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enemy and calumniator of the Tories ; to gain, probably, a few radical votes in his newly-created boroughs: perhaps to conciliate some radical member-or, in short, to exhibit the greatest possible contrast with what a Tory minister might be expected to have done. These, his lordship-if we may judge from his Stroud speech-might think not only blameless, but even praiseworthy motives, and they have, we believe, guided no inconsiderable number of similar appointments; but whether with better effect on the peace and prosperity of other places than they have had at Newport, we fervently pray that we may have no similar opportunity of judging.
of Secretary of State, he made himself responsible for all the contingencies which might arise from his own-even were it involuntary-blindness and mismanagement. If a man sets up as an apothecary or surgeon, the law requires that he should have the ordinary foresight and skill reasonably to be expected from a professed practitioner, and if he administers poison instead of medicine, or cuts an artery when he only meant to breathe a vein, the law will hold him guilty of murder, or of manslaughter at the least. Nay, if such a practitioner were to substitute an unqualified or inexperienced apprentice to perform such operations, he would be held personally reIn cases like this, of the appointment sponsible. Why, then, should Lord John of local magistrates, where the chief ob- Russell be absolved from the consequen ject is the impression created in the pub-ces of such ignorance, or such negligence lic mind, a vast deal depends on the pe- of the duties of the office into which he culiar circumstances of the case : a obtruded himself, as to have-even for radical candidate for Newport or Mer- the laudable purpose of spiting the Tories thyr might without much blame have-issued the royal commission and disrecommended John Frost as a zealous pensed the royal patronage to such a supporter of the party, but no minister of person as Frost ? the Crown should have accepted such a recommendation, nor countenanced such a man as Frost was known, and had been shown to be above all, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, responsible for the tranquillity and due subordination of the kingdom, should not have given him the weight and importance that any government favour must necessarily confer in those remote and narrow societies. Frost should not have been made even an exciseman; but to invest him with the dignity and authority of the magistracy was indefensiblemonstrous-and monstrous indeed has been the result.
But it is not merely by individual instances of misplaced patronage that Lord John Russell has made himself, in our opinion, responsible for a large share in the disorders which have marked this last eventful, and we are sorry to be obliged to add, calamitous year.
In the course of the autumn of 1838 Lord John Russell thought proper to pay a visit to Liverpool, which was attended, in our opinion, with results so important as to justify some special notice. His Lordship's reception there must have satisfied him of the unpopularity into which he and his colleagues had fallen in the second city of the empire; but unfortunately it did not teach him how the only true and desirable popularity can be obtained, and how impossible it is for a minister to reconcile the maintenancé of his own character, and the authority of his office, with an endeavour to propitiate by mean submissions and awkward flatteries those who are the natural enemies of all authority, but especially of the authority of a minister of the Crown. Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good that are accustomed to do evil.' The text is applicable both to Lord John and to the classes he is so anxious to conciliate. He can neither change his own spots nor clear up the dark countenances of dissent and disaffection. It is not, however, of his fail
Lord John, we have already admitted, never contemplated such consequences: he thought he was only sharpening a weapon against the Tories, while, in fact, he was unintentionally preparing it to cut his own fingers, and-still more unintentionally, if more be possible-fitting it for the bloody work which it has eventually performed. Lord John did not foresee all this-certainly not; and no one, perhaps, could foresee the exact shape that the mischief would take: but every thinking man in the country-except her Majesty's Ministers-saw that such a misapplication of ministerial patronage must, sooner or later, in some shape or other, produce the most disorganizing effect.
When Lord John accepted the
ure in the impossible task of whitewashing made, an opportunity for delivering-he himself or his partisans that we complain, being Secretary of State for the Home but of the folly that could hope to do so, Department-an equally awkward and and, above all, of the consequential mis- mischievous panegyric on public meetings, chief to the peace and safety of the and on the abstract right of the people to country which follows such preposterous assemble in that manner for the purpose attempts. of a free discussion of their real or imaginary grievances. We give an extract of his speech from the Whig papers of the day :
The great body of the people of Liverpool, the influential of all classes and parties, declined to take any share in doing the honours of their town to Lord John Russell-but the proposer of the Reform Bill, the creator of the New Town Council, and the Secretary of State for the Home Department, was not yet without a few partisans in so great a population; and the Mayor of Liverpool himself the creature of Lord John's Municipal Bill-thought it necessary to evince his gratitude by inviting Lord he acted. He thought the people had a right to John to meet as many of his fellow-citi- elicited truth. They had a right to meet. If they zens as could be mustered on such a dis-had GRIEVANCES, they had a right to declare tasteful occasion, at a dinner which the them, that they might be known and redressed. If general opinion would not suffer to be they had no grievances, common sense would public, but which the indiscretion and speedily come to the rescue, and put an end to these meetings. vanity of Lord John and his entertainer would not permit to be private.
