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

Part 6 out of 6

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of Mr. Tierney, and then, that he should be accompanied by the most
unpopular and most odious man in the whole city, and one who, since
he had been driven from the city, had become a placeman under the
Government. These were the sole causes of Sir Samuel Romilly being
received with such demonstrations of disgust and disapprobation. To be
sure, all the friends of Liberty in the city of Bristol, who had any
pretensions to a knowledge of what was going on, must have very clearly
seen that Sir Samuel Romilly had been invited to attend, and to become a
candidate for Bristol, mainly for the purpose of dividing the popularity
with me; and my friends were, doubtless, prepared to scrutinise his
speech with rather a sceptical feeling; but not one of my friends would
on this account have interrupted him, or have done any thing to prevent
him from being heard; on the contrary, there was a general disposition
amongst my friends to support him in conjunction with myself.

Those Whigs who supported Sir Samuel Romilly appeared to be
thunderstruck at his reception, and for a long time they did not appear
to be aware of the cause of it. As there was not one of them who had any
influence over the minds of the people, there was no attempt made to
rescue Sir Samuel from this very unpleasant situation, and at length
he retired from the window sadly disconcerted, and his party were
dreadfully chagrined. Sir Samuel had literally been hissed, hooted, and
groaned from the window, at a time when I expected every one would
have been anxious to hear him, and to listen to him with the greatest
attention. I am sure, for myself, that I was greatly disappointed. There
might have been ten thousand persons present, which was no very great
number for such an occasion;. but I think I may safely say, that
there was not one in a hundred that knew or expected that I would be

As there was now a pause, and as no one from Sir Samuel Romilly's room
attempted to come forward, I mounted upon one of the copper pedestals
which stands in the front of the Exchange, and I was instantly hailed
with shouts from all those who knew me, which, at that time, could
not have been more than half the persons present. My name was rapidly
communicated from one to the other, and before I could begin to address
them, they gave three cheers for Mr. Hunt, which was proposed by some
one present. The moment I began to speak, the most profound silence
reigned around; and in a speech of an hour and forty minutes I was
interrupted only by the applause of my hearers, and by the anxiety
which they expressed that I should put on my hat, as it rained. This
inconvenience was soon obviated, by a gentleman being elevated with an
umbrella, which he held over my head till I had concluded. During this
address I avowed myself the warm advocate for Radical Reform, and
declared myself the staunch friend of Sir Francis Burdett, and the
principles which he professed. I went through a history of the
proceedings of the Whig Administration, and recounted the sinecures,
pensions, and unmerited places held by the Grenvilles, and other
Boroughmongers of that faction; but when I came to speak of the conduct
of the Law Officers of the Crown under that administration, during the
continuance of which Sir Samuel Romilly was one of those officers, when
I touched on their having drawn up the famous Acts of Parliament passed
by the Whig Ministry, during the reign of _one year, one month, one
week,_ and _one day;_ when I came to speak of _this_, the windows of
the room in which Sir Samuel Romilly and his friends were, in the Bush
Tavern, opposite where I stood, were pettishly shut down by some one.
The moment that the people saw this, they exclaimed, "Look! look! they
are ashamed to hear the truth, and they have shut the windows to prevent
its coming amongst them." This shutting the windows the populace took
as an insult offered to them, and they vociferously demanded that they
should be re-opened; and their demand was made in such an unequivocal
and peremptory manner, that the gentry, after some slight hesitation,
complied with the wishes of the multitude. I continued to address the
people for nearly an hour after this time, although at the outskirts of
the crowd in Clarestreet there was a waiter with Sir Samuel Romilly's
colours in his hat, who announced that the dinner was waiting; in
consequence of which, several attempts were made in vain by some persons
in the Bush, to force their way out of that house through the dense
crowd, that not only occupied the whole of the front of the tavern, but
extended for a very considerable distance above and below, even up
to Broad-street and down to Small-street, so that it was absolutely
impossible for any one to pass while I was addressing the people.
This was most galling to Sir Samuel Romilly's friends, who, from this
circumstance, were actually prisoners in the Bush nearly an hour and
a half after the dinner had been ready at the Assembly Rooms in
King-street, where the party were going to dine; but, if their lives had
been at stake not a man of them could have got out till I had finished
my speech; for the crowd had considerably increased since I had begun.
After having exhausted my strength, I retired amidst the most deafening
shouts of approbation; the whole of the immense populace accompanied me
to my inn, and left Sir Samuel and his friends a clear course to proceed
to their dinner.

I never said any thing against the gown and wig knight. On the contrary,
I thought him a much better man for a Member of Parliament than
Mr. Protheroe, who had declared himself a candidate also in the Whig
interest, to represent the city, in the place of Colonel Baillie, who
intended to resign at the general election. I had, ever since the former
election, offered myself as a candidate, whenever there should be a
vacancy, without any reference to either of the factions; but Mr.
Protheroe and Sir Samuel Romilly came forward avowedly to fill the seat
of Colonel Baillie; neither of these gentlemen professing any desire
to interfere with the White Lion candidate, Mr. Bragge Bathurst, the
factions being too civil to each other to interfere with their separate
interests. If I had not offered myself as a candidate, Mr. Bragge
Bathurst would have been elected by the White Lion interest, without any

The Whigs were excessively annoyed by the inauspicious manner in which
Sir Samuel was greeted, and not less so by the exposure which I made of
their politics and principles. The editor of the _Morning Chronicle_,
and other papers in London, gave, however, a flaming account of the
public entry of Sir Samuel Romilly into Bristol: they said that he was
hailed with the greatest enthusiasm, and they published a speech which
he had delivered to the people at the Bush Tavern window, and which they
unblushingly affirmed to have been received with the greatest applause;
but they forgot to say one word about a speech of nearly two hours,
which I delivered. They published the account of a speech of a quarter
of an hour, not one word of which was heard, while the speech that was
heard and attentively listened to, they never noticed at all! This was
so glaringly unfair and partial, that Mr. Cobbett wrote a very long and
able paper upon the subject, exposing and chastising the Whigs for their
duplicity and deception, and, at the same time, he did not fail to
represent the conduct of Mr. Perry in its true colours.

A dissolution of Parliament had been anticipated for some time; but an
occurrence now took place that caused a sudden and unexpected vacancy
for the city of Bristol. Mr. Bragge Bathurst was appointed to the
lucrative office of _Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster_, one of the
most valuable places in the gift of the Sovereign, or rather of his
Ministers. It was announced that he had accepted this office, that he
had in consequence vacated his seat, and that a new writ was issued for
the election of a Member for the city of Bristol; to which was added,
that Mr. Hart Davis, the then Member for Colchester, had accepted the
stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds, for the purpose of becoming a
candidate upon the White Lion, or Blue Club, alias the Ministerial
interest in Bristol. This was all promulgated in the same paper, and it
stated that the election would be held forthwith, as Mr. Davis would be
elected without any opposition, the friends of Sir Samuel Romilly and
Mr. Protheroe having no intention to interfere with the election of that

The writ for electing a Member for Bristol, in the room of Bragge
Bathurst, was moved for in the House of Commons, on Tuesday evening,
the 24th of June: and at the same time a writ for electing a Member for
Colchester, in the room of Richard Hart Davis, was moved for. I never
heard a word of this till Thursday afternoon at four o'clock, when the
postman brought me my Wednesday's paper, just as I was sitting down to
dinner at Rowfant, in Sussex. After dinner I read the account, and I
made up my mind to start for that city the next morning. I rode to town
on Friday, took my place in the Bath mail, and reached Bath at ten
o'clock on Saturday morning. Some of the people of Bristol had arrived
in Bath in expectation of meeting me, and one of them immediately
returned to Bristol to announce my intention of being in that city the
same evening. At the appointed hour, which was five o'clock, I arrived
at Totterdown, where I was met by an immense multitude, who took my
horses from the carriage, and drew me into the city and through the
principal streets, till they arrived at the front of the Exchange, which
they had fixed upon as the theatre of my public orations, in consequence
of my having accidentally mounted one of the pedestals on the memorable
day of Sir Samuel Romilly's public entry into Bristol. I left the
carriage, remounted the pedestal, and addressed at least twenty thousand
of the inhabitants, who had accompanied me thither with the most
deafening shouts. I never had seen such enthusiasm in my life. I briefly
animadverted upon the trick which was intended to have been played off
upon them by the worthy leaders of both the factions in that city, who
had united for the purpose of stealing a march upon the electors, a
trick which I had no doubt my opportune arrival would frustrate; and
pledged myself to be at the Guildhall in due time on Monday morning, on
which day the election was fixed to be held.

Mr. Davis, who was a banker, of Bristol, had made his public entry
in the morning of the same day, attended by his friends, amidst very
evident marks of disapprobation from the assembled multitude. So sure,
however, was this gentleman of his success, and so little had his
friends anticipated any opposition, that they had actually got every
thing prepared for _chairing_ him, and had ordered the dinner, which was
to celebrate the event, to be ready immediately after the election had
closed on Monday; as they calculated that the election would be nothing
more than a mere matter of form, which would occupy them for only a very
few hours. But my arrival, and the enthusiastic reception which I had
received, made some of his partizans begin to fear that the victory
would not be so easily gained, or the contest so speedily terminated,
as they had at first sanguinely hoped. Still the old electioneering
managers calculated upon carrying their point by one of their _old
tricks_, or by a "_ruse de guerre;_" but in this, as the sequel will
shew, they _reckoned without their host_. Before I got into the mail in
London, I purchased _Disney's_ Abridgment of Election Law, a part of
which I read before it grew dark, and the remainder I finished in the
morning before we arrived in Bath. Although this publication is the
least to be relied upon of any, yet it furnished me with sufficient law
upon the subject, not only to set completely their intended projects at
defiance, but also to enable me to keep open the poll for fifteen days,
the whole time that the law allows.

