Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Memoirs of Henry Hunt, Esq. Volume 2 by Henry Hunt

Part 5 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.7 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

wind that blows no one any good. But all this while my cunning
attorney was the bird that was feathering his nest charmingly. He took
care to fleece all that came within his grasp. What voracious sharks are
these attorneys! I was successful in all these actions, yet, every now
and then, I had a long bill to pay to my attorney. I do not say that
this limb of the law was any worse than the rest of his profession
(always admitting that there are _some_ most honourable exceptions); but
I must say that this worthy had the address to manage his matters
better, and to cast his net with more cunning and adroitness than any
one of the fraternity that I ever met with. I was a thousand times
forewarned of him, by some of his _old friends_; but I was over
confident, and I met my reward, as my eyes were not opened till I had
suffered to the amount of many thousands of pounds by my credulity.

At the latter end of May, I was called up to the Court of King's Bench
for judgment, for the assault upon Stone the gamekeeper. I did not
employ counsel, but offered in person what I had to urge in mitigation.
I put in affidavits, to prove that the witnesses who gave evidence upon
the trial were perjured; and that the doctor, who attended and swore
that he lived at Amesbury, was an impostor; that no such person had ever
lived there, or had ever been heard of before or since. The sentence
was, that I should be committed to the custody of the Marshal of the
King's Bench for three months. During the time that Mr. Justice Grose
was passing sentence, Ellenborough leant back in his seat, and said to
Le Blanc, loud enough for me to hear him, "He will not go down to
Salisbury to attend the writ of inquiry, and get another verdict of _no
damages_ this time."

I had forgotten to mention, that the writ of inquiry was not executed at
the Spring Assizes, it having been put off by the parties, to see
whether I should not be caged during the Summer Assizes, when they might
have an opportunity of bringing it on in my absence. As soon as I was
sent to the King's Bench, I received notice, from Astley's attorney,
that the writ of inquiry would be executed before the Judge of the
Summer Assizes, to be held at Salisbury. I immediately employed Henry
Clifford to move the Court to delay the inquiry till the following
Spring Assizes; as it was necessary to the due administration of justice
that I should be present. This application was refused. I then got Mr.
Clifford to move for a writ of _Habeas Corpus_, that I might be taken
down to Salisbury, at _my own expense_, to attend the inquiry. This
application the upright Court also refused! At the Assizes the writ
was therefore executed before the Judge. The witness, the shepherd, the
same witness, was called, and proved the fact, that I was upon the
plaintiff's down, and as the case was totally undefended, the Judge
directed the Jury to give a shilling damages. The Jury hesitated; every
man amongst them well knew the facts; they retired, and, after an hour's
deliberation, they returned a "_farthing damages_." If I had been
present to ask the witness one question, the Jury would have inevitably
returned a verdict of "_no damages_;" the same as the two former Juries
had done. In fact, one of them told me, that they gave in the verdict of
one farthing very reluctantly; and, as they knew the case, they very
much regretted that they had not themselves put the question to the
witness, as, if he had once sworn that there was no damage done, nothing
on earth should have induced them to have given any damage.

Thus ended the struggle for the _right of English Juries_ to give their
verdict agreeable to the evidence, as they were bound by their oaths to
do, in spite of the equivocal rules of Courts, or the arbitrary dicta of
Political Judges. I have no doubt that the conspiracy against me by the
stock-purse gang, in the instance of Stone's assault and indictment
against me, was got up for the sole purpose of getting rid of this
question, as to the rights of a British Jury to give a verdict agreeable
to the evidence, in spite of a ridiculous and illegal rule of Court,
made at the arbitrary will of corrupt Judges. The truth is, that Stone
confessed that he was hired and well paid to assault me, for the purpose
of procuring an indictment against me; and by that means I was to be got
out of the way, that this dirty job might be executed in a court of
justice in my absence. Stone being discharged from his situation,
offered to hire himself as my game-keeper, and to divulge the whole
plot, and appear as a witness against his former employers. I, however,
rather chose to put up with the loss which I had already sustained, than
to employ such a treacherous villain, and to encounter fresh law
expenses, which I now began to feel were most ruinous, notwithstanding I
conducted my own business in the courts. I had, besides, ascertained
that the stock-purse gang were always delighted when they found they had
entrapped me into a law suit, although my late successes had caused a
heavy drain upon the subscribers, some of whom began to grumble at the
expense, and to declare off.

As soon as I was conducted to the King's Bench, I began to look out for
apartments; I having made up my mind to remain the three months within
the walls, as I did not feel justified in making the indispensable
sacrifice (the usual fee to the Marshal) for residing without the walls.
Several prisoners, who were in distressed circumstances, offered to give
up their rooms at various prices, in proportion to their eligibility;
but, as the prison was excessively crowded, none of them struck my fancy
or suited my taste. I therefore applied to Davey, who kept the coffee-
house, and immediately agreed with him, at a reasonable price per week,
for a bed and the sitting-room over the coffee-room. This is the very
apartment that Colonel Bailey, the uncle of the Marquis of Anglesea,
lately inhabited, whose application to the Court of King's Bench was
argued the other day, on his complaint of the conduct of Mr. Jones, the
Marshal, and Poole, the coffee-house keeper, and of various
interruptions and insults which he received from the prisoners who
frequented the coffee-room; by which means, Poole (who, by the bye, was
the person who attended me here) lost his situation. Nothing could
exceed Poole's civility to _me_, and I have always heard that he was a
very civil, well-behaved, obliging fellow. I can only say, that the
whole time that I lodged in these apartments, which was six weeks, I
never received the slightest interruption from any one, or the slightest
incivility or insult from any one of the prisoners.

The Marshal was not at home when I arrived, but as soon as he came to
his office in the morning, I received a polite message from him,
requesting to see me, and being disengaged, I immediately waited upon
him. When I came to his room he accosted me in a very kind manner,
expressing regret for my sentence, but he added, that he should feel
great pleasure in rendering my imprisonment as little irksome as
possible, and that he should be happy in doing any thing for my
accommodation. I own that I did not, at the first view, give this worthy
man the full measure of credit that was due to him; for I could not help
feeling a strong suspicion that he had an eye to his usual fee for
indulgence. In consequence I addressed him as follows:--"I am much
obliged to you, Mr. Jones, for your kind and friendly offers of
accommodation; but, to tell you the truth, Sir, this is the case--When I
was last committed to your custody, which is now nearly ten years ago, I
had more money than wit; and I paid you very cheerfully for the
accommodations that you afforded me, for which I was very grateful; but
the case is altered, I have now more wit than money, little as the
former may be. To speak without metaphor, since I was last your
prisoner, I have had many a hard tug at any purse in my endeavours to
support my independence: prudence, therefore, compels me to remain
within the walls, and to forego (however reluctantly) your proffered
kindness." Mr. Jones took me by the hand, and looking me steadily in the
face, he replied, "Mr. Hunt, you have misunderstood me. I am fully aware
of the truth of your observations. I am not altogether ignorant of what
has occurred, but it would ill become me, in the situation I am placed,
to give any opinion upon your case. This, however, I know, that while
you were under my care you conducted yourself like a gentleman, and
acted towards me with the strictest honour, and in return I can only
say, you are welcome to reside without the walls, but I will not accept
a penny of your money, neither will I put you to the slightest expense
of giving any security. Your word, as a man of honour, to be forthcoming
when called upon, is perfectly satisfactory to me, and you are at
liberty to go out whenever you please. The only thing I will accept is,
(I know you are a sportsman) when you return into the country, send me a
basket of game, and I shall be perfectly satisfied." I thanked him
sincerely for his handsome behaviour, but I told him that I had procured
very comfortable lodgings at his old coachman's, Davey's, over the
coffee-room; and as I did not expect my family in town for a month or
six weeks, I would remain where I was till that time, when I would
accept his offer. "Very well," said he, "please yourself;" and ringing
the bell he called the Deputy Marshal, and said, "Recollect, Sir, to see
that Mr. Hunt is properly accommodated at Davey's, whilst he remains
here, and in the meantime, till his family comes to town, take care that
he has the run of the key." That is, to pass out and into the prison
whenever I pleased. The Deputy Marshal left the room, and after some
time spent in conversation upon the occurrences of the day, I bid him
good morning and took my leave; the door was opened, and I walked into
the street, whence I returned into the prison.

This was the treatment which I received from the Marshal of the King's
Bench Prison. I did not forget to send him a handsome basket of game,
not only that season, but many following; and I regret that I ever had
the negligence to omit doing so. However, if this should meet the eye of
any of my numerous sporting friends, which I know it will, he that sends
in my name a basket of game directed to William Jones, Esq. Marshal of
the King's Bench Prison, London, will confer a lasting obligation upon,
and afford great pleasure to, the "Captive of Ilchester," particularly
if he will drop me a line to say that he has done so.

Sir Francis Burdett was now a prisoner in the Tower, and I was a
prisoner in the custody of the Marshal; but as I had the run of the key,
and as the Baronet had not, a very few mornings elapsed before I paid
him a visit, entering my name at the lodge of the Tower, as Mr. Hunt of
the King's Bench--this might be said to be impudent enough. When I was
committed to the King's Bench in 1800, I paid a visit to poor Despard in
the Tower; while I was there in 1810, I frequently visited Sir Francis
Burdett in the same place.

At this time there were a great many young men of fashion within the
walls of the King's Bench for debt, with some of whom I frequently
associated, and joined in the game of fives. The Hon. Tom Coventry was
an expert player, as he had been an inmate several years. Young
Goulbourn, the brother of the Under Secretary of State, was also there.
I was invited, and frequently made one of their parties. Goulbourn and I
were generally pitted as opponents, both in politics and at rackets; he
was a clever young man, and the author of the Bluviad, a satirical poem,
which he had written upon his brother officers of the regiment of Blues,
for which he was either indicted or had an action brought against him
for a libel, I forget which. This young buck, of whom I recollect many
an anecdote, the last time I was in London I saw stuck up upon the
benches of the Court of King's Bench, with a large wig upon his head,
amongst the junior counsel behind the bar. I do not recollect ever
seeing his name mentioned, as being employed in any cause; neither do I
remember ever seeing him with a brief while I was in the Court. As,
however, his brother is now appointed Secretary to Marquis Wellesley,
the new Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, I dare say that this Gentleman will
have some employment found for him, better, or at least where he can
earn his money more easily, than drudging at the bar.

The feeling excited all over the kingdom, by the arbitrary proceedings
of the House of Commons, in committing Sir Francis Burdett to the Tower,
had, instead of diminishing, increased in a ten-fold degree, and might
be said to be now at its height. The City of London, or at least the
Livery, went in grand procession, preceded by Mr. Sheriff Wood, to
present an address to Sir Francis Burdett in the Tower. Resolutions,
petitions, and remonstrances, were also passed at many other places; for
instance, at Southwark, Coventry, Liverpool, Nottingham, Sheffield, &c.

While this was going on in London, Napoleon divorced the Empress
Josephine, and married the young Archduchess Maria Louisa, and the
nuptials were celebrated in Paris with a degree of splendour and
magnificence surpassing any thing of the sort ever before witnessed.
Many of Napoleon's best friends and warm admirers highly blamed him for
this match with the House of Austria, the deadly enemy to every thing
that bore the slightest resemblance to liberty. Others blamed him for
divorcing the Empress Josephine--but to those it maybe replied, he
openly avowed his purpose to be that he might have a family, and leave a
heir to the throne of France. Instead of following the example of other
Monarchs, who had gone before him, and who, when they had wished to
gratify their caprices or their lusts, did not hesitate to rid
themselves of their wives by accusing them of some crime, and procuring
perjured villains to swear against them, by which means the unfortunate
females were divorced or had their heads taken off. Napoleon boldly
avowed his love for Josephine, and acquitted her of all suspicion of
blame; instead of becoming the dastardly assassin of her character, that
he might aim a blow at her life, he continued to cherish and to protect
her to the last.

Mr. Cobbett was tried and found guilty of a libel in the Court of King's
Bench, and was ordered up for judgment on the 5th of July; when, after a
hearing of the Attorney-General, Sir Vicary Gibbs, he was remanded to
the King's Bench, to be brought up again on the 9th, and he was
unexpectedly brought down thither while I was sitting writing a letter.
I heard that he was in the Marshal's house, endeavoring to make some
arrangement for his accommodation. I instantly hastened to my friend,
and desired him to make himself quite easy upon that subject, as I had
possession of the best apartments with-in the walls, which I would give
up immediately for the accommodation of himself and family, and I would
shift for myself in the best way that I could. This he accepted without
ceremony, and what was very satisfactory to me, was, that he made no
annoying apology for the inconvenience which, in the mean time, I might
be put to, in finding a situation for myself. There was one great
pleasure in obliging such a friend, as he never put me to the blush by
making any scruples about accepting one's offer, or by using any
unmeaning palaver, about being afraid of his friend's putting himself to
an inconvenience on his account. I must give Mr. Cobbett the credit for
being totally free from any squeamish fears or apprehensions of this
sort; and I beg to declare that, on this very account, I always felt a
great additional pleasure in obliging him. Some persons may be ill-
natured enough to miscall this selfishness, and I know those that have
been illiberal enough to do so; but, as for myself, I could never be
induced to view it in that light, as I always thought him a man of
superior mind and great talent; it was not at all surprising that he
felt his own superiority; and, to accommodate such a man, his friends
never thought any sacrifice too great; at least I never did. At all
events, I felt great pleasure that I had it in my power to contribute to
the convenience of himself and his family; and I was perfectly satisfied
to put up with a very small bed-room, in which I could scarcely stand
upright, for the four days that he remained there.

