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Memoirs of Henry Hunt, Esq. Volume 3 by Henry Hunt

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crowd going towards the Mansion-House; and, just after I passed Bow-
Church, I saw Mr. John Castles amongst those who appeared to be going
in a contrary direction from that which led to Spafields. He beckoned
me, and I drew up to the pavement to inquire the cause of what appeared
to me rather extraordinary. Before, however, I could put the question
to Mr. Castles, he inquired where I was going? to which I replied, "to
Spafields, to be sure." "Oh," said he, "the meeting has been broken up
these two hours nearly; young Watson has got possession of the Tower,
and we are all going thither; turn your horses' heads and come with us."
I gave him a look that appeared to strike him dumb, and laying my whip
upon my wheel-horse, I passed rapidly on, exclaiming "what a ------
scoundrel!" I looked at the clock of Bow-Church, and saw that it
wanted a quarter of an hour to one. I drove on at a smart pace towards
Spafields, and observed to my servant, that I had no doubt in my own
mind that Castles, the villain whom we had met, was an agent of the
Government, a spy; and the suspicions which I entertained of him when I
first met him, were now fully confirmed.

When we reached Spafields, the throng was very great, much larger than
even at the first meeting of the 15th of November. By the kindness of
the multitude I was enabled to drive up to the door of the Merlin's
Cave, in the front of which the people were assembled. My servant
returned with my tandem, with orders to have my horse Bob, which I drove
as leader, ready in the evening with a saddle and bridle on, that I
might ride him home to my Inn from the meeting. The cheers of the
congregated tens of thousands were almost insupportable; I never heard
such before. I made my way into the Merlin's Cave with difficulty, as it
was again taken possession of by the police. When I entered the room,
I found very few persons there except the newspaper reporters, and the
police magistrates with their officers, and none of those that had taken
any part at the previous meeting but Mr. William Clark, who was again
appointed to take the chair. Watson, Thistlewood, Preston, and all that
party were absent, but I had no knowledge of the cause, any farther
than the intimation which I had received from the very worthy Mr. John
Castles, not one word of which did I believe to be true.

After having addressed the people, I moved a string of resolutions,
the first of which inculcated the necessity of peaceable conduct, and
denounced as the greatest enemies of Reform all those who should commit
any act of violence, or any breach whatever of the peace. Another
resolution was, to agree to petition the House of Commons for a Reform
in the representation of the people, upon the principle of universal
suffrage, annual parliaments, and vote by ballot. The resolutions being
seconded by Mr. Haydon of Welbeck-street, were all passed, and the
petition which I proposed was unanimously agreed to, and was, as will
hereafter be seen, signed by _twenty-four thousand_ of the suffering
unrepresented people, and which was presented to the Honourable House by
Lord Cochrane.

Towards the latter end of the meeting information was brought to me
that, in the course of the day, there had been some serious riots in the
city; I therefore immediately cautioned all those who had attended our
meeting to avoid mixing themselves up in any way with those illegal and
foolish proceedings. I told them that I should ride home to my hotel
upon my favourite horse BOB, and, as I knew they would attend me, I
earnestly entreated them that, as soon as they had protected me to my
abode, they would each of them peaceably and quietly return home, and
not give the enemies of Reform an opportunity of attributing disorderly
conduct to any part of the meeting. This advice they promised me they
would attend to. I then mounted my horse, and almost the whole assembly
accompanied me to my inn. As we passed in the front of the House of
Correction, in Cold Bath Fields, I observed great numbers of constables
and police officers assembled, armed with their staves of office, &c.
&c., as if for the purpose of protecting that building from the fury of
the populace. But there was not the slightest occasion for this, as the
people did not evince the least disposition to do any harm to any one;
and, notwithstanding the immense pressure of the crowd, I do not believe
that there was a single pane of glass broken.

When we arrived at the Black Lion in Water-lane, I stood up in my
stirrups, and demanded of the people if they would grant me _one
favour?_ A thousand voices exclaimed "Yes, Sir, any thing that you
wish." I then requested them to disperse immediately, and return to
their homes. They answered, "We will, we will!" I alighted and went into
my inn, and in a very few minutes afterwards the whole of this immense
multitude had dispersed, and were on their way homeward, without doing
any mischief.

It was now for the first time that I heard any thing of the riots which
had taken place in the city. A second edition of the _Courier_ gave a
most exaggerated account of them, misrepresenting every thing, and
heading the statements "_Spafelds Meeting_;" when the truth was, that so
far from any of the persons who attended the Spafields meeting having
had any hand in the riots, they actually knew nothing of the matter,
till they heard it from their neighbours, after they had returned home
from the meeting. The fact was this: Watson and Thistlewood found that
I would not have any thing to do with their wild schemes, whatever they
might be; they therefore assembled in Spafields about eleven o'clock in
the morning, more than an hour before the persons who meant to attend
the meeting began to meet together; they mounted the waggon, and
addressed the few individuals that surrounded them, perhaps at the
time two or three hundred; the elder Watson harangued them upon the
advantages of the Spencean plan, and young Watson, urged on by Castles,
having briefly addressed them, jumped from the waggon, and called upon
those who wished to be led on to victory to follow him; the villain
Castles taking care to leave a few bullets, wrapped up in an old
stocking, so exposed in the waggon, that those who remained could not
avoid seeing them. The whole of what occurred was reported by Mr.
Spectacle Dowling, a confidential reporter of the Sunday _Observer_,
who swore to the particulars afterwards with an astonishing degree of
minuteness, although other reporters who were present declared, that not
one-tenth of what was said could be heard.

About forty persons followed young Watson, accompanied by his friend
Castles; and Mr. Dowling the reporter followed this little squad of
desperadoes, no doubt for the purpose of giving a faithful detail of
what passed, although he was sent by Mr. Clement, of the _Observer_, to
report the proceedings of the meeting to be held in Spafields at one
o'clock. It appears that having been reinforced by a party of distressed
sailors and others, who were returning from the Old-Bailey, where they
had been to witness the hanging of some criminals, these gentry
attacked and began to plunder the shop of Mr. Beckwith, a gun-smith, in
Skinner-street. It is said that young Watson was seized there by a man
of the name of Platt, and that, in order to save himself, he fired a
pistol loaded with powder and wadding only, which wounded the said Platt
in the groin. Young Watson was, however, seized and taken up stairs
into a back room, and the front doors of the shop and the windows were
closed. During the confusion Platt escaped over a back wall of the
premises, and as young Watson was left in the house a prisoner at large,
he walked into a front room, opened a window that looked into the
street, and waved his handkerchief to the multitude, to make an effort
to relieve him. This they immediately attended to: a sailor volunteered
his services, and being hoisted up by the people, he threw himself
through the fan-light over the front door, which he soon opened, and
Watson was released without any resistance. They then seized some of the
guns, and pushed forward towards the Exchange, firing in the air as they
passed along Newgate-street and Cheapside. They entered the Exchange;
upon which the doors were closed upon them, and Alderman Wood, who was a
second time Lord Mayor, and Sir James Shaw, seized a sailor or two, one
of whom proved to be Cashman, who was then bearing the tricoloured flag.
The rest of the party, headed by Watson, marched off to the Tower,
where, as it was afterwards sworn, Thistlewood demanded of the soldiers
upon duty on the parapets to surrender the Tower to them. Some of the
party broke into a gunsmith's shop in the Minories, and carried off
several of his guns, some finished and others not finished. By this
time, however, a half-dozen of horse soldiers made their appearance upon
Tower-hill, upon which the authors of this mighty insurrection all fled
with the greatest precipitancy, helter skelter, the devil take the
hindermost, without the soldiers having made a charge, raised an arm, or
even approached near to them.

So much for this disgraceful and contemptible riot, during the whole of
which not one life was lost, and, with the exception of Platt, not one
person was even wounded or hurt. While these things were going on, it
has been seen that Castles had contrived to way-lay me, in Cheapside, on
my road from Wanstead towards Spafields; and, as I have before observed,
kindly invited me to accompany him to the Tower, which he said young
Watson had got possession of for more than an hour before.

In the evening the elder Watson and Thistlewood were taken near
Paddington or Islington, as they were endeavouring to make their escape
into the country. The worthy Mr. John Castles no doubt surrendered
himself, and soon after Preston and Hooper were apprehended, and they
were all five committed to prison. I believe a reward of 750_l_. was
offered for the apprehension of the chief conspirator, young Watson.
The next day the London papers were crammed full of the most wonderful
accounts of this most wonderful plot and insurrection; attributing
the whole of it to ME, and to the Spaflelds meeting. The London press
had raised such an outcry as never was heard of before; and if ten
thousand of the inhabitants of the city had been massacred, there could
not have been greater consternation produced throughout the whole
country; which consternation was sedulously kept up by the most
abominable falsehoods promulgated by almost the whole of the country
provincial newspapers. As a faithful account of the whole transaction
was published at the time by Mr. Cobbett, in his Register of the 13th of
December, in a letter which he addressed to me on the subject, and as it
contains matter worthy to be recorded in my Memoirs, I shall insert it
verbatim.

"_A Letter to Henry Hunt, Esq. of Middleton Cottage, near Andover, on
the London Plots._

"London, 13th Dec. 1816.

"Sir--The summer before last, when you came over to Botley and found
me transplanting Swedish turnips amidst dust, and under a sun which
scorched the leaves till they resembled fried parsley, you remember how
I was fretting and stewing; how many times in an hour I was looking out
for a south-western cloud; how I watched the mercury in the glass, and
rapped the glass with my knuckles to try to move it in my favour. But
great as my anxiety then was, and ludicrous as were my movements, ten
thousand times greater has been that of Corruption's Press for the
coming of a PLOT, and ten thousand times more ludicrous its movements in
order to hasten the accomplish ment of its wishes! You remember how my
wife laughed at me, when, in the evening, some boys having thrown a
handful or two of sand over the wall, that made a sort of dropping on
the leaves of the laurels, I took it for the beginning of a _shower_,
and pulled off my hat and held up my hand to see whether more was not
coming, though there was nothing to be seen in the sky but the stars
shining as bright as silver. Just such has been the conduct of
Corruption's sons upon hearing of the _discovery_ of Mr. Watson's and
Mr. Preston's _papers_.' They sigh for a PLOT. Oh, how they sigh! They
are working and slaving and fretting and stewing; they are sweating all
over; they are absolutely pining and dying for a Plot!

"In these their wishes it is hard to say which character is most
prominent, the _fool_ or the _knave;_ for, if by any means, they were
to make out the real existence of a Plot for the destruction of the
Government, would such proof tend to the _credit_ of that Government
in the eyes of the world at large, or in those of the people of this
kingdom? Would it tend to make the world believe that the Government is
good, and is beloved by the people? Would it tend to lessen the mass of
misery that is now in existence? Would it tend to enable the Landlords
and Farmers to pay the interest of the Debt? And, if it would have
no such tendency, what good could arise to the Government from the
producing of even undeniable proof of the existence of a Plot of any
sort, however extensive?

"But, as clearly appears from all their publications, the main hope of
Corruption's sons has been to trace a Plot to YOU! In order to effect
this, they have stuck at no thing that villainy could suggest. They have
asserted _as admitted facts_ hundreds of falsehoods. As a specimen
of these, the _Times, Sun, Courier_, and others have stated '_on
authority_,' that you and I were in _close consultation_, on the Sunday
before the riots, _with Lord Cochrane, in the King's Bench Prison_. You
know that you were at _Wanstead, in Essex_, all that day; and I know
that I was at _Peckham, in Surrey_, never having seen you on that day,
and not until the succeeding Tuesday. The wretched man who conducts
the Sun newspaper asserted, that I came up for the express purpose of
organizing the Plot; and that, having prepared every thing, I _set of to
Botley_ the night before it broke out.--_Here_ I have been in London,
however, without having stirred out of it one minute from that time
to this. I could mention a hundred other falsehoods which the sons of
Corruption have sent forth with equal boldness, with equal impudence,
and with equal baseness. But, the _Times_ newspaper, always preeminent
in infamy, asserted, that '_Young Cobbett_' was one of the persons who
_spent the evening_ with you after your return from the Spa-fields
Meeting on the Monday. The object of this falsehood was to alarm his
_mother_ and _sisters_ for his safety, seeing that that statement was
accompanied with other falsehoods calculated to excite a fear that all
who were with you that evening would be _implicated in some state
crime!_ It is for the Courier, the Sun, the Post, and some others to be
guilty of premeditated falsehoods, but it is only, I believe, for
Walter, the Proprietor of the Times, and the instigator to the killing
of the brave Marshal Ney, to be guilty of such baseness as _this_.

