Saturday, 28 December 2013

28th December 1813: The Duke of Montrose writes to Francis Raynes about remuneration

In late December 1813, Captain Francis Raynes was still corresponding with the hope of obtaining some kind of remuneration from government. His commander-in-chief took over a month to respond to this letter of November:

I was answered through the Lieutenant-Colonel, that £200. would be allowed me; and, in the course of a post, received a receipt to sign, which I fancied might be construed into this sum having been given as a final remuneration, instead of an allowance for the expenses I had been at.—I accordingly wrote to the Duke of Montrose, asking if it might not be so interpreted: the answer I had the honor to receive is annexed.
London, 28th Dec. 1813.


I was nearly answering your letter, that the £200. Could not be considered as a final remuneration; but I thought it better to write to Lord Sidmouth, who answers that he is sorry that such a supposition should have been excited. He regrets the difficultly in finding the means of further remuneration; but will endeavour to surmount it with  as little delay as possible. I return the receipt, that you may obtain the money without delay. Lord Sidmouth’s answer to me was missent, which has occasioned delay, as I have but just received his letter, which is dated the 24th instant. I remain, with esteem, Sir,

Your obedient Servant,


Friday, 20 December 2013

20th December 1813: The 1813 Frame-Breaking Act

An Act to repeal an Act of the Fifty Second Year of His present Majesty, for the Punishment of Persons destroying Stocking or Lace Frames, or any Articles in such Frames, and to make other Provisions instead thereof.
[20th December 1813.]

Whereas an Act was passed in the Fifty Second Year of His present Majesty's Reign, intituled An Act for the more exemplary Punishment of Persons destroying or injuring any Stocking or Lace Frames, or other Machines or Engines used its the Framework Knitted Manufactory, or any Articles or Goods in such Frames or Machines; to continue in force until the First Day of March One thousand eight hundred and fourteen: And Whereas it is expedient that the said Act should be repealed and other Provisions made instead thereof; Be it therefore enacted by The King's Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the Authority of the same, That, from and after the passing of this Act, the said recited Act shall be repealed, and the same is hereby repealed, save and except as to any thing done before the passing of this Act, with respect to which the said Act shall remain and be in full Force and Effect as if this Act had not been made.

II. And be it further enacted, That, from and after the passing of this Act, if any Person or Persons shall, by Day or by Night, enter by Force into any House, Shop or Place, with an Intent to cut or destroy any Framework Knitted Pieces, Stocking or Lace, or other Articles or Goods, being in the Frame or upon any Machine or Engine thereto annexed, or therewith to be used or prepared for that purpose, or with an Intent to break or destroy any Frame, Machine, Engine, Tool, Instrument or Utensil, used in and for the working and making of any such Framework Knitted Pieces, Stockings, Lace or other Articles or Goods in the Hosiery or Framework Knitted Manufactory, or shall wilfully or maliciously, and without having the Consent or Authority of the Owner, destroy or cut with an Intent to destroy or render useless any Framework Knitted Pieces, Stockings, Lace or other Articles or Goods, being in the Frame or upon any Machine or Engine as aforesaid, or prepared for that Purpose, or shall wilfully and maliciously, and without having the Consent or Authority of the Owner, break, destroy or damage with an Intent to destroy or render useless, any Frame, Machine, Engine, Tool, Instrument or Utensil, used in and for the working and making of any such Framework Knitted Pieces, Stockings, Lace or other Articles or Goods in the Hosiery or Framework Knitted Stocking, or Framework Lace Manufactory; or shall wilfully and maliciously, and without having the Consent or Authority of the Owner, break or destroy any Machinery contained in any Mill or Mills used or any way employed in preparing or Spinning of Wool or Cotton, or Other Materials for the Use of the Stocking or Lace Manufactory; every Offender being thereof lawfully convicted shall be adjudged guilty of Felony, and shall be transported for Life, or for such Term of Years not less than Seven Years, as the Judge before whom such Offender shall be tried in his Discretion shall adjudge and direct.

III. And be it further enacted, That this Act may be altered, amended or repealed by any Act or Acts to be passed in this Session of Parliament.

54. Geo. 3. Cap. 42

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

17th December 1813: Lancelot Bellas writes to the Home Secretary for the third time about the spy, Joseph Taylor

Marsden Decr 17th 1813

My Lord

In Your Letter dated the 11th of October [last], you referred me to Mr. Lloyd respecting the Advances which have been paid to Taylor &c by him and Mr. Allison.

At that time I was indisposed, and consequently neither wrote to, nor waited on Mr. Lloyd – Since then I have received a Certificate from him, a true Copy of which I beg leave to insert for Your Lordships Inspection—

"I certify that the Bearer Joseph Taylor has not specifically received any Sum of money by way of reward from the Government or any others to my Knowledge for his Services in the disturbed Counties

J Lloyd Solr

Stockport 7th Decr. 1813."
My Lord it appears evidently from the above, that all that Taylor has received just covers his Expences, and those who employed in this arduous Enterprize and that no Remuneration has ever been made him from any Quarter for the loss of his Time and those undaunted and signal Services which he performed at the Risk of his Life for the Restoration of Tranquility &c not only in this County but in several parts of Lancashire.

My Lord. I am sorry to observe, that this Business has for sometime been veiled in a State of Obscurity, and hid from your Lordships Eye—But now it is made manifest; and I have not a Doubt from Your Lordships Integrity and uprightness in transacting the Officers of this great Nation, that you will immediately Order Taylor to be recompensed for those great Services which he has performed, and for which he has not been requited.

In humble Expectation, of receiving Your Lordships favourable Answer I beg Leave to subscribe myself on the other side

Your Lordships most faithful and
obedient Servant

Lancelot Bellas

[To Lord Sidmouth]

Monday, 16 December 2013

16th December 1813: Colonel Fletcher sends a report and a claim for expenses to the Home Office

Bolton 16th December 1813

Dear Sir

So very little has occurred amongst the Seditious for these several months last past, deserving of any particular Notice, that I have not thought it necessary to forward any of the reports of the persons employed. The Jacobin Leaders, during the prosperous State of affairs, with which it hath pleased the Almighty to bless this Country, cannot find many followers, nor dare they now, (as, during Bonaparte's Career of Conquest, they used to do) openly express their malevolent Sentiments against their Country and its Government, for Fear of their immediate Chastisement, which would be likely to follow from the Hands of that order of men (the lowest) which in some Instances, they had before too successfully cajoled.

In Conversation with the persons employed, they confess, that the prosperous State of the Trade, enabling men, with common Industry, to earn a comfortable Subsistence for themselves and their Families, has considerably diminished their Hopes of Revolution, which yet, however, they affect to think will ultimately be accomplished, by the Catholics of Ireland. Indeed, whilst Bonaparte shall remain in Power, so long there will be Danger from his machinations, and particularly, in that Quarter of the United Kingdom.

In this part manufacturing part of Lancashire there is reason to apprehend that the mischievous Activity of the seditious will be principally exerted in promoting Turn Outs (what in Town you call Striking’s) for a further advance of Wages, in different Branches of the Manufactures. In matters of this Sort, men of this Description, generally take the Lead, thereby keeping up some consequence with the working manufacturers, who are but too prone to request those Persons as Benefactors, who even pretend to procure for them more Wages for their Labour.

B. has been informed by one John Green, a resident in Town, that a Committee frequently meets at the Fox & Goose, King Street, Seven Dials, and that this Committee corresponds with the Hampden Club, and various other Societies in different parts of the united Kingdom.

The money have advanced to the persons employed, from May 11th (to which period, my Accounts as per my Letter of 27 May, extended) to 13th December instant, is as under

L.F.    Time & Expences 31 Weeks 26.7.0
T        Time & Expences 31 Weeks 6.15.0
B        Time & Expences 31 Weeks 46.13.0

Adjt Warr    Time & Expences same period 27.06.0
A B              Time & Expences same period 24.06.3
S. Senr         Time & Expences same period 4.7.6
S Junr           Time & Expences same period 4.4.0
Incidental Expences                                       2.4.6

Total            £ 142.3.3

Four which Sum 142.3.3 I have taken the Liberty to draw upon you at Seven days Sight, payable to Mr Abraham Winterbottom.

I beg to return you my thanks for your kind attention, in sending me the Gazette Extraordinary of the glorious Victories obtained both by the Arms of His Majesty and those of His Allies. May Heaven continue to bless their Efforts, untill the dreadful Tyranny, founded on the Infidel Revolution of France shall fall to rise no more.

You will probably have seen the offer of the Bolton Regiment of Local militia under my Command, to extend its Services, according to the Bill (then pending) since passed into a Law. This was addressed to Lord Castlereagh, as the mover of the measure, and his Lordship has very politely returned his Thanks, observing at the same Time, that he will hand the Offer to Lord Viscount Sidmouth

with great Sincerity
I have [etc]
Ra: Fletcher

[To] John Beckett Esqr

16th December 1813: The Stockport solicitor, John Lloyd, sends details of a case of seditious language to the Home Office

Stockport 16th Decr 1813


I have the honor to transmit to you copies of Informations taken against a man of the name of George Bowring some little time ago respecting some seditious Expressions uttered by him at a public house in this Town, and which, owing to the presence of military characters, it cou’d not and ought not to be overlooked.

He was consequently taken up under a Warrant obtained from the revd. C. Prescot, our resident magistrate, who directed him to find Bail – and not being able to do so, he was committed to Chester Castle where he now remains; and, if you direct it, may be indicted at the next Assizes, or required by the may consent in court to enter into Recognizance for his future good behaviour, but certainly some notice must be taken and the reasons I have stated.

I was aware it wou’d be required of me to state further circumstances for you to form your Judgement upon, and I have therefore made such enquiries, as struck me to be necessary.

Bowring followed the Trade of a master Butcher in a small way, at a populous village in Derbyshire called New Mills 8 miles from this Town — a place notorious for profligacy of manners and formerly for disaffection to the Government. (but which latter I shod hope cannot generally now prevail even there.)—I have been informed he has been in the habit of drinking the Toast charged agt him altho’ he has been cautioned & warned of the impropriety & the consequences—It seems he had hitherto been encouraged by the impunity—He has a Brother, keeping a public house here who refused to bail him He (the Prisr) is not a very drunken man—but was somewhat in liquor at the time he uttered the words—however he was at that time cautioned by those present that anticipated the words of the intended Toast to be seditious; and upon the whole I have found that he is an object for chastisement — and shod the great Government Law Officers not recommend the prosecution at the public expence I will take some steps to keep him under alarm, till with a view to his being placed under a Recognizance at least. I have the honor

to remain Sir
Your very obedt & hb Sert
J Lloyd

[To] J Beckett Esq
&c &c

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

10th December 1813: The Frame-Breaking Bill reaches the House of Lords

On Friday 10th December 1813, the Frame-Breaking Bill reached the House of Lords:

The House resolved itself into a committee, on the Frame-breaking Bill.

