Wednesday, 22 February 2012

22nd February 1812: Leeds Mercury editorial

THE disturbances in Nottingham have at length engaged the attention of the Legislature—The remedy proposed by Ministers is to increase the severity of the criminal code; to add another offence to the long list of crimes punishable with death. A Bill has been brought into the House of Commons to make the malicious destroying of Worsted and Lace-frames a capital felony without benefit of the Clergy. This Bill has been read a second time, and will, no doubt, pass into a law. We confess that we see with much regret any addition made to the list of capital offences; they are already much too numerous; and in the present case we do not think that it is at all calculated to prevent the outrages complained of.—The great evil attending them is the secrecy with which they are effected, and the consequent difficulty of detection. Of this difficulty we may judge from this fact, that there is not a single Frame-breaker in custody; but the increase of the punishment has no tendency to offer any facility in detecting the offenders, who calculates more the chances of escape than the comparitive difference of punishment, and who are much more likely to be moved with the certainty rather than the weight of punishment. But to pass an act of Parliament is an easy task; to investigate the cause of these outrages (which cannot be too much reprobated) to endeavor to remove the cause of dissatisfaction, and to convince and conciliate would have required patience, and might have disclosed truths which Ministers do not wish to hear. It might, and probably would have appeared, that these discontents originated in distress occasioned by the want of trade, which again originated in the baneful effect of the Orders in Council.

This editorial appeared in the Leeds Mercury of 22nd February 1812.

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