THE ORIGINS OF POLITICAL ASSOCIATIONS
THE form of the combination started at Birmingham for fighting the battle of democracy -- political association and its basis -- party organization, were already familiar to English public life. A short survey of the precedents of extra-constitutional political organization in England may therefore assist us in following its subsequent development.
Before liberty had become the basis of government, popular opposition and discontent found vent in riots and civil wars. In proportion as the régime of opinion took the place of that of brute force, internal conflicts assumed another character. The adjustment of differences was henceforth left to the free play of the moral forces of the nation; conspiracies were to give way to a union of convictions, and revolts to the manifestation of these convictions. But the transition was a long one. England succeeded sooner than other nations in creating a constitutional organ for making the voice of the country heard. Nevertheless she had to struggle for centuries, and often sword in hand, in order to convert constitutional government into a reality. The Crown, defeated in its duel with the nation represented by Parliament, endeavoured to obtain control of Parliament by corruption, and succeeded. But public opinion rose up once more against it for a final struggle. This is the drama which occupies the first half of the long reign of George III. The beginning of this reign was particularly disturbed. The populace, injured in its immediate interests, which were neglected by Parliament, or affected by the general grievances of the country, whether real or imaginary,