Lord Holland: observed upon the absurdity of the wording of the Bill, which stated. "that whereas it is expedient to amend and render perpetual the said Act (the former Act), be it therefore enacted, that all the provisions of the said Act shall cease and determine."

Lord Redesdale: proposed amendments to obviate this incongruity, by inserting words to the effect, that the former Act should be repealed, and other provisions substituted in lieu thereof.

These amendments having been agreed to,

Lord Holland: expressed his satisfaction at the repeal of the former Act, and that ministers had found it effectual in putting down the evil. That it had been so effectual, however, was owing, to the activity, the intelligence, and zeal, of the corporation of the town of Nottingham, He mentioned this, because it would be recollected, that some time since a Bill passed the three branches of the legislature, for depriving that corporation, to a considerable extent (unjustly, as he contended), of their corporate 276 rights; and if that subject should again come under the consideration of the legislature; he trusted the observations he had now made would be borne in the memory of their lordships.

The Bill passed through the committee, with the amendments.

The 1812 Act was now repealed, being replaced by the new Act, which achieved Royal Assent on Monday 20th December 1812, before Parliament was adjourned on the same day.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

8th December 1813: The Frame-Breaking Bill is read in the House of Commons for the final time

On Wednesday, the Frame-Breaking Bill was read for the final time in the House of Commons:

The Attorney General moved the third reading of this Bill. 

Sir S. Romilly: stated, that an Act of the 28th of the King, making the same offence, or nearly the same offence, felony, was already on the statute book; and asked whether there was any intention to repeal that Act on passing the present? 

The Attorney General: said, the same objection might have been urged last year to the temporary measure, which was then made to the permanent one. He had no objection to the repeal of the former Act, which he believed, however, was not the same as the present. 

A Member, whose name we could not learn, said, that in the case of the King v. Cator, where the offence was seducing artificers out of the country, it had been decided that a subsequent Act against any offence virtually repealed a former one. 

Sir S. Romilly: thought that this might be true, where the offence was altered from a misdemeanour into a felony; but not where a more severe punishment was demanded against the same description of offence. 

The last speaker replied, that the case he had alluded to was of this description. The punishment had before been 100l. fine, which was increased to 500l.—The Bill then passed.

Friday, 6 December 2013

6th December 1813: The Frame-Breaking Bill is discussed again in the House of Commons

On Monday 6th December 1813, the Frame-Breaking Bill was discussed once again in the House of Commons:

On the farther consideration of the report,

Sir S. Romilly: was sorry that the learned and hon. gentleman persisted in this Bill, for which there appeared to be no existing necessity. The conspiracies and disturbances which had occasioned its passing into a law had ceased; and it seemed a strong measure in legislation to make that felony, for which, as a simple act, no legal punishment had, he believed, before existed. The sentence for this offence was to be transportation for life. Now, whatever reasons there might be for preferring transportation for life to transportation for a limited time, in cases of habitual depravity, they could not apply to the present crime, which was the effect of ignorance and momentary delusion. As an instance of the loose and incorrect manner in which the Bill was drawn, sir S. Romilly observed, that the punishment was denounced against all those who entered a dwelling-house with intent to break frames, either by day or by night. How they could enter it, except by day or by night, he was at a loss to conceive.

The Attorney General: said, that though the judges could not themselves avoid pronouncing the sentence of the law in cases of felony, yet they could recommend the prisoner to the clemency of the crown, as was always done where there were circumstances of mitigation. He had no objection, however, to have the punishment altered from transportation for life to transportation for a term of years not exceeding fourteen, nor less than seven years. He thought the crime was punishable by law before the present Bill—not simply, but as an act of conspiracy. The learned gentleman then made a distinction between the idle or mischievous apprentice who should merely break his master's frames, who would not be punished, and the apprentice combining for the same purpose with the Luddites, who would be amenable to the law.

Mr. Horner: said, he believed no other person in the House had misunderstood his learned and hon. friend in the same degree as the learned and hon. gentleman who spoke last. He had totally misconceived, not only his expressions, but the whole scope of his argument. He had represented him as palliating the crime of the Luddites. No such thing. He had merely stated that it was a crime arising out of temporary circumstances and temporary irritation, and which might be effectually prevented by temporary punishment. As to the distinction between the idle apprentice, acting wantonly in violation of the law, or in concert with the Luddites, there was no such distinction laid down in the Bill. The question respecting the punishment to be inflicted by the Bill became the more important from the nature of the general doctrine on which it had been supported by his Majesty's Attorney General. The specific punishment denounced by the Bill was transportation for life. But the hon. and learned gentleman contended that the diminution of their punishment would be at the discretion of the judge. The House knew but too well the practice that had prevailed on this subject. The recent discussions on the proposed repeal of some of the old statutes had put them in possession of it. In the times when those statutes were passed, a more extended discretion might be necessary; but was it to be endured, when passing a new penal law, that parliament should be told, "Make the punishment as severe as you can; the judges will take care that it shall seldom be inflicted?" He had always thought that it was the peculiar praise of the British law, possessing as we did judges of great wisdom and unimpeached integrity—that, nevertheless, their discretion in cases of a criminal nature should be narrowed as much as possible. In the best works on jurisprudence it had always been laid down as a principle, that although the quantum of punishment might sometimes be left to the discretion of the judges, the description of it should always be regulated by the law. By contending that the mercy of the court would be so frequently exercised as seldom or ever to expose the offender to the highest punishment of the Bill, the hon. and learned gentleman substituted the exception for the general rule. The prerogative of mercy ought to be applied only to cases of rare occurrence; but, according to the argument of the hon. and learned gentleman, it should be put constantly in action.

The Attorney General: explained. What he had said with respect to apprentices was, that if an idle apprentice wantonly destroyed the frames of his master, he would not come within the operation of the Act; but that if he wickedly and maliciously did so, either alone or in concert with others, he would be subject to its punishments.

Mr. Bathurst: supported the necessity of enacting a severe punishment to prevent the recurrence of scenes, the terror attendant on which in the neighbourhood in which they had occurred was much greater than that occasioned in London and its neighbourhood by the riots of 1780. The question was, whether or not it was fitting that such a law as that before the House should be on the statute-book? The decided opinion was that it was fitting. He trusted there would be no occasion for its exercise; but if, unfortunately, there should, it was more likely to call for the utmost severity of the law than for its utmost mitigation. The capital punishment was gone from the Bill; and the least that could be substituted was the punishment of transportation for life; and under circumstances in which the gradation of crime must be so extensive, the judge ought to have the power of inflicting the highest punishment on the most atrocious offenders, and of obtaining a milder punishment for those whose guilt was not so extreme.

Mr. J. Smith: expressed his great satisfaction at the abolition in the Bill of the punishment of death. He was fully convinced that it had deterred many persons from prosecuting offenders. Nor would this be surprising, when it was considered that many of those offenders were boys and girls of 16 or 17 years of age. He confessed that he wished the term of transportation had been limited to seven years. However, he preferred adopting the Bill as it stood, to leaving such valuable property as the lace frames unprotected; he declared, that the right hon. gentleman who had just spoken, had by no means overstated the terror and dismay which, at the time of the disturbances, had spread over the counties in which those disturbances had occurred; and he trusted, that the measure now in progress would prevent any repetition of such outrages.

Mr. Abercrombie: observed, that the object of his hon. and learned friend's proposition to postpone for six months any further proceedings on this Bill, was by no means to leave the property of the lace manufacturers unprotected, but to give time for a more ample consideration than they had hitherto received of two most important questions in the Bill; namely, the quantum of punishment, and the description of the offence. He protested against the doctrines of the hon. and learned gentleman opposite (the Attorney General), which he confessed appeared to him to involve the most severe censure on the existing laws of the country that had ever been uttered within those walls. That hon. and learned gentleman had contended, that no person ought to be transported save for life. If so, where was the justice of annually sending, as we did, so many persons to New South Wales, for seven and fourteen years? Adverting to the condition of that colony, he felt happy, from the inquiries which he had been enabled to make in the committee on the subject, and from other sources, to bear testimony to the progress of that colony in improvement, and to the vigilant attention of government with respect to it. The result of all his examinations was, that the two great purposes of the prosperity of the colony, and the improvement in morals of the inhabitants, were commensurate. This fact afforded an argument against the hon. and learned gentleman, who wished that all transportation should be for life, because, as he contended, in cases of transportation for a limited period, the individuals so transported were restless and unhappy; nothing but the exclusion of all hope of a return to their native country being able to reconcile them to their exile. To the description of offence contained in the Bill he had great objection. The original cause of the measure was the combination of offenders, and to combination alone ought the punishment to apply.

Mr. Serjeant Best: denied that his hon. and learned friend (the Attorney General) had said that transportation ought in all cases to be for life. What he had maintained was, that unless the hon. and learned gentleman opposite could show that no offence of the kind described in the Bill could by possibility occur, to which the punishment of transportation for life ought to be applied, that punishment ought to be left as the highest punishment in the power of the judge to inflict, leaving it to his discretion and that of the executive government, in other cases, to reduce the quantum of punishment in proportion to the diminution of the guilt. It had been contended, that the crime described in the Bill ought not to be made a felony, because it was not so immoral an act as the acts which were usually termed felonious. For his part, he could not conceive any act much more immoral than a malicious destruction of the property of others. There were other acts not more atrocious in their character comprehended among felonies. To destroy a turnpike was a felony. With respect to the discretion to be vested in the judge, he maintained that it was not too great. The judge was obliged to pass a particular sentence; transportation for life. But no bad consequence would thence result to the individual, if there had been any favourable circumstances in his conduct; because a representation of those circumstances to the executive authority, would reduce the quantum of punishment. He did not understand, however, that his hon. and learned friend would object to the introduction in the Bill of a clause, giving to the judge, instead of to the executive authority, that discretion, if such a clause would satisfy the hon. and learned gentleman opposite. He would like to know what view the hon. and learned gentlemen opposite took of the crime? Some punishment they would undoubtedly affix to its perpetration. Would that punishment be transportation for seven years? Why in that case, and if that punishment, on the principles of the hon. and learned gentleman, were to be inflicted indiscriminately on all offenders, by far the greater part of them would be in a much worse situation than under the inflictions of the Bill as it stood. He confessed that he, for one, should have been better pleased had the capital punishment not been abolished in the Bill: not, he trusted, because he had any disposition capitally to punish, but because he was persuaded that, had it been retained, it would have operated not cruelly, but mercifully, by deterring from the commission of the crime; and by preventing the recurrence of those disturbances which had separated so many individuals from their friends, and deprived their native country of their services. As to the question respecting combination, to require that proof should be given of the existence of a combination, would be to make the Bill comparatively inoperative. All that it was necessary to prove was, that the offender acted maliciously.

