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A SHREWD tradesman will generally try the genuineness of the coins that are tendered to him, by ringing them on the counter, before putting them into the till. If any unscrupulous eustomer should tender him a Britannia-metal half-crown, a pewter shilling, or a “Brummagem” five-shilling-piece, he will reject it, and insist on being paid in the sterling coin of the realm. If he forbears to hand the imposter who tries to cheat him over to the care of the first policeman who passes the shop-door, it is not because the swindler does not deserve it, but because, baving being discovered in time, his arts have failed to deceive. No one, however, would say that if the shopman had collared the rascal and given him a good, sound horsewhipping on the spot, he had given him more than he richly deserved. The knare would not receive the sympathy of straightforward, honest men. He entered the shop in a very patronising way, and gave his order as if he were kindly and condescendingly encouraging & struggling tradesman in the battle of life. He received the thing he asked for, and in return he tendered as a compensation that which is utterly and intrinsically worthless. The practical man whom he designed to make his dupe detects the fraud in time, and if he does not kick the thief out of the shop, it is only because he foregoes the claims of justice in obedience to the impulse of forbearance.
And in liko manner will a truly intelligent working-man try the mettle of his professed friends before he implicitly trusts them with his interests. Ho will not at once believe in a man simply because he smiles in his face. The spurious shilling was brightly lacquered over, but it was nothing but tin below; and though the countenance of the sycophant is beaming with a fair exterior, it is nothing after all but brass. Supposing the intended victim of the would-be-patriot's arts should discover the cheat before he is duped by it, would any honest man say that he did wrong in scouting him as a scoundrel, or chastising him as a scamp. Would any one with a grain of righteousness in his soulI don't mean those grumblers who write to the “Guardian" and “Examiner” about some imagined abuse, and sign themselves “Lovers of justice” and all that — but would any one with a right notion of true equity in his mind say that the New Bailey was too mean a lodging, or the treadmill too degrading an employment, for the man who tried to stir up disaffection amongst & contented people, to foment disloyalty amongst devoted citizens, and to sow seditious seed into peaceful minds, by exaggerating existing evils, and inventing grievances that do not exist, simply to promote his own selfish and vainglorious ends. That there are such men abroad, - that there are many such villains this side the doors of Newgate,--that there are many such felons who are neither in the hulks nor at Botany Bay, thousands of husbands in this city and in others can testify with a groan,tens of thousands of wives can bear witness with a sigh,hundreds of thousands of hungry children can testify with a cry for bread, - and myriads of graves can witness, either by an epitaph and a stone, or with a plain green mound where the daisies have been bedewed with tears, and the grass has been often trod by shoeless feet. This is not mere rant: it is only & simple fact, which one day will bring to light, even to the eyes of those who now gainsay it. And though I am no politician, and do not wish to give a political lecture here, I should feel that I was shrinking from a duty that I owe to those I want to serve, were I not to avail myself of this passing political crisis, to bring before the toiling population of this city a social and spiritual Reform Bill, which they are bound, as men, to adopt, before they have any true title to the political privileges for which they agitato. I am impelled to this course, moreover, because my motives and spirit are beginning to be misconstrued by working-men themselves ; and I would not willingly forfeit their confidence and regard, without some effort to retain it: and I know that the only true way to retain this confidence, is to be honest and outspoken, -- to assume no disguise, — but to state plainly and boldly the convictions of the conscience. If those convictions are not exactly parallel with yours, I am certain no candid person will think the worse of me for speaking them out; and if, after fairly testing the principles of my Reform Bill, you find them to be unsound or bad, then reject them by all means, and adopt a better code of laws. I have made an assertion, which I hope incidentally to corroborate as I go along, namely, that hearts have been broken, homes desolated, and graves filled up, by the more or less direct influence of misguided political agitation. I have said that there are sham-patriots and mob-leaders among the working-classes, upon whose heads rests the blood of myriads of wives and children. Now these are assertions which no man has a right to make, unless he believes it to be in his power to substantiate them; and though I do not propose to apply myself directly to that task, I believe that the provisions of the Reform Bill which I have to bring before you, and the few words with which I shall try to enforce them, will contain an incidental proof of the statement I have made.