The White Lion Club, in the meanwhile, lost no time in preparing to open
the campaign on Monday; and, seeing the disposition of the people, and
knowing how deservedly unpopular the Ministerial faction, to which Mr.
Davis belonged, had rendered themselves, they resolved to carry the
election by force. Before Monday morning, they had sworn in upwards of
four hundred mock constables, or bludgeon-men, every one of whom was
supplied with a short bludgeon, painted sky _blue_, that being the
colour of Mr. Davis's party. These bludgeons were composed of ash, and
were made of prong staves sawn off in lengths, about two feet long.
These were put into the hands of the greatest ruffians that the city of
Bristol, and the neighbourhood of Cock-road and Kingswood, could furnish
at so short a notice. The few staunch friends who came round me, most of
whom were strangers, anticipated nothing less than that the White Lion
gentry would carry their point, and, either by trick or by violence,
would close the election on the first day. I promised them, however,
that if they would only stand steadily by me, I would defeat the object
of their enemies, and that they might rely upon an election, and a
protracted poll.

Monday came, and at an early hour the bludgeon-men of Mr. Davis had
got possession of Broad-street, where the Guildhall is situated; which
street, by the bye, has no right to the name that it bears, it being
among the narrowest streets in Bristol. I sallied forth from my inn,
the Talbot; and having addressed a few words to the multitude upon the
Exchange, I proceeded down Broad-street with some of my friends, and
reached the Hall door before it was opened. I immediately placed my back
against it, and proclaimed to the surrounding throng, that I would be
the first to enter that Hall, and that I would be the last that
would leave it, while there was a freeman of the city unpolled.
Notwithstanding I was now in the midst of the enemy, this declaration
was received with a burst of applause, which made the old walls of this
_scene of iniquity_ ring again. At length the Sheriffs, _Brice_ and
_Bickley_, arrived, attended by all the paraphernalia of office, in
company with Mr. Richard Hart Davis, whom I now eyed for the first time.
All persons were pompously commanded to stand back from the door; but I
had a sturdy set of friends now to support me, and they stood as firm
as a rock, and almost as immovable. For some time the Jacks in office
attempted in vain to approach the door, till at length I requested that
those who were near it would fall back, and make way for the Sheriffs;
which request was instantly complied with. The moment the door was open,
I was the first man who entered after the Sheriffs, and the rush was
tremendous. I was also one of the first that reached the hustings in the
Guildhall, and, being once there, I had not the least doubt but I should
by and by make a due impression upon the persons there assembled.

During this rush to get into the Guildhall, (a place altogether unfit
for the election, and incapable of containing a twentieth part of the
electors of Bristol,) Davis's four hundred bludgeon ruffians made a
desperate and brutal assault upon the people, and most grossly ill used
those who appeared to be my friends and supporters, who were at last
driven to a successful resistance. Many of the hired gang were disarmed
by the populace, and the rest were either driven from the scene of
action, or awed into respectful behaviour by their determined conduct.

Mr. Davis was proposed and seconded by two members of the White Lion
Club, who were also members of the Corporation. I was proposed and
seconded by two freemen in the humble walks of life, journeymen, I
believe, of the names of Pimm and Lydiard; men who, although they did
not move in an elevated sphere, yet for native talent and honourable
feelings, as far excelled the proposers of Mr. Davis as the sun excels
in splendour the twinkling of the smallest star. Both the candidates
addressed the crowded assemblage. I avowed myself to be the staunch
friend of Radical Reform, and the enemy of oppression, and I tendered an
oath to the Mayor, that I would never receive one sixpence of the public
money, drawn from the pockets of an impoverished and starving people;
and that if elected I would move for the immediate reduction of all
extravagant salaries, and the total abolition of all sinecures and
unmerited pensions, &c. &c. The Sheriff, little Mister Brice, put it to
the vote, in the usual way, by a skew of hands, which of us the freemen
would have for their member. The shew of hands was in my favour by an
immense majority. Mr. Davis then demanded a poll, and, after a vote or
two had been taken for each party, the Sheriffs adjourned the poll till
the next morning at nine o'clock. This was of course done to give the
unpopular candidate time to collect his forces, and to put in motion
the whole machinery of corrupt influence; and, where that failed, the
stronger means of unconstitutional dictation and arbitrary power. On our
retiring from the hustings, Mr. Davis had to endure every species of
popular execration, while I was saluted by the overwhelming applause of
the whole multitude, with the exception of the agents of authority and
wealth, and the whole of the Corporation and its tools. If the people of
Bristol had possessed the privilege of giving their votes by ballot, I
believe that I should have had on my side eight out of every ten of the
population of the city. It was evidently a contest between the rich and
the poor; the whole of the former were openly for Davis, the whole of
the latter, with the exception of those who were hired by the other
party, were every man, woman, and child, for Hunt; and even of those who
were hired, there were numbers who could not conceal their good wishes
for me, and their abhorrence of the party for whom they were acting.

In the evening great contests and bloody battles took place in the
streets. The bludgeon men of Davis had been increased to eight hundred;
each bludgeon being heavy enough to knock down an ox, they being, as I
have before stated, six feet prong staves sawn off in three lengths,
about two feet each. In the front of the White Lion, in Broadstreet,
the bearers of these weapons attacked the populace, whom they beat and
bruised most unmercifully for some time; who, in return, at length, beat
and drove them to all quarters, and in their fury they demolished the
windows of the White Lion Inn, and gutted the house. Bleeding and
smarting with their wounds, they then hurried to Clifton, to the house
of Mr. Davis, whom they considered as the author of all their wrongs,
and of the assaults which had been committed upon them by the hireling
ruffians of bludgeon-men, who all wore Davis's colours, and acted under
regular disciplined leaders, trained and commanded by the notorious
Jemmy Lockley, a boxer and Sheriff's officer. While that party of the
populace, which had directed its course to Clifton, demolished the whole
of the windows of Mr. Davis's house, and pulled up all the shrubs in
his front lawn, another party demolished the doors and windows of the
Council House.

When I went to the Hall the next morning, I never witnessed such a scene
of devastation as the White Lion exhibited; every window and window
frame was destroyed, and there remained only so many holes in the walls.
However, as I mean to give a faithful history of this election, I cannot
do better than to republish three letters addressed at the time to the
Electors of Bristol, by Mr. Cobbett, and also to state the various
accounts that were given of these transactions by the _Times_, the
_Courier_, and the _Morning Chronicle_ papers. I will begin with the
following letter, published in the first page of the 12th volume of
_Cobbett's Register_, July 4th, 1812:--


GENTLEMEN,--Your city, the third in England in point
of population, and for the bravery and public spirit of its
inhabitants the first in the world, is now become, with
all those who take an interest in the public welfare, an
object of anxious attention. You, as the Electors of
Westminster were, have long been the sport of the two
artful factions, who have divided between them the profits
arising from the obtaining of your votes, One of each
faction has always been elected; and as one of them always
belonged to the faction _out of place_, you, whose
intentions and views were honest, consoled yourselves
with the reflection, that if one of your members was in
place, or belonged to the IN party, your other member,
who belonged to the OUT party, was always in the House
to watch him. But now, I think, experience must have
convinced you that the OUT as well as the IN member
was always seeking his own gain at your expense, and
that of the nation, and that the two factions, though
openly hostile to each other, have always been perfectly
well agreed as to the main point, namely, the perpetuating
of those sinecure places and all those other means
by which the public money is put into the pockets of individuals.

With this conviction in your minds, it is not to be wondered
at that you are now beginning to make a stand for
the remnant of your liberties; and, as I am firmly persuaded,
that your success would be of infinite benefit to
the cause of freedom in general, and of course to our
country, now groaning under a compilation of calamities,
I cannot longer withold a public expression of the sentiments
which I entertain respecting the struggle in which
you are engaged; and especially respecting the _election
now going on_, the proceedings of _a recent meeting in
London, and the pretensions of Mr. Hunt_, compared with
those of Sir Samuel Romilly.

As to the first, you will bear in mind, gentlemen, how
often we, who wish for a Reform of the Parliament, have
contended that no Member of the House of Commons
ought to be a placeman or a pensioner. We have said,
and we have shown, that in that Act of Parliament by
virtue of which the present family was exalted to the
throne of this kingdom; we have shown, that by that
Act it was provided that _no man having a pension or place
of emolument under the Crown, should be capable of being
a Member of the House of Commons_. It is indeed true,
that this provision has since been _repealed_; but it having
been enacted, and that too on so important an occasion,
shows clearly how jealous our ancestors were upon the
subject. When we ask for a revival of this law, we are
told that it cannot be wanted, because, if a man be a
placeman or a pensioner _before_ he be chosen at all, those
who choose him know it; and if they like a placeman or
a pensioner, who else has any thing to do with the matter?
And, if a man be made a placeman or pensioner _after_
he be chosen, he must _vacate his seat_, and return to his
constituents to be re-elected before he can sit again; if
they reject him he cannot sit, and if they re-choose him,
who else has any thing to do with the matter?

To be sure it is pretty impudent for these people to talk
to us about _choice_, and about _re-choosing_ and about _rejecting_,
and the like, when they know that we are all
well informed of the nature of choosings and re-choosings
at Old Sarum, at Gatton, at Queenborough, at Bodmin,
at Penryn, at Honiton, at Oakhampton, and at more
than a hundred other places; it is pretty impudent to talk
to us about members _going back to their constituents_ at
such places as those here mentioned; but what will even
the impudence of these people find to say in the case of
those members who, upon having grasped places or pensions,
do go back to their constituents, and upon being
rejected by them, go to some borough where the people
have no voice; or who, not relishing the prospect, do not
go to face their former constituents, but go at once to
some borough, and there take a seat, which, by cogent
arguments, no doubt, some one has been prevailed on to
go out of to make way for them? What will even the
impudence of the most prostituted knaves of hired writers
find to say in cases like these?

