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clung round their bosoms, weighed upon their tongues, stifed every sound—and, when all the rest of mankind, of all sects and of all nations, freely gave vent to the feelings of our common nature, THEIR silence, the contrast which THEY dis played to the rest of their species, proceeded from the great er depth of their affliction; they said the less because they felt the more!
Oh! talk of hypocrisy after this! Most consummate of all hypocrites! After instructing your chosen official advocate to stand forward with such a defence—such an exposition of your motives—to dare utter the word hypocrisy, and complain of those who charged you with it! This is indeed to insult common sense, and outrage the feelings of the whole human race! If you were hypocrites before, you were downright, frank, honest hypocrites to what you have now made yourselves—and surely, for all you have ever done or ever been charged with, your worst enemies must be satiated with the humiliation of this day, its just atonement, and ample retribution !
INJUDICIOUS USE OF MILITARY POWER. Extract from LORD BYRON's Speech on the 'Nottingham Frame-break
It has been stated, that persons in the temporary possession of frames connive at their destruction ; if this be proved upon inquiry, it were necessary that such material accessaries to the crime should be principals in the punishment. But I did hope, that any measure proposed by his majesty's government for your lordships' decision would have had conciliation for its basis; or, if that were hopeless, that some previous inquiry, some deliberation, would have been deemed requisite; not that we should have been called at once, without examination, and without cause, to pass sentences by wholesale, and sign death-warrants blindfold.
But, admitting that these men had no cause of complaint, that the grievances of them and their employers were alike groundless, that they deserved the worst; what inefficiency, what imbecility, has been evinced in the method chosen to reduce them! Why were the military called out to be made a mockery of—if they were to be called out at all? As far as the difference of seasons would permit, they have merely parodied the summer campaign of Major Sturgeon; and, indeed, the whole proceedings, civil and military, seem formed on the model of those of the mayor and corporation of Garratt. Such marchings and countermarchings! from Nottingham to Bulnell—from Bulnell to 'Bareford—from Bareford to Mansfield! and when, at length, the detachments arrived at their destination, in all the pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war, they came just in time to witness the mischief which had been done, and ascertain the escape of the perpetrators ;-to collect the spolia opima, in the fragments of broken frames, and return to their quarters amidst the derision of old women, and the hootings of children.
Now, though in a free country, it were to be wished that our military should never be too formidable, at least, to ourselves, I cannot see the policy of placing them in situations where they can only be made ridiculous. As the sword is the worst argument that can be used, so should it be the last; in this instance it has been the first, but, providentially, as yet only in the scabbard.
The present measure will indeed pluck it from the sheath : yet had proper meetings been held in the earlier stages of these riots; had the grievances of these men and their masters (for they also have had their grievances) been fairly weighed and justly examined, I do think that means might have been devised to restore these workmen to their avocations, and tranquillity to the country. At present the country suffers from the double infliction of an idle military, and a starving population.
SEVERITY TO THE SUFFERING POOR UNWISE AND UNJUST.
Extract from the same Speech.
· In what state of apathy have we been plunged so long, that now, for the first time, the House has been officially apprised of these disturbances ? All this has been transacting within one hundred and thirty miles of London, and yet we, 'good easy men ! have deemed full sure our greatness was a ripening,' and have sat down to enjoy our foreign triumphs in the midst of domestic calamity. But all the cities you have taken, all the armies which have retreated before your lead
ers, are but paltry subjects of self-congratulation, if your land divides against itself, and your dragoons and executioners must be let loose against your fellow-citizens.
You call these men a mob, desperate, dangerous, and ignorant; and seem to think that the only way to quiet the 'Bellua multorum capitum’ is to lop off a few of its superfluous heads. But even a mob may be better reduced to reason by a mixture of conciliation and firmness, than by additional irritation and redoubled penalties. Are we aware of our obligations to a mob? It is the mob that labour in your fields, and serve in your houses—that man your navy, and recruit your army—that have enabled you to defy all the world,—and can also defy you, when neglect and calumny have driven them to despair. You may call the people a mob; but do not forget that a mob too often speaks the sentiments of the people.