He alluded to the public meetings which were now in the course of being held in various parts of There were some, perhaps, who would put down such meetings. But such was not his opinion, nor that of the Government with which
free discussion. It was free discussion which
It was not from free discussion, it was not from the unchecked declaration of public opinion, that There was Governments had anything to fear. fear when men were driven by force to secret com
binations. There was the fear-there was the danger, and not in free discussion.
He then alluded, with the greatest satisfaction,
to the reduction of the item of secret-service-money, which had been effected since he entered the Home
Let it be kept in mind that at the time in question, as indeed in all troublesome times, the disaffected throughout the country were exhibiting their force, and scarcely concealing their objects, by holding public meetings under the flimsy pretence of a constitutional expression of their opinions. This mode of intimidating a government was of Whig invention, and had by them been, for a long series of years, employed on every occasion of public excitement against the ministers of the day. They had also continued, since their late accession to power, to employ it occasionally against the Conservatives; but the engine had become from all this encouragement so formidable to the general peace of the country, and was so notoriously directed, not merely against the possibility of a Conservative government, but against any and all government, that it became a source of great alarm even to the Whig ministers themselves-and the greater because they were at an utter loss how to deal with the enormous and increasing preceding topic, namely, the reduction of evil. For they had themselves made the amount of SECRET-SERVICE-money since such reckless and unconstitutional use of HE had entered the Home Office-a broad it, in obtaining and in keeping office, and intelligible hint that the parties at that they were perplexed in the extreme the various meetings then in course of when they found that it was now taking being held throughout the country' might a turn that was likely to turn them out. be not only assured of the countenance It was in this crisis that, at this Mayor's and approbation of the Secretary of State, dinner, Lord John Russell took, or rather as to the right and expediency of such
He would not, he said, before such a party, Wander into the field of politics, but there was one topic, connected with his own department, upon which he might be allowed to dwell for a few moments.
Now we beg our readers to observe some points of this speech to which subsequent events have given a melancholy importance.
First, Lord John admits that it was delivered on an occasion in which politics were out of place, but, as those popular meetings were then in the course of being held in various parts of the country'-a matter 'connected with his own particular department'-he made an exception in this special case to the general exclusion of politics, and thus went out of his way to panegyrise and encourage these political meetings;' and finally he adverts with a significant emphasis to another point also connected with the Home department, and of course with the
assemblies-but that they might also be reverse-why politics should have been satisfied that there should be no secret broached at all, or that any thing which superintendence on the part of the Gov- might be said there should have been ernment to watch their proceedings, or made public: but Lord John we see volto put any constraint on their entire free-unteered the politics; and could only dom of discussion. Considering the have done so for the purpose of publicity. circumstances of the times, we believe. There were, we are told, no professional that any man, except the Secretary of reporters present, but Lord John did not State, who should have gone out of his produce his talent to be hidden away in way to express such opinions, would have a dinner napkin ; and the result was, that been generally suspected of encouraging his voluntary lecture on the right and the sedition. advantage of popular meetings for the Common sense can hardly conceive statement of grievances, whether real or what object Lord John Russell could imaginary, and his intimation that no sehope to effect by this confessedly ill-placed cret-service-money should be expended and worse-timed commentary on a consti- in watching them, was disseminated tutional theory:-we do not suspect him throughout England at the very moment of wishing to increase disturbances with of all others when it seemed, to ordinary which he would himself have to wrestle, understandings, that such an incitement but as little can we comprehend that he on the part of a Cabinet minister was preshould not have seen the practical effect eminently unnecessary and peculiarly unwhich his doctrines must have-nor can fortunate. we account, except by that partial blindness which will sometimes affect the shrewdest, for any hope on his part that such vague and slip-slop palaver, about 'free discussion of grievances,' would reconcile his audience, or the radicals in general, to those practical measures which as Minister he had already been obliged to take against the agitators, and which it was, even then, obvious would soon require a still more coercive application. In short, Lord John's whole conduct on this affair is to us incomprehensible, whether considered in point of taste, or of judgment, or of duty;- -or even as a party expedient-unless, indeed, he already anticipated the possibility of Sir Robert Peel's being soon called to power, and thought it prudent to prepare, thus early and while he was still minister, a defence for the future assemblages of the populace which his party would no doubt endeavour to excite against a Conservative Government.