Of the former, Mr. GEORGE TIERNEY presents a memorable
instance. He was formerly a member for Southwark,
chosen on account of his professions in favour of
freedom, by a numerous body of independent electors.
But having taken a fancy to a place which put some thousands
a year of the public money into his own individual
pocket, having had the assurance to go back to his constituents,
and having been by them _rejected_ with scorn,
be was immediately _chosen_ by some borough where a seat
bad been emptied in order to receive him, and now he is
representative of the people of a place called _Bandon
Bridge_, in _Ireland_, a place which, in all probability, he
never saw, and the inhabitants of which are, I dare say,
wholly unconscious of having the honour to be represented
by so famous a person. Your late representative,
Mr. BRAGGE BATHURST, has acted a more modest, or at
least a more prudent part. He has got a fat place; a
place, the profits of which would find some hundreds of
Englishmen's families in provisions all the year round;
be has been made what is called _Chancellor of the Duchy
of Lancaster_, which will give him immense patronage,
and of course afford him ample means of enriching his family,
friends, and dependents, besides his having held
places of great salary for many years before. Thus loaded
with riches arising from the public means, he does not, I
perceive, intend to _face you_; he cannot, it seems, screw
himself up to that pitch. We shall in all likelihood see
in a few days what borough opens its chaste arms to receive
him; but, as a matter of much greater consequence,
I now beg to offer you some remarks upon the measures
that have been taken to supply his place.

It was announced to his supporters at Bristol, about
three months ago, that he did not mean to offer himself
for that city again, and Mr. RICHARD HART DAVIS, of
whom you will hear enough, came forward as his successor;
openly avowing all his principles, and expressly
saying, that he would tread in his steps. What those
steps are, you have seen; and what those principles are,
the miserable people of England feel in the effects of war
and taxation. But, I beg your attention to some circumstances
connected with the election, which ought to be
known and long borne in mind. The WRIT for electing
a member for Bristol, in the room of Bragge Bathurst, was
moved for in the House of Commons; on Tuesday evening,
June 23, and at the same moment a writ for electing a
member for Colchester, in the room of Richard Hart Davis,
was moved for. So you see they both vacate at the
same instant; your man not liking to go down to Bristol,
the other vacates a seat for another place, in order to go
down to face you in his stead. Observe too with what
_quickness_ the thing is managed. Nobody knows, or at
least none of you know, that Bragge is going to vacate
his seat. Davis apparently knew it, because we see him
_vacating at the same moment_. The WRIT is sent off the
same night; it gets to Bristol on Wednesday morning the
24th; the law requires _four days notice_ on the part of the
Sheriffs; they give it; and the election comes on the
next Monday. So you see if Mr. HUNT had been living
in Ireland or Scotland, or even in the northern counties
of England, or in some parts of Cornwall, the election
might have been over before there would have been a
POSSIBILITY of his getting to Bristol. And though his
place of residence was within thirty miles of London, he
who was at home on his farm, had but just time to reach
you soon enough to give you an opportunity of exercising
your rights upon this occasion. Mr. Hunt _could_ not know
that the writ was moved for till Wednesday evening,
living, as he does, at a distance from a post town; and,
as it happened, he did not know of it, I believe, till
Thursday night; so that it was next to impossible for
him to come to London (which I suppose was necessary)
and to reach Bristol before Saturday. While, on the other
hand, Mr. Davis had chosen his time, and of course had
made all his preparations.

Such, Gentlemen, have been the means used preparatory
to the election. Let us now see what a scene your
city exhibits at this moment; first, however, taking a
look at the _under-plot going on in London_, in favour of

It is stated in the London newspapers, and particularly
in _The Times_ of Saturday last, that there was a meeting
on Friday at the Crown and Anchor in the Strand, the
object of which was "to _raise money_" by subscription
for "_supporting the election of Sir Samuel Romilly at
Bristol;_" and it is added, that a large sum was accordingly
raised. This meeting appears to me to have for
its object the deceiving of the electors of Bristol; an object,
however, which I am satisfied will not be accomplished
to any great extent. I do not mean to say that
Sir Samuel Romilly would use deceit; but I am quite
sure that there are those who would use it upon this
occasion. The truth is, that the raising of these large
sums of money (amounting already, they say, to 8,000_l_.)
proves that Sir Samuel Romilly does not put his trust in
the FREE VOICE of the people of Bristol. At this meeting
Mr. BARING, one of the persons _who makes the loans
to the Government_, was in the chair. This alone is a circumstance
sufficient to enable you to judge not only of the
_character_ of the meeting, but also of what sort of conduct
is _expected_ from Sir Samuel Romilly, if he were placed in
Parliament by the means of this subscription. Mr. WHITBREAD
was also at the meeting, and spoke in favour of
the subscription. But we must not be carried away by
_names_. Mr. Whitbread does many good things; but Mr.
Whitbread is not always right. Mr. Whitbread _subscribed
to bring Mr. Sheridan in for Westminster_, and was, indeed,
the man who caused him to obtain the appearance
of a majority; Mr. Whitbread supported that same Sheridan
afterwards against Lord COCHRANE; and though Mr.
Whitbread is so ready to subscribe now, _he refused to
subscribe to the election of Sir Francis Burdett_, notwithstanding
the election was in a city of which he was an inhabitant
and an elector. These, Gentlemen, are facts, of
which you should be apprised; otherwise _names_ might
deceive you.

I beg to observe also, that at this meeting there was
nothing said about a _Parliamentary Reform_, without
which you must be satisfied no good of any consequence
can be done. There was indeed a Mr. MILLS, who said
he came from Bristol, who observed that "the great majority
of the inhabitants of Bristol _felt_ perfectly convinced
of the necessity of SOMETHING LIKE Reform." And
is this all? Does your conviction go no farther than this?
I remember that, when a little boy, I was crying to my
mother for a bit of bread and cheese, and that a journeyman
carpenter, who was at work hard by, compassionately
offered _to chalk me out a big piece upon a board_. I
forget the way in which I vented my rage against him;
but the offer has never quitted my memory. Yet really
this seems to come up to the notion of Mr. Mills; the carpenter offered me SOMETHING LIKE a big piece of
bread and cheese. Oh! no, Gentlemen, it is not this _something
like_ that you want; you want _the thing itself;_ and
if Sir Samuel Romilly meant that you should have it, do
you believe that neither he, nor any one for him, would
have made any specific promise upon the subject? Even
after Mr. Mills had said that you wanted _something like_
Reform, there was nobody who ventured to say that Sir
Samuel Romilly would endeavour to procure even that
for you. His friends were told, that if he would distinctly
pledge himself to Reform, whether _in place or out of
place_, Mr. Hunt, who only wished to see that measure accomplished,
would himself assist in his election; but
this Sir Samuel Romilly has not done, and therefore he is
not the man whom you ought to choose, though he is beyond
all comparison better than hundreds of other public
men, and though he is, in many respects, a most excellent
Member of Parliament. Gentlemen, these friends of Sir
Samuel Romilly call upon you to choose him, because he
is, they tell you, a decided enemy of the measures of the
present ministers. Now they must very well know, that
_all those measures have had the decided support of the
parliament_. Well, then, do these friends allow, that the
parliament are the real representatives of the people,
and that they speak the people's voice? If Sir Samuel's
friends do allow this, then they do, in fact, say, that he is
an enemy to all those measures which the people's voice
approves of; and, if they do not allow this, if they say
that the parliament do _not_ speak the people's voice, and
are _not_ their real representatives, hove can they hope that
any man will do you any good who is not decidedly for _a
reform of that parliament?_ Let the meeting at the Crown
and Anchor answer these questions, or, in the name of
decency, I conjure them to hold their tongues, and to put
their subscriptions back again into their pockets.

To say the truth (and this is not a time to disguise it
from you) this subscription is a subscription _against_, and
not _for_, the freedom of election. If Sir Samuel Romilly's
friends were willing to put their trust in the free good-will
of the people of Bristol, why raise money in such large
quantities, and especially why resort to _party men_ and to
_loan makers_ for this purpose? They will say, perhaps,
that the money is intended for the purpose of carrying
down the _London voters_, and for that of fetching voters
from elsewhere; but, why are they afraid to put their
trust in the _resident_ voters of Bristol? The object of this
subscription is very far indeed from resembling the object
of that which was set on foot in Westminster, which was
not to gain votes by dint of money, but merely to pay the
expenses of printing, of clerks, and other little matters
inseparable from an election at Westminster; and the
whole of which did not amount to more than about _eight
hundred pounds;_ whereas as many thousands are stated
to be already subscribed for procuring the election of Sir
Samuel Romilly. In short, this attempt of the friends of
Sir Samuel Romilly is like many others that have been
made before. It is _purse against purse_. Mr. PROTHERO
has shaken his purse at Sir Samuel; and, as the latter
does not choose to engage with his own purse, his friends,
with _a loan maker at their head_, came forward to make
up a purse for him; and the free and unbought voice of
the electors of Bristol is evidently intended by neither
party to have any weight at all in the decision.

Let us now return and take a view of the political
picture which Bristol at this moment presents. And
here, the first observation that strikes one is, that neither
the friends of Sir Samuel Romilly nor the friends of Mr.
Prothero say one word in opposition to Mr. Hart Davis,
though he avowedly stands upon the principles of Mr.
Bragge and the present Ministers; though he quitted his
canvass about ten weeks ago, to come express to London
to vote in favour of the Orders in Council; and though
he now says, that he will tread in the steps of Mr. Bragge.
Though they have all this before their eyes, not one single
syllable does any one of them utter against the pretensions
or movements of Mr. Davis; and, though the meeting
at the Crown and Anchor took place several days
after the Bristol and Colchester writs were moved for,
and though the parties at the meeting must necessarily
have been well acquainted with all that I have above
stated to you upon the subject of those writs, not one
word did they utter against the pretensions of Mr. Davis,
nor did they (according to the printed report of their
proceedings) even mention his name, or take the smallest
notice of the circumstance, that an election, a little, snug,
rotten-borough-like election, was, at that moment, getting
up in that very city, for the _interest_ and _honour_ of which
they were affecting so much concern! And can you, then,
believe them sincere? Can you believe, that they have
any other view than merely that of securing _a seat for
the party_ in Bristol? Can you doubt that the contest, on
their part, is not for the _principle_, but for the _seat?_

Having pointed out this circumstance to your attention,
it is hardly necessary for me to advert to the conduct of
Mr. Hunt, which, in this case in particular, forms a contrast
with that of the other parties too striking not to
have produced a lasting impression upon your minds. He
does not content himself with _talking_ about defending
your liberties. He _acts_ as well as _talks_. He hears that
the enemy is at your camp, and he flies to rescue you
from his grasp. He does not waste his time in a tavern in
London, drawing up flourishing resolutions about "_public
spirit_." He hastens among you; he _looks your and
his adversary in the face:_ he shows you that you may
_depend upon him in the hour of trial_. These, Gentlemen,
are marks of such a character in a representative as
the times demand. Sir Samuel Romilly is a very worthy
gentleman; an honest man; a humane man; a man that
could not, in my opinion, be by any means tempted to do
a cruel or dishonest act; and he is, too, a man of great
talents. But, I have no scruple to say, that I should prefer,
and greatly prefer, Mr. Hunt to Sir Samuel Romilly,
as a Member of Parliament; for, while I do not know,
and do not believe, that the latter excels the former in
honesty or humanity, I am convinced that his talents,
though superior, perhaps, _in their kind_, are not equal, _in
value to the public_, to the talents possessed by Mr. Hunt,
who is at this moment giving you a specimen of the effect
of those talents.

