Regina v. Bezer
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REGINA v. BEZER

1848.

THE TRIAL OF JOHN JAMES BEZER FOR SEDITION.


BACKGROUND


    On the 26 July 1848 Bezer was with John Shaw at the City Lecture Theatre, Milton Street, Cripplegate, where the subject was 'Of bringing before the Legislature and the Public the despotic treatment of the Chartist victims.'  A strong force of police was standing by in case of disturbance. Two days later - at the same venue - Bezer was again with John Shaw who was conducting a public meeting condemning the Government's handling of the current problems in Ireland.  It was reported that some 1,000 persons mostly Irish were in attendance both inside and outside the hall.  Also present were the police and reporters who busied themselves by taking notes of the meeting that had been advertised as 'Is Ireland Up?'  Consequently, John Shaw, the meeting's Chairman and Bezer, together with four others were indicted for sedition.

    Bezer's trial came up at the Central Criminal Court in August, where, in the indictment he was referred to as being a "wicked, malicious, seditious and evil disposed person."


TRIAL


The Attorney-General opened the case and read the defendant's "false, seditious and inflammatory words and matter" in transcript:

"Now then, to the Resolution I hold in my hand.  Resolved that this Meeting deeply sympathise with the struggling people of Ireland, and is resolved to assist them by all and every means in their power, and that we consider the physical preparations of the Government unjustifiable without the proper remedial measures attached thereto.

Brother Chartists, Brother Republicans, Brother Democrats, for I don't know that I can address you by any better name than Democrats, for the principle of Democracy is the principle of a free stage to all and no favour to any.  The principle of Democracy is the right of the rich and no more.  The principle of Democracy is the right of the poor and no less.  The principle of Democracy is the greatest amount of good to the greatest number.  In short, the principle of Democracy is the principle of Justice and of truth.  Democrats understand each other all over the world.  Democrats are the same in every nation.  The Democrats of Russia, the Democrats of Poland, the Democrats of Switzerland, the Democrats of Germany, the Democrats of France, the Democrats of Ireland understand each other.  They are all travelling the same road; they have all one end; they have all one aim; they have all one object in view and that object is glorious liberty.  They are all singing one song - not in the same language perhaps, but the same sentiment:

'Oh Liberty when will man resign thee
 Once having felt thy generous flame;
 Shall locks or bolts or bars confine thee
 Or whips thy noble spirit tame.'

    No!  It has not tamed John Mitchell yet, I will be bound.  It has not yet tamed Ernest Jones I will be bound.  Did it tame the men of old when they were burned at the stake?  No, it did not.  It actually progressed their principles more than they would have progressed - and let Tyrants beware - you had better shut up shop - you had better put up your swords and cut and run, for democracy is spreading.  Depend upon it.  And sooner or later will overwhelm you all.

    My friends, we live in strange times; we live in very queer times and yet it is a privilege to live in these times.  We have seen a great many things.  We have seen Lords and Dukes and Princes and all the rest of the mob in different nations cut and run.  Louis Phillipe had to change his clothes and his whiskers and to take his umbrella and run and cut away.  We have seen great changes and we shall live to see greater changes yet.  As a Democrat I hope so, and as I said before, I don't know that I can address you by any better word than Democrats.

    I might say, Mr Chairman and all respectable people, and for this reason, because every man that works for his living honestly either by his head or his hands is a respectable man.  Though by bad laws he may be badly clothed and badly housed and badly fed, and those who do not work for their living but who fatten upon the labour of others are not respectable people, but on the contrary are thieves and rogues and vagabonds, though they may wear fine linen and fare sumptuously every day.  Though they may wear crowns upon their heads and have swords hanging at their tails.  Though they may be called Lords and Dukes and Marquisses and Viscounts and Right Reverend Fathers in God and Knights of the Garter and Grooms of the Stole [in charge of the monarch's ceremonial dressing, personal attendance and associated staff. Ed.] and Lords of the Bedchamber and all the other mummery and flummery and humbuggery.

