« ForrigeFortsett »
enemy and calumniator of the Tories ;y of Secretary of State, he made himself to gain, probably, a few radical votes in responsible for all the contingencies his newly-created boroughs : perhaps to which might arise from his own-even conciliate some radical member-or, in were it involuntary-blindness and misshort, to exhibit the greatest possible management. If a man sets up as an contrast with what a Tory minister might apothecary or surgeon, the law requires be expected to have done. These, his that he should have the ordinary forelordship-if we may judge from his sight and skill reasonably to be expected Stroud speech-might think not only from a professed practitioner, and if he blameless, but even praiseworthy motives, administers poison instead of medicine, and they have, we believe, guided no in- or cuts an artery when he only meant to considerable number of similar appoint- breathe a vein, the law will hold him ments; but whether with better effect on guilty of murder, or of manslaughter at the peace and prosperity of other places the least. Nay, if such a practitioner were than they have had at Newport, we fer- to substitute an unqualified or inexperivently pray that we may have no similar enced apprentice to perform such operaopportunity of judging,
tions, 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 consequenject 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 But it is not merely by individual inrecommendation, nor countenanced such stances of misplaced patronage that a man as Frost was known, and had been Lord John Russell has made himself
, in shown to be: above all, the Secretary our opinion, responsible for a large share of State for the Home Department, re- in the disorders which have marked this sponsible for the tranquillity and due last eventful, and we are sorry to be subordination of the kingdom, should not obliged to add, calamitous year. have given him the weight and import- In the course of the autumn of 1838 ance that any government favour must Lord John Russell thought proper to pay necessarily confer in those remote and a visit to Liverpool, which was attended, narrow societies. Frost should not have in our opinion, with results so important been made even an exciseman ; bụt to as to justify some special notice. His invest him with the dignity and authori- Lordship’s reception there must have ty of the magistracy was indefensible-satisfied him of the unpopularity into monstrous—and monstrous indeed has which he and his colleagues had fallen been the result.
in the .second city of the empire ; but Lord John, we have already admitted, unfortunately it did not teach him how never contemplated such consequences the only true and desirable popularity can he thought he was only sharpening a be obtained, and how impossible it is for weapon against the Tories, while, in fact, a minister to reconcile the maintenance he was unintentionally preparing it to of his own character, and the authority cut his own fingers, and still more un- of his office, with an endeavour to prointentionally, if more be possible-fitting pitiate by mean submissions and awk. it for the bloody work which it has event- ward flatteries those who are the natural ually performed. Lord John did not enemies of all authority, but especially foresee all this-certainly not; and no of the authority of a minister of the one, perhaps, could foresee the exact Crown. Can the Ethiopian change his shape that the mischief would take : but skin, or the leopard his spots? Then every thinking man in the country-ex- may ye also do good that are accustomed cept her Majesty's Ministers—saw that to do evil.' The text is applicable both such a misapplication of ministerial pa- to Lord John and to the classes he is so tronage must, sooner or later, in some anxious to conciliate. He can neither shape or other, produce the most disor. change his own spots nor clear up
the ganizing effect.
dark countenances of dissent and disaf. When Lord John accepted the office fection. It is not, however, of his fail
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 panegyricon 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 The great body of the people of Liver. imaginary grievances. We give an expool, the influential of all classes and tract of his speech from the Whig parties, declined to take any share in papers of the day :doing the honours of their town to Lord John Russell-but the proposer of the
• He would not, he said, before such a party, Reform Bill, the creator of the New wander into the field of politics, but there was one
topic, connected with his own department, upon Town Council
, and the Secretary of State which he might be allowed to dwell for a few mo. for the Home Department, was not yet ments, without a few partisans in so great a
• He alluded to the public meetings which were population ; and the Mayor of Liverpool the country.
now in the course of being held in various parts of
There were some, perhaps, who -himself the creature of Lord John's would put down such meetings. But such was not Municipal Bill—thought it necessary to his opinion, nor that of the Government with which 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
It was free discussion which 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
• It was not from free discussion, it was not from would not permit to be private.
the unchecked declaration of public opinion, that Let it be kept in mind that at the time Governments had anything to fear. There was in question, as indeed in all troublesome fear when men were driven by force to secret com.
