xxxxxThe People’s Charter was drawn up by William Lovett, leader of The Workingmen’s Association, in 1838. The first national working class movement in Britain, it demanded widespread political reform, including universal male suffrage and voting by secret ballot. Following on from the affair known as the Tolpuddle Martyrs -
Chartism: by the English photographer William Edward Kilburn (1818-
xxxxxItxwas in May 1838 that The Workingmen’s Association, formed in London by the social reformer William Lovett (1800-
xxxxxThe reasons for this movement were not difficult to find. Only four years earlier the affair known as the Tolpuddle Martyrs -
xxxxxThree petitions were presented to Parliament over the next ten years, in 1839, 1842 and 1848, but despite the strength of feeling these apparently showed (3 million signed in 1842), all were rejected. Inxthe meantime Chartism came under the influence of the militant Irish member of Parliament Feargus Edward O’Connor (1794-
xxxxxThen In April 1848 -
xxxxxNevertheless, indirectly, the Chartist movement played a significant role in world affairs. In 1842 the German social and political philosopher Friedrich Engels (illustrated) was working in a Manchester cotton factory and supported the aims of Chartism. Two years later he became friends with his fellow countryman Karl Marx and, as we shall see, it was these two men who produced the Communist Manifesto in 1848, a document which was destined to bring about profound changes in world affairs.
xxxxxAndxChartism had a knock-
xxxxxWilliam Lovett was sent to prison for a year in 1839, and it was then that he and a fellow prisoner wrote Chartism: A New Organisation of the People. On coming to power, Feargus O’Connor used his journal, The Northern Star, to drum up support. Amongxothers who contributed to the movement were the English poet Thomas Cooper (1805-
xxxxxIncidentally, the cause of the Chartists was in no way helped in 1848 when the last petition was sent to Parliament. O’Connor claimed that it contained five million signatures, though the number proved to be less than half that figure, and some of the signatures were clearly fictitious, and included those of Queen Victoria, the Duke of Wellington, and Mr Punch! ……
xxxxx…… Itxwasxduring the time of the Chartist agitation that the so-
xxxxxThe name of the riots was taken from a prophecy in the Book of Genesis that the descendants of Rebecca would “possess the gate of those who hate them.” The leader of each band was named “Rebecca”, and his followers or “daughters”, were often disguised as women.
Thomas Carlyle and
xxxxxThe Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle (1795-
xxxxxThe Anglican priest Charles Kingsley (1819-
xxxxxKingsley was born at Holne Vicarage in Devon, and after studying at Cambridge University took holy orders, becoming rector of Eversley, Hampshire, in 1844. He was professor of modern history at Cambridge throughout the 1860s, and it was during that time that he became involved in a dispute with John Newman (later Cardinal) over his conversion to Roman Catholicism. He became chaplain to Queen Victoria in 1859, canon of Westminster in 1873. and, later, tutor to the Prince of Wales, the future Edward VII.
xxxxxIncidentally, he was one of the first Anglican clergymen to give wholehearted support to Charles Darwin’s doctrine of evolution and natural selection. ……
xxxxx…… Kingsley’sxniece, Mary Kingsley (1862-
xxxxx…… Inx1895, while exploring in Africa, Mary Kingsley met the Scottish missionary Mary Slessor (1848-
xxxxxIn 1839 the Scottish social historian and critic Thomas Carlyle (1795-
xxxxxHis belief in the importance of heroes, men of vision and courage, coloured much of his work. He saw the need for strong leaders like Cromwell, Frederick the Great and Napoleon Bonaparte to push mankind towards higher goals, however ruthless their own contribution might be in the short term. Such men, convinced that they were an instrument of God, were the means by which social justice would eventually be achieved. In later life, however, he took a more pessimistic view. He despaired of Victorian society, seeing seeds of anarchy within the growth of democracy and the decline in moral values. He thus opposed the drive towards “universal suffrage”, regarding it as a mere “counting of heads”. His Past and Present, published in 1843, developed this idea of the hero, comparing the strict but wise rule of a medieval abbot with the political turmoil of his own troubled century. Then in 1850 came Latter Day Pamphlets, a series of blistering attacks upon the shortcomings of Victorian society.
xxxxxCarlyle was born in Ecclefechan, Dumfriesshire, a member of a devout Calvinist family. After studying at Edinburgh University, he abandoned any ideas of the ministry, and taught at Annan Academy and a school at Kirkcaldy before moving to Edinburgh in 1818. There, working as a tutor, he immersed himself in the study of German literature, translating Goethe’s Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, and writing the life of the poet and playwright Friedrich von Schiller. After his marriage in 1826, he lived on a remote farm at Craigenputtock, Dumfriesshire, and it was there that he wrote Sartor Resartus (The Tailor Retailored), a philosophical study in which he questioned certain aspects of his faith, but affirmed his spiritual idealism, and continued to stress the importance of self-
xxxxxIn 1834 he moved to Chelsea, London, -
xxxxxThe accuracy of his work proved suspect at times, and his prose, grandiose and full of imagery, was often difficult to follow, and sometimes obscure. Nonetheless, his vivid, picturesque style conveyed history as it had not been conveyed before, and, by contrasting the present with the past, he provided a powerful commentary on the social and political issues of his time. Apartxfrom Hunt and Mill, his acquaintances included Matthew Arnold and Charles Dickens (who dedicated Hard Times to him), and he made life-
xxxxxIncidentally, in 1881 Westminster Abbey was offered as his place of burial, but in accordance with his wishes, he was buried alongside his parents at Ecclefechan. His house in Cheyne Row, Chelsea, where he and his wife lived from 1834, is now a museum dedicated to his life and works. ……
xxxxx…… In the mid 1830s Carlyle suffered a serious setback when his friend John Stuart Mill, having been loaned the partly completed manuscript of the French Revolution, put it in the fire by mistake! For Carlyle this meant months of wasted time and effort but, according to all accounts, he accepted the accident with surprisingly good grace. He started the work again and, writing at a furious pace, completed the work early in 1837.
xxxxxAs an Anglican priest, Charles Kingsley (1819-