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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

Sidenote French letters Sidenote Beranger In France


Dissatisfaction in England]

In England, industrial depression dragged on. Early in the year riots broke out in London on the opening of Parliament. While driving to the House of Lords, the Prince Regent, now grown thoroughly unpopular on account of the scandals with his wife, was hooted by a crowd in St. James's Park. The police claimed that an air gun had been discharged at the Prince and made an attack on the crowd. A number of persons were injured. This was followed in February by the great Green Bag Inquiry, when Lord Sidmouth laid before Parliament a green bag full of reports concerning seditions. Bills were introduced to suspend the habeas corpus act and to provide for the coercion of public meetings. Seditious publications were likewise to be suppressed. In March occurred the rising of the so-called Blanketers in Manchester--dissatisfied workingmen who started in a body for London carrying blanket rolls and other necessaries. Their march was stopped by the military. In April, seven members of the so-called society of Luddites were hanged at Leicester for breaking labor-saving machinery. Shortly afterward eighteen persons were hanged for forging notes on the Bank of England. It was found that since the redemption of specie payments no less than 17,885 forged notes had been presented. Nearly two hundred persons were apprehended and tried in court for this offence. Shortly afterward another insurrection which broke out in Derbyshire, and

which was led by Jeremiah Brandrett, was suppressed by soldiers.

[Sidenote: "The Revolt of Islam"]

[Sidenote: "Lalla Rookh"]

[Sidenote: John Keats]

[Sidenote: "Blackwood's"]

While the working classes of England and Ireland were thus struggling against their miseries, English literature shone forth in new splendor. Shelley brought out his "Revolt of Islam" and Tom Moore published his "Lalla Rookh." John Keats at the age of barely twenty-one published his first poems. The volume attracted little attention. The appearance of Blackwood's new magazine in Edinburgh, on the other hand, was hailed as an event in English letters.

[Sidenote: French letters]

[Sidenote: Beranger]

In France, likewise, the return of peace gave a new lease of life to literature. The French Academy was reorganized to consist of forty members, who were elected for life, and who were to be regarded as "the highest authority on questions relating to language, grammar, rhetoric, poetry and the publication of the French classics." Chateaubriand was the Academy's foremost member. Beranger on the other hand, albeit his lyrics had reached the height of their popularity, fell into official disfavor by reason of his glorification of Napoleonic times, as exemplified in his ballads "La Vivandiere," "La Cocarde Blanche," or "Le Juge de Charenton." The last poem, with its veiled allusions to the Lavalette episode, was made the subject of an interpellation in the Chamber of Deputies. While this was still pending further offence was given by the publication of Beranger's satirical piece on "The Holy Alliance." Beranger had to give up his position as secretary at the University of France, and was soon afterward arrested among his boon companions at Madame Saguet's near Le Moulin Vert. He was placed on trial for the alleged blasphemies committed in his song "Le Dieu des Bonnes Gens," and condemned to spend three months in prison and to pay a heavy fine.

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