"However, even these falsehoods will tend to good. There are yet many
very worthy people, who have believed in the statement of these sons of
Corruption; who, judging too much from their own hearts and minds, have
not been able to work themselves into a belief, that other men could
be so totally void of all sense of moral feeling as coolly to put upon
paper, in the most serious and solid manner, and to send forth as
acknowledged truths, that which they know to be utterly false. To such
worthy persons it seems to be a libel on human nature to suppose, that
such black-hearted villainy can be in existence. They cannot conceive
how a man can dare walk the streets, or how he can look even his
acquaintances or his own family in the face, after being guilty of such
shameful conduct. They now see, however, that this really is the case;
and, though there are some who will still, from corrupt motives,
_affect_ to believe in the statements of these corrupt men, there will,
I hope, be found a great many to say, that they have been deceived, and
that they will be deceived no longer.

"The unfortunate men, whom want and ruin have driven to deeds of
desperation, are not, with all their temptations, more desperate in
their way than are the sons of Corruption in theirs, without any
temptation at all. The numerous and ponderous facts, the clear and
forcible arguments, by which they have been assailed, leave them no
means of _defence_.--They have been driven to the wall, beaten, subdued.
They dare not show themselves, in the field of dispute. They, therefore,
resort to false accusations; and, unable to find any thing upon which to
put a false construction, they have, at last, thrown aside all attempts
to discover the means of misrepresentation, and have had recourse to
open, unblushing, to sheer _invented falsehoods_. That love of _fair
play_, for which all orders of Englishmen in all ages have been so
famed, finds no place in the bosoms of these degenerate men.--They enter
the ring with seeming bravery, but being, round after round, knocked
down and crippled, they use, like a Dutchman, their remaining strength
to draw out a _snigarsnee_ to run into our bowels. Let us, however, by a
steady and cool perseverance in the cause of our country's freedom
and happiness, endeavour to break the arm that wields this hateful
instrument of malignity and cowardice.

"You, conscious of your honourable motives, and listening only to your
courage, have always been deaf to the intreaties of those who cautioned
you against the danger of spies and false-witnesses. But, do you think
that the wretches who could be base enough to publish falsehoods such as
I have enumerated above: who could coolly represent you as having been
sent first to gaol and then to Bedlam; and who, in order to deter me
from my duty, could exhibit my son as being in danger of his life, and
thereby cause alarm in his mother and sisters: do you think that men
so lost to all sense of shame, and so devoted to every thing that is
corrupt; do you think they would hesitate one moment to bribe villains
to swear falsely against you or against me or against any man, whom they
thought it their interest to destroy? Nay, do you think that they would
hesitate one single half moment to be guilty, for such a purpose, of the
blackest perjury themselves? Be you assured, that there is nothing of
which such men are not capable; intimidation, promises, bribes, perjury,
any thing such men are capable of recommending to others, or of doing
themselves. Your country life, your sober habits, your dislike of
feastings and carousings; these are great securities; but, while you
follow the impulses of your public-spirit and your valour, I hope you
will always bear in mind, that there are such things as _false-swearing_
in the world, and that a defeated coward has never been known to be
otherwise than inexorably cruel. The proprietor of the Morning Post, in
his paper of last Monday, says, that Cobbett and Hunt ought at least to
lose their lives; and the author of the Antigallican has, I am told,
put the drawing of a gallows in his Paper, with a _rope_ ready for use,
having _my name_ on it, or very near it.--And, you may be well assured,
that, if the _false oaths_ of these men could do the job, those oaths
would be very much at our service. Therefore, though I am quite sure,
that these menaces will not deter you from doing any thing, which you
would have done if the menaces had never been made; yet, as being proofs
of the shameless, the remorseless, the desperate villainy of these
tools, their present conduct ought to impress on your mind the necessity
of being on your guard, so far, at least, as not _unnecessarily_ to
expose yourself to the consequences of _false-swearing_. These men and
their associates call the younger Mr. Watson (whom they, without proof,
charge with shooting Mr. Platt) an _assassin_, though they themselves
state, that the shot arose from the seizure of Watson by Platt, and that
the former, like a wild enthusiast as he appears to have been, expressed
his sorrow on the instant, and actually went to work to save the life of
the wounded man. Nobody justifies, or attempts to justify, the shooter;
but, if he were an _assassin_, what are these men who, while they keep
their _names hidden_, are endeavouring to produce persecution and ruin
and death in every direction? The man who shot Mr. Platt, though highly
criminal, is not a thousandth part so criminal as these men, who to
premeditated bloody-mindedness add a degree of cowardice such as was
never before heard of.

"Let me now, before I proceed to other topics, hastily trace the
_progress of the developement of the Plot_, as given to us through the
channel of these same Papers. When Mr. Watson the elder was taken, the
sons of Corruption promised the public a series of grand discoveries.
His answers to the questions put to him, appear, however, to have been
perfectly open and frank. All that was really found out from him was,
that he was a surgeon who had lived in great esteem, and had a family
who had been rendered so miserable by want, that 'a lovely daughter of
his had died for the want of the things, such as wine, &c. necessary to
her recovery.' His story, of the truth of which there appears to be
no doubt, would have softened any hearts but those of the sons of
Corruption, who, instead of expressing compassion for his calamities,
are as loudly vociferating for his blood, as they did for the blood of
Marshal Ney. They tell us, that he attributed all the sufferings of
himself and others 'to the _Oligarchy_;' but, not a word does he seem to
have said, that can justify these detestable writers in imputing to him
any share in any Plot or in any Riot.

"The lodgings of himself and his son have been searched, and all
their papers seized, amongst the rest, we are told, _a Letter from
you_ to the younger Watson. Oh! what _a prize!_ How the eye must have
glistened upon the sight of your name at the bottom of a letter to the
'Chief Conspirator,' as they call him! With what eager haste were the
contents run over! With what trembling, what slavering expectation must
those contents have been perused! Alas! how the head must have turned
slowly away and the Letter have fallen gently upon the table, when those
contents became intelligible to the fluttering senses, now returned to a
state of coolness!

"Corruption's darlings confess, that there was nothing in '_this_'
letter that showed you to have bad any criminal hand in '_the
conspiracy_.' How came these newspaper writers to _know_ the contents of
your letter? _Who_ was it that _authorized them_ to publish this account
of your letter? Either they know its contents, or they do not: if the
latter, they have published what they do not know to be true; if the
former, why do they not publish the _whole_ of those contents? The
reason is this: the contents of your letter would convince every man
who should see them, that you were not only ignorant of any Plot or
Conspiracy; but that, if your correspondent _really had_ any such views
(which I do not believe) your letter was calculated to _check_ any hope
that he might have entertained of having your co-operation. This is
what, I venture to say, the contents of your letter would have proved to
the satisfaction of every well-wisher to the peace and happiness of the
country; and _because_ they would have proved _this,_ these base writers
have carefully kept them out of their columns!

"But, Mr. Preston, they tell us, boldly _avows_ the intended
'_insurrection_,' and _confesses_ all that can be wished, except,
indeed, the main thing, which is, that _you_ had a hand in the said
'_insurrection_.' However, this is _all a falsehood;_ and, if the
_proof_ of its falsehood be not made clearly appear before this day
month, I will be content to pass for an ideot for the rest of my life.
The account of Mr. Preston's '_confessions_,' as the sons of Corruption
call them, you shall have in their own words. The Lord Mayor, it seems,
went to Mr. Preston's home, and having examined him and his papers,
found no grounds for detaining him; but, since that he has been, it
appears, taken up and kept in custody, and the following is the account
which Corruption's Press gives of his examination: "'The next person of
importance who has been apprehended is Thomas Preston, who is called the
Secretary to the Spa-fields Committee. This poor wretch lives with his
two daughters in a small room in Greystoke-place, Fetter-lane. He
has undergone two or three examinations, in all which be has been as
communicative as the most zealous could have wished.--The substance of
all he related is accurately thus--that a plan of _insurrection_ was
formed--that it was as _general_ as it was _good_, but that precipitancy
had injured its progress, though it had not defeated its object. The
plan, he asserted, must still be carried into effect--it was too
powerful to be resisted when properly undertaken; and the only resource
left to the Government, in order to its being averted, was, by the
Prince Regent answering the petition of the people, and the immediate
adoption of Parliamentary Reform. 'The soldiers,' he added, 'were not
firm;' their friends were starving, but _they_ having a provision,
forgot their pledge and duty. He acknowledged his connection to the
fullest extent with the Spa-fields Meetings, to which he was joint
Secretary. He knew the two Watsons, and had frequently acted with them
upon the Committees, and various other occasions. He denied having taken
the slightest part in the riotous proceedings of Monday, and _deprecated
in the strongest manner the horrid system of taking away the life of
a fellow-creature_. He frequently repeated, that the plan was
_constitutional_, and delivered the whole of his account in the most
undisguised and enthusiastic manner.' In another examination he is
stated to have said, that 'the PLOT had been going on for EIGHT YEARS,
and that he himself HAD WRITTEN TO THE LATE MR. PERCEVAL ON THE SUBJECT,
urging him to ADOPT it, as the only means of SAVING THE NATION!'

"Now, when your laughing fit is over, let me ask you, whether you ever
heard of a _Plot_ and _Insurrection_ like this before? What! an eight
years' Plot! a _good_ Insurrection! Dennis, in his criticism upon
Addison's silly play of _Cato_, ridicules the idea of the conspirators
against Cato's life picking out _Cato's own hall_ for the scene of their
consultations; but these modern Plotters beat Syphax and his associates
hollow; for they, in order to further their view of destroying the
government, communicate their Plot to the Prime Minister himself!

"What must the people _in the country_ think of all this? What a mass
of absurdities and contradictions! What madness it all appears to be!
_Good_ insurrections; _constitutional_ attacks on the government!
_Plots_ which the prime Minister has been urged to adopt in order to
save the nation! What _can_ the people at large make out of such a
strange medley? The sons of Corruption it is who have made the medley.
They wanted a _Plot_. The mad riots in the city afforded them a pretext,
and they have put the words PLOT and INSURRECTION _into Mr. Preston's
mouth_ in order to favour their views. Now, let us see how a plain tale
will put them down and expose their malice to the world.

"About sixteen years ago, a Mr. SPENCE, a schoolmaster in Yorkshire,
conceived what he called a PLAN for making the nation happy, by taking
all the lands into the hands of a just government, and appropriating all
the produce or profit to the support of the people, so that there
would be no one in want, and all would live in a sort of _Christian
Brotherhood_. This plan, accompanied with some political remarks, he
published in 1800, for which he was pursued by a Criminal Information
Ex-Officio, by the present Chief Justice, who was then Attorney-General.
When brought up for trial I was present in the Court of King's Bench. He
had no counsel, but defended himself, and insisted that his views were
_pure_ and _benevolent_, in proof of which, in spite of all exhortations
to the contrary, he read his pamphlet through. He was found _guilty_
and sentenced to be imprisoned for I forget how long. He was a plain,
unaffected, inoffensive looking creature. He did not seem at all afraid
of any punishment, and appeared much more anxious about the success of
his _plan_ than about the preservation of his life. After he came out of
prison, he pursued the inculcation of his _plan_, appearing to have no
other care; and this he did, I am assured, to the day of his death,
always having been a most virtuous and inoffensive man, and always very
much beloved by those who knew him.

"We have all seen, for years past, _written on the walls_, in and near
London, these words, "SPENCE'S PLAN:" and I never knew what it meant,
until, a little while ago, I received a pamphlet from Mr. Evans,
Newcastle-street, Strand, detailing the _Plan_ very fully. This Mr.
Evans, I understand to be a very worthy man, and his pamphlet, though I
do not agree with it in opinion as to many of its propositions, contains
some interesting observations, and breathes a spirit of benevolence
throughout the whole.

"Mr. Preston and the Watsons appear to have been followers of Mr.
Spence; and the '_plan_' of which Mr. Preston is said to have
'_confessed_' the existence, is, as you will see, '_Spence's Plan_,' and
nothing more; and nothing more, no, not a hair more, will Corruption's
sons, with all their torturing and twisting, with all their falsehoods
and affected alarms, be able to make of it! Thus, you will clearly
perceive, that the 'confessions,' as they are called, of your
correspondent, Mr. Preston, are no confessions at all. You will clearly
see, that Corruption's Press has foisted in the words _insurrection_
and _plot_; for, unless you see this, what sense is there in the words
_good_ and _constitutional?_ What absurdity to believe, that a man, and
a _guilty_ man, too, would talk about a _good_ insurrection and about
a plot that was _constitutional_, and which plot had been going on for
_eight years_, and had been _communicated to Mr. Perceval_ as the only
means of saving the nation! But, strip these lying accounts of the words
_insurrection_ and _plot_, and leave the word _plan_, and then the
whole, however wild in itself, becomes perfectly consistent; and such,
you may depend on it, and no other, has been the 'confession' of Mr.
Preston.