    I therefore will address you Mr Chairman and friends as respectable people, for I presume that with the exception of a sprinkling there and a sprinkling there and a few there and a few there of despicable wretches who have hired themselves for blood money, with the exception of these creatures we are all respectable people.  I hope I work for my living.  If Lord John Russell wants to know what I am, I am a Merchant in the City of London and though perhaps I have not much Rhino [slang word for 'money'. Ed.] I am perhaps more respectable than many other Merchants, for I do go to market with ready money, sell fish about the streets, and if Lord John Russell wants to be a customer I will sell him a Pike cheap (loud cheers) or if the Treasury is almost exhausted which I dare say it nearly is.  If the Exchequer is very low indeed I am a charitable man, though our friend Shaw the other night said he would not be so merciful as I am.  If the Treasury is so very low and Lord John Russell cannot afford to buy a Pike I will give him one.


    I was going to say that we live in queer times.  I say again, it is a privilege to live in these times, but let us not forget that there is a danger also in living in these times.  Some of the men that I invited today to speak on this platform perhaps think so.  However, there is one thing we must not forget before all - and above all - namely that we live in times when every man expects each other to do his duty.  These are the times for duty.  We must perform our duty.  If we perform out duty well, generations yet unborn will bless us.  If we perform our duty ill, generations yet unborn will curse us.  What is that duty?  The Northern Star of last week says our duty is to sympathise with Ireland.  The Northern Star says well.  Is our duty to end there?  My friends, our duty is to sympathise with Ireland, yes.  Our duty is to pity Ireland, yes, and our duty is to help Ireland and I will tell you how we will help her the best way we can.  I am not going to tell you Gentlemen or Friends in God's name get arms - for that is sedition.  I am not going to say in God's name get Pikes, for that is felony.  But I am going to say in God's name get umbrellas for the rains may fall.  I am going to say in God's name get greatcoats for the winter is coming and you might catch cold.  I am not going to tell you my opinion of the Government of this Country, you will pretty well know that - but I will give you the opinion of somebody else, and as this man is a long way off, I don't think that the Government will be able to catch him.  And that is the Editor of the New York Herald.  I am reading from a stamped newspaper - The Times - the most loyal paper in all the world, and therefore there is no treason in that.  This is what Brother Jonathan [an American expression for the American people in general. Ed.] thinks of the British Government.  They say we are a nation.  You and I, we are a nation, say they are grovelling in abject slavery.

"There is a shame a narrow oligarchy is grinding the masses of our population to powder. It takes taxes and plunders the State for its own lucre and ambition. The Church, the Law, the Army the Navy and the Crown are kept up only to satiate its hungry maw and aggrandise its powers."

    "The Middle Classes", says Brother Jonathan, - I don't say so - "are either the slaves or toadies - the lower class only slaves.  Chartism is the only natural and true expression of the popular feeling; the unconcealed wish of the majority of the people is for a Republic, and they are only kept in check by the terrors of military force. "  And now something to the point that has called us together tonight.  We will quote Brother Jonathan again because they cannot catch him:

   "If ever there were a people", says the Editor of the New York Herald, which mark you is the organ of the war party, and the war party in America is now getting the ascendancy, and that is another significant fact, "If ever there were a people who had cause to rise and strike down their tyrants, the Irish are that people.  If ever there was a time to do it, the present is it.  The crisis may be delayed until after Harvest, but we are inclined to think that it will come then beyond all peradventure.  They will gain an accession to their ranks from Mr Mitchell's conviction and transportation of thousands who have heretofore opposed their movements and if after rising in arms they can but hold their ground for five or six weeks their example will assuredly be followed by the Chartists." - I don't say so, it is the Editor of the New York Herald, - "and the result will be the downfall of the great tyrant of the Universe, one of the most corrupt, tyrannical grinding and despotic governments that Providence ever permitted to afflict a world.  In this downfall the nobility and aristocracy the well fed puppets of the government, they who have lived on the fat of the land and revelled in luxury purchased by the sweat and anguish of a nation will be crushed to atoms."

