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exceptional years during which the poor really grew poorer. One man
could make as much cotton cloth in a day as two hundred could have done
before; but what was to become of the one hundred and ninety-nine?
Demand for factory labour kept increasing until 1815; but population
grew faster still. Wages were already falling; the return of peace
lessened the demand abroad; and hundreds of thousands of discharged
soldiers and sailors were added to the multitude of unemployed.
Labourers were forbidden either to emigrate or to combine in order to
keep up wages; and their earnings were lowest at the time when bread was
the highest. Meat, sugar, foreign fruit, and many other articles now in
common use were almost unattainable by the poor until late in the
century. There was much more intelligence in the towns than in the
country; but there were no opportunities of education in 1818 in England
for one-half of the children.

Boys and girls entered the factory at the age of six, and often from the
poor-house, where they had been sold into slavery. The regular time was
fourteen hours a day; sitting down was seldom permitted; food was scanty
and bad; punishment was constant and cruel; deformity and disease were
frequent; and the death-rate was unusually high. Terrible cases occurred
of pauper children, kept sixteen hours at a stretch without rest or
food, driven by hunger to rob the troughs in the pig-sty, tortured
merely for amusement by the overseer, and even advertised for sale with
the mill.

The middle class differed much more widely than at present, both from
the masses on one hand and from the aristocracy on the other, as regards
food, dress, culture, amusements, and political liberty. Taxation
was heavy and vexatious; representation in Parliament was notoriously
inadequate; and honest men and women were still liable to imprisonment
for debt. No one but an Episcopalian had a right to study at a
university, enter Parliament, or hold any civil, naval, or military
office in England; and neither Dissenters nor Catholics could marry
without going through ceremonies which conscience forbade. The press
was fettered by laws which kept Leigh Hunt imprisoned for two years,
on account of an article acknowledging the unpopularity of the Prince
Regent. Cobbett underwent an equally long imprisonment in Newgate for
blaming the cruelty of sentencing insubordinate militiamen to be flogged
five hundred lashes. No plays could be performed in London in 1814 until
they had been read and licensed by the Lord Chamberlain's deputy.

As soon as a strong government ceased to be needed for protection
against Napoleon, there broke out much agitation for relief of the
disfranchised as well as of the destitute. There was an unprecedented
circulation of the cheap pamphlets in which Cobbett advised the
discontented to abstain from lawless violence, which could only give
them another Robespierre, and devote themselves to striving peaceably
for their political rights. Among these he asserted that of every man
who paid taxes to vote for members of Parliament. The serious riots
which took place in many parts of Great Britain, even London, made
the aristocracy consider all opportunities of addressing the people
dangerous. The ministry were empowered in 1817 to arrest speakers and
authors without any warrant, and keep them in prison without a trial.
Prohibition of public meetings was made possible by an act which
extended to reading-rooms, debating societies, even among students at
Cambridge, and scientific lectures.

The mounted militia was sent to disperse a meeting of fifty thousand
unarmed men and women at Manchester, on August 16, 1819, in behalf of
parliamentary reform. The people were packed together so closely that
they were unable to separate quickly. Fear that some of the young
gentlemen who had ridden into the throng might get hurt led the
magistrates to order several hundred hussars to charge, without notice,
into the dense crowd. The meeting was soon reduced to heaps of fallen
men and women, who had been overthrown in the general struggle to escape
or cut down by the soldiers; and the field was covered with bloody hats,
shawls, and bonnets. Six people were killed, and more than thirty others
wounded severely. There was indignation everywhere against this wanton
cruelty; and the Common Council of London voted their censure; but
Parliament passed laws that same year which made public meetings
almost impossible, and put cheap pamphlets under a prohibitory tax, by
requiring that they must have such an expensive stamp as kept newspapers
beyond the reach of people generally. Arrests for printing and selling
unstamped publications were thenceforward frequent. There were many
bloody riots; and a conspiracy for assassinating the Ministry was
organised in 1820. A dangerous revolution might then have broken out, if
food had not been made plenty by abundant harvests.

