A window into the past.

JomayHi, Jo here, talking about the restless politics of 1817, but also sharing a window into life in the past. As I said back in December, My Company of Rogues books began in 1814 because the plot tied into Napoleon's abdication. I've written 15 Rogues books since and managed to progress slowly because I knew that as the post-war years marched on, the political situation would become darker.

Peace after war is euphoric, but the aftermath is usually difficult. Wars are expensive, so even victorious countries have huge debts. Peace can open up markets, but it often also allows in competition. Economies are often depressed just when large numbers of men return home seeking work and feeling entitled to the good things in life. The result — unrest, and even riotous rebellion.

In December I mentioned some of the riots and uprisings, but not one in Ardwick, near Manchester. It led to the arrest of a group of men who were sent to London in chains to be examined by the Privy Council presided over by Lord Sidmouth, the Home Secretary. Sidmouth(That's an early portrait, from 1803. We can tell by the hairstyle.)

Sidmouth was intensely involved in keeping the peace by suppressing dissent. He's tricky to judge from centuries on. Much of the unrest was by honest people suffering in difficult times, but some was the work of those who wanted to change society into what we now would call communism, whilst others wanted to create in Britain the sort of revolution that had torn France apart less than thirty years earlier and led to great slaughter and misery.

Was Sidmouth the oppressive hand of aristocratic tyranny, or a minister valliantly fighting terrorism? We can see it either way as people did then.

I was interested however to have a glimpse of Sidmouth through the eyes of one of the men taken to London, Samuel Bamford, who wrote an account of his life including those events.

If you would like to read it, his early life is available in various formats here.

His later life, including his radical activity is here.

Samuel_BamfordBamford was a weaver, but had received some education at Manchester Grammar School. He is clearly a clever and shrewd man, and though a reforming radical by temperament he avoided the people trying to stir up violence. However, he was connected to some of the people involved in trouble in Ardwick and found himself in a coach heading south. Below is his account of his appearance before the privvy council.

I find it interesting for the picture of the event and people, but also for his equanimity under stress. Of course he might be presenting himself in a good light, but other aspects of his story, including the high opinion of those who dealt with him on this and a later occasion, bears it out.

"ABOUT four o'clock in the afternoon we were conveyed in four coaches to the Secretary of State's office at Whitehall. On our arrival we were divided into two parties of four and four, 
and each party was placed in a separate room. A gentleman  now appeared, who asked severally our names and occupations,  which he wrote in a book, and then retired. In a short time 
another person came and called my name, and I rose and  followed him along a darkish passage.

I must confess that this part of the proceedings gave rise to some feelings of incertitude and curiosity, and brought to my recollection some matters which I had read when a boy about the Inquisition in Spain. My conductor knocked at a door and was told to go in, which he did, and delivered me to an elderly gentleman, whom I recognised as Sir Nathaniel Conant.

He asked my Christian and surname, which were given : he then advanced  to another door, and desiring me to follow him, he opened it, and, bowing to a number of gentlemen seated at a long table covered with green cloth, he repeated my name and took his place near my left hand.

The room was a large one, and grandly furnished, according to my notions of such matters. Two large windows, with green blinds and rich curtains, opened upon a richer curtain of nature some trees, which were in beautiful leaf. The chimney-piece was of carved marble, and on the table were many books; and several persons sat there assiduously writing, whilst others fixed attentive looks upon me.

I was motioned to advance to the bottom of the table, and did so : and the gentleman who sat at the head of the table said I was brought there by virtue of a warrant issued by him in consequence of my being suspected of high treason ; that I should not be examined at that time, but must be committed to close confinement until that day  se'nnight, when I should again be brought up for examination. Meantime, if I had anything to say on my own behalf, or any request to make, I was at liberty to do so; but I must observe they did not require me to say anything. 

The person who addressed me was a tall, square, and bony  figure, upwards of fifty years of age, I should suppose, and with thin and rather grey hair ; his forehead was broad and prominent, and from their cavernous orbits looked mild and intelligent eyes. His manner was affable, and much more encouraging to freedom of speech than I had expected. (This is Sidmouth, so we can see he'd changed.) 

ShepherdOn his left sat a gentleman whom I never made out ; and next him again was Sir Samuel Shepherd, the Attorney- General, I think, for the time, who frequently made use of an ear trumpet. 

On Lord Sidmouth's right, for such was the gentleman who had been speaking to me, sat a good-looking person in a plum-coloured coat, with a gold ring on the small finger of his left hand, on which he sometimes leaned his head as he eyed me over. This was Lord Castlereagh. (That fits the portrait here, and I like that Bamford notices the coat colour and ring.)  Lord_Castlereagh_Marquess_of_Londonderry

"My lord," I said, addressing the president, "having been  brought from home without a change of linen, I wish to be informed how I shall be provided for in that respect until I can be supplied from home? "

The Council conferred a short time, and Lord Sidmouth said I should be supplied with what-ever was necessary.

I next asked, should I be allowed freely to correspond with my wife and child, inform them of my situation, and to receive their letters, provided such letters did not contain politicalinformation. 

" You will be allowed to communicate with your family," said his lordship ; " but I trust you will see the necessity of confining yourself to matters of a domestic nature. You will always write in the presence of a person who will examine your letters ; you will, therefore, do well to be guarded in your correspondence, as nothing of an improper tendency will be suffered to pass. I speak this for your own good." 

"Could I be permitted to have pen, ink, and paper in prison? " I asked ; " and could I be allowed to keep a small day-book, or journal, for my amusement ? " 

"It is an indulgence," was the reply, "which has never  been granted to any State prisoner ; and as I do not see any reason for departing from the established rule, I should feel it my painful duty to refuse it." 

I said I had heard that the Suspension Act (Suspension of Habeas Corpus) contained a  clause securing to State prisoners the right of sending petitions  to Parliament ; and I wished to be informed if there were such a clause. 