    If I am not detaining you too long, I will read you another extract because you know I was told the other night that I was a very good General that I should not get into quod [slang word for 'prison'. Ed.].  It will be more luck than judgement, in my opinion.  However, the last evening I spoke I only prayed something.  It does not say in the Act that we must not pray.  It only says that we must not imagine, compass or devise.  Tonight I am only reading something.  The gagging Bill does not say we must not read.  So you see I like to do everything according to Law.  Brother Jonathan says again,

"By the last arrival from England we have some indications of the policy which England has shaped and which from all appearances she is determined to pursue.  It is not a direct open and honest policy such as Russia has marked out, but a mean pitiful sneaking and underhand system of petty intrigue; Machiavellian deception which has always characterised her government from time immemorial.  It is the same system which she has so successfully thus far used towards Ireland, and by which she has been enabled to retain her dominion over that island, in despite of the wishes of its people and in direct contravention of all principles of justice human and divine.  Fearing the powerful Republic its increase, its stability and its future greatness, and knowing herself to be powerless to oppose any obstacle in its way, this wicked, atrocious and diabolical government has embarked in a policy which would disgrace the Thugs of India.  She dare not meet the Republic in the field, and there manfully and honourably dispute the spread of the principles of free government in Europe.  The first shock of battle would show her nakedness and prostrate her.  But she can play the assassin; she can stab her enemy in the back as she has done on former occasions and as she is attempting to do again.  But it will be seen with what success eventually.  The policy she has determined upon is to send abroad her agents for the purpose of intriguing with the people and with the governments of the continental nations.  Of putting the people against the governments and the governments against the people.  Of inciting the masses to rise for their rights and inciting the governments when the masses have risen to massacre them as has been done in Naples.  There is not only every probability but it is almost a moral certainty that the late dreadful massacres in the city of Naples were the work of this treacherous and mean government through the agency of its intrigues.  At the present time there is no doubt that England has her agents scattered throughout all Europe."- Of course she has.  She has them scattered in Milton Street Theatre. - "Whose missions are of this character and who if successful would deluge Europe with the blood of the people and re-establish amid carnage and desolation monarchy in France and stop the progress of the principles of free government from making further headway in Europe.  These are the despicable and underhand means which this assassin government has resorted to overthrow France, not daring as we have before stated, to measure lances with the giant Republic."

    Now the Times says in answer to this that England has no more to dread from the navies of France than she has from the armies of America, and that she will meddle with the internal affairs of neither.  Not because she dreads the strength of either, but because, and I think so too, but because she respects the rights of nations and recognises the value of peace.  Now there is an important question in the Bill.  Is Ireland up?  I am not in the Cabinet.  I am not in the Council.  Oh yes, I know Lord John Russell was found guilty once by a Galway jury but there has been more juries than the Galway jury set about Lord John Russell.  But the question is asked in the bill, is Ireland up?  I think you will all own that she has been down long enough, and another thing you will own too.  I think it is time she was up, and if she don't get up herself do one man serve her right for being down; serve any willing slave right; serve any one right that kisses the chains that bind them.  It is only a shame that the innocent should suffer with the guilty, and that those who pant for liberty should still be in bondage while some are slaves at heart.  But I hope that Ireland is not a slave at heart and the time is fast approaching perhaps at this very moment she is at it - and if she is, God of the suffering poor defend the right.

    In ancient times the question was asked, 'How long oh Lord, how long shall tyrants reign?'  I ask that question again.  I say, how long oh Lord shall tyrants reign?  Tyrants have reigned in Ireland for seven centuries nearly, and I hope that those who have mocked her sufferings and starved her, may now meet with the reward they merit, whoever they are.  But what would Ireland do if she had her nationality, say some people.  What has that to do with me as an Englishman?  The Irish have a right to govern themselves.  If they govern themselves ill the rod will fall upon their own backs.  Why should eight millions of Irishmen merely because they are Irishmen, be called the most stupid people upon the face of the earth?  If they govern themselves ill they will have all the consequences.  If they govern themselves well they will have the advantage of all being well.  But let the Irish nation as every other nation, govern itself by its own laws.  Some people say what have the English to do with it.  The English I consider if they are Democrats at heart, have to do with everything that is oppressive and unjust; they have raised their voice against injustice and oppression in Poland.  Why not raise their voice when injustice and oppression is perpetrated in Ireland?

    Lord John Russell said yesterday when some of the Irish members of the House of Commons were told by his Lordship to go to Ireland where they were wanted to make peace, they said "But will you not give us some remedial measures, something by way of an olive branch to take to Ireland?"  "No," said Lord John Russell, "You must go without any remedial measures at all."  I say the government are acting either very roguish or very insane, and therefore I say openly and advisedly that neither a roguish government nor an insane government ought to exist.  But the same Gentleman says we do not want any reform.  Why Gentlemen, I am ready here to assert and as I love discussion I would discuss it with anybody that there is something rotten in the political state of England that from the crown of the head to the sole of the foot there is nothing but wounds and putrefying sores.  That Monarchy, Aristocrats, Lords, Freetraders, Special Constables and Blue Devils [name for the police due to their blue uniform. Ed.] have all done that which they ought not to have done, and have left undone that which they ought to do; and if there is one monopoly more than another in this country, it is the monopoly of legislation.  One in seven has no voice in this country, and while that is so we are virtually slaves.  If there is one abomination in Ireland more than another it is the English Church as by law established, and I advise you as soon as you have three pence about you to read the black book of England published by Cleave [The Black Book of England: exhibiting the existing state, policy, and administration of the United Kingdom.  With lists of the chief recipients of public pay in church and state. London, 1847, Ed.] and learn and mark well and inwardly digest too, and you will find that Lord John Russell was very foolish, and [was] told this too when he stated that the people of England wanted no reform.  But some of them tell you that the great cause is the surplus population in England and Ireland.

    That is just what I believe myself, and I think that it is about first time that the government and I ever agreed.  But so it is.  There is too many Bishops.  There is too much aristocracy.  There is too many drones to live upon the bees.  I wish to God they would emigrate.  I would not send them to heaven, though there is no question about that, for they would not be let in.  Nor I would not send them to hell, for I should not be uncharitable enough to do that.  But I would send them to some remote quarter of the globe and let no one go there except the Bishops and those persons.  I say that a system of emigration is a very good thing, and the sooner these fellows emigrate the better.  With these few remarks I beg leave to reiterate the sentiment whether it be treason or felony or sedition or no, I beg leave to reiterate the sentiment that is now in my bosom, for I always like to say what I mean, and mean what I say, notwithstanding the consequences that may ensue, for the truth ought to be spoken. I reiterate the sentiment that Ireland is justified in rising up in arms against those who have oppressed her, and God grant that she may win; and I say in the language of the poet of last week:

'Down with the Aristocratic Slavery
 Up with the Republican Bravery.' "


    Bezer then addressed the jury (having no council) in response to the Attorney-General.  He admitted that he was a Chartist, and said that in his opinion the Charter would cure all the evils under which the country was labouring; and if the Whig government, which had so often for its own purposes encouraged agitation, thought to put down the expression of the feeling of the working population of the country by such prosecutions as these they were very much mistaken, for they might rely on it that the people would become more determined to obtain their rights by that sort of treatment.  It had been made a ground of complaint against him that he had read an extract from an American paper to an audience of 1,000 persons; but they should not forget that he was reading from a newspaper that had perhaps 30,000 subscribers, and if he was to blame for reading it, he thought The Times ought also to be prosecuted for printing it in the first instance, as, if they had not printed it, he could not have read it.... In conclusion he described the prosecutions that had been instituted by the Government as merely intended to destroy the right of freedom of speech in this country, and he called upon the jury, as members of the middle class of society, not to lend themselves to such a proceeding by convicting him upon the present charge.

London's notorious Newgate Prison, on the left,
looking towards Old Bailey.

    In reply, the Attorney-General said that the defence which had been made by the defendant confirmed the opinion he had originally expressed of the dangerous description of ability which he possessed....  The manner in which he had artfully read the exciting extract from the American paper, and omitted the comments upon it, giving the bane but omitting the antidote, likewise showed his dangerous ability for mischief, particularly as he expected thereby to escape from punishment.  The Attorney-General praised The Times and most other papers for the generous and noble manner in the preservation of the public peace.  After summing up, the jury returned a verdict of Guilty.  Bezer was sentenced to be imprisoned in the House of Correction [Newgate Prison] for two years, and to pay a fine of £10.


AFTERMATH


    Bezer was released in April 1850 upon recognisance in the sum of £100, with two sureties of £50 each and to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for five years.

    During 1849 Bezer and Shaw requested an increase in light and fire, the use of pen, paper and ink, and an alteration in diet.  It was then considered that they were 'misconducting themselves' by writing to and receiving letters from Chartists imbued with their dangerous politics, and other refractory conduct.  Their privileges were suspended.  Responding to a petition on their behalf, the authorities stated that they were confined in a block of fifteen old cells – not 'condemned' cells as was thought, and that Newgate had no 'condemned cells' of that description.  The petition was referred to the Gaol Committee.  Although Bezer probably found the conditions reasonably tolerable, John Shaw, an undertaker by trade in Gloucester Street, Commercial Road, had been used to better things.  In a letter from his No. 8 Cell at Newgate to George Julian Harney, he had complained about his gout, the cold, and his damp linen (there being no fire).

Newgate Prison, 1850.
From the London Illustrated News.

Ward for condemned male prisoners.

The Chapel-yard.

Punishment cell.

Corridor.

A Dining Ward.


     On April 22, 1850, a large meeting was convened at the South London Chartist Hall, Webber Street, Southwark, under the auspices of the National Charter Association.  During this meeting the recently released Chartists were welcomed to the platform amidst cheering.  Bezer addressed the meeting, saying that he was a most grateful man, the Whigs had been very very kind to him, and he exhibited his gratitude by attending the very first Chartist meeting after his liberation.  (Laughter.)  His eighty-six weeks' confinement had not reformed him, except it had changed his mind a little; when he went to prison he thought his principles were right, but now he was sure they were. (Cheers.)

    A brother radical had met him coming to the meeting, and shook him cordially by the hand, and asked him did he mean to cause the meeting to laugh?  He hoped the meeting would remember that, although eighty-six weeks' incarceration had not broken his heart, yet he could not conceive that Newgate's sombre walls were calculated to enliven his spirits or make him gay - (Hear-hear.) - more especially when he remembered he had left their honest uncompromising friend (John Shaw) immured within its walls.  He had heard too, (what should he, as a loyal man call them,) wicked speeches.  He was not a learned man, although he had been called to the bar - (laughter) - and when there, his learned brother, her Majesty's Attorney-General, had said, pointing to him (Mr. Bezer,) "The prisoner has positively offered to sell Lord John Russell a pike - a pike, yes gentlemen, a pike." (Roars of laughter.)

Newgate prison Chapel, 1850.
From the London Illustrated News.

    Ah, it was easy for them to laugh, but allow him to say it put all the old ladies in court into a state of "Terroris extremis."  (Increased laughter.)  Well, he had told them that he was not a learned man, but he had searched Johnson, Entick, and others, and had there found that a pike was a fish, and of course, by a parity of reasoning, a fish was a pike.  (Laughter.)  Well, as they all knew he was a City merchant, he dealt in fish, and, of course, merchant-like, wished to have the patronage of the first Minister of the Crown; but instead of giving him (Mr. Bezer) an order for the pike, he had given him an order for the "Stone Jug." (Laughter and applause.) ["Stone Jug" slang for a prison cell. Ed.]  When there he had been visited by the magistrates; one in particular said: "Oh, you are Bezer - you are a fool - I don't pity you - you not only get yourself into trouble, but you endeavour to get others into trouble by your talk.  Ah, t'was lucky for you that you did not attempt to march from Kennington Common, for I suppose you were there, or you would all have been annihilated, for I had command of the bridges; one did come roaring out, I am a Chartist - brandishing his stick - I took it from him and threw it into the water; can I do anything for you?"  Yes, he wished to see his wife - "for what reason?"  Because he was a husband and father.  (Loud cheers.)  "Oh! that's no reason."  Four times had this "Commander of Bridges" visited him and repeated the same tale; but he hoped the meeting would not think the "Commander" was Mr. Alderman Farebrother. (Loud laughter.)... Mr. Bezer then called for three cheers for John Shaw, which were heartily given, and resumed his seat greatly applauded.

Public hangings outside Newgate Prison (now the site of the Old Bailey).
Public hangings drew large crowds until they were discontinued in 1868.


'Townsend, the noted Bow Street runner, giving evidence before a Committee of the House of Commons in 1816, testified to these grim facts:—"We never had an execution wherein we did not grace that unfortunate gibbet at the Old Bailey with less than ten, twelve, sixteen, or twenty wretches—I may say forty, for in the year 1783, when Serjeant Adair was Recorder, there were forty hanged at two executions."  The gaoler of Newgate, being asked by the Recorder a few years later how many could be executed at one time on a new gallows, complacently replied: "Well your worship, we can hang twelve upon a stretch, but we can't hang more than ten comfortably."'

W. E. ADAMS,
 'Memoirs of a Social Atom'.


    On the following day, April 23, a meeting was held at the John Street Institution on behalf of the Chartists who were still imprisoned.  A number of notable Chartists addressed the meeting, including Bronterre O'Brien, G.W.M. Reynolds, George Julian Harney, Walter Cooper, Gerald Massey and Bezer.

    Bezer was greeted with a most rapturous welcome, and said that on the 28 July 1848, he was on the platform of the Milton Street Institution, but on the same date in 1849 he had found himself in quite a different place.  And why? because he had spoken freely, and he meant what he then said.  (Hear.)  He recollected one sentence he had uttered to the government reporters; it was - "They were there, not because they feared the government, but because the government feared the uneducated costermonger," - (great cheering.) - and his saying had been verified.  When brother Shaw got out he should have a tale to tell them.  (Three cheers were called for, and heartily given, for John Shaw.)  On the occasion some of his friends had advised him to go out of the way, and he had taken himself to Highgate; only five persons knew where he was, and one of them had proved a Judas, by selling the secret for sixty pieces of copper - yes, for five shillings.  (Hear, hear.)  Well, he was arrested, tried, as it was called, and convicted, of course; and what was he charged with?  Why, conspiring against Her Majesty, her crown, and dignity.  (Laughter.)  Now, really, he had never mentioned the little lady's name; but he had told the people, they - the producers of wealth - were responsible.  Of course this was seditious - truth and sedition being synonymous terms.  (Loud cheers.)  Well, he was now out of prison, in mind and principle a wiser man than when he went in, - (cheers) - and to use a lady's expression - "He was as well as could be expected," - (laughter) - and so he ought to be, considering that in eighty-six weeks he had swallowed, upon a fair computation, three hogsheads of skilly.  (Laughter.) [Some 165 gallons of gruel. Ed.]  Well, it appeared that Popes ran away, Kings had their whiskers shaved off, - (laughter) - and stand ye firm, for the poet has written:

"Mitres and Thrones from this world shall be hurled
 And Peace and Brotherhood through the universe prevail."

________________

THE PRISONER'S PRAYER.


Bezer was quite religious, was baptised at the age of 16, and attended a non-conformist chapel regularly where, according to his autobiography he progressed to instructing. Later he became a Dissenter—one who refuses to conform to the doctrines of the established church.


From the Christian Socialist, 1850.


 (Written in one of the Condemned Cells of Newgate.)


"Let the sighing of the prisoner come before Thee."

Psalm 79-2

God, everlasting great Creator, One
    Whose ways mysterious are, past finding out,
Yet earth and air, and sea, and the bright sun,
    And all creation's works, prove beyond doubt,
        Unvarying beneficence and love,—
Permit, O Lord, a weak and bruised reed
    To praise Thy glorious name for mercies past,
And pray for aid in all his future need;
    Help him, on Thee his every care to cast,
        And look to Thee alone—Father above!

Lord I have sinn'd—sinn'd deeply—from my
            youth
    Spirit and flesh have battled long and sore,
And flesh have often conquered—of a truth
    I can do nothing in this ceaseless war—
        In me (that is, my flesh) dwells no good
            thing,
But in Thine own revealed I will read,
    That Thou wilt e'en forgive the vile, the base:
In mercy Thou delightest, and I plead
    Thy promises of pardon and of grace,
            To Thee a broken contrite heart I bring.

Thy chastening hand is on me:—Shepherd spare
    Thy poor wandering sheep!   Thy stripes are
            light
Compared to those I merit, yet forbear
    Compassionate Creator!   Let the night
        Be short, and morning soon again appear!
Open the prison doors and set me free!
    Yet thou must pardon if I ask amiss,
For I am weak and tempted; let me be
    Resigned, and humbly learn the rod to kiss,
        Whate'er thy will, oh give me strength to
            bear!

And when our toils and cares on earth are o'er,
    O may we meet in the broad realms above,
And with our friends and dear ones gone before,
    Join in the thrilling chorus "God is love"
Around the great white throne, and part no more.
    No prison bars or bolts, no night is there,
No anguish and no sin—all, all is joy—
    Prepare us for that blissful change, prepare-
All earthly, vain, and sensual thoughts destroy,
    And make us meet to drink that fountain pure.

Bless all Thy ministering servants, bless,
    Whate'er their creed, (to me 'tis all the same
So that they work for Thee in faithfulness,
    And not for Mammon, or for earthly fame);
With grace and wisdom every one endow'd;
    Hasten the time when every one shall know Thy
            name,
Virtue and truth shall conquer lies and vice,
    Men follow Christ:—so peace on earth pro-
            claim,
And make this glorious globe a paradise; -
    'Tis only sin that mars its beauties now.

Show pity to the poor mistaken ones,
    Victims of evil training;—pardon all
Within these walls, and let earth's favoured sons
    Take careful heed, (or they too, may soon fall;)
Their weaker brethren educate and save.
    Tyrants of every clime and age, beware!
The last tremendous sessions draweth near,
    The great eternal magistrate is there;
Judges and criminals on earth appear,
    The rich, the poor, the freeman, the slave!

Banish all malice from Thy servant's heart
    Teach me to pray for those who do me ill,
Let each revengeful angry thought depart,
    And even while they harm me love me still,
And though they smite, learn not to smite again.
    My leader be Thy well-beloved Son—
The image of Thyself, the good, the great,
    The sinner's friend, the meek, the lowly one,
Oh! may I ever love to imitate!
    Give me the mind of Jesus Christ.   Amen.

J. J. BEZER.

__________________
 

References:


'Autobiography of one of the Chartist Rebels of 1848.' Serialised in The Christian Socialist, 1851, but not completed due to The Christian Socialist being discontinued.  Reprinted in Testaments of Radicalism. Edited by David Vincent. London, Europa, 1977.

The Times, 27 July 1848, p.8. John Shaw and Bezer at meeting.

Regina v. Bezer.  Indictment.  Central Criminal Court, August Sessions 1848.
(Treasury Solicitor and HM Procurator General. Papers TS 11/1119).

The Times, August 24, 1848, p.7. Account of prosecution of John Shaw.

The Times, August 29, 1848, p.7.  Brief account of Bezer's trial together with the other defendants, Snell, Crowe, and Bryson.

The Times, April 20, 1850, p.7.  Item on Bezer's release from prison.

The London Illustrated News, February 23, 1850, p.131; viz.  STATE OF NEWGATE.

The Northern Star and National Trades' Journal. December 12, 1849, p.5. Bezer and Shaw in Newgate.  Conditions.

The Northern Star and National Trades' Journal. April 27, 1850, p.1.  Meeting at South London Chartist Hall following the release of the Chartists from prison. (See also David Shaw's biography of Gerald Massey, chapter 2.)

 


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