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as a system, was neither allied to, nor identified with, democratic principles. The second, as a period when Dissent though identified with, was not allied to either form of Liberalism, either to the democratic section, called Radicalism, or to the constitutional section, called Whiggism; the third, as a period when Dissent was both identified with, and allied to, democracy, or Radicalism; and the fourth, as a period when Dissent became both identified with, and allied to, Liberalism; when, therefore, Dissent, Democracy, and Whiggism were and are all combined, and Liberalism accordingly is playing the part of accomplice to the Liberation Society. To the four chapters thus divided, other two will be added ; one devoted to an enumeration of the measures introduced into Parliament since the year 1832, and of those now being agitated or about to be agitated for the special relief and benefit of Dissent; the other dedicated to a consideration of the consequences of those measures, and the duties of Churchmen and Constitutionalists, in regard to the new positions assumed by Dissent and Liberal politicians.
With respect to other and particular results, I hope to show, first, that the principles and objects now professed by the Liberation Society, were openly professed at least thirty years ago, and have ever since been recognised as the tenets and designs of Dissenters, by a regular and continuous organisation ; secondly, that so far from being new, or beginning in 1853 or 1844, the organisation of Dissent for political purposes originated at least one hundred and thirty years ago, in the reign of the second George, and that it has continued-uno tenore-in one unbroken line of succession from 1732 to 1864. In the third place, I shall endeavour to point out what is really new, namely, the connection of Dissent with political parties ; a connection, however, which sprang up naturally in 1832, out of the events of the time, and which, though neither regular nor constant during the first ten years or so, may be, I believe, distinctly defined for the last twenty years at least.
As the consequence of such a review, I also cherish the hope of throwing some fresh light upon the tactics of political Dissent-its modus operandi—the course it steers on the ocean of politics. This I shall endeavour to demonstrate to be none other than the old course of democracy. It is by way, first, of a £6 borough franchise, then of universal suffrage, the ballot, annual parliaments, equal electoral districts, and “a reasonable remuneration to members of Parliament,” that Dissent calculates upon reaching the goal proposed—the separation of Church and State. But, whilst the main objects and results are such as I have described, I flatter myself that other results of scarcely less importance will ensue as well, which will prove alike interesting and useful. Of these, one of the most inevitable, but perhaps the least to be regretted, will be the reflection shed by the narrative upon the lives and conduct of some of the leading politicians of the day. Occasionally, the characters exhibited will appear strangely incongruous, and even verging on the grotesque; but the fault will not be mine. In every case I shall present to my readers the subjects as painted by themselves, and fresh from that incomparable gallery of autograph portraits—the pages of Hansard. With respect to political Dissent itself, I trust to be able to announce a few discoveries. More particularly, we shall find, notwithstanding protestations to the contrary, that Dissent has contracted a vicious habit of suppression, of telling possibly the truth, but not the whole truth. Another familiar maxim of Dissent is to carry out
“ The good old law, the simple plan,
That they should take, who have the power,
With regard to explanations, I have to say, that the narrative has been composed rather with an eye to accuracy and consistency, than to diffuseness and display. My chief aim has been to supply authentic facts and literal statements, rather than egotistical dogmatism. I have preferred to furnish materials upon which my readers may exercise their own intellect and reason, to surfeiting them with speculations of my own imagination and foregone conclusins, however dear to myself. At the same time, I trust that the scales of Justice have been held evenly -that neither in quoting the statements of others, nor in interpreting them, have I allowed the wish to be father to the thought. In every instance, my honest endeavour has been, not only to give the actual words used, but to convey the meaning intended by the authors themselves, and confirmed by the context. Further, that there may be no mis
. take, I mean to produce not only the best authorities, but names, dates, and places as well, so that my case may stand or fall absolutely on its own merits, and not rest upon adventitious supports. But I have restricted myself rigorously to the task proposed. This work is what it professes to be—an historical compendium-not a dissection either of doctrinal points, or ‘of abstract questions of government. The standard of government to which I refer, is the one prepared to hand-the British constitution -consisting as it does of the union of Church and State, of the Established Church as it is, combined with a hereditary, though limited monarchy, a hereditary aristocracy, and the democratic element, represented by a House of Commons, under the provisions of the settlement of 1832. After perusing what I have compiled, I trust that no one will be able to plead ignorance either of the constitutional or the revolutionary movements of the day, or of the position of political parties relative thereto. If there be one portion of English history less known than another to the present rising generation, it is that of the first fifteen years next following upon the Reform Act of 1832. No period, however, is richer in lessons of constitutional principles. Upon this part, therefore, I have expended much diligence and care. But that the following pages were necessarily composed in haste, the internal evidence will show. I would also remark, that by the word Dissent is meant what is often expressed by the two words, political dissent-a definition which includes not only Dissenters, but Irish Romanists and Repealers, latitudinarians and infidels as well, but which excludes the Wesleyan body, who are rightly termed Nonconformists, or religious Dissenters. In conclusion, it only remains for me to express a hope, that besides its permanent influence,