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

Part 6 out of 8

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cavalry were placed in a menacing attitude near the place
of our meeting, the meeting was conducted and concluded
in the most peaceable and orderly manner, and the result
of it was a petition to your Honourable House, voluntarily
signed by upwards of twenty thousand men, which
petition has been presented to, and received by, your Honourable
House.

"That your petitioner, who had met with every demonstration
of public good-will and approbation in the
said city, was surprised to see in the public newspapers
an account of a boy having been sent to gaol by certain
Police Officers and Justices, for having pulled down a
posting-bill, which alleged your petitioner to have been
hissed out of the City of Bristol, and containing other
gross falsehoods and infamous calumnies on the character
of your petitioner, calculated to excite great hatred against
your petitioner, and to prepare the way for his ruin and
destruction.

"That your petitioner, who trusts that he has himself
always acted an open and manly part, and who has never
been so base as to make an attack upon any one, who had
not the fair means of defence, feeling indignant at this act
of partiality and oppression, came to London with a view
of investigating the matter, and this investigation having
taken place, he now alleges to your Honourable House,
that the aforesaid posting-bills, containing the infamous
calumnies aforesaid, were printed by _J. Downes_, who is
the printer to the Police; that the bill-sticker received
the bills from the said Downes, who paid him for sticking
them up; that the bill-sticker was told by the said
_Downes_, that there would be somebody _to watch him_ to
see that he stuck them up; that Police Officers were set
to watch to prevent the said bills from being pulled down;
that some of these Bills were carried to the Police-office at
Hatton Garden, and there kept by the officers, to be produced
in proof against persons who should be taken up for
pulling them down; that Thomas Dugood was seized,
sent to gaol, kept on bread and water, and made to lie
on the bare boards from the tenth to the twenty-second
of January, 1817, when he was taken out with about fifty
other persons, tied to a long rope or cable, and marched
to Hicks's Hall, where he was let loose, and that his
only offence was pulling down one of those bills; that
a copy of Dugood's commitment was refused to your petitioner;
that your petitioner was intentionally directed
to a wrong prison to see the boy Dugood; that the Magistrate,
William Marmaduke Sellon, who had committed
Dugood, denied repeatedly that he knew any thing of the
matter, and positively asserted that Dugood had been committed
by another Magistrate, a Mr. Turton, who Mr.
Sellon said, was at his house very ill, and not likely to
come to the office for some time.

"That your Honourable House is besought by your
petitioner, to bear in mind the recently exposed atrocious
conspiracies carried on by officers of the Police against
the lives of innocent men, and your petitioner is confident
that your Honourable House will, in these transactions,
see the clear proofs of a foul conspiracy against the
character and life of your petitioner, carried on by persons
in the public employ, appointed by the Crown, and removable
at its pleasure, and that this conspiracy has been
also carried on by means of public money.

"And, therefore, as the only mode of doing justice to
the petitioner and to the public in a case of such singular
atrocity, your petitioner prays your Honourable House
that he may be permitted to prove (as he is ready to do)
all and singular the aforesaid allegations at the Bar of
your Honourable House, and that if your Honourable
House shall find the allegations to be true, you will be
pleased to address his Royal Highness to cause the aforesaid
Magistrate to be dismissed from his office.

"And your petitioner shall ever pray.

"H. HUNT."

The day of the third Spafields meeting arrived, and I drove to town in
my tandem, and put up at the British Coffee-house livery-stables, in
Cockspur-street, where I had for several years before gone with my
horses. My trunk was, as usual, taken into a bedroom, where I meant to
change my dress previously to my going to the meeting. I had first to
walk into Fleet-street on business, and when I got there, I saw _nine
pieces of artillery_ drawn over Blackfriars-bridge, which proceeded
up Fleet-market towards Spafields, attended by a regular company of
artillery men from Woolwich. I had called on Major Cartwright as I drove
into town, and he informed me that he had heard, from good authority,
that a Cabinet Council had been held on Saturday, and that LORD
CASTLEREAGH _had proposed to disperse the intended meeting by military
force_, but that the other Cabinet Ministers had opposed this measure,
and that at length CASTLEREAGH retired, muttering vengeance, and adding
that he would take the responsibility upon himself. The Major spoke with
great earnestness and feeling, while, if I recollect right, I treated
his information rather lightly, saying, that if they killed me I hoped
the Major would write my epitaph. When, however, I saw the artillery
pass up Fleet-market, in a direction for Spafields, the place of
meeting, I began to think more seriously of the matter; but, as I was
about to do that which my conscience approved of, and as I knew that I
should not violate any law, I returned towards my inn, certainly in a
serious mood, yet determined to do my duty. Not one man that I knew in
the whole metropolis would or did accompany me. I called at Cobbett's
lodgings, in Catherine-street, and asked the young ones, rather
sarcastically, if they meant to attend the meeting? to which they
answered, that their father had left positive orders that they should
not go over the threshhold of the door that day. When I got to my inn,
in Cockspur-street, I ordered my servant to get my horses ready, and I
went to my bedroom to put on a clean shirt, but I was surprised to find
that my trunk had been removed. I rung the bell several times before any
one came; at length the _Boots_ appeared, instead of the chambermaid,
and I demanded the reason of my trunk being removed. He either knew or
pretended to know nothing of the matter, but said he would inquire.
After he had been absent for some time, I rung again, upon which a
stranger appeared, a person whom I had never seen before. He said he was
the master of the house, and he had ordered my trunk to be removed; to
which he added, that I should not sleep in his house, as it would drive
away his best customers. I told him I had slept there occasionally for
many years, and was always treated with civility; and drawing out my
purse, I said that as he was a stranger I would immediately pay him
whatever he might demand for the use of the room. He still, however,
persisted that I should leave his house. I demanded my trunk, and
declared I would dress there first; he swore I should not, and made an
effort to hustle me out of the room. I then told him to keep his hands
off, or I would thrash him; upon which he put himself into a boxing
attitude, and offered to fight me. He was a little insignificant
creature, and I was just upon the point of kicking him out of the room,
when I saw a fellow peeping round the corner of the door. It immediately
struck me that this was a trap to get me into a scrape, and I paused and
drew back in consequence. I told the little gentleman, who said his name
was Morley, that I would meet him and talk over the matter at any
other time; but, as I was at present engaged, I asked him as a _favour_
to let me have my trunk to dress, and I would leave his house in ten
minutes. It was agreed that we should meet at Mr. Jackson's rooms, some
day in the following week. Thither I went at the time appointed, with
perhaps the worst second in the world, Mr. Cobbett. When I got there
each told his story, and Jackson proposed that we should go into the
fields to settle the dispute, but this was not assented to by either Mr.
Morley or myself, and Mr. Cobbett was vehement against my having any
thing to do with my antagonist. The affair, therefore, terminated with
some smart words, without either of us offering to fight. This affair
was, however, blazoned forth in all the morning papers, which, in utter
defiance of truth, asserted that I had behaved ill to a man of the name
of Morley, who kept the British Coffee-house in Cockspur-street; that
we had met by appointment at Jackson's, and that I had refused to
fight him. Supposing that I had done so, I should, under all the
circumstances, have been perfectly justified; but it was no such thing,
the fellow never offered to fight me at any other time but in his own
house, where, if I had struck him, I am thoroughly convinced that a
police-officer was in attendance, to take me into custody for assaulting
a man in his own house; consequently, I should have been detained till
the time of the meeting in Spafields had passed; and it would have been
made a pretty handle of in the papers the next day, when the public
would have been told that, instead of my attending the meeting in
Spafields, I had been taken to Bow-street, and detained in custody, for
assaulting the landlord of the inn at which I had put up. All that I
shall add upon the subject is, that on no occasion in my life did I ever
turn my back upon _two_ such men as Mr. Morley.

At the time appointed I arrived at the meeting, which was much larger
than either of the former meetings. Resolutions were passed, and a
petition was unanimously agreed to, praying for Reform, &c. which
petition was placed the same evening in the hands of Lord Folkestone,
by Mr. Clarke, who had been for the third time our chairman; and which
petition was presented to the House of Commons the same night, by his
Lordship. I was accompanied by the people to Hyde-Park Corner, where I
took my leave of them, and returned to my house at Middleton Cottage;
the whole of these three meetings in Spafields having been held in the
most peaceable and orderly manner, without the least disturbance, or
one single breach of the peace having been committed by any person that
attended it, notwithstanding all the infamous falsehoods that were
published in the newspapers to the contrary. The truth is, that I
have seen ten times more disturbance, disorder, and tumult, at one
Common-Hall, in the city of London, where the Lord Mayor presided, than
there was at all these meetings put together.

While these things were going peaceably on out of doors, and petitions
were daily and numerously pouring in from all parts of the kingdom,
particularly from the North of England, and from Scotland, the two
Houses of Parliament were in their way not inactive. The committees that
were appointed made their report, and bills were immediately brought in
to suspend the Habeas-Corpus Act, and to prevent seditious meetings;
which bills were, with very faint opposition, agreed to. It ought not to
be forgotten, that on this occasion the Whigs took a most prominent part
against the people, and that they were quite as loud and as violent
against the Reformers as the Ministers were. To be sure the people had
committed one inexpiable crime. They had by their steady, peaceable, and
persevering conduct, frightened the Whig leader, Mr. Ponsonby, out
of his sinecure of 4,000_l_. per annum, which he held in consequence
of his having been Lord Chancellor of Ireland, during the Whig
administration, in the year 1807. The cunning Scotchman, Erskine, who
had been for the same short period Lord Chancellor of England, was also
pressed very hard to follow the example of his Irish friend; but Sawney
was of a more tenaciously grasping nature, and he _stuck to the ship_,
determined to partake of the plunder as long as she would swim. It was
for this that the Whigs wreaked their malice upon the Reformers, and
that Mr. Brougham and his confederates appeared to run a race every
night which should most abuse and calumniate them.

The plot being ripe, Watson, Thistlewood, Preston, and Hooper, were
committed to the Tower for high treason. On the other hand, meetings
were held in Westminster, and in the city of London, to petition against
the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. The following petition of mine
was also presented to the House of Lords, by Lord Holland. I was below
the bar at the time his Lordship presented it, immediately before Lord
Sidmouth rose to move the passing of the Seditious Meetings Bill, and I
shall never forget the look that his Lordship, the Secretary of State,
gave me; for I stood right in front of the bar, and within a few yards
of him.

"To the Lords Spiritual and Temporal 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, who had the honour to be the
mover of the petitions at the recent meetings held in Spafields,
one of which petitions has been received by his
Royal Highness the Prince Regent, and two of which
petitions have been presented to, and received by, the
Honourable the House of Commons, has read, in the public
prints, a paper entitled a Report of the Secret Committee
of your Right Honourable House, and which Report
appears to your petitioner, as far as his humble
powers of disentanglement have enabled him to analyse
the same, to submit to your Right Honourable House, as
solemn truths, the following assertions; to wit:

"That the first public meeting in Spafields, which had
for its ostensible object a petition for relief and Reform,
was closely connected with, and formed part of, a
Conspiracy to produce an insurrection for the purpose
of overthrowing the Government.

"2. That Spafields was fixed upon as the place of assembling,
on account of its vicinity to the Bank and the
Tower; and that, for this same reason, _'care was taken_
to adjourn the meeting to the 2d of December, by
which time it was hoped that preparations for the surrection
would be fully matured.'