His lordship said the Suspension Act did not contain any  such clause, but the power to petition would be allowed by his Majesty's ministers, and I should have that liberty whenever I thought proper to use it. I bowed and retired. 

(Section about other prisoners omited.)

In the same vehicle which brought us to the Home Office,  we were next taken to the prison at Coldbath Fields, and placed in the inner lodge until a ward could be got ready for our occupation. O'Connor, who was unwell, and whose legs were swollen and painful from the gout and his chains, was taken from us and put into a sick ward, as was also Egbert Eidings, who was likewise in delicate health, and who, being already incipiently consumptive, died soon after his return, from colds, as he thought, taken during his journey homewards. 

Whilst we were in the lodge, Evans the younger, one of the  London reformers who, as well as his father, was confined in this prison under the Suspension Act came to the gate to speak with a friend. Samuel Drummond also, who has been mentioned as being apprehended at the Blanket meeting, (the Blanketeers gathering, March 1817) was walking in a courtyard, seemingly in good health and spirits. 

When our place was ready a turnkey conducted the six of  us who remained together through a number of winding passages to a flagged yard, into which opened a good room, or cell, about ten yards in length and three in width. On each side of the room were three beds, placed in what might be termed wooden troughs ; at the head of the room a good fire was burning, and we found a stock of coal and wood to recruit it at our pleasure. There were also a number of chairs, a table, candles, and other requisites ; so that, had it not been for the grating at the window above the door, and the arched roof, bound by strong bars of iron, we might have fancied ourselves to be in a comfortable barrack.

After surveying the place thoroughly, and striking the walls to ascertain if they were hollow, we stirred up the fire, drew our seats to the hearth, and spent the evening in conversing about our families and friends until the hour of rest, when we concluded by singing " The Union Hymn," which I led for that purpose."

Perhaps because they were state prisoners their treatment was much better than I expected.

"At breakfast time the turnkey again made his appearance, with another man, who took from a basket six loaves of bread of nearly a pound each, a pipkin containing two pounds of butter, a jar with two pounds of sugar, a canister with one pound of tea, six cups and basins, salt, plates, dishes, half a dozen knives and forks, a kettle, a pan, and other articles to complete a kitchen service, to which were added a wash-basin, soap, and clean towel, so that we began to look a little homely, and soon having the kettle boiling, we sat down to a comfortable cup of tea,wishing that those at home, and all others who deserved it, might have as good a breakfast as ourselves. 

At noon we dined on a quarter of pork, with potatoes and other  vegetables, to dilute which each man was allowed a pot of porter, and pipes and tobacco were added. Our supper was tea and cold meat, and thus, so far as diet was concerned, we lived more like gentlemen than prisoners. I recollect, however, one of the party shaking his head at what appeared to us profusion, and observing that he did not think any better of his own case for all that; "for," said he, "it's always the way here ; when they intend to hang 'em, they let 'em have whatever they choose to eat or drink only they will hang 'em at last."

Do you find this prison life as surprising as I do?

That's why I like these first-person accounts. They can be full of surprises.

Put yourself in Regency England in 1817. The Reign of Terror of the French Revolution took place in 1793, only 24 years earlier.

Gui

That's the same as events in 1990. It was living memory for most of the British population, and had happened only across the Channel. You might have known people who'd died or lost loved ones. Jane Austen did.

Would you have been out in protest, demanding reform? Or would you have been urging the government to stronger measures to prevent gatherings and enforce the peace?

That's one of the threads running through my work in progress, Too Dangerous for a Lady, which will be out next year. 1817 wasn't an easy time.

Jo

85 thoughts on “A window into the past.”

  1. It would all depend on where you were on the social ladder, wouldn’t it? If you were a prosperous landowner or businessman, why would you want change? If you were a soldier who came back to discover that his family had been evicted and were reduced to begging in the streets, you might think that any change would be for the better. The division between the Haves and the Have Nots is ever with us.

    Reply
  2. It would all depend on where you were on the social ladder, wouldn’t it? If you were a prosperous landowner or businessman, why would you want change? If you were a soldier who came back to discover that his family had been evicted and were reduced to begging in the streets, you might think that any change would be for the better. The division between the Haves and the Have Nots is ever with us.

    Reply
  3. It would all depend on where you were on the social ladder, wouldn’t it? If you were a prosperous landowner or businessman, why would you want change? If you were a soldier who came back to discover that his family had been evicted and were reduced to begging in the streets, you might think that any change would be for the better. The division between the Haves and the Have Nots is ever with us.

    Reply
  4. It would all depend on where you were on the social ladder, wouldn’t it? If you were a prosperous landowner or businessman, why would you want change? If you were a soldier who came back to discover that his family had been evicted and were reduced to begging in the streets, you might think that any change would be for the better. The division between the Haves and the Have Nots is ever with us.

    Reply
  5. It would all depend on where you were on the social ladder, wouldn’t it? If you were a prosperous landowner or businessman, why would you want change? If you were a soldier who came back to discover that his family had been evicted and were reduced to begging in the streets, you might think that any change would be for the better. The division between the Haves and the Have Nots is ever with us.

    Reply
  6. I’ve read a few books by and about the Radicals in the 1790s (so very soon after the French Revolution), including John Horne Tooke who was held in the Tower of London and tried and acquitted of high treason. I think of them when I hear of changes in our laws to prevent acts of terrorism. It is a difficult issue!

    Reply
  7. I’ve read a few books by and about the Radicals in the 1790s (so very soon after the French Revolution), including John Horne Tooke who was held in the Tower of London and tried and acquitted of high treason. I think of them when I hear of changes in our laws to prevent acts of terrorism. It is a difficult issue!

    Reply
  8. I’ve read a few books by and about the Radicals in the 1790s (so very soon after the French Revolution), including John Horne Tooke who was held in the Tower of London and tried and acquitted of high treason. I think of them when I hear of changes in our laws to prevent acts of terrorism. It is a difficult issue!