Roman Catholics were still forbidden to hold any office under the
British Government. They could not sit in either House of Parliament,
or be married legally in Ireland, where they formed four-fifths of the
population, and almost all the offices on that island were filled by
Protestants who had been sent over from England, or else elected by
close corporations containing scarcely any Catholics. The disfranchised
nation was all the more indignant on account of such facts as
that two-thirds of the soil of Ireland had been taken away without
compensation by English invaders before 1700, and that the share of the
Irish in 1800 was only one-tenth. This was held mostly in great estates,
as was the rest of the island. Rents were everywhere high and wages low,
for population was superabundant; manufactures had been crushed by laws
to protect British interests; the people were left ignorant, even of
agriculture; and there were frequent famines. Both the land and the
government were mismanaged by an anti-Irish minority which took little
pains to keep its own partisans from lawless violence, but did its
utmost to extort money for a legion of priests, who were merely servants
of oppression to nine-tenths of the people. How little they cared
about their professed duty may be judged from the case mentioned by a
traveller named Inglis (vol. i., p. 349), of a bishop who drew four or
five hundred pounds a year for calling himself rector of a parish
where there was no pretence of any public worship but the Catholic.
Indignation of Irish Presbyterians had been one main cause of the bloody
rebellion of 1798; and all patriotic Irishmen were exasperated at the
oppression of the poor by the rich. Removal of religious disabilities
was urgently demanded, and most of the men were members in 1825 of an
independent association, which could easily have turned the island into
one vast camp.

V. Germany had been devastated by twenty years of battles; and many
thousand Germans had perished, either in defending their homes against
Napoleon, or in serving under him in Russia. His overthrow left them in
deeper subjection than ever to a league of despots, who differed in pomp
of title and extent of territory, but agreed in obstinately denying any
political liberty to the people. The servitude of Germany was confirmed
by the agreement of clergymen and philosophers, that absolute monarchy
was "ordained of God." The ban of church and university was on the
revolutionary rationalism which had inspired the eighteenth century. The
predominant philosophy during the first half of the nineteenth century
insisted on the infallibility of what was called intuition, but was
often merely tradition. This was already the case in Germany, where
moribund ideas of politics and theology were worshipped as the loftiest
revelations of pure reason.

Devout disciples still hold that all established institutions are
justified and all knowledge revealed by Hegel's method of deduction
from his own peculiar definition of the Infinite. That definition
seems self-contradictory; but this is only a trifle, compared with the
method's permitting the master to prefer absolute monarchy, and forcing
him to deny that any nation, not extremely limited in area, can long
remain a democracy. Hegel's indifference to the existence of the United
States was like his asserting, after the discovery of Ceres, that the
place where it had been found, and where hundreds of other planets are
now known to exist, must be empty. Among other results of his system
were a denial that lightning is electricity, and an assertion that rain
is merely a change of air into water. Neither liberty nor knowledge
gains by disregard of experience in favour of deductions from imaginary

Unfortunately, the experience of Europe under Napoleon, as well as
during the Revolution, seemed to justify restoration of old institutions
as well as of former boundaries. The latter purpose was ostensibly that
for which the conquerors of Napoleon met at Vienna, soon after he had
retired to Elba; but their real object was to divide the spoils among
themselves. The Emperors of Russia and Austria had the assistance, or
opposition, of five kings, and of so many princes and nobles that three
hundred carriages of state were kept in constant readiness. Lovely
ladies of high rank came from many lands; and it seemed to the
uninitiated as if nothing was going on but masked balls, private
theatricals, hunting parties, stately dinners, and concerts. Beethoven
was among the musicians. There was no general meeting of the monarchs
and ambassadors; but there were frequent conferences of those most
interested in one point or another; and the name of Congress of Vienna
was amply justified by the number of bargains and compromises. The only
persons never consulted were the thirty millions whose masters were thus

Belgium, for instance, was forced into a union with Holland, which
led to civil war; and the Norwegians were put under subjection to the
Swedes, against whom they had just been fighting. Ten millions more
of Poles were made subjects of the Czar; and his original wish to rule
mildly was frustrated by their rebellion. The Italians had been brought
by Napoleon into such unity and sense of nationality as they had not
felt for many centuries. Offers of greater liberty made Lombardy and
Venice take sides against him; they were rewarded by being put under the
most hated of rulers, the Austrians; and the latter were made virtually
masters of all Italy. When all the plunder had been divided, the
royal robbers united in a declaration, acknowledging Jesus as the only
sovereign and recommending the daily and universal practice of religion.