"3. That, at this second meeting, flags, banners, and all
the ensigns of insurrection, were displayed, and that,
finally, an insurrection was begun by _persons collected_
_in the Spafields_, and that notwithstanding the ultimate
object was then frustrated, _the same designs still continue
to be prosecuted with sanguine hopes of success_.

"4. That a large quantity of Pike-heads had been ordered
of one individual, and that 250 had actually been
made and paid for.
"5. That _Delegates from Hampden Clubs in the Country_
have met in London, and that they are _expected_ to
meet again in March.

"That, as to the FIRST of these assertions, as your
petitioner possesses no means of ascertaining the secret
thoughts of men, he cannot pretend to assert, that none of
the persons, with whom the calling of the first Spafields
meeting originated, had no views of a riotous or revolutionary
kind; but he humbly conceives, that a simple
narrative of facts will be more than sufficient to satisfy
your Right Honourable House, that no such dangerous
projects ever entered the minds of those who constituted
almost the entire mass of that most numerous meeting.
Therefore, in the hope of producing this conviction in the
mind of your Right Honourable House, your petitioner
begs leave to proceed to state: that he, who was then at
his house in the country, received, a short time before the
16th of November last, a letter from Thomas Preston,
Secretary of a Committee, requesting your petitioner to
attend a public meeting of the distressed inhabitants of
the metropolis, intended to be held in Spafields on the
day just mentioned; that your petitioner thereupon wrote
to Thomas Preston to know what was the object of the
intended meeting; that he received, in the way of answer,
a newspaper called the Independent Whig, of November
10th, 1816, containing an advertisement in these
words; to wit: 'At a meeting held at the Carlisle,
Shoreditch, on Thursday evening, it was determined to
call a meeting of the distressed Manufacturers, Mariners,
Artizans, and others of the Cities of London and Westminster,
the Borough of Southwark, and parts adjacent, in
Spafields, on Friday, the 15th instant, precisely at 12
o'clock, to take into consideration the propriety of petitioning
the Prince Regent and Legislature, to adopt immediately
such measures as will relieve the sufferers from
the misery which now overwhelms them. (_Signed_)
JOHN DYALL, Chairman, THOMAS PRESTON, Secretary.'
That your petitioner, upon seeing this advertisement, hesitated
not to accept of the invitation; that he attended
at the said meeting; that he there found, ready prepared,
a paper, called, to the best of his recollection, a _memorial_,
which some persons, then utter strangers to him, proposed
to move for the adoption of the meeting; that
your petitioner, perceiving in this paper, propositions of
a nature which he did not approve of, and especially a
proposition for the meeting going in a body to Carlton
House, declared that he would have nothing to do with
the said memorial; that your petitioner then brought forward
an humble petition to the Prince Regent, which
petition was passed by the meeting unanimously, and
which petition, having been by your petitioner delivered
to Lord Sidmouth, that Noble Lord has, by letter, informed
your petitioner was immediately laid before his Royal
Highness the Prince Regent. And your petitioner here
begs leave further to state, upon the subject of the aforementioned
memorial, that _John Dyall_, whose name, as
_Chairman_ of the Committee who called the meeting (and
of which Committee Thomas Preston was Secretary),
having, _before the meeting took place_, been called before
Mr. Gifford, one of the Police Magistrates, had _furnished
Mr. Gifford with a copy of the said memorial_, and that
that copy was _in the hands of Lord Sidmouth at the moment
when the meeting was about to assemble_, though
(from an oversight, no doubt) neither the Police Magistrates
nor any other person whatever gave your petitioner
the smallest intimation of the dangerous tendency
or even of the existence of such memorial, or of any improper
views being entertained by any of the parties
calling the meeting, though it now appears, that the
written placards, entitled "_Britons to Arms_," are imputed
to those same parties, though it is notorious that
that paper appeared in all the _public prints_ so far back as
the month of _October_, and though, when your petitioner
waited on Lord Sidmouth with the petition of the Prince
Regent, that Noble Lord himself informed your petitioner,
that the Government were fully apprized before-hand of
the propositions _intended_ to be brought forward at the
meeting. So that your petitioner humbly begs leave to
express his confidence that your Honourable House will
clearly perceive, that if any insurrection had taken place
on the day of the first Spafields meeting, it would have
been entirely owing to the neglect, if not connivance, of
those persons who possessed a previous knowledge of the
principles and views of the parties with whom that meeting
originated.

"With regard to the SECOND assertion, namely, that
'_care_ was taken to adjourn the meeting to the 2d of December,'
your petitioner begs leave to state, that it will
appear upon the face of the proceedings of that day, that
there was nothing like previous _concert_ or _care_ in this
matter; for, that a resolution first proposed to adjourn
the meeting to the day of the meeting of Parliament, and
then to meet in _Palace-yard_, of course _not so much in the
vicinity of the Bank and the Tower_; and that when this
resolution was awarded so as to provide for a meeting on
the 2d of December on the same spot, it was merely
grounded on the _uncertainty_ as to the time when the
Parliament might meet. Your petitioner further begs
leave to state here, as being, in a most interested manner,
connected with this adjournment of the meeting, that,
when your petitioner waited on Lord Sidmouth with the
petition to the Prince Regent, _he informed his Lordship
that the meeting was to re-assemble on the 2d of December_,
when your petitioner had engaged to carry his Lordship's
answer and deliver it to the adjourned meeting, and that
his Lordship, so far from advising your petitioner not to
go to the said meeting, so far from saying any thing to
discourage the said meeting, distinctly told your petitioner,
that your petitioner's presence and conduct appeared
to his Lordship to have prevented great possible
mischief. Whence your petitioner humbly conceives,
that he is warranted in concluding, that there did, at the
time here referred to, exist in his Lordship no desire to
prevent the said meeting from taking place.

"Your petitioner, in adverting humbly to the THIRD
assertion of your Secret Committee, begs to be permitted
to state, that the persons who went from Spafields to
engage in riot on the 2d of December, formed no part of
the meeting called for that day; that these persons came
into the fields full two hours before the time of meeting;
that they left the fields full an hour before that time; that
they did not consist, at the time of leaving the fields, of
more than forty or fifty individuals; that they were joined
by sailors and others, persons going from witnessing
the execution of four men in the Old Bailey; that your
petitioner, who had come up from Essex in the morning,
met the rioters in Cheapside; that he proceeded directly
to the meeting, which he found to be very numerous; that
there a resolution was immediately proposed by your petitioner,
strongly condemning all rioting and violence,
which resolution passed with the most unanimous acclamations;
that a petition, which has since been signed by
upwards of 24 thousand names, and received by the House
of Commons, was then passed; and that the meeting,
though immense as to numbers, finally separated, without
the commission of any single act of riot, outrage, or violence.
And here your petitioner humbly begs leave to
beseech the attention of your Right Hon. House to the
very important fact of a _third_ meeting having taken place
on the 10th instant, on the same spot, more numerously
attended than either of the former; and that, after having
agreed to a petition, which has since been received by
your Hon. House, the said meeting separated in the most
peaceable and orderly manner, which your petitioner trusts
is quite sufficient to convince your Honourable House that
if, as your Secret Committee reported, _designs of riot do
still continue to be prosecuted with sanguine hopes of success_,
these designs can have no connection whatever with
the meetings for retrenchment, relief, and Reform, held in
Spafields.

"That as to the _pike-heads_, your petitioner begs leave
to state to your Right Honourable House, that while he
was at the last Spafields meeting, an anonymous letter
was put into the hands of your petitioner's servant, who
afterwards gave it to your petitioner; that this letter
stated that one Bentley, a smith, of Hart-street, Covent-Garden,
had been employed by a man, in the dress of a
_game-keeper_, to make some spikes to put round a fish-pond;
that the game-keeper came and took a parcel
away and paid for them; that he came soon afterwards
and said the things answered very well, and ordered more
to be made; that, in a little while after this, the said Bentley
was _sent for to the Bow-street Office_, and, after a private
examination, was desired to make a pike, or spike,
of the same sort, and to carry it to the office, which he
did. That your petitioner perceives that the information
which it contains may possibly be of the utmost importance
in giving a clue to the strict investigation, which he
humbly presumes to hope will be instituted by your Honourable
House into this very interesting matter.

"That as to the FIFTH assertion, that _Delegates_ have
assembled in London, from _Hampden Clubs_ in the country,
your petitioner has first to observe, that these persons
never called _themselves_ Delegates, and were not called
_Delegates_ by any body connected with them; that
they were called, and were, '_Deputies from Petitioning
Bodies_' for Parliamentary Reform; that your petitioner
was one of them, having been deputed by the petitioners
at Bristol and Bath; that these Deputies met three times,
and always in an open room, to which newspaper reporters
were admitted ; that an account of all their proceedings
was published; that they separated at the end
of three days, _not_ upon a motion of _adjournment_, but of
absolute _dissolution_, which motion was made by your petitioner,
who is ready to prove that your Committee has
been imposed upon as to the tact that these Delegates, or
Deputies, are expected to meet again in March.

"That your petitioner is ready to prove at the Bar of
your Right Honourable House, all the facts and allegations
contained in this petition, and that he humbly prays so to
be permitted there to prove them accordingly.

"And your petitioner will ever pray.

"HENRY HUNT."

As soon as this petition was read, Lord Sidmouth rose, apparently very
much disconcerted, another petition having been presented previously
from Cleary, the secretary of the Hampden Club, denying, and _offering
to prove the falsehood_ of, many of the statements in the Report of
the Committee. His Lordship made a long and violent speech against the
measures and views of the Reformers, and called upon the House to put
them down, or the Constitution and Government of the country would be
soon overthrown. He never attempted to controvert or deny one word that
was contained in my petition, just presented; but he said, that the
Government of this country had often to contend with discontented and
turbulent men; "_but those who took the lead in these meetings, although
their steps were directed with caution, yet_ (turning round and looking
me full in the face) THEY WERE MEN OF MOST EXTRAORDINARY ENERGY, and
PURSUED THEIR COURSE WITH AN INFLEXIBLE PERSEVERANCE AND COURAGE _that
was worthy a better cause_." This was said in the most lofty tone, and
so evidently directed to me, that it drew all the eyes in the House upon
me; and it was with considerable difficulty that I could resist the
inclination I felt to declare, that it was impossible there could be
a _better cause_ than that of contending for the freedom of the whole
people. His Lordship, in alluding to cheap seditious publications, such
as _Cobbett's_ and _Sherwin's Registers_, and _Wooler's Dwarf_, which at
this time were published at twopence each, in great numbers, lamented
that the law officers of the Crown could find nothing in them that they
could prosecute with any chance of success. _Cobbett's Register_ alone,
at this period, attained a sale of fifty thousand copies a week. The
Bill was passed, with very little opposition, to prevent any public
meeting being held to petition for Reform, or any alteration in the
government or constitution of the country, without its being called with
the concurrence of the magistrates, &c. &c.; which was nothing more or
less than prohibiting all public meetings, except such as the corrupt
tools of Government chose to sanction. While the Acts were in progress,
a public county meeting was called by the Sheriff of Hampshire, upon
a requisition, signed by the Marquis of Winchester, the Marquis of
Buckingham, old George Rose, Lord Palmerston, Mr. Sturges Bourne, Lord
Malmsbury, Lord Fitzharris, and all the great Tory leaders of the
county, "to consider of an address to his Royal Highness the Prince
Regent, on the outrageous and treasonable attack made upon his Royal
Highness, on his return from opening the session of Parliament." The
meeting was held on the 11th of March. Sir Charles Ogle moved an
address, which was seconded by Mr. Asheton Smith; both did this in dumb
show, for not one word that they said could be heard. Lord Cochrane
moved an amendment, which was opposed by Mr. Lockhart; and as the
Sheriff refused to put his Lordship's amendment, declaring it to be
irregular, Mr. Cobbett addressed the assembled thousands, and moved an
amendment, which I seconded. This amendment merely proposed to add,
after the word _Constitution_, in the original address, "as established
by Magna Charta, the Bill of Rights, and the Act of Habeas Corpus, for
which our forefathers fought and bled." This amendment Mr. Lockhart and
his gang declared to be most seditious and wicked, and the Sheriff,
a little whipper-snapper fellow, of the name of Fleming, absolutely
refused to put it to the meeting. A show of hands took place upon the
original ministerial address, and, as far as my judgment went, it was
lost by a considerable majority. The Sheriff, however, decided that the
address was carried by _three to one_; but when a division was called
for, the Sheriff retired in haste from the meeting, amidst the yells and
groans of the multitude, and the Under-Sheriff actually threatened to
take Lord Cochrane and myself into custody, if we offered to address the
meeting any more.