    Reply
  9. I’ve read a few books by and about the Radicals in the 1790s (so very soon after the French Revolution), including John Horne Tooke who was held in the Tower of London and tried and acquitted of high treason. I think of them when I hear of changes in our laws to prevent acts of terrorism. It is a difficult issue!

    Reply
  10. I’ve read a few books by and about the Radicals in the 1790s (so very soon after the French Revolution), including John Horne Tooke who was held in the Tower of London and tried and acquitted of high treason. I think of them when I hear of changes in our laws to prevent acts of terrorism. It is a difficult issue!

    Reply
  11. I understand that on top of everything else the weather was unusually cold during that whole year, which must have affected harvests.
    Regardless of social position, I like to imagine myself on the side of social reform (more fairness and chances for the poor, general education, etc.), but in reality even now the vast majority of the haves, as mentioned above, always seem more afraid of the poor masses, than inclined to extend a helping hand.
    The legal process described in the post seems at least in some respects light-years ahead of the current US practices since the PATRIOT act. (Would Assange or Snowden, if caught, ever get to face the high officials of the US government in one room?) Despite their danger of hanging, clearly these prisoners were not systematically deprived of their human dignity and each other’s company.
    And however brutal Lord Sidmouth may have seemed then, he could not have been worse than the current Ukrainian regime is even today acting towards the rebellious Eastern provinces, with the full support of all Western governments and media.
    I think we’ve actually gone backwards in many ways.

    Reply
  12. I understand that on top of everything else the weather was unusually cold during that whole year, which must have affected harvests.
    Regardless of social position, I like to imagine myself on the side of social reform (more fairness and chances for the poor, general education, etc.), but in reality even now the vast majority of the haves, as mentioned above, always seem more afraid of the poor masses, than inclined to extend a helping hand.
    The legal process described in the post seems at least in some respects light-years ahead of the current US practices since the PATRIOT act. (Would Assange or Snowden, if caught, ever get to face the high officials of the US government in one room?) Despite their danger of hanging, clearly these prisoners were not systematically deprived of their human dignity and each other’s company.
    And however brutal Lord Sidmouth may have seemed then, he could not have been worse than the current Ukrainian regime is even today acting towards the rebellious Eastern provinces, with the full support of all Western governments and media.
    I think we’ve actually gone backwards in many ways.

    Reply
  13. I understand that on top of everything else the weather was unusually cold during that whole year, which must have affected harvests.
    Regardless of social position, I like to imagine myself on the side of social reform (more fairness and chances for the poor, general education, etc.), but in reality even now the vast majority of the haves, as mentioned above, always seem more afraid of the poor masses, than inclined to extend a helping hand.
    The legal process described in the post seems at least in some respects light-years ahead of the current US practices since the PATRIOT act. (Would Assange or Snowden, if caught, ever get to face the high officials of the US government in one room?) Despite their danger of hanging, clearly these prisoners were not systematically deprived of their human dignity and each other’s company.
    And however brutal Lord Sidmouth may have seemed then, he could not have been worse than the current Ukrainian regime is even today acting towards the rebellious Eastern provinces, with the full support of all Western governments and media.
    I think we’ve actually gone backwards in many ways.

    Reply
  14. I understand that on top of everything else the weather was unusually cold during that whole year, which must have affected harvests.
    Regardless of social position, I like to imagine myself on the side of social reform (more fairness and chances for the poor, general education, etc.), but in reality even now the vast majority of the haves, as mentioned above, always seem more afraid of the poor masses, than inclined to extend a helping hand.
    The legal process described in the post seems at least in some respects light-years ahead of the current US practices since the PATRIOT act. (Would Assange or Snowden, if caught, ever get to face the high officials of the US government in one room?) Despite their danger of hanging, clearly these prisoners were not systematically deprived of their human dignity and each other’s company.
    And however brutal Lord Sidmouth may have seemed then, he could not have been worse than the current Ukrainian regime is even today acting towards the rebellious Eastern provinces, with the full support of all Western governments and media.
    I think we’ve actually gone backwards in many ways.

    Reply
  15. I understand that on top of everything else the weather was unusually cold during that whole year, which must have affected harvests.
    Regardless of social position, I like to imagine myself on the side of social reform (more fairness and chances for the poor, general education, etc.), but in reality even now the vast majority of the haves, as mentioned above, always seem more afraid of the poor masses, than inclined to extend a helping hand.
    The legal process described in the post seems at least in some respects light-years ahead of the current US practices since the PATRIOT act. (Would Assange or Snowden, if caught, ever get to face the high officials of the US government in one room?) Despite their danger of hanging, clearly these prisoners were not systematically deprived of their human dignity and each other’s company.
    And however brutal Lord Sidmouth may have seemed then, he could not have been worse than the current Ukrainian regime is even today acting towards the rebellious Eastern provinces, with the full support of all Western governments and media.
    I think we’ve actually gone backwards in many ways.

    Reply
  16. The division is true, Lil, but in fact some of the haves do support radical revolution, and some of the have-nots fear social disruption. In the French Revolution there were aristocrats and various well-to-do people ardently for the cause. They nearly all died on the guillotine in the end.
    There were also many trying to preserve social order is their locality because the saw that violent disorder and mob rule harm indescriminately.
    So it’s never easy.

    Reply
  17. The division is true, Lil, but in fact some of the haves do support radical revolution, and some of the have-nots fear social disruption. In the French Revolution there were aristocrats and various well-to-do people ardently for the cause. They nearly all died on the guillotine in the end.
    There were also many trying to preserve social order is their locality because the saw that violent disorder and mob rule harm indescriminately.
    So it’s never easy.

    Reply
  18. The division is true, Lil, but in fact some of the haves do support radical revolution, and some of the have-nots fear social disruption. In the French Revolution there were aristocrats and various well-to-do people ardently for the cause. They nearly all died on the guillotine in the end.
    There were also many trying to preserve social order is their locality because the saw that violent disorder and mob rule harm indescriminately.
    So it’s never easy.