And here I must remark with what alacrity you are accustomed to fly to the succour of your distressed allies, leaving the distressed of your own country to the care of Providence or—the parish. When the Portuguese suffered under the retreat of the French, every arm was stretched out, every hand was opened,—from the rich man's largess to the widow's mite, all was bestowed to enable them to rebuild their villages and replenish their granaries. And at this moment, when thousands of misguided but most unfortunate fellowcountrymen are struggling with the extremes of hardship and hunger, as your charity began abroad, it should end at home.
A much less sum-a tithe of the bounty bestowed on Portugal, would have rendered unnecessary the tender mercies of the bayonet and the gibbet. But doubtless our funds have too many foreign claims to admit a prospect of domestic relief,—though never did such objects demand it. I have traversed the seat of war in the peninsula ; I have been in some of the most oppressed provinces of Turkey; but never, under the most despotic of infidel governments, did I behold such squalid wretchedness as I have seen since my return, in the very heart of a Christian country.
And what are your remedies ? After months of inaction, and months of action worse than inactivity, at length comes forth the grand specific, and never-failing nostrum of all state physicians, from the days of Draco to the present time. After feeling the pulse and shaking the head over the patient, prescribing the usual course of warm water and bleeding—the warm water of your mawkish policy, and the lancets of your military—these convulsions must terminate in death, the sure consummation of the prescriptions of all political Sangrados.
THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.
Setting aside the palpable injustice and the certain inefficiency of this bill, are there not capital punishments sufficient on your statutes ? Is there not blood enough upon your penal code, that more must be poured forth to ascend to heaven and testify against you ? How will you carry this bill into effect? Can you commit a whole country to their own prison? Will you erect a gibbet in every field, and hang up men like scarecrows? Or will you proceed (as you must to bring this measure into effect) by decimation; place the country under martial law; depopulate and lay waste all around you; and restore Sherwood Forest as an acceptable gift to the crown, in its former condition of a royal chase, and an asylum for outlaws ?
Are these the remedies for a starving and desperate populace? Will the famished wretch who has braved your bayonets be appalled by your gibbets? When death is a relief, and the only relief, it appears, that you will afford him, will he be dragooned into tranquillity ? Will that, which could not be effected by your grenadiers be accomplished by your executioners? If you proceed by the forms of law, where is your evidence?
Those who have refused to impeach their accomplices when transportation only was the punishment, will hardly be tempted to witness against them when death is the penalty. With all deference to the noble lords opposite, I think a little investigation, some previous inquiry, would induce even them to change their purpose. That most favourite state measure, so marvellously efficacious in many and recent instances, temporising, would not be without its advantage in this.
When a proposal is made to emancipate or relieve, you hesitate, you deliberate for years—you temporise and tamper with the minds of men ; but a death-bill must be passed off hand, without a thought of the consequences. Sure I am, from what I have heard, and from what I have seen, that to
pass the bill, under all the existing circumstances, without inquiry, without deliberation, would only be to add injustice to irritation, and barbarity to neglect.
The framers of such a bill must be content to inherit the honours of that Athenian lawgiver, whose edicts were said to be written not in ink, but in blood. But suppose it passed, suppose one of these men, as I have seen them, meagre with famine, sullen with despair, careless of a life which your lordships are perhaps about to value at something less than the price of a stocking-frame; suppose this man surrounded by those children, for whom he is unable to procure bread at the hazard of his existence, about to be torn forever from a family which he lately supported in peaceful industry, and which it is not his fault that he can no longer so support; suppose this man—and there are ten thousand such, from whom you may select your victims, dragged into court to be tried for this new offence, by this new law,-still there are two things wanting to convict and condemn him, and these are, in my opinion, twelve butchers for a jury, and a Jeffries for a judge!
EXTRACT FROM THE FIRST PHILIPPICK OF DEMOSTHENES,
IF, O men of Athens ! you choose to be resolved now, since you would not before, and every one of you, where it is required, and so far as he is able to make himself useful to the country, shall be willing to act,—the rich by contributing,—those within military age by serving ;-to speak plainly, if you are willing to be yourselves, and each man shall cease to hope that he may do nothing himself, and that his neighbour will do everything for him, you may, by God's permission, obtain your own, and recover what your indolence has thrown away, and avenge yourselves upon Philip.
For never let it be supposed that his affairs are eternally fixed in their present position, as if he were a god. One hates him, another fears him, a third envies him, O men of Athens! even amongst those, who appear to be most intimately connected with him; and all those feelings, which are common to men in such situations, we must suppose to belong to those who are now associated with him ; but, as it