The Seditious Meeting Act had not yet received the Royal Assent, but
these worthies knew the clauses which it contained, and the perpetual
Under-Sheriff, a Mr. Hollis, appeared determined to act upon it by
anticipation. Perhaps there never was such a disgraceful scene before
exhibited at a public meeting in England. The most foul, the most
unfair, the most outrageous, and most blackguard conduct was resorted to
by the ministerial tools and dependants of the county, amongst whom were
all the parsons, all the half-pay officers, and all the dependants of
the corrupt corporations of Andover and Winchester. A person of the
name of Loscomb, and another, Feston, of Andover, the former one of the
Andover corporation, the latter a half-pay lieutenant, were eminently
conspicuous as the brazen tools of those who called the meeting. Such a
scene of riot, confusion, and uproar had never, I believe, disgraced
a county meeting. These ministerial dependants appeared determined
to carry every thing with a high hand, now that they found laws were
passing to justify and protect arbitrary and corrupt power.

On the 12th of this month, the sailor Cashman was executed at the front
of Beckwith's, the gunmaker's, shop, on Snow-hill. Nothing will show the
distressed situation of the poor and friendless better than the answer
which Cashman made to the Judge, after he was found guilty, upon being
asked "why sentence of death should not be passed upon him." His
memorable words were:--

"My Lord--I hope you will excuse a poor friendless
sailor for occupying your time. Had I died fighting the
battles of my country I should have gloried in it: but I
confess that it grieves me to think of suffering like a robber,
when I can call God to witness that _I have passed
days together without even a morsel of bread rather than
violate the laws_. I have served my King for many years,
and often fought for my country. I have received _nine
wounds in the service_, and never before have been charged
with any offence. I have been at sea _all my life_, and
my _father was killed on board the Diana frigate_. I came
to London, my Lord, _to endeavour to recover my pay and
prize-money_, but being _unsuccessful_, I was reduced to the
greatest distress, and being poor and pennyless, I have not
been able to bring forward witnesses to prove my innocence,
nor even to acquaint my brave officers, or I am sure
they would all have come forward in my behalf. The
gentlemen who have sworn against me must have mistook
me for some other person (there being _many sailors
in the mob_); but I freely forgive them, and I hope God
will also forgive them, for I solemnly declare that I committed
no act of violence whatever."

Cashman, who had been accustomed to witness scenes of death, met his
fate with determined courage, exclaiming, "Huzza, my boys, I'll die like
a man!" Calling to the executioner, he said, "Come, Jack, let go the
jib-boom." "Now, my lads, give me three cheers when I trip." The few
remaining seconds of his existence he employed in similar addresses, and
at the instant when the fatal board fell from beneath his feet, he
was cheering. This exhibition was calculated to harden the distressed
inhabitants of the metropolis who witnessed his execution, and thousands
felt and exclaimed that it was much better and easier to encounter death
in such a way than to endure the lingering torture of being starved
to death. The multitude did not fail to shower down their deepest
execrations against all those who were concerned in this affair, and the
public were so exasperated at what was justly called the murder of this
man, that, had the poor fellow shewn any disposition to avoid that death
which he appeared rather to court, there is little doubt but he would
have been rescued, in spite of the host of constables and police
officers that attended the execution.

A system of terror was now the order of the day. The reader will bear in
mind that a Bill had passed both Houses of Parliament, and only waited
for the Royal Assent, to make it death to attend any seditious meeting;
at least to make it death not to disperse when ordered by any Magistrate
or public officer. It was under such auspices that a public county
meeting for Wiltshire was called, and appointed to be held at Devizes.
This meeting was called, as in Hampshire, by the great aristocratical
leaders of both the Whig and Tory factions. It will be remembered that
I had given Mr. Cobbett a freehold, to enable him to take part in the
Wiltshire county meetings, all of which, that had been subsequently
held, he had attended with me, and at all these Wiltshire county
meetings the resolutions and petitions proposed by myself and Mr.
Cobbett had been invariably carried. The meeting now in question was to
be convened the latter end of March, or the beginning of April. On my
leaving London, Mr. Cobbett had promised to meet me at Devizes, on the
day appointed. I went to Devizes, with my friend Mr. William Akerman, of
Potney, at whose house I had slept the preceding night. When we arrived
at the Castle Inn, the place of rendezvous, I was surprised to find
that, though it was rather late, my friend Cobbett had not arrived; yet,
so thoroughly convinced was I that he would not disappoint me, that
I was determined to wait at the inn for him, and not to go to the
Town-hall, the place of meeting, till he joined me. As I wished to know
what time the business was to commence, Mr. Akerman, at my request, went
down to the Bear Inn, where the Sheriff and my Lord Pembroke, with all
those who had called this meeting to address the Prince Regent upon his
miraculous escape from the potatoe (which I had now ascertained was
thrown by Mr. JOHN CASTLES), had assembled. He very soon came back,
almost out of breath, to inform me, that the party, with the Sheriff at
their head, were just proceeding to the Hall; and with a loud laugh he
informed me that the _Courier_ newspaper, which had just arrived in the
coffee-room of the Bear Inn, had an article in it which stated that
"COBBETT WAS ARRIVED AT LIVERPOOL, AND HAD TAKEN HIS PASSAGE FOR
AMERICA" "I at once," said he, "declared this to be an infamous lie, and
I offered to bet any of the party 50_l._, which I put on the table, that
Mr. Cobbett would be in Devizes, and attend the meeting, within one hour
from that time." Fortunately for my friend Akerman, not one of the gang
assembled had confidence enough in the rascally _Courier_ to induce them
to take the bet; had they done so, my friend would have lost his 50_l_.
note.

_I was thunderstruck_ for a moment, as Mr. Cobbett had never given me
the slightest intimation of his intention, and till I saw the _Courier_
I could not believe it possible that any man could act so treacherously
towards one for whom he had expressed, not only in public but in
private, the most unbounded confidence. For the first time it now
occurred to me, that there was something _mysterious_ in Mr. Cobbett's
conduct when I last saw him, which was a few days before in London. It
was, however, of no use to ponder or to despair, and therefore, I jumped
up out of my chair, in which I had been almost riveted by the unexpected
intelligence, and earnestly inquired of Mr. Akerman if he had actually
made the bet. He replied, "no one would accept it, or I should most
willingly have made it." "Well," said I, "I am glad that none of the
villains had confidence in the rascally Editor of the _Courier_, but
whether it be true or false, I will go to the meeting." It is much more
easy for the reader to imagine what were the sensations which I felt
as I walked to the meeting, than it is for me to describe them. I had
for many years acted in strict union with Mr. Cobbett, both in Wiltshire
and Hampshire, at all the public meetings that had been held in these
counties; I had placed implicit and unbounded confidence in him, and
I thought that on his part such feelings had been reciprocal; but a
thousand occurrences which hitherto had made no impression on me now
rushed upon my mind, and half convinced me that I had been deceived.