    Reply
  19. The division is true, Lil, but in fact some of the haves do support radical revolution, and some of the have-nots fear social disruption. In the French Revolution there were aristocrats and various well-to-do people ardently for the cause. They nearly all died on the guillotine in the end.
    There were also many trying to preserve social order is their locality because the saw that violent disorder and mob rule harm indescriminately.
    So it’s never easy.

    Reply
  20. The division is true, Lil, but in fact some of the haves do support radical revolution, and some of the have-nots fear social disruption. In the French Revolution there were aristocrats and various well-to-do people ardently for the cause. They nearly all died on the guillotine in the end.
    There were also many trying to preserve social order is their locality because the saw that violent disorder and mob rule harm indescriminately.
    So it’s never easy.

    Reply
  21. This was a “little ice age” Maria, so yes, the weather was generally colder than now. That’s why we see records of cold, snowy winters in England in the Regency which are much rarer now. Useful for authors who want couples trapped by snow, though!
    In September 1817 landowners were delaying shooting game on their lands because cool weather had delayed the harvest, but I don’t think the harvest was particularly bad.
    That takes us to the Corn Laws, however. Another wrinkle.

    Reply
  22. This was a “little ice age” Maria, so yes, the weather was generally colder than now. That’s why we see records of cold, snowy winters in England in the Regency which are much rarer now. Useful for authors who want couples trapped by snow, though!
    In September 1817 landowners were delaying shooting game on their lands because cool weather had delayed the harvest, but I don’t think the harvest was particularly bad.
    That takes us to the Corn Laws, however. Another wrinkle.

    Reply
  23. This was a “little ice age” Maria, so yes, the weather was generally colder than now. That’s why we see records of cold, snowy winters in England in the Regency which are much rarer now. Useful for authors who want couples trapped by snow, though!
    In September 1817 landowners were delaying shooting game on their lands because cool weather had delayed the harvest, but I don’t think the harvest was particularly bad.
    That takes us to the Corn Laws, however. Another wrinkle.

    Reply
  24. This was a “little ice age” Maria, so yes, the weather was generally colder than now. That’s why we see records of cold, snowy winters in England in the Regency which are much rarer now. Useful for authors who want couples trapped by snow, though!
    In September 1817 landowners were delaying shooting game on their lands because cool weather had delayed the harvest, but I don’t think the harvest was particularly bad.
    That takes us to the Corn Laws, however. Another wrinkle.

    Reply
  25. This was a “little ice age” Maria, so yes, the weather was generally colder than now. That’s why we see records of cold, snowy winters in England in the Regency which are much rarer now. Useful for authors who want couples trapped by snow, though!
    In September 1817 landowners were delaying shooting game on their lands because cool weather had delayed the harvest, but I don’t think the harvest was particularly bad.
    That takes us to the Corn Laws, however. Another wrinkle.

    Reply
  26. Thanks for the primary source.
    I’ve read a bit about this in fiction and some in non-fiction. What I have gathered is that there were so many issues at the time: the problem with crops and food prices because of the “Year without Summer”, the enduring problem of the lack of employment for soldiers who came home from the continent, some maimed physically or psychologically, the Corn Laws, the problem of alcoholism because of cheap gin, the beginnings of industrialization and the related unemployment, the political disenfranchisement because of pocket boroughs, and the out-of-control spending of the Regent, with the visible construction of the Pavilion in Brighton. I’m sure I’ve left out a host of other social and political issues.
    My perspective on reform and rebellion is tempered by age. When I was much younger, I cared desperately about some political issues; a few decades later I find it hard to care about an issue.
    I can imagine that I might have written on a social topic if I were in a reform-minded family, probably anonymously. The desire to remain anonymous would be to escape prosecution and to conceal that I was a female interested in social and political issues.
    I cannot imagine that I would be willing to protest on the street. But I think that opinion is based in part because I don’t see protests having any lasting impact on political matters in so many cases; others obviously don’t agree with that assessment. The other thing is that I have been in mobs in Egypt and Bahrain. These protests were peaceful, but I could see how the wrong word, a weapon, or some other factor could have tipped the balance.
    As for the prison treatment, I assume that this was a fairly unique situation. Of course, my Middle East experience is that family and friends can provide food and bribes to improve the condition and treatment of prisoners.

    Reply
  27. Thanks for the primary source.
    I’ve read a bit about this in fiction and some in non-fiction. What I have gathered is that there were so many issues at the time: the problem with crops and food prices because of the “Year without Summer”, the enduring problem of the lack of employment for soldiers who came home from the continent, some maimed physically or psychologically, the Corn Laws, the problem of alcoholism because of cheap gin, the beginnings of industrialization and the related unemployment, the political disenfranchisement because of pocket boroughs, and the out-of-control spending of the Regent, with the visible construction of the Pavilion in Brighton. I’m sure I’ve left out a host of other social and political issues.
    My perspective on reform and rebellion is tempered by age. When I was much younger, I cared desperately about some political issues; a few decades later I find it hard to care about an issue.
    I can imagine that I might have written on a social topic if I were in a reform-minded family, probably anonymously. The desire to remain anonymous would be to escape prosecution and to conceal that I was a female interested in social and political issues.
    I cannot imagine that I would be willing to protest on the street. But I think that opinion is based in part because I don’t see protests having any lasting impact on political matters in so many cases; others obviously don’t agree with that assessment. The other thing is that I have been in mobs in Egypt and Bahrain. These protests were peaceful, but I could see how the wrong word, a weapon, or some other factor could have tipped the balance.
    As for the prison treatment, I assume that this was a fairly unique situation. Of course, my Middle East experience is that family and friends can provide food and bribes to improve the condition and treatment of prisoners.