The only sovereign who kept his promise, that he would give his subjects
a new constitution if they would help him conquer Napoleon, was Goethe's
patron at Weimar. He presided over the University of Jena, which
Schiller, Fichte, and other professors had made the centre of democratic
influence in Germany. A secret political society was formed by students
who had fought at Waterloo; and all the universities were invited to
help celebrate, on October 18, 1817, the anniversary, not only of the
victory at Leipsic, but of the opening of the Protestant Reformation.
Five hundred students from various parts of Germany met in the Wartburg,
the castle where Luther found refuge after bidding defiance at Worms to
both Pope and Emperor. It was agreed that the new society should extend
through all the universities, and should have banners of black, red, and
yellow. These henceforth were the colours of liberty in Germany.

Napoleon had reduced Prussia's army to a minimum; among the preparations
for breaking his yoke had been the practice of such gymnastics as are
still kept up by the Turners; and a public exhibition was given that
evening near the castle, before an immense bonfire. Reference was made
there to kings who broke their word; and as the audience broke up, some
of the students fed the blaze with various emblems of despotism, such
as the canes with which soldiers were flogged by corporals. Then
they burned a number of blank books, with titles copied from those of
pamphlets recently published in opposition to progress.

The King of Prussia had taken some steps towards constitutional liberty,
but these boyish freaks brought him completely under the influence
of Prince Metternich. This crafty but kind-hearted Austrian worked
steadily, from 1814 to 1848, at much sacrifice of ease and pleasure, in
hope of preserving civilisation and religion from being destroyed by
any new revolution. He was now the real Emperor of Germany; the British
Ministry was in sympathy; and the Czar, who had at first been an admirer
of parliamentary government, was converted by an outrage in the name of
liberty on the right of free speech. One of the literary champions
of Russian autocracy, Kotzebue, was assassinated, early in 1819, by
a divinity student who had been at the Wartburg. That same year the
representatives of the leading German states met at Carlsbad, and
agreed, with the Czar's approval, that all German journals and
universities should be under strict supervision, that political
offenders should be tried by a special central tribunal, and that the
new colours should be prohibited.

VI. Louis XVIII. cared as little as Charles II. of England about
promises, but was quite as unwilling to have to travel abroad. He
dissolved a legislature which was too reactionary; subsequent elections
returned liberal candidates, though only one man in a hundred could
vote; the National Guard was revived; and progressive ideas were
expressed freely. France was moving forwards until February 13, 1820,
when a Bonapartist murdered the King's nephew, in hope of cutting off
the succession. The legislature was obliged, two days later, to let the
press be muzzled; sanctions of individual liberty were thrown aside; and
a law was passed to give rich men two votes apiece. The Liberal Ministry
was dismissed; and its successor put all education under control of
the priests, forbade Cousin and Guizot to lecture, and sent BĂ©ranger to
prison for publishing incendiary songs. Louis XVIII., like Charles II.,
left the crown to a bigoted brother, who had been taught by the Jesuits
to care much more for religion than human rights, or the duty of
chastity; and Charles X. did his utmost to make himself an absolute
monarch. Still worse results of assassination in the name of liberty had
already been suffered in Spain and Italy.

