An Ode to the Framers of the Frame Bill
Lord Byron©1812Oh well done Lord E-----n ! and better done R----r !
Britannia must prosper with councils like yours;
Hawkesbury, Harrowby, help you to guide her,
Whose remedy only must kill ere it cures:
Those villains, the Weavers, are all grown refractory,
Asking some succour for Charity's sake
So hang them in clusters round each Manufactory,
That will at once put an end to mistake. The rascals, perhaps, may betake them to robbing,
The dogs to be sure have got nothing to eat
So if we can hang them for breaking a bobbin,
T'will save all the Government's money and meat:
Men are more easily made than machinery
Stockings fetch better prices than lives
Gibbets on Sherwood will heighten the scenery,
Showing how Commerce, how Liberty thrives ! Justice is now in pursuit of the wretches,
Grenadiers, Volunteers, Bow-street Police,
Twenty-two Regiments, a score of Jack Ketches,
Three of the Quorum and two of the Peace;
Some Lords, to be sure, would have summoned the Judges
To take their opinion, but that they ne'er shall,
For Liverpool such a concession begrudges,
So now they're condemned by no Judges at all. Some folks for certain have thought it was shocking,
When Famine appeals and when Poverty groans,
That Life should be valued at less than a stocking,
And breaking of frames lead to breaking of bones.
If it should prove so, I trust, by this token,
( And who will refuse to partake in the hope? )
That the frames of the fools may be first to be broken,
Who, when asked for a remedy, send down a rope.
NotesOn February 27th 1812, Lord Byron gave his maiden speech in the House of Lords on the Frame Bill. This bill was to add a death penalty upon the Frame-breakers, also known as the Luddites. At that time, there was in effect a punishment for this offense, of transportation for 14 years. Byron was against the bill, defending the countless workers that had been replaced by machinery.
". . .whilst these outrages must be admitted to exist to an alarming extent, it cannot be denied that they have arisen from circumstances of the most unparalleled distress: the perseverance of these miserable men in their proceedings, tend to prove that nothing but absolute want could have driven a large, and once honest and industrious, body of the people, into the commission of excesses so hazardous to themselves, their families, and the community." Even though Byron's speech was met with acclaim, the bill was passed. Later, on March 2nd 1812, Byron sent the poem, An Ode to the Framers of the Frame Bill to the editor of the Morning Chronicle to be published anonymously. Return to top of page
union songs..........a selection by mark gregory