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Chapter VIII.: UPROAR. - Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 1 (Life in the Wilds, Hill and the Valley, Brooke and Brooke Farm) 
Illustrations of Political Economy (3rd ed) in 9 vols. (London: Charles Fox, 1832). Vol. 1.
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Early the next morning a messenger came to the Joneses' door to let them know that the funeral procession would form at the widow Fry's, at eight o'clock, and that punctuality was particularly requested. Paul asked what this message meant, as nobody in that house was going to attend. The messenger was sorry for it. He had been ordered to give notice from house to house, and he believed almost every body meant to go.
“Then, Jones,” said Paul, “the sooner we are off to our work the better. Example may do something in such a case.”
These two and a few others went to their work earlier than usual, for the sake of example. More kept close at home, and only came .forth when the procession was out of sight, creeping quietly to their business, as if they were ashamed or afraid. But by far the greater number followed the coffin to its burial-place in a churchyard among the hills, near the Ranters' place of meeting. These walked arm in arm, four abreast, keeping a gloomy silence, and looking neither to the right hand nor to the left.
It had occurred to Mr. Bernard that the clergyman who was to perform the service might exert a very useful influence in favour of peace over those who were brought together on such an occasion. He therefore sent a letter to him by a man and horse, communicating the present position of affairs.
The clergyman was young and timid; and being unable to determine what he should do, he did the very worst thing of all: he escaped in an opposite direction, leaving no account of where he might be found. He was waited for till the people, already ill an irritable mood, became very impatient; and when a party, who had gone to his house to hasten him, brought news of his absence, the indignation of the crowd was unbounded. They at once jumped to the conclusion that their employers had chosen to prevent the interment taking place, and to delay them thus for the sake of making fools of them. They forgot, in their rage, that their masters' best policy was to get the coffin of the poor lad underground and out of sight as soon as possible, and to conciliate rather than exasperate their people.
Mrs. Wallace kept as constant a watch from her upper windows this day as sister Ann in Blue-beard. Many a cloud of dust did she fancy she saw on the distant road; many a time did she tremble when any sound came over the brow of the opposite hills. All her hopes were fixed on the highway; all her fears upon the path to the churchyard. The safety of the concern, and perhaps of her husband, seemed to depend on whether the civil or rebellious force should arrive first. It was not long doubtful.
The crowd came pouring over the opposite ridge, not in order of march as they went, but pell-mell, brandishing clubs and shouting as if every man of them was drunk. In front was a horrid figure. It was the mother of the lad who had been placed in his grave without Christian burial. The funeral festival seemed likely to be as little Christian as the manner of interment, to judge from the frantic screams of his mother, and the gestures with which she pointed to the works as the scene where the people must gratify their revenge.
They made a sudden halt at the bottom of the hill, as if at the voice of a leader; and then, forming themselves rapidly into a compact body, they marched almost in silence, but with extreme rapidity, till they had surrounded the building they meant first to attack. The labourers in it had but just time to escape by a back way before the doors were down and a hundred hands busy within knocking the machinery to pieces, and gutting the place. This done, they went to a second and a third building, when there arose a sudden cry of “fire!” The leaders rushed out and saw indeed a volume of smoke making its way out of the doors and windows of one of the offices where the books were kept and the wages paid. The least ignorant among the rioters saw at a glance that this kind of destruction would ensure the total ruin of the iron-work and of all belonging to it. With vehement indignation they raised three groans for the incendiary, and hastened to put out the fire and save the books and papers. At the door they met the furious woman they had made one of their leaders, brandishing a torch and glorying in the act she had done. Her former companions looked full of rage, and shook their fists at her as they passed.
“Stop her! Lay her fast, or she will be the ruin of us all,” cried several voices. With some difficulty this was done, and the poor wretch conveyed to her own house and locked in.
It was a singular sight to see the gentlemen and Paul, and a portion of the mob labouring together at the fire, while the rest of the rioters were pushing their work of destruction, unresisted but by the small force of orderly workpeople, which they soon put to flight. It was the aim of the leaders to show that they confined their vengeance to the machinery; but when vengeance once begins, there is no telling where it will stop. The very sight of the fire was an encouragement to the evil-disposed, and many thefts were committed and much violence done which had no connection with machinery.