No people had really lost much by the overthrow of Napoleon except the
Italians. They were learning how to love each other as fellow-citizens
of one common country, and how to care more for the welfare of the
people than for that of the priests. The Congress of Vienna restored
the supremacy of the clergy, and cut up Italy once more into little
principalities, whose stupid and cruel despots were guided by
Metternich. The people were already conscious of the tie of nationality,
desirous to be governed with some regard to their own welfare, and
destitute of faith in the divine right of kings. Few of them have been
so plainly not "ordained of God" as Ferdinand of Naples and Sicily. He
had run away basely from the invaders, and been brought back to promise
amnesty, and to massacre men, women, and children by thousands. No
criminals but patriots were watched closely; and brigands defied the
government. There was no pretence of liberty, even on the stage; and the
Jesuits kept literature and education down to merely nominal existence.
The only refuge of freedom was among the Carbonari, or members of a
secret society, half a million strong. Their flags of black, red, and
blue were hoisted in many towns and villages on July 2, 1820, when the
army led the revolt. The King swore on the Bible, and after hearing
mass, that he would establish a constitution like the French one of
1791, and then asked help from Metternich. The latter brought the
Austrian, Russian, and Prussian monarchs together at Troppau, Silesia,
where they agreed, on December 8, 1820, to put down all rebels,
especially in Italy. An Austrian army won a decisive victory next March
over the Neapolitans, whose best troops were fighting against an attempt
at secession in Sicily.

Austria took part, a month later, in suppressing a revolt which had just
broken out against the petty despot nicknamed "King of Sardines." His
first step on his restoration, in 1814, had been to reappoint every man
who had been in office in 1798; and Napoleon's code gave way to ancient
statutes which, for instance, forbade the Piedmontese to send wheat they
could not use themselves to the Savoyards, who were starving. He was
forced to abdicate by a revolt of citizens who wanted a constitution and
of soldiers who wished to free Lombardy from Austria. Her help enabled
his successor to keep the monarchy absolute; and her influence became
paramount in Sardinia, as elsewhere in Italy.

VII. The month of April, 1821, brought an end of rebellion in Italy, and
the outbreak of a ferocious revolution in Greece. The Turkish rule
was intolerant, and intentionally oppressive. Exportation of food and
clothing, for instance, was forbidden in hope of keeping down prices;
and the result was to check production. The country was full of
brigands; and the worst of wrongs were inflicted on unbelievers by
the officials. Priests and rulers in other lands refused to help their
fellow-Christians against Moslem tyrants; and the famous victory won by
Bozzaris was over Roman Catholics. The new republic had only nominal
authority. Independent bands of patriots fought desperately; and the
Crescent soon gave place to the Cross in the Archipelago as well as
in the Morea, once famous as the Peloponnesus; but the cause was
continually disgraced by pillage, perfidy, massacre, and civil war.
Several millions of contributions, mainly English, were squandered by
the captains. Byron sacrificed his life in a vain attempt to create
military discipline; and lack of any permitted the Morea to be conquered
in 1825 by the regular army sent over by the Pasha of Egypt.

All resistance, north of the Isthmus of Corinth, was soon suppressed
by the co-operation of Egyptians and Turks; and the islanders could do
nothing better than ask help from foreigners. The only government which
had thus far aided Greece was the American; and Congress had done much
less than the people to relieve distress. An alliance between Great
Britain, France, and Russia, for preventing extermination of the Greeks,
was brought about by Canning. The sovereigns of Turkey and Egypt were
so obstinate that their ships were destroyed by the allied fleet at
Navarino, Messenia, on October 20, 1827. The Egyptians were driven out
of the Morea by French soldiers; and Northern Greece rose against the
Turks with a success which secured the present boundary. The Greeks were
not permitted to establish a republic; but the monarchy finally became
constitutional under the pressure of insurrection.

VIII. No nation had been less capable than the Spanish of appreciating
the advantage, either of a vigorous government, or of toleration,
freedom of the press, political equality, and personal liberty.

All the time-honoured abuses abolished by Napoleon had been at once
restored with the help of the populace; but nothing effective was done
to suppress the insurrections which had broken out, during the war, in
Mexico and South America. Up to that time, the Indians were serfs
and the negroes were slaves. All political power was monopolised by
officials sent over from Spain. Spanish interests were protected so
thoroughly that all domestic industries were crippled, and goods often
cost six times as much as in Europe. Schools and newspapers were almost
unknown; no books but religious ones could be bought; and heresy was
punished pitilessly.

