Page:The Chartist Movement.djvu/55

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7
THE CHARTER AND ITS ORIGIN

exclusive property for the next forty years. When the middle class in the days after Waterloo returned to the pursuit of Parliamentary Reform, it was reform of a much less ambitious character. The working classes still held to the six points. During these forty years Radicalism became a living faith amongst the working class. It had had its heroes and its prophets and its martyrs, and when the salvation promised by the Whig reform of 1832 had proved illusory, it was perfectly natural to raise once more, in the shape of the "People's Charter," the ancient standard of popular reform.

By this time, however, the six points had acquired a wholly different significance. In the minds of the early Radicals they had represented the practical realisation of the vague notions of natural right. The programme was a purely political one, and was scarcely connected either with any specific projects of social or other reforms, or with any particular social theory. It represented an end in itself, the realisation of democratic theory. By 1838 the Radical programme was recognised no longer as an end in itself, but as the means to an end, and the end was the social and economic regeneration of society.