Mr. H. Addington: argued against the substitution of the punishment of transportation for seven years for the punishment of transportation for life.

The Amendment was then negatived without a division, and the report was taken into consideration.

The Attorney General: proposed an amendment to the clause comprehending the punishment—namely, after the words that "the offender should be transported for life," to add the following, "or for such a term of years, not less than seven, as the judge before whom he may be tried shall think fit to pronounce."

Mr. Horner: declared that it was not in conformity to his opinion that this clause was proposed. He objected to a discretion so large being vested in the judge. It was true, that transportation for life seemed to him to be an unsuitable punishment for the offence described in the Bill; but if it were deemed by parliament suitable, he would much rather it should be absolute, than that the judge should possess such an extensive discretion as the amendment proposed by the hon. and learned gentleman went to give him. If it were not irregular to move an amendment on an amendment, he would move to leave out all the words of the clause after the words "the offender shall be transported," for the purpose of substituting the following, "for a term not exceeding fourteen years, or less than seven."

The Attorney General: repeated his objections to striking the punishment of transportation for life out of the Bill. If no case could exist in which a greater punishment than transportation for 14 years ought to be inflicted, he would adopt the proposition of the hon. and learned gentleman. Besides, that which was called transportation for life, was not, as it had been in the infancy of the colony of New South Wales, actually so; of this there were many instances. One of a very recent occurrence, in which the inhabitants of Cambridge had been thrown into great astonishment by the re-appearance of a person who some years ago had been transported from that place for life. On investigation, however, it appeared that he had conducted himself in a manner so exemplary, that the governor of the colony had exercised the power which he possessed, of granting him a free pardon.

Mr. Lockhart: thought, that when there must necessarily be so many shades of guilt, discretion was indispensable to the judge.

The Amendment proposed by Mr. Horner was then negatived, and the original Amendment proposed by the Attorney General adopted.

Several other amendments of an unimportant nature were introduced, and the Bill was ordered to be read a third time on Wednesday.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

3rd December 1813: The Frame-breaking Bill is debated in the House of Commons again

On Friday 3rd December 1813, the proposal to extend the Frame-breaking Act via a new Bill was debated in the House of Commons again:

On Mr. H. Addington's moving the committal of this Bill,

The Attorney General: expressed his wish to state to the House his ideas on a subject which had created a great diversity of opinion. He then adverted to the circumstances of the times in which that law was passed, and to the peculiar situation of the districts which had rendered that law necessary. If, by the salutary terror it had created, order had been re-established, they certainly had obtained an invaluable blessing at a comparatively trifling inconvenience. The present state of Europe, too, added to the operation of that law, had so contributed to restore order and perfect tranquillity, that should the Bill be now for the first time introduced, no man could think it necessary. But where a law, after effecting so much good, was attended with no inconvenience to any one, and held only terror to the guilty, it was certainly a harmless experiment to continue it for some time longer; always recollecting, that what had once come to pass might happen again. But as some hon. and learned gentlemen, and especially an hon. and learned friend of his, sir S. Romilly, whose suggestions were always entitled to the greatest deference, had expressed great objection to the offence of frame-breaking being made a capital felony, he intended to propose to the committee to enact a less severe punishment, and, at the same time, to make the Act permanent on the Statute-book, for the preservation of manufacturing property. The Act to which his hon. and learned friend had principally alluded, and which he wished to substitute for the present Bill, was an Act of the 28th of his present Majesty, by which the breaking up of manufacturing frames was punishable by no less than seven, nor more than fourteen years transportation. His intention, in the present instance was, to make the offence punishable by transportation for life. His principal reason was, that from the best sources of information he had been able to command, he had learnt that convicts for life were much more tractable, and made much better members of society, than those transported for a term of years: the first expecting no alleviation from a fate which was to last for life, but in their good conduct, by which they were soon admitted as settlers in the colony; whereas the others, always impatient under a restraint which they considered as temporary, sighed only in the bitterness and exasperation of disappointment, for the moment which was to bring them back to the scene of their former wickedness. He also wished, that, in mitigated cases, the judges might be authorised to recommend the culprit to a less punishment; or, in fact, if it was preferred, he had no objection to leave the period of transportation to the discretion of the judge. Another clause of the former Act which he would propose to repeal was, that which made it incumbent on persons injured to prosecute, under the penalties of a misdemeanor. But this was intended at the time to protect prosecutors from private revenge, by seeming to compel them to come forward. He did not think that the state of the country required such a strong measure; and he would leave the prosecutor, in this particular case, in the same situation in which he stood by law for every other offence.

Sir S. Romilly: thought there was some objection against proceeding in the way recommended by the right hon. gentleman (the Attorney General). It was proposed to continue a law which had been originally introduced as a mere temporary measure, and to keep the terror of that law still in existence, though no occasion for such terror existed. The nature of the original measure would be entirely altered by thus making it permanent. In his opinion, it would be much better to drop the Bill altogether, and bring in a new one. The present Bill had reference merely to stocking and lace-frames. The machinery used in cloth and other manufactures were not at all protected by it; and yet there was no reason why they should not be protected as well as the others—they came under the very same principle. It was a very momentous question, that should not be decided in so hasty a way. With respect to what the right hon. gentleman (the Attorney General) had said on the subject of Botany Bay, there was an important difference of opinion upon that point. The opinion of a gentleman who had been many years governor of Botany Bay was quite contrary. The opinion of that gentleman was, that the persons transported for life were the most desperate and the most incorrigible of the whole colony. They were the very worst there; and the reason he assigned was, because they considered their case desperate; and for that reason they had laid aside all thought of amendment, and corrupted the rest of the prisoners. The report of the committee which had sat upon this subject should be taken into mature consideration. The number of persons likely to suffer under this Bill was extremely small. There seemed to be no necessity for the Bill, but certainly none for making that permanent which was originally temporary, and changing entirely the nature of the punishment. When it was stated the other day in the House, that the Bill might possibly have such an operation, as to subject to death an apprentice for injuring the frames of his master, a worthy alderman said it was monstrous and incredible that such a Bill could have passed the House. Yet the Bill did pass the House, and that worthy alderman himself voted for it. It would be easy to alter the words of the Act in such a manner as not to comprehend cases like that of the apprentice. Every thing said by the right hon. gentleman went upon general principles, and yet the Bill was to be confined to a particular Act. The inconvenience in bringing in another Bill would be, that some delay might arise; during that delay, however, the Bill before in existence would be sufficient for the protection of frames.

The motion was agreed to, and the House having resolved into the committee,

Mr. Homer: said, that he should wait to see how this Bill came out of the committee before he made any further observation upon it.

Mr. Eden: stated, from his experience in the committee respecting transportation to Botany Bay, that evidence appeared directly contradictory to the statement of the learned gentlemen, respecting the comparative conduct of the several classes of transports. According to that evidence, indeed, the persons transported for limited periods were very often reformed while those transported for life generally continued depraved and desperate. The hon. gentleman concluded, with expressing a wish that government would attend to the suggestion of the committee alluded to, with respect to the improvement of the civil and criminal courts.

The Attorney General: said, that the subject last referred to by the hon. gentleman, was under the consideration of government; and that papers were before him (Mr. G.) respecting those courts, which would have been decided upon before now, if he had not wanted that assistance which a recent appointment had happily afforded him [alluding, we suppose, to Mr. Serjeant Shepherd's appointment as Solicitor General].

Mr. J. Smith: expressed his satisfaction with the change which was proposed to be made in the measure under consideration; and he had no doubt that in consequence of that change it would prove more effectual for its object than the measure to which it was to succeed.

The Attorney General's proposition was agreed to, the House resumed, the report was received, and ordered to be farther considered on Monday next.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

30th November 1813: The new frame-breaking Bill is discussed in the House of Commons again

On Tuesday 30th November 1813, the proposed extension of the Frame-Breaking Act was discussed in the House of Commons again:

Mr. H. Addington moved the committal of this Bill.

Mr. Horner: submitted to the consideration of the right hon. gentleman, whether it would not be much more advisable to abstain from farther proceeding upon this Bill, and to substitute another measure. Upon the propriety of making a great part of that a permanent law which by this Bill it was proposed to render a temporary Act, there could, he thought, be but little difference of opinion. That the provisions of the 28th of the King, applying to stocking-frames, should be extended to lace-frames—that one branch of trade should enjoy the same legal protection as another, was obviously just and necessary. With respect to the extent of the punishment proposed in the Bill before the House, the learned gentleman re-urged his objections to it with increased force, and pressed upon the right hon. gentleman the propriety of reconsidering the subject, particularly as he had advanced no reason for prolonging the duration of such an extraordinary law, but that he had found it in the Statute-book.—In consistency, however, with the professed deference of the right hon. gentleman for the Statute-book, he ought, as he found this law expiring, to submit to its prescription, and allow it to expire. The learned gentleman concluded with expressing a hope that the right hon. gentleman would decline to persist in a measure, the object and policy of which was obviously never meant to be permanent.

Mr. H. Addington: expressed his readiness to attend to any suggestion from the learned gentleman, and should propose to move the postponement of the committee until Thursday, in order to afford time for further consideration. The right hon. gentleman added, that the finding of this law upon the Statute-book was not, as the learned gentleman had asserted, his only reason for bringing forward this measure the recency of the disturbances against which the Act was originally pointed, being, as he before stated, the principal reason that influenced his mind.

The committal of the Bill was postponed until Thursday.

Friday, 29 November 2013

29th November 1813: A new frame-breaking Bill is introduced to the House of Commons

On Monday 29th November 1813, a new Bill was introduced in the House of Commons to extend the provisions of the 1812 Frame-Breaking Act for one year from March 1814.

Upon the motion of Mr. H. Addington, that the Bill for continuing the Act for inflicting the punishment of death on all persons convicted of maliciously breaking such frames, or cutting any lace or stockings in such frames, be read a second time,

Mr. J. Smith: rose and expressed a wish, that as peace and tranquillity were now, and had been for a considerable time back, completely restored in the districts to which the Act referred to was originally intended to apply, the severe penalty prescribed by that Act should cease. He saw no objection to a Bill for extending to lace-frames the same provisions which, according to an old statute, applied to stocking-frames; because otherwise, should the Act under consideration be repealed or allowed to expire, the lace-frames would not enjoy the due protection of the law. But he had serious objections to the continuance of a law which he would take the liberty of saying was wholly ineffective; he knew from local observation, that the penalty of death had the effect of indisposing persons to prosecute for such offences as the Act had in view, and therefore, there had been no conviction under it. Much information had indeed reached him which fully satisfied his mind upon this subject. He would be the last man in the world to resist any measure calculated to prevent such outrages as disturbed certain parts of the country when this Act was originally enacted; but he was then, as well as at present, persuaded that the penalty prescribed was too severe. He was also persuaded, that the persons concerned in these outrages were, as they themselves had long felt, actuated by mere delusion; and from this circumstance, combined with the communication which he had with the right hon. mover, he was induced to think that there was no reason whatever to apprehend any recurrence of the outrages against which this Bill proposed to provide. Of course there was no necessity for its adoption. But even if such outrages should unhappily recur, he was decidedly of opinion, that an Act, imposing the penalty of transportation for seven years upon the delinquents, would be more effective in putting them down, than the Act which the hon. mover proposed to continue.

