'Down with the Austrian butcher!'
August 1850, Barclay and Perkins's Brewery:
Field Marshal Baron von Haynau, a brutal commander of the Austrian Empire, was known as 'the Hyena'; he had earned this nickname by torturing prisoners and flogging women, while suppressing revolts in Italy and Hungary in 1848.
In August 1850 he took a short holiday in London. His sightseeing itinerary included a tour of Barclay and Perkins's Brewery on Bankside, on the south bank of the Thames.
Though the revolutionary Chartist George Julian Harney encouraged all friends of Freedom to protest at the visit he had little hope of success and was as surprised as anyone by what happened next. As soon as the Hyena entered the brewery, a posse of draymen (cart drivers who delivered beer from the Brewery to taverns) threw a bale of hay on his head and pelted him with manure. He ran out into the street, but lightermen and coal-heavers joined the chase – tearing at his clothes, yanking out great tufts of his moustaches and shouting 'Down with the Austrian butcher!'
Haynau tried to hide in a dustbin at the George Inn on Bankside, but was soon discovered and pelted with more dung. By the time the police reached the pub, rowing him across the Thames to safety, the bedraggled and humiliated butcher was in no fit state to continue his holiday. Within hours, a new song could be heard in the streets of Southwark:
Turn him out, turn him out,
from our side of the Thames,
Let him go to great Tories
and high-titled dames.
He may walk the West End
and parade in his pride,
But he'll not come back again
near the 'George' in Bankside.
Harney's Red Republican newspaper saw the debagging of Haynau as proof of 'the progress of the working classes in political knowledge, their uncorrupted love of justice, and their intense hatred of tyranny and cruelty'. A celebratory rally in the Farringdon Hall, at which Engels spoke, was so oversubscribed that hundreds had to be turned away. Letters of congratulation arrived from workers' associations as far afield as Paris and New York.
But conservative newspapers such as the Quarterly Review found nothing to laugh at: the riotous scenes in Bankside were a most alarming “indication of foreign influence even amongst our own people” - foreign influence being the standard mid-century euphemism for the dread virus of socialism.
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