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THE WOUNDED LUDDITES AT THE STAR INN,
“Confess to thee, Sir Priest ! Nay, I'll confess to God.”-BOWLES.
“ 'Tis in my memory locked, And I, myself, shall keep the key of it.”
As the Luddites separated after their humiliating failure at Cartwright's mill, they were advised by their leaders to endeavour to reach their homes as quietly and as speedily as possible. Mellor, though evidently deeply chagrined at his unexpected defeat, exhorted his friends to be of good courage, and raising his clenched fist in the direction of the mill, swore he would yet be avenged on Cartwright, and vowed not only to destroy the machines but the men who owned them.
When the gallant defenders of the mill heard the retreating footsteps of the last of the fierce band that had assaulted them so desperately, they naturaliy congratulated one another on the success of their efforts. Not that ihey had at any time felt doubtful about the result, for their position was so strong that it was, as we have shown, practically impregnable. Nevertheless the Luddites had earned themselves such a name for desperate and unheard of deeds, that the little garrison were naturally glad that the long expected struggle was at last over and that they had covered with unmistakeable defeat the formidable fraternity that had hitherto been regarded with such abject terror. Now that their victory was assured, their first step was to secure the soldier who had so strangely and so basely refused to do his duty. All seemed still without except the faint cries of the wounded whom the rioters had not been able to carry away, but Mr. Cartwright, although he was willing under certain conditions to render them assistance, was anxious that the
He did so,
soldiers or some one who might be attracted by the bell should arrive and see the actual situation before he opened the doors.
The Rev. Hammond Roberson, a neighbouring clergyman, would probably have been first on the spot but for what we may perhaps call a singular accident. It was well known, as we have before said, that the Luddites had fully resolved to attack Rawfolds mill, and Mr. Roberson, who seems to have been wishful to take part in the affray, offered a reward to the first who should apprise him when the rioters arrived. A man at Littletown who was aroused by the alarm bell and who heard from the firing that the conflict was actually going on, hurriedly dressed himself and ran towards Heald's Hall to apprise the doughty parson. At first the course seemed clear; there was no one stirring in the dark streets, and the anxious messenger heard only the echo of his own feet as he ran, but as he passed the bottom of Listing lane and dropped into a quick walk in rising the hill, he thought he detected the sound of another footfall in the distance. He stood still to listen and then could hear it distinctly though the runner was evidently some distance away. The thought instantly crossed his mind—What if it were a Luddite who had noticed him leaving his house and suspecting his errand, had followed to wreak his vengeance upon him ? The thought was too much for him; he durst go no further; he would hide behind the adjoining wall and make sure. and as he crouched in the darkness the second runner came nearer and nearer. As he slackened speed a little in coming up the hill, and gradually drew near to the hiding place, the heart of the first man beat quickly, but no pause was made; he again began to run, and to the chagrin of the first messenger, sped onward to the hall and won the prize.
Mr. Cartwright was a thoroughly self-reliant man, and seldom felt the necessity of consulting any one respecting the wisdom or otherwise of any course he proposed to take, but there is no doubt that his resolves with respect to the Luddites were at any rate supported and strengthened by his intercourse with Mr. Roberson. Many of our readers will doubtless have a perfect recollection of this eccentric gentleman. In the memory of most with whom we have conversed respecting him, he seems to be inseparably connected with a large cocked hat and a grey mare with a long flowing tail. Before coming to Liversedge he was rector of Caston, in Norfolk, and for many years was accustomed to visit his old flock occasionally, riding, when he did so, all the way on his grey mare. Miss Bronte, who it will be remembered makes this singular parson, under the name of Helston, one of her heroes in "Shirley," states that she only saw this remarkable man once, and was much struck by his stern, martial air. She describes him as standing straight as a ramrod, looking keen as a kite, and having far more the appearance of a military officer than that of a minister of the gospel. It is perhaps not difficult to understand how a man hold
such strong views as Mr. Roberson held should come to be arded in the unsettled times by one class of the community with such detestation for his high handed procedure that it was thought necessary for the military to patrol round his house for his protection. Miss Bronte was perhaps right in thinking that the martial divine would have been decidely more at home at the head of a cavalry regiment than in a pulpit; but with all his sternness Mr. Roberson undoubtedly possessed many excellent qualities, and was certainly held in high regard by many of his parishoners. Coming as he did from a people who are more docile and subservient, the sturdy independence of the rougher inen of the West-riding would naturally irritate his proud spirit. The difference between the people who would listen to his admonitions with heads uncovered and those who doffed their caps to no man, and recognised no right of either squire or parson to question or meddle with them, was no doubt painfully evident to him, and in endeavouring to check the turbulence of such men as these, he would no doubt be sure he was doing his duty.
While the Rev. Hammond Roberson was preparing to go to the assistance of his friend Cartwright, or perhaps to call to his aid the strangely lagging military, a neighbour of his who had also taken great interest in the repression of the Luddite movement, was hurrying to Rawfolds, attracted by the ringing of the alarm bell. This was Mr. Cockhill, a gentleman of some means, who carried on business in the buildings still standing near the mill of Messrs. E. Firth & Sons, at Littletown. On arriving at Rawfolds Mr. Cockhill speedily made himself known to the garrison, and the coast being apparently clear, the sorely battered mill door was opened, and procuring lights, they sallied forth to reconnoitre and to render assistance to the wounded men whose cries had been heard after the departure of the rioters. The next person to make his appearance was Mr. Alec. Dixon, the manager of some chemical works near the mill. Dixon had watched the progress of the attack from his own house, which was close at hand, but did not think it prudent to venture out. Just as he joined the party another person was seen entering the mill gates. The new comer was found to be a well-known bon vivant named Billy Clough, who was carrying out his usual plan of not going home till morning, when he was alarmed and effectually sobered by meeting scores of Luddites.
