Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice, The Hearthlands of Darkness

Upon This Sweeping Flood

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Lord Ruckle-Smoot is out of sorts, an ardent supporter of all things American (especially his wife), a covert supporter of all Irish Catholic rebellions, he is ill at ease presenting the government’s imperious stance on Potato Blight. Indeed had his been the inclination the bellicose Palmerston would’ve stood here in his stead. T’is just before the summer holidays and the house is packed to the rafters with bored politicians eager to witness this bruising encounter between Lords Molesworth and Ruckle-Smoot.

“It is more than apparent that an Athenian Democracy would not suit the Irish” Lord Ruckle-Smoot begins, “They are but grown up children and must be governed as such. The place our government occupies towards them is that of a parent or of a guardian admonishing a rebellious and well nigh ungovernable horde”. His mild mannered gaze sweeps the entirety of the house and is met by many a look of approval and the affirming nod of many a Whig politician. “They are an impudent, turbulent, improvident race, wholly disinclined to fix their roofs whilst the sun is shining and, none too averse to consuming abundant quantities of beer at those times and in those places that are the cause of much moral opprobium in England and beyond.”

“Here here!” responds the house in its entirety. But Lord Molesworth is not to be discouraged, he has most recently married, a singular woman of Irish descent (his housekeeper) and his ardour though but recently cooled runs hot under the inference that his Eliza should be termed by birth an indolent, improvident, characterless wretch.

“And that’s to be the government’s final answer on the famine that is destroying the most beleaguered of Britannia’s children?”

“And the most filthy!” roars a government supporter to uproarious cries of 

“here here!”

Glancing expressionlessly at the papers in his hand Ruckle-Smoot fashions a reply that makes him cringe inwardly.“It is sir, and I would remind those who deprecate our efforts to govern Ireland, that our presence there both Christianizes and civilizes a people whose perverse habits might otherwise predestine them for extinction.”

Lord Molesworth looking at his papers smiles sardonically,”It is my suggestion, sir, that the little your government has done to alleviate the condition of that poor nation, has caused such unwarrantable suffering that even Joseph, that great Hebrew Egyptian Patriarch of old, would cry out against you, were he present! It has been said that too much charity (the provision say of monies to buy such provisions as would sustain the people through this trial), might destroy the character of the Irish people”. More politicians declare “here! Here!” though whether they would do so if they had traversed certain streets in London on foot remains to be seen.”And yet whilst we English are richly supplied with Irish grain, over half a million Irish have starved and over a million have emigrated for fear of starvation! A less than Christian state of affairs sir!”.

Glancing up towards the the visitor’s lobby he continues,”T’is all well and good to talk of moral probity and character when one sits to dine four times a day. T’is well and good to speak of firm governance when one lives easefully on a comfortable allowance. And within a respectable neighbourhood where may be kept away the wolves of crime and filth!”. He casts a baleful eye upon the well fed and comfortably seated gentlemen some of whom squirm most pitifully under his searing gaze. “Whilst a mere stone’s throw away from this great and good house, amidst our glorious empire, men and women reside thirty to a room”. Lord Molesworth pauses for effect,”men and women who once farmed their own plots of land in Ireland,dying of Dysentry and Cholera here, in London. No food in Ireland and no running water, no drains and no privies here”. The house is silent in horror, no lavatoriums?! A thoroughly perturbing state of affairs!

“T’is a most impassioned entreaty he makes!” whispers one Irish Radical to another,

“I am told he has recenty married,a fiery woman, well below his position socially, but harbouring strong opinions!”

“An Irish woman?”

“Judging by the look of him exceedingly so!”

Behold! Dear reader! A man flushed of countenance and mildly agitated of demeanour, a man in short, most passionately in love with principle and his beloved! Can such a man but hope to sway the opinions of his most esteemed contemporaries!

“An Athenian Democracy calls he this?” mutters Thomas Bass, he who has poured hundreds of pounds into the construction of orphanages for the children of railway servants killed needlessly in the course of their duties. “An Athenian Democracy?”

The Speaker of the House stifles a yawn, he checks his documentation casts a stern gaze upon Lord Molesworth and asks langurously,”Have you concluded your unctions towards the provision of plenteous grain and monetary aid? May we vote?”

irishmonkey

I’m a dacint boy, just landed from the town of Ballyfad; 

I want a situation: yis, I want it mighty bad. 

I saw a place advartised. It’s the thing for me, says I; 

But the dirty spalpeen ended with: No Irish need apply. 

Whoo! says I; but that’s an insult — though to get the place I’ll try. 

So, I wint to see the blaggar with: No Irish need apply. 

I started off to find the house, I got it mighty soon; 

There I found the ould chap saited: he was reading the TRIBUNE. 

I tould him what I came for, whin he in a rage did fly: 

No! says he, you are a Paddy, and no Irish need apply! 

Thin I felt my dandher rising, and I’d like to black his eye–

To tell an Irish Gintleman: No Irish need apply! 

I couldn’t stand it longer: so, a hoult of him I took, 

And I gave him such a welting as he’d get at Donnybrook. 

