine millions the
interest, in one hundred and two years, amounts to …


The war of 1756 lasted seven years, and cost       …   …


Borrowed to support it, sixty millions: the interest, in
seventy-seven years, amounts to  …   …   …   …   …   …


The American war lasted eight years, and cost   …   …


Borrowed to support it, one hundred and four millions:
the interest, in sixty-five years, amounts to   …   …   …


The French revolutionary war lasted nine years, and
cost…   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …


Borrowed to support it, two hundred and one millions:
the interest, in thirty-eight years, amounts to…   …   …


The war against Buonaparte lasted twelve years, and
cost…   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …


Borrowed to support it, three hundred and eighty-
eight millions : the interest, in twenty-five years,
amounts to…   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …




    To which amount must be added the increase of army, navy, civil list, half-pay, pensions, &c., which, within the above period, have been enormous; the value of British merchant vessels and their cargoes captured and destroyed, or wrecked by being deprived by those wars from access to friendly ports; and the enormous sums raised by poor-rates and charity which have been applied to mitigate the calamities those horrible wars have occasioned.

The lowest rate of interest has been computated, and that from the conclusion of the war.


The estimated number of British

alone slain or perished in the war

ending in 1697 were


In the war which began in 1702 were


In the war which began in 1739 were


In the war which began in 1756 were


In the American warm 1775 were


In the French war began in 1793 were


The above note has been compiled from various sources.

2.    See a series of interesting articles on this subject in the Charter Newspaper, signed "Revolutionist."

3.    If there are two members to be elected, the cards may be torn in two.

4.    Arrangements might easily be made for procuring coffee, tea, ginger beer, lemonade, or any other refreshment, upon an economical scale.

5.    A portion of the above outline, written by W. Lovett, was issued in an address on the subject of "National Education," by the Working Men's Association, about three years ago.

6.    Those who could not join in the dance might be amused with the games of chess and drafts, which are both rational and instructive; but cards, dice, and all kinds of gambling, should be scrupulously excluded.



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