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His death, and the manner of it, shook like an earthquake, the souls of friends and enemies. Even the 'Augsbourg Gazette' let slip the phrase—Konarski has been shot, and has died with a firmness worthy of a better cause.' Ah, if better, holier cause than Poland's regeneration, could be found. A Russian General, present at his execution, cried out in his conviction—- From this moment I abhor the epaulettes that weigh upon my shoulders.' And later, the Russian Officers procured the Martyr's chains, forging them into rings, to be worn in secret-in memory of his sufferings, and of his cause. But the Polish population waited not. Hardly had he fallen, when the agonized crowd burst in, the Russian ranks broken, all eager to touch the body of the Saint, to possess some relic of him who had so loved, and dared, and suffered. Even a handful of the earth upon which he had fallen was a treasure in their eyes. Who will doubt of the resurrection of Poland ?
and other of the Wbig-Radicals, started the Political Unions to counteract the working men. While the Whig reformers boasted of their 150,000 armed followers to support the ministerial scheme, the working classes were hindered by Government from their peaceable meetings, in order to stifle their protest; were denounced in the House as 'insatiable wild beasts,'« even the reforming Radicals not caring to rebuke the accuser. In the unstamped newspapers, wbich the Government could not put down, may be found ample evidence of the real state of popular feeling. Advantage was, however, taken of the universal indignation against the Tory Peers, to smuggle in the half-measure. The People were invited to forget differences, to unite against the common enemy; general resolutions (vague as those of our new Parliamentary Reformers) were proposed for their adoption; the state trick told again, an appearance of combination was obtained, and the Ministers were triumphant. In June, 1832, the Whig Bill became law, and before the year was out, the working-classes, thoroughly awake to the treason of their late allies, were denounced by Attwood and his Union, e and stigmatized as “atheists, robbers, and incendiaries.'' So the Reform Ministry and their friends, with the additional aid of spies and police instigators, prepared for the memorable 13th of May, 1833, when the working men of London were brutally assailed by the Police, at Calthorpe Street, for daring to reiterate their demand for equal justice. Cheated, baffled, and disheartened, however exasperated, the People gave way. From the passing of the Reform Bill their associations declined. Reports of the Committee of the National Union' ascribe the falling off to the dissipated habits of some workmen, the apathy of others—the steadier and more stirring men being occupied with the Trades-Unions, then rapidly arising, with the agitation against the New Poor Law, and the endeavour to obtain a remission of the sentence of the Dorchester labourers. Many, also, seem to have been takeu away from endeavour at further change by their exertions in the elections, led by false hopes of some 'practical' good yet to be done with the 'Reformed.' About May, 1834, the National Union' was dying out; and little seems to have been attempted till the formation of the ‘London Working Men's Association' in June, 1836. Early in 1837 this Association convened a Meeting at the Crowu and Anchor, where resolutions and a petition for universal suffrage were carried by a crowded audience. The Association next requested a Conference with those Members of Parliament who professed liberal principles, and after a discussion of two nights, at the British Coffee House, the following resolutions were passed on the 7th of June.
Ist. That we agree to support any proposition for Universal Suffrage made on the
e At the meeting in Leicester Square, Lovett and Cleave were refused a hearing; and Burdett retired from the Union when he found that working men were ‘inadvertently put upon the Council.'
d By Mr. Croker in the House of Commons; and no one answered him. • On account of a protesting meeting of the Working Classes at Birmingham, October 29th, 1832.
! In a speech of the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, 7th of November, 1832.
Petition emanating from the Working Men's Association, when presented to the House of Commons by Mr. Roebuck.
Proposed by Daniel O'Connell, Esq., M.P.
Seconded by Charles Hindley, Esq., M.P. 2nd. That we agree to support and vote for a Bill or Bills to be brought into the House of Commons, embodying the principles of Universal Suffrage, Equal Representation, Free Selection of Representatives without reference to Property, the Ballot, and Short Parliaments of fixed duration, the limit not to exeeed three years.
Proposed by Daniel O Connell, Esq., M.P.
Seconded by Charles Hindley, Esq., M.P. 3rd. That we agree to support and vote for a Bill or Bills, to be brought into the House of Commons, for such a reform in the House of Lords as shall render it responsible to the People.
Proposed by Daniel O'Connell, Esq., M.P.
Seconded by Sharman Crawford, Esq., M.P. 4th. That a Committee of twelve persons be appointed, to draw up a Bill or Bills, in a legal form, embodying the principles agreed to, and that they be submitted to another meeting of the liberal members of Parliament and the Working Men's Association ; and that the following be the persons appointed DANIEL O'CONNELL, Esq., M.P.
Mr. HENRY HETHERINGTON JOHN ARTHUR ROEBUCK Esq., M.P.
Mr. JOHN CLEAVE JOHN TEMPLE LEADER, Esq.
Mr. JAMES WATSON CHARLES HINDLEY, Esq., M.P.
Mr. RICHARD MOORE
Proposed by John Temple Leader, Esg.
Household Suffragists of the Whig Birmingham Political Union. Mr. O'Connor also from this time joined the Chartists. At this meeting it was proposed that a Convention of the Working Classes should be summoned, and a National Petition be obtained, and that a National Rent should be collected to defray the necessary expences.