While Mr. Cobbett was in the King's Bench, he was violently attacked by
some of the writers belonging to the public press, and accused of having
offered to compromise with the Government, by giving up his Register,
and undertaking to write no more upon politics. Amongst this number was
Mr. Leigh Hunt, of the _Examiner_. No man felt more indignant at this
attack upon my friend than I did; and as I was made to believe that
there was not the slightest foundation for the calumny, I lost no
opportunity to condemn, in the most unqualified terms, all those who had
been guilty of such base conduct as that of falsely accusing a man, at
such a moment, of that which I held to be a political crime of the
deepest die. "Love me, love my dog," was a maxim that was firmly
implanted in my breast. He, therefore, that injured my friend, made me
his enemy; nay, I was much more ready to resent an insult offered to my
friend, than I was to resent injury done to myself. It seems I was yet
very young in the ways of the world; so, instead of leaving Mr. Cobbett
(who was so very capable) to defend himself, I became his champion, and
assailed all those who had attacked him. I considered the conduct of Mr.
Leigh Hunt as most unworthy, he being a writer in the cause of Liberty,
and espousing those principles of good government for which Mr. Cobbett,
as well as myself, had been so earnestly contending. I charged him with
wishing to raise his fame and his fortune upon my friend's downfall; and
this was so strongly impressed upon my mind, that I believed it to be
the sole cause of his propagating what I considered the foulest and most
wanton calumny. I consequently spared him not, and so far was my friend
from checking my imprudent zeal, that he encouraged it; and what made me
the more earnest was, that he held it to be more dignified that he
himself should treat such preposterous slander with silent contempt. I
laid on most unmercifully also upon the editor of the _Times,_ on the
same account, both publicly and privately; by which indiscreet warmth
for my friend, I rendered two of the most powerful public writers of the
day, and who had the most extensive means of disseminating their
opinions, my most implacable enemies. For many years the columns of the
_Examiner_ poured forth, upon every occasion, the most bitter sarcasms,
and the most unjust and wanton attacks upon my character, both private
and public, and this, too, at a time when I had not the slightest means
of defence, as I had not the least possible power or influence over the
smallest portion of the public press. To be sure, I have no one to blame
but myself, as, at the time, many good friends warned me of my folly.
Their argument was, "what have you to do with Cobbett's quarrels--is he
not capable of defending himself?" But although I daily suffered the
most severe attacks from the public papers, I still had the hardihood to
persevere in his behalf; and I never for a moment doubted the
correctness of my assertions till one day, that, as I was passing under
Temple-Bar, I chanced to meet Mr. Peter Finnerty. At some public
meeting, on the preceding day, I had been attacking some of the editors
of the public press, for their cowardly falsehoods and calumnies against
my friend Cobbett. Drawing me aside, and taking hold of the button of my
coat, Mr. Finnerty began to reason with me in the most friendly and
convincing language. He pointed out the folly of my attacking the
editors of the _Examiner,_ the _Morning Chronicle,_ and the _Times,_ in
defence of Mr. Cobbett's conduct, when I had no means of repelling the
attacks of those writers upon my own character. "Even," said he, "had
you proof of the truth of your assertions, that Cobbett never offered to
compromise with the Government, even then it would be great folly in you
to take up the cudgels for him; you who have not, in any portion of the
press, the slightest means of vindicating your own intentions. _You_
have drawn down a nest of hornets upon your own head; it is quite a
different thing with Cobbett, he has all the means of defence, he has a
great command of the press; and, besides, it sells his Register into the
bargain. Follow the advice which I give you as a friend, take care of
yourself; you will have quite enough to do to answer for yourself, and
do leave Cobbett to do the same."

This exhortation was delivered in so earnest a manner, that I sometimes
began to think that I might by possibility _have been wrong._ I was
certainly more guarded in future, but all the mischief was done; I had
excited the most inveterate hatred of the _Examiner_ and the _Times,_
neither of which papers ever let slip an opportunity to abuse, vilify,
and misrepresent me. They certainly have had more than ample revenge
upon me for my folly and credulity. They have both occasionally made the
_amende honorable;_ and I believe that the editor of the _Examiner_ has
been long since convinced, that I was actuated by the most honourable
feeling in resenting his attack upon Mr. Cobbett. It is, however, an
acknowledgment due from me to him, to say, that I was never wholly
convinced of my error till the trial of "Wright _versus_ Cobbett," which
took place in the Court of King's Bench, since I have been here.
Notwithstanding all the violent abuse and unjust assertions that have
been published in the _Examiner_ against me, I am bound in common
honesty to acknowledge my error, and to apologise to the editor of that
paper, for having been the first aggressor; and at the same time to
assure him, that I was impelled to commit this error from a firm
conviction, and the most unqualified assurance, that the assertions made
in the _Examiner_ were not only false in the main, but were even without
the slightest foundation in fact. As for the editor of the _Times,_ it
is not necessary for me to offer any apology to him. That paper has so
often, when edited by Dr. Slop, alias Stoddart, and even up to this very
time, given insertions to the most wanton and barefaced lies about me,
which the editor himself knew to be false when he wrote or admitted
them, that I hold the principles of its conductor in the greatest
contempt. Money is his god, and he would abuse the most perfect
character in the universe, or praise the most abandoned, if he thought
it would sell his paper. The study of the editor is to follow public
opinion, whatever it may be, he never attempts to lead it. I have a
gentleman now sitting with me, who assures me that he has heard one of
the persons most intimately connected with that paper say, that the
proprietors and managers of the _Times_ were well disposed towards Mr.
Hunt, and that they had the highest opinion of his talent and integrity;
but that they abused him for the purpose of pleasing some of their
readers, and selling their paper.

On the ninth of July, 1810, Mr. Cobbett was brought up for judgment, for
the libel of which he had been convicted by a _special_ jury. The
sentence was, two years imprisonment in Newgate, and a fine of 1000_l_.
to the King, and to find security for his good behaviour for seven
years. The boroughmongers had now got _myself_ in the King's Bench, and
_Mr. Cobbett_ in Newgate. Almost at the same time Sir Francis Burdett
was liberated from the Tower. His release took place on the 21st of
June, and, previous to it, the electors of Westminster resolved to meet
him at the Tower Gate, and to bring him in grand procession to his house
in Piccadilly. A splendid car was provided for the occasion, and
arrangements were made on a magnificent scale. I myself had
opportunities of communicating to him the progress of these
preparations, for many days previous to the day of his liberation, as I
visited the Baronet often while he was in the Tower. I was a prisoner in
the King's Bench, when Despard was in the Tower, and, as I have already
stated, I visited _him_ with Henry Clifford; I was also a prisoner in
the custody of the Marshal, while Sir F. Burdett was a prisoner in the
Tower, and I frequently visited _him_; and I also very frequently
visited Mr. Cobbett in Newgate. I mention this to show what sort of
imprisonment it is, being in the King's Bench. In fact, it is no
imprisonment at all. I was in the custody of the Marshal, and he knew
that I should not attempt an escape, and, therefore, I went where I

When the day arrived on which Sir Francis Burdett was to quit the Tower,
immense multitudes flocked to Tower-Hill, and various parties of
citizens of London and Westminster attended to join the procession.
Major Cartwright and Alderman Wood attended, to head separate parties.
Mr. Place, of Charing-Cross, the political tailor, had undertaken to
head the horsemen; Mr. Samuel Miller, the shoemaker, of Skinner-street,
Snow-hill, also headed a large party of the citizens of London.
Innumerable parties came from all parts of the country, and, as it was a
fine day, the spectacle was expected to be very brilliant. I certainly
meant to witness it, although, being a prisoner, I did not intend to
take any conspicuous part in the procession.

I slept within the walls, and when I got up in the morning, the doors of
the King's Bench were closed for the day, and no one, except the
officers, was allowed to pass out or in; and, in consequence of the
strong public feeling that was created, the prison was surrounded by a
regiment of soldiers. Though I could not obtain egress, I raised a
subscription amongst some of my acquaintance in the prison, and we had a
butt of porter hoisted out of the cellar, and gave it away amongst the
poorer prisoners, to drink the health of Sir Francis Burdett. Towards
the evening we were told, by some of the officers of the prison, that
Sir Francis had disappointed his friends and the people, and had escaped
over the water in a boat, and fled privately to Wimbledon. This we would
not believe; and we, of course, set it down as a hoax of the officers,
particularly as all other means of information were cut off for that day
in the prison. So far were we, who were friends to the Baronet, from
giving credit to this story, that we actually caused the whole of the
interior of the prison to be illuminated; and such was the universal
feeling, that every window was lighted up.

The next morning, when the doors were opened, we learned that it was a
fact, that the hero of the day had actually sneaked out at the back-
door, or rather out of a trap-door, and escaped unobserved over the
water, without giving any one of his friends the slightest hint of his
intention. At last, after waiting till their patience became nearly
exhausted, the parties were informed of the trick that he had played
them; upon which they retraced their steps in the procession, with the
empty car, amidst the jeers and scoffs of all those who were inimical to
the politics professed by Sir Francis Burdett, who was by them
universally designated "Sir Francis _Sly-go."_

The Westminster Electors were not only disappointed, but they were very
indignant at the slight which they had received at the hands of their
Representative; and some of them went so far as openly to brand the
Baronet with the charge of cowardice. Amongst the latter was Francis
Place, the Charing-Cross tailor, who, in the most coarse and offensive
manner, accused the Baronet of being a d----d coward and a paltroon.
Hearing of Mr. Place's violence, I endeavoured to ascertain the cause of
his vindictive expressions, and my astonishment was very great, when Mr.
Miller informed me, that the said Francis Place had undertaken to head
one part of the procession, but that, when the day came, the said tailor
neither kept his appointment nor sent any excuse for his absence.

The reader will not fail to draw his own conclusions with respect to
this conduct of the political Westminster tailor, this leading cock of
the Rump, particularly when they couple this transaction with that of
the said tailor having been selected to act as _foreman_ upon the famous
inquest which was held upon the body of _Sellis,_ the late valet of the
Duke of Cumberland, who had been found in his bed with his throat cut,
in the apartments of the Duke of Cumberland, at a time when the said
Duke was understood to have had his _hand_ and other parts of his body
wounded with some sharp instrument. If Francis Place abused the Baronet,
the Baronet, on his side, did not fail to return the compliment, and to
describe the said tailor as a suspicious character. At all events, it
was a very extraordinary occurrence, that the most violent, professed
Republican, should have been selected to act as foreman to an inquest
which sat upon the body of a person found dead, under the most
suspicious circumstances, in a Royal Palace. It is said that, since that
period, Mr. Place has been a very _rich man;_ but that, before that
time, he was a _poor, very poor Democrat._ The way in which I have heard
Sir Francis and the present associates of this man speak of him, is
enough to excite the surprise of any one who is acquainted with their
present intimacy. Colonel Wardle always entertained the same opinion of
this man that Sir Francis Burdett did, and he always advised me to avoid
him. I did not fail to follow his advice. The fact is, that I was never
upon intimate terms with any of this Rump, and only knew them enough to
be able to keep an eye upon their motions.

A few days after this, my family came to town, and we resided in
lodgings which I had taken in the London-road. To these lodgings Sir
Francis Burdett one day came unexpectedly to take a family dinner with
me. He informed me that it was the first visit which he had paid to any
one since he left the Tower; and he appeared very anxious to know what I
thought of his manner of leaving the Tower, and also to ascertain what
were the sentiments of the public upon the subject; as he had not, he
said, had an opportunity of hearing any honest opinion upon it, he
having read only the comments of the newspapers. I told him my opinion
very honestly, that I very much disapproved of the step which he had
taken, and so did all the persons with whom I had conversed upon it; but
I added, I was too warm a partizan of his to say this to others, or
suffer them to say so, without expressing my belief that he had some
good and substantial reason for following such a course, and I pressed
him hard to tell me that reason. All, however, that I could get out of
him was, that Lord Moira, the Governor of the Tower, had persuaded him
to do so. From that moment Sir Francis Burdett lost the confidence of
the people; he had deceived them, and they never placed implicit faith
in him again. No man but Sir Francis Burdett could have served the
people such a scurvy trick, and have preserved even the smallest portion
of popularity afterwards; but he had gained great hold of their
affections by his public exertions, although those exertions were much
more of a general than a specific nature.

While I remained in London, I constantly visited Mr. Cobbett in Newgate;
and, after I returned into the country, I occasionally went to London
for the purpose of passing a few days with him in his prison; and this I
continually repeated till the time that he left Newgate altogether.