He hollered: Millia murther! and to get away did try, 

And swore he’d never write again: No Irish need apply. 

He made a big apology; I bid him thin good-bye, 

Saying: Whin next you want a bating, add: No Irish need apply! 

Sure, I’ve heard that in America it always is the plan 

That an Irishman is just as good as any other man; 

A home and hospitality they never will deny 

The stranger here, or ever say: No Irish need apply. 

But some black sheep are in the flock: a dirty lot, say I; 

A dacint man will never write: No Irish need apply! 

no-irish-need-apply-the-new-york-times-10-may-1859

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Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice

Suspension Of The Malefactor’s Bloody Register

 

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The Right Honourable Thomas Bass has descended from his carriage accompanied by Lord Molesworth to view with his own eyes the spectacle that has descended upon the Newgate Prison.With a chill in the air and it being near morn one would think that the demonstraters, worn out from the march, would fade like the morning mist back to cold homes and even colder breakfasts. But none have moved, not one has shown the slightest inclination to depart from the wrought-iron gates of Newgate Prison. Standing shoulder to shoulder they circle the very walls; man to child to woman to man, row upon row of haggard faces ferociously set and all of them armed to the teeth. No sun rises glimmering on the horizon to gild their pinched faces, instead it hides its light behind the thunderous looking clouds.

The Right Honourable Hardy Ethelbert-Smythe has stopped his carriage just on the corner of Newgate and as he looks about him a sight greets his eyes which leaves him aghast. For there stand Millicent Flanders and right alongside her Ronald Walters and Arnie Tobin, newly fed and released from the workhouse here they loiter, savagely intent upon biting the very hand that has fed them! On any other occasion he would step from his carriage and berate the ingrates, but he has affairs to attend to at Bethlehem Asylum and so he signals to his driver to continue on. What a congregation to behold on a Sunday morn such as this! For these are the stony gazes of such as have forsaken the dream of boundless peace in the great heavenly yonder, and who are now ferociously determined to have bread and better working conditions in the here and now.

“Have the troops been called out?” murmurs Thomas Bass for he has only lately been informed of this walk out by Her Majesty’s Railway servants (he has funded several of them). “I know not” replies Lord Molesworth,”Though I suppose they will be, this cannot possibly end well, the government cannot be seen to be of weak resolve on this”. But the right honourable Thomas Bass shakes his head, “Nay lad,have you not heard? He who was the most opposed to leniency in this matter lies ailing upon his sick bed!” Lord Molesworth raises an eyebrow,”ill? With what? When I saw him last he looked as right as rain!”. Mr Bass blushes,”T’is said he has the Jezebel’s Lurgy,desperation led him to take comfort in the midst of the bosom of iniquity and this illness is the result. The scandal should break this very morning” now Lord Molesworth is dismayed,”Really? In which paper?” and now the Right Honourable Thomas Bass looks appropriately vague,”The Northern Star one should imagine…”.

Royal Dockers, Her Majesty’s Railway Servants, chimney sweeps, cottonmill workers, porters, street walkers and musical artistes. All who were present at the beginning and all who have had a hand in the struggle are now present. Silence pervades the ranks of the great unwashed and save the sharp, cold breeze touching upon their ragged garments nought may be heard. Gradually police pass casually through the ranks of the protestors clustering themselves on the opposite sides of the Newgate Road and not looking too worried about it, for they have it on good opinion that they won’t be kept idling there for long. Polishing their whistles on the sleeves of their smart uniforms they glance across the street at the demonstrators with a knowing glance,”What a sight!What a handsomely attired set they is!” one of them remarks,” Keep comin back don’t they? Ain’t they tired of hangings yet?” remarks another and there is raucous laughter. Lord Molesworth and those besides him (for several more Lords and politicians have descended from their carriages), are horrified, for they were given a tour of the aftermath of the Grid-Iron Riot. Why are these officers of the law so at ease with these eager depredators? And why are there so few of them?

His question is soon answered for there is the sound of a dozen hearty whistles warning of the impending arrival of a fire engine. And not too long after a bright red fire wagon presents itself attended by the chief fire engineer himself and two officers. “Make way! Make way!There’s a fire over at Spitalsfield! Make way!”. Like the parting of the Red Sea the crowd gives way, it scatters, and a great roaring cheer sends the fire chief and his valiant men on their way. Thomas Bass notes that the marchers seem more relaxed now, in fact they seem almost cheery as they resume their positions outside the walls of Newgate. Now several of the officers unbutton their dark blue jackets and pull out pewter canteens which they pass around, “Ere Mr Bass fancy a tipple of gin?” shaking his head The Right Honourable Thomas Bass glances once more at the cheerful, relaxed disposition of the police officers on duty; is there something they know that he doesn’t?

There is definitely something a-foot for he notes that several officers are now examining their pocket watches,”Another two minutes” mutters one “Ey up! Ere comes another!” replies the Bow Street officer beside him. And indeed another fire engine and another and another materialises. Each screeching to a dead halt before the striking workers and each greeted by a raucous cheer as they depart. Lord Molesworth counts several, one after the other and all seemingly headed in different locations. Lime House, St Martins-in-The-Fields, the Commercial Road, Liverpool Docks,”What the deuce?!” declares Lord Ruckle-Smoot,”What’s going on?!”

