« ПретходнаНастави »
which a represented people will which has been depicted as we not be silent.
have seen in such glowing colors The elevation of the new min- in the numerous petitions to the istry to power was so sudden, former Parliament, continued and the principles declared by with increasing aggravation ; and Earl Grey to be the basis of his the disorders, fore-announced in administration were so widely dif- some of those petitions, had brokferent from those which until then en out with great fury. The had prevailed, that time was ob- constant and regular operation of viously necessary for preparing the national debt, and its oppresand maturing his plans, as well sive taxation, aggravated by that of retrenchment and economy as of the tithes, had, as we have obof reform. Those of the minis- served, divided the nation into ters who were selected from the three great masses of population ; House of Commons, by accept- one with overgrown wealth - one ing offices from the crown, vacat- of paupers unable to obtain subed their seats; and although re- sistence by their labor; and an eligible, were necessarily absent intermediate class just above infrom the House until • returned digence, but gradually sinking inagain. Nothing of importance to and swelling the number of the was transacted except the pass- totally destitute division. The age of the Regency Bill before landed property of the kingdom the Christmas holidays, and on has at the same time, and by the the 23d of December Parliament operation of the same causes unadjourned over to the 3d of Jan- dergone a corresponding mutation. uary of the ensuing year.
The small farmers have been obIn the meantime the condition liged to sell their estates, to hold of the kingdom afforded but a them as tenants upon rent. Time sorry commentary upon the boast was in England, says Goldsmith, in the royal speech at the open- when every rood of ground ing of the session, that the Eng- maintained its man. There are lish people enjoyed more of all now no small freeholders in Engthat constitutes social happiness, land. The race is as completely than has fallen to the lot of any extinct, as that of the Squire Wesother country in the world. Atterns of Fielding. The landed the very moment when these estates are principalities — leased words were spoken, organized at heavy rents and cultivated by bands of famished farmers were poor laborers at wages barely suiranging round twenty counties officient for their subsistence. The England, and almost within hear- invention of labor-saving maing of the royal voice, breaking chinery throws vast numbers of all the agricultural machinery these out of employment, and they could lay their bands on, then they fall upon the parish. and consuming cornricks, hay- The burden of the poor rates instacks, barns and dwelling hous- creases with the number of the es with fire. The distress, poor. The quantum of allowance
to these being discretionary with of five hundred pounds was offerthe overseers, was reduced to the ed for the conviction of the ringvery borders of famine, and the leaders in these transactions. The result was to gather in every rioters committed no other depreparish multitudes of able bodied dations of property; but broke men almost starving, idle for want up the machinery, or compelled of employment, associating to- the owners to break it up themgether under the pressure of com- selves.
selves. Where they failed of this mon wants, instigated to violence they burnt the barns and wheat by a sense of injustice in the opu- stacks. Individuals received by lent landholders around them, and post letters signed by the signal stimulated to fury against the ma- word Swing, threatening the dechinery, which by removing the struction of their houses and necessity for their labor took the barns by fire, and the execution bread from their mouths. In the failed not to follow upon
the threat. County of Kent, great bodies of The same portentous word apthem had assembled to break ag- peared written in chalk on all the ricultural machinery, and to com walls of Dover, and for several pel the farmers, proprietors and miles on the road to Canterbury. magistrates to raise the rate of Nine of the machine breakers wages, while incendiaries had set were tried, and six of them were fire to stack-yards and farm- convicted at the Sessions of East houses. A general combination Kent; they were sentenced to seems to have been formed among three days' confinement and hard them, the objects of which were: labor, after which the burnings 1. To destroy the labor-saving and destruction only became more machinery. 2. To force the extensive and more frequent. At farmers to give them constant em- Lenham, two hundred of the ployment. 3. To raise their rioters, assembled for the avowed wages — and for the attainment of purpose of destroying machinery, their objects, there was a double met and parleyed with the Earl system of operations, partly pub- of Winchelsea. They heard him lic and partly secret. The com- patiently, and declared that want binations for the destruction of of work was the sole cause of machinery, and forcing employ- their straying from their homes, ment, were open and undisguised. and that they had not the means The incendiary practices were of procuring food for themselves secret. On the 29th of August, or their starving families. at Hardres in Kent, four hundred At Guestling, near Hastings, agricultural laborers destroyed all the paupers held a meeting and the threshing machines in that gave notice to the heads of the neighborhood. Towards the mid- parish to attend. About a hundle of September, two meetings dred and twenty laborers were of magistrates, and one of farm- assembled; their demand was a ers, were held, at which reso rise of wages to 28. 3d. a day in lutions were passed for suppress- winter, and 28. 6d. in summer. ing these disorders, and a reward The clergyman, whose demand
upon the parish had been raised position that they were kindled to 800l. a year, was required im- by chemical preparations, thrown mediately to give up 5001. a year into them by persons in concert to their employers in order to with the laborers — of these the enable them to comply with their usual mode of proceeding was to demands; a requisition to which call a meeting of farmers, and he immediately agreed.