Paul was among the most active of the defenders. Seeing that as many hands as could assist were engaged at the fire, he bethought himself of a building where there was a great deal of valuable machinery which was likely to fall a sacrifice if undefended. He ran thither and found all quiet. He locked himself in and began to barricade the windows. He had not half done when the rioters arrived, and, finding the door fastened, applied to the window. This was soon forced; but then Paul appeared with a huge iron bar, with which he threatened to break the sculls of all who came within reach. He stood at some height above them, so as to have greatly the advantage over them, and there was a moment's pause. Some were for forcing the door, but they did not know how many iron bars might be ready there to fall on the heads of those who first entered. “Smoke them out!” was the cry at length, and half a dozen lighted torches were presently thrown in. Paul stamped out as many as he could reach with either foot; but while he was trying to do this with one which had already caught some light wood beside it, three men took advantage of his attention being divided to leap up to the window, wrench his bar from him, and fling it down below. Paul lost not his presence of mind for a moment. He snatched up a blazing torch in each hand, and thrust them in the faces of his enemies, who, not much relishing this kind of salute, jumped down again whence they came. “It is my turn to smoke out,” cried he; but this was his last act of defence. The three men had been long enough on the window to perceive that Paul was the entire garrison of the place; and while they kept up a show of attack at the window, the door was forced, and the building filled without resistance. When it was about half gutted, Paul thought he heard a welcome sound without above the crashing and cries within. It was the galloping of horse; and the sabres of soldiers were soon seen glittering in the red light from the fire. They rode up and surrounded the building, making Paul, who was still astride on the window, their first prisoner. He smiled at this, knowing he should soon be set free; but he was presently touched by the earnestness with which some of the guilty protested his innocence and begged his discharge. When one of the masters came up and had him released, he had a painful duty to perform in pointing out which of the people who remained cooped up in the place had been the most guilty. He was, however, sufficiently aware of its being a duty to do it without flinching; and he marked the men who had first broken the window, thrown the first torches, and burst in the door.
The work of destruction was now stopped; but the state of things was little less wretched than if it had continued. The partners were seen in gloomy conference with the commanding officer. The steady workmen, whose means of subsistence had been destroyed before their faces, stood with folded arms gazing on the smoke which slowly rose from the ruins. There was a dull silence in the empty building where the prisoners were guarded by a ring of soldiers, who sat like so many statues on their horses. At the houses of the partners there were sentinels at the gates and before the parlour windows, and the ladies within started every time a horse pawed the gravel walk. The anxious house-keeper, meantime, was trying to keep the frightened servants in order; for they had much to do in preparing refreshments for the soldiers. But, perhaps, the most wretched of all were those who hid their grief within their humble homes. The little children, who were forbidden by their mothers to stray beyond the rows of labourers' cottages, came running in with tidings from time to time, and many times did the anxious wife, or sister, or mother, lift her head in the hope of hearing “Father is coming over the green,” or “John is safe, for here he is,” or “Now we shall hear all about it, for Will is telling neighbour so and so;” and as often was the raised head drooped again when the news was “Neighbour such-a-one is a prisoner,” or “Neighbour Brown is crying because her son is going to jail,” or “Mary Dale is gone down to try and get sight of her husband, if the soldiers will let her; for she won't believe he set fire to any place.”
Again and again the children resolved, “I won't go in to mother any more till she has done crying,” and again some fresh piece of bad news sent them in to make the tears flow afresh.
It was found that the prisoners could not be removed till the next day; and when food, and drink, and straw to sleep on was being supplied to them, it was melancholy to see how the relations of the men wandered about hoping to find means to speak to one or another. Many an entreaty was addressed to the soldiers just to be permitted to step up to the window between the horses, and see whether John, or Will, or George wanted anything or had anything to say. This could not of course be allowed; but it was long after dark before the last lingerer had shut herself into her cheerless home to watch for the morning.
That morning rose fair and bright as a June morning can be. Mr. Wallace opened the shutters of his drawing-room, where, with Mr. Bernard, he had passed the night, arranging plans for their next proceedings, and writing letters to their partners in London respecting the readiest mode of closing their concern; and to their law officers, respecting the redress which they should obtain for the injury done to their property. The crimson light of the dawn, the glittering of the dew on the shrubs, and the cheruping of the waking birds, were so beautiful a contrast to the lamp-light and silence within, that Mr. Wallace felt his spirits rise at once. They were at once depressed, however, when he saw the glancing of weapons in the first rays of the sun, and observed that the furnaces were out, and that all the scene, usually so busy, was as still as if it had been wasted by the plague. Manly as he was, and well as he had sustained himself and everybody about him till now, he could not bear these changes of feeling; and tears, of which he had no reason to be ashamed, rolled down his cheeks.
“You dread the sending off the prisoners,” said his partner. “So do I; and the sooner we can get it done the better.”