We reached the Town-hall soon after the business of the day was begun;
it was crammed to suffocation, and a great many persons who could not
gain admission, were standing at the outside. By the assistance of my
friend Akerman, I contrived to get near enough to the entrance of the
hall, to expostulate with the Sheriff, for attempting to hold a county
meeting in such a confined situation; adding, that a great number of
people were totally excluded, and amongst that number was Mr. Richard
Long, one of the Members for the county. Upon this, Mr. Long replied,
that he was very well off, and that he did not wish to gain admittance.
This, to be sure, caused a great laugh, but I persevered by moving an
adjournment, and after a great deal of noise and squabbling, the Sheriff
agreed to adjourn the meeting to the Market-place, whither we proceeded,
and Mr. Sheriff Penruddock took his station upon the steps of the
Market-cross, where he was surrounded by such a gang of desperadoes as
never disgraced a meeting of highwaymen and pickpockets in the purlieus
of St. Giles's. This gang was headed by the notorious John Benett, of
Pyt-House, from whom they took the word of command, when to be silent
and when to bellow, hoot, hallow, and make all sorts of discordant
vulgar noises, such as would have degraded and lowered the character of
a horde of drunken prostitutes and pickpockets, in the most abandoned
brothel in the universe.--The plan of operations had been previously
arranged, and a set of wretches had hired themselves, to play the most
disgraceful and disgusting part. Lord Pembroke, the Lord Lieutenant of
the county, had ordered and commanded all his tenantry, and even his
tradesmen, to attend the meeting to oppose HUNT. A butcher at Wilton,
who served his Lordship's family with meat, pleaded his previous
engagements on business of importance, as an excuse for his
non-attendance; but he was informed by his Lordship's agent, that if he
did not appear at Devizes, to oppose any proposition that was made by
_Hunt_, he should never serve the family at Wilton-house with another
joint of meat. The gang thus raked together was led on by regular
leaders; Black Jack, alias the Devil's Knitting Needle, was commander in
chief; Bob Reynolds, a scamping currier of Devizes, who was a sort
of lickspittle to Old Salmon, the attorney, was bully major; and a
jolter-headed farmer, of the name of Chandler, who lived on the Green,
was captain of a gang of little dirty toad-eaters of the corporation; in
fact, every scamp who lived upon the taxes--every scrub who had an eye
to a place--and every lickspittle of the corrupt knaves of the
corrupt and vile rotten-borough of Devizes, took a part in these
un-Englishman-like, partial, cowardly, and disgraceful proceedings.
Every expectant underling, every dirty, petty-fogging scoundrel showed
his teeth, opened his vulgar mouth, and sent forth the most nauseous and
disgusting ribaldry. A time-serving, place-hunting, fawning address to
the Prince Regent was moved by some person. It was stuffed with all
sorts of falsehoods, and was supported by John Benett, of Pyt-House,
in an address to the people, which contained nothing but a violent,
dastardly, and unmanly attack upon me, attributing to me all the
disturbances that had taken place in London, and roundly asserting
that I was the cause of Cashman's being brought to the gallows. By the
independent portion of the meeting, this harangue was listened to
with considerable impatience; but he had, nevertheless, every sort of
fair-play shown him, from their natural conviction, that, as I was
present, I should have an opportunity of replying to these infamous
charges: it was this conviction alone that procured him a hearing, and
gave him an opportunity of uttering such diabolical and premeditated
falsehoods. But the fellow knew that he was safe, and that he could lie
and abuse with impunity. He knew that his dirty hirelings would protect
him against a reply from me, and he, therefore, gave a-loose to a most
malignant spirit. The moment that I attempted to speak, the yell began.
About fifty or sixty, or perhaps one hundred, out of two or three
thousand persons assembled, commenced a bellowing and braying like so
many of their four-legged brethren, and they were so well marshalled,
and acted so well in concert, that it was impossible for the great
majority of the people to gain me a hearing. At length the Sheriff,
Hungerford Penruddock, Esq. who looked ready to faint with shame at what
he was about to do, dissolved the meeting, and ordered the Riot Act to
be read, which, I believe, little whiffling Mr. Salmon made a sort of
dumb-show or pretence to do, and then immediately gave orders to have me
taken into custody. Now began such a contest as was seldom if ever seen;
the descendants of a _petty-fogging attorney_, a _bankrupt tailor_,
a _usurious splitfig_, &c. &c. &c. _William H----s, William S----n,
Stephen N----t & Co._ who were members of the corporation, and now
become _great men_, (good Lord, what would their forefathers have
said to have heard this?) aided by Reynolds, Chandler, and Co. made a
desperate effort to seize me, but all their attempts were in vain; the
gallant, brave, and kind-hearted people of Wiltshire surrounded me with
an impenetrable phalanx; they formed an irresistible bulwark with their
persons, which proved an impregnable barrier against all the assaults
of the constables, bullies, and blackguards, that were urged on by the
Mayor and his myrmidons--a "_matchless crew_." I was hoisted upon the
shoulders of those who stood in the centre of this brave phalanx, and
had a perfect view of all their operations. The gang repeatedly returned
to the charge upon the people, with staves and clubs, but the people
stood as firm as rocks, upon whom they never made the slightest
impression, the people all the while acting solely on the defensive. At
length, two ruffians, Reynolds and Chandler, seized my brother by the
collar, one on each side; he was standing as a spectator, taking no part
but that of looking on. My brother smiled at first, but finding them in
earnest, and being surrounded by the whole gang, who began to drag him
off, he let fly right and left, and, as if they had been shot, the two
bullies fell like slaughtered calves upon the ground, and before the
people could get to his assistance, the whole cowardly gang had taken
flight. This all occurred in the Market-place, in the front of the
Bear-inn, where the Sheriff and the notable founders and supporters of
the infamous time-serving petition were assembled, and from the windows
of which they had the mortification of witnessing the defeat, the
disgrace, and the complete routing of their hirelings, and the victory
of the people, who, instead of taking advantage of their success;
instead of inflicting summary vengance upon those who had assaulted them
in such a cowardly manner; instead of chastising those who had conducted
themselves in such a partial, corrupt, unmanly, and disgraceful way;
they peaceably bore me off to my inn. The pot-valiant Jack-in-office,
Mr. Mayor, soon after followed us, with a fresh posse of constables, and
repeated the reading of the Riot Act under my window, amidst the jeers,
the scoffs, the hootings, and the execrations of the people, who had
committed no act of riot, or breach of the peace, to justify such a
measure. From the window of the Castle-inn, where I was dining with some
friends, I addressed the people, and they peaceably dispersed, although
they kept a good look-out to see that there was no attempt made to annoy
or interrupt me. Had any attempt of that sort been made, I believe, from
what I have since heard, that the consequences might have proved very
serious to those who had been concerned in it.

One circumstance that occurred in the evening afterwards is worth
recording. One of my tenants, Mr. George Jones, who keeps the George
Inn, in Walcot-street, Bath, had driven his niece up to Devizes in the
morning, for the purpose of seeing me on some business, and also to
attend the meeting. As an Englishman, he of course wished for a fair
hearing of both parties, and standing near the bullies Bob Reynolds
and his brother, at the time they were conducting themselves so foully
towards me, he admonished them in a way which they did not appear to
relish. Mr. Jones drove home in his gig, in the evening, with his
niece, and just as they were entering Melksham, they passed Reynolds's
brother, who resided there at the time, in the capacity of a paid
serjeant of the Melksham troop of yeomanry. As soon as Mr. Jones had
passed him, Reynolds rode up to the back of the gig, and, without giving
him any notice, coward and assassin like, he struck him a heavy blow on
the back of his head, with a thick bludgeon. Fortunately Mr. Jones wore
a high-crowned stout beaver, which saved his head, but the crown of the
hat was severed in two by the blow. Jones no sooner recovered himself,
than he turned-to, and with his gig whip he gave a sound flogging to
the dastardly ruffian, who sued in vain for mercy, till the whip was
completely demolished. Some gentlemen, who happened to be passing at the
time, and saw the whole transaction, offered to give Mr. Jones their
address, and recommended him to take legal proceedings against the
villain, they vollunteering their services as witnesses. But Mr. Jones
very coolly replied, "I have taken summary redress, and paid the fellow
in his own coin; therefore it will be only necessary to give such a
scoundrel '_rope enough and he will hang himself_.'" Mr. Jones's
observation was not only very just, but most prophetic. _The loyal and
the worthy Mr. Reynolds, a few months afterwards, to save Jack Ketch
the trouble, put an end to his own existence, by hanging himself in a
malt-house._ If what I hear of another of them be true, it is not very
improbable that he may soon follow his example.

As I drove home in the evening from this meeting, I could not avoid
seriously reflecting upon the critical situation in which I was placed
by my friend Mr. Cobbett having deserted me, and stolen away to America.
I had been constantly and faithfully acting with him for many years, up
to the very hour of his flight, for I had now no doubt in my mind that
the report in the _Courier_ was true. I felt indignant and mortified
in the extreme, at this desertion on the part of my friend, at such a
moment, and without his ever having given me the slightest reason to
suspect him of any such intention. My first resolve was this:--let what
will come I will never fly my country, never desert my countrymen in
the hour of peril. The Habeas Corpus Act was suspended, the Seditious
Meetings Bill had been passed and received the Royal Assent. Many of the
brave Reformers of Lancashire had, in consequence, been arrested and
thrown into dungeons, particularly those who had attended in London at
the delegate meeting; therefore I expected to share the same fate, but
still I made up my mind to this, that I would never run from the danger;
and, as I never secreted myself, but was always to be met with any day,
and every day, I was also resolved that no one should with impunity
treat me in the way in which Messrs. Knight, Bamford, Healy, and others
had been treated. They had not merely been arrested, but their houses
had been broken into, and they had been dragged out of their beds in
the dead of the night, and hurried away in irons to the dungeons of the
Boroughmongers.

When I reached home I informed my family of what it was possible might
happen, and this I did, not to alarm them, but to put them upon their
guard, that they might not lose presence of mind in case of any
nocturnal assault being made upon my house. In my own mind I had firmly
settled how to act: if any messenger from the Secretary of State's
office came to apprehend me in the _day time_, I should attend him very
quietly and peaceably; but if any nocturnal visit was intended me by the
officers of the ministers, I was determined to resist and to defend
my house to the last moment; because by so doing they would leave
themselves without the shadow of an excuse, as they always knew when and
where I was to be found in the face of day. Desperate as this plan may
appear in the eyes of many, it was that on which I was determined to
act. I took with me every night into my bed-room a brace of loaded
pistols, that never missed fire, and my double-barrelled gun, charged
and fresh primed; and any number of men less than four would not have
gained admittance alive into my house in the _night time_. I had
violated no law, I had committed no breach of the peace, and I was
resolved that I would maintain the right of an Englishman's house being
his own castle, in spite of Seditious Meeting Bills, or the suspension
of the Habeas Corpus Act. Fortunately, my coolness and determination
were never put to the test. I, however, never went to bed for many weeks
without expecting the enemy, and cautioning my family not to be alarmed
in case of any nocturnal visit being paid me.

Mr. Cobbett's leave-taking address was published, in which he pretty
clearly intimated what would be the fate of every man that remained in
the country, who had been an active leader of the people in promoting
petitions for Annual Parliaments, Universal Suffrage, and Vote by
Ballot; and he avowed the dread of a dungeon to be the cause of his
leaving the country! As he had never communicated the slightest hint to
me of his intention, so he never made the slightest allusion to me
in his leave-taking address, any more than as if he never had such a
friend. This, at the moment, I considered as most unkind, unfeeling, and
treacherous. But, upon reflection, I esteem it the highest compliment
that he could have paid me; for it clearly proves that he knew the
honesty of my nature too well, to expect that I should have ever
sanctioned so dastardly, so thoroughly unmanly a proceeding as that of
flying from my country, and abandoning the Reformers to the uncontrolled
malice of their enemies, and that, too, at such a moment of difficulty
and danger.

Yet, doubly wounded as I was by the conduct of Mr. Cobbett, wounded
both personally and as a friend of the people, I, nevertheless, soon
endeavoured to find at least some excuse for him, and I made up my mind
not to act the same part towards him which he had done towards me. Real
friendship is not easily alienated from its object. On the very first
opportunity, therefore, I rode over to Botley, to make inquiries about
his circumstances, and, if possible, to serve my friend, notwithstanding
his desertion of me. I found that Mr. Tunno, the mortgagee, had taken
possession of his estate, and that the landlord of the farm which he
occupied, and of the house in which he had lived, had seized for rent;
and, as might naturally be expected under such circumstances, every
thing was going, or rather gone, to rack; all his family had abandoned
the place, and were in London. I called upon the only person in Botley
that used to be intimate with him, from whom I received such an account
as made me form a worse opinion of mankind than I had ever before
entertained. He spoke in opprobrious terms of his former acquaintance,
saying that he, Cobbett, had run away in every one's debt, and, with an
oath, (most brutally, as I felt it) he declared "hanging was too good
for him." I never spoke to this man afterwards; neither was I deterred
by his language from proceeding in my endeavours to serve my absent
friend. I therefore rode on to Mr. Hinxman's, of Chilling, near
Titchfield, who had been for some time a friend of Mr. Cobbett's; and
when I got there I was much delighted to find him as zealous for him as
he had been. He was not merely a professing friend, but he wished to
show his friendship by deeds as well as words, and he had been devising
the best means of showing his friendship. As the result of his
reflections, he put into my hands an address, which he had drawn up, to
the people of England, proposing a subscription of one shilling each
person, to pay off the debts of Mr. Cobbett, and thus to enable him to
return to his country, free from pecuniary embarrassments. This address
was penned in a masterly style, and in every sentiment which it
contained, I fully concurred. I promised to do every thing that lay in
my power to promote its object, and to attend a public meeting,
which was to be called at the Crown and Anchor, for the purpose of
promulgating it; and I agreed to take the chair upon the occasion,
provided that Major Cartwright and Lord Folkestone declined the offer of
it, which was, in the first instance, to be made to them. With the firm
impression on my mind that this plan would be carried into full effect,
I left Mr. Hinxman, perfectly satisfied with the result of my journey of
three days to serve my friend. Mr. Hinxman sent his address to London,
as proposed; but the parties applied to immediately put a negative on
the proposition, assigning as a reason, that it would be establishing a
very bad precedent, to raise a subscription amongst the Reformers to pay
the debts of a man who had deserted the cause of the people, by flying
from the country at a moment of peril and difficulty; and thus at once
was a stop put to the laudable intentions of Mr. Hinxman. There was,
indeed, no possibility of giving any satisfactory answer to such a
reason, and the project was in consequence altogether abandoned. By this
time upwards of SIX HUNDRED PETITIONS had been presented to the House of
Commons, praying for retrenchment, a reduction of the army, and for a
RADICAL REFORM IN PARLIAMENT. These petitions were signed by nearly a
million and a half of people. The only answer that was given to them
was, as the reader has already seen, passing the Seditious Meetings
Bill, and the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. These petitions were
suffered silently to be laid upon the table of the House; nothing that
they prayed for was ever granted, and so far from the Honourable House,
or any of its members, ever answering the allegations contained in them,
they never even condescended to discuss any of the matters contained in
them.

