A HUNDRED YEARS AGO
.[" THE SPECTATOR," OCTOBER 13TH, 1838] At a little[Darty in Liverpool, of which the Home Secretary [Lord John Russell] was the " lion," there were no professional reporters ; so that the account of his speech, made up of recollections, in the local papers, is necessarily imperfect. It seems, however, to be generally admitted that the published outline of his remarks is correct as far as it goes ; and some of his observations have been selected by the Ministerial newspapers for especial praise. Lord John, though avoiding politics generally, could not refrain from adverting to the recent meetings of the working classes. He said that " there were some, perhaps, who would put down such meetings. But such was not his opinion, nor that of the Government with which he acted. He thought the People had a right to free discussion. It was free discussion which elicited truth. They had a right to meet." Whereupon the Downing Street gentlemen are in raptures : behold, they exclaim, the liberality of our Home Secretary ! He will not attack the working men of Manchester, Sheffield, Birming- ham, and Glasgow ; who have a right to meet, and discuss their grievances freely. People of England, are ye not vastly beholden to this generous Minister, and " the Government with which he acts " You are neither to be gagged nor dragooned. Your rights are not to be invaded. Your merciful and just rulers, mindful of Peterloo, and repentant of Calthorpc Street, will not attempt to put you down!