Preface
 

My Dear Lads:

The beginning of the present century, glorious as it was for British arms abroad, was a dark time to those who lived by their daily labor at home. The heavy taxation entailed by the war, the injury to trade, and the enormous prices of food, all pressed heavily upon the working classes. The invention of improved machinery, vast as has been the increase of trade which it has brought about, at first pressed heavily upon the hand workers, who assigned all their distress to the new inventions. Hence a movement arose, which did much damage and for a time threatened to be extremely formidable. It had its ramifications through all the manufacturing districts of England, the object being the destruction of the machinery, and a return to the old methods of work. The troubles which occurred in various parts of the country were known as the Luddite Riots, and the secret body which organized them was called King or General Lud. In the present story I have endeavored to give you an idea of the state of things which prevailed in Yorkshire, where, among the croppers and others employed in the woolen manufactures, was one of the most formidable branches of the secret association. The incidents of the murder of Mr. Horsfall and the attack upon Mr. Cartwright's mill are strictly accurate in all their details.

In this story I have left the historical battlefields, across so many of which I have taken you, and have endeavored to show that there are peaceful battles to be fought and victories to be won every jot as arduous and as difficult as those contested under arms. In "Facing Death" my hero won such a battle. He had to fight against external circumstances, and step by step, by perseverance, pluck, and determination, made his way in life. In the present tale my hero's enemy was within, and although his victory was at last achieved the victor was well nigh worsted in the fray. We have all such battles to fight, dear lads; may we all come unscathed and victorious through the fray!

Yours sincerely,

G. A. Henty