Although Mr. Cobbett, the great literary champion of the Radical
Reformers, had deserted and fled to America, yet others sprung up. About
this period Mr. Wooler began to publish his Black Dwarf, and Mr.
Sherwin published his Weekly Register. These were two bold and powerful
advocates of Reform, and Mr. Wooler, as well as Mr. White, of the
Independent Whig, lasbed Mr. Cobbett most unmercifully for his cowardice
in flying his country, and abandoning the Reformers at such a critical
moment. Mr. Wooler was excessively severe, and he laid it on with an
unsparing hand. I lost no opportunity to vindicate the character of my
absent friend, and in doing this I attacked Mr. Wooler as violently as
he attacked Mr. Cobbett, for which Mr. Wooler denounced me as a spy of
the Government!

Some time in May, 1817, a Count Maubrueil was tried at Paris for robbing
the Queen of Westphalia, when it came out that he had been hired by an
accredited agent to assassinate the Emperor Napoleon, on his journey
to Elba. Maubrueil afterwards published in London the details of this
transaction. On the 17th of May, Messrs. Watson, Thistlewood, Hooper,
and Preston, were brought into the Court of King's Bench, to plead to
charges of high treason. Mr. Hone also appeared, and complained of the
illegality of his arrest on Lord Ellenborough's warrant. On the 30th
of May, the Right Honourable Charles Abbott resigned the situation of
Speaker of the House of Commons, and Mr. Manners Sutton was chosen in
his place. On the 6th of June, Mr. Wooler was tried for a libel on
Ministers; he was acquitted in consequence of doubts having arisen
respecting the validity of the verdict of guilty delivered in by the
foreman of the jury, although some of them were not agreed in the
verdict.

On the 9th of June, Messrs. Watson, Thistlewood, Preston, and Hooper,
were conveyed from the Tower, where they had been confined, to the Court
of King's Bench to be tried for high treason. Watson was tried first.
His trial lasted _seven days_, at the end of which he was acquitted. The
Attorney-General then gave up the prosecution against the others. The
principal witness called by the Crown was the famous Mr. _John Castles_,
the worthy gentleman who feigned asleep in my room at the Black Lion,
Waterlane, on the evening after the first Spafields meeting, and the
same worthy who met me in Cheapside, as I was driving to the second
meeting on the second of December, and who kindly invited me to go to
the Tower with him, which he assured me was in the possession of young
Watson. What follows is curious and worthy of notice. It was publicly
known that _Castles_ was to be the principal witness against his former
associates. I therefore sent a gentleman, to inform the attorney for
the prisoners, that I had become acquainted with certain circumstances,
relating to this Mr. Castles, which would be of infinite service to his
clients. This message was sent a fortnight before the time fixed upon
for their trial; but the 9th of June approached without my having
received any answer. I sent a second message, by another person; but,
as no notice was taken of it, I sent a third person, on the 8th, to say
that I was in town, and unless it was intended to hang the prisoners,
I expected that I should be subpoened, and that I was come to town on
purpose to give my evidence. In fact, this third message rather conveyed
a demand than a request, and I was next morning subpoened.

Another very extraordinary circumstance made up part of this
transaction. Mr. Brougham had been applied to, and I understood had
positively refused to become counsel for the prisoners, and Mr.
Wetherell and Mr. Copley were retained; the former a most decided
rank thick and thin supporter of the Ministers; the latter, as I was
informed, not only a decided opponent of the Ministers, but an avowed
Republican in principle. Mr. Samuel Shepherd was Attorney, and Mr.
Gifford Solicitor-General; and they of course were counsel for the
prosecution. When I saw Mr. Wetherell at his chambers, which was in the
evening of the 9th, after the first day's proceedings were over, and
stated to him what I knew of Castles, he at once declared that my
testimony would be most important, and would most likely save the lives
of the prisoners; and he expressed great astonishment that this had
never been communicated to him before. From what I stated to him, he was
enabled to draw out of Mr. Castles' own mouth, in cross-examination, the
full proof of his own infamy, which he never could have done without it.
After I had given my testimony in court, I saw plainly that the jury had
made up their minds to acquit the doctor, who was the first and only one
put upon his trial. At the end of seven days, the time Watson's
trial lasted, the jury returned a verdict of _not guilty_, and the
Attorney-General then gave up the prosecution against the other three
prisoners. It is very curious that it was never communicated to the
prisoners that I was in attendance to give evidence on their behalf; but
when they saw me in court, they actually thought that I was subpoened as
an evidence for the Crown against them.

Lord Sidmouth now brought in a Bill for the further suspension of the
Habeas-Corpus Act. In the House of Commons, Sir Francis Burdett called
the attention of its Members to the conduct of _Oliver, the spy_, and
of others who had been employed by Government, and who had excited
distressed persons to riot in the North. The county of Middlesex
petitioned in vain against the renewal of the Habeas-Corpus Act. The
Bill passed, and Parliament was prorogued by the Prince Regent on the
12th of July.

On the 31st of July, a public dinner was given at the Crown and Anchor,
to celebrate the acquittal of Watson, Thistlewood, Preston and Hooper,
at which dinner I was in the chair, and upwards of a hundred persons sat
down to it. Hooper very shortly after died; he fell a victim to a cold
which he caught in prison.

Such was the increasing distress of the people in the metropolis,
that the Old Bailey Calendar contained above 400 prisoners for trial;
forty-five more than were ever before known. In this year, 1817, the
Bank of England prosecuted _one hundred and twenty-four_ persons for
forgery, or uttering forged notes. This speaks for itself, and shews the
state of society produced by the Pitt system. On the 22d of September
the Bank of England announced their intention of paying in cash all
their small notes issued before the first of January 1817. This was a
beginning of calling in one pound Bank of England notes.

In this year the Common Hall of the City of London had petitioned
against the passing of the suspension of the Habeas-Corpus Act, and they
had instructed their members to support the prayer of their petitions,
by opposing the measure. As usual, their members set the prayers of the
Livery at defiance, and supported the Bill; at least Curtis and Atkins
did; and as for Alderman Combe, the Whig Member, he was not in the House
during any of the debates. When the Common Hall assembled the next time,
the Waithmanite faction intended to move a vote of censure against
Curtis and Atkins, for not attending to the instructions of their
constituents; and of course they contrived to procure from Alderman
Combe a letter to be read in the Hall, apologising for his
non-attendance in his place in the House of Commons, in consequence of
very ill health, which had prevented his attendance there ever since he
had been last elected, and which, in all probability, would prevent his
attending there any more. This game had been carried on for a long time
by the Waithmanites, and I had made up my mind, whenever an occasion
should offer, to enter my protest against the City of London being
represented by a person who never attended the House, and who was
rendered incapable of doing so from ill health. I had several times
carried some resolutions in my pocket, to the meetings of the Livery,
but no opportunity had offered for me to bring the subject forward
before. As soon as this letter was read from Alderman Combe, which
stated his inability to attend in his place, &c. &c., I told Sir Richard
Phillips, who was standing near me upon the hustings, that, as soon as
the usual vote of thanks was moved to Alderman Combe, I should move some
short resolutions, which I shewed him, as an amendment: "1st, thanking
the Alderman for his past honourable services: 2nd, sympathizing with
him on his illness, and lamenting the cause of his incapacity to attend
the House of Commons: and 3rd, respectfully calling upon him to resign
his seat, to give the Livery an opportunity of electing an efficient
Member of Parliament as their representative, in his stead." I asked Sir
Richard if he would second these resolutions; he replied no, he could
not, but he would ask Mr. Waithman to do it; and away he went in the
honesty of his heart, and told Mr. Waithman that I was going to move
such resolutions as an amendment to the usual vote of thanks to Alderman
Combe, and he very innocently asked him if he would second them? I shall
never forget the city hero's look; be turned round as if he would have
bit Sir Richard's nose off, and in a _whisper_ that I could hear all
across the hustings, replied, "NO _it is meant to cut my throat_."
Sir Richard, surprised and mortified at the mistake which he had
unintentionally made, returned me the resolutions, without saying a
word, as he saw that I had heard Waithman's answer, which I was laughing
at most heartily. I knew that Mr. Waithman would not have joined me in
any measure, even if it had been to save the City of London from an
earthquake, or its citizens from the greatest of all calamities, a
famine; but at the first view of the thing, I did not perceive how this
amendment was calculated to injure or cut the throat of Mr. Waithman.
The dread of this mighty sacrifice did not, however, deter me from doing
my duty. The vote of thanks having been moved to Alderman Combe, I
stepped forward and proposed my resolutions as an amendment; this I did
in the most respectful and handsome manner towards the Alderman, giving
him much greater credit for his past exertions, as our City Member, than
he in fact ever merited.

I had never consulted one single individual as to the propriety or the
policy of this measure, and it was by mere accident that I mentioned it
upon the hustings to Sir Richard Phillips; therefore, I was not prepared
with any one to second my proposition, but it was, nevertheless,
received by the Livery with strong marks of approbation. Never were
resolutions more appropriate, or that came more pat to suit the
occasion. I saw that this was a happy opportunity to appeal to the
honest sentiments of the Livery, and I seized it, as an act of justice
to them and to the public, without the slightest intention to annoy or
injure Mr. Waithman, and without the slightest intention of gratifying
the factious views of any party. It certainly struck me, and it had all
along struck me, that if Mr. Alderman Combe could be prevailed upon to
resign during the second mayoralty of my worthy friend Alderman Wood,
the latter would be selected by the citizens of London as his successor,
without the chance of a successful opposition against him; but I had
never given him the most remote hint of my thoughts or designs, neither
did I expect that the friends of Waithman, amongst the Livery, would be
prevailed upon to do any thing that was likely to promote the election
of Alderman Wood. All that under such circumstances I ever considered
was, how best to perform my duty, when I was before the public, either
at a meeting of the people in Spafields, or in Palace-yard, or at a
meeting of my fellow Liverymen in the Guildhall. I never personally
cared whether my motions were carried, or whether they were rejected, my
main object, being to perform my duty boldly and conscientiously. This I
did on the occasion to which I have alluded, without knowing whether any
one would second my proposition or not.

Before, however, any one could came forward as my supporter, Mr.
Waithman presented himself to the Livery, and endeavoured, by every art
that he was master of, to prevail upon the citizens not to countenance
my proposition. His own little gang attempted to get him cheered, but
all their efforts proved fruitless. He coaxed, he wheedled, he begged,
and he prayed; when that did not take, he blustered, bullied, and
threatened them, but all would not do; he bullied one moment, and
cringed the next, with equal ill success. He and his friends began to
feel for once that the force of truth was likely to prevail over fraud,
trickery, and cunning. At last, when he found that none of these had
a chance of prevailing, he turned about and resorted to tactics. He
declared that the proposition was irrelevent, that the Livery were taken
by surprise, that they were not assembled for any such purpose, and
that another Common-Hall ought to be convened, on purpose to take my
resolutions into consideration; and he boldly called upon the Lord
Mayor, Wood, to prohibit the resolutions being put to the Livery. I
never saw Mr. Waithman labour so hard in my life; if his existence had
been at stake, he could not have shown more anxiety.