    Reply
  28. Thanks for the primary source.
    I’ve read a bit about this in fiction and some in non-fiction. What I have gathered is that there were so many issues at the time: the problem with crops and food prices because of the “Year without Summer”, the enduring problem of the lack of employment for soldiers who came home from the continent, some maimed physically or psychologically, the Corn Laws, the problem of alcoholism because of cheap gin, the beginnings of industrialization and the related unemployment, the political disenfranchisement because of pocket boroughs, and the out-of-control spending of the Regent, with the visible construction of the Pavilion in Brighton. I’m sure I’ve left out a host of other social and political issues.
    My perspective on reform and rebellion is tempered by age. When I was much younger, I cared desperately about some political issues; a few decades later I find it hard to care about an issue.
    I can imagine that I might have written on a social topic if I were in a reform-minded family, probably anonymously. The desire to remain anonymous would be to escape prosecution and to conceal that I was a female interested in social and political issues.
    I cannot imagine that I would be willing to protest on the street. But I think that opinion is based in part because I don’t see protests having any lasting impact on political matters in so many cases; others obviously don’t agree with that assessment. The other thing is that I have been in mobs in Egypt and Bahrain. These protests were peaceful, but I could see how the wrong word, a weapon, or some other factor could have tipped the balance.
    As for the prison treatment, I assume that this was a fairly unique situation. Of course, my Middle East experience is that family and friends can provide food and bribes to improve the condition and treatment of prisoners.

    Reply
  29. Thanks for the primary source.
    I’ve read a bit about this in fiction and some in non-fiction. What I have gathered is that there were so many issues at the time: the problem with crops and food prices because of the “Year without Summer”, the enduring problem of the lack of employment for soldiers who came home from the continent, some maimed physically or psychologically, the Corn Laws, the problem of alcoholism because of cheap gin, the beginnings of industrialization and the related unemployment, the political disenfranchisement because of pocket boroughs, and the out-of-control spending of the Regent, with the visible construction of the Pavilion in Brighton. I’m sure I’ve left out a host of other social and political issues.
    My perspective on reform and rebellion is tempered by age. When I was much younger, I cared desperately about some political issues; a few decades later I find it hard to care about an issue.
    I can imagine that I might have written on a social topic if I were in a reform-minded family, probably anonymously. The desire to remain anonymous would be to escape prosecution and to conceal that I was a female interested in social and political issues.
    I cannot imagine that I would be willing to protest on the street. But I think that opinion is based in part because I don’t see protests having any lasting impact on political matters in so many cases; others obviously don’t agree with that assessment. The other thing is that I have been in mobs in Egypt and Bahrain. These protests were peaceful, but I could see how the wrong word, a weapon, or some other factor could have tipped the balance.
    As for the prison treatment, I assume that this was a fairly unique situation. Of course, my Middle East experience is that family and friends can provide food and bribes to improve the condition and treatment of prisoners.

    Reply
  30. Thanks for the primary source.
    I’ve read a bit about this in fiction and some in non-fiction. What I have gathered is that there were so many issues at the time: the problem with crops and food prices because of the “Year without Summer”, the enduring problem of the lack of employment for soldiers who came home from the continent, some maimed physically or psychologically, the Corn Laws, the problem of alcoholism because of cheap gin, the beginnings of industrialization and the related unemployment, the political disenfranchisement because of pocket boroughs, and the out-of-control spending of the Regent, with the visible construction of the Pavilion in Brighton. I’m sure I’ve left out a host of other social and political issues.
    My perspective on reform and rebellion is tempered by age. When I was much younger, I cared desperately about some political issues; a few decades later I find it hard to care about an issue.
    I can imagine that I might have written on a social topic if I were in a reform-minded family, probably anonymously. The desire to remain anonymous would be to escape prosecution and to conceal that I was a female interested in social and political issues.
    I cannot imagine that I would be willing to protest on the street. But I think that opinion is based in part because I don’t see protests having any lasting impact on political matters in so many cases; others obviously don’t agree with that assessment. The other thing is that I have been in mobs in Egypt and Bahrain. These protests were peaceful, but I could see how the wrong word, a weapon, or some other factor could have tipped the balance.
    As for the prison treatment, I assume that this was a fairly unique situation. Of course, my Middle East experience is that family and friends can provide food and bribes to improve the condition and treatment of prisoners.

    Reply
  31. Maria – what are you talking about? My family is heavily involved in the situation in Ukraine – in fact, my aunt met with the Prime Minister about it only the other day. Please don’t spread pro-Russian propaganda. I have family members who have lost their homes to the Russian invaders.

    Reply
  32. Maria – what are you talking about? My family is heavily involved in the situation in Ukraine – in fact, my aunt met with the Prime Minister about it only the other day. Please don’t spread pro-Russian propaganda. I have family members who have lost their homes to the Russian invaders.

    Reply
  33. Maria – what are you talking about? My family is heavily involved in the situation in Ukraine – in fact, my aunt met with the Prime Minister about it only the other day. Please don’t spread pro-Russian propaganda. I have family members who have lost their homes to the Russian invaders.

    Reply
  34. Maria – what are you talking about? My family is heavily involved in the situation in Ukraine – in fact, my aunt met with the Prime Minister about it only the other day. Please don’t spread pro-Russian propaganda. I have family members who have lost their homes to the Russian invaders.

    Reply
  35. Maria – what are you talking about? My family is heavily involved in the situation in Ukraine – in fact, my aunt met with the Prime Minister about it only the other day. Please don’t spread pro-Russian propaganda. I have family members who have lost their homes to the Russian invaders.

    Reply
  36. And what do you mean about what the current Ukrainian government is doing? Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed the south and the east (much like what Hitler did to Poland in 1939). The Ukrainian people are defending their country, even as Russians are abducting, torturing and murdering those who oppose them.
    Is defending your country a bad thing now?!

    Reply
  37. And what do you mean about what the current Ukrainian government is doing? Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed the south and the east (much like what Hitler did to Poland in 1939). The Ukrainian people are defending their country, even as Russians are abducting, torturing and murdering those who oppose them.
    Is defending your country a bad thing now?!