Gentlemen, the predominance of _Lawyers_, in this country,
has produced amongst us a very erroneous way of
thinking with respect to the talents of public men; and,
contrary to the notions of the world in general, we are
apt to think a man great in mind in proportion to the glibness
of his tongue. With us, to be a _great talker_ is to be
a _great man;_ but perhaps a falser rule of judging never
was adopted. It is so far from being true as a general
maxim, that it is generally the contrary of the truth; and,
if you look back through the list of our own public men,
you will find that, in general, they have been shallow
and mischievous in proportion to their gift of talking. We
have been brought to our present miserable state by a
lawyer-like policy, defended in lawyer-like debates.
Plain good sense has been brow-beaten out of countenance;
has been talked down, by the politicians from the
bar; haranguing and special pleading and quibbling have
usurped the place of frank and explicit statement and unsophisticated
reasoning. In Mr. Hunt you have no lawyer,
but you have a man who is not to be brow-beaten
into silence. You have a man not to be intimidated by
the frowns or the threats of wealth or of rank; a man
not to be induced to abandon his duty towards you from
any consideration of danger to himself; and, I venture to
foretell (begging that my words may be remembered)
that, if you elect him, the whole country will soon acknowledge
the benefit conferred on it by the city of Bristol.

Gentlemen, this letter will, in all likelihood, find you
engaged in the bustle of an election. With all the advantages
on the side of your adversary, you may not, perhaps,
upon the _present_ occasion, be able to defeat him.
But you will have a chance; you will have an opportunity
of trying; you will have _an election_; and this you
would not have had if it had not been for Mr. Hunt,
for the whole affair would have been over before you had
scarcely _heard_ of it. At the very least you will have
_some days of liberty to speak your minds_; to tell Mr.
Davis what you think of him and of his predecessor; to
declare aloud your grievances and your indignation; and
even for _this_ liberty you will be indebted to Mr. Hunt,
and _solely_ to Mr. Hunt. You are told of the _zeal_ of Mr.
Prothero and Sir Samuel Romilly in your service; you are
told of their desire to promote your _interest_ and your _honour_;
but where are they _now_? Where are they when
the enemy is in your city, when you were to have been
handed over from Mr. Bragge Bathurst to Hart Davis as
quietly as if you had been a cargo of tallow or of corn?
It is now, it is in this moment of real need, that Mr. Hunt
comes to your aid; and, if he fail in defeating, he will,
at the least, harass your enemy, make his victory over
you cost him dear, and by exposing the sources and
means of his success, lay the foundation of his future defeat
and disgrace.--I am, your friend,


_State Prison, Nerogate, Monday, 29th June_, 1812.

Such of my readers as are not old enough to remember the events, or to
have read Mr. Cobbett's Register at that time, will acquire from this
letter a pretty cleat insight into the state of the case at this period
of the proceedings. It has already been seen, that, on the first
morning, I made my way to the hustings, and, under every disadvantage,
maintained the right of election in the City of Bristol. I had no allies
but the people; of _them_, indeed, I had the great mass with me; but,
though I had well-wishers in all the richer classes, there was scarcely
a single man beyond the rank of a journeyman, who had the courage openly
to give me any countenance or support. The Whigs and Tories united with
all their accumulated force against me. I had, therefore, to contend,
single-handed, against all _the power, wealth and influence_ of
all parties and factions in the city. All the corporation, all the
merchants, all the tradesmen, all the clergy and priests, whether of the
church of England or of the numberless sects of dissenters, all these,
and all whom they could array under their banners, were volunteers to
uphold the most corrupt and profligate system of election that ever
disgraced the rottenest of rotten boroughs. Then came the hireling
legion, consisting of a swarm of more foul and noxious vermin than
Moses inflicted upon the land of Egypt. It was made up of all the
attorneys, and pettifoggers, with their clerks, scamps, and runners;
every man, or rather every reptile, of them, being profusely fed to
bark, to snarl, to cavil, and to bully; and all of them more ravenous
and ferocious than sharks or wolves. It is, indeed, almost a libel upon
the sharks and wolves to compare them with such creatures. I cannot,
perhaps, give a better idea of them than in the forcible, though rather
coarse language of a mechanic, who declared that, "if hell were raked
with a small tooth-comb, it would not be possible to collect another
such a gang." In the evening, I requested my Committee to procure me a
list of these worthy limbs of the law; and, if I recollect right, the
number was forty-one. I know that it was one under or one over forty,
but I do not know which. There they were, Whigs and Tories, bitter
haters of each other on all other occasions, but now jumbled together
like pigs in a stye, or like hungry curs of all sorts of mis-begotten
and degenerate breeds. I believe that the famous Mr. WEBB HALL, who was
then a practising attorney in Bristol (of the firm of Jarman and Hall);
I believe that this profound agricultural quack of 1821, was, in 1812,
one of the formidable phalanx which was drawn up against me.

O, how this blessed band did roar and bluster, and pretend to be shocked
and horrified at my "matchless impudence," in thinking to oppose "the
amiable" and mighty candidate of the White Lion Club! The reader will
bear in mind that there never had been a real contested election in
Bristol since that of 1774, when Mr. Burke and Mr. Cruger were elected,
upon the opposition or Whig interest, to the exclusion of Earl Nugent
and Mr. Brickdale. At the election in 1780, the ministerial faction
returned both members. "From that period till 1812," says Mr. Oldfield,
in his History of the Boroughs, "the city of Bristol has been governed
by two party clubs, and each club has nominated a member, who were
quietly returned without any opposition." The people of Bristol, I
found, distinguished their two factions by the designation of the _high_
and the _low_ party: the Whigs deriving their principal support from the
lower class of tradesmen and journeymen.

The hungry, grasping, quirking attorneys thought they were all the time
pretending to be shocked at my opposition to "the worthy Mr. Davis,"
were, in fact, frightened out of their senses, every moment of the first
day, lest I should make a slip, so as to enable their worthy _leader_,
Mr. Arthur Palmer, the perpetual Under Sheriff, to take an advantage of
it and close the election. These mercenaries were all _hired at five
guineas a day_ each, as long as the election lasted; and of course the
cunning old trickster, Palmer, was always upon the look out to spoil
their sport, by closing the election. This Squire Palmer, this perpetual
tormentor of the poor distressed debtors of the City, was a cavilling,
quibbling, empty-headed, testy, old womanish chap, scarcely worthy to be
designated by the title of a man. He was eternally yelping, like a cur,
without any rhyme or reason; and the reader may estimate the pack by the
description that I have given of this, the foremost hound. There was
another of this gang who put himself very forward, and who was very
insolent to some of my friends. Such a looking creature I had scarcely
ever seen in human form; he had coal-black, straight hair, hanging down
a sallow-looking face, that had met with very rough usage from the
ravages of the small-pox. In fact, his face resembled a piece of cold,
dirty, honey combed tripe, and had very little more expression in it;
and the whole was completed by two heavy, dark eyes, which looked like
leaden bullets stuck in clay. This worthy had been going on for some
time in an impertinent way, on which I was about to admonish him; and,
as a preliminary, I asked him, with great coolness, "pray, Sir, is not
your naive Leach?" "Yes," said he, "it is _Leech_, and I should like to
suck thy blood!" This was esteemed a brilliant sally of wit, and was
received with noisy approbation by his surrounding friends. Well! I
thought to myself, I am amongst a precious set of cannibals, indeed, and
it will require all my temper to manage with such a tribe. There, too,
sat the Sheriffs. The one of them, Mr. Sheriff Brice, a sugar-baker,
was as upstart, whipper-snapper, waspish a little gentleman as ever
disgraced the seat of office. I soon discovered that I was not to expect
from him an atom of liberality or fair play. Mr. Sheriff Benjamin
Bickley, the other Sheriff, appeared to be an easy, good sort of man,
that wished to take it all very coolly and unconcernedly--to wit, "you
may settle it just as you please, gentlemen," or some such answer as
that, when he was appealed to. However, there was, altogether, a spirit
of fairness about him, which, when it came to the push, he had too much
honesty to disguise; so that, when he could be moved to interfere,
it was generally with impartiality. These were our two Sheriffs and
returning officers. But, as they thought it quite beneath them to
understand any thing about the law of election, they had their assessor,
a barrister, to settle all the law points with me; this assessor was
Edmond Griffith, Esq. who is now one of the police magistrates in the
metropolis, but at which office I forget. The points of law I carried
nineteen times out of twenty, for I had _Disney's Abridgement_ at
my fingers ends, and that author's volume we made the umpire in all
contested points. Before I proceed any farther, I must say, that, during
the whole of this tremendous contest, Mr. Griffith conducted himself in
every respect like a gentleman and a man of honour; and when I have said
this of Mr. Chancellor Griffith, and Mr. Sheriff Bickley, I shall
not belie any person in the city of Bristol by paying him a similar
compliment. With these two exceptions, I can safely affirm, that I never
received an act of civility, liberality or fair play, from any of that
class that call themselves gentlemen, in Bristol, during the whole
fifteen days that the election lasted. But, to make amends for this, I
received numerous acts of kindness from many worthy tradesmen, and such
proofs of devoted attachment from almost the whole of the population,
male and female, with the exception of the hirelings and dependents of
the gentry, as I have never seen surpassed to this day.