"The Courier of Monday last, in pursuance of its endeavours to keep the
scent of a _plot_ from cooling, has these remarks: 'Whether the _plan_
of the _rioters_ was to commence in the morning or at night, is not
ascertained; but from the declaration of Preston, who charges young
Watson with _precipitancy_, it appears _that the operations were not to
commence till dark_. Preston still maintains a high and indignant tone;
he talks more _enthusiastically_ than before of the _extent of the
plot_, and adds, that not less than three hundred thousand persons _were
enrolled in the cause_. Hooper, who states Preston to be the instigator
and great mechanist of the _conspiracy_, has declared that the two
Watsons, himself, and Preston, were in concert together in Spa-fields on
the morning of Monday.'--Now, I dare say, that it will finally turn out,
that Hooper has said no such thing as is here stated. But here again you
see, that the words _plot_ and _conspiracy_ are used instead of the word
_plan_, and this is manifestly for the base and diabolical purpose
of causing the people to believe, that there has been a _conspiracy_
against the government, and that _all the Reformers_ are enrolled in
this conspiracy! But be you well assured, that these eager efforts to
excite alarm will fail of their purpose, and that the workers in them
and their abettors will come out of the attempt covered with infamy,
though nothing can produce in them any feeling of shame.

"In the meanwhile the Spenceonians are posting up, all about, the
prospectus of this plan, and as if for the express purpose of preparing
the way for their own everlasting disgrace, the owners of the Corrupt
Press are publishing this very document, which I insert here as taken
from the Courier of Monday.

"'The following hand-bill, it is stated, was circulated through the
Metropolis yesterday, and _excited much apprehension:_--

'SPENCE'S PLAN
For Parochial Partnerships in the Land,
Is the only effectual Remedy for the Distresses and Oppressions of
the People.
The Landholders are not Proprietors in Chief; they are but the
_Stewards_ of the Public;
For the LAND is the PEOPLE'S FARM.
The Expenses of the Government do not cause the Misery that
surrounds us, but the enormous exactions of these
'_Unjust Stewards._'
Landed Monopoly is indeed equally contrary to the benign Spirit of
Christianity, and destructive of
The Independence and Morality of all Mankind.
'The Profit of the Earth is for all;'
Yet how deplorably destitute are the great Mass of the People?
Nor is it possible for their situations to be radically amended, but by
the establishment of a system,
Founded on the immutable basis of Nature and Justice.
Experience demonstrates its necessity; and the rights of mankind
require it for their preservation.

To obtain this important object, by extending the knowledge of the
above system, the Society of Spencean Philanthropists has been
instituted. Further information of its principles may be obtained by
attending any of its Sectional Meetings, where subjects are discussed
calculated to enlighten the human understanding, and where also the
regulations of the Society may be procured, containing a complete
developement of the Spencean system.--Every individual is admitted,
free of expense, who will conduct himself with decorum.

The Meetings of this Society begin at a quarter past eight in the
evening, as under:

First Section, every Wednesday, at the Cock, Grafton-street, Soho.
Second ............ Thursday, Mulberry Tree, Mulberry-court,
Wilson-street,Moorfields.
Third ............. Monday, Nag's Head, Carnaby-market.
Fourth ............ Tuesday, No. 8, Lumber-street, Mint, Borough.'

"_This_ is the _Plan_! This is the plan, the plot, the conspiracy, and
the insurrection scheme! And, what an impudent, what an incorrigible,
what a hardened impostor, must this writer be, who can tell the public,
that this hand-bill _excited much apprehension_! Apprehension, I
believe, indeed, _in him_ and his associates and encouragers; for it
furnishes the clue to unravel all their falsehoods and to expose them
to scorn and to detestation; but, it is calculated to excite
_'apprehension'_ in nobody else. The public indignation is fast
collecting and winding up to a high pitch; and it only waits the result
of the present examinations to pour down upon the heads of these corrupt
instigators to fury and bloodshed. A gang of spies and informers, in
one of Beaumont and Fletcher's plays, who, after long and wearisome
contrivances to discover a plot and to get the reward, just at the
moment when they are expecting to see their victim swing and to pocket
the blood-money, are sent away abashed and confounded by the discovery
that it was a _Cod's Head_ and not that of the _Sovereign_, against
which he had been _plotting_. Not less complete would be the confusion
of these corrupt writers, if it were not that they are destitute of
every feeling that can lead to shame or remorse.

"Monstrous, however, as are the baseness and malice and cruelty of these
men, they are, I think, still exceeded by their folly. The main object
of all their endeavours, is, very clearly, to render you odious and to
put you down; and, if they had been created for the express purpose of
exalting you, it would have been impossible for them to labour to that
end with more zeal or more effect. Your manner of conducting the second
meeting, the way in which you carried on your communications with
the government, the punctuality and decorum of your proceedings, the
language and matter of your Resolutions and Petition, and the _effect_
of these, very justly entitled you to a large share of public applause;
but, the blows which these ferocious writers have aimed at your _life_
have excited an interest in your favour such as no human being could
have thought possible, and in the tide of which are completely drowned
all your momentary errors and indiscretions, which, besides, having
arisen from an excess of zeal, were not calculated to be long held in
remembrance. Some very good, but very weak and timid people talked of
your _violence_, while they seemed to overlook the _violent_ thing which
you attacked; but in the minds of all good men there is an inherent
abhorrence of baseness like that which has aimed its murderous sting
against your life, and, in the present case, this abhorrence has
overpowered all the alarms of the good and timid people in whose breasts
what is called your violence had excited such alarms. "The vipers
have the mortification to perceive this, and their rage is increased
accordingly. They see your _portrait_, from three different hands,
setting them at defiance in the print-shop windows. They hear your
_speech_ and _resolutions_ cried through the streets, and sold out
of shops in several separate editions. They hear the taverns and
public-houses filled with talk about you. They have contrived by their
endeavours to implicate you in a '_treasonable conspiracy_,' to excite
a strong feeling of some sort or other respecting you in every human
breast. And this is _their_ way of _putting a man down!_ They have, even
by the use of their own columns, made your _name familiar_ to the very
water's edge of these islands. They have made you _the only one of your
kind;_ there is now but one Mr. Hunt in the world. Your ambition must
be a cormorant indeed, if this does not satisfy it. No longer ago than
Monday, they very seriously announced, that 'Hunt was SEEN, _in his
Tandem,_ going towards his home on _Thursday last_!' They seem to think
that the public is much more interested in your movements than in those
of the Prince Regent or of the Queen. I should not wonder if they were
to have a '_Court News Writer_' to give an account of all the movements
of your body; and, after what I have seen within these ten days, I do
not despair of seeing them announce, that 'on Monday, Mr. Hunt took the
diversion of shooting till three o'clock. On Tuesday, Mr. Hunt went
to inspect his barns, and was graciously pleased to express his high
approbation of the ingenious mode of laying the crab-stick on upon
the sheaves of wheat. On Wednesday, Mr. Hunt gave audience to several
tax-gatherers, to whose importunities he did not listen with an
overstock of complacency.' And so on, day after day. Why should I
despair of this, after what I have seen? Your _Tandem_ is become far
more renowned than the _Bulletproof coach_, and your horse _Bob_, is far
more famous already than the charger of old Blucher.

"Oh! the fools! Could not the settled reputation of being the most
consummate of _knaves_ content them? Was it necessary, in order to
satisfy their ambition, to stand unrivalled through the world for folly
as well as for knavery?

"Gratified, however, as you must be by these demonstrations of the
impotent malice of such men, I hope, and indeed, I am sure, that a more
gratifying consideration with you will be, as it ought to be, that these
vile men have added to your power of serving your country, and which you
will now be the better able to serve, because, having given such ample
proofs of earnestness and resolution, you may safely _moderate your
zeal_ without risking any imputation of a want of that super-excellent
quality. That quality, in which so many men are deficient, you possess
to a redundance. Guard against this excess in future: take in a little
sail, and add a little to your ballast: exchange a little of the courage
of the lion for a little of the wisdom of the serpent: give up a little,
and only a very little, of the stubbornness of the oak, for a little,
and only a very little, of the pliancy of the reed: do this, and trust
to the folly and knavery of these stupid and malignant wretches to make
you a _great man_.

"The situation of the country is becoming day after day more and more
perilous, and there can be no relief without a radical cure. The Prince
in his answer to the City of London (which I shall fully notice by and
by) confesses, as he well may, the existence of national _distress_ and
_difficulty_. These are important words, and especially the last. This
is a great change produced since the beginning of last session of
Parliament, when the wondrous _prosperity_ of the country was a
prominent theme of the Speech, and when your Wiltshire County Member,
Mr. Paul Methuen, congratulated the House, that this country bad become
the pillar of legitimacy all over Europe! Alas! how soon things have
changed! Misery is a greater teacher than Messrs. Lancaster and Bell
both put together.

"The Spitalfields subscription swells at a great rate, and, as a means
of _immediate_ relief, I am glad it does, though I shall always contend,
that whatever degree of _good_ may thereby be done, is due to _you_
more than to any other person, and more than to all other persons put
together; for, it is impossible that the misery should not have _existed
before_ the first Meeting in Spa-fields; and why, then, was it not
_before_ relieved? Mr. Buxton must have long _known_ the facts which
he so eloquently and so affectingly described; and why did he not then
describe them _sooner_? The miserable sailors have long been perishing
about the streets with hunger and cold; and why, then, has no measure of
relief for them been adopted until _now_? I do not pretend to say,
nor do I believe, that the greater part of those who now so freely
subscribe, did not before feel for the unhappy sufferers; but, this I am
quite sure of, that it was your first meeting and your petition which
roused their feelings into immediate action; I do not say, nor do I
believe, that the greater part of the subscribers had no real charity in
them; but I defy any one to say, that their charity, which before lay
dormant, was not quickened by your exertions. One of your flags, or
rather of the flags of the Meeting, which had on it 'FEED THE HUNGRY,'
'CLOTHE THE NAKED,' was called by the _Courier_ 'a standard of
_rebellion_;' but, it is a standard under which the subscribers have
hastened to range themselves; for they are serving out _soup_ and _old
clothes_ in all directions! But, this very _Courier_, after the first
Meeting, expressly stated, that the people in and near London, _were not
in want_. He said, that, though work had fallen off and wages had been
lowered _in the country_, it was _not so_ in London; and he called the
poor starving multitudes _mutinous, lazy_, and _rebellious_. He
charged them with designs to _overset the Government_, and plainly and
distinctly asserted, that they _stood in no need of relief!_ How quickly
he changed his tone! And how clear is that change to be traced to _you!_

"But, in the general subscription for the poor creatures of
Spital-fields, you see only a small part of the effects of your labours.
There have been meetings in almost all the parishes of the metropolis
for similar purposes. Large subscriptions are going on in every
direction. Just as if the poverty and misery were not as great a month
ago as they are now! Great indeed they are, and they are producing
symptoms so horrible that one sickens but to think of them. Amongst
others, take the facts described in a _placard_ now sticking against the
walls. 'PUBLIC NOTICE.--United Parishes of Saint Andrew, Holborn, above
Bar, and St. George the Martyr, Queen's Square. At a meeting of the
overseers held this day in consequence of MANY PERSONS DESERTING THEIR
FAMILIES,--It was _resolved_, That, in future, all persons, who desert
their families, whereby they become chargeable to these parishes, or
when the reputed parents of an illegitimate child abscond, _such persons
shall be advertised in the public papers_, or in _posting bills_, with
a full description of their persons, residence, and calling, and other
particulars, and a reward offered for their apprehension. And all
inhabitants harbouring persons for the night, for the like purpose, will
be _prosecuted_ accordingly.'

"To what are we come at last! And this is the age of our _glory_, is it?
This is the situation we are in, when immense sums are voted for the
erection of monuments to commemorate the deeds of the last 25 years!
This is the state which not to be _proud_ of, Mr. Vansittart said was
proof of baseness in an Englishman! It is in this situation of the
country, that Pitt Clubs have the insolence to hold their triumphal
carousals!--Shall we _never_ see these men in sackcloth? These insolent
men, while wallowing in wealth, do not reflect on the pangs which must
wring the poor man's heart before he can so far subdue the feelings of
the husband and the father as to make him "_desert his family_;" or, if
they do reflect on them, they must be more cruel than the storms and the
waves. The labouring men in England, generally speaking, are the kindest
and most indulgent of husbands and of parents. It has often been
observed by me, that they are generally so to a fault. If a boy or girl
belonging to them behave ill towards their employers, their father and
mother are very hard to be convinced of the fact.--I have often to
remonstrate with them upon this subject, and to remind them of how much
more indulgent they are to their children than I am to mine. 'Aye, Sir,'
said a very good woman to me a little while ago, 'but your children have
their belly full of victuals.' The answer was a _silencer_. And this is
the true cause of their indulgence, and of their excessive affection
too. They see their children in want; they grow up in continual
suffering; they are incessantly objects of compassion over and above the
love which nature has implanted in the parent's breast. Their obstinate
perseverance in justifying the conduct of their children upon all
occasions is a fault; but it arises from the most amiable of human
weaknesses; and though it may, and often is, injurious in its effects,
it is the least censurable of all the frailties of the heart.