When I returned to Sans Souci Cottage, I enjoyed the sports of the field
with quite as much glee as ever, and with a zest not in the slightest
degree abated by my sentence of three months' imprisonment. At the end
of the season I made the hares' _scuts_ which I had preserved, amounting
to two hundred and fifty, into a handsome pillow, which I had covered
with satin, and sent it to my opponent, Michael Hicks Beach, as a mark
of the contempt in which I held him, and as a trophy of the sport which
I had enjoyed during the season. This was taken, as I meant it should
be, in great dudgeon, and he complained of it very bitterly to some of
my friends. My sporting was now confined to my gun. I had, in a great
measure, given up hunting, for two reasons; first, because I had gone
into Leicestershire, and resided at Melton Mowbray one season, for the
purpose of enjoying fox-hunting in the highest perfection, by
alternately joining the Duke of Rutland's and the Quarndon pack of fox-
hounds. Those hounds were hunted in such a masterly style, and the whole
business was conducted in such a superior manner, that I never
afterwards could bring myself to relish fox-hunting in Hampshire or
Wiltshire. In truth, it was not like the same sort of sport, fox-hunting
in Leicestershire being so very superior. I really saw more fine runs in
one week, with the Duke of Rutland's pack, and the Quarndon pack, which
latter pack was then kept by Lord Foley, than I ever saw with a West-
country pack in one year. The next reason for my giving up hunting was,
that, in consequence of my weight, it was become too expensive, as it
required a horse of from two to three hundred pounds value to carry me
up to the head of the hounds, where I always rode as long as I followed

I still resided in Bath in the winter, and at Sans Souci Cottage, in
Wiltshire, in the summer and autumn. One evening, Mr. Fisher, who had
the management of the White Lion Inn, at Bath, which he conducted for
Mr. George Arnold, called at my house, and sent in a message, to say
that he wished to speak to me in private. I desired him to walk in, as I
did not wish to be entrusted with any secrets but what might be known to
my family, who were sitting with me. At length he informed me, that the
French General, Lefebvre, who had been a prisoner in England, had been
staying some days at the White Lion, waiting for a remittance from
London, to take him thither on his road to France, to which country he
was returning, either by an exchange of prisoners, or on account of some
arrangement between the two Governments; that he had been disappointed
of his expected remittance, and that he had not enough cash to pay his
bill and his coach hire to London, whither he was most anxious to go;
and, therefore, he had proposed to leave a beautiful miniature of
Napoleon, for which that distinguished character had sat, and of which
he had made a present to the General, after some battle in which he had
fought bravely under the eye of the Emperor. Fisher had declined to take
the miniature in lieu of, or at least in pawn for, the bill; and the
General, in the greatest distress, and anxious to return to France, in
obedience to the call of the Emperor, urged him to try and raise a sum
upon it. Mr. Fisher told him that he did not know any one in Bath who
would give any thing for it, unless Mr. Hunt would, who was an avowed
admirer of Napoleon, although he believed him to be no connoisseur in
paintings. At the pressing request of the General, Mr. Fisher said he
had brought the miniature to shew me, and out he pulled it from his
pocket. It was contained in a small morocco case, about four inches by
three; but when it was opened it presented to the eye one of the most
beautiful specimens of miniature painting 1 ever saw. I asked Fisher
what was the amount of the bill? He replied, some shillings under ten
pounds. I desired him to return, and say, that if the General would part
with the miniature for that sum, I would advance the money; but that
I would purchase it if I had any thing to do with it, and not make an
advance upon it as a loan to be repaid. Mr. Fisher soon returned to say,
that, although the General lamented very much to part with the
miniature, which was the gift of his sovereign, yet, that necessity had
no law, and that I might have it by paying the bill; which I immediately
did, and received the miniature.

Some months afterwards, Madame Lucien Buonaparte arrived at Bath, in her
road to the residence of Lucien Buonaparte, at Ludlow, in Shropshire,
and she stopped at the White Lion for the night. In making her inquiries
of Mr. Fisher about General Lefebvre, when he was in Bath, the
circumstance of his having been obliged to part with the miniature of
Napoleon was mentioned. She instantly said, that she recollected the
circumstance of her brother having sat for the miniature, and presenting
it to Lefebvre, with a lock of his hair; and, mentioning the name of the
artist, expressed a great desire to obtain a sight of the picture, if
the gentleman was in Bath. A polite note was accordingly written to the
lady to whom, at the time when I purchased the miniature, Mr. Fisher had
seen me present it; and she was requested to permit Madame Buonaparte to
see it. The lady immediately sent it to the inn by her maid, who was
introduced into the room to Madame Lucien, who instantly exclaimed, that
it was one of the very best likenesses of Napoleon that was ever
painted, and that it recalled him to her recollection more than any
thing she had ever seen since she had left Paris. This likeness was
taken immediately after he was made First Consul, and it is admitted by
all the Frenchmen that it was ever shewn to, to be a very beautiful and
correct likeness of him, as he was at that time. She wished the servant
to ascertain whether the lady would put a price upon it, but she was
promptly answered, that her mistress had instructed her to say, that no
price should purchase it. After having caressed and shed tears over it,
Madame Lucien returned it to the servant, begging the lady to accept her
grateful thanks for having allowed her to see it. I shall have hereafter
to relate what passed at an interview which I had with the General, who
came to England at the time of the peace, to endeavour to reclaim the

About this time a fire broke out at Auxonne, in France, in which town
twenty-one English prisoners of war were confined, who exerted
themselves vigorously to extinguish the flames. On this coming to the
ear of Napoleon, he instantly ordered them to be paid six months
pay, and gave them passports to return home to England. I mention this
circumstance as a proof of the liberal and noble mind of the brave and
persecuted Napoleon; particularly when contrasted with the mean and
dastardly conduct of those in power in this country. On a similar
occasion, when the fire took place in this gaol, the other day,
[Footnote: Alluding to the partial conflagration of Ilchester Gaol,
Thursday, November 15th, 1821.] twenty-five of the prisoners, with
myself, exerted ourselves, as was represented by the keeper to the
Magistrates, in the most exemplary and praiseworthy manner; but _our_
rulers do not know how to perform a generous and liberal act, they do
not possess a particle of that noble and magnanimous character, which
animated the gallant Napoleon.

The latter end of the year 1810 was remarkable for the greatest failures
in commercial speculation. Many Gazettes contained the names of fifty
bankrupts, and for many weeks following no Gazette appeared with less
than thirty, which was four times the average of former periods. The
cause of so much misery, mischief, and distress, was very fairly and
justly attributed to the impediments which the laws presented to
arrangements between debtors and creditors, impediments evidently
intended to benefit the harpies of the law. It is a remarkable fact that
there were just TWO THOUSAND bankrupts this year; supposing the Lord
Chancellor's fees to amount only to the moderate average of _twenty
pounds_ upon each bankruptcy, he must have cleared that year FORTY
THOUSAND POUNDS from bankrupts; which money must have come out of the
pockets of the poor creditors. A further blow was given to commerce by
an order, which, on the 27th of October, was promulgated in France, for
burning all British goods found in that country; which was rigidly
carried into effect.

On account of the King's illness, the Lord Mayor of London was requested
to continue in office another year. The coffin of the bloody-minded
villain, Judge Jeffries, was discovered in a vault, in the church of St.
Mary, Aldermanbury. On the 27th of November nineteen journeymen printers
of the _Times_ newspaper were sentenced to be imprisoned for a
conspiracy to raise their wages.

The average price of wheat this year was ninety-five shillings per
quarter, and the price of the quartern loaf averaged at ONE SHILLING and

I now became tired of living an inactive life out of business, and
therefore took a large estate at Rowfont, near East Grinstead, in
Sussex, consisting of a good mansion, a thousand acres of land, and the
manorial rights of the whole parish of Worth, extending over upwards of
twenty thousand acres; upon which I was to enter at Lady-day, 1811. This
year, when the Parliament met, the Regency question was discussed with
great warmth in both Houses. In hopes of the King's recovery several
adjournments took place; but all these expectations proved futile, and,
at length, Mr. Perceval brought in a bill, by which the Prince had the
same restrictions imposed upon him as in 1789; and the person of the
King was to be entrusted to the Queen, with a council.

These proposals were accepted by the Prince and by the Queen. As soon as
the act passed, the Prince acted as Regent, and the Parliament was
formally opened by a commission under the Great Seal. To the surprise
and astonishment of every body, and to the great mortification and
disappointment of the Whigs, the same ministers remained in office. The
fact was, that when the Whigs were last in office they fell into
complete disrepute with the people, and the public feeling was so much
against them, that the Prince Regent found that he should not be backed
by the people in making any change in favour of the junto faction. He,
therefore, had the prudence and the policy to continue the old set,
notwithstanding that set had always treated him with great suspicion,
and never let slip an opportunity of offering him the greatest
indignities and insults.

The city of London now petitioned the House of Commons for Reform. I was
frequently in London to visit my friend Mr. Cobbett, in Newgate; and the
party which I used to meet there was Sir Francis Burdett, Col. Wardle,
Major Cartwright, and Mr. Worthington; we used to spend the evening and
remain in the prison, or rather in Mr. Newman's, the keeper's house,
till ten o'clock. The great question of Parliamentary Reform was, on
these occasions, fully and freely discussed; and it was lamented by Sir
Francis Burdett that there were not some county meetings called, for the
purpose of petitioning the House for Reform. I suggested that it was in
vain to petition the corrupt knaves in the House to reform themselves,
but that, as the Prince Regent was entering upon his regal office, I
thought it would be a good opportunity to address him on that subject,
and to call upon him for the abolition of all useless sinecures and
unmerited pensions. Sir Francis very much approved of the idea, and
asked if it were not possible to get a county meeting in Somersetshire,
where I was then residing, and where I had an estate, as had also his
brother, Jones Burdett. I replied, that if it were set about in earnest,
there was not a doubt but a meeting might be procured; and I agreed to
get this done immediately upon my return to Bath; Sir Francis at the
same time promising that his brother should attend the meeting, if I
could get the Sheriff to call one.

As soon as I got back to Bath, I put an advertisement into one of the
papers, requesting the freeholders to attend a preliminary meeting, to
sign a requisition to the Sheriff, for the purpose of calling a county
meeting, to address the Prince Regent, upon his accepting that office. A
considerable number of freeholders who were in Bath attended, and signed
the requisition that I had drawn up, and at the head of which I had set
my name. About twenty or thirty names were subscribed, and the next
morning I waited upon Mr. Gore Langton, one of the then Members for the
county, to ask his opinion, and to give him an opportunity of signing
his name, if he chose; I candidly and explicitly informed him, that the
purpose was to take, as the ground-work of the address, a Reform in
Parliament, and the abolition of useless sinecures and unmerited
pensions. He politely thanked me for the call, said that it would be
indiscreet in him, as the Member for the county, to sign his name to the
requisition, but added, that he perfectly approved of the object of the
meeting, and in case the Sheriff should call it, he would make a point
of attending it, and of supporting the address to the Regent, which it
was my intention to propose; the heads of which I read to him, and which
he highly approved. I told him that I designed to drive round to the
principal towns of the county, to procure signatures from all parts,
that the Sheriff might not have any opportunity of refusing to call the
meeting. Of this plan he also very much approved.

I took a friend with me in my tandem, and drove to Bristol, where we
procured only one name. From thence we went to Wells, Glastonbury,
Bridgwater, Taunton, Wellington, and returned by Chard, Yeovil,
Ilchester, Shepton Mallet, and Frome, to Bath. We were out, I think,
five days, and obtained the signatures of upwards of four hundred
freeholders, men of all parties, as the requisition was drawn in very
general terms, to take the sense of a county meeting upon the propriety
of presenting a dutiful and loyal address to His Royal Highness the
Prince of Wales, upon his accepting the high office of Regent of the
United Kingdom, &c. On my arriving at Ilchester, I called first upon Mr.
Tuson, the attorney, as the most respectable person in the town; and
upon reading over the requisition, he immediately signed it, and
requested that, if I went to Yeovil, I would call on Mr. Goodford, which
I promised to do. I obtained a number of names amongst the freeholders
of Ilchester, many of whom, I found, were clients of the worthy
attorney. My having obtained such a name as his, was a sure passport to
success amongst his neighbours. The fact was, that the attorneys pretty
generally took the bait; to promote the presenting a dutiful and loyal
address to the new Regent, met with their general concurrence.

We went on to Yeovil, and called on Squire Goodford, as Mr. Tuson had
requested. The Squire was a young man, and upon seeing Mr. Tuson's name,
he gave us his without hesitation; and having got the Squire's name, of
course we got the name of almost every free holder in the town upon whom
we called. At some places we certainly received a rebuff; but,
generally speaking, we were received with great politeness, attention,
and civility. At Taunton we met with a very hearty welcome, and got a
great number of signatures. Dr. Blake, Mr. Buncomb, and Mr. Dummet, will
not fail to recollect it, and that they promised to attend the county
meeting and support an address for Reform.

