plus ça change …

…  plus c’est la même chose ?

Being tidbits from the 16 Sept. 1843 Economist magazine (h/t Tyler Cowen) …


“Scene at the Phœnix Park.—An extraordinary scene took place on Saturday, at the Viceregal Lodge, between the military on duty and a person named Thomas Campbell, who is, it would appear, insane. Thomas Campbell, it appears, is a very powerful young man, about thirty years of age, and a native of the North road, Drogheda. At the lodge, in the Phœnix Park, he asked to see the Lord Lieutenant; but, being armed with a pitchfork and a hammer, he was not considered an eligible visitor, and after a desperate struggle with the guard, whom he kept at bay, he was knocked down and secured by a police constable.”

Granted, this took place in Britain. But now, though you can carry a concealed guns in most U.S. states (48 of them), appearing with an unconcealed pitchfork and hammer would probably still get you thrown out.


“Outrage in South Wales.—On the road from Llanelly to Pontardulais, and within five hundred yards of the latter place, is a turnpike-gate called Hendy gate. This gate was kept by an old woman upwards of seventy years of age, who has received frequent notices that if she did not leave the gate, her house should be burnt down. About three o’clock on Sunday morning, a party of ruffians set fire to the thatch of the toll-house. The old woman, on being awakened, ran into the road and to a neighbouring cottage within twenty yards of the toll-house, shouting to the people who lived in it, ‘For God’s sake to come out and help her to put out the fire; there was not much.’ The occupier of this cottage, a stout able man, was afraid to go out, and begged the old woman to come into his cottage, which she refused, and went back to try and save some of her furniture. It appears her exclamation had been overheard, for the villains returned and set fire to the thatch again. The old woman then ran across the road, and shouted out, ‘She knew them;’ when the brutes fired at her, and shot her dead.”

“An inquest was held on the body of the unfortunate woman, and the jury returned the following astounding verdict:—”That the deceased died from the effusion of blood into the chest, which occasioned suffocation, but from what cause is to this jury unknown.“”

This article reminds me of the U.S. South about 100 years later (witnesses either could not be found or lied in testimony – the 1964 case of Frank Morris comes to mind) and of revenge violence still taking place all over the world in roughly the same way, almost always by “a band of ruffians” (a mob of some sort), though in addition to threats, burning, and shooting, there are also machete attacks, beheadings, lynchings, rapes, attacks with crowbars and whips and improvised implements (pitchforks and hammers, perhaps!), and other forms of scapegoating and terrorising.


From the section on the U.S.:

“Political affairs are exceedingly dull and uninteresting; even the Irish repeal speakers are quiet.”

And later, about Britain:

“The papers of this morning do not contain any intelligence of the slightest novelty or interest. Her Majesty and Prince Albert are enjoying themselves at Ostend in the society of their august relatives, the King and Queen of the Belgians.”


The Corn Law was certainly the controversial topic, mentioned — sometimes in reference to the Anti-Corn-law League or corn law reformers — in at least six articles/letters. And a 5- hour meeting was held on the topic, to an overflow crowd of more than 2,000 people!


Speaking of trade (as most of the magazine does), about trade between the U.S. and England it was noted that:

“Both countries are so situated that they need never become rivals, provided they consent to co-operate with each other. It is because they have not been permitted hitherto so to do that we now hear of an embryo manufacturing system in America. We have already built Lowell in New England, and Pittsburg in Western Pennsylvania; and will yet, unless we change our system, drive the enterprising republican to efforts which may be more generally and more permanently successful”

Fear not, England!


“Matrimonial Advertisements.—An unlucky man, who, in order to get a family by a deceased wife taken care of, had been induced to marry a worthless drunken woman, through the medium of a matrimonial advertisement, applied at Union Hall for advice, but, of course, nothing could be done for him.”

Of course.


Under “Accidents, Occurrences and Offenses”:

After a rather detailed account of the misfortune of a 3-year-old: “He was found quite dead.”

Quite sad.

Under “Miscellanea”:

“Imperishable Bread.—On Wednesday, in the mayor’s private room, at the Town hall, Liverpool, a box of bread was opened which was packed at Rio Janeiro nearly two years ago, and proved as sound, sweet, and in all respects as good, as on the day when it was enclosed. This bread is manufactured of a mixture in certain proportions of rice, meal, and wheat flour.”

Quite miraculous!




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