"If I have here, as I am sure I have, given the true character of the
English labourer, as a parent and a husband, what must that state of
things be, which has rendered the _desertion of family_ so frequent an
offence as to call forth a hand-bill and _placard_ such as that which I
have quoted above? And, in a state of things like this, are men to be
called _promoters of sedition_, because they endeavour to point out the
real cause of this horrible evil, and also endeavour to point out the
remedy? Aye, but in doing this we point at the same time, to the _weight
of taxes_; and we cite Mr. Preston in support of our doctrine, who says,
that every poor man, who earns _eighteen pounds_ in a year, pays away
_ten pounds of it in taxes._ Mr. Preston's words are these:--'Every
family, even of the poorest labourer, consisting of five persons, may be
considered as paying, in _indirect taxes,_ at least _ten pounds a-year,_
or more than half his wages at seven shillings a week?' And, in another
place he says: 'It should _always be remembered,_ that every _eighteen
pounds_ a-year paid to any _placeman_ or _pensioner,_ withdraws from the
public the means of giving active employment to one individual at
the head of a family; _thus depriving five persons_ of the means of
sustenance from the fruits of _honest industry_ and active labour, and
rendering them paupers!

"What! is this _rebellious_ on the part of Mr. Preston? He is a lawyer
of great eminence. A Member of Parliament. A man of great landed estate.
Could he write and publish this from _rebellious,_ from _treasonable_
motives? What he says is certainly true; and is he not to say it,
because the saying it may be disagreeable to those who live upon the
taxes thus collected? Is it not clear, that, if the money, which the
labourer and journeyman now pay in taxes, were to be suffered to
remain in their pockets, they would not stand in need of _parish_ or
_subscription_ relief? And, if this be _not true,_ why does not some one
of the numerous tax-eating tribe attempt to prove it to be false? Have
not they their full share of the press at their command? Aye, and more
than their share. The sons of corruption are spreading about answers
to me at a penny each, and some of them are given away. There must be
money, somewhere, found for this. The sums necessary to do it must be
very large too. Are they not content with this superiority? I have no
means of _giving papers away._ They say that my writing is trash; they
call the _Letter to the Luddites_ seditious trash; they say that I am an
ignorant fellow, a shallow man, and so forth. Why, then, are they in a
passion? Why not laugh at me and my trash? Why name me at all? Why break
silence after so long a period? They are continually vowing that they
will never notice my trash again; but their hatred, like the love of the
swain, returns the next hour with more ardour than ever, and scatters
their vows to the winds. The most furious amongst them is a _Sinecure
Placeman,_ who writes in the _Times_ newspaper, and upon whom the
droppings of my pen seem to have the same effect as the crumbling of
blue-stone or lump-sugar on the proud flesh of a galled jade. He winces
and dances, and kicks and flings about at a fine rate. Amidst his
ravings he swears that he will cause me to be hanged; and if he should
not succeed, he would, I am sure, if he had any decency, finish his
career by tucking up himself, and that too in his ribbon of the order of
St. Lewis.

"The truth is, that these men and their assistants and encouragers see
their certain doom in _the enlightening of the people_. They see clearly
enough, that conviction must follow facts and arguments like mine
rendered familiar. They see that I am uniting the _mind_ with the
_muscle_ of the country; and, above all things, they see, and they
tremble at, my incessant, and I hope, successful efforts, to convince
the labourers and the journeymen, that they are men who have _rights_,
and that the way to obtain those rights is to pursue a _peaceable_ and
orderly conduct. They hate every one who dwells upon the _miseries_ of
the country; for, _to them_, it is confusion to acknowledge that misery
exists. The _Courier_ asserted, only the other day, that there was no
suffering in or near London, and abused the people for complaining!
Such men would kill you or me or any man who talks of the people's
sufferings. They call the complaints of hunger _sedition_. These writers
are like the wretch, who, unable to force his poor worn-out and starved
horse to drag his load along any further, took out his knife and cut his
throat. And, I have not the least doubt, those men would see one half
of the people's throats cut in order to reduce the rest to silent
submission. The following case, taken from their own accounts of
Wednesday last, will serve as a specimen of what is going on in London.
This is _dying quietly_, according to the recommendation of Mr. Jabet's
_Old Townsman_, who gave such just offence to the people of Birmingham.
'Between twelve and one o'clock on yesterday morning, a poor fellow was
found in a passage in High-street, Bloomsbury, by Sullivan and Hogan,
the watchmen of that district; he had taken shelter for the night. They
requested him to walk on to his lodgings; he did not answer, but walked
towards Monmouth-street, and they walked the contrary road. Between two
and three o'clock they again found him _lying upon a step_ in the same
street; they asked him if he had no lodgings _he tried to answer_, but
could only move his lips, which gave no utterance. They raised him upon
his feet to assist him to the watch-house; he walked a few yards, and
_from weakness fell upon his knees._ They got him upon their shoulders
to carry him to the watch-house, but before they arrived with him _he
appeared to be dead._ The watchman took him to the workhouse, and called
up the house surgeon, who examined the body, and said it was useless to
bleed him, or use any method to restore him, as _he was quite dead._ The
deceased is apparently _about fifty years of age,_ the most _complete
picture of human misery,_ having _no linen upon his back,_ and _his
bones almost through his skin._ By his dress he appears to be a
workman out of employ. He has not been OWNED.'--Look at this, ye vile
miscreants, and then say, whether it was _a crime_ to call _a meeting
of the distressed_ to petition for relief! Hundreds must perish in this
way. Only five days ago I saw more than twenty sailors on Westminster
Bridge, neither of whom had any linen on, and some neither _shoes,
stockings,_ nor _hat._ But, the numbers who have perished and who are
perishing from the _diseases_ occasioned by want are not to be counted.
And yet, it was a crime in you, and the sanguinary sons of corruption
called for your instant execution, because you obeyed the call of the
_distressed_ to hold a meeting of them in Spafields! Not to have obeyed
that call would indeed have been a crime; but, it was a crime of which
your nature was incapable.

"I now come to the _City Petition_ and the _answer of the Prince
Regent._ This is a very important matter, and, therefore, I shall insert
the documents themselves previous to making any remarks on them.

"'ADDRESS AND PETITION.

"'May it please your Royal Highness,

"'We, his Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lord Mayor,
Aldermen, and Commons of the City of London, in Common Council
assembled, humbly approach your Royal Highness, to represent our
national sufferings and grievances, and respectfully to suggest the
adoption of measures which we conceive to be indispensably necessary for
the safety, the quiet and prosperity of the Realm.

"'We forbear to enter into details of the afflicting scenes of
privations and sufferings that every where exist; the distress and
misery which for so many years has been progressively accumulating, has
at length become insupportable--it is no longer partially felt, nor
limited to one portion of the empire--the commercial, the manufacturing,
and the agricultural interests are equally sinking under its
irresistible pressure; and it has become impossible to find employment
for a large mass of the population, much less to bear up against our
present enormous burdens.

"'We beg to impress upon your Royal Highness, that our present
complicated evils have not arisen from a mere transition from war to
peace, nor from any sudden or accidental causes--neither can they be
removed by any partial or temporary expedients.

"'Our grievances are the natural effect of rash and ruinous wars,
unjustly commenced and pertinaciously persisted in, when no rational
object was to be obtained--of immense subsidies to foreign powers to
defend their own territories, or to commit aggressions on those of their
neighbours--of a delusive paper currency--of an unconstitutional and
unprecedented military force in time of peace--of the unexampled and
increasing magnitude of the Civil List--of the enormous sums paid for
unmerited pensions and sinecures--and of a long course of the most
lavish and improvident expenditure of the public money throughout every
branch of the Government, all arising from the corrupt and inadequate
state of the representation of the people in Parliament, whereby all
constitutional controul over the servants of the Crown has been lost,
and Parliaments have become subservient to the will of Ministers.

"'We cannot forbear expressing our grief and disappointment, that,
notwithstanding your Royal Highness's gracious recommendation of economy
at the opening of the last Session of Parliament, your Ministers should
have been found opposing every proposition for lessening the national
expenditure; and that they should have been able to obtain majorities to
support and sanction their conduct, in defiance of your Royal Highness's
recommendation and the declared sense of the nation--affording another
melancholy proof of the corrupt state of the representation, in addition
to those facts so often stated, and offered to be proved at the bar of
the House of Commons, in a petition presented in 1793, by the Honourable
Charles, now Lord Grey, whereby it appeared that the great body of the
people were excluded from all share in the election of Members, and that
the majority of the Honourable House were returned by the proprietors
of rotten boroughs, the influence of the Treasury, and a few powerful
families.

"'We can, Sir, no longer support out of our dilapidated resources,
an overwhelming load of taxation; and we humbly submit to your Royal
Highness, that nothing but a reformation of these abuses, and restoring
to the people their just and constitutional right in the election
of Members of Parliament, can afford a security against their
recurrence--calm the apprehensions of the people--allay their irritated
feelings, and prevent those misfortunes in which the nation must
inevitably be involved, by an obstinate and infatuated adherence to the
present system of corruption and extravagance.

"'We therefore humbly pray your Royal Highness to assemble Parliament as
early as possible; and that you will be graciously pleased to recommend
to their immediate consideration these important matters, and the
adoption of measures for abolishing all useless places, pensions,
and sinecures; for the reduction of our present enormous military
establishment; for making every practicable reduction in the Public
Expenditure, and restoring to the people their just share and weight in
the Legislature.

"'Signed by order of the Court.

"'HENRY WOODTHORPE.'"

* * * * *

"'PRINCE'S ANSWER.

"'It is with strong feelings of _surprise_ and _regret_, that I receive
this Address and Petition of the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Commons of
the City of London, in Common Council assembled.

"'Deeply as I deplore the prevailing _distress_ and _difficulties_ of
the country, I derive consolation from the persuasion, that _the great
body_ of his Majesty's subjects, notwithstanding the various attempts
which have been made to _irritate_ and _mislead_ them, are well
convinced, that the severe trials which they sustain with such exemplary
patience and fortitude, are chiefly to be attributed to _unavoidable
causes_, and I contemplate with the most cordial satisfaction the
efforts of that enlightened benevolence which is so usefully and
laudably exerting itself throughout the kingdom.

"'I shall resort with the utmost confidence to the TRIED _wisdom_ of
Parliament, at the time, which upon the fullest consideration, I have
thought most advisable, under the present circumstances of the country;
and I entertain a perfect conviction, that a firm and temperate
administration of the Government, assisted and supported by the good
sense, public spirit, and loyalty of the nation, will effectually
_counteract those proceedings_, which, from whatever motives they may
originate, are _calculated to render_ TEMPORARY _difficulties the means
of producing_ PERMANENT _and irreparable calamity_.'

"The _surprise_ and _regret_, and the _broad hints_ that came after,
have nettled the citizens a little. Whether they will shew any _bottom_,
remains to be seen; but, as to the _distress_ and _difficulties_ being
TEMPORARY, and as to their having arisen from UNAVOIDABLE _causes_,
I differ with his Royal Highness, or, rather with his Ministers who
advised this answer. The distress has been visibly proceeding in a
regular increase of severity for more than two years; it becomes every
day greater and greater; it is deep rooted; it is _destroying the means
of resuscitation_; it is ripping up the goose and taking out the golden
eggs; in suspending the operations of labour, it is cutting off the
possibility of a speedy return of employment. But, what say the
Correspondents of the Board of Agriculture? Not one single man of them,
except a parson or two, pretends that the _distress_ is of a temporary
nature; on the contrary, 205 of them, out of 322, attribute the ruin _to
the weight of taxes_! And, therefore, to make the distress temporary,
the weight of taxes must be temporary; and this is one of the main
objects of the prayer of the Citizens of London.

"Oh, no! the distress and difficulties have not arisen from
_unavoidable_ causes; for the weight of taxes might have been avoided.
However, let me ask the Ministers a few questions here. I will not ask
them whether it was unavoidable for the Bank to stop payment in cash in
1797; whether it was unavoidable to renew the war in 1813; whether it
was unavoidable to persevere in the war with America after the war in
England ceased, and, at last, to make peace without attaining any object
of war; whether it was unavoidable to renew the war in 1815 for the
purpose of compelling the French people to give up Napoleon and submit
to the Bourbons; whether it was unavoidable to keep up an army to
maintain the Bourbons on the throne of France, at a time when thousands
of the Protestants of the country were butchered or burnt by those who
called themselves the _loyal._ I will not put any of these questions to
the Ministers; but with the official accounts before me, I will ask them
a few questions applicable to the present moment. I ask them, then,

Was it _unavoidable_ to keep up an army at the expense, including the
Ordnance, of 26,736,067 pounds?

Was it _unavoidable_ that the expense of the Civil List should, in last
year, amount to 1,928,000 pounds?

Was it _unavoidable_ for as to pay in the same year, on account of the
_deficiencies_ of the Civil List 584,713 pounds?

Was it _unavoidable_ that the other additional allowances to the Royal
Family, in that year, should amount to 366,660 pounds?

