1848. The Chartists were down and despondent. Their third petition had been rejected by the government outright. What they needed was a new sense of purpose and, perhaps, a “Tyler” to speak to them.
Battle Song of the Conspirators (1853) | James Bronterre O’Brien
The following poem was written by the radical James Bronterre O’Brien and published in place of the frontispiece in the bound volume of George Julian Harney’s short-lived magazine the Vanguard. Battle Song […]
Aristocratic Violence; or, The Peer who Punched Reynolds | Stephen Basdeo
As Reynolds approached the Prime Minister to ask permission, Lord Harrowby jumped upon him in a rage — here was a lord attempting to silence the representative of the people!
“A Rascal … but rich”: Karl Marx and G. W. M. Reynolds | Stephen Basdeo
“Reynolds is a rascal,” said Marx, “but a rich and able speculator. Find out what the father of communism thought about the biggest-selling novelist of the Victorian era.
A Democratic Lyric (1850) | Tyrtaeus
The following pro-democracy poem was written by someone writing under the pseudonym of Tyrtaeus and was published in Reynolds’s Political Instructor on 19 January 1850.
Henry Hetherington: The Revolutionary Life of a Radical Printer (1850) | G. W. M. Reynolds
“He defied the law, he suffered imprisonment, and lost his property in struggling for a right … we are indebted for the immense benefits derived by the masses from the circulation amongst them of cheap literature.”
The Chartist History of England: Henry I (1849) | Edwin Roberts
Selfish, haughty and arrogant…and can merit nothing but the severest censure. All his actions, when closely scrutinized, fill us with the most unequivocal contempt.
Degradation of Toil (1835) | Charles Cole
Charles Cole was one of the finest radical poets of the early nineteenth century. ‘Degradation of Toil’ was first printed in Cole’s collection of poetry in 1835.
Once as the Oak: A Pro-Democracy Poem (1835) | Charles Cole
Charles Cole was one of the finest radical poets of the early nineteenth century. ‘Once as the Oak’ was first printed in 1835 and has been transcribed by Stephen Basdeo.
We Are Winning Now! (1839) | Anonymous
The following pro-democracy song appeared in Hugh Williams’s National Songs and Poetical Pieces (1839). The identity of the author is now lost to history but their work has been newly transcribed.
My Heart is in the Battlefield | “W.”
‘My Heart is in the Battlefield’ was first written in November 1839 and has been newly-transcribed for Reynolds’s News! Subscribe now for more 19th century short texts!
History of the British Aristocracy: Part One (1849) | Anonymous
The greatest and most fatal error in the annals of the world was suffering the growth and formation of an Aristocracy; it is the direst plague with which this earth is cursed, filling it with eternal bitterness.
Cheer up! Cheer up! Ye Chartist Boys! | Anonymous
The following song was written in 1839 after the government’s rejection of the first Chartist petition. The tone of the poem is clear: the working classes need to fight on!
Welcome to the Refugees (1851) | W.L. Costine
In the 1850s the United Kingdom became home to a number of European refugees who fled political persecution. Welcome to the Refugees celebrates the arrival of persecuted people on British shores.
Eve: Humankind’s First Revolutionary (1851) | Daniel Stern
She preferred grief to ignorance, death to slavery. She seized with a bold hand the guarded fruit, and moved the man to participate in her act of daring. The All-powerful chastised both, banished them.
A Song for the Democracy (1839) | H. Vincent
A Song for Democracy was written by H. Vincent and originally appeared in Williams’s National Songs in 1839. Reprinted here for the first time in nearly 200 years.
Is there yet spirit in England? (1839) | Anonymous
The following poem was written anonymously and published in Hugh Williams’s National Songs and Poetical Pieces (1839). Its sympathies are with the struggle for democracy and the emerging Chartist movement.
Loud the Song of Triumph (1839): A Chartist Song | Anonymous
The following poem appeared in the Chartist song book titled National Songs and Poetical Pieces (1839). It celebrates the fight for liberty and the vote in all four corners of the British Isles — from a time when there was no tension between the expression of a healthy patriotism and support for progressive causes.
A Chartist History of England (1849-50): William Rufus | Edwin Roberts
His memory, unrelieved by one noble trait, one magnanimous action, or one pure sentiment, comes down to us in chronicles, lay and secular, as one violent and tyrannical. A perfidious friend, an encroaching neighbour, a heartless and ungenerous relation.
Masaniello’s Call to the Neapolitans: A Chartist Song (1839) | Anonymous
Let the king live, but let the government perish!” May we not profit by this bright example, or shall the pages of history continue unfolded to us in vain?
A Chartist History of England (1849–50) | Edwin Roberts
Had this fierce untameable man, who, led only by the instinct of plunder and blood, any right claim to have his position recognised by millions of people as a king by right divine?
The Dewdrop | Eliza Cook
Eliza Cook (24 December 1818 – 23 September 1889) was an English author and poet associated with the pro-democracy Chartist movement.
To Switzerland | Anonymous
To Switzerland originally appeared in a Chartist songbook in 1839 and celebrates the beautiful country’s landscape and long tradition of political liberty.
Brave Canadians! (1839) | S.R.G.
There is no country on the face of the earth where despotisms prevails with more horrible atrocity than in Canada. We can well conceive the sort of sympathies entertained by the Melbourne and Russell government, when they permitted that splendid colony to be devastated by inhuman fiends, whose names shall be consigned to eternal infamy, as samples of the cannibal spirit of aristocratic domination. May our beneficent CREATOR grant that the British People may yet prove the liberators of the brave, bleeding, and prostrate Canadians!