Between the time of adjourning the poll to that of meeting again the
next morning, I received no less than half a score anonymous letters,
threatening my life, if I appeared at the Hall the next day. This had,
of course, no weight with me; but it shows by what a gang of desperadoes
I was surrounded. I had not the least doubt of their good will to put
this threat into effect; it was the fear of a _dreadful retribution that
alone_ deterred them from hiring some of the numerous assassins, who, it
was said, had volunteered for a good round sum to become my butchers.
All sorts of schemes and plans were devised to get rid of me; but
nothing was thought likely to answer. At length it was proposed, by
certain members of the White Lion Club, to bribe me with the offer of a
sum sufficient to purchase a seat from one of the Boroughmongers, if I
wished to be in Parliament. This was believed to be the only plan, and
every one appeared to think that it would be much better to give me
5000_l_. to withdraw, than it would be for them to pay 20,000_l_., which
was the least the contest would be likely to cost, besides all the
trouble to boot. But just as this was apparently unanimously agreed
upon, one of the sapient attorneys, who happened to know me a little
personally, put this very natural question, "Pray, Gentlemen, who is the
man that is to offer Mr. Hunt this bribe?" This, as I was informed, put
an end at once to the scheme; there being no one who would undertake to
be the messenger to bear such a proposition to me. The task would indeed
have been an absurd as well as a hazardous one; for I offered myself to
the people of Bristol upon the Constitutional principle that I would not
spend one shilling, neither would I canvass the electors; and I further
tendered an affidavit, which I offered to swear before the Mayor, that
I never would accept of a place of profit or a pension under the Crown,
either directly or indirectly, either for myself or any one of my
family. It was, therefore, not very likely that I would consent to creep
into Parliament by corrupt means.

Well, the election was fairly begun, two candidates were regularly
proposed, it had been put to the vote, the shew of hands had been
declared by the Sheriffs to be in my favour, a poll had been demanded by
Mr. Davis, the poll was open and votes on each side had been taken, and
the poll been adjourned till nine o'clock the next morning. One thing
was made obvious, on the first day, to my opponents. It was clearly
ascertained that I could not be put off my guard; and that in the midst
of this terrible struggle and hurlyburly, I was perhaps the calmest
and most collected man in the whole assemblage. All hopes of putting an
end to the election were consequently quite banished from the mind even
of the arch-trickster, Mr. Arthur Palmer, and there was nothing left for
them but to endure the fifteen days contest, or try to bring it by force
to a sudden conclusion. It was then, as I have before stated, that
the bludgeon-men were let loose to accomplish the plan, and glut the
vengeance of their enraged and mortified employers; and, after I was
retired to bed at my inn, to recruit my strength, that I might be able,
on the next day, to commence single-handed, the task of keeping in order
these said forty limbs of the law, and dreadful was the struggle. Mr.
Davis had all the power of authority and wealth thrown into his scale;
and finding that I had all the popularity, his supporters set to work
the engines of intimidation, corrupt influence, and bribery. All day
long my voters had to submit to insults and assaults, committed upon
them by the bludgeon-men, who had increased their numbers to eight
hundred. These fellows, together with the whole of the City police,
conducted themselves in the most outrageous manner, by maltreating the
people. Their gangs had absolutely blocked up the whole of Broad-street,
and every avenue leading to the hustings. Information was frequently
brought to me, that these ruffians were assaulting and beating back my
votes; and I frequently left the hustings and went into the streets to
rescue those who were so unmercifully attacked, which I always effected
whenever I went forth.

When the evening came, and the poll was adjourned to the next day, I
retired, mounted my horse, which was waiting for me at the Hall door,
and rode to the Exchange, to give the multitude a history of the
proceedings of the day in the Guildhall. After giving them a correct
detail of the business of the day, and the state of the poll, I urged
every man to get as well armed as he could, and by all means resist the
illegal violence of the hired bludgeon-men; but on no account to strike
first. It behoved them, I said, to stand up manfully for their rights,
and not be driven off the field, particularly out of their own city, by
hired ruffians. I told them that, after I had been home to my inn and
taken my dinner, it was my intention to ride round the city for a little
fresh air, and that I should, if they wished it, have no objection to
my friends accompanying me, to make a sort of general canvass. This
communication was received with universal approbation, all declaring
that they would attend me; and I promised to start from my inn, the
Talbot, precisely at seven o'clock, to ride an hour or an hour and a

At the appointed time they were all as good as their words, and the
Talbot was surrounded by perhaps not less than from ten to fifteen
thousand people. I also was as good as my word, for as soon as the clock
struck seven I mounted my horse, and rode out of the inn yard amongst
them. I was of course hailed with such shouts as made the whole city
ring again. Unaccompanied by any human being whom I knew, I threw myself
amongst them, and made my way through a passage that was opened, over
the bridge and down by the quay, gently following the course of the
river from Bristol-bridge even till I came round by the Broad-quay to
the draw-bridge. The whole of this quay is covered with all sorts
of timber, wood, poles, faggot piles, and other rough merchandise,
principally brought. from Wales. The people eyed these faggot piles very
wishfully; at length one drew out a stick, another followed, till, as
we passed along, the whole male part of the multitude became armed with
bludgeons and sticks as well as Mr. Davis's bludgeon-men. Though I could
have wished that the weapons had been otherwise obtained, yet I must
confess that I was not very sorry to see what had happened, as the White
Lion hirelings had become so outrageously brutal that it was absolutely
necessary to put them down, or the next day we should not have been
enabled to bring up a single vote. Eight hundred ruffians, collected
from the collieries at Kingswood and from Cock-road, the haunt of every
species of desperadoes; such a gang as this, well paid and well filled
with ale, and knowing that, do what they would, they should be protected
by the authorities, was a sort of force that was not to be trifled with.
I therefore gave the word, let none of my friends strike first, but let
no one upon such an occasion as that for which we are contending, which
is for the freedom of election, let no one be insulted or assaulted with
impunity by the hired bludgeon-men. If they once begin to knock down the
people, let them without ceremony be driven out of the city.

Such a body of men as were with me, armed each of them with a good
thick stick, made rather a formidable appearance, and I saw that the
countenances of the citizens, shopkeepers, and merchants, as I passed,
evidently betrayed the greatest alarm. As soon as they had attended me
to my inn, and given me three cheers at parting, the cry was, "_to
Broad-street! to Broad-street!_" which was the rendezvous for Davis's
bludgeon-men, who had got complete possession of that street, and
remained opposite the White Lion the whole of the day, stopping up all
access to the Guildhall, which is in the same street. Every one who was
not of the Blue party, and who had attempted to pass, had been not only
insulted but assaulted, and sometimes knocked down and half murdered.
One man had been killed the night before. Every one now affected to
dread Hunt's mob; but I replied "depend upon it they only want their
rights, and their rights they shall have, as far as maintaining the
freedom of election, or they shall fight for it." In less than a quarter
of an hour after they quitted the Talbot, and before I had finished my
tea, I heard a tremendous shouting, and upon inquiring the cause, I
found that the bludgeon-men had all fled at the approach of my men. On
the evening before, when the people had no weapons, the bludgeon gentry
had received a specimen of what they could do in resisting unjust and
usurped power; and now that the people had bludgeons as well as their
enemies, the hirelings took to their heels, and the volunteers were
victorious, without striking scarcely a blow. The timid and cowardly
race that had employed these bludgeon-men, in whom they placed great
confidence to save them from Hunt's mob, began to quake for fear; but
their fears were groundless. Having by their victory gained that to
which they were entitled, a free and unmolested passage through the
streets of their city, they were content; and, instead of acting in the
same way, that, under similar circumstances, their dastardly oppressors
would have done, instead of committing the slightest depredations upon
any body or any thing, they returned to communicate their triumph to me,
which they announced by three cheers, and then quietly and peaceably
dispersed, and retired each man to his home, without even having broken
a single pane of glass, that ever came to my knowledge. The very idea of
having a free election was, however, quite out of the question with my
opponents. They sent off for the military, as it was reported, without
further delay, though there did not exist the least riot, or probability
of one; in fact, all rioting and bloodshed had been put an end to by
driving the hireling bludgeon-men to quarters, and clearing the streets
of them.

By this time I had received a considerable accession to my forces at the
inn. My committee, or rather the committee of the free men, mustered
very strong. Mr. Williams, a very respectable shoemaker, together with
Mr. Cranidge, a schoolmaster, had now joined the standard of Liberty,
and added their names to my committee. Every one who entered the
committee subscribed his name to act as a volunteer, without the
slightest pecuniary remuneration. There were the two Pimms, Lyddiard,
Mr. Bright, in the Old Market, Mr. Brownjohn, Mr. Wright, the famous
pedestrian, who has lately accomplished such feats in Yorkshire, such
as no one but a real Radical could perform; a Mr. Webb, a sort of an
attorney, a very active man, who was generally in the chair at most of
the committee meetings, and who used to be very particular that
every one who joined the committee should pledge himself to act as a
volunteer, &c. without fee or reward. There was also a Mr. Hornbrook,
who, together with Webb, took a very prominent part in the _talking
department_. There were several more, but these determined Radicals
managed every thing, and carried all my plans into effect. I seldom saw
any thing of the committee in a body, except that every evening I paid
them a mere visit of form for a few minutes. It was real purity of
election; not one shilling was to be spent or given away, every one was
to do his best, and to pay his own share of any little expense they were
at; and so well understood was it, that it was an election of principle,
that scarcely ten persons ever asked for any thing; not even so much
as a draught of porter was ever given away to a voter or any one else.
There was a daily subscription for printing, and that was all the money
that was ever required, and printing was the only thing on which money
was spent. Yet even this was a heavy expense. I have since learned that
there was a rich Quaker, and two or three rich men, that, under the
rose, furnished my committee, or at least some of the members of it,
with liberal sums. There was also a lady at Clifton who did the same;
and, in truth, I have reason to think that money to a considerable
amount was subscribed in this way, which never came to my knowledge, or
to the knowledge of the great body of the committee.

