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that teeming district. It has been the only religious teacher by whom the vast majority of the thousands living there have been at all instructed: and their present state is most appalling, though, to such as have an eye to see, most pregnant with sound admonition. Their almost soulless aspect of indifference; the blindest possible and most unmoveable, or varied only by occasional malignant or coarse jocosity, too witless to be humorous, too meaningless to be accounted infidelity; this aspect never could have clothed a man like Bamford. His religion, notwithstanding, at least as apparent in his book, is to our apprehension of no loftier a nature than what is traceable in the general corruption of his district. Activity, sympathy, an imagination such as his, must necessarily do something with religious knowledge when acquired, however superficial, vague, and mixed with errors it may be, and however offensively it may have been communicated. Doubtless, the fullest, purest, and most aptly furnished spiritual knowledge, is frequently perverted to results most frightful and tremendous. But the ruin and decay cannot conceal the nature of what has been so signally abused. The kind and the mode of instruction are, to an analytic eye, as perceptible in the failure as in the improvement. The improvement made by Bamford, and the abuse so marked among his neighbours, appear to us phenomena of the same elementary materials, the truths of Christianity as presented in the least orderly, accurate, congruous, and effective way, in which perhaps they could be in a land and day like this. And to the feeble indefiniteness of Bamford's Christian views, and the consequent want of comprehensiveness and of well-adjusted, steady pressure, by which his religious principles of action were necessarily distinguished, we attribute his contentment with a something short of genuine heroism, and his failing to remove more thoroughly his adversaries' prejudices against the political principles he entertained. Still, if we rank Major Cartwright and his compeers as the first class, Bamford, all his history considered, was among the best of the second class, of the reformers of that day; and of Hunt's admirers, such at least as figured publicly, none, perhaps, excelled him. And he had a proportionate rewardthe generous discrimination of excited and alarmed opponents; and, we have not a doubt, he did his cause a correspondent service, constraining opposition to respect him, and thus helping to persuade it to investigate more candidly his principles. To what extent his political convictions have been modified ; how far Tory courtesy has conciliated him to Tory principles; whether the public commendation of his work, too, has not nourished vanity rather than industry, and, together with pleasure, produced carelessness to please; all these are points we
feel called to overlook, when once suggested, rather than adjudicate. Should our readers think it worth their while to censure Bamford on such points, let them, if they can, as we do, trace up his errors to the flimsy feebleness of his religion ; think what he might have been if blessed with larger and more luminous discoveries of God; and then lay censure light: for we, too, are all human; and Bamford was a handloom weaver, poor, friendless, and despised.
And now, notwithstanding our stout determination to inflict a lengthy moral on our readers, we find that, though we treat of facts not fables, our moral, in proportion to our tale, must be as curt and cramped as that of the most welcome fabulists. We grieve at the necessity, but have no choice. Our destined space is well nigh occupied; and, besides, we have not had it in our power to copy out the passages that chiefly rouse the thoughts we now proceed to indicate. We suppose, then, that our readers have examined Bamford's volumes, and have consequently learned a little of what magistrates, policemen, jurors, yeomanry, spies in the pay of government, and other members of the home-executive, could, thirty years since, do for the maintenance of peace and in honour of righteousness. We are not indisposed to admit that our internal police is at present of a character in somewhat closer harmony with truth and equity. But if any of our readers can turn away from Bamford's pages with the comfortable persuasion that wrongs such as he felt are never now inflicted, and that in our 'free and happy land’ the exeeutive will no more do evil, for the sake of either good or evil, we pray them to dispel the pleasant but most treacherous delusion; to suffer facts, at all events, to have a little force; and, instead of dreaming that there is nothing now to do but to enjoy the liberty secured by their predecessors, to bethink themselves of what the advantages which they possess devolve upon them as their duty; and to examine whether foes have not already bound them while indulging in complacent sleep. Did the government employ no spies against the Chartists? Was Lord Abinger a righteous judge? Were the Dublin trials such as the reporters testified ? Is there a public reformer among us, whose private letters Sir James Graham has not opened ? What have not both judge and jury done to silence Mr. Miall? Is not the administration of the law of libel worse than even in the days of Mansfield ? Are North Britons quite secure from the far-famed internal vigour of their criminal courts? Of our courts ecclesiastical, our_irresponsible unpaid, our martial courts, our guardians of the poor, our income-tax commissioners, who does not weekly hear of deeds so dark as to overspread our VOL. XX.
hearths with gloom ? And does the gloom dispose thee, Britain, to a heavy sleep? They who have overcast it, are they thy household gods? And canst thou laud them for it, and then trust thyself beneath their darkening care as if repose were safe? And of thy sons, seem the religious the most contented and most drowsy?