The invasion of Spain by Napoleon gave opportunity for several
simultaneous insurrections. That in Venezuela was crushed by a great
earthquake, which was accepted as a sign of divine wrath. Among the
leaders was Bolivar, who retreated to Colombia. A Spanish version of
Paine's _Rights of Man_ had been circulated there, and the patriots
were fighting gallantly. There were many bloody battles in Venezuela
and Colombia; but both countries were finally made free by the battle of
Carabolo, won on June 24, 1821, by Bolivar.

On July 28th, in that same year, the independence of Peru was proclaimed
by General San Martin, who had liberated Chili, three years previously,
with an army which he led from the Argentine Republic across the Andes
by paths never used thus before. His decisive victories were won by the
help of emancipated slaves. Chili would have made him her ruler; but
he asked only her help against the Spaniards, who were concentrated
in Peru. There he found such disorder as led him to declare himself
Protector; but this made him so unpopular that he resigned his power and
left the continent which he had done more than anyone else to liberate.

The war went on until the hold of Spain on America was broken forever
by a battle fought, 12,000 feet above the sea, on December 9, 1826, at
Ayacucho, a name given long before by Indians who had fought there among
themselves, and meaning "the Corner of Death." Constitutions like that
of the United States had already been proclaimed; too much power was
held by Bolivar and other despots; but they did not keep the people
in such poverty, ignorance, and apathy as had been inflicted by Spain.
Paraguay, however, had a tyrant who dressed himself after a caricature
of Napoleon, and tried to imitate his despotism, but had nothing of his
genius. Francia was one of Carlyle's model rulers, perhaps because he
allowed no elections, juries, public meetings, or newspapers, and sent
everyone who talked politics to prison. Men who would not take off
their hats to him were cut down by his guards; and timid boys were seen
running through the streets with no other article of dress. There were
no imports or exports, except by special permission; and goods cost
ten times as much as at Buenos Ayres. Equality of races was sought by
degrading the whites; but Francia's reign had the one merit of peace.

IX. Intelligent Spaniards were provoked at their king's failure to
suppress the rebellion; and the soldiers who were called together for
this purpose in 1819 had been so badly paid that they plotted with the
friends of progress. A revolt broke out in the camp on the first day of
1820; and it was soon followed by one at Madrid, where the dungeon of
the Inquisition was broken open. The King was forced to restore the
Constitution which had been framed by the patriots in 1812, after the
model of the French instrument of 1791. The prospect of freedom in
religion made the clergy and peasantry mutinous. The reactionists in
France and Spain found favour with the sovereigns of Russia, Austria,
and Prussia. The Liberal Government was overthrown in April, 1823, by
a French army. The peasants took sides with the invaders, and many
patriots were massacred by the populace. Absolute monarchy and other
ancient iniquities were restored, but not the Inquisition. France would
have gone on to subdue the rebels in South America for her own benefit;
but this was prevented by the British Ministry, which was now showing
the liberalising influence of peace.

Napoleon's despotism had the awful and baneful grandeur of an eruption
of Vesuvius; but his despicable enemies merely kept up the oppression of
his empire without its glory. Their work completed his, as the last
of the petty emperors at Rome and Constantinople showed the legitimate
tendency of the political system of the mighty founder. Caesar and
Napoleon had much in common as conquerors; but it showed far more
greatness to found an empire which endured for fifteen centuries, than
one which held together for scarcely as many years. Even that length of
despotism was sadly too long for the welfare of mankind.


EXIGENCIES of war had given the British nobles a despotic power, which
they retained long after it ceased to be needed for the nation's safety.
The King was their puppet and Parliament their property. The laws were
framed and administered for their protection and emolument. Clergy,
army, militia, and police were all organised for keeping the people
down; and education could do nothing to raise the lowly. Pensions and
salaries, even in the Church, were reserved for members and servants of
the aristocracy, with little care for the public good. Wages were low,
food dear, illiteracy common, and paupers numerous. Even the middle

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Online LibraryFrederic May HollandLiberty in the nineteenth century → online text (page 2 of 16)