I have, I dare say, missed the names of some who made up this committee.
Indeed, I at this moment remember some additional names. There was Mr.
Thomas, and Mr. Lutherel, a sort of a journeyman attorney, and a Mr.
W. Weech, of all the men in the world one that I ought not to have
forgotten, he was a most worthy elector of Bristol, who, together with
Brownjohn, never flinched for a moment. There were also Mr. Haines
and Mr. Farr, and a brave and worthy elector of the name of Stokes,
a shoemaker. In fact, they were altogether as brave and as staunch
a little band of patriots as ever met to struggle for the rights of
Englishmen--and this was indeed a mighty struggle, the force, the power,
the wealth, and the corrupt influence that we had to contend with, being
beyond all description.

I very soon discovered that there was not the slightest chance of
carrying the election; there being a complete coalition between the
Whigs and the Tories. The whole enormous influence of both the factions
was thrown into the scale against me. The most violent menaces were used
by them to deter my friends from coming forward in my favour. Hundreds
upon hundreds came to say, that they were anxious to vote for me, but if
they did do so they would lose their bread, and they and their families
would be ruined. All the merchants, tradesmen, and masters of every
denomination, openly vowed vengeance against all their dependants and
connexions, if they voted for me. I believe there was never any thing
equal to the threats and intimidation that took place in that city
during that election. As, therefore, there was no chance of contending
against all this with any prospect of success, the only course which was
left for me to pursue, was to make the enemy purchase his victory as
dearly as possible; and, with this view, all my efforts were directed
to impress on the minds of my Committee the necessity of husbanding our
resources, by keeping back all the staunch votes, so as to protract the
poll to the very last hour which was allowed by law. We _did_ accomplish
this; yet how, under such adverse circumstances, we contrived to carry
on the contest for fifteen days, has often been a matter of astonishment
to me.

I had been two days now without any friend to assist me, and whether it
was on the third or whether it was on the fourth day, I am not quite
clear; but, to my great joy, a gentleman from London, whom I had only
met once or twice before, came down, as he said, when he introduced
himself upon the hustings, expressly to assist me in the glorious
struggle. My pleasure was equal to my surprise, when Mr. Davenport, a
gentleman well known in the literary world, walked up on the hustings
and shook me by the hand, at the time that he communicated this
gratifying intelligence. Mr. Davenport was just the very man of whom I
stood in need. If I had taken the choice of the whole world, knowing
him, as I now do, I would have selected Mr. Davenport. He is rather a
little man, but he is as brave as a lion, with an eye as quick as
a hawk's, decisive and rapid in executing any thing that was to be
undertaken, and with wit and talent as brilliant as the sun at noon-day.
I had all along felt myself more than a match for the forty attorneys
and all their myrmidons; but with such a man as Mr. Davenport by my
side, I held them cheap indeed. This was such an accession to my forces
as I had not at all calculated upon. To Mr. Cobbett and to Sir Francis
Burdett was I indebted for the able assistance of such a man. Before
he arrived, I had not a friend that I could communicate with; all the
Bristol men were tradesmen, and they had to attend to their business,
when they were not at work either in the Committee-room or in the field;
but in Mr. Davenport I found at once a delightful companion, and an
indefatigable, able, assistant. When he sees this it will recal to his
recollection many and many a hearty laugh which we had together, in
talking over the blunders and stupidities that had been committed by
the Bristolians during the labours and fatigues oL the day, and how
we enjoyed the mischief that we were making amongst the agents of The
Boroughmongers. It was calculated that Mr. Davis and his friends did not
spend less than two thousand pounds a day, while we fared sumptuously,
and partook of every delicacy of the season, at an expense not exceeding
twenty-five shillings a day between us; this being the extent of my
expenses, when I came to pay my bill at the end of the sixteen days that
I was at the Talbot. I shall never forget how he used to laugh and enjoy
the fun; and it almost makes me laugh now, even in my solitary dungeon,
when I recollect the way in which _Snuffy Jerry_ tuned up the first song
that Mr. Davenport wrote, beginning--"Tallow Dick! Tallow Dick! you are
cursedly sick of being baited at Bristol election." Tallow Dick, be it
observed, was the name by which the Tory champion was known. After being
_eighteen days and nights in solitary confinement_, in my gloomy, dark,
damp, dungeon, without having been once cheered by the voice of a
friend, I can smile at the recollection of these scenes that afforded
us so much mirth. Ah! my dear and much respected friend, when you read
this, and think of my situation, I know that the tear will for a moment
glisten in your eye, your whole soul will sympathise with your friend.
But again, when you think of the cruel sufferings and persecutions of
those that I love more than my life, I can almost see you jump out of
your seat, and, as you brush the tear indignantly from your eye, I can
fancy I hear you shower down maledictions upon the unnatural monsters
who can thus delight to inflict wanton misery upon a captive and his
unoffending family.

The next morning very early, one of my friends came to my bed-room door
to inform me that a regiment of soldiers had been marched into the city
during the night, and that some of them had actually taken up their
quarters and slept in the Guildhall, the very seat of the election. I
immediately rose, and while I was dressing myself, I ordered my horse,
being determined to go and witness this novel scene, of a regiment of
soldiers taking possession of the Guildhall and the hustings, during
the time of an election; still, however, expecting that as soon as the
authorities were in motion in the morning, they would remove them at
least from the immediate neighbourhood where the election was going
on; but I afterwards found that my haste was unnecessary. I mounted my
horse, and accompanied by a few friends, I rode down to the door of the
Guildhall, which was surrounded by soldiers with bayonets fixed. Upon
hearing that I was coming, for my approach was always announced by the
people, those who had slept in the Hall come flocking down the steps, to
have a peep at this tremendous candidate who had created such a
popular feeling that the election could not be carried on without the
intervention of the military, both horse and foot--two troops of the
Scots Greys and the West Middlesex Militia. Upon one of the officers
coming to the spot, I addressed them as I sat on my horse. But, as
what I said was published at the time, in an account given of the
transactions as they occurred, as well as in the details which were put
forth by the London press, and collected by Mr. Cobbett, who reprinted
them in the 22d volume of the _Register_, I shall insert his account of
it, as follows:--


From the letter, at the head of this sheet, [Footnote: See page 519.]
the reader will find a pretty good preface to the history of this
election, which is quite another sort of thing than what the friends of
Sir Samuel Romilly appear to have taken an election at Bristol to be.

The intelligence which I have from that City comes down to Wednesday
last, the 1st instant. I may, and, I dare say, I shall, have it to a
later date before this number goes to the press; but, I shall now give
the history down to that day.

Sir Samuel Romilly's friends, at their meeting at the Crown and Anchor,
talked of Mr. PROTHEROE as an opponent; but, not a word did they say of
Mr. HUNT. A _farmer_, was, I suppose, thought beneath their notice. We
shall, however, see that farmer doing more at Bristol, I imagine, than
they and their subscription will ever be able to do. In the letter,
before inserted, I have shown how Mr. Hunt, whose residence is in
Sussex, was taken by surprise. He was wholly ignorant of the vacancy,
'till _Thursday evening_, the 25th of June, when his newspaper of
Wednesday informed him that the writ, in the room of Mr. Bragge
Bathurst, had been moved for on Tuesday.

He came to London on Friday, set off that night for Bath, and got into
Bristol on _Saturday evening_, where he was received by the people with
a pleasure proportioned to their surprise at seeing him come.

Hart Davis had made his entry in an earlier part of the day, preceded by
the carriages of bankers, excise and custom-House people, and, in short,
all that description of persons who are every where found in opposition
to the liberties of Englishmen.

As it was settled amongst the parties, that Davis was to meet with no
opposition from either MR. PROTHEROE or SIR SAMUEL ROMILLY, he expected
a _chairing_ on the Monday, amidst the shouts of some score or two
of hired voices. How great was his surprise, then, and how great the
consternation of his party, when they saw it announced that Mr. Hunt was
about to make his appearance!

_Sunday_ (the 28th of June) passed, of course, without any _business_
being done, but not without "_dreadful note of preparation._"

On Monday morning, the day appointed by the Sheriffs for holding the
election, the Guildhall, the place for holding the election, became a
scene of great interest: an injured and insulted people resolved to
assert their rights against the intrigues and the violences of a set of
men who were attempting to rob them of those rights.

After the _nominations_ had taken place, the Sheriffs adjourned their
court till the next day.

In the evening great strife and fighting and violence took place; the
_White Lion Inn_, whence the _Club_ who put in Mr. Bragge, and who are
now at work for Davis, takes its name; this Inn was assailed by the
_people's party_, and, it is said, pretty nearly demolished. Mr. Davis's
house at Clifton is said to have shared the same fate; and, this and
similar work, with terrible battles in the streets, having continued
till Tuesday night (the 30th of June), the SOLDIERS WERE CALLED IN, AND,

Pause, here, reader. Look at this spectacle. But, how came this to be
_necessary!_ It is said, that it was _necessary_, in order to _preserve
property_. But, _how came it to be so?_ Who _began_ the violences? That
is the question.

And I have no hesitation in stating my firm belief, that they were
begun, not by the PEOPLE, but by their enemies.

I state, upon the authority of Mr. JOHN ALLEN, of Bath, whom I know to
be a man of honour, of strict veracity, and (if that be any additional
praise) of great property: upon the authority of this gentleman, who
requests me to use his name, and who was an eye-witness of what he
relates, I state, that, there were about 400 men, who had been _made
special constables for the purpose_, who where planted near the place of
election; that these men, who ought to have been for one side as much as
for the other, were armed with _staves_ or _clubs_, painted BLUE, which,
the reader will observe, is the colour of the White Lion, or Bragge and
Davis, party; and, of course, the PEOPLE, who were for Mr. Hunt, looked
upon these 400 men as brought for the purpose of overawing them and
preventing them by force from exercising their rights. These men
committed, during the 29th, many acts of violence against the people.
But, at last, the people, _after great numbers of them had been
wounded_, armed themselves _with clubs too_; attacked the Blues, and
drove them into the White Lion.

Here the mischief would have ended; but the Blues, ascending to the
_upper rooms_ and _the roof_, had the baseness to throw down _stones,
brick-bats, tiles, glass bottles_, and other things, upon the heads
of the people. This produced an attack upon the house, which was soon
broken in, and I believe, gutted.

These facts I state upon the authority of Mr. Allen; and I state them
with a perfect conviction of their truth.