binations. There was the fear-there was the dan. times, the disaffected throughout the
ger, and not in free discussion. country were exhibiting their force, and He then alluded, with the greatest satisfaction, scarcely concealing their objects, by to the reduction of the item of secret-service-money,
which had been effected since he entered the Home holding public meetings under the flimsy
Office. pretence of a constitutional expression of their opinions. This mode of intimi- Now we beg our readers to observe dating a government was of Whig inven- some points of this speech to which subtion, and had by them been, for a long sequent events have given a melancholy series of years, employed on every occa- importance. sion of public excitement against the
First, Lord John admits that it was deministers of the day. They had also livered on an occasion in which politics continued, since their late accession to were out of place, but, as those popular power, to employ it occasionally against meetings were then in the course of the Conservatives ; but the engine had being held in various parts of the counbecome from all this encouragement so try'-a matter 'connected with his own formidable to the general peace of the particular department'-he made an excountry, and was so notoriously directed, ception in this special case to the general not merely against the possibility of a exclusion of politics, and thus went out Conservative government, but against of his way to panegyrise and encourage any and all government, that it became al' these political meetings ;' and finally he source of great alarm even to the Whig adverts with a significant emphasis to ministers themselves—and the greater another point also connected with the because they were at an utter loss how Home department, and of course with the 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
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 vol. to 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. cireumstances 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 se. hope 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 blind- There are times and places in which it ness which will sometimes affect the may be all very well to talk of the popular shrewdest, for any hope on his part that rights of meeting for the free discussion of such vague and slip-slop palaver, about grievances and other such commonplaces, 'free discussion of grievances,' would re. which nobody that we know of denies in concile his audience, or the radicals in the abstract--but that which is harmless general, to those practical measures which on one occasion may in another be highas Minister he had already been obliged ly dangerous ;-Lord John Russell's disto take against the agitators, and which sertation on these points would have been it was, even then, obvious would soon re- in an individual in a private company as quire a still more coercive application. innocent and as sedative as smoking a pipe In short, Lord John's whole conduct on but Lord John was so rash as to smoke this affair is to us incomprehensible, his pipe in a powder-magazine. And what whether considered in point of taste, or followed ? The country blew up !--Meetof judgment, or of duty ;-or even as a ings for the redress of grievances became party expedient-unless, indeed, he al- almost universal—so numerous indeed, ready anticipated the possibility of Sir that it is equally impossible and unnecesRobert Peel's being soon called to power, sary that we should attempt to give a catand thought it prudent to prepare, thus alogue of them ; but they assumed one, early and while he was still minister, a de- we believe new, and certainly very re. fence for the future assemblages of the markable, feature. The people, being so populace which his party would no doubt opportunely reminded by the Secretary of endeavour to excite against a Conserva- State of their undoubted right of meeting, tive Government.
would of course exercise it-but as the But, whatever may have been his mo- working classes have the same constitutive, it is clear that he sought the oppor- tional rights as people of more leisure, tunity of promulgating these opinions. and as they could not spare any part of We should have thought that the restrict their day for such meetings, and as Lord ed character of the Liverpool dinner, John's invitation was promulgated at the however mortifying in other respects, beginning of the short days, it followed would have had one consolation for a that, if they were to meet to exercise the 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 Ma.
gistrates to act against 'great numbers of reference which it involves to Lord John evil-minded and disorderly persons who Russell's Liverpool speech and for its have lately assembled after sunset and by connection with the Newport rebellion. torch-light in large bodies,' &c.
Within a few weeks after the extraorThis proclamation was proper and ne- dinary manifesto of the Secretary of State cessary--but who had contributed by his was forced upon the notice of the public, indiscretion to render it necessary ? a meeting was held on the 1st of JanuaWere not the persons who in the long ry, near Pontypool, which was considered days of July or August attended the of no great consequence at the moment, numerous' meetings in various parts of but the importance of which has been the country' with Lord John's not tacit lately established by the proceedings beapprobation, of the selfsame classes, cha-fore the Monmouthshire magistrates—by racters, and principles with those who, in which it appears that this meeting was
some parts of the country, assembled the first great demonstration of the numafter sunset in the short days of Decem- bers, union, and spirit of the parties who, ber?. What essential difference was there after some months of 'free discussion, between the applauded meetings in Au- unfettered by any secret superintendence gust and the denounced meetings in De- of the Government, screwed up their cember, that might not have been reason- courage to an attempt to storm the town ably foreseen and expected from the advance of Newport and massacre the handful of of the season and the increasing audacity troops who were fortunately at hand to of the parties ?-Well; the torch-light protect the lives and properties of the meetings were fortunately suppressed peaceful inhabitants. We cannot but with little or no bloodshed nor even diffi- think that the expenditure of a few pounds culty: but on the return of the spring, of secret-service-money, if it could have the same parties began to assemble again enabled the Government to penetrate and for the same objects, in full day; and the prevent this fatal design, would have been extensive and alarming riots in Birming- quite as creditable to the Home Secretaham and so many other populous places ry as his idle and mischievous vapouring
- in various parts of the country,' all at the Liverpool dinner. held, as the parties pretended, for free At this free discussion' at Pontypool, discussion of the grievances of the peo- Frost, Vincent, Carrier, Edwards, Llewelple--were a startling commentary on lyn, and others-all since committed for Lord John Russell's doctrine. These, high treason or sedition-took an active too, were fortunately arrested—not with part in ‘stating their grievances'—a proout great difficulty and after extensive ceeding on which it seems the Monmouth. mischief-by the united vigour of arms shire magistrates do not look with such and prosecutions; and, stronger than favouring eyes as Lord John Russell ; for either arms or prosecutions, by the force they have caused, since the Newport outof public opinion : for, now that the Gov. break, one Llewellyn to be taken up and ernment had declared against them, they examined before the bench, touching, received no support or encouragement inter alia, this very meeting of the 1st of from any authoritative or influential por- January. On this occasion Llewellyn tion of society.