    Reply
  38. And what do you mean about what the current Ukrainian government is doing? Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed the south and the east (much like what Hitler did to Poland in 1939). The Ukrainian people are defending their country, even as Russians are abducting, torturing and murdering those who oppose them.
    Is defending your country a bad thing now?!

    Reply
  39. And what do you mean about what the current Ukrainian government is doing? Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed the south and the east (much like what Hitler did to Poland in 1939). The Ukrainian people are defending their country, even as Russians are abducting, torturing and murdering those who oppose them.
    Is defending your country a bad thing now?!

    Reply
  40. And what do you mean about what the current Ukrainian government is doing? Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed the south and the east (much like what Hitler did to Poland in 1939). The Ukrainian people are defending their country, even as Russians are abducting, torturing and murdering those who oppose them.
    Is defending your country a bad thing now?!

    Reply
  41. Jo, a fascinating post. Thank you. Last night I went to a performance of a play about the Swing Riots of 1830. Many of the same issues of deprivation and social reform were similar then. I find it a very interesting background for a book.

    Reply
  42. Jo, a fascinating post. Thank you. Last night I went to a performance of a play about the Swing Riots of 1830. Many of the same issues of deprivation and social reform were similar then. I find it a very interesting background for a book.

    Reply
  43. Jo, a fascinating post. Thank you. Last night I went to a performance of a play about the Swing Riots of 1830. Many of the same issues of deprivation and social reform were similar then. I find it a very interesting background for a book.

    Reply
  44. Jo, a fascinating post. Thank you. Last night I went to a performance of a play about the Swing Riots of 1830. Many of the same issues of deprivation and social reform were similar then. I find it a very interesting background for a book.

    Reply
  45. Jo, a fascinating post. Thank you. Last night I went to a performance of a play about the Swing Riots of 1830. Many of the same issues of deprivation and social reform were similar then. I find it a very interesting background for a book.

    Reply
  46. What is strange is how the more things change, the more they stay the same, as the cliche goes.
    The protests and marches in the 1960s led to Civil Rights law and much needed changes here in the US, but it does depend on how government reacts to rebellion that should affect the manner of protest. A heavily milatristic government would be dangerous to protest–the whole point of a military government. A democratic government, while not necessarily open to change, would be less likely to risk sending military against protesters.
    Interesting post, Jo!

    Reply
  47. What is strange is how the more things change, the more they stay the same, as the cliche goes.
    The protests and marches in the 1960s led to Civil Rights law and much needed changes here in the US, but it does depend on how government reacts to rebellion that should affect the manner of protest. A heavily milatristic government would be dangerous to protest–the whole point of a military government. A democratic government, while not necessarily open to change, would be less likely to risk sending military against protesters.
    Interesting post, Jo!

    Reply
  48. What is strange is how the more things change, the more they stay the same, as the cliche goes.
    The protests and marches in the 1960s led to Civil Rights law and much needed changes here in the US, but it does depend on how government reacts to rebellion that should affect the manner of protest. A heavily milatristic government would be dangerous to protest–the whole point of a military government. A democratic government, while not necessarily open to change, would be less likely to risk sending military against protesters.
    Interesting post, Jo!

    Reply
  49. What is strange is how the more things change, the more they stay the same, as the cliche goes.
    The protests and marches in the 1960s led to Civil Rights law and much needed changes here in the US, but it does depend on how government reacts to rebellion that should affect the manner of protest. A heavily milatristic government would be dangerous to protest–the whole point of a military government. A democratic government, while not necessarily open to change, would be less likely to risk sending military against protesters.
    Interesting post, Jo!

    Reply
  50. What is strange is how the more things change, the more they stay the same, as the cliche goes.
    The protests and marches in the 1960s led to Civil Rights law and much needed changes here in the US, but it does depend on how government reacts to rebellion that should affect the manner of protest. A heavily milatristic government would be dangerous to protest–the whole point of a military government. A democratic government, while not necessarily open to change, would be less likely to risk sending military against protesters.
    Interesting post, Jo!

    Reply
  51. Shannon, true for most prisoners having family and friends to provide extras was key. As I said, I think their treatment was because they were state prisoners, but I don’t know.

    Reply
  52. Shannon, true for most prisoners having family and friends to provide extras was key. As I said, I think their treatment was because they were state prisoners, but I don’t know.

    Reply
  53. Shannon, true for most prisoners having family and friends to provide extras was key. As I said, I think their treatment was because they were state prisoners, but I don’t know.

    Reply
  54. Shannon, true for most prisoners having family and friends to provide extras was key. As I said, I think their treatment was because they were state prisoners, but I don’t know.

    Reply
  55. Shannon, true for most prisoners having family and friends to provide extras was key. As I said, I think their treatment was because they were state prisoners, but I don’t know.

    Reply
  56. Jo–
    Now you have me wondering about the outcome for Bamford! Apparently he survived and was able to return home safely.
    I’d like to think that in that time and place, I’d be progressive and compassionate, but it’s so hard to imagine what I would have been like in those circumstances. (Actually, I’d probably have died at two of lung fever, which might have happened in this life if not for penicillin.)
    I am impressed with how well the prisoners were treated, and also listened to.

    Reply
  57. Jo–
    Now you have me wondering about the outcome for Bamford! Apparently he survived and was able to return home safely.
    I’d like to think that in that time and place, I’d be progressive and compassionate, but it’s so hard to imagine what I would have been like in those circumstances. (Actually, I’d probably have died at two of lung fever, which might have happened in this life if not for penicillin.)
    I am impressed with how well the prisoners were treated, and also listened to.

    Reply
  58. Jo–
    Now you have me wondering about the outcome for Bamford! Apparently he survived and was able to return home safely.
    I’d like to think that in that time and place, I’d be progressive and compassionate, but it’s so hard to imagine what I would have been like in those circumstances. (Actually, I’d probably have died at two of lung fever, which might have happened in this life if not for penicillin.)
    I am impressed with how well the prisoners were treated, and also listened to.