Whether the word Reform was in the requisition, I forget; but I well
know that, to all those who inquired or wished to be informed of the
object of the meeting, I never disguised my intention of making that a
leading feature of the address. Indeed, it spoke for itself. It was a
requisition to the Sheriff to call a meeting of the freeholders and
inhabitants of the county, to take into consideration the propriety of
addressing his Royal Highness the Prince Regent. Nothing could be
clearer or fairer. First, it was to call a meeting; second, when the
meeting was assembled, it was to take into its consideration the
propriety of presenting a dutiful and loyal address to the individual
who was just invested with the office of Chief Magistrate; and third, if
that proposition should be agreed to, why then to discuss and to settle
what should be the nature of that address. We invited all parties to
sign it, without distinction or exception; and, as almost every man in
the county was a stranger to us, we met with some very curious
adventures, of which the two following may be taken as a specimen. In
the small manufacturing town of Chard, we called first upon an attorney,
I think of the name of Clark, who, upon reading over the requisition,
signed it, and without making any comment. He then drew out his purse,
and placed a guinea upon the paper, saying that he begged to accompany
his name with that subscription towards defraying the unavoidable
expense. I politely declined to take it, declaring that we only
solicited signatures, but did not require any subscription. He, however,
would not be denied, adding, that our travelling round the country must
be attended with considerable expense, and, as it ought not to fall upon
one or two individuals, he should feel hurt if we did not suffer him to
pay his share of it. I was about to expostulate, when my companion gave
me a smart twitch by the elbow, and taking up the guinea, he observed
that the gentleman was quite right, and he was much obliged to him.
This gentleman, although a perfect stranger, offered us refreshment, &c.
and pointed out to us where to call upon other freeholders. As soon as
we got into the street, my companion began to expostulate with me,
telling me that it was the height of folly not to make every one who
signed his name subscribe something, as Mr. Clark had done, towards
defraying our expenses. I replied, that I would not suffer him to ask
for any thing from any one; that if any offered to subscribe, well and
good; but if it were known or suspected that we were calling for money,
we should not only lose many signatures, but should in many instances be
considered as very unwelcome visitors, and probably even be treated as
downright intruders My companion, who was a narrow-minded politician,
and of a penurious disposition, followed me in, grumbling, to the next
house that we called at, which was a tradesman's, who, I recollect, sold
salt. I accosted this tradesman in the usual way, by informing him of
our business, requesting him to read the requisition, and desiring to
know if he had any objection to sign it. "Sir," said he, "I do not wish
to read the requisition; I have no objection to sign it, if you are
quite sure that it will not cost me any thing. You are very welcome to
my name as a freeholder, to assist in calling a county meeting. God
knows _we want something done badly enough_; but, if it is ever to cost
me a sixpence, I will not touch it." Giving my friend, who was staring
with his mouth open, a very significant look, I assured the gentleman
that it would never cost him a farthing; upon receiving which assurance
be very deliberately took his pen from the desk, and as deliberately
dipped it in the ink, and then, having taken the paper in his left hand,
and laid it upon the counter, he looked me once more full in the face,
and demanded, "are you quite sure, Sir, if I sign my name, that I shall
not be obliged to attend the county meeting, when it is called?" I told
him that we should be happy with his company if he chose to come to the
meeting, but that it would be left entirely to his own option, whether
he would do so or not. "Sir," said he, "I do not think you would deceive
me," and he then signed his name.

To give an account of the various incidents which occurred, in this
perambulation of the county of Somerset, would be an interesting and
diverting history of itself. I had, indeed, told my companion, at
starting, that, if he kept his eyes and his ears open, our journey would
afford him an opportunity of studying human nature, and witnessing its
various shades and colours, possibly in much greater perfection than he
had ever before experienced, and my prediction was verified. I suppose
that we did not call upon less than five hundred freeholders; in fact,
we procured nearly that number of signatures, and to me this was a most
interesting and entertaining expedition. I had no self-interested object
in view; I was, or at least I believed I was, performing an important
public duty, and my only aim was to procure a county meeting--and for
what, it will be asked? My answer is, for the sole purpose of inducing
my brother freeholders and fellow-countrymen of Somersetshire to look
into their own affairs, instead of trusting to those persons who were
duping and plundering them.

In the neighbourhood of Chard we called upon Mr. Dean, a large
manufacturer of woollen-cloth, who had been a customer of mine to a very
large amount, he having purchased of me at one deal between eight and
nine thousand fleeces of valuable South-down wool, at half-a-crown a
pound; which, I recollect, averaged about six shillings a fleece; so
that the whole sum was about two thousand five hundred pounds. The wool
was to have been paid for, as is usual, upon delivery. But when Mr.
Forsey, who was the partner of Mr. Dean, came to weigh the wool, he
unexpectedly requested, on the part of Mr. Dean, with whom I had had
previous dealings, that I would give them two or three months' credit,
by taking their bills, at that date, for the amount. As in former
transactions I had found Mr. Dean a very honourable man, I readily
consented to grant the favour, though, as a farmer, the custom was
always to be paid for every thing in ready money. The reader must excuse
this apparent digression, or rather this descending to minute
particulars in this transaction with Mr. Dean, which will be hereafter
accounted for. I find it, indeed, necessary to be very particular in
explaining my transactions with Mr. Dean, in consequence of an infamous
calumny, which, subsequently to my leaving the country, and going to
reside in Sussex, was published in the _Taunton Courier_, relative to
what took place when I was, upon this occasion, at Mr. Dean's. I shall
prove the editor of this contemptible paper to be an unprincipled, cold-
blooded libeller, destitute of every manly and honourable feeling; a
wretch, who, from the basest and most mercenary motives, to raise his
obscure paper into notice, and to promote its sale, could disgrace the
name of man, by propagating the most notorious and unfounded falsehood
against the private character of a public man.

When we arrived at Mr. Dean's, we were received with the most hearty
welcome. He lived in very great stile, and he did every thing to shew
his sense of my liberal and generous conduct towards him. The fact of
the case was, that a request was made for more time to pay for the wool;
and, as I was not in want of the money, the further time was given; and
when, at the end of six months, I did receive the debt, I declined to
charge any interest for it. Mr. Dean and his family appeared to feel
great pleasure in paying me every attention, in return for what he
openly declared to be most handsome and liberal conduct on any part. He
admitted that mine was the finest and best lot of English wool that he
had ever purchased; that it turned out remarkably well, and fully
answered the sample. When I sold off my valuable stock of sheep at
Chisenbury farm, Mr. Dean sent up and purchased twenty lambs, that he
might possess some of my stock of pure South-downs; and he afterwards
much regretted that he had been prevailed upon to cross them with the
Spanish Merino breed, which, he said, had entirely defeated his original
object. He took me into his field, to show me the sort which the cross
had produced, and said, that he very much wished to dispose of them, as
they were more plague than profit to him: in fact, he offered to make me
a present of them; which offer I declined to accept; but I told him, as
I had now taken a farm in Sussex, if he would send them half way, I
would purchase them at their value. I believe there were about twenty-
six ewes and an old Spanish ram; and, as far as I can recollect, I was
to give him thirty shillings each for them, which was a fair price, as
times went, they being only small two-teeth ewes.

The requisition being signed by upwards of four hundred freeholders, I
wrote to the Sheriff, Mr. Horner, of Wells, to know when I should wait
upon him with it. He replied, that, as he was just going out of office,
and as the new Sheriff, Mr. Smith Leigh, would be sworn in at Bath, on a
day named in his letter, he begged that I would attend there on that
day, that it might be presented to the new Sheriff, when I could know
his pleasure upon the subject. At the appointed time I accordingly
attended, and the Sheriff, Mr. Leigh, named Monday, the -- day of
March, for the county meeting to be held at Wells.

Although I had taken an estate in Sussex, I had not yet given up my
house in Bath, where I was then residing. On the Sunday previous to the
day fixed upon for the meeting, Mr. Jones Burdett dined with me at Bath,
and while we were at dinner, Mr. Power, an eminent reporter of the
Morning Chronicle, came in. He travelled down, as I understood, at the
request of Sir Francis Burdett and Mr. Cobbett, to report the
proceedings of the meeting. After dinner, the resolutions and the
address being agreed upon, we started for Wells, where we slept that
night, to be in time for the meeting, which was to be held at twelve
o'clock on the following day. We now learned that there had been a very
great stir made in the county, by the gentry and magistrates, of both
the Whig and Tory faction. Many of them had canvassed their tenants and
the freeholders of their neighbourhood, to attend the meeting, to vote
against the proposition of Mr. Hunt, without knowing themselves, or
attempting to explain to others, what Mr. Hunt was going to propose.
Sir John Cox Hippisley, an old Whig Member of Parliament, was very
active; and he employed one James Mills, who was a sort of a steward or
understrapper to Lady Waldegrave, to canvas all their tenants and the
surrounding neighbourhood, for the purpose of bringing in farmers and
others to hold up their hands against "HUNT." Many, who inquired what
they were to oppose, were told by this worthy, that they were to hiss,
hoot, and make a noise, when Hunt spoke, and to hold up their hands
against any thing that he brought forward. I recollect Mr. Power
coming, in the morning, to the door of my bed-room, to inform me of the
character and disposition of the farmers and yeomanry who were
assembled, many of whom he had heard express themselves in a very
indignant manner against this Mr. Hunt, who was going to do something
which the squires had ordered them to prevent.

There was a fine meeting, of not less than four or five thousand
persons; and, as soon as the Sheriff had opened the proceedings, by
having the requisition read, signed, as he said, by Henry Hunt, and four
or five hundred other persons, I stepped forward and began to address
the meeting. _A howl was set up directly_, before they heard one word
that I had to say, by the said Mills, and a gang of slaves whom he had
collected off the Mendip Hills; a set of fellows as ignorant of all
political matters as they were illiterate and besotted. The parsons
joined the howl; and of the black cormorants there was a plentiful
sprinkling, as a number of them herd together at Wells, in consequence
of there being a cathedral, and the residence of a bishop, in that city.
At that time, however, I had a most powerful voice, and in spite of the
beastly howling of these mongrel curs, I made myself heard. I told them,
that the time would come, when they would wish that they had patiently
listened to my advice, and followed my recommendation. I told them then,
that the only remedy to escape _ruin_ and distress would be, for the
landlords to lower their rents, the parsons to reduce their tithes, and
then resolutely join the people in demanding a Reform of the Commons'
House of Parliament, which alone would produce a real diminution of
taxation. O, how the brutish farmers, who had come into Wells that day
at the command of their landlords, did bellow and roar to put me down,
and endeavour to prevent my being heard! O, how many of them have come
to me since I have been in this Bastile, to confess their folly and
lament that they had not taken my advice: how many scores of them have
been sent to this gaol for debt, since that time, ruined by the very
system of taxation that they bellowed for that day! After I had
concluded my address, which was delivered amidst continued contention
and uproar, a great majority wishing to hear me, and occasionally the
bellowers attempted to listen, and for a moment ceased their senseless
clamour: having heard one sentence, they appeared very anxious to hear
what was to follow; but the agent of old Sir John Cox Hippisley, James
Mills, the steward of Lady Waldegrave, under whom they appeared to act,
and whose voice or signal they obeyed as regularly as a pack of well-
trained hounds obey the voice of the huntsman; this worthy, backed by
some half-score of parsons, kept their curs in constant full cry to the
end; when I proposed an address to the Prince Regent, expressive of the
state of the country, and calling his Royal Highness's attention to that
devastating system which would ultimately bring the farmer and the
tradesman to that _ruin_ and distress which had already fallen upon the
industrious labourer and mechanic; praying for an abolition of all
useless and expensive sinecure places and unmerited pensions, a
reduction of the army, economy in the public expenditure, and a reform
in the notorious abuses which were openly practised in the election of
the Members of the Commons' House of Parliament. This address, which was
pretty well heard, was received with applause by a considerable majority
of the meeting; and it was seconded by Mr. Jones Burdett, in a very good
speech, which he delivered upon the occasion. Mr. Horner, the late high
sheriff, and a staunch ministerialist, came forward to propose an
amendment, which, after some little hacking and hammering, he read. It
was a mere time-serving piece of fulsome adulation to the Prince Regent,
totally unworthy the character of a meeting of freemen, and such as
no sensible Englishman would have offered to the Prince, without
expecting to be kicked by his Royal Highness, for its time-serving,
barefaced, unmeaning flattery. Sir John Cox Hippisley, who had not then
_ratted_, a regular Whig, seconded this amendment, in a speech which I
am sure many of those who were present will never forget; it was full of
sophistry end cant; and the old cunning fox whined and coaxed his
hearers in the most supplicating manner, to support the old magistrates
of the county, who, he said, had always been the best friends the
farmers ever had, or ever would have; and a great deal more of such
trash. He implored them not to listen to the advice of strangers, who
wished to withdraw them from that steady loyalty for which the yeomanry
of the county of Somerset had so long been remarkable: he assured them,
that the good old times would come round again, and that, if they would
only wait with patience, all the difficulties and distresses which were
partially felt in the country would be removed, and plenty and
prosperity would be restored. He admitted that a Reform in Parliament
was necessary, but he contended that _that_ was not a _proper time_ to
obtain it, neither was Mr. Hunt a proper person to obtain it for them.--
Sir John Cox Hippisley, who was a needy briefless lawyer, had married a
widow lady of the name of Cox, who was possessed of a good fat dower,
consisting of some very fine estates, which were left her by her late
husband, a gentleman of character and fortune, one of the old
aristocratical families of this county, and who, I believe, had been one
of its representatives in Parliament. Her present lucky husband, Sir
John, prospered much better as a country magistrate, and a Member of
Parliament for the borough of Sudbury, than he did at the bar. The
worthy baronet will be long remembered in Parliament for the _endless
speeches_ which he made there, and the _thin benches_ which, as a
natural consequence, he always produced. I have been told by some of the
members, that when Sir John Cox Hippisley rose in the House, it was a
signal for the other members to retire to take their dinners, or to
converse upon other subjects; for, if they remained in the House, the
baronet's voice was so melodious, that it was sure to send them all to

At the meeting of which I am now giving an account, the worthy baronet
_chattered_ for nearly an hour; and when he had concluded, Sir Thomas
Acland came forward with a very confident air. As Sir Thomas had been
taking notes all the time that I was speaking, and had frequently made
what he intended for very significant gestures, we all expected that be
would attempt something like an answer to my arguments, to show that the
address which I had proposed was either improper or unnecessary. He
began with, "Gentlemen"--but Sir Thomas, being a very young man, _could
never get out_ that which it appeared he wished to say; and, after
repeating "Gentlemen," and hesitating for some time, he, in a most
ludicrously affected manner, exclaimed, _"England, with all thy faults,
I love thee still!"_ and with this quotation he was so exceedingly
delighted, or was so unable to find any thing else to say, that after
having, cuckoo-like, to the great amusement of his audience, repeated it
at least half a dozen times, he retired without uttering another
sentence. We have heard since, that Sir Thomas is become an _orator_, he
having made several brilliant speeches in Parliament. It may be so; but
his _debut_ at Wells was most laughable. Mr. Goodford, one of the
Ilchester Bastile Visiting Magistrates, next came forward, to disclaim
any participation in calling the meeting: he had, he said, certainly
signed the requisition, but he did not know the object of it. He was
succeeded by a Mr. Stephen, a clergyman, a brother to the Master in
Chancery, who also supported the amendment, and declaimed against Mr.
Waithman and all the Reformers; but particularly, by insinuation,
against myself, who had agitated the peaceable county of Somerset. This
gentleman certainly spoke very eloquently, but he proved himself to be a
determined supporter of the most profligate system, or (to use the
proper phrase) a true thick and thin Government man. Mr. Power, the
gentleman who came to report, now stepped forward, and, in a short but
animated reply to the parson's attack upon Mr. Waithman, who was absent,
most successfully repelled his insinuations against the reformers.

