Extracts from the speeches of Ernest Jones

Ernest Jones (1819 – 1869) was a leader of the Chartist movement in the 1840s.  He addressed the huge meeting on Blackstone Edge, which he commemorated in a poem, in 1846.  Here are some extracts from his political speeches, provided by Andrew Bibby:

Citizen Chairmen and Brother Democrats – There has been an old fraternity reigning over the earth – the fraternity of tyrants – the fraternity of priests and their younger brethren, kings and conquerors.  It was raised by fraud, it was supported by violence; nevertheless it has clothed itself with glory, honour and fame. But its glory was the glory of war – its honour, the honour of servitude – its fame, the fame of evil-doing.  It was reserved for the present age to produce a far nobler fraternity – the fraternity of nations.

This fraternity also has its glory, its honour and its fame.  Its glory – is the glory of peace!  Its honour – the honour of equality!  Its fames is a Roman fame, that of deserving well at the hands of the coming republic.  It has been the game of tyrants to prevent this spirit of fraternity. They have, therefore, been the fosterers of cruelty and bloodshed.  They had led nations to battlefields, like herds to the slaughter.  They have clothed these scenes of murder with a false glory – and made the name of past massacres the watchwords of future fights.

We will have no more such battles – and if kings (should such yet be) are determined to quarrel, let them fight their battles out themselves, while we look on and laugh at their folly.  They shall not have the strength of our arms, the blood of our hearts, and the freedom of our spirits.

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Are pounds sterling or living souls to be represented in our House of Parliament?  What?  Are the interests of a man possessing a million pounds to be cared for a million times more?  This – this is what their argument involves.  This then is their philanthropy!  Out upon them!  They have but legislated for their money bags – we will legislate for our fellow-men.  The interests they tried to promote was the interests of their vested capital – the interests we will further shall be those of humanity all over the world.

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Citizen Chairman and Brother Democrats – When we recollect that the time was, and not long ago, in which a Frenchman could not walk the street of London without men calling after him “There goes a French frog!” or an Englishman the streets of Paris without being greeted as an “English bif-steak”.  When we think that bloody battles were the upholders of these prejudices and that Rossbach, Fontenay and Waterloo, the shame of humanity, were the glories and the results of kingcraft; recollecting these things, I say, we can but feel a proud hope, in seeing here united, members of those different countries, banded for the cause of democracy who, a few years back would have been cutting each other’s throats in the cause of kings.

We are met here on a convivial occasion, but not on a convivial one alone – it is a solemn, though a joyous meeting!  What do we demand?  That which we can obtain.  We demand fair distribution of earth’s wealth for all.

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I am not an Englishman alone – I am a man.  I – we all – have a wider and a greater country than these narrow isles.  It embraces the Frenchman and the German – it includes the Hungarian, the Italian and the Pole – my country is the world, and the nation I belong to is the most numerous of all;  the nation of the oppressed.  The language I speak the men of every country understand.  It was the universal tongue before tyranny’s rude Babel brought confusion upon the earth.  It is the language of liberty – the first lisping of the new-born babe – the last aspiration of the dying saint.  The creed I follow is the rights of man.  Its trinity is Equality, Liberty, Fraternity.  Its altar is the human heart.

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Source for all extracts:     Saville, John.  Ernest Jones : Chartist – selections fron the writings and speeches of Ernest Jones. 1952.

remembering the Chartists