Showing posts with label chartism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chartism. Show all posts

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Beware of rebels who laugh, dance and sing.

"The Song of the Low Classes'

We plough and sow—we're so very, very low
That we delve in the dirty clay,
Till we bless the plain—with the golden grain,
And the vale with the fragrant hay.
Our place we know—we're so very low.
'Tis down at the landlord's feet:
We're not too low—the bread to grow,
But too low the bread to eat.
Down, down we go—we're so very, very low,
To the hell of the deep sunk mines,
But we gather the proudest gems that glow
Where the crown of a despot shines.
And whenever he lacks,—upon our backs
Fresh loads he deigns to lay:
We're far too low to vote the tax,
But not too low to pay.
We're low—we're low—mere rabble, we know,
But at our plastic power
The mould at the lordlings" feet will grow
Into palace and church and tower—-
Then prostrate fall—in the rich man's hall,
And cringe at the rich man's door:
We're not too low to build the wall,
But too low to tread the floor.
We're low—we're low—we're very, very low,
Yet from our fingers glide
The silken flow—and the robes that glow
Round the limbs of the sons of pride.
And what we get—and what we give—
We know, and we know our share:
We're not too low the cloth to weave,
But too low the cloth to wear.
We're low—we're low—we're very, very low,
And yet when the trumpets ring,
The thrust of a poor man's arm will go
Through the heart of the proudest king.
We're low—we're low—our place we know
We're only the rank and file,
We're not too low to kill the foe,
But too low to touch the spoil,
Chartist, 1819-1869.

Sentenced in 1848 to two years imprisonment.
“An amalgamation of classes is impossible...these two portions of the community must be separated distinctly, dividedly and openly, from each other, CLASS AGAINST CLASS. All other mode of procedure is mere moonshine.” - Notes to the People, 1850

Other poetry of his here

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Peter Murray McDouall (1814-54)

Jenny Wormald in her biography “Mary Queen of Scots. A Study in Failure” describes a Scottish monarch who lacked an interest in Scotland and who posessed an obsession in aquiring the English throne. In 1548, at the age of just five, Mary left Scotland for France. She returned to Scotland in 1561 following the death of her husband and continued to still own and manage considerable French estates, the legacy of the dowry settled upon her as a consequence of her brief marriage to the the French king. In Scotland, and even during her long imprisonment in England, Mary maintained a predominantly French household and a pronounced interest in French affairs. French was to remain her first language.

The Marie Stuart Society have now begun a campaign to raise about £100,000 for a full-size bronze statue of Mary.

However, Socialist Courier is always surprised, although we shouldn’t be, by our own forgotten Scottish working class history. The Chartist activist and friend of Marx and Engels, George Julian Harney was to recall, “no man in the Chartist movement was better known than Dr McDouall”.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Gerald Massey - the Chartist Poet


Good People, put no faith in Kings, nor merchant-princes trust,
Who grind your hearts in Mammon's press—your faces in the
Trust to your own true thought! to break the Tyrant's dark dark
If yet one spark of freedom lives, let man be true to man.
We'll never fight again, Boys! with the Yankee, Pole, or Russ.
We love the French as Brothers, and the fervid French love us!
We'll league to crush the fiends who kill, all love and liberty,
They are but Giants because we kneel, one leap, and up go we!

Trust not the Priests, their tears are lies, their hearts are hard and
The welcomest of all their flock, are fierce wolves fleeced with gold;
Rogues all! for hire they prop the laws, that make us poor men
Ay! tho' their robes are black without, they've blacker souls
The Church and State are linkt, and sworn to desolate the land—
Good People, twixt these foxes tails, we'll fling a fiery brand!
Who fears the worst that they can wreak, that loveth liberty?
They are but Giants because we kneel, one leap and up go we!

"Back tramplers of the many! death and danger ambusht lie?
"Beware ye! or the blood may run! respect a nation's cry.
"Ah, shut not out the light of Hope! the People blind, may dash
"Like Sampson in his strong death-grope, and whelm ye in the
"Think how they taxt the People mad, that old regime of
"Whose heads, like poppies from Death's sythe, fell in a bloody
Ye plead in vain! ye bleed in vain! ah! Blind, when will ye see,
They are but Giants because we kneel! one leap, and up go we?

We've fought and bled, while Fortune's darlings slunk in
splendid lair,
With souls that crept like worms in buried Beauty's golden hair!
A tale of lives wrung out in tears, their grandeur-garb reveals,
And the last sobs of breaking hearts, sound in their chariot wheels.
But they're quaking now! and shaking now! who've wrought the
hurtling sorrow:
To-day the Desolators, but the desolate To-morrow!
Loud o'er their murderous menace, wakes the watchword of the
Kings are but Giants because we kneel! one leap, and up go we!

Some brave and patriots hearts, are gone, to break beyond the
And some who gave their lives for love, have found a prison-
Some, have grown grey with weeping! some have fainted by the
But youth still nouritures* within the hope of a better day.
O! Blessings on world-conquering youth! God's with the shining
Their spirits breathe of Paradise! they're freshest from his hand!
And looking on the People's might, who doubts they shall be
Kings are but Giants because we kneel ! one leap, and up go we!
* Nurtures.

(1828 - 1907)

Born in a hovel in Tring, on 29th May 1828, (Thomas) Gerald Massey was the eldest son of an impoverished and illiterate canal-boatman. Massey said of himself that “he had no childhood,” for on reaching the age of eight he was put to work in the Town’s silk mill where his twelve-hour days spent labouring in grim conditions added between nine pence and one shilling and three pence to his father's meagre earnings. He later worked in Tring’s then-thriving straw plaiting industry producing braid for the straw hat trade in nearby Luton and Dunstable. Thanks to his mother, Mary, Massey received a scant education at a “penny school”. Despite these tough beginnings, he learned to read and write using the Bible, Bunyan, Robinson Crusoe and Wesleyan tracts left at the family home.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Chartist Tour of Scotland

Robert Gammage was a Chartist activist and is best known for his History of the Chartist Movement, published in 1854. In 1843 he embarked on a speaking tour of Scotland, lecturing in many small towns. It makes an interesting read and an insight into the history of the working class in Scotland.

'Recollections of a Chartist'

Now I was about to go to Scotland —
“Land of brown heath and shaggy wood,
Land of the mountain and the flood."

I walked to Annan, a little town about half way between Carlisle and Dumfries, and addressed a well attended open air meeting, and I was congratulated at the close on my lecture and its reception. I stayed at an inn, at that time the principal inn in the town. I had but rarely seen such a 'spread' for supper as was set before me, brought on one of those old-fashioned mahogany trays which I had indeed seen in my boyhood, but never supped off. There was meat in abundance, bread and cheese, and a jug of 'good Scotch ale.' I slept well, a pretty good sign of a quiet conscience. Macbeth might murder sleep, but I did not, nor did sleep murder me, for I felt all alive on the following morning, and breakfasted on pre-served salmon and fresh egges . And what, it may be asked; did you pay for all this? I need not be ashamed to own it, seeing that I paid all that was charged, and that was the sum of 2s.! When I offered the servant a little gratuity for cleaning my boots, it was with evident reluctance that she received it. What think you of that, travellers of these faster days?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Chartist Thinkers

Another upload of lectures given by Stephen Coleman , this time part of a series called Socialist Thinkers and , in this talk , it is James Bronterre O'Brien , one of the leaders of early workers movement , the Chartists , that Coleman discusses .

Again , many thanks to "Brooklyn" Darren for taking time to make these talks available to the internet .