Was it _unavoidable_ that the Civil List for Scotland should amount to
126,613 pounds?

Was it _unavoidable_ to give for the _relief of suffering_ French and
Dutch Emigrants, in that year, after, the _Bourbons_ and the _'Orange
Boven'_ had been restored, the sum of 79,591 pounds?

Was it _unavoidable_ to expend in that year (including) an arrear of the
former year, in SECRET SERVICE Money, the sum of 153,446 pounds?

Was it _unavoidable_ to pay _last year_, out of the taxes for the relief
of the _Poor_ Clergy of the Church of England, the sum of 100,000
pounds?

"I could ask them a great many more questions of a similar nature and
tendency; but here are enough for the present; and, if the Citizens
of London should happen to be satisfied, that all these expenses were
_unavoidable_, all the taxes, of course, are unavoidable, and then it is
clear, that the present distress and difficulty of the country are to
be attributed to unavoidable causes. But, if the citizens should think,
that a very large part, nine-tenths, for instance, of these expenses
might have been _avoided_, then they will come to the opposite
conclusion, and, if they be not beaten at a single blow, they will not
fail to _communicate_ that conclusion to his Royal Highness.

"As to the hint about _irritating_ and _misleading_ the people, the
charge can apply only to the enemies of Parliamentary Reform; for
we deal in soothing language, in the inspiring of hope, and in the
promulgation of useful political truth, and, therefore, the charge
cannot apply to us. But, when the Prince is advised to talk of the TRIED
_wisdom_ of the _Parliament_, he compels us to fix our eyes on those
'_distresses and difficulties_,' of which he is graciously pleased
to speak at the same time, and which, at any rate, have grown into being
under the existence of that 'TRIED _wisdom_.'

"I have just received from America the most authentic accounts of the
happy state of the people there. _English goods_ were selling at auction
for a _fourth_ of their _prime cost_; and the Americans say, that
they are, in this way, _getting back_ what they lost by our Orders in
Council, under which their ships were seized and condemned. The _ruin_,
in America, is wholly confined to the _agents_ and _merchants_ connected
with _England_. The country at large is in the most flourishing state;
no beggars, no paupers, no distress, and their newspapers are filled
with true accounts of _our_ distresses. Still, let us cling to the _Old
Ship_, and let us try, in spite of all opposition, to make our own
country as happy as America. But, here is another mark of our distresses
not being of a _temporary_ nature. The market of America is gone _for
ever_ as to most articles of manufacture. I shall, however, treat more
fully of this another time.

"I am, with the greatest respect,

"Sir, "Your most obedient and most humble Servant,

"WM. COBBETT."

When the reader has perused this letter, he will be able to form a
pretty correct opinion of the state of the public mind in the metropolis
upon this occasion; and, as it was written at the time when Mr. Cobbett
was divested, of prejudice, it will be read with considerable interest
at this period.

The plot that had been laid for the purpose Of SPILLING MY BLOOD, had
been completely frustrated. I returned to the country, where I received
invitations to attend public meetings for Reform, which the inhabitants
of Bath and Bristol wished to hold. I went to spend a fortnight with a
friend at Newton, near Bath, and, as I was a freeholder of both those
cities, I drew up requisitions and signed them first, to be presented to
the Mayors, requesting them to call meetings, to petition for Reform.
They both refused to comply with the request of their fellow-citizens,
and we, the requisitionists, therefore advertised and called them
ourselves.

The Bristol meeting was advertised to be held upon Brandon-hill, on the
26th of December, the Mayor having refused us the use of the Guildhall.
I started from Newton about 11 o'clock, on one of the wetest days that I
ever remember. On the road I passed several troops of the Lancers, who
had been ordered up from Weymouth, to watch this meeting. When I reached
Bristol I met, at Temple-gate, my worthy friend Mr. John Cossens, with
Mr. Pimm and a few others. They informed me, that they had been deterred
by the corporation from erecting any hustings upon Brandon-hill, and
that the City was invested by a regiment of North Somersetsbire Yeomanry
Cavalry, which had been arriving from all parts for several hours. Some
of my friends strongly urged the propriety of my returning to Bath, and
postponing the meeting to some future time, in consequence of the
extreme wetness of the day. I had never promised to attend any public
meeting of the people and then disappointed them, and I felt extreme
reluctance at the base thought of doing so upon this occasion;
particularly as such a body of the military were assembled from
all quarters, since, to decline holding the meeting under such
circumstances, would carry the idea that, because the corrupt knaves of
Bristol had called out the military, we were fearful of performing, and
that, too, in a perfectly legal and constitutional manner, an imperative
public duty. That, however, in order to deter us, some persons, who were
not gifted with strong nerves, should hesitate, is not to be wondered
at, when we look at the following statement, which was published in
the London _Courier_, of the 25th of December, the day previous to the
meeting being held: "that the regular soldiers are assembling; that the
North Somerset regiment of Yeomanry Cavalry are ready to march to the
aid of the Mayor; that a vestry in one parish has been held to collect
persons to march to the Mayor's to be sworn in as special constables;
that the parties signed a resolution at the said vestry, that they will
not distribute any Christmas gifts on Thursday, in order to keep the
watchmen to their duty on that day; and that they will _dismiss from
their employ all persons who do not work on the day of the meeting_."

This was all true; the streets were lined with troops, drenched in rain:
I never saw such drowned rats in my life! they looked wretched indeed!
nevertheless, on I drove, through the City up to Brandon-hill. When I
got there not ten persons were present, but as the rain held up, and the
day became fine, in less than ten minutes there were as many thousands
assembled. I sent my servant with the leader of my tandem to the inn,
and I made _my gig the hustings_. A chairman was appointed, and the
resolutions and a petition to Parliament were proposed by me, and
seconded by Mr. Cossens, and were unanimously adopted by the meeting.
The petition, which was for Annual Parliaments, Universal Suffrage, and
Vote by Ballot, was left for signatures in the City, and in a very short
time it received TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND names. These resolutions and this
petition were carried by a meeting of unarmed citizens, assembled upon
Brandon-hill, which was surrounded by armed troops, drawn up within
sight, and some of them within hearing, of what was said and done by
myself and others who took part in the said meeting. The Bath troops
were commanded on that day by a person of the name of King, a marble
mason of that city. The men were mounted before day-light, when the rain
commenced; and this very gallant officer and profound soldier objected
to the men wearing their _cloaks_. As they were going upon such a
magnanimous errand, such an heroic exploit, he said "he hoped they would
not disgrace themselves by wearing their cloaks." The consequence was,
that these _feather-bed soldiers_ suffered most wretchedly, as they were
soaked to the skin before they had got two miles on the road to Bristol.
Their being kept in this woeful plight all day caused the death of two
or three of them; _Robert Ansty_, a butcher, and _Wilton_, who kept the
Bear inn at Holloway, never recovered from the effects of their trip to
Bristol. There was, in truth, no more call for soldiers at Bristol on
that day than there was for them in the Guildhall at Bath, where there
was no meeting to be held. The Mayor of Bristol and other Magistrates
had sworn in 800 special constables upon the occasion; in fact, the
appearance of the City was more like a besieged fortress than any
thing else. But all this parade was intended only for the purpose of
intimidating the minds of the weak and silly portion of the people and
creating a panic throughout the country. I will venture to say, that the
business of the meeting would have been carried on as quietly, and as
much without any breach of the peace, and without one window having
been broken, had there not been one soldier, or one constable or peace
officer present at the time.

Mr. Thomas Cossens, of Castle-street, manfully stood forward to support
me, and courageously braved the anger of the corrupt knaves of Bristol.
He rode through the city with me to the extremity of it, cheered all the
way by the people, unless it was in passing the new reading room, in
Clare-street, where a few of those who had been sworn in as special
constables were assembled; a little contemptible group of the abject,
dependant tools of the corporation, who, as I suppose, from the
appearance of their lips, attempted to raise a hiss, but their voices
were instantly drowned by the cheers of the multitude; and thus the
meeting passed off as peaceably as if there had not been any bustle made
by the corporation and police of the city, in order to create a riot.

A few days after this, I got a requisition signed by thirty respectable
inhabitants of the City of Bath, the exact number of the corporation
who return the members. Having placed my name at the head of them, I
waited upon the Mayor, a Mr. Anderton, an apothecary, I believe; he was
better known amongst the citizens by the name of Pump-handle. When I
laid the requisition before him, he was presiding at the justice-room at
the Guildhall. He read it over, while I kept my eyes fixed upon him, and
when he had finished the perusal of it, he hemmed and hawed, and began
to make all sorts of excuses, saying that the City of Bath had never
been troubled with a public meeting, and he could not see why there
should be any meeting there now. I told him that there would certainly
be a meeting, whether he called it or not; that we the requisitionists
merely wished to pay him the compliment of giving him, as the chief
magistrate of the city, an opportunity of convening it; but that, if he
felt the least difficulty upon the subject, we would quite as soon
call it ourselves. He replied by some foolish observation, which I now
forget, but the purport of which was, to leave it doubtful whether he
would or would not comply with our wishes. This, however, did not suit
me, and I pressed him for a definite answer. At length be gave such a
one as, before I waited on him, I was thoroughly convinced that he would
give, namely, that he could not think of complying with the request of
his fellow-citizens. So thoroughly convinced indeed had I been that he
would not call the meeting, that, previous to my waiting on him, I had
sent the copy of the placard, calling the meeting ourselves, to the
printer's to be set up, only leaving room for the answer of the Mayor;
so that, within one hour after he had refused, large broadsides were
placarded all over the city, calling the meeting on the following
Monday, in the name of myself and the other persons who signed the
requisition. The meeting was appointed to be held at 12 o'clock, on my
premises, a large yard in Walcot-street, formerly belonging to a brewer,
so that we were totally free from any interruption that might have been
intended to have been given us.

The circumstances attending the calling of this meeting were rather
curious, and deserve notice, to shew how necessary it is upon these
occasions to act with promptness and decision. The calling of this
meeting had been in contemplation for some time. I had drawn up a
requisition, signed it with my own name, and sent it to Mr. John Allen,
who, together with Dr. Oliver and Mr. Binns, had undertaken to get it
signed. Some names, I knew, had been procured, but the business had been
driven off from time to time, and a number of difficulties had been
started; but now that I was come into the neighbourhood of Bath the
thing was to have been done out of hand. I had, meanwhile, procured and
held the meeting at Bristol, and now that it was over I was determined
to see after that of Bath, without further delay. I therefore drove
over, and found matters quite at a stand, and all sorts of difficulties
and impediments appeared to have quite overcome Messrs. Allen, Oliver,
and Co. I saw that it was their determination not to call the meeting;
as they said it was impossible to carry resolutions and a petition for
Reform in a city which was under such a corrupt influence. I requested
to have the requisition handed over to me, and I would get it signed
myself; but, after a great deal of searching the shop of Mr. Binns,
and hunting a long time for the said requisition, IT WAS LOST. To be
humbugged in this sort of way did not suit me; I called for pen, ink and
paper, instantly drew up another requisition, signed it myself, and
sent little Young, my tenant in Walcot-street, and little Hickman, the
assistant at Binns' shop, round with the requisition, to get it signed
by thirty tradesmen who were housekeepers, which I predicted they would
accomplish in half an hour. In the meantime I drew up the copy of a
placard, to be posted on the walls, calling the meeting on the following
Monday, in the name of the requisitionists; I being, as I have already
stated, perfectly convinced that the Mayor would not call the meeting.
As I had anticipated, Hickman and Young returned, in less than an hour,
with the requisition signed by thirty very respectable tradesmen, and
Young and myself carried it instantly and presented it to the Mayor, so
that in less than _three hours_ after I put my shoulder to the wheel,
the requisition was drawn up, signed, presented to the Mayor, and his
answer was printed on large placards, which placards were posted all
over the city, appointing the meeting to be held on the following
Monday. All this was accomplished in less than three hours, though the
little clan of pretended Reformers, Messrs. Allen and Co. had been
humdrumming about it for three weeks, without even getting the
requisition signed. I wish I had a list of the brave men's names who
so promptly signed this requisition; I would certainly record them. I
remember that Mr. Crisp, the hatter, and Mr. Rolf, the shoemaker, and my
tenant, Mr. Young, the builder, in Walcot-street, were three of them;
Mr. Hickman, not being a householder, did not sign it. The day came, and
a hustings was erected in my yard, and when I arrived, not only was the
place full from top to bottom, but all the roofs of the buildings were
covered with people. This also I had anticipated, and provided for. I
had got two carpenters' benches already loaded in a cart, which, upon a
signal being given, were to be taken to the Abbey Grove, to which spot
it was my intention to move that the meeting should adjourn. Accordingly
as soon as I got upon the hustings, I moved that the meeting should
forthwith adjourn to the Abbey-Grove. This was seconded, and, although
it came very unexpectedly, yet it was carried by acclamation. The cart
with the carpenters' benches reached the Abbey-Grove before we did, and
they were placed under the wall of the Abbey-Church. Thither I and
my friends walked, the immense multitude, of from twelve to fifteen
thousand persons, following us through the Marketplace, where many
of the military were drawn up; for, in spite of the example of
peaceableness which, in the week before, the people of Bristol had
exhibited, the worthy Mayor of Bath had ordered out all the troops,
Lancers and Somersetshire Yeomanry; and he had likewise been occupied
the whole of the previous days in swearing in a large body of the
gentlemen and tradesmen of the city, to act as special constables.
These, of course, being present at the meeting, swelled our numbers very
considerably. When we mounted the hustings, the Abbey-Grove was at least
one-third of it crammed full, so that, on a moderate calculation, there
were from twelve to fifteen thousand persons present. A public meeting
of the people for any political purpose had never before been held in
Bath, and therefore it attracted greater attention than is usual in
other cities.

