Nook version of a vintage magazine article originally published in 1897. This criticism of Eliot is very opinionated, "You meet people here whom you don't care to meet again." He even goes so far as to say "Felix Holt is beyond question the stupidest of all Geo. Eliot's works." With all that said, he goes ...
Nook version of a vintage magazine article originally published in 1897. This criticism of Eliot is very opinionated, "You meet people here whom you don't care to meet again." He even goes so far as to say "Felix Holt is beyond question the stupidest of all Geo. Eliot's works." With all that said, he goes on to give a great look at English Radicalism of the 1830's, and the different looks at it.
If you are a student of Eliot, this early work is a must read.
Read excerpt -
Here, then, is our starting place. The French Revolution is English radicalism, writ large and writ in blood. The Parisian outburst helped the English peasant to find his voice; it put articulately his protest. He had always suffered —he was weak and what is the life of the weak but a life of suffering—but by the light of the French Revolution he recognized this suffering and the injustice of it; had quickened within his dull consciousness a sense of wrong; was moved in a blind, ignorant way to seek the redress of his grievances, the righting of his wrongs; and these economic and political phenomena—chartism, radicalism, and what not, are the hot lava breathings of his volcanic heart.
What Richter calls the "seed grains" of revolutionary doctrines had been blown across the channel and here in old England's soil they were to fall and die, and bye and bye rush to the harvest. The genesis of this English agitation goes back at least to the Reform Bill of '32. This bill, while in the judgment of sober historians, averting a revolution through its concessions, the abolition of rotten boroughs and conferring the right of representation upon many towns and increased representation upon many of the counties, did not go far enough. It left the working classes almost altogether without the franchise. The middle classes received largely from it, but the working classes nothing at all and for them there was no hint of political emancipation. Here was ground of discon¬tent. The toilers of the nation had been duped into the belief that the Reform Bill would redress all their wrongs, confer upon them all dreamed of rights, and they wake from their delusion to find themselves cheated. Nothing had been done for them, more than that, nothing would be done for them. The so-called Liberal party feared that already it had gone too far in its demands and would not go one inch farther, indeed looked only toward reaction. Disgusted with their burdens the working men resolved to take the cause in their own hands and a few weeks after the coronation of Victoria a monster meeting was held in Birmingham and a manifesto adopted which afterward came to be known as the chartist manifesto. "There's your charter," said O'Connell to the secretary and that powerful phrase, the "people's charter," was launched into being. There and then if English radicalism did not begin to exist, then and there at the least it first found a voice. Its voice at this distance does not seem a savage one. The demands of the charter were six. 1. Universal suffrage. 2. Annual parliaments. 3. Vote by ballot. 4. Abolition of property qualifications. 5. Payment of members of parliament. 6. The division of the country into equal electoral districts.
This was the famous charter, the most revolutionary program ever mapped out by English radicalism, and yet tame almost to commonplaceness. To see how little sympathy the working classes of England have ever had for all continental communism, nihilism, and all other revolutionary movements, you have but to compare the programs of socialism with these temperate demands. This charter contemplates no root and branch work, no overturning of things, no undermining of Church and state, no acts of hostility to the throne. On the contrary, it desired through the reaching of law to work out certain economic and political reforms.
Now it is quite evident that the radicals, those who felt themselves most aggrieved, were not always clear in their own thinking ....