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- The Revolution in Tanner's Lane - 1/43 -


Transcribed from the 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition by David Price, email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk

THE REVOLUTION IN TANNER'S LANE

"Per various casus, per tot discrimina rerum, Tendimus in Latium; sedes ubi fata quietas Ostendunt. Illic fas regna resurgere Trojae. Durate, et vosmet rebus servate secundis." - Virgil.

"By diuers casis, sere parrellis and sufferance Unto Itaill we ettill (aim) quhare destanye Has schap (shaped) for vs ane rest and quiet harbrye Predestinatis thare Troye sall ryse agane. Be stout on prosper fortoun to remane." - Gwain Douglas's translation.

CHAPTER I--THE WORLD OUTSIDE

The 20th April 1814, an almost cloudless, perfectly sunny day, saw all London astir. On that day Lewis the Eighteenth was to come from Hartwell in triumph, summoned by France to the throne of his ancestors. London had not enjoyed too much gaiety that year. It was the year of the great frost. Nothing like it had been known in the memory of man. In the West of England, where snow is rare, roads were impassable and mails could not be delivered. Four dead men were dug out of a deep drift about ten miles west of Exeter. Even at Plymouth, close to the soft south-western ocean, the average depth of the fall was twenty inches, and there was no other way of getting eastwards than by pack-horses. The Great North Road was completely blocked, and there was a barricade over it near Godmanchester of from six to ten feet high. The Oxford coach was buried. Some passengers inside were rescued with great difficulty, and their lives were barely saved. The Solway Firth at Workington resembled the Arctic Sea, and the Thames was so completely frozen over between Blackfriars and London Bridges that people were able, not only to walk across, but to erect booths on the ice. Coals, of course, rose to famine prices in London, as it was then dependent solely upon water-carriage for its supply. The Father of his people, the Prince Regent, was much moved by the general distress of "a large and meritorious class of industrious persons," as he called them, and issued a circular to all Lords Lieutenant ordering them to provide all practicable means of removing obstructions from the highways.

However, on this 20th April the London mob forgot the frost, forgot the quartern loaf and the national debt, and prepared for a holiday, inspired thereto, not so much by Lewis the Eighteenth as by the warmth and brilliant sky. There are two factors in all human bliss-- an object and the subject. The object may be a trifle, but the condition of the subject is most important. Turn a man out with his digestion in perfect order, with the spring in the air and in his veins, and he will cheer anything, any Lewis, Lord Liverpool, dog, cat, or rat who may cross his path. Not that this is intended as a sufficient explanation of the Bourbon reception. Far from it; but it does mitigate it a trifle. At eleven o'clock in the forenoon two troops of the Oxford Blues drew up at Kilburn turnpike to await the sacred arrival. The Prince Regent himself went as far as Stanmore to meet his August Brother. When the August Brother reached the village, the excited inhabitants thereof took the horses out of the carriage and drew him through the street. The Prince, standing at the door of the principal inn, was in readiness to salute him, and this he did by embracing him! There have been some remarkable embraces in history. Joseph fell on Israel's neck, and Israel said unto Joseph, "Now let me die, since I have seen thy face:" Paul, after preaching at Ephesus, calling the elders of the Church to witness that, for the space of three years, he ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears, kneeled down and prayed, so that they all wept sore and fell on his neck: Romeo took a last embrace of Juliet in the vault, and sealed the doors of breath with a righteous kiss: Penelope embraced Ulysses, who was welcome to her as land is welcome to shipwrecked swimmers escaping from the grey seawater--there have, we say, been some remarkable embraces on this earth since time began, but none more remarkable than that on the steps of the Abercorn Arms. The Divine couple then drove in solemn procession to town. From the park corner for three-quarters of a mile or so was a line of private carriages, filled with most fashionable people, the ladies all standing on the seats. The French Royalist flag waved everywhere. All along the Kilburn Road, then thinly lined with houses, it was triumphant, and even the trees were decorated with it. Arriving by way of Cumberland Gate at Piccadilly, Lewis was escorted, amidst uproarious rejoicing, to Grillon's Hotel in Albemarle Street. There, in reply to an address from the Prince, he "ascribed, under Providence," to his Royal Highness and the British people his present blissful condition; and soon afterwards, being extremely tired, went to bed. This was on a Wednesday. The next day, Thursday, His Sacred Majesty, or Most Christian Majesty, as he was then called, was solemnly made a Knight of the Garter, the Bishops of Salisbury and Winchester assisting. On Friday he received the corporation of London, and on Saturday the 23rd he prepared to take his departure. There was a great crowd in the street when he came out of the hotel and immense applause; the mob crying out, "God bless your Majesty!" as if they owed him all they had, and even their lives. It was very touching, people thought at the time, and so it was. Is there anything more touching than the waste of human loyalty and love? As we read the history of the Highlands or a story of Jacobite loyalty such as that of Cooper's Admiral Bluewater, dear to boys, we sadden that destiny should decree that in a world in which piety is not too plentiful it should run so pitifully to waste, and that men and women should weep hot tears and break their hearts over bran-stuffing and wax.

