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all these movements, civil and military, had led to nothing. Not a single instance had occurred of the apprehension of any real delinquent actually taken in the fact, against whom there existed legal evidence sufficient for conviction. But the police, however useless, were by no means idle: several notorious de. linquents had been detected ; men liable to conviction, on the clearest evidence, of the capital crime of poverty; men, who had been nefariously guilty of lawfully begetting several children, whom, thanks to the times ! they were unable to maintain. Considerable injury has been done to the proprietors of the improved frames. These machines were to them an advantage, inasmuch as they superseded the necessity of employing a number of workmen, who were left in consequence to starve. By the adoption of one species of frame in particular, one man performed the work of many, and the superfluous labourers were thrown out of employment. Yet it is to be observed, that the work thus executed was inferior in quality, not marketable at home, and merely hurried over with a view to exportation. It was called, in the cant of the trade, by the name of spider-work. The rejected workmen, in the blindness of their ignorance, instead of rejoicing at these improvements in arts so beneficial to mankind, conceived themselves to be sacrificed to im. provements in mechanism. In the foolishness of their hearts, they imagined that the maintenance and well doing of the industrious poor were objects of greater consequence than the enrichment of a few individuals, by any improvement in the implements of trade which threw the workman out of employment, and rendered the labourer unworthy of his hire. And it must be confessed, that although the adoption of the enlarged machinery, in that state of our commerce which, the country once boasted, might have been beneficial to the master without being detrimental to the servant ; yet, in the present situation of our manufactures, rotting in warehouses without a prospect of exportation, with the demand for work and workmen equally diminished, frames of this construction tend materially to aggravate the distresses and discontents of the disappointed sufferers. But the real cause of these distresses, and consequent disturbances, lies deeper. When we are told that these men are leagued together, not only for the destruction of their own comfort, but of their very means of subsistence, can we forget that it is the bitter policy, the destructive warfare of the last eighteen years, which has destroyed their comfort, your comfort, all men's comfort ;—that policy which, originating with great statesmen now no more,' has survived the dead, to become a curse on the living, unto the third and fourth generation! These men never destroyed their looms till they were become useless, worse than useless; till they were become actual im. pediments to their exertions in obtaining their daily bread. Can you then wonder, that, in times like these, when bankruptcy, convicted fraud, and imputed felony, are found in a station not far beneath that of your lordships, the lowest, though once most useful portion of the people, should forget their duty in their distresses, and become only less guilty than one of their representatives ? But while the exalted offender can find means to baffle the law, new capital punishments must be devised, new snares of death must be spread, for the wretched mechanic who is famished into guilt. These men were willing to dig, but the spade was in other hands ; they were not ashamed to beg, but there
was none to relieve them. Their own means of subsistence were cut off; all other employments preoca cupied; and their excesses, however to be deplored and condemned, can hardly be the subject of surprise. It has been stated, that the 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 prin
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 counter-marchings ! 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.
“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 leaders, are but paltry subjects of self-congratulation, if your land divides against itself, and your dragoons and executioners must be let loose against your fellowcitizens. 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 irri. tation 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 fellow-countrymen are struggling with the extremes of hardship and hunger, as your charity began abroad, it should end at home. A much less summa tithe of the bounty bestowed on Portugal, even if these men (which I cannot admit without inquiry) could not have been restored to their employments, 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 de. mand it. I have traversed the seat of war in the