They therefore went out and saw that their sentinels were properly refreshed, and that every tiling was prepared for their departure as speedily as might be. No one who walked about the place that morning could think for a moment that any further violence was to be apprehended. The most restless spirits were well guarded; and of those who were at large, all, the injurers and the injured, seemed equally subdued by sorrow and fear.
Just as the great clock of the works struck eight, a waggon drew up to the door of the building where the prisoners were confined. In a few minutes the whole population was on the spot. The soldiers kept a space clear, and obliged the people to form a half-circle, within which stood the partners and the commanding officer; and here the relations of each prisoner were allowed to come as he was brought out. The parting was so heart-breaking a scene that it was found necessary to shorten it; and for the sake of the prisoners themselves, it was ordered that they should only take one farewell embrace. Some took a shorter leave still; for there were wives and sister—though not one mother—who would not own a relation in disgrace, and hid themselves when entreated by the prisoner to come and say “Farewell.” The entreaty was not in one instance repeated. A took of gloomy displeasure was all the further notice taken by the culprit as he mounted to his seat in the waggon.
At length, the last prisoner was brought out; the soldiers formed themselves round the waggon, and it drove off, amidst a chorus of lamentation from the crowd. Almost every face was turned to watch it till it was out of sight; but some few stole into the place which had lately been a prison, and sank down in the straw to hide their shame and their tears.
The partners thought that no time could be fitter than this for explaining to the assembled people the present state of affairs as it regarded them, and the prospect which lay before them. Mr. Wallace, who, as longest known to the people, had agreed to make this explanation, mounted to the window of a neighbouring building, and, while Mr. Bernard and his sons stood beside him, thus addressed the crowd below:—
“It is partly for our own sakes, though chiefly for yours, that we now offer to explain to you the condition and prospects of this concern. We still say, what we have often said, that we are accountable to no man for our manner of conducting our own affairs; but we wish you clearly to understand why we close our iron work, in order that you may see that we cannot help doing so, and that it is through no act of ours that so many industrious and sober labourers are turned out of work in one day. We make this explanation for your sakes; because we hope that those among you who have been guilty of the intention, if not the deed of riot, will learn the folly as well as the sin of such proceedings, and that those who are innocent will train up their children in such a knowledge of facts as will prevent their ever bringing destruction on themselves and others by such errors as have ruined our concern.
“When we came here to settle, an agreement was made, in act if not in words, between the two classes who hoped to make profit out of these works. You offered your labour in return for a subsistence paid out of our capital. We spent the money we and our fathers had earned in buying the estate, building the furnaces, making or improving roads, and paying the wages which were your due. Both parties were satisfied with an agreement by which both were gainers, and hoped that it would long be maintained without difficulty or misunderstanding. No promise was or could reasonably be made as to how long the labour should be furnished on the one side and the capital on the other, in the same proportions; for it was impossible for either party to tell what might happen to the other. It was possible that so great a demand for labour might take place in some other manufacture as to justify your asking us for higher wages, or leaving us if we did not think proper to give them. It was equally possible that the prices of our manufacture might fall so as to justify us in lowering your wages, or in getting a part of our work done without your assistance.
“Nothing was said, therefore, about the length of time that your labour and our capital were to work together: and it was well that there was not; for in time both the changes happened that I have described. First, the demand for labour increased so much that you asked higher wages, which we cheerfully gave, because the prosperous state of trade pointed them out as your due. Alter a while the opposite change took place. Demand declined, prices fell, and we could not afford to give you such high wages, and you agreed to take less, and again less, as trade grew worse. So far both parties were of one mind. Both felt the change of times, and were sorry on account of all; but neither supposed that the other could have helped the misfortune. The point on which they split—unhappily for both— was the introduction of new machinery.”
Here there was a murmur and bustle among the people below, which seemed to betoken that they were unwilling to hear. Some, however, were curious to know what Mr. Wallace would say, and cried “Silence!” “Hush!” with so much effect that the speaker was soon able to proceed.