Amidst the hooraying multitude that Saturday April morning was one man at least, Zachariah Coleman by name, who did not hooray, and did not lift his hat even when the Sacred Majesty appeared on the hotel steps. He was a smallish, thin-faced, lean creature in workman's clothes; his complexion was white, blanched by office air, and his hands were black with printer's ink.

"Off with your tile, you b---y Corsican!" exclaimed a roaring voice behind him. Zachariah turned round, and found the request came from a drayman weighing about eighteen stone; but the tile was not removed. In an instant it was sent flying to the other side of the road, where it was trodden on, picked up, and passed forward in the air amidst laughter and jeers, till it was finally lost.

Zachariah was not pugnacious, and could not very well be so in the presence of his huge antagonist; but he was no coward, and not seeing for the moment that his hat had hopelessly gone, he turned round savagely, and laying hold of the drayman, said:

"You ruffian, give it me back; if I am a Corsican, are you an Englishman?"

"Take that for your b---y beaver," said the other, and dealt him a blow with the fist right in his face, which staggered and stupefied him, covering him with blood.

The bystanders, observing the disparity between the two men, instantly took Zachariah's side, and called out "Shame, shame!" Nor did they confine themselves to ejaculations, for a young fellow of about eight and twenty, well dressed, with a bottle-green coat of broadcloth, buttoned close, stepped up to the drayman.

"Knock my tile off, beer-barrel."

The drayman instantly responded by a clutch at it, but before he could touch it he had an awful cut across the lips, delivered with such scientific accuracy from the left shoulder that it was clear it came from a disciple of Jackson or Tom Cribb. The crowd now became intensely delighted and excited, and a cry of "A ring, a ring!" was raised. The drayman, blind with rage, let out with his right arm with force enough to fell an ox, but the stroke was most artistically parried, and the response was another fearful gash over the right eye. By this time the patriot had had enough, and declined to continue the contest. His foe, too, seemed to have no desire for any further display of his powers, and retired smilingly, edging his way to the pavement, where he found poor Zachariah almost helpless.

"Holloa, my republican friend, d---n it, that's a nasty lick you've got, and from one of the people too; that makes it harder to bear, eh? Never mind, he's worse off than you are."

Zachariah thanked him as well as he could for defending him.

"Not a word; haven't got a scratch myself. Come along with me;" and he dragged him along Piccadilly into a public-house in Swallow Street, where apparently he was well known. Water was called for; Zachariah was sponged, the wound strapped up, some brandy given him, and the stranger, ordering a hackney coach, told the driver to take the gentleman home.

"Wait a bit," he called, as the coach drove off. "You may feel faint; I'll go home with you," and in a moment he was by Zachariah's side. The coach found its way slowly through the streets to some lodgings in Clerkenwell. It was well the stranger did go, for his companion on arrival was hardly able to crawl upstairs to give a coherent account to his wife of what had happened.

Zachariah Coleman, working man, printer, was in April 1814 about thirty years old. He was employed in a jobbing office in the city, where he was compositor and pressman as well. He had been married in January 1814 to a woman a year younger than himself, who attended the meeting-house at Hackney, whither he went on the Sunday. He was a Dissenter in religion, and a fierce Radical in politics, as many of the Dissenters in that day were. He was not a ranter or revivalist, but what was called a moderate Calvinist; that is to say, he held to Calvinism as his undoubted creed, but when it came to the push in actual practice he modified it. In this respect he was inconsistent; but who is there who is not? His theology probably had no more gaps in it than that of the latest and most enlightened preacher who denies miracles and affirms the Universal Benevolence. His present biographer, from intimate acquaintance with the class to which Zachariah belonged, takes this opportunity to protest against the general assumption that the Calvinists of that day, or of any day, arrived at their belief by putting out their eyes and accepting


The Revolution in Tanner's Lane - 1/43

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