There are times and places in which it may be all very well to talk of the popular rights of meeting for the free discussion of grievances and other such commonplaces, which nobody that we know of denies in the abstract-but that which is harmless on one occasion may in another be highly dangerous;-Lord John Russell's dissertation on these points would have been in an individual in a private company as innocent and as sedative as smoking a pipe
but Lord John was so rash as to smoke his pipe in a powder-magazine. And what followed? The country blew up!-Meetings for the redress of grievances became almost universal-so numerous indeed, that it is equally impossible and unnecessary that we should attempt to give a catalogue of them; but they assumed one, we believe new, and certainly very remarkable, feature. The people, being so opportunely reminded by the Secretary of State of their undoubted right of meeting, would of course exercise it but as the working classes have the same constitutional rights as people of more leisure, and as they could not spare any part of their day for such meetings, and as Lord John's invitation was promulgated at the beginning of the short days, it followed that, if they were to meet to exercise the
But, whatever may have been his motive, it is clear that he sought the opportunity of promulgating these opinions. We should have thought that the restrict ed character of the Liverpool dinner, however mortifying in other respects, would have had one consolation for a Secretary of State-that it would have right of free discussion at all, they must relieved him from the necessity, usually needs do so by candle or torch light. The considered as both painful and perilous deduction was not illogical, but the prac to a minister, of making a political speech tical exercise of the right was too peril at a public dinner. The dinner professed ous to the public peace, even for the tolto be a private dinner, given at the May- eration of Lord John ; and we believe his or's private cost, and there was no rea- Lordship's very next appearance before son either in precedent or prudence- the public - after his Liverpool speechbut indeed; and confessedly, the very was in a proclamation calling on the Mas
gistrates to act against 'great numbers of evil-minded and disorderly persons who have lately assembled after sunset and by torch-light in large bodies,' &c.
This proclamation was proper and necessary-but who had contributed by his indiscretion to render it necessary? Were not the persons who in the long days of July or August attended the numerous 'meetings in various parts of the country' with Lord John's not tacit approbation, of the selfsame classes, characters, and principles with those who, in 'some parts' of the country, assembled after sunset in the short days of December? What essential difference was there between the applauded meetings in August and the denounced meetings in December, that might not have been reasonably foreseen and expected from the advance of the season and the increasing audacity of the parties?-Well; the torch-light meetings were fortunately suppressed with little or no bloodshed nor even difficulty: but on the return of the spring, the same parties began to assemble again for the same objects, in full day; and the extensive and alarming riots in Birmingham and so many other populous places -in various parts of the country,' all held, as the parties pretended, for free discussion of the grievances' of the people were a startling commentary on Lord John Russell's doctrine. These, too, were fortunately arrested-not without great difficulty and after extensive mischief-by the united vigour of arms and prosecutions; and, stronger than either arms or prosecutions, by the force of public opinion: for, now that the Government had declared against them, they received no support or encouragement from any authoritative or influential portion of society.
reference which it involves to Lord John Russell's Liverpool speech and for its connection with the Newport rebellion.
Within a few weeks after the extraordinary manifesto of the Secretary of State was forced upon the notice of the public, a meeting was held on the 1st of January, near Pontypool, which was considered of no great consequence at the moment, but the importance of which has been lately established by the proceedings before the Monmouthshire magistrates-by which it appears that this meeting was the first great demonstration of the numbers, union, and spirit of the parties who, after some months of 'free discussion,' unfettered by any secret superintendence of the Government, screwed up their courage to an attempt to storm the town of Newport and massacre the handful of troops who were fortunately at hand to protect the lives and properties of the peaceful inhabitants. We cannot but think that the expenditure of a few pounds of secret-service-money, if it could have enabled the Government to penetrate and prevent this fatal design, would have been quite as creditable to the Home Secretary as his idle and mischievous vapouring at the Liverpool dinner.
At this 'free discussion' at Pontypool, Frost, Vincent, Carrier, Edwards, Llewel lyn, and others-all since committed for high treason or sedition-took an active part in 'stating their grievances'—a proceeding on which it seems the Monmouthshire magistrates do not look with such favouring eyes as Lord John Russell; for they have caused, since the Newport outbreak, one Llewellyn to be taken up and examined before the bench, touching, inter alia, this very meeting of the 1st of January. On this occasion Llewellyn stated in his defence:
The Conservatives, whether in or out of Parliament, raised no clamours about 'massacres' and Peterloos as the then Opposition had done, in the similar affair of Manchester in 1819. If any consider able number of the Conservatives could have so far forgotten their own principles and the public welfare, in party animosity, as to have acted with regard to the Birmingham riots as the Whigs had done with regard to those of Manchester, does any man doubt that the consequences might have been infinitely more serious?
But amongst these meetings-all seditious, yet all professing to seek only the redress of grievances-there was one which requires special notice, both for a
'I did not consider that meetings of these kinds were illegal; no one ever told me that they were. Besides, not two months before, Lord John Russell, the Secretary of State, said, at a public dinner at Liverpool, that public meetings were not only lawful but commendable-for public discussion he thought was the best means to elicit truth. Upon these considerations legal; and under such considerations I thought we I, with many others, thought these meetings perfectly were perfectly right in attending such meetings. If any one had told me these meetings must be stopped or put down, I certainly would have been the first to stop them.'-Times, 21st November.
