The second problem alluded to in the introduction to the last chapter was how buffered individuality reinforced the paradigm of the individual as radically autonomous. Cavanaugh’s analysis of the secular State indicates the role such individualism played in the genesis of contractual political theories. What he calls the mythos of the secular city was built on the ‘assumption of the essential individuality of the human race’, rather than on its essential unity or potential to be gathered in unity into the Church. 1
-relativism? And if not, on what grounds can we situate it?
The response to these questions lies in the kind of gathering or community which the Church represents to the French and English Catholic writers, and in how they reacted to, and portrayed, its organisation and internal life. Here we can once more refer to Charles Taylor’s analysis of secularisation in which the model of the buffered individual poses two problems for religion when it is considered corporately. The first is that the buffered individual’s mind-centred view of reality tends to
reform of both the church and the state, so often regarded as colluding
in the repression of the people; however, there is a degree of cynicism
directed at Hunt and, through the comparison with Cromwell, the
poet appears to be suggesting that Hunt would adopt the trappings of
monarchy just as Cromwell did.
In sixteen hundred and forty one,57
The radicals had some famous fun;
MORGAN 9781784993122 PRINT.indd 73
Ballads and songs of Peterloo
Till with King CHARLES they so merrily sped,
The first took his Crown and then his Head.
volunteers who were sufficiently wealthy to buy the necessary horse,
they were held up to ridicule by reformers as “feather-bed soldiers” or
“the church and guts mob”’.14 Variously described as ‘bloodhounds’,
‘butchers’ and ‘assassins’, many of the poems focus on the cowardice
of the ‘flush’d and drunk’ MYC:15
When first your slumb’ring weapons active grown,
Weapons whose force no foreign foe has known.
Distress’d, defenceless Britons, hack’d and hew’d.
And dy’d their maiden blades in women’s blood;16
The pointed alliterative statement in the second line highlighting the
anthropocentric, melioristic and, with regard to religion, increasingly pluralist, indifferentist and sometimes even hostile.
Reading French and English Catholic writers from this perspective yields much of interest. They make a variety of attempts to associate the Church with the secular political dispensations in which they were living – the problem was in fact how to resacralise the State – without at the same time undermining their religion by subjecting it to the legitimisation of the secular State. Crucially, most did not attempt to resacralise
by a boroughreeve to ensure parliamentary law was adhered to, church
leaders and magistrates were key figures in maintaining law and order.
On a visit in 1837, the reformer, Richard Cobden, noted that the inhabitants were ‘living under the feudal system’.8 Despite this ‘leisurely
regime’, as described by Frank O’Gorman, Stuart Hylton notes some
good examples of public services, such as hospitals, the asylum and
public baths, all built at the end of the eighteenth century.9
Accompanying the difficulties posed by a country moving swiftly
from an agrarian
Your smiling babes shall hail the suspicious reign,
Of Liberty, and ENGLAND’S RIGHTS MAINTAIN.
4 ‘Elegiac Apostrophe to the Memory of the Unfortunate
Persons Who Were Killed at Manchester, on 16th of August’
This poem first appeared in the Black Dwarf on 6 October, followed
three days later by publication in the Briton.37 The editor of the latter
may simply have copied it from the former or the anonymous poet
could have sent copies to both periodicals. The attack on the legal
system and the church demonstrate, in a manner similar to Shelley in
obtaining a Christian burial at St. Mary Matfelon
Church in Whitechapel (J. Dugan, The Great Mutiny (London: Andre
Deutsch, 1965), pp. 364–9).
52 Shelley’s refrain from The Masque of Anarchy bears a striking resemblance
to the ballad’s opening line: ‘Rise like lions after slumber’.
53 See the Introduction for information on Henry Hunt. Sir Charles Wolseley
(1769–1846) was a leader of the reform movement and founder, along with
Major Cartwright, of the Hampden Clubs. He helped the victims of Peterloo
and their families and attended some of the trials. Following a speech
37 Manchester Observer (18 September 1819), p. 718; Medusa, 1:37 (1819),
38 This newspaper cutting is part of a collection held at the Working-Class
Movement Library in Salford (S52).
39 St Peter’s field was named after the church which was built there in 1788. It
was demolished in 1907.
40 Contemporaneous cartoons, such as Cruikshank’s Massacre at St Peter’s,
depict the MYC in blue uniforms.
41 The lion has been a feature of the British royal coat of arms since the reign
of Richard I or Lionheart at the end of the twelfth century. In
Chapter 2, number 2.
19 See number 10 below.
20 Medusa, 1:32 (1819), p. 355.
21 Copies can be found in Preston Harris Library (Harkness Collection,
vol. B); Manchester Central Library Collection (1819/2/W) and Madden
Collection, University of Cambridge (no. 203). The imprints by Harkness
from Church Street, Preston are dated between 1840 and 1866. The song
can also be found in Curiosities of Street Literature, a collection of broadsides published anonymously in 1871 (Anon. (London: Reeves and Turner,
1871, p. 98), evidence of its continued popularity. Two of the