meet them, in numbers from two From Kent the work of de- to six hundred, and sometimes struction rapidly spread into the many more - and then they preadjoining Counties, and nightly sented their list of grievances, and fires were seen blazing in Sussex, demanded employment and wages Surry. Hampshire, Oxfordshire, at the rates above mentioned. In Wiltshire, Berkshire, Bucking- some instances they were successham, Hertford, Bedford, North- fully resisted, but in general the ampton, Huntingdon, Cambridge, farmers were obliged to comply Suffolk, Norfolk, Lincoln, and with their demands. At Avingeven in some of the northern ton House, the seat of the Duke counties. The exertions of the of Buckingham, the inhabitants magistrates to discover the incen- of three villages came in a mass diaries were unavailing. Several were sworn in as special constapersons were arrested upon sus- bles, and kept watch round the picion and discharged for want of house for three successive nights. evidence to convict them. The The same thing was done near destruction of the machinery was Winchester, and in the neighboreffected in broad day, by parish hood of Hanburg. The inhabipaupers, who assembled in bands; tants of Brompton, led by their visited the dwelling houses of the clergyman, met the rioters and farmers, and sometimes formally overpowered them, taking their sent deputations to demand the ringleader and ten of his comkeys of the corn houses in which panions into custody. Military the obnoxious threshing machines aid was in several cases called in. were kept. But their movements A conflict between the Hindon were regulated by hands unseen, troop of cavalry and a body of of higher intellectual powers. more than 500 rioters in WiltThe letters signed • Swing,' were shire, terminated by a charge in conveyed with impenetrable se which several were wounded, and crecy to the persons addressed, one man was killed. _At Ringand the inevitable destruction by mer, Chichester, Eastbourne, which they were followed gave Lamborhurst and numerous other them almost the inexpressible ter- places, the farmers saved their ror of a supernatural visitation. families and their property only In some cases an explosion re- by complying, or by compoundsembling the report of a gun im- ing with the demands for emmediately preceded the bursting ployment and increased wages. out into fames of the stacks and Of these fires there were, in barns. The fires therefore could the space of four months, upwards be accounted for only by the sup- of one hundred and twenty, at
each of which the destruction fix the amount of wages; and and loss of property cannot be es- any interference in such a matter timated at less than an average of could only have the effect of exone thousand pounds sterling to citing expectations which must be each fire; the destruction of ma- disappointed and of ultimately chinery included. There was no producing, in an aggravated depolitical principle connected with gree, a renewed spirit of disconthese disorders; no demand for tent and insubordination.' Reform of Parliament; no cla It requires no argument to prove mor against the aristocracy, nor that in a land of freedom, the maeven against the payment of tithes, gistrates of a county can as little was heard among them. It was possess the authority to compel the cry of famine for bread. The individual farmers to employ more onset of hunger, breaking down workmen than they need, or to stone walls.
