Monday, September 17, 2012

Comrades for the Charter by Geoffrey Trease (Brockhampton Press 1934)






Dark and lonely are the Black Mountains, as befits their sombre name. From afar off, in the pleasant orchard-lands of Herefordshire, or on the wooded hilltops which hem the River Wye, you see this huge mass of earth and rock sprawling under the sky like some stranded sea-monster. On a rainy-day, you can hardly tell which is mountain and which the cloud above.

Dark and sombre, too, was the year 1839. Dark with the misery of the people, starving upon tiny wages to make a few rich men even richer, toiling sixteen hours a day so that those few rich men might sit idle.

Victoria was newly Queen. In London the bands blared, the flags flew, and the gentry trotted their beautiful horses in the park.

In England at large there was no music but the hum of machines, No flags streamed in the breeze - only the long streaks of foul smoke, belched from the factory chimneys. The people owned no palaces with proud turrets mounting to the sky. Their only towers were the same chimney-stacks and the skeleton structures of the pithead, with their great wheels turning to send men into the depths.

Over England and Wales rose the murmur of the people, faint yet forbidding, like the rumble of approaching thunder. But the Queen and the Parliament, deafened by the bands and the choirs and the opera choruses, heard nothing.

Yet the storm was coming . . . 

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