We now advert to another matter; and, still supposing that our readers are familiar with the contents of these volumes, we declare our readiness to deduce from them alone, both the people's right to have, and their fitness to employ, the suffrage. We mean by their 'fitness,' their equal fitness to that of the classes deemed already fit; and though some of our opponents might at first rejoice in our appeal on such a subject to the volumes before us, we should not retract our assertion, but should calmly prosecute our reference. Mountebanks like Healey ; scoundrels such as Hunt; madmen such as Mitchell; dupes like Bamford's co-delegate'; malignants such as many who have not a name; all may be revived, as if we were to be confounded and for ever silenced by the resurrection : but we retain our position and our bearing, and are prepared, when opportunity is meet, to verify all we have asserted. None of his readers will suspect Bamford of flattering liis class in the portrait he has given of them; or, on the other hand, of detracting from the beauty of the 'privileged.' Of the two classes, moreover, the mere inhabitants are unquestionably improved, since the times that Bamford treats of, to a much more marked degree than their exclusive oppressors, the citizens. But confining our attention to the two as represented in these volumes, we unhesitatingly declare that for shrewd perception of what tends to their own interests, and, according to their possible range of observation, to the interests of all; for readiness to widen their range of view when requisite, and to bear personal and temporary suffering for the universal good; for sympathy with integrity and general ability, sufficient to discriminate those among their offered leaders who are most competent to lead them; for patience when wronged, and unwillingness to wrong; in short, for any of the general qualifications desirable for electors, we should as cheerfully depend on the unprivileged as on their fancied superiors; and for some of these qualifications, we should inexpressibly prefer the former to the latter, the excluded to the monopolists, the banned to the favoured and bepraised. Yet the citizens' pourtrayed before us are, as a body, among the most seemly of their class; and the 'mere inhabitants' assuredly are, with one or two exceptions, by much the least eminent of theirs. Those, too, had all advantages; our clients, scarcely any. These last, moreover, were palpably and in many ways oppressed, and yet restrained themselves from madness; the others used their power for intoxication, though using it for justice they would have been extolled for generosity as well. We assert all this, now, with a very full and clear remembrance of the whole that we have written above, and elsewhere too, respecting the blank irreligiousness of the thousands among the operatives of Lancashire. Theirs, however, is not all the irreligiousness among us: and if the corruption of the best things is the worst state possible, there is a more fearful and demoralizingly pernicious corruption of religious truth, we apprehend, among the self-applauded and unsympathizing voters, than any visible among their wantonly scorned subjects.
But we have a moral for these subjects' too; for the 'mere inhabitants' of Lancashire especially, as those most conspicuously brought before us in this book, though for all as well whose condition is akin to theirs. And could we reach the ears of the million of artisans in Lancashire, we should take advantage of Mr. Bamford's book to address them on many a matter of detail. But as our pages circulate among the better educated and more thoughtful only of this extraordinary population, we shall confine our observations to one topic, but that, in our esteem, the most comprehensive and important. Their great need is what we have already spoken of as Bamford's; the need of enlightened, strong, operative, personal religion. This assertion is not a mere truism ; nor does it imply that Lancashire artisans are of a nature requiring religious correctives more than other men. But, reminded by these volumes of their political history for the last fifty years; of their often raised and as often disappointed hopes; of their costly and riskful efforts to enfranchise the classes just above them, the very men who now are the most earnest to exclude them from full citizenship; of their frequent deception by corrupt and dangerous leaders of their pauses between periods of spasmodic exertion for their rights, pauses, for the most part, unimproved and useless; of their powerlessness, and unwillingness to act, unless associated ; of the tendency of their association to awaken fear rather than to command respect; of their joy in being feared, even when as determined as possible to do nothing of the nature apprehended; of their dependence on their numbers rather than their sense; and of their love of physical demonstrations, all to end in nothing, rather than of moral, which are never made in vain; reminded of all this, as amply illustrated in the last half century; perceiving, too, the tendency of the capital invested in the cotton business, to accumulate in masses large and few, and the all but sovereign sway to be consequently exercised by masters, easily banded and of mutual sympathies, over the many hundreds, or thousands, they severally employ; lastly, expecting that a general reduction of hours of labour will soon occa sion to this mighty multitude facilities, for either good or evil, not known to the present generation, or, at least, since the factory discipline was substituted for the less restricted handloom life; collecting all these things, and pondering them till we feel the force of cach, and the general pressure of them all ; the specific conviction occupies and fills our mind, that religion only can acquire for these men their rights, and religion only can make the rights a blessing when acquired. We protest, we say, against regarding this assertion as a truism. It contains truth, without doubt, of universal application; but truth, too, worthy of distinct and pointed application, such as we now give it. Whatever be man's need, we glory equally with any in first bidding him fear God: but in relation to the need we now are stulying, we feel that no mcans can efficiently be used to meet it but by religious men alone; that all exertion but such as is animated by religious motive, and pervaded by re. ligious temper, repels the prize the farther, and is worse than useless; and that unless employed as religious men alone would use it, the suffrage, comparatively harmless, it may be, to others, would to the operatives themselves become a chain of bondage not of glory, a curse and not a blessing. To gain the suffrage, they must fight, or they must reason. To fight would be both murderous and suicidal. No reason is heard but such as comes from men whose general character and ways constrain respect and charm attention. None but religious men; or men, at least, whose social character is such as is formed by religious men alone, and has their general approbation; none but men like these can gain the ear of people who have power : for they only give a pledge that they will use the citizen's prerogative for the advantage of the city; and, we will add, they only can honestly employ, even if other men could think of, the most forcible arguments for establishing their right. Men of the religion we are now imagining, speak for themselves, and act alone, whether joined by their fellow-men or not. They shun an organized association whose real and apparent leaders are not men of the social excellences hinted at above. They are such as no man would attempt to bribe. They are too valuable servants for any master to risk losing by attempting to coerce. They feel the force of truth rather than of circumstances; and hence strive constantly and calmly, rather than at intervals and in convulsions. They resist unrighteous instigations if made by men of their own level; and thus faithful in a few things, they are evidently fitted to be rulers over more.