The British governments of two hundred years ago were not exclusively concerned with foreign wars.
Although they had been leaders of the allies against France for nearly twenty years and had also been fighting for ‘Empire’ in North America and on the Indian Sub-continent these foreign wars were only periodically the main focus of government.
It was not because of the French Revolutionary Wars that Prime Minister Spencer Perceval was assassinated in the lobby of the House of Commons in May 1812. The Revolution that was causing the establishment most fear was the Industrial Revolution.
When Perceval was assassinated it was feared, not unrealistically, that his death marked the beginning of the British Revolution .It was feared that the frequent and dangerous uprisings in the newly industrialising and politically unrepresented cities of the north would become better coordinated and that the Luddite campaigns of murder and destruction would overcome law and order.
Bonapartists in the drawing rooms of fashionable London were funding agitators to make rioters, rebels and revolutionaries out of those who only sought to protect their livelihoods. Those who wished only to protect their families’ incomes were infiltrated by those who looked to overthrow the Mad King, the profligate Prince Regent and the rest of the German Royal Family.
Matters would only get worse when tens of thousands of soldiers, able bodied and horribly wounded, were released from their regiments after the victory at Waterloo.
The only person who could rein in the very real threat of revolution was Napoleon Bonaparte. And he was on his way to St Helena. Wasn’t he?
Bernard Lacey in A Set of Lies had had confidence in the military overthrow of Napoleon and saw insurgency as a far greater danger to British security. It was his task to persuade the man, who from August 1815 was known as ‘Claude Olivierre’, to use his influence to prevent a British Revolution.