When I went round the county to get the requisition signed, I met with
hundreds of not merely Reformers, but absolute heroes in the cause, who
promised to come to the meeting, and to support my address. But, alas!
when the day of battle came, these blustering blades were all vanished;
in fact, I saw but two or three of those who had so strongly pledged
themselves to attend, and they looked as shy as possible; and instead of
coming upon the hustings to support me, they were afraid of being seen
to speak to me--so subservient and so toad-eating were they to the
Magistracy, when they came into contact with them. Upon the right of the
hustings, where I stood, there were only about half a dozen, and five of
them came with me. Mr. Waddington attempted to address the meeting; but,
as he was seen coming to the hustings in company with me, the
jolterheads would not hear him; and the other person who had attended me
round the county being very illiterate, so much so, indeed, as to be
incapable of speaking three words of English, or uttering a sentence
without betraying his ignorance, we did not think it proper to expose
him. I, therefore, shortly replied to the artful addresses of Sir John
Cox Hippisley, and Parson Stephen. When the Sheriff put it to the vote,
by a show of hats, whether the amendment should be adopted or not, it
was most evident to me, and I believe to all who were upon the hustings,
that the majority was against the amendment. The Sheriff, however,
declared the show of hats to be so equal, that he could not decide which
party had the majority; upon which the _old fox_ suggested to the
Sheriff, to divide the meeting to the right and to the left. This was no
sooner said than, as if by previous consent, about forty constables made
a wide passage down the middle, which they cleared with their staves,
while the Magistrates and Parsons, with the most scrutinising eyes,
marked all those that passed over from their side to support my address.
This very unfair conduct produced the desired effect; hundreds, who had
held up their hats in the crowd for my motion, were so intimidated by
this movement, that they did not venture to expose themselves to the
rancour of the Magistrates and Parsons; and the majority was now
evidently for the amendment, although, in spite of the stratagem which
had been used, the majority was so small, that our opponents clearly, by
their looks, betrayed their conviction that they had sustained a defeat.

I should be doing a great injustice to my own feelings if I were to omit
to mention one gentleman, of the county of Somerset, who came forward in
the most manly and independent manner, to give me his support, although
he had neither signed the requisition, nor promised to support me; but
it was very evident that he acted from principle, and from the purest
motives of patriotism and love of country. This was Mr. JOHN PRANKERD,
an attorney, of Langport. He came manfully upon the hustings, and,
without any disguise, he had the courage and the honesty to act like an
Englishman and a freeman, by following the conscientious dictates of a
noble heart, and speaking his mind, in spite of Magisterial dictation
and overbearing tyranny. To the honour of the county of Somerset be it
told, that there was one gentleman in it who, by joining our little
party upon the hustings, had the honesty and the courage openly to brave
the fury of the tyrannical junto of Magistrates and Parsons, who had
assembled upon this occasion; but to its shame be it said, he was the
only man who did so. There were thousands who mixed in the crowd, a
majority who held up their hats to support my address, they had sense
and honesty enough to think right, but, when a division and a scouting
took place, they had not the courage to face the eye of their
oppressors. I never saw Mr. Prankerd but once afterwards (and then I met
him by accident in London), till I came to this Bastile. But I had no
sooner become a captive in that county which I had ten years before
roused into holding a public county meeting, than Mr. Prankerd hastened
to my prison-house, and tendered to me his aid, his friendship, and his
generous and patriotic assistance; fortunately, he only lives about ten
miles from this place, and he was the second friend who called to cheer
and to alleviate the horrors of my captivity, by the kindest assurances
that he would do every thing in his power to make me comfortable while I
remained here. It is with the most unqualified gratitude that I now bear
witness that he has fulfilled his promise to the very letter. Nothing
could have surpassed his active friendship for me upon all occasions.
It is one of the many obligations which I owe to him, that he introduced
to me his amiable relatives at Milbourn Port, Mr. and Mrs. Parsons, and
Miss Newton, who have also, by their unremitting kindness, greatly
contributed to my comfort and happiness. In fact, the generous
attentions of Mr. Prankerd, and these his worthy kindred, have been
unceasing since I came here; and they have eminently contributed to
lighten the pressure of that burden with which the Boroughmongers vainly
hoped to overwhelm me.

I must also do justice to the conduct of Mr. Jones Burdett at this
meeting. I know that every art was employed, every exertion was made by
his neighbours, the magistrates, to seduce him over to join the Whigs
against me; and when these artful knaves found they could not succeed in
this, they then endeavoured to get him to stand neuter, and at all
events not to support my address. But Mr. Jones Burdett had given his
promise, and all their arts could not succeed to make him break that
promise. It would have been very base in him if he had done so; but I
have been acquainted with thousands who would have yielded to such

When we left the hustings, I returned to my inn, the Swan, where a large
party of freeholders was to dine. The multitude accompanied me thither,
testifying their approbation with the loudest shouts; while the gentry,
composed of both factions, who had opposed me, sneaked off to their
homes ashamed to look at each other.

The next day I wrote the following address to the freeholders, which was
published in a county paper, as well as in the nineteenth volume of
Cobbett's Register:


GENTLEMEN--I cannot refrain from offering you my
congratulation on the effect of the first public meeting
ever called in this county. Notwithstanding our opponents
obtained a small majority against the address which
I had the honour to propose to you on that day, yet I am
clearly convinced that you gained a more complete victory
(in the full admission of the truth of all the leading
parts of that address by every one of those gentlemen who
spoke against its adoption), than you would have gained
by a mere majority of numbers without this unqualified
admission of those facts. The address pointed out, clearly
and explicitly, the distressing situation of the country;
and it stated that the cause of all these distresses arose
from a want of a fair and free representation of the people
in Parliament. These facts were explicitly acknowledged
by Sir John Cox Hippisley, who appeared to be the principal
orator of both the parties, that united against the
people on that day, who said he was sorry to bear witness
to the truth of my statement; that "there was at this time
a million and a half of paupers in England, subsisting on
parish allowance, which was two pounds of bread per
head per week less than the allowance to felons confined
in our gaols." His only answer (if it might be called an
answer) was, that there were 30 millions of paupers in
France! He admitted that the cause of all the afflictions
and misfortunes of this once free and happy nation, arose
from the state of the representation, and said, that he lead
always voted for that Reform which was the object of our
address; but that he found this to be an improper time to
accomplish it. On his being asked to name the proper
time, he declined to make any answer. Now, as all
the gentlemen who spoke upon this subject completely
agreed with Sir John, I contend it was a great victory obtained
over the enemies of Reform; for had we produced
such an address, and supported it in the same language of
truth, three years back, instead of having all our points
admitted to be true, only that it was an improper time to
enforce them; instead of this, all the facts would have
been impudently denied, and the mildest appellations we
should have been branded with would have been jacobins
and levellers. These three facts were clearly ascertained
and allowed by all parties, on that day; first, that it was
proper the freeholders and inhabitants of the county of
Somerset should assemble in county meeting, for they all
congratulated you upon your meeting; second, that the
country was in an awful and distressing situation; third,
that it was highly necessary there should be a Parliamentary
Reform, only this was not the proper time for it;
and that you, the freeholders and inhabitants of the county,
were not the proper men to effect it. Pray, who are
the proper men to effect it? Are Sir John Cox Hippisley,
Sir Thomas Acland, Colonel Horner, the Rev. Mr.
Trevillian, and Justice Goodford, likely men to bring
about a Parliamentary Reform? Do you believe, Gentlemen,
that they will ever call you together and tell you
_now_ is the time for Reform? You saw and heard them all
on Monday last; and if, after this, you still believe that
they are the sort of men likely to procure you an equal
and fair representation in Parliament; if you wait for
these leading men, as they have been called, in your county,
to bring about a Reform, you deserve not even the
chance of ever obtaining it. What could you discover in
these Gentlemen to make you believe that they will ever
attempt to tender you any relief from the load of taxes
under which you groan? Did they promise you any such
thing? Did they give you any reason to believe that they
wish to have your opinion again? Although they have
been called your leading men, did they ever assemble you
in county meeting? Will they ever do it? No, believe
me, never. They heard too much of your sentiments
that day ever to wish to try the experiment again. That
day the united influence of all the leading men, of all the
Magistrates, of all the men of large landed property, the
coalition of both parties, the Ins and the Outs, and all their
mighty influence actively exerted for the last three weeks
against you; and what has been the result? Why truth,
unaccompanied by any influence, prevailed. Although
you divided in a minority, in the proportion of three to
two, yet truth prevailed; and be assured there is now a
firm foundation laid for establishing the future independence
of the county of Somerset.

I am, Gentlemen,

Your sincere humble servant,


_Bath., March 6th_, 1811.

To this letter Mr. Horner replied, which gave Mr. Cobbett an opportunity
of criticising the proceedings of the meeting, and of giving Sir
John Cox Hippisley a severe and well-merited castigation, for the
inconsistent and hypocritical conduct of the Whigs in uniting with the
Tories against the people. These _two factions_, Whigs and Tories, had
been for many years accusing each other of ruining the country; but, as
soon as the people began to think and act for themselves, and to take
measures for correcting the evil, they both joined, and exclaimed, "We
are a very happy people! We are very well off! Look at France! Look at
other countries!" This was the language of Sir John Cox Hippisley.

One unequivocally good effect was produced by this meeting. The mask
was torn from the faces of a hypocritical tribe. The Whigs had never so
openly exposed themselves before. All county meetings had, indeed, been
heretofore called; but they had been called by one or other of the two
factions; generally by the faction out of place, who wanted to make use
of the people to enable them to get into place, by turning out their
opponents. Therefore, though they were always pitted against each other,
yet both factions were equally anxious to impose upon, and keep the
people in the darkest ignorance. I considered it as a great victory to
have compelled these two factions to unite, and show themselves in their
true colours in the face of the whole country. From that moment these
factions were so well understood that they have not been able to
deceive any body. The _Courier_ said, that the Reformers had received a
"_Rebuke_" in Somersetshire; upon which Mr. Cobbett expressed himself as
follows: "_Rebuke_, indeed! as if it was a defeat, as if it was not a
complete victory to have compelled the two factions to unite, to exert
all their influence, of a public as well as of a private nature, and to
come barefacedly forward against the people, against Reform, against
every thing that menaced Corruption! As if this was doing nothing! As
if this was a defeat! All the magistrates, all the hierarchy, all the
_squirarchy_ of the county were assembled, with some few exceptions.
There were, perhaps, not less than two hundred constables. Why all
this? Was it doing nothing to get all the people together? Was it doing
nothing to compel them to expose their union to the people? Was it doing
nothing to make them exhibit themselves thus, and to knock up for ever
all the humbug of party in the county?" Mr. Cobbett thought this a
victory of sufficient importance to fill eight pages of his Register
with these sort of comments upon the good effects likely to be produced
by it.