On the 17th of the following September, another meeting at the Palace Yard, London, (the High Bailiff of Westminster in the Chair), solemnly adopted' the People's Charter and National Petition and recommended meetings throughout the Country to appoint the delegates to watch over the Charter and Petition when presented to Parliament. At this meeting one of the resolutions was moved by Ebenezer Elliott, the Corn-Law Rhymer'.
The delegates so appointed met, on the 4th of February, at the British Coffee House $ as the General Convention of the Working Classes. The Convention55 members—was elected by show of hands of, it was said, three millions of persons. 450,000 had been assembled at the election on Kersal-Moor, 200,000 at Peep-Greeen, 250,000 at Birmingham, 200,000 at Glasgow, etc.' Enthusiasm rode high; money was subscribed; meetings were multiplied; the Convention sent out its members as missionaries through the country; Chartist Associations sprung up in the manufacturing districts, and elsewhere. On the 13th of May, the Convention, having deposited the petition of 1,280,000 persons with Mr. Attwood, transferred their sittings, for the consideration of 'ulterior measures,' to Birmingham ; whence they dispersed themselves to hold simultaneous meet. ings throughout the country. The Petition was presented to the Commons' on the 14th of June, and on the 12th of July 235 members, against 46, refused to consider its prayer. Meanwhile the Whig Ministers had not been forgetful of their old tactics, the foolish conduct of some members of the Convention playing into their hands. Threats of what the People could do were lightly used; whereupon some sections of them began to arm and train themselves; ill-founded reports of the warlike determination of the masses were given in to, and published by, the Convention; which, moreover, had neither fore-looking purpose, por unanimity, nor capacity for guidance. Arrests were made, for training and drilling; arrests of members of the Convention for ‘seditious' speaking. The Calthorpe Street policy was renewed, and a band of London Police, ordered down to Birmingham, while the Convention was sitting there, attacked the people peaceably meeting in the Bull-Ring. Lovett, the Secretary of the Convention, was arrested for signing an address justifying the resistance of the People. And when the Convention met again in London with very reduced numbers, on the 10th of July, it was but to see their Petition mocked at; to decide, on the 16th of July, upon a 'sacred month'-an abstinence from all work for that period, to commence on the 12th of August throughout the country, for the overthrow of the Government; and to substitute, on the 5th of August, one day's holiday for the impracticable month, and to appeal to the unpolitical Trades, to help a manifestation then. On the 14th of September the Convention dissolved, having utterly failed in everything, except the Petition.
& On the 6th they removed to the Hall of the Lumber Troop, Bolt Court, Fleet Street,
The baseless reports of Chartist power and determination still continued, over-living even the deplorable contradiction furnished by Frost's abortive attempt on Newport, on the 4th of November: an attempt induced by a too-ready credence to the bragging exaggerations of others. On the 26th of December a new Convention met in London, with the object of saving Frost and his fellowvictims. But the game was up. All that remained was the popularity of the ever-active O'Connor and the position of his 'Northern Star': both of which should have been turned to account.
Lovett, having come out of prison, founded in 1842 the National Association, to commence a general organization. He was joined by most of those who had been most active in the Working Men's Association; and virulently opposed by O'Connor and his party,-a party which had been helped by the 'Star' to keep up the agitation since 1839, but which had changed Chartism to O'Connorism, and almost lost sight of the Suffrage through looking for allotments of unprofitable land. But Lovett was impracticable; and his new association, after obtaining a few hundred members, dwindled into a debating club, and their hall became a dancing academy, let occasionally for unobjectionable public meetings. Lukewarmness among the more sensible of the working men, and aimless violence, not without good intention, among the O'Connorites, just kept alive the name of Chartism till the proclamation of the French Republic, in February 1848, awoke old hopes in England.
Then again some efforts were made to resuscitate the movement. Another 'National Convention' met in London, under the auspices of O'Connor, to superintend another Petition. Almost every fault of the first Convention was repeated, Blustering talk led to foolish riots. The Petition with 65,700,000 signatures": (afterwards reduced to 2,000,000, including “fictitious') was presented on the 10th of April; and on the 17th the Convention dissolved to meet again on the 1st of May, as a 'National Assembly,' to carry the Charter. But all was now confusion. Even the elections (by show of hands) without principle or method : 3000 men electing three members for London, ‘100,000 at Halifax' electing one. The Assembly simply exhibited its incapacity, and then merged into the
National Charter Association,' which pursued the same course : gathering tu. multous crowds of purposeless men, doing little to teach, and nothing to organize, unable even to command regular subscriptions, and mustering throughout the country only some 5000 paying members after the ten years' turmoil. Those of the Chartists still anxious in 1848, to make some attempt at organization found themselves joined by but a few hundreds, by them feebly, and for a little while. Men no longer rallied around the Chartist banner: some few only when it was
h To use the words of Richard Carlisle to Feargus O'Connor, in October, 1839, just before the Newport catastrophe,—the 'Northern Star' (and not only the Star) 'most outrageously exaggerated the popular feeling. Every beer-house was a Chartist Legislature, a minor or local convention, and every expression a resolution to be printed in the Northern Star, the end of which was nothing done. Fellows who take things so easy to smoke tobacco in their political meetings will never be found to be fighting men nor moral-force Reformers,' Carlile's Political Register.
i See O'Connor's Speech on Kennington Common.