“Not what! Who!” replies one of the officers,”Ah well lads! Time we was packing up! They’ll be no rioting to put down today! March out!” buttoning up their jackets and adjusting their helmets and capes the officers depart the scene of the Newgate Prison Siege, much to the dismay of Lord Ruckle-Smoot. “What the devil’s going on?” Lord Molesworth thinks he knows and glancing up at the lone figure of the Union Rep standing a-top the wall of Newgate Prison, he can’t help but admire the man and indeed the movement’s cunning.” “Observe who is missing from the marchers,chimney sweeps and match factory girls!” replies a red faced departing officer,”This is not a riot, it never was; there’s been fires set in silk mill premises all over London”.

 

 

 

 

 

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ACCESSIBILITY, Hypocritical Cant

Carpe Diem!

albinism_03

‘The tender grace of a day that is dead will never come back to me!’

-Alfred Tennyson Lord

Eliza Garrett is non-plussed, for Lords Molesworth is like a a devoted daschhund that having been kicked once, twice, nay, thrice a day, will insist upon waddling back to its master and slathering over his boots.

“Will ye leave go of my waist! Leave go of it! I’m warning yeah!” says she wriggling sufficiently out of his grasp to be able to reach backwards for the letter opener and put it to his throat,”You’ll not make a fallen woman out of me! I’ll slit your throat as soon as look at yeah! And get your hands off my bustle!” says she lashing out with a booted foot.

Panting and wide-eyed, Lord Molesworth does as he is bid, edging slowly away to the side of his Cherrywood desk, nearest the door. Eliza’s eyes narrow momentarily, for here she spies a second conundrum, how is she to pass through the narrow gap between the book case and the desk with her hands full of dishes and avoid his Lordship’s depraved wanderings? Backing slowly away from the potential  encounter (and adjusting her bicycle clipped skirts, so that her dress is bunched securely at the knees once more), Eliza perceives a means of escape; hurling two dinner plates at Lord Molesworth’s head and leaping over the desk, she manages to get to the door which is smoothly opened from outside by Fitchett, the butler. Fitchett smiling sweetly takes the dishes from her outstretched arms and thrusts her back into the room, “Silverware!” he bellows loudly before shutting the door and leaving her alone once more with Lord Molesworth. His Lordship is rapt, his eyes shine with love, his bewhiskered face is flushed, he trembles visibly.

“You are splendiforous Eliza!You are no beauty t’is true! But I thrill to you Eliza, as I have thrilled to no other! The very sight of you makes me feel as though the years are falling away from me, like a garment! Come here my gel! Embrace me!”

But Eliza is long gone having leapt back over the desk, dived for the silverware and wriggled out of the ground floor window. His face is flushed and his bosom heaving with repressed ardour as he climbs out of the window and follows her. Eliza sprints towards the hedge maze for once she has lost Lord Molesworth here, she is certain that she may proceed in peace through the rest of her day. But a’las it is not to be, for with every twist and turn of the maze Eliza becomes more and more lost until, at length, exhausted and confused, she finds herself trapped at its centre with no conceivable means of escape.

What to do? She examines the silverware in her pocket, pulls out a gleaming silver fork and hides herself in a hedge wall in readiness for his lordship’s emergence. Oh how have things come to such a pretty pass? She is a good girl full of good intentions, aspiring to one day run a boarding house along the Blackpool sea front! What appalling twist of fate could possibly have brought her to this?

“Eliza? Lizzie dearest!Where are you my love?”

Eliza waits until she has him full in her sights before emerging from the bushes and launching herself full upon him, there then ensues an epic struggle in the midst of which Eliza loses both fork and bicycle clips. Administering a hefty slap to his lordship’s cheeks causes his spectacles to fly off; indeed such is the ferocity of their encounter that it is safe to say that neither party dare exit the hedge maze in broad daylight, for fear of the scandal that might ensue.

“I’m ruined sir! Ruined! I’d slap you once more had I the strength!” and with that Eliza falls silent. Lord Molesworth surveys the prone figure of the exquisite housekeeper wistfully, what a woman! He feels and thinks these sentiments but dare’st not utter them, so apt to fly into a passion is she. And so there they lie, on the floor of the maze, panting with exhaustion and silent at length, each pondering the folly of the other, until, at last (and with much trepidation), Lord Molesworth asks Eliza if she will be his bride. Eliza rolls her eyes, has the man heard nothing she’s said?

“Will you free the workers unjustly imprisoned in Newgate? Do that and I’ll plight you my troth” declares she triumphantly as she leaps to her feet, for she is sure that this member of the moneyed classes will baulk at the very idea. Poor child! Wholly unenlightened as to the transformative effects of passion! “My love!” declares Lord Molesworth,

“My dearest Eliza! Ready yourself to marry me this Sunday hence!”

Robert Liston

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