|Chapter Title||THE BREAD RIOTS.|
|Newspaper Title||Illustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872)|
|Trove Title||The Christmas Motto|
THE CHRISTMAS MOTTO.
On the Rhyll.
THE BBE^D RIOTS.
TRAFALGAR SQUARE was packed
with, people; the Strand was blocked, so was "Whitehall. Thousands of men and women stood silently in the slush. Most oi the faces were pale, many very thin, all in deadly earnest. Privation had marked mosi of them ; poverty had made them bold, and there was an ominous air in their verj
No one had anticipated such a gathering this melancholy, cold Sunday-the lasi before Christmas. London's skies were gre] and heavy, the air was cold and damp, th< streets sloppy. There were not, therefore many sightseers ; the police, too, were sur prised. There were a few looking on fron the outskirts of the mob, but the chiefi were debating the matter at Scotland Tare with amazed, anxious faces.
It was an enormous crowd ; a haggard ill-dressed crowd ; nervous and stern am eager. Some of the lowest of London refus had been absorbed in the throng as i advanced towards Nelson's Column, but th mass were not habitual criminals, they wer merely very poor, very cold, and ver hungry ; driven desperate by bad times, a «arly winter, and no bread. All those wh were within earshot of the Column wei listening intently to the first" speaker, "Wn
Hutton, socialist, who stood with others in a cart, and who now, with power- ful and even passionate tones, was trying to answer the maddening question sent up bj starving throats - ' What shall we do?' He had already been speaking for some time persuasively, but though he gained a silent hear- ing, there were no cheers in response, nor any evidence of thorough sympathy. He was couQselling patience and legi- timate action. At one time
they cheered him, for, as he glanced at St. Martin's Church, he could not forbear a satire on the sentiments of Christ- mastide. ' " Peace on earth . goodwill to men," ' he said
' that is the Christmas mott«
, they will be preaching in J L day or two. Can there b< ) peace where there is famine, o b goodwill between the starving 3 and the pampered ? Who i 3 the better for their Christina ¡r spasm of piety and goodwill i Goodwill to the rich andre o spectable! presents to thei e friends ! holidays and costl i. dinners for themselves! butfo
outcast Loudon what? -Forgetfulness and blessing. Peaceon earth ! " STARVATION ON EARTH AND INDIFFERENCE TO MEN," that 7.8 their motto for this year.'
But he saw he was touching the wrong subject : they were too much with him. Presently he again grew persuasive.
' My friends,' he said, ' there is nothing violent which you do but which will injure you and your cause and the cause of those who suffer after you. For blows with fists you will be returned blows with steel. You will estrange your best friends-you will only make your misery more miserable be-
cause Bunnressed. You must hold on a
little longer. By public protests like this we must coerce attention ; the Grovernment, the papers, the wealthy classes must have the horrors of London made patent to" them. We are going to-morrow to the Home Secretary-you must appoint deputies now, and 3 ou must go there in thousands your- selves. You must be there as evidence ; for our voices alone are powerless. We have worked too long without result. We pledge ourselves to act firmly, and to take no evasions. We will not be temporised with ; but we must act lawfully. I conjure .you, if you want work-if you want food if you want better times-to be temperate, calm, and determined. Infringe no other man's rights if you would establish your
Then he got down from the cart to mate more room for the speakers who followed him. They began moderately on Hutton's lines ;. but one of them at last growing frantic with the pictures of wretchedness, exaction, and poverty which he drew, forgot the precepts of the others, and, in spite of Hutton's efforts to shout him down, he seized the desperate spirit of those who listened, and with every word he grew more bitter, and his hearers more inflamed. The crowd was roused now, and they yelled back answers to his red-hot questions.
Hutton and his friends were powerless ; the nerves of the hungry mob were strung ;
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more furious ; and soon the immense throng seethed, with passion. The bitter winter cold, the freezing mud which soaked their feet, the dread of authority, were all for- gotten ; their blood was heated, and the panic of action seized them. They broke away, and as they went on their numbers grew. In their frenzy they feared nothing, and they swept the police along with them.
Very soon there were broken shutters, railings torn down, shops rifled: Loaves were -pitched out into the street and fiercely scrambled for. Only one jeweller's was sacked; but food was everywhere seized without compunction. Hutton, struggling to keep the mob from violence and robbery, was severely torn and bruised. He was not heard in the roar; he was pressed in with the crowd, and forced along. Trembling ' with excitement, and half-mad with the
infection of the frenzied mass, who yelled, and fought, and roVbed, he at last worked his way into a side street, and there sank down exhausted. A few moments later a body of cavalry swept by.