    Reply
  59. Jo–
    Now you have me wondering about the outcome for Bamford! Apparently he survived and was able to return home safely.
    I’d like to think that in that time and place, I’d be progressive and compassionate, but it’s so hard to imagine what I would have been like in those circumstances. (Actually, I’d probably have died at two of lung fever, which might have happened in this life if not for penicillin.)
    I am impressed with how well the prisoners were treated, and also listened to.

    Reply
  60. Jo–
    Now you have me wondering about the outcome for Bamford! Apparently he survived and was able to return home safely.
    I’d like to think that in that time and place, I’d be progressive and compassionate, but it’s so hard to imagine what I would have been like in those circumstances. (Actually, I’d probably have died at two of lung fever, which might have happened in this life if not for penicillin.)
    I am impressed with how well the prisoners were treated, and also listened to.

    Reply
  61. Thanks for an excellent post Jo! I really enjoyed being able to read about events in a participant’s own words. interesting how well the state prisoners were treated.
    As for where I would stand on reform and change… I honestly don’t know where I would be. I believe it would all depend on my socieo-economic status as well as how my parents raised me – including how much education they allowed/encouraged. I like to think I’d want life to be better for more people, but who knows.

    Reply
  62. Thanks for an excellent post Jo! I really enjoyed being able to read about events in a participant’s own words. interesting how well the state prisoners were treated.
    As for where I would stand on reform and change… I honestly don’t know where I would be. I believe it would all depend on my socieo-economic status as well as how my parents raised me – including how much education they allowed/encouraged. I like to think I’d want life to be better for more people, but who knows.

    Reply
  63. Thanks for an excellent post Jo! I really enjoyed being able to read about events in a participant’s own words. interesting how well the state prisoners were treated.
    As for where I would stand on reform and change… I honestly don’t know where I would be. I believe it would all depend on my socieo-economic status as well as how my parents raised me – including how much education they allowed/encouraged. I like to think I’d want life to be better for more people, but who knows.

    Reply
  64. Thanks for an excellent post Jo! I really enjoyed being able to read about events in a participant’s own words. interesting how well the state prisoners were treated.
    As for where I would stand on reform and change… I honestly don’t know where I would be. I believe it would all depend on my socieo-economic status as well as how my parents raised me – including how much education they allowed/encouraged. I like to think I’d want life to be better for more people, but who knows.

    Reply
  65. Thanks for an excellent post Jo! I really enjoyed being able to read about events in a participant’s own words. interesting how well the state prisoners were treated.
    As for where I would stand on reform and change… I honestly don’t know where I would be. I believe it would all depend on my socieo-economic status as well as how my parents raised me – including how much education they allowed/encouraged. I like to think I’d want life to be better for more people, but who knows.

    Reply
  66. If I were the same person that I’m now I’d do the same as I’m doing now in my own country: I’d have been out in protest, demanding reforms.
    About the climate – the worst year was the year before: 1816, known as ‘the Year Without a Summer’, but it had more to do with volcanic eruptions than the ending decades of the Little Ice Age.
    As you probably know, as you write books about those times, it was the cold summer that the Shelleys and Byron and Polidori spent in Geneve and they imagined horror histories. The most famous product was ‘Frankenstein’.

    Reply
  67. If I were the same person that I’m now I’d do the same as I’m doing now in my own country: I’d have been out in protest, demanding reforms.
    About the climate – the worst year was the year before: 1816, known as ‘the Year Without a Summer’, but it had more to do with volcanic eruptions than the ending decades of the Little Ice Age.
    As you probably know, as you write books about those times, it was the cold summer that the Shelleys and Byron and Polidori spent in Geneve and they imagined horror histories. The most famous product was ‘Frankenstein’.

    Reply
  68. If I were the same person that I’m now I’d do the same as I’m doing now in my own country: I’d have been out in protest, demanding reforms.
    About the climate – the worst year was the year before: 1816, known as ‘the Year Without a Summer’, but it had more to do with volcanic eruptions than the ending decades of the Little Ice Age.
    As you probably know, as you write books about those times, it was the cold summer that the Shelleys and Byron and Polidori spent in Geneve and they imagined horror histories. The most famous product was ‘Frankenstein’.

    Reply
  69. If I were the same person that I’m now I’d do the same as I’m doing now in my own country: I’d have been out in protest, demanding reforms.
    About the climate – the worst year was the year before: 1816, known as ‘the Year Without a Summer’, but it had more to do with volcanic eruptions than the ending decades of the Little Ice Age.
    As you probably know, as you write books about those times, it was the cold summer that the Shelleys and Byron and Polidori spent in Geneve and they imagined horror histories. The most famous product was ‘Frankenstein’.

    Reply
  70. If I were the same person that I’m now I’d do the same as I’m doing now in my own country: I’d have been out in protest, demanding reforms.
    About the climate – the worst year was the year before: 1816, known as ‘the Year Without a Summer’, but it had more to do with volcanic eruptions than the ending decades of the Little Ice Age.
    As you probably know, as you write books about those times, it was the cold summer that the Shelleys and Byron and Polidori spent in Geneve and they imagined horror histories. The most famous product was ‘Frankenstein’.

    Reply
  71. This is off-topic and I apologise, but Sonya, since you are familiar with the Ukrainian situation you must know that you too are presenting what is an incredibly complex situation in a very simplistic way. Clearly, “the Ukrainian people” is not a homogenous group, and what you present as an invasion is instead an attempted secession, more comparable to Western Sahara and Morocco or the breakup of the former Yugoslavia than Germany’s invasion of Poland. The challenge to Ukraine’s territorial integrity is of course heavily supported (militarily and otherwise) and probably fomented by Russia, but there is also certainly significant Ukrainian participation. I am sure that atrocities have probably been committed by both sides as is often horrifically the case in conflict zones, and I commend you for drawing attention to that. But this situation is complicated by the various parties with their varied interests and agendas, and partisanship, while perhaps understandable, doesn’t help in presenting a clearer picture of what’s going on.
    On-topic, I don’t think it ever helps to ban gatherings and public protest, or to police them so heavily and forcefully that the forces meant to ensure law and order serve instead to incite further violence and mayhem. People find ways to express their dissatisfaction and to act against oppression, even if these acts often seem unsuccessful in the short term – I think history bears this out. Personally, I have faith in people power. The Occupy Movement for example may seem relatively disorganised and ineffectual but its not only about each individual protest. Taken globally, the demonstration effect alone is worthwhile.