The Lord Mayor now came forward, and in the most unequivocal manner
declared that the resolutions were not only perfectly in order, but that
he considered them most proper to be submitted to the consideration of
the committee upon that occasion. I thought Waithman would have bursted
a blood-vessel with rage and mortification at this decision of the
Lord Mayor, who was not to be bullied out of doing his duty honestly,
particularly when he saw that it received the sanction of so great a
portion of his fellow-citizens. The question was at length put, and the
resolutions were carried by a very large majority, amidst such a round
of cheers as I seldom ever heard in the Common-Hall. I then moved that
the Lord Mayor be requested to convey the resolutions of the Livery to
Mr. Alderman Combe, as soon as he could conveniently do so, and also
to call another Common-Hall, to communicate the answer of the worthy
Alderman to his constituents. This likewise was carried, with a faint
opposition from the puny faction that surrounded the mortified and
discomfited great little man. The Lord Mayor then stepped forward, and
promised that the wishes of the Livery should be promptly executed; and,
after he had given this promise, the meeting broke up.

The Lord Mayor kept his word, and waited upon Mr. Alderman Combe with
the resolutions, the same night, before the faction had time to plan any
scheme to frustrate the wishes of the Livery. The result was, that the
Alderman was glad of an opportunity of sending in his resignation of
an office which he was totally incompetent to fill, and, in the most
honourable and patriotic manner, he wrote his formal compliance with the
wishes of his constituents, and delivered it into the hands of the Lord
Mayor, who immediately offered his services to his fellow-citizens,
to supply the vacancy. They estimated correctly the value of those
services, and, in spite of the most pitiful arts, the most diabolical
misrepresentations, and the most unblushing falsehoods of the
Waithmanite faction to prevent it, the worthy Alderman Wood was
unanimously elected, during his second Mayoralty, one of the
Representatives in Parliament for the City of London. I must own that
I gloried more in this successful single-handed effort of mine,
spontaneously made, and so honourably carried into execution, than I
ever did in any public act of my life. When the Alderman was elected,
I addressed my brother Liverymen, and I boldly predicted that he was
elected for life; that his conduct in the House of Commons would be such
as would secure him a seat for the City of London, as long as human
nature would enable him to attend his duty in Parliament. This was more
than five years ago, and I believe that the prediction has not only been
made good up to this time, but that it is more likely to be confirmed
than ever it was. Such, however, was the prejudice of a certain party in
the city against Radicals, and particularly against me, that the worthy
Alderman never dared to thank me publicly for what I had done to serve
him. In truth I never looked for any such thing; I only did my duty; and
I had full confidence, whenever the worthy Alderman was called upon, he
would not fail to do his duty. My confidence was not misplaced, as has
been fully proved by the conduct of the Alderman, in the case of the
persecuted Caroline, the injured Queen of England. Nor has the worthy
Alderman ever flinched from his duty during the persecutions of the
"Captive of Ilchester."

In consequence of the diabolical machinations of the villain Oliver, the
spy, who was imprudently introduced to the Reformers in the North by Mr.
Mitchell, one of the delegates who had attended the Major's meetings in
London--in consequence of this infamous fellow's hellish plots, a
number of the distressed inhabitants of Derbyshire and Nottingham were
instigated to acts of violence and riot, which, although of a most
contemptible nature, were magnified by the Government into acts of
treason and rebellion. In pursuance of what had been planned by the
villain Oliver and his employers, these deluded men were immediately
made prisoners, and committed to Derby Gaol; upon a charge of high
treason. Unfortunately, one Jeremiah Brandreth, who was at the head of
those rioters, very wantonly fired a shot at random through the back
window of a farm-house, where the inmates had refused to admit them, or
to deliver them any arms, which the rioters, scarcely one hundred in
number, had demanded. It so happened that a boy was killed by this
random shot, which gave a colouring to the proceedings of the Ministers,
and created a great prejudice against these deluded men; and therefore,
instead of indicting some of them for a foolish and contemptible riot,
and prosecuting Brandreth for murder or manslaughter, the Government
proceeded against them for high treason. This petty riot, which was put
down without any military force, was consequently blazoned forth and
proclaimed through the country as an insurrection and open rebellion,
and great preparations were making to bring the prisoners to trial for
high treason, and a special commission was appointed to be held at Derby
to try them. The Ministers had failed in their attempt, in London, to
spill the blood of Watson, Thistlewood, & Co. whose lives were saved
by the honesty of a Middlesex Jury. The despicable riot in London,
ridiculous and contemptible as it was, yet it was ten times more like
a premeditated insurrection than the Derbyshire riot; yet an honest
Middlesex Jury, with Mr. Richardson, of the Lottery-office, as their
foreman, refused to find the instigators of it guilty of high treason.
This having been the case, the Ministers were determined to try their
hands at a trial for high treason in the country. It was, in fact,
necessary to bring forward at least some shadow of a pretext for the
infamous measures which had been passed by the Parliament, and for the
still worse conduct of the Secretary of State, who had thrown such
a number of the Reformers into dungeons, the secret dungeons of the
Boroughmongers, where they were lingering under the suspension of the
Habeas-Corpus Act, without any charge being brought against them, and
without being brought to trial, there being nothing to prove against
them. I repeat, that it was necessary to make a show, a pretence, a sort
of justification, for these proceedings; and the riot which had taken
place at Pentridge, in Derbyshire, was the thing fixed upon for that
purpose, as they could not trump up a better.

Brandreth, Turner, Ludlam, and thirty-five or six others, were
accordingly thrown into prison, and indicted for high treason. These
poor fellows, thus assailed and immured in a gaol, were without a friend
to protect them, and to see that they had a fair trial, and in fact were
without the means of paying counsel and witnesses, to enable them to
stand any chance of having a fair trial. In this forlorn and wretched
situation, their attention, as a _dernier resort_, was directed to _me_.
I was a perfect stranger to every one of them, but they had heard of
my exertions in the cause of the people, and they prevailed upon their
attorney, Mr. Wragg, of Belper, to write to me, and inform me of their
deplorable and forlorn situation, and to request that I would endeavour
to raise a public subscription, to enable them to fee counsel, and to
pay for bringing their witnesses to the trial, which Mr. Wragg assured
me they were totally incompetent to do, they being all poor men, without
any money or friends to help them.

I received this letter at Middleton Cottage, where I had been for some
time peaceably enjoying the sports of the field. I showed it to a
friend, who was visiting me at the time, and he at once pronounced it to
be a trap, to inveigle me into a participation of their crimes. At any
rate, he thought my only prudent course would be, either to take no
notice of the letter, or to reply that I knew nothing of the parties,
and would have nothing to do with them. I put the letter into my pocket,
and said no more to him upon the subject, as his cold, calculating,
prudent advice did not correspond with the feelings of my heart. My
visitors and my family had retired to rest, when I deliberately sat
down, and answered the letter of Mr. Wragg by the return of post. Those
who are of the same opinion with my prudent friend will ask, why did
you do so? I will tell them _why_. I said to myself, here are some
fellow-creatures in distress, they have not a living soul to aid them;
the whole power and weight of the Government are mustered against them;
and although they are totally unknown to me, and although I cannot
countenance or approve of their foolish and wanton proceedings; yet,
as the law of England presumes every man to be innocent till he is
convicted of guilt, and as they have appealed to ME in their distressing
situation, as the only man to whom they can look up for assistance;
shall I, because there appears to be personal danger and difficulty in
the undertaking, shall I refuse or neglect to do my best to enable them
to obtain a fair trial? shall I abandon them, and refuse to obey the
call of humanity, and, because they are poor and defenceless, turn a
deaf ear to the prayer of those that are in trouble and in prison? I
asked myself these questions, and without a moment's pause, my tongue
obeyed the impulse of my heart, and I exclaimed "forbid it, Heaven,
rather let me perish this instant, than harbour a thought so base,
so unfeeling, and so opposite to every act of my life!" I therefore
acknowledged Mr. Wragg's letter, and told him that, although he was a
perfect stranger to me, and although the prisoners were all strangers to
me, yet my heart would not allow me to entertain any unworthy suspicions
of him; and as the lives of our fellow-creatures were at stake, I would
do every thing in my power to enable them to obtain a fair trial. With
this view I would, by the same post, write to London, and endeavour to
procure a public meeting, for the purpose of raising a subscription to
assist them, lamenting, at the same time, my own want of the means to
assist them.

Before I went to bed I wrote to Mr. Cleary, who was secretary to Major
Cartwright and the Hampden Club, and also a sort of general secretary to
the Westminster committee. I desired him to lay a copy of Mr. Wragg's
letter before some of the patriotic friends of liberty, justice, and
humanity, in London, and to get them to call a public meeting, at the
Crown and Anchor, on the following Monday, to raise a subscription, to
enable the prisoners to fee counsel before their trial, which was to
take place at Derby, in the following week. I added, "if there should be
any _hitch_ or difficulty, still by all means to call the meeting, and I
will pay for the room and the advertisements, and take the chair myself,
if no other person more eligible offers." I wrote also to Mr. West, the
wire-worker, in Wych-street, to the same effect, and to inform him of
what I had written to Cleary. Mr. West was the person who had taken
a very decisive, active, and manly part in assisting Dr. Watson and
Thistlewood, in getting up their defence, when they were imprisoned
under a similar charge; therefore, I thought him the most likely man I
knew in London or Westminster to promote such a measure.

The reader will bear in mind that I did not get Mr. Wragg's letter,
urging me to come forward in behalf of these poor fellows, till five
o'clock in the afternoon, when I returned home to dinner from shooting;
that before I went to bed, I wrote an answer to the attorney of the
prisoners, unhesitatingly promising to do all that lay in my power to
serve them; and that I also wrote to Mr. Cleary and Mr. West, to procure
a public meeting, and, without any reservation on my part, to call it in
_my name_, in the metropolis; and the reader will not fail to recollect,
that the HABEAS CORPUS ACT was still suspended, and that the Seditious
Meeting Act was in full force.

I received an answer from Mr. Cleary, to say that he had seen the
friends of liberty in Westminster, and that the meeting would be
appointed, to be held at the Crown and Anchor, as I wished it, on the
following Monday, and he would take care to have it advertised, &c. I
also received a letter from Mr. West, who said he had seen Cleary, and
that the meeting would take place, according to my request, on the
Monday. I wrote by return of post, to Mr. Wragg, to inform the prisoners
what I had done, and how far I had succeeded and I promised to be at the
meeting, and to proceed to Derby in the mail, as soon as the result was
known.

On the Sunday, just as I was preparing to set off to London to attend
this meeting, I received a letter from Mr. Cleary, to say that he had
consulted the friends of liberty in Westminster, who were unanimously of
opinion, that it would be highly impolitic to call a public meeting upon
such an occasion, in which opinion he fully concurred; and that the
worthy Major Cartwright also thought it extremely improper for the
Reformers to identify themselves with HOUSE-BREAKERS AND MURDERERS. Mr.
Cleary also added, that the Derby rioters had by their conduct done the
greatest injury to the cause of Reform, and that he felt so indignant
at them, that, instead of assisting there by a subscription, he could
almost GO DOWN AND HANG THEM HIMSELF. I have not the letter at hand, but
this was the substance of it. I must do Mr. West the justice to say,
that he did every thing in his power to procure a meeting, and if he had
not, as well as myself, been _tricked_ into the idea that the meeting
would be held, he would have called it himself.