Mr. H. Addington: expressed his happiness in confirming the statement of the hon. gentleman, that tranquility was completely restored in the districts alluded to, and therefore he should be the last person to originate the measure under consideration. But finding the Act in existence, and aware of its influence in putting down an alarming disturbance, he thought it his duty to propose its continuance, as a matter of prudence and precaution, to guard against the possible recurrence of any such outrages and in the hope that it would operate in terrorem, to prevent crime. The right hon. gentleman added, that he intended only to move the continuance of the Act for one year from the 1st of March next.

Sir Samuel Romilly: said, that he could not think the House, disposed to accede to this measure upon such, grounds as were stated by the right hon. gentleman. In fact the right hon. gentleman had not offered any reason whatever to justify the adoption of his measure, but brought it forward apparently as a mere matter of course; and such, was the right hon. gentleman's line of proceeding upon a measure of no less, importance than the infliction of a capital punishment—than the increase of our already enormous mass of capital offences. The House, in considering this question, should bear in mind the circumstances under which the Act referred to was originally passed. A conspiracy prevailed in certain parts of the country—houses were broken open in the day-time, stocking and lace frames were destroyed; and to meet those evils this Act was adopted, by which that, which before was a simple felony, was, rendered a capital offence. The minister, (Mr. Perceval) however who supported it, with Secretary of State also (Mr. Ryder.) declaring that the peculiar circumstances of the crisis alone urged them to bring forward, such a measure, which they by no means proposed to render permanent, its continuance was limited to two years. But now that the disturbances which formed the argument in support of this Act, had so long ceased—now that tranquillity was completely restored—that the temporary evil which gave birth to the Act was removed—nay, now that tranquility was not only restored, but the very causes which were known to have occasioned the disturbances complained of were entirely done away—when the distresses of commerce and manufactures had totally disappeared—when such a state of things had arisen, as the most sanguine imagination could not have anticipated at the enactment of this extraordinary law, it was proposed to extend its duration without any plea whatever, either of existing or probable necessity. The very authors of this law could never have calculated, that by or before the 1st of March, 1814, the distress that gave rise to the outrages against which they legislated would so entirely disappear, that our old channels of commerce should be re-opened—that our manufactures should be restored, and our manufacturers in full employment—and under such, circumstances, where could be the occasion for continuing the law under consideration? He should be, glad to hear from any advocate for the motion, against what description of evil he thought it necessary to provide, by continuing this law beyond the 1st of March, 1814, or what sort of danger was to be apprehended from its discontinuance? If, then, no cause could be assigned, he could not conceive it possible that, the House would consent to continue the existence of a capital punishment merely as a measure of caution, against imagining; a 'possible' evil, as the right hon. mover had stated. It was admitted, that there had been no conviction under this Act; but it was foretold at the time of its enactment, that the severity of the punishment of death would serve to prevent prosecutions therefore the Act was not enforced. But, in fact, the whole of the evil referred to, its possible recurrence, might be fully provided against, as hon. friend behind him (Mr. Smith) suggested, by extending the Act which applied to stocking-frames to lace-frames also, with, however, a mitigated penalty in both cases. With respect to the statement of the right hon. mover, that although he would not originate the law under consideration, he thought it his duty to propose its continuance, because he found it upon the Statute-book: it appeared to him (sir S. R.) of a most extraordinary nature, as a general motive for legislation. But as to this particular Act, how was the House to view a proposition calculated to put to hazard the lives of men, merely because an act passed under totally different circumstances was still to be found on the Statute-book? If the right hon. gentleman felt so much regard for the value of the statute, be ought to have some respect for the opinion of its authors and according to that opinion, this statute ought to terminate in March 1814. But really, according to the kind of argument adduced by the right hon. mover, this statute might have unlimited duration. For although, he proposed its re-enactment for only, one year, the argument he used in support of the proposition, namely, the appearance of the Act on the Statute-book, and the propriety of providing against any 'possible' disturbance, might be urged again in the next year. The reasoning that was held good by the right hon. gentleman might be so deemed by those who followed him in office, and so on in succession.

Mr. B. Bathurst: observed upon the grounds alledged by the learned gentleman for the repeal of the law under consideration; namely, the state of the country, and the severity of the punishment prescribed by the law. As to the first ground, the question for the House to decide was, whether, from the short time that had elapsed since the disturbances had ceased against which the law was pointed, it would be prudent to repeal it; for himself, he could have no hesitation in deciding in the negative; and he felt that many circumstances might be adduced to justify that decision. Then, as to the second ground, it was asserted that the law was inefficient—that there had been no convictions under it, because there had been no prosecutions, in consequence of the severity of the punishment. But no facts were quoted to sustain this assertion. If, however, there were no such facts, which might be doubted, he should still maintain, that although some men were prevented from prosecuting, by this, severity of punishment, he was entitled to assume that very many more were prevented from crime by, the same severity. That this law had operated, to prevent crime in the disturbed districts, he had not the least doubt. It was, indeed, to be recollected, that tranquillity had been restored in these districts before, any change took place in our commercial circumstances. To what then was this restoration of quiet to be attributed, unless to the efficient operation of the law, and the improved temper of the people? But, to return to the allegation that this law was ineffective, because there had been no convictions under it, because it was not enforced; the House must remember, that at the time this law was under discussion, it was much dwelt upon that the Stocking frame Act had, never been enforced. Now, as the latter Act, which was known to exist, and prescribed transportation, did not operate to prevent crime, was it not fair to calculate, that the severity of the punishment prescribed by the former did, by inspiring terror, operate such, prevention? for the cessation of crime did immediately follow such enactment.

Mr. Horner: supported the argument, of sir Samuel Romilly, illustrating the severity of the law under consideration by stating, that even an apprentice, who should wilfully cut any of his master's stockings or lace in the frames, or any, or the utensils used in the machinery, would be, under this Act, liable to capital punishment, without any proof of confederacy or combination whatever; while the master would, be subject to punishment for misdemeanor, if he declined to prosecute the apprentice detected in such an act. After pointing out this case, which could not be denied, he thought it unnecessary to urge any farther argument against the cruelty and injustice of a law, which the right hon. mover notwithstanding proposed to continue, without even the plea of necessity. There might be circumstances which would render that an offence at one time, which, would be quite innocent, at another. An act of parliament had once existed against drinking healths, because that was a badge of hostility to the crown—the sign of a disloyal conspiracy. The cutting of stockings or lace might two years back be deemed a capital offence, because such was the conduct of a dangerous combination; and yet such, cutting might be consistently met at this day by a much less severe punishment, because the combination had ceased to exist. Indeed, he could see no reason for retaining the capital punishment in the Act under consideration. In point of fact, this Act had never been enforced either at the commission or elsewhere, the delinquents which the Act professed to have in view being all met by the old established laws of the land. By that law he wished the country to be governed, and it was quite disarranged by such statutes as that under discussion. Such statutes, indeed, as were too severe in comparison with the offence against which they professed to provide, only served to put the ingenuity of the judges in action, in order to evade them. Unfortunately such statutes were to be found. Under the Stabbing Act, for instance, which imposed a capital punishment upon any man who stabbed another, even though death did not ensue, unless the other had a weapon in his hand; he remembered a case in which a humane judge ruled, that a coachman's whip, held in the left hand and resting upon the ground, was a weapon which served to save the prisoner from the penalty of the Act. But how would any judge feel, if an apprentice were brought before him under the circumstances he had described, subject to the severe visitation of the law under discussion; against the continuance of which, without even the shadow of necessity, he entered his decided protest?

Mr. Serjeant Best: admitted the general reasoning of the last speaker, but denied its application to the measure before the House. He said, the law had been found beneficial, and that was an argument why the House should continue it.

Mr. Abercromby: opposed the continuance of the Act, on the same grounds as Mr. Horner, and used nearly the same arguments.

Alderman C. Smith: was in favour of the Act being continued.

Mr. Courtenay: lamented the discussion that had taken place, in consequence of the predilection of the right hon. gentleman opposite (Mr. H. Addington) for a former measure. The Bill now would become an instrument of cruelty against many who might be brought within its operation, though originally directed against a very different description of persons—those engaged in illegal combinations. Nothing but necessity, could justify such a measure as the present; and the necessity having ceased, the measure of course ought not to be revived. It was now unnecessary with respect to those against whom it had been generally directed, and would be cruel and oppressive to others.

Mr. H. Addington: admitted, that there no longer existed a necessity for the measure. The office, with which he was connected, carried on a correspondence with most parts of the kingdom; and in that correspondence nothing had appeared that called imperiously for the present Bill; but from the recent date of the disorders for the suppression of which the Bill had been enacted, he was led to infer, that it still ought to be continued, as a measure of precaution and prevention, which had originally been productive of the most beneficial effects.

Mr. Lockhart: said, that the present time was very different from that when the Bill had been introduced into the House. Conspiracy and murder, with crimes approaching to high treason, then prevailed in the districts assigned for its operation; and the penalty of death which it imposed served as a warning to the country at large. The crimes, however, which he mentioned, were now all done away, and not a loom was now unemployed, unless from want of hands to work it. He should vote now against the Bill, for the same reason that he had formerly voted for it.

Mr. Brown: should be guided by the necessity of the case, and no necessity now existed; he did not choose to legislate upon speculative grounds.

Mr. H. Addington: disclaimed any such intention.

A division then took place.

