They determined to put down the multitude. They thought they were imitating Mr. Pitt because they mistook disorganization for sedition.
It was deemed expedient that this meeting should be as morally effective as possible, and that it should exhibit a spectacle such as had never before been witnessed in England. . . . There was no hyperbole in the statement which a magistrate afterwards made on oath, that "the party with the blue and green banners came upon the field in beautiful order!" adding, I think, that "not until then did he become alarmed".
BAMFORD: Passages in the Life of a Radical
THE execution of the Derbyshire rebels coincided with the death of the Princess Charlotte, the Heir Presumptive, in child-bed, and the Hermit of Marlow took it upon himself to improve the occasion in a pamphlet entitled We Pity the Plumage, but forget the Dying Bird. Some have liked to imagine that Shelley made one of the crowd of spectators at Nun's Green on that November morning, and that he was inspired by the horrid spectacle to compose this splendid lament for the death of liberty. In truth, however, the poet spoke no more than was felt by the generality of his countrymen. The fate of these men, and the circumstances of which it was the characteristic and the consequence, constituted a calamity no less to be mourned than the death of the Heir to the Throne. The feeling was widespread that these men were state victims; that they died in consequence of the diseased condition of the body politic.
To diagnose this disease in terms of a monstrous accession of wickedness on the part of the King's Ministers, however, was over-simple. The disease from which England was suffering was rather one of disorganization than of diabolical possession. A new kind of society was coming painfully to birth within the old, and both the minds of men and their political institutions were undergoing a difficult process of adaptation. In the unfolding of this larger story, the Pentrich rising was all but
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Publication information: Book title: Waterloo to Peterloo. Contributors: R. J. White - Author. Publisher: Russell & Russell. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1973. Page number: 176.