This appeal to the authority of the Secretary of State did not prevent the magistrates from committing Llewellyn for sedition. We have a strong suspicion that Llewellyn will never be brought to
trial; but, if he should be convicted, we and blood in the streets of Newport), the shall be curious to see how Lord John Whig advocate had the equal effrontery Russell will deal with his erring disciple. and indiscretion to calumniate former We shall not complain if a small sum of Governments, and to revive the recollecsecret-service-money be advanced to the tions of former Oppositions, by adding, misguided and ruined man, to enable him in the attacks on Ministers, for their forbearance to to escape from his grievances' here into the Chartists, the old spirit of Peterloo breaks forth.' the backwoods of Canada, where, out of Edinb. Rev. p. 136. the reach of the oratorical seductions of Secretaries of State, he may become a loyal subject, and a happier and better
Now we have never heard any attacks on the Government for their leniency to the Chartists in their recent prosecutionson the contrary, the Chartists allege, and we see no reason to contradict them, that
Did Lord John, or did any one else, imagine that this Liverpool speech would there was no room for any such attacks be adduced in palliation of such flagrant-for leniency there was none-the grasedition? Certainly not; but we, and vamen of the only attacks we have seen we suppose everybody else, did feel, was the same as this of our own, that the when we first read that speech, that it Ministers had contributed to encourage was of a most dangerous tendency, liable the offences, which they were afterwards to the misinterpretations of the ignorant called upon to repress. The introduction or the designing; and that so high an of the word 'PETERLOO !' into this bit of authority as the Secretary of State should calumny is a finishing touch worthy the have been doubly cautious not rest of the picture, and needs only what our printer's devil has bestowed upon it -a note of admiration!
which were too likely--as in the case to which the quotation refers to end in arms, and in fire, and in blood.
In the same spirit were the speeches made at a public breakfast given in Edinburgh, a very few days before the Newport rebellion, at which the greatest (after the Home Secretary) of all official authorities in such matters-Her Majesty's
The suppression during the summer of the Birmingham and other alarming riots -however partial and precarious every Attorney-General-made a very remarkprudent observer must have known it to be-quite intoxicated the Ministerialists: one of their organs generally an able one, but on this occasion employing we think a rather feeble hand-published, late in October, what was called 'a Defence of the Whigs' in which we find the following passage:
able appearance. At this breakfast, Sir James Forrest, the Whig Lord Provost, stated, amongst other things of similar veracity
'If the Tories had obtained office what would have
Happy, indeed, is it for the safety of this country, as well as for those unfortunate men who are already awakening from the frantic counsels of their demagogues, that those-[the veracious writer means, the great Conservative party, consisting of the majority of the House of Lords-the all but majority of the Commons, and the vast majority of the people of England] who see no sceptre but the sword, no sign-post but the gibbet, are not in a situation to enable them to act upon their notions of a strong government! Let them rail, if they please, at that forbear-his official situation much was intrusted to him: and ance, which is but trust in the good sense of a great by his prudence he had the credit of having restored tranand a free people, and which, in allowing the frenzy quillity to the country.'
become of Ireland? The disastrous consequences might be more easily imagined than described. And what would have happened in this country! Why, when the fear of the Chartists prevailed, the same measures would have been adopted as were adopted by Pitt in 1794, when the scaffold and banishment were the fate of all those who differed from the gov ernment of the day. But ministers had acted more wisely; and, instead of endeavouring to check Chartism by force, left the good sense of the country to counteract its influence. The result had been that all the power of the Chartists had vanished into smoke. [Gunpowder smoke, most sapient magistrate.] Govthe counsels of their honoured guest. (Cheers.) From ernment in all those proceedings had been aided by
of a misguided class to fret and consume itself, is
rapidly destroying Chartism through its own follies, And Mr. Attorney himself, with rather without making victims of the deceived and martyrs of less than his usual modesty, re-echoed his the deceivers. We do not hesitate to say, that, had the country reaped no other benefits from the Whig Ministry, that Ministry would be entitled to lasting honour and gratitude for the lenient and wise, because peace-preserving and liberty-preserving, maxims upon which it acted throughout the Chartist crisis.'
And not content with this false and flimsy panegyric (so soon to be refuted by fire
own praises :
'My Lord Provost has referred to a subject which certainly threw great responsibility upon me. I mean the alarming symptoms of disorder which were displayed by the party called Chartists. There was Their doctrines were destructive of property and great alarm. They appeared to be numerous. social order. Their meetings had a formidable ap