For the second reading, 37—Against it, 15—Majority, 22

Saturday, 16 November 2013

16th November 1813: The Nottingham Solicitor, William Woodcock, writes to the Home Office about Nottingham Framework-knitters organisations

Mansfield November 16th 1813


I assure you it has not being through Inattention on my part that your Letter of the 28th of may was not sooner answered. The person from whom I received my Information has been obliged to be absent being suspected to be an accomplice with Joseph Falconbridge and others in a Robbery which Falconbridge (who was tried for and acquitted of frame breaking) has been transported, The Police of Nottingham have on this account being in Search of my Informant and I could not without suspicion ensure his Safety at Nottingham ‘till of late—

There are at Nottingham about Twenty Societies of more than one hundred numbers each some of a smaller number. The Business transacted before the Several members professes to have for its object the ensuring to them Employment at what they call fair Prices, The Societies have all the unemployed frames and Engage all the work they can which they let out to their members but to no other person, if the member has Employment elsewhere with which he is dissatisfied the Society make him a weekly allowance until he finds better Employment either from the Society or other persons. When the funds of the Society exceed a certain Sum the Surplus is sent to what my Informant calls the Head Committee which he believes to be in London. The Officers of the Society sometimes retire into a Room apart from the general meeting Room to transact Business. My Informant Society have paid out of their Funds the Expences of defending criminal prosecutions against its members but he understands this has been objected to by other of the Societies. New Tickets have been issued to the members in the stead of those of which I gave you one in the new ones – the material alteration is the omission of the arms which it was understood had caused some Suspicion. These Societies consist (as you may suppose) principally of desperate characters who express themselves very freely. The general conference was held in may last at Nottingham but my Informant does not know the business of it—

I do not know whether any of the Hosiers are acquainted with these Societies any further Information that may be required shall be immediately sought after by

your most obedt Servt
(Signed) Wm. Woodcock

[To] H Hobhouse Eq

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

13th November 1813: Frame-breaking returns to the Midlands in Wymeswold

Sometime on Saturday 13th November 1813 - ten months after the last attack, and on the second anniversary of the large action at Sutton-in-Ashfield in neighbouring Nottinghamshire - a number of stocking frames were broken by Luddites in Wymeswold, Leicestershire. The case of the complaint was the employment of 'Colts' or non-apprenticed labourers.

Friday, 1 November 2013

November 1813: Francis Raynes writes to his Commander-in-Chief about remuneration

Leeds, November, 1813.

MY LORD,        

I should be reluctant at any time to intrude upon your Grace, but feel most particularly so at the present, when, I apprehend, indisposition may render my application doubly inconvenient; but as it is probably very material changes will shortly be made in the regiment, the necessity of addressing your Grace, I trust, will be accepted as may apology.

Near three months ago, I wrote to Lieutenant-Colonel Russell, stating to him the difficulties under which I laboured, in consequence of my last year’s expenditure greatly exceeding my income. In the first instance, on account of the public, and from an unfortunate engagement I am under for Major _____, which, from his absence and subsequent death, has fallen entirely upon me. Since writing the letter alluded to, to Colonel Russell, I have reason to think, by balances already transferred to my private accompt, that I shall have much loss to sustain from my company, incurred during the eleven months I was absent.—This, my Lord, is easily accounted for, from the divided state of it, my total inability to attend myself to the disbursements, and the many hands the payments went through. I should not have presumed to trouble your Grace with these statement, had you not done me the honor to express an interest in my obtaining what General Maitland was pleased to think my services deserved; not do I, my Lord, wish now to be urgent on that subject; but merely to gain temporary assistance, to release me from involvements principally caused by the public service. Again entreating your Grace’s pardon for the liberty I have taken,

I have [etc]

Capt. Stirlingshire, &c. Militia.

[To] His Grace the Duke of Montrose, &c.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

30th October 1813: A Sheffield JP, Hugh Parker, applies to the Home Office for expenses he paid to procure Luddite prisoners

Woodthorpe Oct. 30th 1830

My dear Sir,

When I had the pleasure of seeing you in the Spring you may perhaps recollect to have mentioned to me a Claim made in the Bill of the Solicitors for the prosecution of the Barnsley Luddites for a Sum of money advanced by myself for the purpose of procuring information in respect of that business.

Understanding from the Solicitors that their Bill has been paid by the Treasury with the exception of my claim I take the liberty of troubling you & wish you would have the goodness to represent the circumstance to Lord Sidmouth as I am sure it cannot be the intention of his Majesty's Government to suffer the monies I have advanced in it’s service to be unpaid.

When I perceived there was a probability of bringing to light the proceedings in the vicinity of Barnsley I found it would be necessary to advance with caution some small Sums of money, & in the first instance I never advanced more to the persons, upon whose evidence the Luddites were afterwards convicted, than was necessary to pay their expences from Barnsley to Sheffield when they came over to give information, so that it could not be considered as the price of their evidence. When the time was arrived for apprehending certain of the Luddites I advanced twenty Pounds for sending the two Witnesses to Shrewsbury not only for their own protection until the Assizes but to prevent their being tampered with by the Friends & accomplices of the Prisoners, & after Trials, I assisted Broughton, (who was the first person that gave me information) with ten Pounds that he might leave the Kingdom & settle at Dublin, the other Witness went for a Soldier. I shld add that all this was done with the advice & concurrence of my Brother Magistrates, & the sending of the Witnesses to Shrewsbury was known & approved of by Genl. Maitland who attended some of the Examinations at Sheffield.

These are the circumstances & I am persuaded I have only occasion to mention them to induce Lord Sidmouth to order the Treasury to repay to me these Sums, which together amount to Thirty Seven Pounds three Shillings £37. 3. 0.

During the disturbances that took place in Sheffd & the vicinity in April & August 1812 some of the Peace Officers were particularly active & employed for a few weeks both night & day in keeping the Peace—& two or three of them were frequently exposed to much personal danger in mixing with the disaffected in their nocturnal meetings held in the Fields. By means of information brought to me by one of them I was enabled to surprize one of the Assemblies, & by the aid of a small band of Soldiers made 23 prisoners.

We have no means of rewarding these useful men unless you furnish the Funds. I shd be glad to distribute amongst them 5 Gues a piece. I leave the question however to your discretion & hope if not irregular his Majesty's Government may agree the ward Persons alluded to. They are 7 in Number.

Believe me, to remain Dear Sir
very truly yr’s
H. Parker

P.S. I shd be obliged to you to pay the money, after the circumstances have been submitted to Lord Sidmouth to Messrs Morland & Ransom. Pall Mall on my account

To John Beckett

Sunday, 27 October 2013

'Labour's Triangular Problem; or, Men versus Machines' by Thomas Shore junior (1888)

Today is the 125th anniversary of the publication of the final instalment of the Thomas Shore junior's 'Men vs Machines', which was serialised in 'The Commonweal', and which I republish in full today.

Shore was a member of the Socialist League, a breakaway organisation from H.M. Hyndman's Social Democratic Federation (SDF). Their journal, 'The Commonweal', featured a number of articles by Shore, including one (brought to my attention by John Levin) about the Luddites. Upon examining the journal in more depth, I noticed an advert for a pamphlet by Shore called 'Men vs Machines' from 1889, which I later found had earlier been serialised in the Commonweal prior to publication.

There is little readily-available information about Shore, who remains an elusive figure. Although he is frequently mentioned in the Commonweal - either writing articles, or speaking at meetings for example - his name does not feature in well-known works about the SDF or William Morris. Brief research I have conducted using other sources reveal him to have originally been a printer by trade, Bankrupted in 1879 alongside his brother George. The address given for Shore in the edition of the London Gazette which announces his bankruptcy - 33 Newington Green Road, Islington - also features as his address in the Commonweal years later, and in various newspaper articles which mention him through the years of the latter part of the nineteenth century. In one of these articles in 1894, he is described as a 'Manager of the Oldfield Road group of London Board schools', yet I have as yet been unable to find any trace him in the Census returns for the late 19th and early 20th century. It has been suggested to me that he may have been operating under a pen name, but his bankruptcy notice and other occasions where his name pops up in newspapers suggests this is unlikely.

Whoever Thomas Shore junior was, his writings are particularly interesting contributions to debates about the role that technology fulfils in capitalism, and it was no accident that his words appeared in the journal of the Socialist League. The organisation the League had split from - the SDF - was headed by H.M. Hyndman, an authoritarian figure whose rhetoric often invoked the name of the Luddites in the modern, abusive sense as backward-looking technophobes, bent on uncontrolled violence. The League took a markedly different stance, with Shore's front page article about the Luddites (unfortunately, a seemingly incomplete serial) and also frequent mentions of the Luddites in the 'Revolutionary Calendar' commemorating significant dates in working class history, which was printed in each edition of the Commonweal.

The version of 'Men vs Machines' below is taken from the Commonweal. I have been unable to access the pamphlet version, but I am aware that it featured a subtitle 'Suggestive Facts and Figures urging National Control of National Powers of Production', and that it carried a foreword by Henry Halliday Sparling, a Secretary of the Socialist League and a member of the Hammersmith branch, who was later briefly married to May Morris, the youngest daughter of William Morris. I would be grateful for any information about Thomas Shore that readers can provide me.

'Labour's Triangular Problem; or, Men versus Machines' 
by Thomas Shore junior
“There is no security against the ultimate development of mechanical consciousness in the fact of machines possessing little consciousness now. A mollusc has not much consciousness. Reflect upon the extraordinary advance which the machines have made during the last few hundred years, and observe how slowly the animal and vegetable kingdoms are advancing in comparison. The more highly organised machines are creatures not so much of yesterday as of the last five minutes, so to speak, in comparison with past time. Assume for the sake of argument that conscious beings have existed for some twenty million years: see what strides machines have made in the last thousand! ... Even now the machines will only serve on condition of being served, and that too upon their own terms. The moment their terms are not complied with, they jib, and either smash both themselves and all whom they can reach, or turn churlish and refuse to work at all. How many men at this hour are living in a state of bondage to the machines? How many spend their whole lives, from the cradle to the grave, in tending them by night and day? Is it not plain that the machines are gaining ground upon us, when we reflect on the increasing number of those who are bound down to them as slaves, and of those who devote their whole souls to the advancement of the mechanical kingdom.”— (Samuel Butler: ‘Erewhon,' pp. 189, 200.)
The thought-provoking book from which the above is taken contains in chapters xxi, ii, and iii, probably some of the most extravagant speculation ever risked, even in a satirical fable, as it is. The pity is, there is so much of truth in the statement as to the increasing number of those who are slaves to machines.

I am hoping to give some fuller samples of ‘Erewhon’ some day: just now the question is machinery. Political economists at Bath, and trades unionists at Bradford, have just recently been dealing with the questions of machinery, production, distribution. Production and distribution the great question to settle; machinery the great distributing element.

The orthodox political economist says “Produce more and eat less”; the trades unionist, “Produce less and eat more”; the Socialist, “Produce more and eat more.” The political economist says, Increase your powers of production and be more thrifty; the ordinary trades unionist says, Restrict the output; the Socialist says, Control the whole means of production and distribution: produce as much as you want, and consume it. It is a sort of triangular duel, in the course of which some most wonderful nonsense has been written.