Resolutions were now proposed and passed, which exposed the glaring
injustice of paying away enormous sums of the public money to sinecure
placemen and unworthy pensioners, &c. The Marquis of CAMDEN, who held
the office of one of the Tellers of the Exchequer, a sinecure of
thirty-five thousand a year, being the Recorder of the city of Bath,
gave us a fine opportunity of expatiating on the profligate waste of the
public money upon that corrupt and knavish corporation. Our resolutions
were extremely strong and pointed upon this subject of _our Recorder's_
enormous sinecure; and these resolutions were embodied in our petition,
which was passed almost unanimously, amidst the cheers of the citizens
of Bath. In this petition we forcibly remonstrated against such a wanton
and unfeeling waste of the public money, and urged the necessity of the
immediate abolition of the Marquis of Camden's sinecure. I wish I had
a copy of the resolutions and petition by me, that I might insert them
here, as I conceive this to have been the most momentous petition that
was ever presented to the House of Commons; and the effect which it
produced was more important than that of any other petition that was
ever passed at any public meeting, not excepting that which was passed
at Spafields. At this, as well as at all the public meetings that
I attended, the petition prayed for Annual Parliaments, Universal
Suffrage, and Vote by Ballot; but, as it was the first and only petition
that ever came from a public meeting of the citizens of Bath, we laid
very great stress upon the Marquis of Camden's sinecure, he being the
Recorder of the City.

After this petition had been passed unanimously, it was left for
signatures in several places in the city, but the rendezvous was at Mr.
Young's, who occupied my house and premises in Walcot-street, so that
he was totally independent of the corporation. The meeting was held and
conducted in the most peaceable and orderly manner, and as soon as it
was concluded the people retired to their homes in the same regular and
satisfactory way, each individual being conscious of having done his
duty to himself, his family, and his country. It is necessary to
observe, that Mr. John Allen, a builder, of Bath, who had offered
himself as the popular representative for that city in 1812, altogether
abstained from taking any part in any of the proceedings of this
meeting. He being a mushroom reformer, raised his head for a short
season, and was cut off and disappeared from the political world almost
as quick as a mushroom disappears after a nipping frost. The effect
produced by this meeting did indeed rouse him again for a moment; but it
was only that he might fall still lower, and be totally buried in the
lap of corruption, mingling with its basest tools and dependants. The
petition was signed by upwards of twenty thousand persons, in a few
days.

There had, in the meanwhile been meetings held, for the purpose of
petitioning for Reform, all over the kingdom, particularly in the
North of England and Scotland; which meetings emanated from the first
Spafields meeting; and at almost all of these Meetings resolutions
and petitions of a similar tendency were passed; Annual Parliaments,
Universal Suffrage, and Vote by Ballot, being very generally prayed
for. Hampden Clubs had been formed all over the North of England, by
Major Cartwright, who had sent an agent round the country for that
purpose. The Major had also supplied a copy of a petition for Reform,
to be transmitted to the members of these bodies, which prayed for the
suffrage, or right of voting, to be extended only to all payers of
direct taxes. These petitions being printed upon large paper, were very
generally adopted, as this saved the trouble of drawing up others. A
circular letter had also been sent round the country, signed by Sir
F. Burdett, or rather with the Baronet's fac-simile, which he had
authorised the Major to use, for the purpose of inviting the Hampden
Clubs, and all other petitioning bodies, to send up delegates or
deputies to London, to meet a deputation of the Hampden Club, to decide
upon what sort of Reform the reformers would unanimously agree to
petition for. Great numbers had followed the example set them at
Spafields, Bristol, and Bath; others, who had signed the Major's printed
petitions, only prayed for all payers of direct taxation to be admitted
to the right of voting.

On the 20th of January, 1817, five persons were tried at the Old Bailey,
for rioting in the City of London, on the day of the second Spafields
meeting. Cashman, the sailor, was found guilty, and sentenced to be
executed in the front of Mr. Beckwith's, the gun-smith's shop, in
Skinner-street.

The Parliament was to meet on the 28th of January. About the 24th of
that month, the delegates, or deputies, from the Hampden Clubs, and
other petitioning bodies, from various parts of the kingdom, arrived
in London; and a day was appointed for them to meet at the Crown and
Anchor. I was delegated from Bristol, to accompany Mr. Cossens, who
brought the petition from that city, signed by twenty-four thousand
persons. I was also delegated from Bath, together with Mr. John Allen,
who, seeing the spirit displayed by his townsmen, volunteered once more
to act the part of a Reformer, and he brought up the Bath petition,
containing upwards of 20,000 signatures. The Reformers of Bath and
Bristol gave positive instructions to their delegates that they should
support Annual Parliaments, Universal Suffrage, and Vote by Ballot. Mr.
Allen brought up the written instructions from Bath which he delivered
to me, and he accepted the delegation upon the express condition that he
would support and vote for Annual Parliaments, Universal Suffrage, and
Vote by Ballot. I met Mr. Hulme from Bolton, Mr. E. Taylor from Norwich,
Mr. Warburton from Leicester, and several other delegates from England
and Scotland, at Mr. Cobbett's house in Catherine street, in the Strand,
which was the general rendezvous; and there I first saw Mr. Fitton and
Mr. Kaye of Royton, Mr. Bamford from Middleton, Mr. Benbow and Mr.
Mitchell from Manchester, and many others. Major Cartwright had, in the
meantime, been down to Brighton, personally to ascertain Sir Francis
Burdett's opinion upon the subject; and from him the Major learned that
he would not support any petitions that prayed for _Universal Suffrage_;
that he would support Householder Suffrage and the payers of direct
taxes, but nothing farther. When the Major returned he communicated this
to Mr. Cobbett, who was requested to use all his influence to prevail
upon me to give up Universal Suffrage, and to adopt the plan of Sir
Francis Burdett. I had consulted with Mr. Hulme, whom I found an honest
and staunch friend of Liberty, and he had agreed to support me in
the motion which I had resolved to make at the delegate meeting, for
Universal Suffrage, and Vote by Ballot. The Major, as well as Mr.
Cobbett, had already done every thing to prevail upon us to give it
up for the householder plan, but we were inflexible. This being the
situation of affairs, on the day before the meeting was to take place,
the Major was very anxious for Mr. Cobbett to attend as a delegate; but
to accomplish this was not quite an easy matter, as Mr. Cobbett had not
been elected a delegate by either of the petitioning bodies. The Major,
however, was never at a loss for a scheme, and his agent or writer, whom
he employed at the time, an Irishman, of the name of Cleary, was set to
work privately to assemble some members of the _Union_, which had been
formed in London by the Major, previous to the formation of the Hampden
Club; in fact, the latter sprung out of the former, which was too
democratical for the aristocracy, and they consequently set on foot a
select club amongst themselves, called the Hampden Club; although I
believe, with the exception of the Major and Mr. Northmore, there was
not a member amongst them who was at all disposed to follow the example
of John Hampden. But, be this as it may, Cleary was ordered to get
together, at the Crown and Anchor, the night before the intended
delegate meeting, a chosen number of the members of the _Union_,
expressly for the purpose of appointing two delegates for the
metropolis. Although we were both members of the _Union_, Cleary was
strictly enjoined not to communicate either to me or to Mr. Hulme any
intention of holding this conclave, which was to have been a snug junto
of Westminster men, nothing more nor less than the Rump Committee, who
were to assemble at the request of the Major, to appoint Mr. Cobbett a
delegate, that he might attend the meeting the next day, purposely to
oppose my motion for _Universal Suffrage_, and to move in its stead,
that we, the delegates, should adopt the recommendation of the Hampden
Club, and support the _householder suffrage_ only.

This good piece of generalship could not, however, be carried completely
into effect, as one of the invited party communicated it in confidence
to Mr. Hulme and myself. We laughed heartily at the intrigue of the old
Major and Mr. Cobbett, and agreed that, being members of the Union, we
would unexpectedly attend the meeting at seven o'clock, without saying
a word to any one. We both dined with Mr. Cobbett, and a little before
seven we made an excuse for leaving his table, saying, that we had a
particular engagement for an hour or two, after which we would return
again. Mr. Cobbett strongly opposed our leaving him; but whether he had
any suspicion that we were up to the tricks of the Major and himself, I
never ascertained. However, off Mr. Hulme and I started together, and we
soon arrived at the Crown and Anchor, and desired to be shown into the
room where the members of the _Union_ were assembled. At first the
waiters did not appear to understand us; at length they asked me if we
meant Mr. Brooks and Mr. Cleary's room. We replied, "exactly so," and
in we marched, to the great consternation of Mr. Brooks, who sat at the
head of the table, with Cleary at his right, and surrounded by some half
score of as pretty a picked junto for dishing up a little under-plot
of the sort, as could have been selected for the purpose in the whole
kingdom.

Our unexpected visit, without any invitation, appeared to create very
considerable uneasiness, and even dismay. I informed them that, as we
were both old members of the _Union_, and had accidentally heard that
there was to be a meeting, we did ourselves the pleasure of attending
it, although (no doubt from mistake) we were not summoned. This did not
at all relieve them from the dilemma in which they were placed. After
looking at each other for some time, they cautiously developed the
object of the meeting, and with great timidity and doubt Mr. Brooks
proposed Mr. Cobbett as "a proper man to be a delegate to represent
the Union, at the delegate meeting to be holden the next day." Instead
of throwing any obstacle in the way, which they had expected would be
the case, I instantly arose and seconded the motion; adding, that I
believed Mr. Cobbett to be one of the most proper men in the kingdom
to attend such a meeting, and that I proposed Mr. Brooks as a proper
colleague for him; and I moved that those two gentlemen should be
appointed as the delegates of the Union Society, to maintain their
rights at the approaching meeting. Mr. Hulme seconded the motion, and it
was carried unanimously; upon which we returned to Mr. Cobbett's, and
were the first to communicate the result of that select assembly which
was got up privately, and from which it was intended that we should have
been totally excluded. He appeared astonished, but carried it off with a
laugh.

After this, many, many hours were employed by Mr. Cobbett, in
endeavouring to prevail upon us to give up the plan of supporting
_Universal Suffrage_. He should, he said, propose to the delegates
to agree to the _householder plan_; especially as Sir F. Burdett had
declared that he would not support the former. I lamented differing
from him, but I declared that I would support Universal Suffrage from
principle, in spite of all the policy in the world, and in spite of the
opinion or whim of all the baronets in the world.

With this determination we left him, and met at the appointed hour, at
the Crown and Anchor, on the next day. Major Cartwright and Mr. Jones
Burdett were the deputation from the Hampden Club; and there were, in
the whole, about sixty delegates from different parts of the kingdom
of England and Scotland; but, with the exception of those from Bath,
Bristol, and London, they all came from the North.

Major Cartwright was unanimously called to the chair, and he opened
the proceedings by informing us, that the Hampden Club had come to the
determination of supporting the _Householder Suffrage_; which plan he
strongly recommended to the delegates to adopt, particularly as _Sir
Francis Burdett had declared that he would not support any petition
that prayed for a more extended right of voting._ In truth, the Major,
instead of performing the part of chairman, actually became the
strenuous and eloquent advocate of the Hampden Club, and their notable
scheme of restricting the right of voting to householders and payers of
direct taxes to Church and King; and I must in justice say, that I never
saw an advocate labour harder than the Major did to carry this point,
which I believe he confidently relied upon accomplishlng, as he knew
that he would have the support of Mr. Cobbett's great talent and weight
of influence amongst the assembled delegates.

Mr. Cobbett then rose, and, in a luminous and artful speech, endeavoured
to convince the delegates, or rather to bring them over to the same way
of thinking. He, as well as the Major, were heard with great attention,
but it was with such silent attention as rendered it very evident to
me that their doctrine of _exclusion_ was listened to by the delegates
without any conviction of its truth. It may easily be supposed that I
took good care narrowly to watch the contrivances of those who, by their
votes, were to decide the great question; many of whom Mr. Cobbett had
previously had an opportunity of communicating with, and using his
influence upon, in private. After a most ingenious speech, he concluded
by moving, that the present meeting was of opinion, that the right
of voting for Members of Parliament could be safely and practicably
extended only to _householders paying direct taxes_ to Church and State,
and that it should be recommended to the Reformers throughout the
country to petition for a Reform of the Commons' House of Parliament,
upon the plan of householder suffrage. If not the words, this was the
substance and meaning of the motion.

The moment that Mr. Cobbett sat down, (sat down with perfect silence
round him), to my great astonishment up started John Allen, my
brother-delegate from Bath, and _seconded the motion_ for the EXCLUSION
from the right of voting of all persons _except householders and payers
of direct taxes_; that is, except they were payers of church and poor
rates, and King's taxes. This was the conduct of the volunteer delegate
from Bath, although he had received written instructions, from the
committee of Reformers of that city, to support _Universal Suffrage_.

As soon as Mr. Allen was seated, I rose to move an amendment to my
friend Cobbett's motion, and, in my address to the delegates, I
combatted and successfully controverted the _doctrine of exclusion_
which had been so forcibly urged by the chairman, and so ingeniously
supported by Mr. Cobbett. I modestly and with great deference called to
their recollection the language, the irresistible arguments, in favour
of Universal Suffrage, which, in his Register, Mr. Cobbett himself
had published, within one short fortnight of the time in which I was
addressing them. Almost every sentence that I uttered in favour of
Universal Suffrage was hailed by the enthusiastic cheers of the great
body of the delegates. Mr. Cobbett rose to order, and protested in
strong language against my quoting his own words, or any thing he had
previously published, in order to controvert his present proposition.
I therefore forbore to do so again; not from any conviction of its
impropriety or unfairness, but because I wished to conciliate, and
because I was quite clear that my amendment would be carried. I
concluded by asserting the right of every freeman to be represented in
the Commons' House of Parliament, which could only be done by Universal
Suffrage; and on this ground I moved that the word _universal_ should be
substituted for _householder_.

Mr. Hulme seconded the motion, and Mr. Bamford was about to support him,
by refuting Mr. Cobbett's arguments with respect to Universal Suffrage
being impracticable; but before he had concluded his sentence, Mr.
Cobbett rose and said, that what Mr. Bamford had stated had convinced
him of the practicability of Universal Suffrage, and consequently he
should withdraw his motion, and support Mr. Hunt's amendment. The fact
was, that Cobbett plainly saw that his motion would be lost by a
large majority, and he had the policy not to press it to a division. I,
however, insisted upon having the question put, and it was carried
in favour of Universal Suffrage by a majority of twenty to one. The
question of Annual Parliaments was also carried unanimously. Mr.
Mitchell then moved, that votes should be taken by ballot; this was
opposed also by Mr. Cobbett and others, but on a division it was carried
by a majority of more than two to one. When I held my hand up for it,
Mr. Cobbett turned to me and said very earnestly, "What! do you support
the ballot too?" I answered "Yes, most certainly, to its fullest
extent."

These points being decided, and some minor resolutions being passed,
the meeting was adjourned; but, as I afterwards found, only to assemble
again the next day, where the Major was at his post in the chair,
passing various resolutions, which of course I expected would be finally
settled that evening. We were, however, surprised to find that the
meeting was adjourned to the King's Arms, Palace Yard, opposite
Westminster Hall, where it was expected they (the delegates) would
assemble from day to day till the Parliament met. This was thought
by Mr. Cobbett, as well as by myself, to be not only a useless but a
dangerous proceeding; useless, because the main question upon which the
delegates met was settled; and dangerous, because it would be taken
advantage of by the Government, which would construe such meetings,
so continued, into an attempt to overawe the Parliament. Mr. Cobbett
declared he would not go near them again; in fact, he had not attended
the second day; and he added, that they would all be apprehended, for
holding their meetings for an illegal purpose. He and I and Mr.
Hulme all agreed, therefore, that as we had arranged those points to
deliberate upon which we had been assembled, it was very desirable to
dissolve the meeting, but to stir a single step to accomplish this end,
Mr. Cobbett positively refused. Mr. Hulme and myself, however, attended,
and after the Major had got some of his resolutions passed, I moved that
the meeting should be dissolved, and urged my reasons for the measure.
Mr. Hulme seconded my motion, and a warm debate ensued, which was
maintained with great spirit on both sides, for the dissolution was
strongly opposed. However, when the question was put, my motion
was carried by a very considerable majority, and the far-famed
delegate-meeting was dissolved. It is a curious fact that Mr. Cobbett
never noticed these proceedings in his Register.

In the evenings of these meetings, many of the delegates assembled
at the Cock, in Grafton-street, by invitation, to meet Dr. Watson,
Pendrill, and others of the Spenceans. It appears that they were taken
there by ONE CLEARY, an Irishman, who had been an attorney's clerk in
Dublin, and who had contrived to be employed as the secretary of the
Hampden Club, and who, as private secretary of Major Cartwright,
attended the delegate meetings. These private meetings, at the Cock in
Grafton-street, took place unknown to me, and were afterwards made a
pretence for suspending the Habeas Corpus Act; and, strange to relate,
warrants were issued out, by the Secretary of State, against every one
of the persons who attended those meetings, _except_ the said _Cleary_.

The delegates, as we have already seen, were in town; they had brought
up with them petitions, signed by half a million of men, and they were
anxious to place them in the hands of some Member of Parliament, who
would present them and support the prayer of their petitions. But such
a man was not easily to be found. Sir Francis Burdett had promised the
Major to come to town in time to present these petitions, or at least
some of them, as soon as Parliament met; but when he found that the
delegates who had been assembled in his name had declared for Universal
Suffrage, and that the petitions in London likewise mostly prayed for
Reform upon the principle of Universal Suffrage, he declared that he
would not support the prayer of them, neither had he arrived in town on
the day previous to the meeting of Parliament.

On the failure of Sir Francis to come forward, Lord Cochrane had been
applied to by the Major and Mr. Cobbett, to present these petitions;
but he had declined to act in opposition to his colleague, Sir Francis
Burdett; every effort had been tried to induce him to do so, but they
had been tried in vain. At length I hit upon a plan, which I proposed
to Mr. Cobbett. It was this--that on the day when the Parliament met,
I would collect ten or twenty thousand people in the front of Lord
Cochrane's house, which was in Old Palace Yard, and thus cut off his
Lordship's access to the House, unless he would take in some of the
petitions. I shall never forget Cobbett's look. "What!" said he, "would
you besiege the man in his own house?" I answered, that desperate cases
required desperate remedies. "Aye! aye!" said he, "that is very pretty
talking, it is like belling the cat. Suppose such a thing likely to
succeed with his Lordship, how the devil would you contrive to collect
such a number of people there, without his knowing it, so as to avoid
them, if he pleased?" I replied, "leave that to me. If you will go to
his Lordship's house about one o'clock, and detain him at home, by
endeavouring to persuade him to present the petitions, I will undertake
to bring ten thousand people to the front of his house by two
o'clock,"--the House of Commons being to assemble at three. In fact,
there appeared no other alternative; for on the next day the Parliament
was to meet, and we had not yet one single Member of Parliament who
would present our petitions, all being unwilling, because they prayed
for _Universal Suffrage_. After making a hundred excuses, Lord Cochrane
had absolutely refused to present them; at least he refused to
support the prayer of the petitioners. There being no other chance of
accomplishing our purpose, Mr. Cobbett at length adopted my plan, and
agreed to make the attempt as a sort of forlorn hope, and accordingly he
promised to be at his Lordship's house at the time appointed.

I knew that great numbers of people would be collected, in and about
Parliament-street, at that time, to see the Prince Regent go down to
the House, to open the Session of Parliament. I therefore made
an arrangement with all the delegates in town, to meet me at the
Golden-Cross, Charing-Cross, a quarter before two o'clock, and requested
that each man would bring with him his rolls of parchment, containing
the petitions. This they all complied with, and met me at the time
appointed, in number about twenty; it might be more or less. I informed
them that I wished them to march, two and two, down Parliament-street,
into Palace-yard, to the door of Lord Cochrane's house, who I had reason
to hope would present their petitions, and I begged them to follow me.
I then requested my friend Cossens to unroll a few yards of the Bristol
petition, which I took in my hand, and proceeded down Parliament-street,
at the head of the delegates. The people stared at such an exhibition;
and I announced that the delegates were going down to Palace-yard, to
get Lord Cochrane to present their petitions. This information was
received with huzzas, and the people ran forward to communicate the
intelligence to others, so that before we had got opposite the Horse
Guards, we were attended by several thousand people, cheering us as they
went along. When we arrived at the front of Lord Cochrane's house, there
was the largest assembly that I ever saw in Palace-yard, all believing
that his Lordship had undertaken to present our petitions.

I knocked at the door, and gained immediate access to his Lordship, with
whom, as I expected, I found Mr. Cobbett. He asked what was the matter?
I told him that the people had accompanied the delegates, to request
his Lordship to present their petitions; to which he replied, "that Mr.
Cobbett had been using every argument in his power to prevail upon him
to do it, but he could not take such a step without consulting his
colleague, Sir Francis Burdett." A great deal was now urged by us to
induce him to comply, in which we were most heartily joined by his lady,
but all was to little purpose. At length, I led him to the window, and
requested him to address twenty thousand of his fellow-countrymen, and
tell them himself that he refused to present their petitions; for that I
certainly would never inform them of any such thing. Our appearance at
the window drew forth some tremendous cheers. "There," said I, "my Lord,
refuse their request, if you please; but if you do, I am sure that you
will regret it as long as you live. Besides," added I, "I deny the
possibility of your getting from your house, without your previously
consenting to present their petitions." At length we carried our point,
and his Lordship agreed that he would take in the Bristol petition,
which was the largest, the roll of parchment being neatly the size of a
sack of wheat, and containing twenty-five thousand signatures. It was
rolled upon a _bundle of sticks_, tightly bound together, as an emblem
of the strength of an united people. His Lordship also now agreed to
move an amendment to the address, which had been previously drawn up,
in hopes that he might be prevailed on to do so. The moment that his
Lordship yielded to our entreaties, I flew down stairs to the door, and
announced the intelligence to the assembled multitude, who received it
with loud and long continued acclamations, which made Old Palace-yard
and Westminster-Hall ring again. I then proposed that the delegates
should carry his Lordship in a chair, from his house to the door of
Westminster-Hall, if the people would make a passage to allow him to
proceed thither in that way. This suggestion was instantly adopted; an
arm chair was provided and placed at the door, in which his Lordship was
seated, with the Bristol petition and the bundle of sticks rolled up in
it. In this manner he was carried by the delegates across Palace-yard,
myself leading the way; and he was set down at the door of the House,
amidst the deafening cheers of the people, who, at my request,
immediately dispersed in peace and quietness to their homes.

As the Prince Regent returned from opening the Session of Parliament,
some gravel or a potatoe was thrown at his carriage, the window of which
was cracked. This the _Courier_ and the venal press made a great noise
about the next day; and Lord James Murray, who was in the carriage with
the Prince Regent, attended in his seat in the House of Commons, in the
evening, and stated that the Prince Regent had been fired at, on his way
from the House; and the ball had passed through the window of his
coach. This caused a great sensation in the House, and the outrage was
attributed to the Reformers, not one of whom do I believe was present;
at any rate not one of the delegates was there. This greatly assisted
the Ministers to carry their intended measures through both Houses; that
of suspending the Habeas-Corpus Act, and that of passing the Seditious
Meetings Bill.

Lord Cochrane presented the Bristol petition, and moved the following
amendment to the address, which, as a vindication of the conduct of the
Reformers, I will here record.

"That this House has taken a view of the public proceedings
throughout the country, by those persons who
have met to petition for a Reform of this House, and that,
in justice to those persons, as well as to the people at
large, and for the purpose of convincing the people that
this House wishes to entertain and encourage no misrepresentation
of their honest intentions, this House, with
great humility, beg leave to assure his Royal Highness,
that they have not been able to discover one single instance,
in which meetings to petition for Parliamentary
Reform have been accompanied with any attempt to disturb
the public tranquillity; and this House further beg
leave to assure his Royal Highness, that in order to prevent
the necessity of those rigorous measures, which are
contemplated in the latter part of the speech of his Royal
Highness, this House will take into their early consideration
the propriety of abolishing sinecures and unmerited
pensions and grants, the reduction of the civil list, and of all
salaries which are now disproportionate to the services,
and especially, that they will take into their consideration
the Reform of this House, agreeably to the laws and
constitution of the land, this House being decidedly of
opinion that justice and humanity, as well as policy, call
at this time of universal distress, for measures of conciliation,
and not of rigour, towards a people who have made
so many and such great sacrifices, and who are now suffering,
in consequence of those sacrifices, all the calamities
with which a nation can be afflicted."

It is a melancholy subject for reflection, that there was not ONE man to
be found in the House that would even SECOND this amendment, which was
neither more nor less than a true account of the proceedings of the
Reformers throughout the country; and in consequence of this, the motion
fell to the ground without a division. Lord Cochrane continued night
after night to present these petitions, brought up by the delegates; and
the most remarkable event of these times was, that the very night that
Lord Cochrane presented the petition from Bath, which especially pointed
out the enormous sums annually received by their Recorder, Lord Camden,
and which prayed for the abolition of his enormous sinecures; that very
night a message was brought down to the House, and it was announced
by one of the Ministers _that Lord Camden had actually resigned his
enormous sinecure of Teller of the Exchequer_, which did not amount to
less than thirty-five thousand pounds a year. No one will doubt that
this act of his Lordship was occasioned solely by the resolutions and
the petition passed at the Bath meeting. He well knew that Lord Cochrane
had presented the Bristol petition, and had stated in the House that he
had several other petitions to present; and amongst the number that
from Bath, signed by upwards of twenty thousand persons. To prevent,
therefore, the discussion which was likely to arise from the
presentation of this petition, he anticipated the prayer of it, by
resigning his sinecure of Teller of the Exchequer. How often have we
been asked by the tools of corruption, what good was there in holding
public meetings! We have been everlastingly told that these great public
meetings, and the violent petitions passed at them, did a great deal of
harm, but that they never produced any good. What these knaves mean by
this is, that the House of Commons never attended to the prayers
and petitions of the people, and that therefore it was of no use to
persevere in petitioning. This, as far as it goes, is very true; the
House of Commons never did attend to the petitions of the people for
Reform; but yet I boldly answer, that petitioning _has_ done some good;
that the petition of the first Spafields meeting obtained _four thousand
pounds_ from the droits of the Admiralty, for the suffering poor of
Spital-fields and the metropolis. This was some good. Again, I say, that
the petition and the resolutions passed at the Bath meeting, caused Lord
Camden to surrender thirty-five thousand a year to the public. This
alone was some good. Nor must we stop here. Almost all the petitions in
which I was ever concerned, petitioned for the abolition of all sinecure
and useless places, and unmerited pensions; and I always particularly
denounced the sinecures of the late Marquis of Buckingham, the other
Teller of the Exchequer, and prayed and petitioned for its abolition. At
the death of the old Marquis _it was abolished_. Does any man of sense
and candour believe, for a moment, that this would have ever been
done to this hour, if it had not been for the prayers, petitions, and
remonstrances of the people? Here, then, is another saving of upwards of
thirty thousand pounds a year.--Therefore, I say, that the great public
meetings _have_ done a great deal of good; and those who promoted them
have rendered very considerable service to the country, although
they have themselves been the victims of that system of tyranny and
oppression, which, in these two instances alone, has had its plunder
curtailed in more than _sixty thousand pounds a year_. Add to all this,
that the Prince Regent surrendered fifty thousand pounds per annum to
the public exigencies. Will any man say that the Regent would have done
this, had it not been for the great public meetings held in Spafields
and other places? and was this nothing? Again, Mr. Ponsonby resigned his
Chancellor's pension of _four thousand pounds a year_. Is this nothing?
Here I have shown that, within _three months_ of the great meeting first
held in Spafields, and between the second and third meeting which
was advertised, no less a sum than NINETY THOUSAND POUNDS A YEAR was
surrendered for the public exigencies; and was this doing nothing? To be
sure, five persons had been found guilty of rioting on the day of the
second Spafields meeting, and Cashman was sentenced to death; but this
had nothing to do with the meeting itself, which met only for the
purpose of petitioning Parliament, and peaceably separated, after
agreeing to a petition, which was signed by _twenty-four thousand
persons_, praying for Reform, and the abolition of all sinecures, and a
reduction of the public expenditure; which petition had been presented,
and received by the House of Commons, before these _surrenders_ and
resignations of these large sums were made. To be sure, Lord Sidmouth
had delivered in the House of Lords a message from the Prince Regent,
laying before Parliament the famous green bag, full of precious
documents, got up to prove that sedition, conspiracy, and rebellion were
close at hand; and that treasonable practices existed in London, and in
various parts of the kingdom: upon which a committee was appointed by
the Ministers, in both Houses of Parliament, to examine and report upon
the contents of the said bag. The result of this was, that Mr. Evans, of
Newcastle-street, the Spencean, and his son, were arrested on a charge
of high treason!

About this time I received a letter from the Reformers of Portsmouth,
requesting me to attend and preside at a public meeting, which they
wished to hold in or near that town, to petition for Reform. I showed
this letter to Mr. Cobbett, who said, "I know these people; I will
answer that letter for you, and arrange with them all about their
meeting. As you are so much engaged in other matters at this time, I
will take this trouble off your hands, and you will have nothing to
do but to attend the meeting when the day is appointed." This offer I
cheerfully accepted, and I thought no more of the business till I saw it
publicly announced that a meeting would be held on Portsdown-Hill, on
the 10th day of February, _the very day that was fixed for holding the
third Spafields meeting_; and that was done without consulting or saying
a word to me upon the subject, although I was the only person written
to by the people of Portsmouth. It did certainly strike me at the time,
that there appeared to be a good deal of trickery and management made
use of to keep me from this meeting. As, however, I was never jealous of
any one myself, I had no suspicion that my friends were jealous of me,
and I took no notice of it, though I was sorry to find that to the
people who met on Portsdown, _no apology or explanation_ was made for my
absence, or at least for the meeting being held on the day that
I was at Spafields; and I have reason to think that the people of
Portsmouth, who first invited me, were very much disappointed at my not
being present, and that they felt themselves slighted by me, which,
I assure them, was the farthest thing in the world from my wish or
intention.

While my _friends_ were acting in this manner, my enemies were not idle,
and the agents of Government, in order to injure me in the opinion of
the public, not only vilified and abused and libelled me from day to
day, in the public newspapers, but they actually caused a placard to be
printed and posted all over the metropolis, which was headed "_Mr. Hunt
hissed out of the City of Bristol_," and contained all sorts of infamous
falsehoods and scurrilous abuse. It appeared from the newspapers that a
boy, of the name of Thomas Dugood, had been committed to prison, by a
Police Magistrate, for having pulled down one of these posting-bills. I
immediately set about an inquiry, to find out the poor boy, to endeavour
to relieve him from his imprisonment, and to gain him some redress for
the persecution which he had suffered. To discover where the boy was, I
went to the Police Office, and, after a great deal of shuffling, I was
directed to Coldbath-fields Prison, which, as I subsequently found, was
the wrong gaol, the boy having been committed to the New Prison. In the
mean time, however, finding that I was resolved to go to the bottom of
the business, they had released the boy. At length I found him out at
his lodgings, and learned from him that he had been confined for several
days among the vilest felons. I took him to the Police Office, to
identify the Magistrate that committed him, and there I caused the
police officer, Limbrick, to be placed at the bar, for robbing the boy
of his books and money at the time he was apprehended. The inquiry ended
in the said police officer returning the boy his books and money, and
confessing that he was ordered to attend the posting of the said bills,
and to protect them from being pulled down after they were posted. The
bills were printed at the office of the Hue and Cry, near Temple-bar,
and an agent of the Government paid the bill-sticker a large sum for the
posting of them in the night. Finding that I could get no redress for
the boy at the Police Office, I took him into the Court of King's Bench,
and appealed to the Judges. But Lord Ellenborough could do nothing
for him. By the stir which I made, however, the case got into all the
papers, and the conduct of the Government was completely exposed. I
then caused a petition from Dugood to be presented to the House by Lord
Folkestone, and another petition of my own, by Lord Cochrane. The Under
Secretary of State, Mr. Hiley Addington, promised that the conduct of
the Police Magistrate should be inquired into; but ultimately it
was ascertained that Lord Sidmouth had no power to interfere. The
Magistrate, Mr. Sellon, who had committed the boy, was not a Police
Magistrate, but a Magistrate of the county of Middlesex; therefore his
Lordship could not interfere, and the boy must, forsooth, proceed _at
law_ against the Magistrate. I shall here insert the petitions that were
presented to the House, which will place this transaction in a clear
point of view before my readers, and will show them to what meanness the
Government submitted, in order to injure my character with the public,
and to destroy the influence which they discovered that I had over the
people. This transaction will speak for itself without any further
comment of mine. "To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of
Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled.

"The Petition of Thomas Dugood, of the Parish of St. Paul,
Covent-Garden, in the City of Westminster,

"HUMBLY SHEWETH,

"That your petitioner is a parentless and friendless boy, seventeen
years of age, who, until lately seized by two Police Officers and sent
to prison by the police, obtained the honest means of living by the sale
of Religious and Moral Tracts, which he used to purchase of Mr. Collins,
of Paternoster-row.

"That your petitioner has, for more than four months last past, lodged,
and he still lodges, at the house of Keeran Shields, who lives at No.
13, Gee's-court, Oxford-street, and who is a carter to Mr. White, of
Mortimer-street, and who is also a watchman in Marybone parish.

"That your petitioner has never in his life lived as a vagrant, but has
always had a settled home, has always pursued an honest and visible
means of getting his living, has always been, and is ready to prove
that he always has been an industrious, a peaceable, sober, honest, and
orderly person.

"That, on the 10th of January, 1817, your petitioner, for having pulled
down a posting bill, entitled, "_Mr. Hunt hissed out of the City
of Bristol_," was committed by Mr. Sellon to the New Prison,
Clerkenwell, where he was kept on bread and water and compelled to lie on
the bare boards until the twenty-second of the same month, when he was
tied, with about fifty others, to a long rope, or cable, and marched to
Hicks's Hall, and there let loose.

"That your petitioner has often heard it said, that the law affords
protection to the poor as well as to the rich, and that, if unable to
obtain redress any where else, every subject of his Majesty has the road
of petition open to him; therefore your petitioner, being unable to
obtain redress in any other manner for the grievous wrongs done him by
the Magistrate of the police, most humbly implores your Honourable House
to afford him protection and redress, and to that end he prays your
Honourable House to permit him to prove at the bar of your Honourable
House all and several the allegations contained in this his most humble
petition.

"And your petitioner will ever pray.

"THOMAS DUGOOD.""To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom
of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled.

"The Petition of Henry Hunt, of Middleton Cottage,
in the County of Southampton,

"HUMBLY SHEWETH,

"That your petitioner, being ready to prove at the
bar of your Honourable House, that there has been carried
on a conspiracy against his character, and eventually
aimed at his life, by certain persons, receiving salaries out
of the public money, and acting in their public capacity,
and expending for this vile purpose a portion of the taxes;
and there being, as appears to him, no mode of his obtaining
a chance of security, other than those which may
be afforded him by Parliament, he humbly sues to your
Honourable House to yield him your protection.

"That your petitioner has always been a loyal and
faithful subject, and a sincere and zealous friend of his
country. That, at a time, during the first war against
France, when there were great apprehensions of invasion,
and when circular letters were sent round to farmers and
others to ascertain what sort and degree of aid each
would be willing to afford to the Government in case of
such emergency, your petitioner, who was then a farmer
in Wiltshire, did not, as others did, make an offer of a
small part of his moveable property, but that, really believing
his country to be in danger, he, in a letter to the
Lord Lieutenant, the Earl of Pembroke, freely offered his
all, consisting of several thousands of sheep, a large stock
of horned cattle, upwards of twenty horses, seven or
eight waggons and carts with able and active drivers, several
hundreds of quarters of corn and grain, and his
own person besides, all to be at the entire disposal of
the Lord Lieutenant; and this your petitioner did without
any reserved claim to compensation, it being a principle
deeply rooted in his heart, that all property, and even
life itself, ought to be considered as nothing, when put in
competition with the safety and honour of our country.
And your petitioner further begs leave to state to your
Honourable House, that, at a subsequent period, namely,
in the year 1803, when an invasion of the country was
again apprehended, and when it was proposed to call out
volunteers to serve within certain limits of their houses,
your petitioner called around him the people of the village
of Enford, in which he lived, and that all the men in
that parish (with the exception of three) capable of bearing
arms, amounting to more than two hundred in number,
immediately enrolled themselves, and offered to serve,
not only within the district, but in any part of the kingdom
where the enemy might land, or be expected to land,
and this offer was by your petitioner transmitted to Lord
Pembroke, who expressed to your petitioner his great satisfaction
at the said offer, and informed him, that he,
would make a point of communicating the same to his
Majesty's Ministers.

"That your petitioner, still actuated by a sincere desire
to see his country free and happy, and holding a high
character in the world, has lately been using his humble
endeavours to assist peaceably and legally in promoting
applications to Parliament for a Reform in your Honourable
House, that measure appearing to your petitioner to
be the only effectual remedy for the great and notorious
evils under which the country now groans, and for which
evils, as no one attempts to deny their existence, so no
one, as far as your petitioner has heard, has attempted to
suggest any _other_ remedy.

"That your petitioner, in pursuit of this constitutional,
and, as he hopes and believes, laudable object (an object
for which, if need be, he is resolved to risk his life against
unlawful violence) lately took part in a public meeting of
the City of Bristol, of which he is a freeholder; and that
though a large body of regular troops and of yeomanry

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