stated in his defence: The Conservatives, whether in or out of Parliament, raised no clamours about “I did not consider that meetings of these kinds were 'massacres' and 'Peterloos' as the then illegal ; no one ever told me that they were. Besides,
not two months before, Lord John Russell, the SecreOpposition had done, in the similar affair tary of State, said, at a public dinner at Liverpool, of Manchester in 1819. If any consider that public meetings were not only lauful but comable number of the Conservatives could mendable—for public discussion he thought was the have so far forgotten their own principles best means to elicit truth. Upon these considerations
1, with many others, thought these meetings perfectly and the public welfare, in party animosi- legal ; and under such considerations I thought we ty, as to have acted with regard to the were perfectly right in attending such meetings. If Birmingham riots as the Whigs had done any one had told me these meetings must be stopped with regard to those of Manchester, does or put down, I certainly would have been the first to
stop them.'-Times, 21st November, any man doubt that the consequences might have been infinitely more serious ? This appeal to the authority of the
But amongst these meetings—all sedi- Secretary of State did not prevent the tious, yet all professing to seek only the magistrates from committing Llewellyn redress of grievances——there was one for sedition. We have a strong suspicion which requires special notice, both for a 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 Now we have never heard any attacks on Secretaries of State, he may become a the Government for their leniency to the loyal subject, and a happier and better Chartists in their recent prosecutions
on the contrary, the Chartists allege, and Did Lord John, or did any one else, we see no reason to contradict them, that 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 Spargere voces In vulgum ambiguas,'
-a note of admiration!
In the same spirit were the speeches which were too likely-as in the case to made at a public breakfast given in Edinwhich the quotation refers to end in burgh, a very few days before the Newarms, and in fire, and in blood.
port rebellion, at which the greatest (after The suppression during the summer of the Home Secretary) of all official authe Birmingham and other alarming riots thorities in such matters—Her Majesty's
-however partial and precarious every Attorney-General-made a very remarkprudent observer must have known it to able appearance. At this breakfast, Sir be-quite intoxicated the Ministerialists: James Forrest, the Whig Lord Provost, one of their organs-generally an able stated, amongst other things of similar one, but on this occasion employing we veracitythink a rather feeble hand-published,
If the Tories had obtained office what would have late in October, what was called 'a De become of Ireland ? The disastrous consequences fence of the Whigs' in which we find the might be more easily imagined than described. And following passage :
what would have happened in this country? Why,
when the fear of the Chartists prevailed, the same * Happy, indeed, is it for the safety of this country, measures would have been adopted as were adopted as well as for those unfortunate men who are already | by Pitt in 1794, when the scaffold and banishnient awakening from the frantic counsels of their dema- were the fate of all those who differed from the govgogues, that those—[the veracious writer means, the ernment of the day, But ministers had acted more great Conservative party, consisting of the majority wisely; and, instead of endeavouring to check Charof the House of Lords—the all but majority of the tism by force, left the good sense of the country to Commons, and the vast majority of the people of counteract its influence. The result had been that England)—who see no sceptre but the sword, no all the power of the Chartists had ranished into smoke. sign-post but the gibbet, are not in a situation to ena- ernment in all those proceedings had been aided by
[Gunpowder smoke, most sapient magistrate.) Govble 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
the counsels of their honoured guest. (Cheers.) From 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. 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 own praises :Ministry, that Ministry would be entitled to lasting honour and gratitude for the lenient and wise, because certainly threw great responsibility upon me. I
• My Lord Provost has referred to a subject whick peace-preserving and liberty-preserving, maxims upon mean the alarming symptoms of disorder which were which it acted throughout the Chartist crisis.'
displayed by the party called Chartists. There was And not content with this false and flimsy Their doctrines were destructive of property and
They appeared to be numerous. panegyric (80 soon to be refuted by fire social order. Their meetings had a formidable ap