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38

THE REFORM BILL

'If any accident,' it was said, 'had made resistance begin anywhere, it would have run like an electric shock.' Such being the state of England and Scotland, what were the plans of the popular leaders ? Place and Attwood were in complete understanding and close correspondence with each other and with the Union chiefs in all the great cities of the island. Their plan was first to try and prevent the Duke from taking office. For this purpose they created a run on the banks, initiated by Place's x) famous placard, 'To stop the Duke, go for Gold!' The refusal of taxes also began, and was to continue until Grey was again in the saddle.

But if, in spite of all, the Duke came into office, then, and only then, resort was to be made to the system of 'hostile defence,' as Place termed it. London's part in it would be not to make the revolution, but to demonstrate in such a way that none of the 7000 troups in and around the capital could be moved to the provinces. It was calculated, too optimistically indeed, that then only 4000 troups would be left to coerce the rest of the island. As the City Fathers were at one with the mob and the Unions, there should have been no difficulty about London fulfilling its part. Meanwhile, Birmingham and the other great cities were to barricade themselves, to create where necessary new municipal authorities, to close all banks, and then to sit down in a state of armed defence against any action the Government might take. What would happen after that, time and the hour would determine. It was hoped that the Duke would resign.

This programme was not a hole-and-corner conspiracy ^ of

1. Francis Place, 1771 —1854,-a very remarkable man, who from his tailor's shop near Charing Cross did an immense amount of organizing work for the democratie movement of his time, and became a force in politics.

2. a hole-and-comer conspiracy: a secret, underhand affair.

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