Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/111

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51
DISTRESS AMONGST THE INDUSTRIAL CLASSES.

famous Brighton Pavilion. "Push on!" he shouts to his daughter and future son-in-law, "Push on! Preach economy! and when you have got your money, follow my example." "Oh! my back," groans poor John, crawling with the greatest difficulty under the weight of his heavy burdens. "I never can bear it! This will finish me."

The two years which succeeded the fall of Bonaparte were remarkable for the distress which prevailed amongst the industrial classes in England. The glory we had reaped in our long struggle with France was forgotten in the consideration of the almost insupportable burdens which it necessarily entailed. The sufferings Popular Discontent. of the masses prompted them to seek relief by bringing their grievances before Parliament; but the reception their petitions met with, served only to show the little sympathy which existed between the national representatives, as then elected, and the people of England. Petitions were next presented to the Regent himself, while the popular discontent found expression in large meetings convened in London, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, and other industrial centres. These meetings, it was observed, were convened, attended, and addressed almost exclusively by the working classes, the middle and upper ranks taking no share in the proceedings. The speakers pointed out in impressive and forcible language the various evils which they said had brought about their altered condition; the waste of public money in perpetual wars, in unearned pensions, sinecures, and other unjust expenditure. The high price of provisions provoked riots at Brandon, Norwich, Newcastle, Ely, Glasgow, Preston, Leicester, Merthyr, Tredegar, and other places; a large number of the populace assembled in Spafields in December to receive the Regent's answer to their petition. While waiting the arrival of "orator" Hunt, one of the most popular of the agitators of the day, a band of desperadoes appeared on the scene with a tri-coloured flag, and headed by a man named Watson, who, after delivering a violent harangue from a waggon, led them into the city. The rioters pillaged several gunsmiths' shops, but the prompt action of Lord Mayor Wood, the strong party of constables at his back, who seized several of the rioters, and the appearance