“As no profit can be made, no production raised from the ground, or manufactured in the furnace or the loom, or conveyed over land and sea, without the union of capital and labour, it is clear that all attempts to divide the two are foolish and useless. As all profit is in proportion to the increase of labour and capital, as all the comforts every man enjoys become more common and cheap in proportion as these two grow in amount, it is clear that it must be for the advantage of everybody that labour and capital should be saved to the utmost, that they may grow as fast as possible. The more capital and labour, for instance, there is spent upon procuring and preparing mahogany, the more cheap will be mahogany tables and chairs, and the more common in the cottages of the working classes. In the same way, broad-cloth was once a very expensive article, because very few attempted to manufacture it; but now, when many more capitalists have set up their manufactories of broad-cloth, and much more labour is spent upon it, every decent man has his cloth coat for Sundays. In like manner the more capital and labour can be saved to be employed in the iron-trade, the cheaper and more common will iron be: and if it can be an evil to us that it is already cheaper,” we must find a remedy in making it more common, more extensively used, so that the quantity we sell may make up for the lowering of the price. It is plain, then, that all economy of capital and labour is a good thing for everybody in the long run. How is this saving to be effected?
“Capital is made to grow by adding to it as much as can be spared of the profit it brings. We all know that if a hundred pounds bring in five pounds' interest at the year's end, and if two of the five pounds only are spent, the capital of the next year will be a hundred and three pounds, and the interest five pounds, three shillings; and so on, increasing every year. This is the way capital grows by saving. Labour does not grow by saving in like manner; but methods of improving and economizing it have been found, and more are invented every year. Labour is saved by machinery, when a machine either does what man cannot do so well, or when it does in a shorter time, or at a less expense, the work which man can do equally well in other respects. This last was the case with our new machinery. It did not, like the furnaces and rollers, do what man could not do; but it did in a quicker and cheaper manner what man had hitherto done. It was a saving of labour; and as all saving of labour is a good thing, our machinery was a good thing.
“You wish to interrupt me, I see. You wish to say that though it is a good thing for us capitalists, it is not for you labourers. Hear me while I show you the truth. If we could have brought back the state of the world to what it was four years ago; if we could have made the foreign iron-works melt into air, and some nearer home sink into the ground; if we could have made the demand what it once was, and have raised the prices to the highest ever known, you would not have cared whether we put up machinery or not, because there would have been employment enough for everybody notwithstanding. You care for it now because it throws some people out of work; but you should remember, that it has also kept many busy who must be idle, now that it is destroyed. We should be as glad as you if there was work enough for all the men and all the machinery together that our concern could contain; but when changes which we could not prevent or repair brought before us the question whether we should employ two-thirds of our people with machinery, or none without, we saw it to be for the interest of all to set up our new labourers in the midst of the grumblings of the old. We tell you plainly that we could not have employed any of you for the last six months, but for the saving caused by the new machinery; and that, now it is gone, we can employ none of you any longer.
“You may say that the county will repair our losses, and that we may soon build up what is destroyed, and go on as before. It is true that the damages must be paid out of the public fund; but it is not so true that a remedy will thus be found for the distress which violence has brought upon you. The state of trade being what it is, and confidence being so completely destroyed between the two parties to the original contract, there is little encouragement to enter on a new one. My partner and his family will depart immediately. I shall remain with a very few men under me to assist in disposing of our stock, and to wind up the concern; and then this place, lately so busy, and so fruitful of the necessaries and comforts of life to so many hundred persons, will present a melancholy picture of desertion and ruin. If, in after years, any of your descendants, enriched by the labours of generations, should come hither and provide the means of enriching others, may they meet with more success than we have done! May they have to do with men informed respecting the rights and interests of society, as happy in their prosperity as you once were, and more patient and reasonable in adversity!
“If these should ever inquire respecting the transactions of this day, it will strike them that the revenge which you have snatched—for I am told you call it revenge—is as foolish as it is wicked. Of all the parties concerned in this outrage, your masters suffer the least—though their sufferings are not small—and yourselves the most. Your occupation is gone; the public resources, to which many here have contributed, must be wasted in repairing the damage intended for us; and worst of all, disgrace and the penalties of the law await many with whom you are closely connected. Having enjoyed from their birth the security and various benefits of the social state, they have thought fit to forfeit their privileges by a breach of the laws; and they must take the consequences. How many of the guilty are now mourning that those consequences cannot be confined to themselves! How many—but I will not pursue this subject further, for I see you cannot bear it. I only entreat those of you who hold your children by the hand, and see them wondering at the mournful solemnities of this day, to impress upon them that the laws must be obeyed, and to assure them from your own experience that, however sad undeserved poverty may be, it is easily endurable in comparison with the thought which will haunt some of you to your dying day— ‘my own hands have brought this misery upon myself, and upon those who look up to me for bread.’
“I have only to add that which it may be a satisfaction to some of you to know, that we freely forgive to such the injury they have meditated against us. We are indeed too deeply concerned for your misfortunes to have much thought to bestrew upon our own. Farewell.”
The people slowly and silently dispersed, and few showed their faces abroad again that day.