I was extremely mortified at being thus defeated in my plan, at being
thus swindled out of the meeting. Cleary's first letter was evidently
written with a view to prevent my going to London, and personally
convening the meeting; because he saw, from the manner of my first
letter, that I was in earnest, therefore it was necessary to deceive me
into a belief that what I was desirous of would be done, as, otherwise,
he knew that I would be instantly on the spot to carry it myself into
execution. Well, it was too late now to think of going to London to get
a meeting, and, as I had been thus disappointed, it might by most people
have been thought sufficient for me to have written a letter to Mr.
Wragg, to inform him of the circumstance, and there would have been at
once an end to all trouble or expense on my part. Now I beg the reader
to mark what was my conduct. Instead of abandoning these poor fellows
to their fate, and merely writing a letter to say how I had been
disappointed by the Westminster patriots, or rather pretended patriots,
I ordered my servant to get my horses and gig ready immediately, and I
started off the same evening across the country to Newbury, on my road
through Abingdon and Oxford, towards Derby. I arrived at Leicester on
the Tuesday evening, previous to the trials commencing on the Thursday
following; and what was very curious, Judge Dallas and myself were shown
into the same room, at Bishop's, at the Three Crowns. Although we did
not appear to know each other, great marks of civility were mutually
exchanged, and if I had not been otherwise engaged, it is possible we
might have spent the evening together; and I have often thought how very
curious the conversation might have proved, if we had compared notes. We
were both going the next day to Derby, both going to attend the trials
of Brandreth and Co.; but how widely different would it have been found
was the object of our journey. He, a judge, going to hang the prisoners;
I, an humble individual, going to do all that lay in my power to save
their lives, by procuring for them a fair trial. We, however, did not
remain in company; the fact was, it soon got wind at Leicester who I
was; one of the waiters knew me, and to my surprise, as I was sitting
with Mr. Thompson, of the _Chronicle_ office, and Mr. Warburton, who had
been one of the delegates at the London meeting, a deputation waited
upon me, to request that I would spend the evening with a number of
gentlemen of Leicester, who had assembled in a public room in the inn,
to receive me. This invitation I accepted, and, accompanied by my two
friends, I spent a few hours very pleasantly, amongst an assemblage
composed of the most respectable men belonging to all parties in
Leicester.

On the following day I reached Derby, where I found out Messrs. Wragg,
of Belper, and Bond, of Leicester, the attorneys for the prisoners,
and communicated my ill success as to collecting any subscriptions in
London, by means of the public meeting which was proposed. I, however,
offered my services in any way in which they might think that I could be
useful; but I soon learnt from them that it was a hopeless case, that
the men had been led into a disgraceful riot, urged on by the villain
Oliver, and his accomplices; that they were worthy, poor men; Brandreth,
their captain, a mere helpless pauper, and that there was no chance of
saving them. Those who had a little property, had sold their _little
all_, even to their beds, as had also their relations, to raise money
enough to pay for the expenses, of the witnesses, who had been subpoened
on their behalf; but the whole did not amount to enough to include the
fees of counsel. For the fees, however, we calculated that might
be raised at some future time, as it was hoped that, under such
circumstances, the gentlemen of the long robe would not press for their
immediate payment.

I saw some of the witnesses, and amongst others one who had been acting
in concert with Oliver, a regular hired spy, who described to us what
passed between them and Lord Sidmouth, when he and Oliver presented
their bill of expenses, after they had performed their job. It appeared
that his Lordship abused Oliver for a great fool, for being detected
by the people in his communications with Sir John Byng, who had the
military command of the district. O, it was a horrible plot, to entrap a
few distressed, poor creatures to commit some acts of violence and riot,
in order that the Government might hang a few of them for high treason!
The projectors of it had been frustrated in London, by a Middlesex Jury,
who had refused to find Dr. Watson guilty of high treason, although what
was proved against him was ten thousand times more like high treason
than that which was proved against these poor deluded men. But it was
thought necessary to sanction the suspension of the Habeas-Corpus
Act, and the other infamous encroachments that had been made upon
the liberties of the people, by the sacrifice of some lives for high
treason, and the Government paid the freeholders of the county of Derby,
the disgraceful compliment of selecting that county as the scene of
their diabolical operations; and, as it will be hereafter seen, they
were correct in their calculations.

The next morning I waited upon the attorneys, previous to their going
into Court, when I found them in rather an awkward dilemma. Mr.
COUNSELLOR CROSS, who, by some unaccountable means or other, had been
sent for from Manchester, to take the _lead_ of _Mr. Denman_, who was
the other counsel employed, had just sent to the attorneys to demand ONE
HUNDRED POUNDS as his fee, before he went into Court, declaring, that he
would not stir a peg till he received it. I knew nothing of this fellow
at the time, and as the attorneys, particularly Mr. Bond, appeared to
place great confidence in him, _Mister Cross_ had the one hundred pounds
paid into his hands immediately. Thus, by the cupidity of Mr. Cross,
were these poor fellows deprived at once of those means which ought
to have been spent in procuring them witnesses for their defence. I
immediately waited upon Mr. Denman at his lodgings, and sent up my name,
to say that I had some particular information to communicate that might
be of service to the prisoners; but I could gain no access to Mr.
Denman. I had this information from the brother of Turner, who was
afterwards executed. I returned to the attorneys, and I soon found that
my interference was considered officious. They refused to take me into
Court with them, or at least they pretended that it was against the
rules for attorneys to take any person with them into the Court. I was,
therefore, obliged to find another mode of admittance; and I ultimately,
by dint of perseverance, got in with considerable difficulty, after
having been violently assaulted and grossly insulted by the officers of
the Court, under the direction of a Jack-in-office, who acted as Under
Sheriff, the real Under Sheriff having resigned, _pro tempore_, on
purpose to become Solicitor for the Crown, in the prosecution against
the prisoners. I, however, at length succeeded in getting a seat in the
front of the body of the Court, and I heard the whole of the trial of
Brandreth. The whole of the evidence merely went to establish the fact,
that one of the most contemptible riots took place that ever deserved
the name of a riot, whether with respect to the numbers engaged, or the
total want of influence of those who took a lead in it. As for poor
Brandreth, who was called the Captain of the Insurrection, he was
nothing more nor less than a contemptible pauper, without power, or
talent, or courage; and it was distinctly sworn that the whole gang
_fled_ upon the appearance of _one_ soldier!

The means taken to procure tractable juries were the most barefaced and
abominable, and as the jurors were mostly selected from amongst the
tenantry of the Duke of Devonshire, the prisoners had not the slightest
chance of escape, even if Mr. Cross had done his duty; but, so far was
he from doing it, that he actually confessed the guilt of his clients,
and urged as a palliation, that they were led into the insurrection by
reading the writings of Cobbett. The principal witnesses, in my opinion,
for the prisoners, were never examined; and, although Mr. Denman made
an eloquent appeal to the jury, yet he could not remove the impression
which had been left upon the minds of the jurors and of the whole Court
by the _precious pleadings_ of Mr. Cross. Brandreth and four others
were found guilty of high treason. Brandreth, Turner, and Ludlam, were
executed shortly afterwards, and Mr. Cross was speedily promoted to a
silk gown, as a King's Sergeant at Law.

The avenging hand of Providence, however, caused the announcement of the
_execution of these men_, and _the Death of the_ PRINCESS CHARLOTTE OF
SAXE-COBURG AND HER INFANT SON, to appear in the newspapers of the day
at one and the same time. The death of this Princess was so mysterious,
and attended with such singular circumstances, that I dare not trust
myself to write upon the subject. The whole nation appeared to mourn her
loss, much more, I believe, in consequence of her having always espoused
the cause of her unhappy and persecuted mother, than from any conviction
or well-grounded hope that any public good would ever be derived from
her being our future Queen. A certain party at Court could not disguise
the satisfaction which they felt at being released from a most
persevering and troublesome advocate of the Princess of Wales, her
mother. But the nation had this delightful comfort, that the gallant
PRINCE OF SAXE-COBURG bore his loss with great fortitude, and was likely
to survive his wife for many, many years, to enjoy the spending of
FIFTY-THOUSAND POUNDS A-YEAR, which had been settled upon him for life,
in case the Princess should _pop off_.

I have omitted one circumstance which occurred in the spring of the
year, and which I shall now briefly notice. Mr. Sergeant BEST, who was
one of the Members for Bridport, was appointed Chief Justice of Chester,
a post which he had been long seeking for in vain. His client, Colonel
Despard, had been executed for nearly fifteen years, yet Mr. Sergeant
had only been promoted to a silk gown; and in spite of every effort
to become a Judge, he had been frustrated, it is understood, by the
objections raised by the Lord Chancellor. He, therefore, procured a seat
in Parliament, and became a violent oppositionist to the Government. At
length, the Prince Regent, it is said, demanded his promotion, and he
was appointed to the Chief Justiceship of Chester, which is the stepping
stone to the Bench. He vacated his seat for Bridport, as a matter of
course; and, as it was expected he would be returned again for that
borough without any opposition, I thought it would be a good opportunity
to remind him of the fate of Despard, and of his own apostacy, in
quitting his pretended opposition as soon as he was offered a place of
profit under the Crown. Without further ceremony, therefore, I drove to
Bridport, about three days before the election commenced, and announced
my intention of opposing the election of the Welch Judge, and former
counsel for Despard. Though I was not known to a single person in
the town of Bridport, yet I was received with great kindness by a
considerable portion of the electors, and was at once promised the
support of some of the most respectable of them. The Welch Judge,
however, did not make his appearance; but in his stead came a young
'Squire Sturt, the son of BEST'S former patron. As I had avowedly
attended only for the purpose of opposing and exposing the Chief Justice
of Chester, I now, at the request of some of those whose support against
Best I chiefly relied upon, declined to offer myself in opposition to
the young 'Squire, who possessed a majority of the houses in which the
small voters lived, and whose father had always been a great favourite
in the borough. I gained great credit for the manner in which I did
this, in an address to the electors from the hustings, declaring that my
only object was to expose the delinquency of their former Member, the
new Welch Judge. The reader will observe that I had no acquaintance with
Mr. Sergeant Best, nor had even in the remotest degree ever had any
connection with him, or come in contact with him, either in the way
of his profession or otherwise. I was solely actuated by public duty,
without the slightest cause for personal dislike to the lawyer. Perhaps
those who have read what I have written since I came here, will not now
be at a loss to account for the vindictive hostility of the venerable
Judge towards me, when I was brought up for judgment, and since I have
been here. They may now account for that Judge's voting for my having
SIX YEARS imprisonment, and for his having afterwards come the western
circuit, and signed an order, drawn up by the junto of Somersetshire
Magistrates, for placing and keeping me in solitary confinement for the
last _ten months_ of my incarceration.