The reader will observe, that the great point is, WHO BEGAN THE FIGHT?
We have heard Mr. Allen; now let us hear what the other parties say. In
the TIMES newspaper of the 2d July, it is said by a writer of a letter
from Bristol, who abuses Mr. Hunt, that when the nomination was about to
take place, "Mr. Davis and his party made their appearance. The friends
of Mr. Davis _wore blue cockades_, and they were accompanied by _some
hundreds of persons bearing short_ BLUE STAVES, who had been sworn in as
_special constables_." This is enough. Here is a full acknowledgment of
the main circumstance stated by Mr. Allen: namely, that hundreds of men,
sworn in as Constables, were armed with _staves_ of the colour of one
of the candidates, and that they accompanied that candidate to the
Hustings.--In the COURIER of the 1st July, the same fact, in other
words, comes out. The writer (of another letter from Bristol), in
speaking of the precautions intended to be taken, says: "Our Chief
Magistrate has summoned his brother officers together, and _as_ the
constables _assembled by Mr. Davis's friends_ are to be all dismissed
at the close of the poll, and _their colours taken out of their hats_,
there will be _no provocation on his part_ to Mr. Hunt's party."--This,
coming from the enemy, clearly shews _on which side the aggression had
commenced_.--Therefore, for all that followed, the party of Davis are
responsible.-- We shall know, by-and-by, perhaps, who it was that
_permitted_ these hundreds of Constables to hoist the colours of one of
the candidates, which was, in fact, "a _declaration of war_ against
the people," and as such the letter in the TIMES says it was
regarded.--Well, but the SOLDIERS ARE CALLED IN; and, as I am informed,
the Soldiers were, on Wednesday morning, between _five_ and _six_
o'clock, addressed by Mr. Hunt in nearly the following words:
"Gentlemen; Soldiers; Fellow-citizens and Countrymen, I have to ask a
favour of you, and that is, that you will discover _no hostility to each
other_ on account of your being dressed in different coloured coats. You
are all equally interested in this election. You are all Englishmen; you
must all love freedom; and, therefore, act towards each other as brother
towards brother." It is added by my informant, that Mr. Hunt was greatly
applauded by the _whole_ of his audience.--He expressed his conviction,
that the soldiers would not voluntarily shoot their countrymen; "but,"
added he, "if military force is to carry the election, the "sooner the
shooting begins, the better; and here am I," said he, laying bare his
breast, "ready to receive the first ball."--Let us now see how the
_factious_ view this matter.--The COURIER abuses Mr. Hunt in the style
to be expected. The TIMES speaks of him in this way: "The poll commenced
at ten o'clock. In this _farce_ Mr. Hunt plays many parts: he unites
in himself the various characters of _Candidate_, _Counsel_, and
_Committee_, as he has _not one human being to assist him_ in either of
those capacities." Well, and what then? What does he want more than a
good cause and the support of the people? These are all that ought to be
necessary to any candidate. What business have _lawyers_ with elections?
And, ought the people to want any committee, to tell them their duty?
The _Morning Chronicle_ takes a more sanctimonious tone. It says on the
2d of July, (in the form of a letter from Bristol): "It is much to be
regretted, that the _regularity_ and _peaceable_ demeanour with which
our elections were _formerly conducted_, are now totally disregarded.
Notwithstanding _the exertions of Mr. Davis's, Mr. Protheroe's, and Sir
S. Romilly's friends_, to prevent a recurrence of the outrages which
endangered Mr. Bathurst's life at a late election, the procession on
Saturday _was assailed by vollies of mud, stones, dead cats, &c. Mr.
Davis fortunately escaped unhurt, except from one stone which struck
his arm._" Here are two things to be observed: first, that _Davis,
Protheroe,_ and _Sir Samuel Romilly's_ friends, the friends of all of
them, are here spoken of as co-operating. Aye, to be sure! League with
the devil against the rights of the people! This is a true _Whig trait_.
But, the _mud, stones, and dead cats!_ Who in all the world could have
thrown them at "the amiable Mr. Davis?" It must have been some _Bristol
people_ certainly; and that of their own accord too, _for Mr. Hunt was
not there at the time_.--Mark how these prints discover each other's
falsehoods. The Courier of the 1st July gave us an account of Mr.
Davis's gracious reception. It told us, that "RICHARD HART DAVIS, Esq.
the late Member for Colchester, and the professed candidate of the
_White Lion party_ in this city, was met at Clifton on Saturday by
_an immense body of freeholders and freemen_, consisting of the most
respectble and opulent inhabitants of the city, and was preceded to
the Exchange by a cavalcade of upwards of one hundred carriages, and a
numerous body of his friends on horseback and on foot." But, not a word
about the _mud, stones, and dead cats_, with which he was saluted.
Yet these were flung at him; and flung at him, too, by the people of
Bristol; by hands unbought; for Mr. Hunt spends not a farthing. They
were a _voluntary offering_ on the part of those men of Bristol who were
not to be corrupted.

The COURIER of Thursday, 2d July, states, that both _horse and foot
soldiers_ had been marched into Bristol.

SIR FRANCIS BURDETT mentioned this circumstance in the House of Commons
on Thursday evening. The Secretary at War said he did not know of the
troops being brought _into_ the city. But this will be found to have
been the case.


_State Prison, Newgate,_

_Friday, 3rd July, 1812._

After having reviewed the red coat gentry of the West Middlesex Militia,
I returned to my inn and took my breakfast, and at nine o'clock I
proceeded on horseback to the Guildhall, accompanied as usual by a great
number of my friends, the unhired, the unbought, people of Bristol. When
I arrived at the top of Broad-street, I found, to my surprise, that I
had to pass the whole of the way down that street to the Guildhall,
between double lines of the military, drawn up on each side of the
street, with arms supported and bayonets fixed. This was not only a
novel scene, it was such a one as had never before been exhibited at an
election in England. As I passed the first rank and file I halted, and
taking off my hat, said, "Come, my lads, let us give our friends, the
soldiers, three cheers." This was instantly complied with, and as I went
on, each soldier exclaimed, "Hunt for ever;" and this was kept up by the
whole line till I reached the Hall-door, when three more cheers were
given, in which many of the soldiers heartily joined. Unconstitutional
and illegal as was the measure of bringing the military to superintend,
or rather to overawe, an election, it must be owned that the soldiers
were at least much less dangerous than the brutal bludgeon-men. This,
however, had the desired effect of deterring almost all the electors
from coming to the poll, except those who came for Mr. Davis, and knew
that they were protected by the authorities. The very idea of
introducing military at any time into the streets of Bristol, had a very
disagreeable and alarming appearance, and called to the recollection of
the citizens the horrors which had occurred at the massacre of Bristol
Bridge, some few years before, when the people were fired upon by the
Herefordshire Militia, and I think as many as ten or twelve were killed,
and a great many wounded. The introduction, therefore, of troops into
the city, in the midst of an election, naturally excited a great panic
amongst the timid and the weak, and those who prided themselves for
prudence took care to keep from the spot.

The moment that I got upon the hustings I protested against such a
violation of the constitution, such an outrage upon the rights of
freedom of election, and pledged myself that I would present and
prosecute a petition against the return which might be made under such
circumstances. The Sheriffs declared they knew nothing about it; that
the military were introduced by the Mayor to preserve the peace of the
city. The soldiers, nevertheless, continued to occupy the whole of
Broad-street, and kept guard over the door to the hustings, during the
whole of that day.

Seeing the state of intimidation in which the people of Bristol were
placed, and learning the threats and the violence which had been used to
prevent the voters from coming up to poll for one, it now became my care
to husband those few independent votes upon whom I could depend, and to
avoid bringing up those whose bread was dependent upon my opponents. Of
the latter there were some as brave as lions, who, defying danger, set
all consequences at defiance. I recollect some instances of peculiar
devotion and heroism. There was a smith in Balance-street, of the name
of Pollard, a freeman, who possessed a soul that nothing could shake;
there was also a young freeman, named Milsom, and several others, who
attended the hustings every day, but held back their votes to the very
last, and bravely came up to the bar when called upon. It required
nerves, courage, and virtue, of no common cast, to do this, in defiance
of all the authorities, as vindictive and virulent a gang of petty
tyrants as ever disgraced the robes of office. In this manner the
election proceeded from day to day, without any chance ever having been
given by me to enable the Sheriffs to close it.

In the evening, after this exhibition of the military, I heard that they
were quartered all over the city; but the next morning they did not
appear to keep guard over the hustings. Great bodies of them were,
however, stationed at the Mansion House, and other public offices. A
circumstance meanwhile occurred, which, at the time, I communicated only
to a few confidential friends, and have seldom mentioned since, for fear
that there might be a remote possibility of placing in jeopardy the
parties concerned. The knowledge of the Middlesex Militia having been
marched into the city of Bristol, to overawe the electors in the free
exercise of their franchise, was rapidly spread far and wide. About
eleven o'clock, just before I was going to bed, a message was brought to
me to say that there were three men, strangers, who wished to see me in
private, upon business which they said was of importance. I had a friend
sitting with me, who was about to depart; but I detained him,
and desired that the gentlemen might be told to walk up. Three
decent-looking young men were introduced, and one of them, who acted
as spokesman, addressing himself to me, said, "We wish to communicate
something of consequence to you in private, if you please, Sir." My
answer was, "As you are strangers to me, I ought to see you only one at
a time; but as there can be no secret that I would wish to hear from you
that I would not intrust my friend with, I beg you will proceed." "Can
you rely upon your friend, Sir," said the speaker, "as our communication
will place our lives in your power?" I replied that I would trust my
own life in the hands of my friend; but I saw no reason why they should
commit themselves either to me or to him." The reply was, "It concerns
you, Sir, as well as us." "Well, then," said I, "proceed, for I will be
answerable for my friend, that he will never betray you." "I, Sir, am a
corporal in the ---- regiment ----; these are two privates, my comrades;
we are quartered at ----. Yesterday one of our men was sent over by an
officer to vote for Mr. Davis; he had a conversation with a serjeant
of the Middlesex Militia, who told him, in confidence, that they had
private orders, in case of any row or riot, to shoot you, Sir; which the
serjeant told him would be certainly put in execution in case there was
the slightest disturbance to give a colour for such a measure. This
he related to us upon his return last night. The circumstance has been
communicated in confidence to every man in our division, except the
officers and one non-commissioned officer, and we have, one and all,
sworn to come to your relief, and, by driving these bloody Middlesex men
out of the city, protect you from the violent death which is intended
for you. We were chosen by lot to come over to you with this offer. Your
life is in danger, and we are, one and all, ready to sacrifice our lives
to protect you. We do not expect, as you do not know us, that you will
openly accept our offer; but only give us a nod of assent, and we will
march into the city of Bristol at any hour to-morrow night that you may
think proper. We shall have no commissioned officers, but we shall have
all the non-commissioned officers, except one, and him we did not choose
to trust. Our lives are in your power, and we pledge them upon the
accomplishment of what we offer; we are ready to lay them down to save
you. It was first proposed to come off this night, in which case the
whole of our four companies would have been here by this time, but it
was at length resolved to make you acquainted with our design, lest
you might be sacrificed in the onset, before you were aware of our
intentions. The lot having fallen upon us to communicate this to you,
Sir, we put on coloured clothes, and started before it was scarcely
dark, and here we are, in your power, or at your command." The two
privates testified to the truth of the corporal's statement, and gave
their names.