I have been the more diffuse in detailing the particulars of this
meeting; because, when the reader shall have perused an account of two
subsequent public meetings, which I attended in this county (at both of
which the propositions that I supported were _carried_ by overwhelming
majorities); when he shall have coupled them with the great public
meeting that I was instrumental in calling at Bath, in the year 1816,
at which meeting I presided, and at which those resolutions and that
petition were adopted, and signed by 20,000 names, which was the
cause of Lord Camden resigning his _sinecure place_ of Teller to the
Exchequer; when he shall have reflected upon all these things, the
reader will, perhaps, discover the _reason_ why the corrupt tools of the
Boroughmongers sent me to be imprisoned in the Bastile of _this_ county.
There had never been a public meeting of the inhabitants at Bath in the
memory of the oldest person residing in that city; and it is possible
there never would have been a public meeting held in it, if it had not
been for my exertions. There had never been a public county meeting
in Somersetshire before, at least not any thing worthy to be called a
county meeting, till I procured one; and my readers may be well assured
that these things were the cause of the Government selecting this Gaol
for the place of my incarceration. Another thing was, that the Judges
knew it to be one of the worst, the most confined, and most unwholesome
Gaols in the kingdom. At these public meetings that spirit was
engendered, which blazed forth with so much splendour at the late county
election for Coroner, at which the little freeholders spurned the
arbitrary dictation of the Magistracy of the county, and elected a
Coroner of their own choice, in spite of the overbearing threats held
out by those who had so long been in the habit of ruling them with a rod
of iron.

I have before mentioned that I was a member of, or rather an annual
subscriber to, what is called the Bath and West of England Agricultural
Society; and, as a farmer, possessing, perhaps, the very best and
largest stock of Southdown sheep, having my extensive farms cultivated
under my own eye in such a manner, as to be more like a garden than like
a large arable farm, that farm, of course, producing its produce in the
market at all times of a superior quality; I had been often asked, why I
did not exhibit some of my stock, and claim some of the numerous prizes
for good husbandry, which were annually given by the society? My answer
was this, "I pay my guinea a year, that I may have an opportunity
to watch the motions of those gentry who have the management of the
_concern_, and to see how the _pegs and wires_ work." When I first
became a member, my father warned me against being made the dupe of the
artful and designing knaves, who were the leading parties concerned in
it; and he always declared that the society was composed of _three_
classes of persons, namely, "RAPACIOUS LANDLORDS; CUNNING, GRASPING,
object of the two former being to suck the brains of the latter, for the
purpose of ascertaining the utmost value of their _lands and tithes_,
that they might screw up the _rents_ of _both_ to the highest possible
pitch: in fact, he always set them down for a set of unprincipled
gamblers and swindlers, whose sole design was to benefit themselves
at the expense of a starving community, by increasing the price of the
necessaries of life, through the means of every possible chicanery,
trick, and delusion. He used to say, that one half of them ought to be
sent to Botany Bay for swindling, and the other half of them deserved to
be whipped at the cart's tail for their folly end vanity. "But," said
he to me, in the most solemn and impressive manner, "whatever you do,
never, on any account, become a candidate for any of their premiums or
prizes, because _there_, 'kissing _ goes entirely by favour_,' and,
therefore, unless you will submit to become one of their unprincipled
gang, by assisting them to dupe and plunder others, be you assured that
they will dupe and plunder you; and, let your merit be what it will,
take my word for it, you will _never obtain a prize_." I always followed
my father's advice; and, by the most strict and impartial observation,
I have satisfied myself beyond the possibility of doubt that he was
correct in his conclusions. They are, however, not only eminent in
knavery, but that their folly keeps full pace with their ignorance and
stupidity; the following are splendid proofs. One of their members, Mr.
Thomas Crook, of Futherington, actually exhibited a _fat sheep, as a
pig_. He made a bet with a friend, that he would prove the members
of the Bath Agricultural Society to be such a set of contemptible
pretenders and impostors, that they did not know a _sheep_ from a _pig_.
There was to be a premium, as usual, for the best _fat pig_, with the
_greatest_ quantity of fat with the _least_ bone. Mr. Crook ordered a
very fat sheep to be killed; the wool was then burnt off with straw, the
inside taken out, and the carcase dressed after the manner of a bacon
hog, and as it was a horned sheep, he had the head cut off, as well as
the legs. Mr. Crook was so confident of their want of knowledge, that he
actually had his PIG hung up at the entrance of the sapient society's
room; so that every one who passed must of necessity see it as they went
in or out. Mr. Crook's pig was the admiration of the whole society, and
it was declared by the judges far to surpass all the others that were
exhibited. Unbounded encomiums were passed upon Mr. Crook, and his most
excellent breed of pigs, every one being anxious to possess some of this
valuable sort of swine. The prize was, of course, awarded to Mr. Crook;
but, as he was a plain, honest, strong-headed farmer, who had always
held this society in the highest contempt, he, after dinner, treated
them with a suitable lecture upon their profound ignorance, and a
well-merited satire upon their false pretensions; and then openly
declared, that the PIG which they had, _one and all_ (several hundreds
of them), so much admired, was nothing more nor less than a SHEEP! How
the jolterheaded ideots could ever look each other in the face again,
and have the audacity to prate about their proficiency in agriculture,
must surprise all those who are unacquainted with their brazen-faced,
hardened impudence.

Another of these worthies, a few years afterwards, played off a similar
trick upon these sapient agricultural asses. He exhibited an ox for the
prize. When it was killed, he and the butcher placed the fat of two oxen
in the inside of it. The beast was wonderfully admired by all who saw
it, and the judges awarded the prize and the premium to Mr. Kemp, who
was the owner of the ox, thus crammed with the fat of another ox in
addition to its own. Mr. Kemp was, it seems, very well satisfied with
playing off this trick upon these _tricksters_; and it never would have
been known, if the butcher had not, some time afterwards, divulged the
secret. Mr. Kemp knew that the whole thing was trick and imposition
from beginning to end; and, therefore, he thought them fair game. While
collectively the gang constantly imposes upon the public, its members
constantly dupe and impose upon each other; and yet this is the most
respectable society of agricultural asses in the kingdom! As a body they
may be described as a set of the greatest impostors I ever met with in
my life. There are, of course, many honourable exceptions, but they are,
for the most part, the dupes of their more designing associates. A
great number of them never paid up their subscriptions, and even
_Vice-presidents_ were eight or ten years in arrears. When they were
seven years in arrear, there was a mark of _degradation_ placed against
their names, which were annually published, and many bore this disgrace
with surprising fortitude, though some of them were Members of
Parliament, with upwards of ten thousand a year income.

One year, while I resided at Bath, the society were by some means
deprived of their show-yard; the place in which they used to exhibit
their live stock, &c. &c. The late secretary, Mr. Mathews, a very worthy
man, applied to me for the loan of my premises in Walcot-street,
which, being very roomy and spacious, were deemed peculiarly eligible,
particularly as at that time the society could not procure any other
place, and consequently Mr. Mathews offered me any price that I chose to
name for the use of them. As some part of these premises was unoccupied
at the time, I felt great pleasure in having it in my power to oblige
this worthy man; and I told him the society should be very welcome to
the use of my premises upon that emergency, but that I should not think
of making any charge for the use of them. The premises were, therefore,
occupied with the cattle that were brought from all parts of the country
to be shown, and, as this very liberal society always made those persons
who wished to see their show-cattle pay for peeping, each person who
entered was obliged to pay a _shilling_, and when I passed in at my own
gate-way, their keeper actually demanded _my shilling_, which I readily
paid, although my stables and garden led through the same. This was
allowed by all persons to be much the best place the society ever had
wherein to exhibit their cattle, &c. and the secretary offered me, I
think it was, thirty pounds a year, to continue the show there. This I
declined to accept, as it would have been a bar to the letting of the
whole premises, which were worth nearer two hundred a year than thirty.
The next season the society hired some very confined and inconvenient
premises, at a rental of twenty-five or thirty-five pounds a year, I
forget which; and the secretary informed me that the committee had come
to a determination that, as I would not accept any thing for the use of
my premises, they would write my subscriptions _paid_ in their books for
a number of years, equivalent to the value which they had been saved
thereby. Of course, I expected that they would, at the very least, have
written _paid_ for _twenty-five_ years, the amount of what they annually
paid for premises which were not one-fifth so convenient as those which
they had occupied of mine. However, I received a formal intimation that
the committee had ordered the secretary to write me off _five years
subscription_, which was _five guineas_. When the secretary, Mathews,
informed me of this, the society had left Bath, or I really believe that
I should have thrown the five guineas at the head of the chairman, so
indignant did I feel at their meanness. But Mr. Mathews was a Quaker,
and a peace-maker, and to oblige him I took no notice of it; although he
admitted that it was very shabby conduct of the committee, as they had
offered _forty pounds_ for a place very inferior to that with which
they had been accommodated by me. I should not have mentioned this
circumstance here, had it not been for the disgraceful and dastardly
conduct of the society to me a few years afterwards; when, without
giving me any previous notice, they came to a vote to exclude me from
among them, because my subscriptions were THREE YEARS in arrear, while
at the time scores of their members were upwards of SEVEN YEARS in
arrear; and the _only rule_ about the subject was, that "no member
should be eligible to _vote_ in the society who was three years in
arrear." Be it remembered, too, that when they HONOURED me by this vote,
the society was fairly indebted to me fifteen or twenty pounds, out of
which they have, as I consider it, actually swindled me. But the very
last time I attended their meeting they were guilty of a transaction
still more mean and more dastardly than the one I have above described,
and which I shall record in its proper place, when that period of my
history arrives. I think, however, that what I have stated above will
give my readers a pretty fair specimen of the character of that society,
and it will be a warning to the public how they place any reliance upon
their proceedings.

In the early part of the spring of 1811, I went to reside with my family
at Rowfant House, in the county of Sussex, near East Grinstead, about
thirty miles from London. This gave me an opportunity of frequently
visiting my friend Mr. Cobbett, in Newgate. While he was in the King's
Bench, and before he was called up for judgment, he expected that he
should be sentenced to some distant county gaol, and in case it had been
so, I had promised him that, wherever it was, I would come and take
lodgings in the town, and visit him for a week or a fortnight at a time,
several times during his imprisonment. This, however, was rendered
unnecessary, by his imprisonment being in London. Nothing could have
been more convenient for his business, as a public writer, than his
being in London; and I have no hesitation in saying, that the punishment
of six months' imprisonment in this Bastile is a much greater punishment
than that of two years in Newgate. In fact, it was not more than it
would have been to have sentenced him to be imprisoned in any house in
Ludgate-hill. All persons had free access to him, from eight o'clock in
the morning till ten at night, and he had as good apartments as he could
have had in any house in London, and quite as good accommodation as he
could have had at any private lodgings. Still it was imprisonment; but,
when compared with my situation, it was no imprisonment at all. He had
his family staying with him night and day, the very same as he would
have had at a private lodging. Indeed, I have paid _five guineas_ a week
for lodgings in London which were worse in every respect. There was
nothing about his residence that had the appearance of a prison but the
name. Mr. Newman was a worthy and a benevolent man, quite the reverse
of what prison keepers are in general, and every thing was done for Mr.
Cobbett's accommodation and for that of his family and friends.

In February, Mr. Peter Finnerty received the judgment of the Court of
King's Bench, for a libel upon Lord Castlereagh. There never was a man
who stood upon the floor of the Court for judgment who made a more able
or a more brave defence than he did; he did not retract one sentence,
one syllable of the original publication, but, on the contrary, he
produced affidavits to prove the truth of every word that he had
published about Lord Castlereagh's cruelty to the people of Ireland,
when he was in power, at the Castle of Dublin. The Attorney-General, Sir
Vicary Gibbs, as well as Lord Ellenborough, were almost frantic with
rage at the boldness and the perseverance with which he proclaimed the
truth of his statements, as to the conduct of Lord Castlereagh. He was
sentenced, by old Judge Grose, to be imprisoned in his Majesty's gaol
of Lincoln for eighteen calendar months, and to give security for his
keeping the peace far five years from that time. When he first went to
Lincoln he was treated very harshly; upon which he caused a petition to
be presented to the House of Commons, complaining of the treatment which
he received from _the Gaoler and some of the Visiting Magistrates_. This
brought the High Sheriff to the gaol, and Mr. Finnerty was partially
relieved from the privations of which he had complained. He, however,
afterwards caused a petition of one of the debtors to be presented to
the House, by Sir Samuel Romilly, which ultimately led to a COMMISSION
being sent down, to inquire into the truth of the matters contained in
these petitions. As these proceedings were very similar to those which
have recently taken place in this gaol, I will, at the proper time, give
a more ample detail of them; particularly as Mr. Drakard, the editor of
the _Stamford News_, was at this time also a prisoner in Lincoln Castle.
He was confined thereby a sentence of the Court of King's Bench, for a
libel upon the army, he having been tried and found guilty at the Spring
Assizes at Lincoln, in consequence of an article on the _fogging of
soldiers_, which article appeared in his excellent paper. On the 25th of
May, he was brought up to receive judgment, and was sentenced to
be imprisoned in his Majesty's gaol of Lincoln, and to pay a fine of
200_l_. As there were two such men of talent as Mr. Finnerty and Mr.
Drakard confined in Lincoln Castle at the time that a commission was
sent down to inquire into its abuses, and the misconduct of the Gaoler
Merewether, and the Parson Justice _Doctor Illingworth_, the public of
course expected that some important exposures would be made, and that
very important benefits would result from the inquiry; but we shall see,
by and by, that, from some cause or other, although Mr. Finnerty and
Mr. Drakard were much better treated, yet that the commission and the
inquiry ended together in mere _smoke_.

