Essays in Rebellion eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 277 pages of information about Essays in Rebellion.
redoubled; the standard of living among the rich has risen high.  The working people know all this; they can see it with their eyes, and they refuse to be satisfied with the rich man’s blessing on the poor.  What concerns them more than the increase in the quantity of gold is the natural result in the shrinkage of the penny.  It is no good getting sevenpence an hour for your work if it does not buy so much as the “full, round orb of the docker’s tanner,” which Mr. John Burns saw rising over the dock gates more than twenty years ago, when he stood side by side with Ben Tillett and Tom Mann, and when Sir H. Llewellyn Smith and Mr. Vaughan Nash wrote the story of the contest.  If prosperity has increased, so have prices, and what cost a tanner then costs eightpence now, or more than that.  To keep pace with such a change is well worth a strike, since nothing but strikes can avail.  So vital is the worth of a penny; so natural is it to kick against the nature of things, when their nature takes the form of steady poverty amid expanding wealth.  That is the simultaneous discovery which raised the ridicule of the Times—­that, and the further discovery that, in Carlyle’s phrase, “the Empire of old Mammon is everywhere breaking up.”  The intangible walls that resisted so obstinately are fading away.  The power of wealth is suspected.  Strike after strike secures its triumphant penny, and no return of Peterloo, or baton charges on the Liverpool St. George’s Hall, driving the silent crowd over the edge of its steep basis “as rapidly and continually as water down a steep rock,” as was seen during the strikes of August 1911, can now check the infection of such a hope.  It was an old saying of the men who won our political liberties that the redress of grievances must precede supply.  The working people are standing now for a different phase of liberty, but their work is their supply, and having simultaneously discovered their grievances to be intolerable, they are making the same old use of the ancient precept.

XII

“FIX BAYONETS!”

“Oh, que j’aime le militaire!” sighed the old French song, no doubt with a touch of frivolity; but the sentiment moves us all.  Sages have thought the army worth preserving for a dash of scarlet and a roll of the kettledrum; in every State procession it is the implements of death and the men of blood that we parade; and not to nursemaids only is the soldier irresistible.  The glamour of romance hangs round him.  Terrible with knife and spike and pellet he stalks through this puddle of a world, disdainful of drab mankind.  Multitudes may toil at keeping alive, drudging through their scanty years for no hope but living and giving life; he shares with very few the function of inflicting death, and moves gaily clad and light of heart.  “No doubt, some civilian occupations are very useful,” said the author of an old drill-book; I think it was Lord Wolseley, and it was a large admission for any officer to have made.  It was certainly Lord Wolseley who wrote in his Soldier’s Pocket-Book that the soldier “must believe his duties are the noblest that fall to man’s lot”: 

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Essays in Rebellion from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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