He was welcomed by Mr. Cartwright, who knew him well, and joined in the search round the building. While they were thus engaged Mr. Roberson, who was armed with a long sword, and a number of others arrived and assisted. The mill, with its battered door and door posts, presented a ruinous appearance, and the yard was strewn with broken glass, brick-bats, and dèbris of various kinds. There were also powder horns, masks, muskets, pickaxes, hammers, and other weapons, some of which were broken in the mad attack, while others had been dropped by the baffled rioters, who, finding that their efforts had proved abortive, were anxious to rid themselves of all that would hinder their flight or betray them if they should be captured. There were other sights however which met their gaze not far from the door, that soon monopolized all their attention, for there the light fell upon the prostrate form of a young man who was writhing in agony and who implored them piteously to kill him and put him out of his misery. Not far from him was another also lying prostrate, who asked them feebly for help as they turned the light on his pale face. Dixon at once bent down to assist the poor fellow nearest him, but Cartwright forbid him to do anything towards mitigating his misery until he confessed who were the leaders
the attack. No reply came from the wounded man except a moan. The low pitiful cry went to Dixon's heart, and he ran into his house and fetched some wine and water with which he moistened the parched lips of the pain stricken wretch, in spite of Cartwright's cruel words. While this was going on, the other wounded man asked that his head might be raised. Cartwright, in reply, promised him if he would confess he should be taken to his house and everything done to cure him. Again there was no reply. Roberson looked on in grim silence, but Billy Clough could not stand the cries of the poor choking man; he brought a stone and placed it under his head, amidst the approving murmurs of a considerable number who had gathered round by this time. Cartwright noted the sound and deemed it prudent to show more feeling for the men whose lives were ebbing away, and they were very carefully carried into the building, where they were made as comfortable as possible until the medical men arrived. It was soon ascertained that one of them was Samuel Hartley, of Halifax, a cropper, who had formerly been one of Mr. Cartwright's workmen. Hartley was a fine looking young man about twentyfour years of age, and was a private in the Halifax local militia, of which body Mr. Cartwright was captain. The other sufferer proved to be poor, foolish John Booth, the clergyman's son who had so recently been drawn into the meshes of the Luddites in John Wood's workshop, as recorded in a former chapter. Hartley had received a shot in the left breast while making a blow at the door. From the agony he suffered in breathing it seemed as if the shot had passed through his lungs, and it was evident that his end was
Booth's wound was in one of his legs, which had been struck in such a peculiar way that it was almost shattered to atoms. From both the wounded men the blood flowed copiously, and by the time the medical men arrived and bandaged them roughly, they were suffering considerably from exhaustion.
For some reason of which we have not been able to obtain a satisfactory explanation the poor fellows were not taken to the nearest public house but were carried all the way to the Star Inn at Robert-town. It is said by some that they were conveyed there because the people had begun to muster in great force round the mill and exhibit so much sympathy for the deluded men that the military were ill at ease and were anxious to get them to as great a distance as possible from the spot. Whatever may have been the reason, it is an undoubted: fact that the two wounded men were carried as we have stated to the house of Tommy Sheard, the Star Inn, Robert-town, much to that good man's chagrin. Tommy
Sheard prided himself on keeping one of the quietest and most orderly houses in the district, and was consequently much annoyed when the melancholy procession stopped at his door. An old resident tells us that he well remembers seeing the thousands that assembled in front of the inn, and how the horse soldiers rode up and down to keep back the excited crowd that surrounded the house. Amongst those who attended the two wounded men at the inn was the Rev. Hammond Roberson. Tradition says that he and others strove hard to persuade them to confess who were their accomplices and where their arms were secreted, but met with no success whatever. We have heard several old people say that the men were treated very cruelly, and it seems beyond question that aqua fortis was used. An old dame who lived at the Star Inn, as servant at the time, states that two beddings were destroyed by it and that Mrs. Sheard, on learning what was being done, went into the room and interfered, saying she would have no more of it. The question is—What was the aqua fortis used for ? The old people say to torture the poor fellows to make them confess! But it seems altogether incredible that such barbarism could have been practised by medical men and in the presence too of a minister of the gospel. We would rather believe that it was used as a styptic to stop the bleeding from the wounds. Our forefathers it is well known were in the habit of resorting to extraordinary expedients, and it was no unusual thing to apply an iron heated to a white heat to cauterise wounds when other means failed. It was decided by the medical men to be necessary that Booth's leg should be amputated, but owing to the great loss of blood before the surgeons arrived, spasms came on during the operation and the poor fellow gradually sank and died about six o'clock on Sunday morning, according to the correspondent of the Leeds Mercury. As we have just stated, Mr. Roberson had been from the first anxious to prevail upon the two men to implicate their accomplices. Hartley appears to have maintained absolute silence to the end when questioned ; Booth repeatedly regretted that he had in a weak moment joined the Luddites, but would say no more. As, however, he lay at the point of death he signalled to Mr. Roberson, who instantly went to his side. Can you keep a secret?" gasped the dying man. “I can," eagerly replied the expectant clergyman. “So can I," replied poor Booth, and soon after calmly expired.
The bullet that proved fatal to Hartley was discovered to have passed through his body and was found lodged beneath the skin of the left shoulder, from where it was extracted, with a portion of bone. He lingered till about three o'clock on Monday morning, when he fell into an unconscious state and died soon after. An inquest was held on the bodies of the two young men, but the proceedings were very short, the jury speedily bringing in the verdict, “Justifiable homicide,"—the only possible decision under the circumstances. Hartley's body was removed to Halifax for interment on the Wednesday following, with considerable parade. The coffin