[The following passage comes from chapter 9 of Chris Vanden Bossche's Reform Acts: Chartism, Social Agency, and the Victorian Novel, 1832-1867, which is reviewed in the Victorian Web — Andrzej Diniejko]

Writing at a moment when the future of Chartism was unclear. Thomas Martin Wheeler depicts the Land Plan not as creating the promised land but as part of a historical process that will eventually lead to the promised land. Although the plan has failed, it has effected a “revolution in public opinion” that will ultimately lead to “Success” (34.177, 178). Accordingly, although Wheeler was writing the novel at his allotment cottage in O'Connorville, he does not depict Morton as obtaining a Land Plan allotment but merely as touring the estates and then going into exile, becoming a wanderer in the desert who looks forward to the jubilee that will bring him to the promised land. Indeed, a mere three years later, Wheeler was offering his allotment for sale (Chase, Chartism 353).

Although he implies that forms of social agency may be historically contingent, Wheeler did not abandon his belief in the franchise as a fundamental form of social agency. As the movement splintered into a variety of factions, Wheeler remained steadfast in support of the Charter, sustaining the remnants of the organization until his death in 1862. As we will see in the following chapter, however, after 1848 many other Chartists concluded that they must shift their focus not only away from land but also away from the franchise. [124-25]


Vanden Bossche, Chris. Reform Acts: Chartism, Social Agency, and the Victorian Novel, 1832-1867. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2014. [Review in The Victorian Web

Last modified 1o May 2014