Let me speak plainly then. I am no Radical Reformer, in the usual political acception of the word. I have no vote my. self, and do not care if I never have one at all. I don't fancy myself a martyr because I may not go to the polling-booth, and I don't consider those who keep me without a vote are oppressing me or trampling on my rights; and I don't mean to allow any bawling demagogue to persuade me into the idea that I am a slave, and that everyone who happens to be better off than myself is a tyrant and a despot. And I believe this to be the state of mind of the great majority of working men. It is a strange thing, but still it is a fact, that we seldom find political agitation very rife among the operative classes when trade is good and labour is abundant. Let a man only find his home comfortable, his family happy, his cupboard filled, and his time fully employed, and it is astonishing bow indifferently listless he becomes to the representations of those hireling firebrands, who try to convince him that he is a slave, or at least a cypher in the social scale. Just in proportion as his appetite for bread and cheese is satisfied, in that proportion does his appetite for vote by ballot and universal suffrage decrease. When men are on half time, and earning only half wages, then they become suddenly aware that they have no vote, and get smitten with a strong ambition to be sent to the House of Commons and “die on the floor of St Stephens.” If men are labouring under an injustice, I would not recommend them to rest contented under it; but they are inflicting an enormous injustice on themselves; and until they have emancipated themselves from the greater oppression, they had better not trou: ble themselves about the less. I went the other day into the town jail in Salford, and there I saw prisoners in cells, prisoners on the tread wheel, prisoners in the workshop, prisoners everywhere. But there was one prisoner who, for some refractory breach of discipline had been put into the dark cell; and a darker, more awfully Cimmerian place I never saw. No ray of light could pierce the thickness of the gloom; but though the sun was blazing at its zenith, the midnight of December is not so black as was that culprit's cell. This man had been put there for some rebellion against the laws of the prison. Now, naturally, his first desire would be to get out of this dismal dungeon, before his ambition soared to the longing after perfect liberty. And, in like manner, there are prisoners who, by their violations of the laws of social and moral life, are shut up in a gloomy bondage from wbich no franchise can deliver them; and ere they aspire to the perfect liberty of citizens, they must seek the partial emancipation of men. They must first climb the towering wall of their own debasing vices, and then seek to scale the smaller rampart of man's oppression. Until this is done to a much greater extent than it is at present, I for one would say with all my heart-and I care not what opprobrium I may bring upon myself by the avowal." No franchise for the drunkard, 00
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franchise for the cruel husband or unnatural father ; let him first learn his duty to himself and to his kindred, and then he may be fit to discharge his duty as a citizen.” sober and industrious artizans who deserve the fullest political privileges which their country can give them, but the distinction cannot be made. Let them secure to themselves their own rights by labouring to reform their neighbours; and as soon as we have manhood sobriety, then we may look for manhood suffrage. But, it so happens, as I have already said, that these sober and industrious men are not the men who clamour most loudly about politics. They forget their political wrongs in their enjoyment of their social happiness. The frugal, honest, industrious, sober working man, has no time and no inclination to spend his evenings at some Chartist meeting, bellowing about the "rights of labour;" he goes home and enjoys the rights of labour there : the right to cheer his anxious wife with his long-looked -for presence, ---the right to dandle his children on his knees, the right to revel in the joys of a home gladdened by friendship and consecrated by love. He looks round upon his household gods, and forgets whether Lord Derby or Lord Palmerston are in power; he forgets that he has no vote, but he remembers with gratitude that in the Parliament of Home he is Prime Minister, and, as he pats his children on the head and draws his wife nearer to his side, he blessés God that his constituency have returned him without a contest, and resolves that the energies of his heart and the aspirings of his soul shall be employed in representing them fully, fairly, and conscientiously-in supplying their wants, and promoting their interests. When he goes out to his work he feels like a sort of Foreign Secretary engaged in setting matters right abroad; and he finds on his return that his wife has proved herself so efficient at the head of the Home Department, that he installs her every Saturday night into the additional office of Chancellor of the Exchequer, by pouring his hard-earned wages into her careful lap.
Tomorrow night we are to see what sort of a Reform Bill & Tory Administration is prepared to offer to this country,-how much gall and wormwood a Conservative ministry can swallow