The British Printer, one of the latest organs devoted to that trade, and far and away the best printed, in its last number has the following par., which for its size contains more serious warning and specious balderdash than one could think possible:—
“EDISON ON THE LABOUR QUESTION.—In reply to the question, ‘When motive power gets to be four times as cheap as it is, what will become of the labouring man?’ Mr. Edison replied, ‘He will be enriched by it. Machinery will be his slave. See how machinery has multiplied in the last fifty years. As a direct result, working men get double the wages they did then, and the necessities of life cost only half as much. In other words, a hand-worker can to-day buy four times as much with ten hours of work as his father could fifty years ago. For the first time in the world's history a skilled mechanic can buy a barrel of flour with a single day’s work. The machinery in the United States represents the labour of a thousand million men, or fifty times as much labour as all the men in the country. When motive power is still further cheapened—say in another generation—I believe that the unskilled labourer, if sober and industrious, can have a house of his own, and a horse and carriage, and a library, and a piano. It is terrible stupidity that leads some labouring men to suppose that machinery is their foe. It is the thing which gives them independence and even freedom. Without machinery society would drift into the condition of master and slave. The multiplication of machinery means for every worker more food, better clothes, better house, less work. In fact, I believe that the indefinite increase of machinery is going to solve what folks call “the labour problem”—that is, the desire of hand-workers to get a bigger slice of the margin of profit.’ ”
It is rather refreshing to find such a par. in the pages of a journal whose raison de etre is the minimising of machinery. The British Printer is the outcome of a move made some ten or twelve years ago by a few earnest men, with some artistic feeling, to prevent the absolute extinction of printing as a handicraft and art; every page is a typographic protest against the dreary mechanical work of ten to twenty years ago, and a proof of the good effects which have come of once more allowing and urging the workman to be really a craftsman and an artist, instead of a mere automata attending on a machine.

This is by the way; only may it be noted, however, that the incongruity of such a paragraph in such a place is accentuated by finding that the sheets are fastened together with those confounded machine-driven wire staples, which are “stabbed” through as though to murder a choice bit of work, as special sacrifice to the machine demon.

Returning to the paragraph itself, the very serious part is the statement that “the machinery in the United States represents the labour of one thousand million men, or fifty times as much labour as that of all the men in the country.” Extremes meet, we are told, and probably it will be allowed that Robert Owen and J. S. Mill and John Ruskin and Professor Cairnes, extremest of orthodox economists and extremest of Socialists all agree on the position as expressed by Mill, that “it is questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened the days of toil of any human being.”

Edison says that the amount of machinery now permits a man to buy four times as much with his ten hours of labour than his father could. A writer in the Denver Labour Enquirer, Jan. 1885, said, “When it takes 75 bushels of western man's corn to buy one ton of Ohio coal, and the miner has to dig out twelve tons of coal to buy one bushel of corn, we may well stand aghast at our system of developing the country.” This is the way to examine this question; this puts aside the confusion caused by the money value put upon things. The same rule-of-three sums can be worked out here in England on the figures in any labour paper, and gives point-blank denial to Edison's statement.

As to exactly how much man-labour is represented by the machine power in use in the world, that is a very difficult question, but the following from various sources may be useful, just at this time when the Trades Union Congress is being held and is discussing the growth of machine power. “In 1851 machine and tool making employed in England and Wales 48,000 persons; in 1861, 117,000; in 1871, 175,000. In 1851 our exports of steam-engines and other kinds amounted to £1,168,000 ; in 1875 to £4,213,000.” [1]

To make by hand all the yarn spun in England in one year by the use of the self-acting mule, carrying 1,000 spindles—viz., 1,000 threads at the time—would require 100,000,000 men. [2]

Kolb's ‘Condition of Nations’ 1880, footnote p. 99, says, “According to Fairbairn, in 1860 the metal works and smelting furnaces of England employed so many steam engines as to represent together 450,000 horse power. The steam-engines of the manufactories had together 1,350,000 horse power; the steamers 850,000; and the locomotives 1,000,000; making together 3,650,000 horse power. But inasmuch as this power is continuous, while horses would only work eight hours, the figures should be increased to 11,000,000. It is reckoned that the power of seven men is equal to one horse-power, so the steam-engines of England perform a work which would require 77,000,000 men to perform.”

According to M. Chevalier there were 16,500 locomotives at work in Europe. These represented 8,000,000 horses, or 40,000,000 able-bodied men, or the working capacity of a population of 200,000,000 human beings. (Democrat, Nov. 1886.)

Prof. A. Russel Wallace, in ‘Land Nationalisation,’ 1882, footnote p. 6, says, “There seems to be no means of getting at the exact amount of steam power now in use. A writer in the Radical newspaper states it at 2,000,000 horse power. Mr. Thomas Briggs in the Peacemaker states that ‘in 1851 we had steam machinery which represented 500 million pairs of hands,’ but I am informed he means by this the number which would be required to do the same work by the old hand-power machines. In a periodical called Design and Work (vol. x, 1881), it is stated that England now employs 9,000,000 horse power. Taking this estimate as approximately correct, we have a power equal to 90 million men. One-half our population (15 millions) consists of children and persons wholly dependent on the labour of others, and from the remainder we may deduct all the professional, literary, and independent classes, the army and navy, financiers, speculators, Government officials, and most tradesmen and shopkeepers — none of whom are producers of wealth. Taking these, together with the criminals, paupers, and tramps, at 6 millions, we have 9 millions who do all the productive physical labour of the country, while the steam power at work for us is at least ten times as much.”

What this vast increase of power really means can be judged by taking a few of the trades most affected by steam and machinery:—
“In 1874, 538,829 persons employed in mining and handling coal above and below ground extracted 160,713,832 tons of coal. In 1883, 514,933 persons produced 163,737,327 tons—an increase of nearly 23,000,900, with 24,000 fewer persons employed. In 1874 the miners won 261 tons per head; in 1880, 334 tons per head. In 1880, 53,896 were unemployed. In the working of iron and steel, in 1872, 360,356 persons employed produced and used 6,741,929 tons of pig-iron. In 1883, 361,343 persons were so employed, and they produced 8,490,224 tons—an increase of 1,750,000 tons for nearly the same number of persons as in 1872. In the cotton and flax industry 570,000 persons used 1,266,100,000 lbs. of cotton in 1874; while in 1883 but 586,470 persons used 1,510,600,000 lbs. In every case it is the same—decreased number employed, and immensely increased production. In agriculture in England and Wales, persons employed have fallen from 2,010,454 in 1861, to 1,383,184 in 1881, of whom but 800,000 are classed as agricultural labourers. Bear in mind that all this while population has been increasing at the rate of 10 per cent, per annum.” [3]
The Times (December 27, 1882) reported on northern coal trade as follows:—
“On the question of production, it may be said that in South Durham in 1875 each person employed in and at the pits brought to bank on the average 339 tons coal. That rose to 350 in 1879; in 1881 it was 370, and there is ground for the belief that 1882 has given a further increase.”
And Mr. Burt, speaking at the Durham miners’ gala, said:—
“In 1873, a year of high wages, they produced 35,000,000 tons of coal less than in 1883. During those ten years the average produce of each person had increased no less than 20 per cent. Those employed were producing 80 to 90 tons per man more than in 1873; not all due to improved machinery, the bulk due to increase of manual labour.” [4]
“Not all due to improved machinery” is important to note, for it is the expression of a curious confusion of thought; it is an error with much truth. It is correct that the increase is “due to increase of manual labour,” but this increased effort is extorted by fear of machinery; extorted from each labourer by the knowledge that there is a large surplus of unemployed men desirous of taking his place if he does not do the extreme task demanded; so therefore the increase is indirectly the result of improved machinery. The man in one pit is matched against the machine in another.

Returning to agriculture for a moment, W. Saunders (Democrat, March 7, 1885), on increased productiveness, says:—
“One man with a reaping and binding machine drawn by three horses can cut and bind 12 acres in a day—an amount of work which formerly required 20 persons.”
In shipping, he continues, some records dealing with Hull show, in
“twenty eight voyages from Hull to New York and back in 1835, 15,500 tons of cargo were carried; average length of voyage 119 days, the total number of days for the crew being 53,440. The same quantity of cargo this year carried in five Hull ships, average voyage being 47 days, total days being 8,295, or less than one-sixth of the days formerly occupied, the labour of the crews being six times as effective.”
In spinning, 1 person is equal to 750 of a hundred years ago."

Sketchley, in his ‘Review of European Society,’ p. 214, quotes from Carpenter on machinery the following table of productive powers of machinery:—



Estimated number of workers.

Productive powers equal to the labour of men

Productive power in relation to workers.
As 37 To 1
As 52 to 1
As 90 to 1

And from 1840 to 1878 they had again doubled, being equal to the labour, of 1,200,000,000 of men, and as 130 to 1 compared to the number of workers. At p.223 he quotes from a letter of James Caird to the Times of June 5, 1875, that one reaping-machine would do the work of ten men: that in the harvest of 1875 40,000 machines were employed, equal to the labour of 400,000 men; that one steam-plough is equal to the labour of eight men and twenty horses.

Kolb (1880, p. 908) says:—
“Great Britain manufactures at least as much cotton as all other countries together. From 1735 to 1749 only 1,000,000 lbs. were consumed annually, but by 1860 at least 1,000,000,000— that is, more in one working day than in three years of the former period.”
The total population of England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland in 1801 is given as 15,717,287; in 1861 the population was 28,974,362. Roughly, one might say population multiplied by 2 in a period during which production is multiplied by 1,000!!

Sidney Taylor in his speech at the evening demonstration of Co-operators made a laboured but poor attempt to show that the people who lay so much stress on inequalities of distribution are wrong:—
“If it be urged that the rich eat more than their fair share of food, and wear more than their fair share of clothes, I reply that after all the rich have only one stomach a-piece, of limited capacity; and that if they were restricted to one or two suits of clothes each the surplus would go a very little way towards covering the nakedness of our widespread destitution.”
This is really very little else than fooling in economics; more, it is not true economically. Every rich man is a consumer with as many stomachs as he has immediate retainers and dependents, who are like himself pure consumers only, and not wealth producers. It will need something stronger than Taylor's “only one stomach” argument to, explain how it comes that ten or fifteen pounds per head is spent on one banquet; there must be a few poor men's coats consumed somewhere to allow one man to be sued for a tailor's bill of £750 for one year's clothing for one man. The women who spend two and three thousand per annum in dress, although having only one back to cover, do so at the expense of sweated East-end shirt-makers’ shifts, and Sedley Taylor ought to know it, if he does not.

