History

Peterloo and Revolution

REVOLUTION 1819-2019

This was the time when the age of Marx replaced that of Burke,
The time when the ‘swinish multitude’ and ‘the mob’ became a working class,
When there was not just the economic revolution of school textbooks,
But also a presence of a possible political one,
A time when Tom Paine’s The Rights of Man (sic),
Viewed as seditious and libellous
By the nation’s rulers,
Could sell 200,000 copies in a year,
When the population was only around ten million,
And so many could not read – but they listened,
And learned and remembered,
Despite the patriotic cavalcades
And violent contrived disruption of ‘Jacobin’ meetings,
Despite the show trials and government spies,
The arrest of booksellers, the banning of political meetings,
The censorship and illegalisation of criticism of government or monarchy.
This was our land in the 1790s:
Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Women,
Pitt’s repression at home and war abroad,
Food riots all around our five valleys
(‘We might as well be hanged as starved’),

http://radicalstroud.co.uk/the-1766-food-riots-and-the-hangmans-noose/

The Naval Mutinies of 1797
(“An attempt was made to give to the ships
in mutiny the name of ‘The Floating Republic’.”)
‘Secret Jacobin springs’ were rumoured:
‘Jacobin emissaries and the Corresponding Society …
Jacobin management and influence is at the bottom of this evil’;
The Red Flag was hoisted;
Richard Parker was elected President by the mutinous delegates:
‘… We are not rebels to our country, our country are rebels to us.’
‘I and my brother delegates are all united, and acting in the cause of humanity;
and while life animates the heart of Dick Parker, he will be true to the cause.’
Anything else to rock the ship of state?
Riots against the Militia Act in Scotland,
Wolfe Tone and rebellion in Ireland –
When more people were killed by the army
Than in the ‘Reign of Terror’ in Paris …
Pamphlets such as King Killing;
The Happy Reign of King George the Last;
100, 000 people meeting at Copenhagen Fields, Islington;
The King’s carriage attacked:
‘No War! No King! No Pitt!’
This sung to the tune of ‘God Save the King’ at Drury Lane Theatre:
‘And when George’s Poll
Shall in the basket roll,
Let mercy then control
The Guillotine.’

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Swinish Multitude

Edmund Burke‘s Statue, Bristol, December 2018

Edmund Burke on the lower orders – ‘ a swinish multitude’

‘Along with its natural protectors and guardians, learning will be cast into the mire, and trodden down under the hoofs of a swinish multitude … ‘

Reflections on the Revolution in France 1790

Edmund Burke ‘s Statue

Paid for by a Bristol tobacco baron,
We look on your works and despair:
You stand there, commanding Bristol’s heights,
Your ancien regime condescension
Masked by this deceptive commemoration:
“I wish to be a member of parliament to have my share
of doing good and resisting evil.”
Far more truthful if the plinth were etched
With this memorialization:
‘I regard all you common people,
Passing me by on your trivial tasks
As nothing more than a swinish multitude.’

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The Kings and Kingdoms

The hollow roll of dates
chronicling the tired litany of monarchs.
Their dusty bones never sleeping
gasping their phantom moans to every generation:
To keep on fighting for the kingdom.
To never forget king and kingdom comes first.
You are its living instrument
that the dead summon to serve and die buried under the hollow drum roll of dates and kings.
Piling their bloody victories, plundered wealth and the crotch grasping posture of destruction over the thousands of corpses that had to die.
To die like an insignificant fly for the dusty bones and stones cut with the deeds of one homicidal dynasty after another.
Oh but the blood must run, it must run!
The young have to die.
The women will birth our soldiers.
For I can hear the dry bones of old kings and their old wars
drumming in today’s march into oblivion.

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Captain Swing in Gloucestershire

‘And lo and behold! Here I am!’

It was a perfect autumn day for a bike ride,
Mournful golds and russets and crimsons,
Sun dappled and splashed as I climbed the wolds,
To leave the pastoral valleys behind,
And so reach the wide, open, brown-ploughed fields,
Up above Avening, on the high, back lanes
Around Chavenage and Cherington and Beverstone,
On my cyclo-geographical trip to the Troubled House inn;

Back in the winter of 1830,
These lanes were thronged with anxious farm hands:
Families were hungry with bread prices high,
With wages low, and winter indigence
Threatened by these new threshing machines;
And so the Captain Swing riots had made their way
From Wiltshire to Gloucestershire –
Smashing threshing machines, burning hay ricks,
Penning threatening letters to farmers, signed by
The half-mythologised gentleman on a white horse,
The impossibly ubiquitous Captain Swing:
“this is to inform you what you have to undergo gentelemen if providing you Don’t pull down your meshenes and rise the poor mens wages the married men give tow and sixpence a day the single tow shillings or we will burn down your barns and you in them this is the last notis
From Swing”

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The Burial Chamber

It stands at the end of a street
(Bungalows, cars, caravans, camper vans,
Children playing in the road and on the driveways),
There, behind a gate and beyond the signposts.

A six thousand year old burial chamber,
One giant stone forty-five degrees athwart
Another four, in a suburban enclosure,
Precarious yet adamantine-firm;

Cremated bones were found here.

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Nevern, near Newport, Pembs

Faith, Time and Tide

We wandered windfall pilgrims’ paths,
Past hedgerows bright with sloe and crimson haw,
Swallows, too, following their autumnal call,
While murmurations of starlings,
And flocks of melancholy geese,
Patterned a darkening estuarine sky,

The ghost-church at Cwm-yr-Eglwys
Tolled an ancient knell of parting day,
A sea-storm squall shifted drowned sailors’ bones,

But we slipped past circles of stone,
Past Carn Ingli – the Hill of Angels -,
To seek penance and resurrection,

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Stroud And The Inuit

Stuart

We are off on holiday soon so wanted to share the information
I was relating this info whilst stewarding at Landsdown gallery on the weekend.

I am Canadian living in the UK and while doing the Diploma in stitched textiles at East Berkshire college many years ago, used the Art and caribou skin clothing of the Inuit in Baker Lake as my main theme of research and work.

I had read in an article in Piecework magazine from the USA about the women in Baker Lake using what was described as a wool/felt material called Stroud to make their colourful naive wallhangings that are still being made today.

The co-operative was set up in the 70’s by the Canada Council to encourage Inuit women to continue sewing (the nomadic families were being brought into communities in the 1950’s, 60’s because of severe winters, education for children and malnutrition).

There was a concern that they would stop sewing the caribou skin clothes (for hunter husbands) and lose sewing skills (which were evident in the applique and beadwork on their amauti coats.)  They thought they would be more attracted to modern winter wear.
This did not happen because man made cloth garments were not warm enough.

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