Byron as a public figure - artistic analysis
Lord George Gordon Byron
The winter of 1812 for the English people was full of disasters and hardships. The long-term war with France depleted state resources, a crisis occurred in industry, and agriculture, due to a crop failure of the previous year, could not meet the needs of the country. The people were starving. Unrest swept most areas of England. [The number of unemployed has sharply increased, the movement of workers destroying machines has flared up with renewed vigor
. factories of heavy exploitation; they thought that the culprit of their disasters was not the capitalist owners, but the machines themselves.
The machine destroyers called themselves Luddites, members of the army of "General Ludd" - the worker who, according to legend, was the first to destroy the weaving machine. The working class was still politically immature and had not found the right way to fight its oppressors. As Marx and Engels pointed out, the Luddite movement was one of the early phases of the class struggle of the proletariat against capitalism.
The unprecedented force with which the Luddite movement broke out in 1811-1812 frightened the government. It not only resorted to the help of police reprisals, but brought into action regular army units. A draft law was submitted to the English Parliament, according to which a worker who raised his hand against the property of his oppressor was sentenced to death.
On February 27, 1812, the House of Lords discussed this cruel anti-labor bill. His approval was a foregone conclusion, but the chamber had to listen to an impassioned speech that same day, which made the audience alert. A young man, unknown to anyone, quickly rose to the podium. He spoke out in defense of persecuted weaver workers, whose only "undoubted fault" he said was poverty. He argued that the working people of England, contemptuously referred to as the "rabble", are the basis of the economic and military power of the country. In the ensuing silence, the speaker spoke angrily about the fact that the people, the creator of all national wealth, eked out a miserable existence, persecuted by the courts and the police, rotted in prisons for the slightest attempt to defend their rights, doomed to extinction ... From here, from the rostrum of the House of Lords, he boldly branded the English government as reactionary and bloody. Calling for the people to be delivered "from the benefits of the bayonet and the gallows" and to reject the death penalty bill, the orator warned that the adoption of an inhuman anti-worker law would inevitably only lead to a deepening of social conflict.
It was unheard of! Among those present, the name of the orator was repeated - the "rebellious Lord" Byron, who dared to hurl words of indignation with such force of passion here in the House of Lords, this citadel of die-hard conservatism.
Such was Byron's first step as a public figure. In his poetic work, he also spoke out against the reaction, defending the ideas of political freedom.