On the nineteenth of March, dollars were made current at five shillings
and sixpence each; and on the twentieth of March in this year, 1811,
the Empress Maria Louisa of France was brought to bed of a son, who was
immediately created King of Rome. On the ninth of May, the first stone
of Vauxhall Bridge was laid; and on the eleventh of October, the first
stone of the Strand bridge was laid: this last is the bridge which is
now foolishly called by some silly people, Waterloo bridge. A similar
circumstance occurred when Blackfriars bridge was built; some foolish
people wished to change its name to Chatham bridge, as a compliment
to Lord Chatham; and it was so called by many silly people for some
time: but at length good sense overcame vanity, and it reverted back
to its original and proper name of Blackfriars bridge, in spite of
Chatham-place, &c. &c. So, I have no doubt, the good sense of the
people will ultimately overcome their folly, and that it will be again
universally denominated by its original and proper name, the STRAND

On the fourth of June, the King's birth-day, the usual public rejoicings
were suspended, in consequence of his severe illness, although our
most gracious Regent, soon after he attained that dignity, had given a
_fete_ in February, at Carlton-House, where at least two thousand
persons were present. On the ninth of June, Christophe, a man of
_colour_, was proclaimed and crowned King of St. Domingo, or Hayti. At
the time, it was supposed to bring the kingly office into some degree of
ridicule, to have a black man solemnly going through the mockery of a
coronation; although it is a fact, that it was a very splendid, as well
as a very popular coronation.

It was in this year, that Mr. now Sir Charles Wolseley, first publicly
declared his sentiments as to political matters; at least, it was the
first time I ever noticed them. In a letter which he addressed to the
Freeholders of the county of Stafford, he makes this honest, open, and
manly declaration: "The principles upon which a person ought to be sent
to serve in Parliament, are, to keep the prerogatives of the crown
unimpaired; to secure the liberties of the people; to oppose in every
shape the system of Pitt's administration; and to obtain a RADICAL
REFORM in the representation of the people in Parliament. These are my
principles." These principles has Sir Charles Wolseley honestly acted
up to ever since; and to this may be attributed the reason that we
have never had the benefit of the worthy Baronet's patriotic and able
exertions in the senate as a Member of Parliament. He has always been
a staunch Radical Reformer, and he never disguised his sentiments;
therefore it is, that he has never been taken by the hand and placed
in the House by any of the great Borough Lords of either of the two
factions of Whigs and Tories; and from principle he has alike declined
to become a slave and a tool to the Boroughmongers, or to purchase one
of their seats.

In consequence of the failure of a Bank at Salisbury, of the firm of
_Bowles, Ogden, and _Wyndham_, immense distress was caused throughout
the county of Wilts; almost all the country people having a great
portion of their property in the notes of this Bank. It was on this
occasion that Mr. Cobbett wrote those famous letters, which he called
"Paper against Gold," addressed to the tradesmen and farmers in and near
Salisbury, being an examination of the report of the Bullion Committee.
These celebrated letters formed a clear and comprehensive exposition of
the Paper System; they developed the whole juggle of Stock Jobbing, the
Sinking Fund, and the National Debt, and the operation of taxes upon
the industry and happiness of the people. These letters, which are now
published in a small volume, prove, beyond all doubt, the clear and
comprehensive mind of this inimitable writer, and the work will live in
after-ages as a monument of his superior talent and knowledge in these
heretofore intricate and mysterious matters, which were rendered still
more intricate and incomprehensible by the very means which such men as
Mr. Horner, the chairman of the Bullion Committee, used to elucidate
them. Had Mr. Cobbett never written another line but what is contained
in this work, his name, as an author, in matters of English finance,
would have gone down to posterity hand-in-hand with that of our immortal
countryman, Mr. Paine. Perhaps Mr. Cobbett would never have written
this valuable work, if he had not been imprisoned in Newgate by the
tyrannical proceedings of the Boroughmongers, assisted by a packed
special jury, always the best ally of tyranny and tyrants, because it
enables them to carry on a most nefarious despotism, and inflict death,
loss of liberty, and torture upon its victims, under the assumed forms
of law and justice; the very worst species of tyranny, and the most
horrible of all despotisms.

Sir Samuel Romilly brought some Bills into the House of Commons, which
were passed, respecting the criminal laws. Lord Holland, in the House
of Lords, and Lord Folkestone, in the House of Commons, made motions to
restrain _ex-officio_ informations, which were at this time extended to
a most alarming pitch by Attorney-General Vicary Gibbs; but ministerial
influence prevailed, and the laudable endeavours of the two peers were
rendered of no avail, as the motions were lost in both Houses. These
proceedings excited universal interest, and the constant _ex-officio_
informations filed by Sir Vicary Gibbs against almost every liberal
writer of the day, drew down upon him almost universal execration. A
Bill was now passed to allow the Ministers to make an interchange of the
militia between England and Ireland. The Prince Regent also restored the
Duke of York to the office of Commander in Chief. This excited general
dissatisfaction, and a debate upon the subject arose in the House of
Commons; but upon a division the Ministers carried it with a very high
hand, and an overwhelming majority, there being only _forty-seven_ of
the faithful and disinterested Representatives of the people who voted
against the measure. Motions were likewise made in both Houses, to
discountenance the doctrine of assassination which had been lately
preached up by various righteous Ministerial Members, aiming at the life
of Napoleon; but these motions also were lost, as Ministers declined to
give them their support. Lord Stanhope about this time brought in a Bill
to make Bank-notes be received as equal in value with coin, under a
penalty; and after a long debate in both Houses, this profound Bill

The Catholics in Ireland manifested symptoms of great discontent and
dissatisfaction at their claims being so long neglected. The fact was,
that the wretched peasantry of Ireland were in the most abject state
of want, and as they had been kept in the most complete ignorance, and
deprived of all the common forms of law and justice, they were gradually
sinking into a state of barbarism; the consequence of which was, that
we frequently heard of instances of aggravated ferocity, such as seldom
disgrace any people but the most uncultivated savages. Deprive civilized
man of the protection of the law--only once suffer a body of people to
be convinced that there is neither law nor justice within their reach,
and you drive them to desperation; in which state they throw off all
controul over their passions, and they become remorseless, cruel, and
vindictive. I am quite sure that it is this state of feeling amongst the
lower Irish that has created White Boys, Peep-of-day Boys, Ribbon Men,
and all the various classes of incendiaries and desperadoes of which we
hear so much from Ireland. I do not believe, nor did I ever believe,
that Catholic emancipation would restore the people of Ireland either
to happiness or prosperity: no, the same malady that reigns in England
reigns in a two-fold degree in Ireland--they are overwhelmed with
taxation, oppression, and injustice; these dreadful evils have goaded
them into madness, and till they are removed and the people are treated
with kindness and humanity, and above all, till justice is fairly
administered amongst them, the Government of England will in vain
endeavour to subdue the spirit of insubordination either by the bayonet
or the halter. The only remedy there as well as in England consists
in giving the people free and equal means of choosing their own
representatives, to make wise, just, and liberal laws for them in

I lament to find that the poor of England are fast approaching to the
same frightful state as the natives of unhappy Ireland. The poor and the
oppressed come to me here from all quarters, within a circle of twenty
miles, and when they have told me their pitiable tales, and I advise
them to go and repeat it to a "_Magistrate_," alas! almost without an
exception, they exclaim, "_there is no justice for the poor!_" If they
could have obtained any redress from a Magistrate, I should not have
been consulted. In fact, most of their complaints arise from their
inability to get any justice done them by the Magistrates. I would hold
out a friendly warning to these Magistrates, to beware how they strain
that cord too tight; for, if it should once break, if the people should
in general, or any great portion of them, should come to the conclusion,
that there is not justice for the poor, that they exist at the arbitrary
will of their task-masters, that, in short, they are not under the
protection of the laws, melancholy would be the consequences; such
indeed as cannot be contemplated without horror. Who is there that can
say what an awful retribution might be exacted! When once such a spirit
breaks forth, no one can calculate upon the time at which it will be
appeased. I frequently shudder at the terrific consequences which must
and would ensue. It was this absence of justice which drove the French
to a revolution. It was a similar contempt of justice that caused the
Americans to revolt, and most happily rescued that fine country from
the worst of despotism. The taxing of the industry, the skill, and the
talent of a people, without allowing them to have any share in the
election of those who impose those taxes--in a word, taxation without
representation is the very acme of tyranny and despotism. It was this
species of tyranny that produced the glorious revolutions of South
America, of Spain, and of Portugal, and which has emancipated the
inhabitants of those beautiful countries from slavery both of body and

At Lady-day I quitted my residence at Bath, and went with my family to
reside at Rowfant House, in Sussex, which, as I have before said, is
situated thirty miles from London, half way between the two roads
leading from the metropolis to Lewes and Brighton, and about the same
distance from those two places. It is at the eastern extremity of what
is called the Weald of Sussex. Nothing can be more delightful than this
country is in the spring, summer, and autumn; it is then luxuriant and
picturesque in the extreme; nothing can then surpass the beauty of the
surrounding scenery, and the richness of the foliage which clothe the
majestic oak and beech-trees; of the latter there are many, very many,
of the largest and finest in the kingdom. The mansion is situated in the
centre of a park, or park-like pastures, and has two fronts, one to the
south and the other to the west, each looking over the most beautiful,
picturesque, and romantic country that I ever saw, alternately
presenting to the eye wood, water, and pasture fields, interspersed with
the majestic oak, the lofty beech, the trembling birch, the lime, the
ash, and every other species of beautiful forest tree. There were nearly
five hundred acres of woodland upon this estate, and it was well stocked
with game and fish of every description; but the whole country was
congenial for the breed of pheasants. On some parts of the manor there
was black game, and in the season woodcocks, snipes, and other wild
fowl; in fact, all these frequently breed in that part of the country.

This part of Sussex, although it is only thirty miles from London, is as
completely out of the world as the most remote mountains of Wales, or
the Highlands of Scotland, and the inhabitants were quite as uninformed
and in as perfect a state of nature as the natives in the wilds of
America. I had no idea that any portion of the people of England could
be so completely buried in ignorance, and display such a total absence
of all knowledge, with the exception of hedging, ditching, cutting wood,
converting it into charcoal, making and eating hard dumplings, and
smuggling brandy, Hollands, tea, tobacco, French manufactures of all
sorts and descriptions.

This estate had for ages been in the possession of the family of the
Bethunes, and the farmers had also been so long in the occupation of
their farms, for little or no rent, that they very justly considered
themselves as having a much greater interest in the soil than the
proprietor had. This place had been put up to the hammer, and sold
to the trustees of a lunatic. I had taken it on a lease; the manor,
mansion, farms, lands, and the manorial rights. Mr. James, the
land-agent, in Old Boswell-court, bad the letting of it, under the
direction of John Foster, Esq. the head of the firm of Foster, Cooke,
and Frere, of Lincoln's Inn, who was the acting trustee for the lunatic.
On application to Mr. James, I soon found that he must have a _certain
price_ for the estate, which, if I would consent to give, _I might make
my own terms_. Of course, I took care to insert such clauses in the
lease, as would convey the property entirely to my custody, upon the
payment of a certain rent. I introduced one clause which I was ashamed
to carry into execution, when I found that it would injure the property
to an enormous extent, without affording to myself a corresponding
benefit. I stipulated to be at liberty to grub up and to cultivate all
the hedge-rows, and about three hundred acres of wood and coppice land.
This the parties readily covenanted to allow me to do; but when I came
to examine these woods, I found that, in availing myself of my right, I
should destroy not less than _sixty thousand beautiful and thriving oak
trees and saplings_. As the whole of the land on which these trees grew
was a light sandy loom on the top, and a deep strata of yellow clay
under, which was a soil by no means advantageous to cultivate, but
peculiarly congenial to the growth of oak timber, I made my calculations
of what _I_ might gain, and what would be the loss to the proprietors
of the estate, by grubbing up the woods, and destroying sixty thousand
thriving oak trees and saplings. My gains would have been but small, but
the injury to the estate would have been incalculable. This I candidly
laid before the trustees of the property, and at once proposed to forego
any advantage that I might have derived, and to suffer the woods
to remain, with the timber growing thereon, for the benefit of the
proprietor, provided the parties would make me a corresponding deduction
in the rent. My proposition was so reasonable, that I had not the
slightest doubt but it would be eagerly accepted. Mr. Foster, who was a
very keen, sensible, clever, intelligent man, I saw at once, perceived
the destruction that it would be to the estate; but yet it was evident
that the object in granting one such a lease was to make up a certain
annual rent, equivalent to the interest of the money which had been
expended in the purchase of the estates. He saw the dilemma in which
they were placed, and I plainly perceived that the idea of reducing the
rent upon which they had calculated was out of the question, that it was
not to be entertained by the trustees for a moment.