During this harangue, I had time to collect myself, and I deliberately
replied--"If you are spies, sent to entrap me, your own guilty
consciences will be your punishment; but as you appear to have placed
yourselves in my power, and claimed my confidence, I will not betray
you. If you are honest, you have my thanks for your indiscreet zeal, in
running such a great risk to preserve my life. The motive is laudable,
but the means are most dangerous, and I fear you have not well weighed
the consequences. Should the sword be once drawn in such a cause, there
is no middle course to pursue; the scabberd must be thrown away. The
period is not yet come for such a movement; neither will the occasion
warrant it. I must trust to the laws for my protection, or rather to
the fears of my enemies; as their dread of a terrible and summary
retribution, I have no doubt, will prove my greatest shield of safety. I
must recommend you to return immediately to your comrades, and tell
them they are not wanted; and rely upon it, as you have placed such
confidence in me, I will never betray it." They all replied they had not
the slightest fear of that, and they declared that if any accident or
foul play happened to me, that they would take an ample and an awful

This was a very serious occurrence, and it made a deep impression upon
my mind. I was grateful for their zealous attachment to me; but I
trembled when I thought of the result. Yet, had I at last found that no
other resource remained to save me from being basely murdered, I might,
perhaps, have been tempted to accept their offer, and to make one grand
effort to preserve my life and the liberties of my country, and either
have accomplished my purpose, or have gloriously fallen in the struggle.
I never doubted the truth of the corporal's account respecting the
private orders which were delivered to the non-commissioned officers of
the West Middlesex militia; and I have never had any occasion to doubt
the sincerity of these men. If the event had taken place six years
later, I should at once have been of opinion that it was a plot to
_entrap me_; but I am thoroughly convinced, from what came to my
knowledge afterwards, that this was a most sincere and devoted offer;
and, further, that if I had been killed during that election, rivers of
blood would have flowed in Bristol. The friend who was present will read
this, and will perceive the correctness with which I have related the
circumstance. In fact, it made such an impression upon both of us, that
we shall never forget it.

The military were still retained in Bristol, and one or two troops of
the Scots Greys were kept, during the whole election, at Clifton, within
a hundred yards of the bounds of the city. The election was still
continued, but very few were polled on either side, although those who
polled for Davis, more than trebled in number those who polled for me.

One day, when I came from the hustings, I announced that I should take a
ride in the evening, down the Hot-well-road, and round by Clifton. This
was hailed with that sort of applause which was an earnest that my
numerous friends would attend me. The plan was, however, thought by some
to be a hazardous one, as we had over and over again been threatened,
that if we went out of the bounds of the City, the military should
assuredly be called into action to disperse us. My answer was, "my
friends are always very well behaved; they never commit any breach of
the peace; and I shall certainly ride where I please; besides, I wish to
see the example that was made of Mr. Davis's house, in consequence of
the outrageous assaults committed on the people by the bludgeon-men."

The hour of six came. I mounted my horse, and was accompanied by Mr.
Williams, of Clare-street, on one side, and Mr. Hornbrock on the other,
both mounted, and Mr. Cranidge walked in front, exhorting the people to
be firm and peaceable. When our setting out was announced, we could hear
the bugle sounding to arms, and see the horse soldiers galloping in all
directions towards the parade upon Durdham-down. This bore a resemblance
to the state of things when a town is about to be attacked by an
invading army. My friends were not less than five or six thousand,
but they were known to be peaceably inclined, and without the least
disposition to commit any act of violence or riot; they merely testified
their approbation of a popular candidate at an election, with the usual
demonstrations of cheering, &c. We had passed down the Hot-well-road,
and had turned up the hill towards Clifton, with the intention of
passing over Durdham-down, by Brandon-hill, and returning to the city
down Park-street. This was the route which I had marked out for what I
called my evening general canvass. 1t must be recollected that I never
solicited or canvassed one individual for his vote; it was, on my part,
a specimen of real purity and freedom of election; whilst on the other
side every thing corrupt, every means of bribery, cajolery, fraud,
perjury, intimidation by threats, and even violence, was resorted to for
the purpose of bringing up votes, many hundreds of whom came to the poll
in all appearance as reluctantly and as much against their will as a man
goes to the gallows.

Before we had reached half the summit of the hill, some respectably
dressed females came running down to meet us. They were received with
cheers, but they no sooner approached than they addressed me in the most
fervent and supplicating manner to return, as the Scots Greys were drawn
out with their carbines loaded, and they had heard the magistrates and
gentlemen give orders to fire upon the people, and Mr. Goldney, the
magistrate, had read the Riot Act. Some of the women fell upon their
knees to implore me to return, if I had the least regard for my life, as
they had heard the officers and gentlemen give orders by all means
to shoot me. I thanked these ladies for their kind wishes and good
intentions, and then turning to any attendants and friends, I addressed
them, urging every one that feared death to go back, as it appeared very
evident that murder was premeditated; as to myself, I told them, that,
as I had promised to pay my friends a visit that evening at Clifton, I
should proceed, if I went alone. Having promised to go, go I would, for
I would much rather be punctured like a cullender, by a thousand balls,
than live in such a state as not to travel peaceably in any part that I
might choose, and particularly during an election. If I went back, and
failed to perform my promise through fear, I should justly deserve to be
execrated as a contemptible coward as long as I lived; and whatever they
might think of me, I would much rather be out of the world than have
such a despicable opinion of myself. I therefore intreated those who
meant to proceed with me to be firm and peaceable, but those who had the
least doubt upon their minds to return. The exact language that I used,
I, of course, cannot recollect; but I shall never forget the effect
which it had upon my hearers. The eye of my worthy old friend Cranidge,
the school-master, (who fifty years before had been in the army)
sparkled like fire. I believe he was the first to pull off his hat, and
the air resounded with one tremendous shout, which was repeated three
times. Even the ladies, who had so earnestly intreated me to return,
joined in the cheers, and every soul passed steady and cheerfully on;
not one person returned. Thus we proceeded, receiving and returning the
friendly salutations of those whom we met, and of those that hailed us
from the windows and houses, by the waving of handkerchiefs, colours,

Just as we were turning off the Down, to go back to Bristol, through
Rodney Place, all at once a troop of the Scots Greys wheeled in full
gallop from behind some houses and plantations, and formed in line
across the road; so that our progress was apparently stopped. At the
same time we discovered Mr. Goldney, the Magistrate, accompanied by half
a dozen of Mr. Davis's friends, running with a book in his hand, to meet
us. He came up between us and his troops as _pale as ashes_, and in a
trembling hurried accent, he exclaimed, "Stop, Sir! and hear the Riot
Act read." I knew the gentleman well whom I had to deal with, and
therefore pushing my horse steadily forward, I deliberately said, "Stand
out of the King's highway, Sir, and suffer me to pass, or I shall be
under the necessity of riding over you; it appears _you_ want to commit
a riot, by interrupting the progress of those who are peaceably passing
on the King's highway, but we shall not indulge you in your amiable
plot; Stand aside!" He and his friends now exclaimed, TURN BACK, which
caused a great laugh; while we proceeded forward, to within twenty paces
of the more formidable interruption of the horse-soldiers, drawn up
across the whole road, to cut off, as it were, our return to Bristol. We
gave the heroes three friendly cheers, and proceeded deliberately on, up
almost to the noses of their horses, upon which _the officer_ gave the
word to the _left wheel, march!_ and they instantly wheeled out of the
road, left us a clear passage, and resumed their former position behind
the plantation and houses. I took off my hat, bowed to the officer, and
politely thanked him, adding that it was a beautiful manoeuvre, well
planned and most adroitly executed; this was said in such an ironical
manner, that the officer burst into a loud laugh, in which he was
heartily joined by his men.

Be it recollected, that all this time we had never halted for a moment,
but had proceeded calmly on, as we had a right to do, without once
pulling our horses up out of a walk; and, in the mean time, poor Mr.
Goldney and his friends excited the greatest merriment, for they were
shuffling after, roaring out, "_Stop, and hear the Riot Act read!_"
there being no more symptom or likelihood of a riot, than as if the
party had met in a church or chapel to join in Divine Service.

We passed on gaily by the _remains_ of Mr. Davis's house, without any
other interruption or accident, with the exception of one disgraceful
transaction, which I shall record as a specimen of the character of our
opponents, who professed themselves to be so anxious to preserve the
peace, by endeavoring to create a riot, that they might massacre
the people, under the pretence of quelling it. A fine, handsome,
decently-dressed female, about fifteen years of age, who had remained a
little behind our party to speak with a friend, was stopped, seized, and
brutally assaulted by some of the ruffians, who attempted to take the
most indecent liberties with her person. Those attempts she successfully
resisted, and made them feel the effects of her virtuous resentment,
by stamping coward, ruffian, and lawless brute upon their faces; which
punishment she inflicted with her teeth and her nails. Stung with shame
and fury at their disgraceful defeat, one of the ruffians levelled her
to the ground by a violent blow upon the head with a bludgeon, and then


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