When he was calmer he started home- wards. It was now five o'clock, and clark ; the gloom suited his dishevelled appearance and intense melancholy. He saw the people nailing up shutters and strengthening their doors, and he felt the horrid significance of the-act. Here were men in dread of their fellow-citizens, and prepared to fight-not to help-them. He overheard the uneasy and excited talk, and knew the day had been
a dark one, ana ns eneccs evn. xim nopes were overthrown, his work neutralised ; he saw that he was powerless, 1rs aim to benefit his kind checked ; and he reached home utterly dejected and worn out.
The news had overspread London already, with all the embellishments of rumour. ' The East End is up! All the roughs" in London are armed ! The Strand is wrecked !
The police are powerless ! ' Hutton knew too well that with this álarm-note buzzing in their heads it was useless to urge that men must eat, and the poor are not all criminals. No, the cause was spoilt ; the riot had thrown his hopes away. Coercion would follow, and he had worked so hard for
His wife Jinny opened the door for him.
She was so glad to get him back safe that she cried over him a little, then got Iii m some tea, and afterwards, seeing his wretch- edness, coaxed him to talk to her.
When he had told her more fully than he ever had done how he had worked, and what he had hoped, and how he saw no way to be of any use now, but that the wretched thousands must go on being wretched, while the happy hundreds continued to be volup- tuaries and spendthrifts, she murmured sympathy with him, and then began insidi- ously to plead her own little cause, namely, that he would try to get the billet in the country they had heard of.
' It will be so nice, Will,' she urged,
' down there m the country, vv e coma nave a garden, you know, and it would be so quiet and sweet ; and we should be a way
from all these London horrors.'
' I can't promise, Jinny,' he said. ' I must see what comes of this. I may be needed more than ever. But I must change, and be off to work and he went upstairs.
He was engineer in the office of a daily morning paper, and had to work all night ; but before he came down again there was a knock at the door. Jinny opened it. and let in, in silent amazement, au erstwhile lover of hers, James Orr, detective. Ile was in plain clothes, and she did not suspect his mission. He began slowly, sympatheti- cally-anxious to spare her.
' I never thought I should come to you, Jane, on such an errand.' He spoke with such a serious and meaning thrill, that she
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was terrified, and could barely reply. Sh put her hand on his arm in dumb entreat;
.tobe gentle. ?-; '/.
' What is it, Jamesr . ...
'Tour husband. I must arrest him. H wa8 in the riot,'he said
The shock was almost too much tor her ghe seized him by the arms as if to hold him then in rapid, piteous tones of agony, sb
pl^Ohho, James. No. You won't take rn;
"Will. You know he tried to prevent them to keep them quiet. James you used to lov< me you won't be cruel now because I mar ried Will. Don't break my heart. Wha .aouU I do without him ? Oh James, you'll never let my Will who has tried to do so mucl good go to prison, and leave me all alone Oh let him go', she pleaded.
He was sincerely sorry, and tried to sootl her. . ,. . tl
' I can't help it my dear, he said.
Just then Hutton entered. A few words in an undertone sufficed. It was not ai .ordinary case. The detective gave him five minutes to arrange things. Hutton glancec .-afc his wife who leaned against the mantel- piece, pale and moutionless, but thinking -silence best, he said nothing, and again wenl upstairs. Then Jinny turned. Her face was colorless with agony ; she had ceased sobbing. With one hand on her heart, as if io crush in the pain, she moved towards the .door trying to control herself to say good bye to Will. Her mournful eyes and white face distorted by pain wore terrible to her old lover. He tried to think of something kind to say. He wished he had deserted his .duty rather than enter the house, for he was torturing the woman he had loved-whom he loved still. When she fell prone on the floor, it was too much for him, he broke
Kneeling by her he said, ' Jinny ! Jinny ! for God's sake don't give way. Quick now, I'll give him a chance ; Jinny, rouse up ! Tell him to clear out at the back, I'll give you five minutes.'
Sho roused herself, she understood that. He raised her and helped her, dizzy as she
was, to the stairs.
Between these two men the poor girl was likely to break her heart, for Hutton began ?to reason with her-' My dear girl I've done nothing criminal, I'll only disgrace myself by running away. They can't do anything
' Oh yes they can, Will,' she cried, they .don't know what you are. Will, what could I do if you were in prison ? how can I live without you ? They might send you where
I couldn't live near.'
She put her arms round him, and pleaded so piteously, ' Will, Will,' that love won another victory that night. ? Personal pride in the old life, its influence and hopes, were .overridden; he could not look at the despair
in that face, and refuse.
'Well, well, cheer up,'he said. 'If you will look happy, I'll go.'
So he told her where she should meet him,
'He is not in the house,' she said to
The detective searched the house, and was leaving it without a word, when she stopped Jim to kiss his hand and murmur, ' God Ness you 'Jim.' He seized her face be- tween his hands and kissed her twice. It
was his fair reward.
Nert day, very early, William Brown and IkVallei JiT7, took single ^ lass tickets for Byllbridge, in Somer