    Reply
  72. This is off-topic and I apologise, but Sonya, since you are familiar with the Ukrainian situation you must know that you too are presenting what is an incredibly complex situation in a very simplistic way. Clearly, “the Ukrainian people” is not a homogenous group, and what you present as an invasion is instead an attempted secession, more comparable to Western Sahara and Morocco or the breakup of the former Yugoslavia than Germany’s invasion of Poland. The challenge to Ukraine’s territorial integrity is of course heavily supported (militarily and otherwise) and probably fomented by Russia, but there is also certainly significant Ukrainian participation. I am sure that atrocities have probably been committed by both sides as is often horrifically the case in conflict zones, and I commend you for drawing attention to that. But this situation is complicated by the various parties with their varied interests and agendas, and partisanship, while perhaps understandable, doesn’t help in presenting a clearer picture of what’s going on.
    On-topic, I don’t think it ever helps to ban gatherings and public protest, or to police them so heavily and forcefully that the forces meant to ensure law and order serve instead to incite further violence and mayhem. People find ways to express their dissatisfaction and to act against oppression, even if these acts often seem unsuccessful in the short term – I think history bears this out. Personally, I have faith in people power. The Occupy Movement for example may seem relatively disorganised and ineffectual but its not only about each individual protest. Taken globally, the demonstration effect alone is worthwhile.

    Reply
  73. This is off-topic and I apologise, but Sonya, since you are familiar with the Ukrainian situation you must know that you too are presenting what is an incredibly complex situation in a very simplistic way. Clearly, “the Ukrainian people” is not a homogenous group, and what you present as an invasion is instead an attempted secession, more comparable to Western Sahara and Morocco or the breakup of the former Yugoslavia than Germany’s invasion of Poland. The challenge to Ukraine’s territorial integrity is of course heavily supported (militarily and otherwise) and probably fomented by Russia, but there is also certainly significant Ukrainian participation. I am sure that atrocities have probably been committed by both sides as is often horrifically the case in conflict zones, and I commend you for drawing attention to that. But this situation is complicated by the various parties with their varied interests and agendas, and partisanship, while perhaps understandable, doesn’t help in presenting a clearer picture of what’s going on.
    On-topic, I don’t think it ever helps to ban gatherings and public protest, or to police them so heavily and forcefully that the forces meant to ensure law and order serve instead to incite further violence and mayhem. People find ways to express their dissatisfaction and to act against oppression, even if these acts often seem unsuccessful in the short term – I think history bears this out. Personally, I have faith in people power. The Occupy Movement for example may seem relatively disorganised and ineffectual but its not only about each individual protest. Taken globally, the demonstration effect alone is worthwhile.

    Reply
  74. This is off-topic and I apologise, but Sonya, since you are familiar with the Ukrainian situation you must know that you too are presenting what is an incredibly complex situation in a very simplistic way. Clearly, “the Ukrainian people” is not a homogenous group, and what you present as an invasion is instead an attempted secession, more comparable to Western Sahara and Morocco or the breakup of the former Yugoslavia than Germany’s invasion of Poland. The challenge to Ukraine’s territorial integrity is of course heavily supported (militarily and otherwise) and probably fomented by Russia, but there is also certainly significant Ukrainian participation. I am sure that atrocities have probably been committed by both sides as is often horrifically the case in conflict zones, and I commend you for drawing attention to that. But this situation is complicated by the various parties with their varied interests and agendas, and partisanship, while perhaps understandable, doesn’t help in presenting a clearer picture of what’s going on.
    On-topic, I don’t think it ever helps to ban gatherings and public protest, or to police them so heavily and forcefully that the forces meant to ensure law and order serve instead to incite further violence and mayhem. People find ways to express their dissatisfaction and to act against oppression, even if these acts often seem unsuccessful in the short term – I think history bears this out. Personally, I have faith in people power. The Occupy Movement for example may seem relatively disorganised and ineffectual but its not only about each individual protest. Taken globally, the demonstration effect alone is worthwhile.

    Reply
  75. This is off-topic and I apologise, but Sonya, since you are familiar with the Ukrainian situation you must know that you too are presenting what is an incredibly complex situation in a very simplistic way. Clearly, “the Ukrainian people” is not a homogenous group, and what you present as an invasion is instead an attempted secession, more comparable to Western Sahara and Morocco or the breakup of the former Yugoslavia than Germany’s invasion of Poland. The challenge to Ukraine’s territorial integrity is of course heavily supported (militarily and otherwise) and probably fomented by Russia, but there is also certainly significant Ukrainian participation. I am sure that atrocities have probably been committed by both sides as is often horrifically the case in conflict zones, and I commend you for drawing attention to that. But this situation is complicated by the various parties with their varied interests and agendas, and partisanship, while perhaps understandable, doesn’t help in presenting a clearer picture of what’s going on.
    On-topic, I don’t think it ever helps to ban gatherings and public protest, or to police them so heavily and forcefully that the forces meant to ensure law and order serve instead to incite further violence and mayhem. People find ways to express their dissatisfaction and to act against oppression, even if these acts often seem unsuccessful in the short term – I think history bears this out. Personally, I have faith in people power. The Occupy Movement for example may seem relatively disorganised and ineffectual but its not only about each individual protest. Taken globally, the demonstration effect alone is worthwhile.

    Reply

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