This being the case, I returned from London, and proceeded in the
cultivation of the farm. I very early made up my mind not hastily to do
such a serious and irretrievable injury as I was authorized to do to the
estate, and I therefore directed my attention to other objects. I had
sent off a servant to meet half way the little drove of sheep which I
had purchased of Mr. Dean; the whole distance being one hundred and
fifty miles. He had been gone ten days, and I impatiently waited his
arrival, but I had as yet heard no tidings of him, although he ought
to have been back several days before. At length, when twelve days had
elapsed, information was brought me that he had arrived with the sheep
upon Copthorn Common, but that he could not get them any further, in
consequence of their being all very lame and unable to walk. I took my
horse and rode to the spot, about the distance of two miles from my
house. When I came there, I found every sheep of them dead lame, with
the most confirmed and inveterate FOOT ROT. The poor fellow, ADAMS, who
had been so long delayed upon the road, was completely exhausted with
the labour, fatigue, and harassing exertion which he had endured in
accomplishing his task. I think he had actually left three or four of
them thirty or forty miles behind, and many of the others he declared
that he had carried, one at a time, more than half the way upon his
shoulders. Upon my expostulating with him, as to his having consented to
receive them in such a state; he replied, that the drover, who brought
them from Mr. Dean, declared that he would not drive them back to have
them; that he left them in the care of my servant the moment that they
met, and then, without the least ceremony, took French leave, apparently
delighted to get quit of his troublesome charge. When I saw the
deplorable state in which they were (for upon closer examination I found
that many of their hoofs were rotted off their feet), I demanded with
some warmth of my servant, why he had not left them with some farmer
upon the road, till they could have been recovered or cured. "Lord bless
you, Sir," replied the man, "I tried at more than fifty places, but
nobody would take them in at any price, as they all said they would not
have them at a gift, and that they should not tread a hoof upon any of
their lands on any account, as the _foot rot_ was highly _infectious_."

This was another serious evil, for I had purchased two hundred more
sheep, and if they went upon the same land, I was sure of infecting my
whole flock. However, on the next day when they could be got home, I
placed them in some of my best meadows, and set about attempting a cure.
In the meantime, I wrote to Mr. Dean, to inform him of the deplorable
state in which they had arrived. In his reply he candidly acknowledged
that they had suffered from this disease, but he declared he thought
they had been quite free from it before he sent them off; adding that,
if he had had the slightest idea of the state in which they were at the
time his servant left them, they should not, on any account, have been
forwarded to me. He begged that I would not return them, but that I
would employ some one to endeavour to cure them; and, if that could not
be accomplished, I must, he said, kill them, and give them to the dogs,
or do any thing with them I pleased. In fact, I did employ a person, who
pretended he could cure them, to come and dress them, which he did once
a week for nearly a twelve-month, and at length he gave them up as

Instead of my ever making one halfpenny of these sheep, the plague, the
trouble, and the loss that I sustained by them was not so little as
sixty pounds; besides, their having given the disease to my flock of two
hundred, the remainder of which, after losing sixty of them, I sold at
seven shillings per head less than I gave for them. So that by this
untoward affair I was, on the whole, at least one hundred pounds out
of pocket, to say nothing of all my trouble and anxiety. If I had been
served so by any one but a friend, such as Mr. Dean; I should certainly
have commenced an action against him for serious damages. Far from
Mr. Dean ever applying to me to pay him any thing for the sheep, he
frequently expressed his sorrow that I should have been so harassed and
perplexed with them as I had been. I had devoted one of my best fields
to their use, and at the end of two years, when I left the farm, there
were seven of them remaining still in the same state, as they never were
or ever could be cured. At length, some time after the decease of Mr.
Dean, I received, from the executors of Mr. Dean, an application for
the payment of these sheep. I replied, that Mr. Dean had long since
cancelled that debt, but, on the other hand, there was a very
considerable balance due to me, if I chose to persist in it, from the
circumstances above stated.

I heard no more of this affair from them; but, after a considerable
lapse of time, a statement was made in the _Taunton Courier_, that, when
I had gone round the country to collect names for a requisition to call
a county meeting, Mr. Dean had taken me in and treated me with the
greatest hospitality, and that I had rewarded him by swindling him out
of a _flock of fine sheep_, for which I had never paid him. When the
reader reflects upon this wanton and atrocious slander, which was
malignantly propagated by the venal and corrupt editor of a country
paper, I am sure, although the vehicle through which the slander was
conveyed, was in itself obscure and contemptible, I shall be excused
for giving the particulars of this transaction; however tedious and
uninteresting it may appear to those at a distance, where the venom was
never propagated, it is, in truth, due to myself and to my friends in
this county, who read the calumny, to have the matter clearly explained;
although, to every man of common sense, it must have been very evident,
when the scandal was first promulgated, that it was a gross and palpable
falsehood; because, if I had owed Mr. Dean's executors, or any other
person, a sum of money amounting to forty or fifty pounds, it was the
most easy thing upon earth to have compelled me to pay it. O, it was a
wicked, a mean and a malignant falsehood, which would never have been
put afloat, or believed by any body, against any other man but myself,
who at that time was the universal topic of abuse in the whole of the
venal ministerial and opposition press of the country, in consequence
of my having resisted oppression and tyranny, and roused the spirit of
liberal feeling and patriotic exertion among some of the electors of
Bristol, where I had maintained, single-handed, two contested elections
for that city, in opposition to all the contending factions. The
newspaper editors of each faction had disseminated the vilest calumnies
against me, in revenge for those struggles which I had made to oppose
the rotten borough system in that city; and this venal, dirty,
contemptible, hireling knave of the _Taunton Courier_, selected this
as a proper time to add his lie to the million of lies that were then
circulated against me.

But I shall now speak more fully of the circumstances which led to my
being a candidate for Bristol, in June, 1812. Ever since the previous
general election, when the electors had been humbugged by Sir John
Jervis, and had attempted to wreak their vengeance upon Mr. Bragge
Bathurst, I had, at various times, publicly declared my intention
to offer myself as a candidate for that city. On that occasion, Mr.
Bathurst experienced such an unfavourable reception, that it was
generally understood he did not mean to offer himself as a candidate for
the city, at the approaching general election; and as Colonel Baillie,
the Whig Member, did not relish the idea of standing such a contest
as it was generally expected I should create, he also intimated his
intention to resign; Mr. Edward Protheroe, therefore, offered himself as
a Whig Member, in his place. The Whigs were very well satisfied with the
pretensions of Mr. Protheroe, as being a citizen of Bristol; and he, as
the Whig Member, and Mr. Richard Hart Davis, as the Tory Member,
would have been returned, without any opposition whatever, by the two
factions, had it not been for the threatened interference of myself, who
was avowedly a candidate that would excite a great popular feeling.

This consideration induced some of what is called the liberal or Foxite
Whigs to think of looking out for a more popular Whig Candidate than Mr.
Protheroe, for the purpose of taking away the votes from _me_. After
several meetings had been held upon the subject, it was determined upon,
by a little faction, to invite Sir Samuel Romilly to become a candidate.
I am quite confident, in my own mind, that if it had not been for the
opposition which it was certain would be made by me, there would not
have been any opposition at all. Mr. Bragge Bathurst and Colonel
Baillie, or Mr. Protheroe, would have been returned without the
slightest effort to prevent it. My avowed intention of being a
candidate, however, first made the White Lion Cock, Bragge Bathurst,
turn tail and declare off, and next induced Colonel Baillie to decline.
The one of these was the Tory and the other the Whig candidate for
the representation of the city of Bristol, which, in consequence of a
compromise entered into by the two factions, had always been divided
between them; and therefore one Whig and one Tory Member had always been
returned; and so it would have continued without any change, had it not
been for me. Mr. Davis and Mr. Protheroe would have been returned as
quiet as mice, without a word being said by any body against it. But, as
I had become a candidate, a little gang of intriguers at length made up
their minds to put Sir Samuel Romilly forward; not, I believe, with the
slightest expectation that they could carry his election, but under the
firm conviction that he would very largely divide the popularity with

Thus it was that Sir Samuel Romilly was made the cat's-paw of this
faction, for the purpose of destroying all chances of my becoming the
Representative of Bristol. As soon as they had announced their intention
to support Sir Samuel Romilly, they, the Whigs, took the greatest pains
to circulate the report and create the impression that I was offering
myself as a candidate for Bristol merely to oppose the "_amiable Sir
Samuel Romilly;_" these corrupt, factious knaves, always taking care to
keep out of view, that this gentleman was already a Member of Parliament
for the Duke of Norfolk's rotten-borough of Arundel, which seat he was
sure to retain as long as he lived, if he chose to do so. But it was
necessary, for their sinister purposes, to bring upon the scene this
gentleman, who bore an excellent character, and who, amongst the Whigs,
was considered as a prodigy of perfection.

Notwithstanding that Sir Samuel Romilly was set up against me, instead
of my being set up against him, I having constantly, for four years
before Sir Samuel's name was ever mentioned, avowed my intention of
becoming a candidate, yet, as soon as a meeting had been called at the
Crown and Anchor, in London, and a sum of eight thousand pounds had been
subscribed by the Whigs to support him, I publicly offered to resign my
pretensions, and to give my whole support to the knight of the gown and
wig, if he would only pledge himself to espouse the cause of Reform in
the House of Commons. This offer was, however, declined, or at least
treated with silent neglect; but the venal press did not cease railing
against me for opposing Sir Samuel Romilly.

A day was appointed for Sir Samuel to make his public entry into
Bristol, and a public dinner was got up on the occasion, to which he
was invited. The day fixed on was the second of April, 1812, which was
considered to be a period immediately preceding the expected general
election. Great preparations were made to receive the lawyer in grand
stile, and every thing was attempted to create effect. A number of
persons went out to meet him on horseback, and I made a point of being
present, to see how the thing went off, and to hear what would be said
by Mr. Tierney, who, it was reported, was to introduce Sir Samuel to the
citizens of Bristol. It was given out that he would alight at the Bush
Tavern, opposite the Exchange, and that he would address the people from
the window of his committee-room, facing which window I placed myself,
to see and to hear all that could be heard or seen. At length, after he
had been waited for, for about an hour (which, by-the-bye, is considered
genteel), the worthy lawyer arrived, seated in an open barouche, with
Mr. Michael Castle on one side, and _Alderman Noble_ on the other! It
was but a sorry cavalcade; and although there was some cheering amongst
his partizans, yet he met altogether with a very cold reception. But
when Sir Samuel was led up to the window, and it was discovered that it
was Alderman Noble who accompanied him, there was one general burst of
disapprobation--groans, hissing, and hooting, and cries of "No Noble! no
six and eightpence! no bloody bridge! no murderers!" &c. &c. Poor Sir
Samuel was astonished; he had been made to believe that he would be
received with the greatest applause and indeed enthusiasm; but these
discordant sounds quite disconcerted him, and when he began to speak,
instead of his being listened to, the cries and the groans were
redoubled. Alderman Noble put forth his hand to command silence; this
was received with the most violent and indignant execrations and
hootings, mingled with cries of "No Noble! no six and eightpence! no
bloody bridge!" Nothing could have been so unfortunate for Sir Samuel
Romilly, as to be accompanied by Alderman Noble, who, a few years
before, had rendered himself deservedly detested, by his having ordered
the military, the Herefordshire Militia, with Lord Bateman as their
Colonel, to fire upon the people, at a riot which took place relative
to the tolls of Bristol Bridge; upon which occasion eleven or twelve
persons were killed. So obnoxious was this man, that he had been obliged
to quit Bristol for some years, and he took this opportunity to return
under the wing of Sir Samuel Romilly; but his appearance roused the
most angry feeling amongst the people, and this feeling was so
preponderating, that Sir Samuel attempted to address the multitude for
about twenty minutes, without one word being distinguishable.

I have already mentioned the report that Sir Samuel would be introduced
by Mr. Tierney, the late popular Member for the borough of Southwark,
but, subsequently to his holding a place under the Whigs, the Member for
the rotten-boroughs of Appleby, in Westmoreland, and Bandon-bridge, in
Ireland. Even this would have done Sir Samuel no service. Before the
Whigs had been in place, and Mr. Tierney, like the rest of them, had
been tried and found wanting, it might have answered very well for him
to have introduced a popular candidate to the city of Bristol; for at
that period he professed himself to be not only the champion, but the
child of Liberty. At the time when he branded with so much spirit
and eloquence the income-tax of Pitt, and declared in his place
in Parliament that this income-tax was such an odious and such an
unconstitutional measure "that the people of England would be justified
in taking up arms to resist the collection of it;" at that time, when
Mr. Tierney so strenuously and brilliantly opposed all the ruinous
measures of Pitt; at that time, if he had proposed to go to Bristol, he
might have been received with approbation by the people, and his name
might have added to the popularity of any man. But, since Mr. Tierney
had been in office with the Whigs, since he had become a splendid
pensioned apostate from his former opinions, since he had been kicked
out of the borough of Southwark for his apostacy, since he had, while
in the Whig Administration, advocated and supported an additional
income-tax, and voted for almost all those measures, when in place,
which he had opposed when out of place; since these things had occurred,
the name of Mr. Tierney was calculated to injure the popularity of any
man to whom he linked himself. This of itself, this announcement that
Mr. Tierney was to attend Sir Samuel Romilly, was enough to damn his
popularity with every real friend of Liberty in that city. But, when he
appeared side by side with Alderman Noble, all hopes of his ever being
popular in Bristol were at an end! I never in my life, on any public
occasion, saw a man received worse by the populace than Sir Samuel
Romilly was.

It was asserted, and the assertion has been often repeated, that I was
instrumental to this unfavourable reception of Sir Samuel Romilly; but
this is totally false; none of my friends knew of my being, or of my
intending to be, at Bristol on that day. I had gone into the city
privately, and had walked up to the Exchange from my inn, the Talbot,
without exciting the attention of any one; and, to tell the truth, no
man was more sorry than I was, that such a man should have been treated
so unfairly as he was by his party; that he should, in the first place,
have been so ill advised, as to have had his name coupled with that

Book of the day: