Monday, June 01, 2009

26Jul1866, Hyde Park Riots

LONDON, July 26th, 1866.
—All London talks about the Hyde Park riots ; and I am put into a violent rage by people's unfairness. To be sure I should state that it is undoubtedly the right of Government to close the Park which is Crown property ; and it would be a pity to make it a usual place for political meetings ; but the present occasion was one of all others for granting the people's wish as a favour. The Trafalgar Sq. meeting the other day was orderly enough to prove that no rioting would have taken place ; and the last Government (in the person of Sir G. Grey) having declared they would not allow the meeting in Hyde Park is a fact that ought to have made the Conservatives take the opposite course. It would have been very open to objection for the Liberals to have allowed what might have been called an agitation to bolster up their own measure ; but nothing could have been more graceful and high-minded than for the Conservatives to have allowed it. Everybody has been blunderpated : the members of the "Reform League" drew off peaceably when they were stopped at the gates, and the row was entirely caused by the riff-raff. The rails are prostrate, coping-stones and all, nearly all the way from Hyde Park Corner to Bayswater ; and the wretched police, enormously outnumbered, are said to have hit savagely. But the accidents are very few ; and on Monday night I believe the flower-beds were carefully kept from harm. Mischief and blackguardism now prevail every evening. Mr. Walpole, the Home Secretary, whose feebleness has caused the whole thing, won the heart of a deputation of Reformers by bursting into tears ! !

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