An increase of a thousand-fold of production, against three-fold of consumers (not consumption) shows distribution to be a little unequal; and in urging this I am not forgetting the exports argument. This is discounted by the fact that other countries have also increased vastly in powers of production. For instance, take America.
“In 1880 it was estimated we in Britain produced 5,439,645,000 yards of piece goods, and the home consumption about 27 yards per head of population. This would give less than 1,000,000,000 yards, leaving about 4,500,000,000 for export. Now take the United States. In the same year the stated production was 2,131,580,000 yards, and the home consumption equal to 40 yards per head. This would give a total of about 1,900,000,000 yards, leaving about 200,000,000 yards for export. She exported cotton goods to the value of 9,981,000 dols. In 1881 she increased this to 13,571,000— an increase in one year of 3,590,000 dols.” [5]
The same report also makes the important statement that while the average consumption per spindle in Britain is only 32 lbs. of raw cotton, in the United States it is 66 lbs.; therefore one American operative works up as much material as two English. In piece goods the American production is 2.75 against English 2.50.

In coal, iron, and steel the figures given by different authorities are more crushing in their completeness than even in cotton.

In coal the output increased in the term 1869-1880 in Belgium 9 per cent.; Austria, 28 per cent.; Great Britain, 34 per cent.; France 42 per cent.; Germany, 76 per cent.; United States, 135 per cent.!!

In pig-iron in same period, Belgium, 18 per cent.; Great Britain, 28 per cent.; Germany, 64 per cent.; France, 66 per cent.; United States, 126 per cent.!!

Steel production, United States:—




Nett tons:




According to Parliamentary Paper, April 2, 1883, the total production of steel in all European states in 1882 (including England) was 2,200,000, while the production in the United States was 1,800,000 tons. By the same paper we find that during 1882 the quantity of iron ore imported into the United States was only 580,207 tons, value £337,535, of which Spain sent 246,941 tons, France 142,856 tons, England 98,690, and Italy 31,237.

These figures, which I quote from Sketchley’s useful handbook, prove that America, once our very best customer, has set up business for herself, and starts with many advantages over her teacher. Note: the very important detail re the increased output per spindle, 66 lbs. against our 32 lbs. It explains several knotty points. It explains how it is that America can underbid us in what we used to call “our,?” markets, even in our own home markets; it also explains how it is that the American operative has so little advantage in comfort over the English or Continental worker. [6]

John Bright to-day is using all his influence to secure to the landlords of Ireland the high rents obtainable years ago. In January 1885, however, he wrote a letter to the treasurer of the National Industrial Association in explanation of his statement that “if land is not worth rent, it should be, and will be, rent free”; and he went on to say that “in Lancashire there are scores of mills closed now owing to the competition of modem mills of better construction.” The most modern mills are of course those started in America and abroad, where the capitalist embarked with the newest machinery and without any old-fashioned lumber of sunk capital and useless obsolete machinery.

The statement that numbers of men were being deprived of means of living by increased machinery, used to be met by the statement that they could find work at some other trade, and that there were so many more engineers and machine makers wanted that all came out level in the end. Leaving out of consideration the absurdity of the nineteen agricultural labourers finding employment as reaping machine makers, it must be patent that as the same process is going on in every trade, the forced idleness must be increasing in every trade, even in the trade which is the great agent of all this idleness, the engineers and machine makers.

It is rather startling to find at what a rate this disestablishing of disestablishers is going on; to find how very rapidly the engineer is being hoisted on his own petard.

Mr. Shaftoe, President at the Trades’ Union Congress, Sept. 4, 1888, dealing with “Labour-saving Machines,” said:
“There is scarcely any branch of industry to which these mechanical inventions have not been applied; and the effects have been intensified by the sub-division of labour. We find, for instance in the use of steam hammers, that nine men have been displaced out of every ten formerly required. Machinery has displaced five men out of every six in the glass bottle trade; in the manufacture of agricultural implements 600 men now do the work which fifteen or twenty years ago required 2,145, thus displacing 1,545. In the production of machinery itself, there is a saving of 25 per cent, of human labour; and this even reaches 33 per cent. in the production of metals. In the boot and shoe trade one man now does the same work as required five; we find a single lace machine displacing 2,000 women; in paper-making 10 persons can do what used to require 100; in ship-building the displacement is 4 or 5 out of every 6; in clothing 1 man can do w hat used to employ 6 to 9. The general effect during the last 40 years is a saving of labour to the extent of 40 per cent, in producing any given article.”
No matter which way one looks there is no variation, not the slightest; increased production to the capitalist, the machinery controller; decreased consumption to the worker, the producer. A striking example was given by one of the speakers at the Industrial Remuneration Conference, 1885. Mr. J. G. Hutchinson made an elaborate statement to prove the general improvement in the worker's position; he was answered by Mr. James Aitkin (Greenock Chamber of Commerce):—
“In carpet weaving fifty years ago the workman drove the shuttle with the hand, and produced from forty-five to fifty yards per week, for which he was paid from 9d. to 1s. per yard, while at the present day a girl attending a steam loom can produce sixty yards a day, and does not cost her employer 1½d. per yard for her labour. That girl with her loom is now doing the work of eight men. The question is, How are these men employed now? In a clothier's establishment, seeing a girl at work at a sewing machine, he asked the employer how many men’s labour that machine saved him. He said it saved him twelve men's labour. Then he asked, ‘What would those twelve men be doing now?’ ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘they will be much better employed than if they had been with me, perhaps at some new industry.’ He asked, ‘What new industry?’ But the employer could not point out any except photography; at last he said they would probably have found employment in making sewing machines. Shortly afterwards he was asked to visit the American Singer Sewing Machine Factory, near Glasgow. He got this clothier to accompany him, and when going over the works they came upon the very same kind of machines as the clothier had in his establishment. Then he put the question to the manager, ‘How long would it take a man to make one of these machines?’ He said he could not tell, as no man made a machine, they had a more expeditious way of doing it than that; there would be upwards of thirty men employed in the making of one machine; but he said ‘if they were to make this particular kind of machine, they would turn out one for every four and a-half days’ work of each man in their employment.’ Now, there was a machine that with a girl had done the work of twelve men for nearly ten years, and the owner of that machine was under the impression that these twelve men would be employed making another machine, while four and a-half days of each of these men was sufficient to make another machine that was capable of displacing other twelve men.” [7]
It has been urged by the orthodox economists that although the individual worker may have suffered from his enforced idleness, that since competition resulted to the good of the public generally, competition must continue.

In some cases the reduction in the sale price of an article has been reduced in proportion to the reduced sum paid for labour, but in hundreds of instances which could be given, the whole of the amount saved has for years been the sole profit of the monopolist machinery-controller.

When Charles Babbage issued his ‘Economy of Machinery and Manufactures,’ great as had been the strides made in developing the power of steam, its position then was not a circumstance as compared with to-day. For a book dated 1832, in many respects its tone in dealing with the worker was in advance of the day; some hard knocks are dealt at employers and monopolists. It is admittedly in favour of machinery and economy in manufacture; but, when dealing with the “Effects of the Application of Machinery,” the summing-up is roughly, which is the best—or rather, which is the least evil—sudden death or slow starvation?
“It is almost the invariable consequence of such improvements ultimately to cause a greater demand for labour, and often the new labour requires a higher degree of skill than the old; but, unfortunately, the class of persons who have been driven out of the old employment are not always qualified for the new one; and in all cases a considerable time elapses before the whole of their labour is wanted. One very important inquiry which this subject presents is the question, Whether it is for the interest of the working -classes that any improved machinery should be so perfect as to defy the competition of hand-labour, and that they should be at once driven out of the trade by it; or whether it is more advantageous for them to be gradually forced to quit the trade by the slow and successive advances of the machine?
The italics are Babbage’s, and to me seem to suggest that Babbage was rather wanting to give the machinery owners a hint to be careful. There may be some question as to which would be best or worst for the worker—rapid starvation or slow—there is no manner of doubt as to which has been the best for the exploiters. By the gradual process it has been possible to bring the workers to a degree of endurance of suffering, which by no conceivable stretch of imagination could have come about by a sudden change. By slow degrees we have become accustomed to an immense army of unemployed, which would have sent society to everlasting smash had it been formed or made suddenly by one or two great machines, instead of an infinite number of changes towards automatism.

Constantly, constantly, constantly growing, growing, growing, recruited by tens, by hundreds, by thousands, the army of wholly unemployed, and the army of very irregularly employed, has grown until to-day there is ready for some great Carnot of Labour such a body as never the Hannibals of the past led to the victory of the gory field.

The passage in Babbage above quoted continues thus, “The suffering which arises from a quick transition is undoubtedly more intense; but it is also much less permanent than that which results from the slower process.” Just so: Had the mechanical perfection of to day been possible in say two or three years, instead of taking from eighty to a hundred to bring about, there would have been enough of energy to overthrow the tyrant and break the cords; but year by year the sufferer became more and more accustomed to the suffering; year by year new cords were woven on, and it is only just now that education, a quickened intelligence and mental grasp, is enabling him to understand the causes of his troubles, and will enable him to do by wit and mind what might have been done by main force, had only the accumulated miseries of to-day have been placed on one generation, instead of filtering down through several.

The “right to live” must be made to mean something nearer “right living” than the mere standing by a machine to feed it with raw material to make a monopolist's profit.

The full displacing power of machinery is hardly sufficiently realised by many. The displacement has in most cases been so gradual, and therefore the starvation so gradual, that the starvelings have gradually become accustomed to it, and quietly submitted. But these gradual displacements have been tolerably severe in cases. [8]

In hollow-ware, for instance, Richard Roberts, civil engineer, stated in evidence given to House of Lords’ Committee on Patent Law Amendment, that by “stamping up” from sheets of metal the labour-cost was one-fiftieth of that by the old process. A certain article made at one blow by machine in France could not be done in England without fifty blows and ten annealings; made by machine at the rate of ten a minute, but by hand hardly ten in the hour. [9]

This means, therefore, that out of each fifty men employed, forty-nine would by the machine be dispensed with. Since 1851 this stamping machine has been much improved.

In evidence before a Commons’ Committee 1829, Joseph Merry, ribbon-manufacturer, said he was possessed of an improvement in making ribbon velvets which enabled him to make forty pieces while another man was making one, [10] and exhibited a sample of the goods made. This book of Macfie’s from which I have been quoting has more similar evidence as to the displacing power of machinery; but the work is specially devoted to a question which leads immediately to one other point on which a few words must be said when dealing with the question of “Men v. Machines.”

The contention of the orthodox economist and business man and inventor has always been that, although there might be some amount of—well! “inconvenience” (starvation sounds too ugly,) caused to those unfortunates thrown out by each new invention, yet the great amount of good resulting to the whole community was quite enough to warrant new inventions, and such encouragement as could be given by the protection of Patent Copyright Acts. It is urged by the inventor, but more especially by the capitalist, who almost invariably gobbles up the inventor, that the increased output and the great reductions in price resulting, more than compensates for the few extra “out-of-works.” The glad-to-be-satisfied consciences of the bourgeoisie, who are the chief consumers of the results of improved methods in machine manufactures, accept the statement and no more is said.