It was the last re- pay them higher wages, than by sult of extreme taxation; of which voluntary consent they stipulate, an enormously disproportionate or to abstain from the use of labor national debt is the cause, and saving machinery, as a riotous asno mathematical proposition can semblage of starving laborers. be more clearly demonstrated The moment the freedom of the than, that until the cause is re- will is taken away from operamoved there can be no permanent tions such as these, the relations pacification of these disorders.
of society are changed, and the Under the influence of the community becomes an associapanic excited by these assem- tion not of freemen governed by blages and of the outrages com- equal laws, but of masters and mitted by them, the magistrates slaves under the dominiou of arupon whom they called to meet bitrary power. But the oppresand confer with them, gave in sion upon the farmer under such several of the counties, their sanc- coinpulsion may be further illustion to the engagements which trated by its necessary consequenthey extorted from the farmers of ces. He holds the farm upoa a increased wages, constant em- lease for which he is to pay rent ployment, and the discontinuance to his landlord. The amount of of the use of machinery. This that rent must be calculated upon momentary remedy served only to the prospective product of the aggravate the disease. The Mar- land, deducting all the necessary quis of Lansdowne, Secretary of charges of cultivation and leaving State for the home department, a profit to the farmer sufficient issued on the 8th of December a for his own subsistence, and that circular, explaining to the county of his family. The use of mamagistrates their legal inability to chinery, reduces the charge of make such arrangements and expense for labor. The rate of pointing out the pernicious ten- wages serves him as a rate to caldency of acts grounded upon such culate the expense of tillage and principles. — The magistrates,' the amount of rent that he can he observed, had no power to afford to pay.
Deprive him of
his machinery, force biin to em hended in the commission of these ploy double the number of work- daring outrages.
daring outrages. One of these men that he needs, and to pay commissions was opened at Winthem double the amount of wages chester on the 20th and the other to the rates which the market at Reading on the 27th of Dewould command, and you robcember. Three hundred prishim of all the profits of his labor, oners were tried by the commisyou deprive him of the ability to sion at Winchester, six of whom fulfil bis engagement with his were sentenced to death and landlord. The rent day comes eightyeight to transportation for with a distress. The farmer is life or for terms of years, after ruined, and the landlord remains which the commission proceeded unpaid. He too has his engage- to the trial of nearly an equal ments, which the loss of his rents number of offenders at Salisbury. disable him from fulfilling, and At Reading one hundred and among them are the grinding thirtyeight of the rioters were taxes payable to the government; tried and all sentenced to transthese press him down into insolv- portation except two, who were ency, and react again to depress capitally convicted. Thence the the value of land. Thus ruin same commission proceeded to spreads over the whole country, Aylesbury for the trial of the and the people become prepared prisoners apprehended in the for any
revolution. On the other county of Bucks. hand, a system of policy, the re The immediate effect of these sult of which is to congregate in commissions was to shorten the great numbers, a mass of popula- imprisonment of the offenders, tion in idleness and want, without who must otherwise have waited occupation and without subsist- for their trial, at the assizes in the ence must be essentially vicious; following spring; this abridgment, no external air of prosperity can besides relieving the prisoners disguise the essential wretched themselves from the anxieties and ness of a nation in such a condi- agitations of a long term of imtion, no reform of Parliament can prisonment, had a tendency to reach this evil. It is susceptible quiet the alarm and terror of their only of one remedy and that is, families and relatives, and to tranrelief from excessive taxation. quillize the parishes and villages
Besides the employment of to which they belonged. They military force to suppress these afforded the opportunity for a disorders, and the admonition to solemn and public exposition of the magistrates of their incapacity the law, by the judges; of conto establish a compulsive rate of vincing the laboring classes that wages between the farmers and their condition could not be betlaborers, the government ap- tered by such tumultuous and pointed two special commissions, riotous proceedings, and the maone on the western and another gistrates that no compliances on on the midland circuit, for the trial their part, with the dictation of a of the numerous prisoners appre- lawless multitude was within the