Macfie’s book is an attack on Patents and Copyrights, and contains a mass of matter of use to Socialists directly on those questions, and incidentally some very useful information on proving that almost every invention has conduced more to the direct profit of the monopolist, to the direct suffering of the workers, and only in the very slightest has benefited the consumer, the supposed to be much studied consumer.

One or two very short examples can be given to prove how exceedingly small has been the benefit received by the general body as compared with the immense and immediate profit which has resulted to the monopolists, and then I will conclude with a short summing-up of the case against monopolist control of machine power.

W. S. Hale, a maker of stearine and composite candles, in evidence before the Lords, 1851, said “that he was able to reduce the price of two wick candles three halfpence per pound immediately on the expiration of Palmer's patent.” Palmer by his patent, therefore, extorted three halfpence per pound more than was required by a manufacturer not holding a monopoly. Three halfpence extra profit on every pound of candles used forty years ago represented a very large sum of money.

Of necessity, in dealing with the question of Machinery, one has to come in contact with the question of Patents; it is an essential part of the monopoly which lends to the constant debasement of the labourer.

In Sir Henry Bessemer's evidence before the House of Commons Committee, 1871, we have a series of statements which show the enormous profits made by these monopolists. “£4,000 was the cost prior to my bringing the invention before the public, and about £16,000 after my paper was read at Cheltenham, making altogether an outlay of about £20,000.” In three weeks he had sold licenses amounting to £26,000; two iron-masters paying £10,000 each. “Of course, I had a larger stake to play for; I knew that steel was selling at £50, or £60, or £70 per ton, and I knew that if it could be made by my plan, it could with profit be sold at £20 a ton.”

The men who gave these premiums of £10,000 each, made no attempt to utilise the power they had, and five or six years later Bessemer brought back these privileges, giving in one case £20,000 for what he had sold for £10,000. It paid Bessemer to do this, as he then “swept the market clear of all these privileges,” and was able by his further patents to dictate fresh terms―this time a royalty of £1 or £2 per ton on every ton of steel made.

In another manufacture an article was being supplied from Germany and sold at 7s. per ounce, the raw material of which was only worth 11d. per pound. He applied himself to the matter, and was able to make a similar article at a cost of 4s. per pound. He sent out a traveller, and the first order he took was at the rate of 80s. per pound net. For twenty-eight years this trade has been carried on (he is speaking in 1871, and it is still going on), and we are charging the trade 300 per cent, profit, ... in the first instance it was more than 1,000 per cent, profit. [11]

That this great profit has been made mainly by dispensing with manual labour, is proved indirectly in his statement, that three out of his five assistants having died, “the secret was in the possession of only two besides himself,” and it is known that the amount of the trade done was considerable.

At p. 401 he says, dealing with the royalty on iron and steel, “The manufacturers are getting £3 a ton more for railway bars under a 2s. 6d. royalty, than they sold them for under a £1 royalty two years ago.” How much profit do you suppose the seller of that 100,000 tons which you have referred to would have on that transaction?—“I should say that a judicious manufacturer there would have a profit of £2 a ton.” Then your royalty was equal to one-half of the manufacturer's profits?—“We took one-third of the spoil in that case, but that was on the lowest article in the trade, namely, railway bars; on some other articles where we were charging £2 a ton, the manufacturers were getting £25 a ton profit.”

Without any further quotation, it must be allowed as proved that the general public has not benefitted in any way proportionate to the above, while in every instance the amount of labour displaced has been immense. This displacement is constantly going on, and with constantly increasing rapidity, and the time is not far distant when absolute starvation of thousands will force the consideration of two questions—a revival of the old-time machine-smashing mania, or a direct control of all machinery by the whole working body of the people. Sheer self-defence will in the near future force a settlement of this detail; and, although they do not seem to know it, the ordinary newspapers have lately much exercised on a matter which is proof of this statement. “On the threshold of Socialism” was the title of an article in the Pall Mall Gazette a few days ago (Sept. 13), dealing with the rapid growth of the American trust system, which has grown to such an extent as to demand the attention of the president of the United States. The particular trade dealt with was the manufacture of jute bagging (used for cotton packing). The total output is about forty-five million yards. Eight firms, manufacturing two-thirds of the total output, join in a trust, and by one man placed in New York, can practically control the whole trade; for their body, having power to force prices up in its own interest from 7½ cents to 11 cents for its own goods, enables the third who stand out from the ring to get some increase in price simply by the dearth made by the trust holding its goods in. In the Commonweal of September 15, H. F. Charles in the American Letter gave some interesting and useful details as to the Standard Oil Trust, probably the most gigantic monopoly ever formed. Soap, and corn, and beef, and even coffins, have, with other commodities, been subjects of “trusts” in America, and now our turn has come. At the present time the “Great Salt Syndicate” is an important newspaper “item,” but the idea has been working for some time. Amalgamation of dock companies, of canal companies, of railway companies, has been a growing topic in City circles. The dock amalgamation is a fact; the amalgamation of five London railways into two is almost sure very soon. When dock has joined dock, the next and easy step is canal to dock, and then railway to that.

Says the Pall Mall Gazette article: “In the end the fighting trusts are apt to amalgamate, and then the monopoly becomes complete. Underselling is not the only weapon by which a trust can kill out competition. Boycotting is freely resorted to. One trust allies itself with another trust for offensive and defensive purposes. In short, the work of centralisation, is going on at railroad speed.

All these companies are great users of machinery, are constantly trying to get improved machinery, so as to dispense with manual labour. A great monopoly in any trade means, therefore, monopolist control of all employed in making machinery to be used in that particular trade. A sole controlling monopoly in any trade can afford to give the very highest premium conceivable for any machine needful to the purposes of the monopoly, or can starve the machine-builders into accepting the very lowest subsistance wages; more than that, having at last made the monopoly complete, can afford any price it likes to buy up and finally crush out any machine or method not desired to be put into use. Improved methods and machines have repeatedly been bought up by established manufacturers, for the sole purpose of not being used. Under the trust system this can be carried to any extent desired by the monopolists, for they can recoup by famine prices any sum which they expend to maintain their sole control.

Our national life for years past has been depending on the improvements in and development of the trade in machinery, and yet there can be named no particular interest which could not in two years from now be controlled by ten or a dozen English or American capitalists. Take our railway interest; it represents a nominal investment of some eight hundred millions, a real value of less than four hundred millions; it is not a very extravagant idea, seeing what has been done in America, to conceive of our whole railway system managed by a board of millionaires owning the whole controlling power. The very first result of this would be the equalisation of all fares, and the throwing out of employ of thousands of booking and checking clerks; for just as we to-day buy toffee and almond rock, cigarettes, cigars, matches, postcards, and pocket-books in every railway station, so we should then help ourselves to our railway ticket from an automatic. This may seem to some as mere joking, but it is meant in sober seriousness and in face of the developments in machines during the last thirty years, is not to be lightly set aside. How many “try-your-weight” boys has the automatic machine put out of a job during the last two years? and every day brings forth some new supply box ; and the apprentice of Old London who stood outside his master's shop crying “What d'ye lack?” to-day appears in an automatic machine screwed to the door-step or window-frame.

Every day produces some fresh and astounding development in machinery. Even while writing, there arrives some notes on a new method of making sugar by electricity, which if true will totally upset the whole labours and negotiations of some of the ‘cutest business men and politicians of the day, who have for months past been dealing with the sugar bounty question, and who, having made careful arrangements to spoil the public, find themselves outdone by a totally unexpected development in manufacture. And so the game goes on—more and more spoil to the spoiler, more and more of suffering to the mass, until, as Ruskin puts it— 
“Day after day your souls will become more mechanical, more servile: also you will go on multiplying, wanting more food, and more; you will have to sell cheaper and cheaper, work longer and longer, to buy your food. At last, do what you can, you can make no more, or the people who have the corn will not want any more; and your increasing population will necessarily come to a quite imperative stop—by starvation, preceded necessarily by revolution and massacre.” ('Fors' 44, 172.) 
Daily more money spent to manufacture idle men, despite the fact it is “mere insane waste to dig coal for our force while the vital force is unused; and not only unused, but, in being so, corrupting and polluting itself. We waste our coal and spoil our humanity at one and the same instant”; and let this be borne in mind, “Your idle people, as they are now, are not merely waste coal beds. They are explosive coal beds, which you pay a high annual rent for.” [12]

Just a short while longer and these increasing beds of explosives will go off, and the explosion will be such as will put even Sho-Bandai-San to shame as puny; it will not be the mere question of moving a mountain and leaving a wilderness of mud, it will be as complete as that of the American miner, who, reporting a mishap with some new blasting compound, said when the smoke was gone there wasn't even a hole left. A million of starving people, with another million on the verge of starvation, represent a potential of destructive force to measure which no dynamometer has yet been made, but which will, if suddenly liberated, assuredly and absolutely destroy every vestige of so-called nineteenth century civilisation; will destroy it more completely than time has destroyed the traces of human society of Nineveh, Babylon, Greece and Rome, or even of Mexico.

For the especial benefit of some critics, perhaps it may be well to say in conclusion that no word here placed is to be taken as against machinery and improvements; rather I believe in more and more, I rather like to run back over the history of machinery, the romance of improved methods, and, on the data of what has been done, speculate on what is possible and probable in the future. Although I fail to see what use some of the “saved time” will be after it is saved, yet I would give free rein to every one desired to make time-saving improvements. Ruskin analyses this detail in his ‘Fors.’ You may keep on making “time-savers” till there is absolutely nothing to do but to make a machine to use up the spare time; but to that the only answer is, if the human mind can occupy itself only in invention of machinery, why let it, and be hanged to it. The only thing to be claimed is the most perfect freedom for every individual to do the same; total denial of the claim that any small section of society shall dominate and exploit the great mass by monopolising the accumulated results of the whole course of time.

And so I pass on, dreaming of and working to realise the dream of the Chartist prison poet:

“Mind writ in every face; books million-fold
Multiplied; galleries with breath-shapes hung
Raffaelle might worship, or Apelles old;
Groups from great Shakspeare's world or Chaucer's song
In bronzed or marble life, seeming upsprung
From some new Phidian realm of earth beneath
To gem the populous squares; music’s full tongue
Telling to millions what Mozart in death
Enraptured heard, but could not the boon-sounds bequeath;

And all for ALL! Rank, class, distinction, badge
For ever gone! Labour by Science made
Brief recreation—not by Privilege
Avoided, nor its thrift in name of Trade
Or Commerce filched. To give a brother's aid
To brethren, and enlarge the general bliss
From knowledge, virtue, health, beyond parade
Of pomp or gold—affording joy. I wis,
When Truth doth reign, earth shall be such a Paradise!”

(‘Purgatory of Suicides,’ Book viii.)


“We can never control the working-man until he eats up to-day what he earns to-morrow.”—Congressman Scott.