The people of Bridport will never forget my visit, particularly _Mr.
Denzelo_, the printer, who refused to print my address to the electors,
after having taken the copy, and given his promise to do it, and a _Mr.
Nicholets_, an attorney. I shall forbear to relate the circumstances,
and the ridiculous figure which they cut, especially the latter, upon
being detected and exposed before his own townsmen in their public hall.
This exposure was ample punishment for such men, without my placing the
particulars of their disgrace upon record. I was invited to remain in
Bridport after the election, which invitation I accepted, and before I
left the town I waited upon every voter to thank him for his civility;
and, with only one or two exceptions, I received the most polite
attention and kind welcome; nearly two-thirds of the electors
voluntarily promised to give me their votes at the next election,
whenever it might happen. If I had gone there again I should have
certainly had a considerable majority of votes, without making any
promise whatever; but, as I learnt that it was expected that an
after-bribe would be given, I declined the honour of deceiving them and
disgracing myself.

One curious fact which occurred I cannot avoid relating. I have since
ascertained, that the person whom I took from Salisbury with me to
Bridport, treacherously communicated all my plans and movements to my
opponents, every night before he went to bed; and, what is still more
curious, I have learnt that he was actually in correspondence with my
LORD CASTLEREAGH. I very soon afterwards obtained the knowledge of this
latter fact, and of course as soon declined the honour of any farther
connection with a person who had such high acquaintance.

On the 18th of December, Mr. Hone, the bookseller, was tried in the
Court of King's Bench, before Mr. Justice Abbott (who sat for the Chief
Justice Ellenborough) and a London special jury. The offence which he
was charged with was that of publishing a parody. After an animated and
eloquent defence, made by Mr. Hone in person, which lasted seven
hours, the jury returned a verdict of acquittal. The Chief Justice
Ellenborough, who was ill at the time, was so enraged at this verdict,
that be came into Court the next morning, and presided when Mr. Hone was
tried for a second parody. His Lordship did every thing to intimidate,
to interrupt, and to browbeat Mr. Hone, who, however, proved himself
much the bravest as well as the most able man, and after a defence,
similar to that of the day previous, which lasted eight hours, another
jury of the city of London acquitted him. On the day following, the 20th
of December, he was tried before the Chief Justice and another special
jury of the city of London, for a third parody, and after another
defence, which lasted nine hours, he was a third time acquitted. What
enhances the merit of Mr. Hone's courageous defence is, that during the
whole of the time he was labouring under indisposition. There is not
the least doubt but these verdicts of acquittal, added to that of the
acquittal of Dr. Watson, were the cause of Lord Ellenborough's death;
at any rate, his decease was greatly hastened by the irritation arising
from such repeated disappointments; for in all these cases his Lordship
strongly charged the jury for a verdict of guilty, and no agent of the
Government ever worked harder to obtain a verdict than his Lordship did.
Ultimately this great lawyer became an ideot, and I have understood from
pretty good authority, that for some time before his death he was in the
constant habit of repeating the names of _Watson_ and _Hone_, with the
most evident symptoms of horror and dismay, which he continued to do
till the very last, as long, at least, as he was capable of utterance.

Thus ended the year 1817, one of the most eventful of British history.
The prospect was most gloomy: the poor were greatly distressed for want
of employment: provisions were dear, the quartern loaf averaged about
thirteen pence, and there was a general depression of trade. At the
same time, every honest man in the kingdom considered himself as being
injured and insulted by the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, and,
indeed, a general feeling of disgust prevailed as to the proceedings
adopted by the Government. As for the moral state of the country, and
the wretchedness of the people, it is only necessary to record three
or four facts: at Manchester, in the year 1797, the poor-rates were
16,941_l_., but this year, 1817, they amounted to 65,212_l_. The number
of forged notes stopped by the Bank of England, since the year 1814,
that is, during the space of two years, amounted to 113,361_l_., and in
the year 1817, the Bank prosecuted ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY-TWO PERSONS
_for forgery, or uttering forged notes_; and to support such a system as
this, the peace establishment of the standing army, the land forces,
for this year, amounted to ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-THREE THOUSAND FIVE
HUNDRED AND THIRTY-NINE MEN! Bravo, John Gull!

I never heard of more than one public meeting being held by the people,
under the provisions of the Seditious Meetings Bill, and that was
advertised to be held in Palace Yard, on the 7th of September, 1817.
This advertisement was signed by seven householders, and a copy of
it was delivered to the Clerk of the Peace, and the neighbouring
Magistrates, agreeable to the Act. I was invited to preside at the
meeting, which invitation I accepted, and attended accordingly. The
Seditious Meeting Act being still in force, and the Habeas Corpus Act
being still suspended, it was thought a very daring and hazardous
proceeding, but I took care that the laws, rigid as they were, should
not be violated, and all the provisions of the Act were strictly
complied with. This meeting was held within hearing, and almost in sight
of the Secretary of State's office. But, as we acted according to law,
not the slightest interruption was offered to the proceedings, or to
those who attended the meeting. The persons who signed the requisition
or advertisement, which was delivered to the Clerk of the Peace, were
friends of Dr. Watson; he it was, in fact, that got up the meeting. The
doctor proposed the resolutions, which were seconded by Mr. Gast, and
carried unanimously: they protested in strong terms against petitioning
the House of Commons any more for Reform, as being proved to be useless
by the total disregard which that body had manifested to the prayers and
the petitions of the people during the previous session of Parliament,
when upwards of six hundred petitions, praying for Reform, had
been presented to the Honourable House. A strong declaration and
remonstrance, addressed to the Prince Regent, was read and unanimously
agreed to at the meeting; which remonstrance I carried and delivered
to Lord Sidmouth, at the Secretary of State's office, the moment the
meeting was dissolved; and I was attended to the doors of the office by
five or six thousand of the multitude who had composed a part of the
meeting. When I entered the office, which I did alone, I was instantly
conducted to his Lordship, amidst the deafening cheers of the throng
without. I gave the declaration to him, and requested he would lay it
before his Royal Master, as early as it was convenient. He promised me
that he would read it carefully over, and if there was nothing improper,
that he would present it the next day to the Prince Regent, and that he
would write to apprize me of the result.

This was the first time, if I recollect right, that a public
remonstrance to the throne was ever agreed to by the people; and, as
might naturally have been expected, his Lordship found much in it
that he thought objectionable, as well as the manner in which it
was conveyed; it being in the shape of a firm though respectful
remonstrance, instead of a creeping, cringing petition. I have not
a copy of this document by me, but as it was agreed to at the great
meeting held at Manchester, as well as at the Smithfield meeting, I
will, if I can procure it, publish it hereafter; but I recollect, that,
after having recited a mass of atrocities committed upon the rights and
liberties, and lives of the people, by the Ministers of the Crown, it
demanded that they the said Ministers, of whom his Lordship was one,
should be surrendered up to justice, and brought to condign punishment.
It is, therefore, almost needless to say that my Lord Sidmouth not
only discovered very improper matter in the remonstrance, but that he
consequently declined to communicate it to his Royal Master.

The year 1818 commenced with a great public dinner at the City of London
Tavern, to celebrate the third centenary of the Reformation, at which
dinner one thousand five hundred persons attended. On the 27th of
January the Parliament was opened by commission, and the usual speech
was made, and its echo, the address, was voted without any opposition: a
bill was now brought into the House to restore the Habeas Corpus Act. A
great meeting took place at the City of London Tavern, Alderman Waithman
in the chair, where a subscription was opened for Mr. Hone, which
ultimately amounted to more than three thousand pounds. Than this
measure, nothing can more clearly show the character of the city
patriot, and those who took a lead in political matters in the
metropolis. While Mr. Hone was under persecution, and even up to the
day of his trial, he was totally neglected and deserted; neither Mr.
Waithman, nor any of those who afterwards came forwards to assist him in
such a liberal way, gave him then the slightest countenance or support;
nay, they even shunned and abandoned him, and he actually went into
court almost alone, and probably without the means of hiring counsel,
which was, in fact, a most fortunate circumstance for him, as, had he
placed his case in the hands of counsel, I will warrant that he would
have been found guilty upon each of the charges preferred against him;
however, as soon as Mr. Hone had obtained a verdict of _not guilty_,
these fair-weather patriots began to flock round him in order to share
the honour and popularity which they now saw he was likely to obtain.
This is too much the way of the world; and if Mr. Hone's jury had said
guilty, instead of not guilty, if he had been tried by a country instead
of a London special jury, he might have gone quickly to gaol, abandoned
and ruined, before any of the above gentry would have stirred one inch
to have saved him from rotting there.

A bill of indemnity was now brought in, to protect the Ministers against
the legal consequences of their horrid abuses of power, during the
suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. Most of those who had been
incarcerated were now released upon their own recognizance; but Mr.
Benbow, of Manchester, bravely refused to enter into any recognizance,
and he was liberated without it. The Messrs. Evans followed his example,
and were also liberated without bail.

While the indemnity bill was pending, the Livery of the city of London
met in Common Hall, and passed some strong resolutions, and petitioned
the House of Commons not to indemnify the Ministers against prosecutions
at law for their illegal and cruel conduct during the suspension of the
Habeas Corpus Act. This petition was presented by Alderman Wood, our
worthy representative, but without producing any effect, for, on the
10th of March, the bill was carried through both Houses by large
majorities. In the Commons, Sir Samuel Romilly made a brilliant effort
to resist the passing of this Act, but there was, nevertheless, a
majority of 190 for it, and only 64 against it. In the Lords it was
sanctioned by 93 for it, while there were only 27 against it; but
10 Peers entered a firm and spirited protest against the iniquitous
measure. On the 23d of March, a meeting of the inhabitants of
Westminster was held in Palace Yard, when a petition to the House of
Commons was adopted, praying for a Reform of Parliament. About this
period, the case of appeal of murder, _Ashford_ against _Thornton_,
excited considerable interest all over the country. The case was argued
in the Court of King's Bench, which decided that the law gave to the
defendant a right to his wager of battle; but the appellant, the brother
of Mary Ashford, the young woman who had been murdered, not choosing to
risk his life by accepting the challenge, Thornton was discharged.

On the first of May, the Monthly Magazine, a work of great celebrity,
for the talent displayed in its pages, as well as for the philanthropic
character of the gentleman who has so ably and successfully conducted
it for so many years, published some interesting facts relative to the
cruel and illiberal treatment of Napoleon, and his brave and faithful
adherents at St. Helena. The same number contained a most interesting
analysis of the progress of crime during the last seven years, by which
it appears that 56,308 persons had in that time been committed to the
gaols of England and Wales, for criminal offences; that 4,952 had
received sentence of death; 6,512 had been sentenced to transportation;
and 23,795 had been subjected to minor punishments, while no bills were
found against 9,287. In the same period 584 had been executed, _and
every number was tripled in the last year_. Let the philanthropist
read this--let the friends of humanity read this--and then say whether
we do not want a Reform in every department of the State, particularly
in the House of Commons, where the system has been so long acted upon,
which has brought England to such a degraded state.

On the second of June, Sir Francis Burdett moved resolutions in the
House of Commons, for Universal Suffrage and Annual Parliaments. They
were negatived by a majority of 106 to 2; the minority being Sir Francis
Burdett and Lord Cochrane, the two Members for Westminster. When, during
the preceding session of Parliament, that of 1817, there were petitions,
signed by a million and a half of names, praying for Universal Suffrage,
Sir Francis Burdett unfortunately refused to support Universal Suffrage;
but now that the people had declined to appeal to the House, and
consequently there was not a single petition lying upon the table, to
support the Hon. Baronet's motion, it was negatived, as I have stated
above, by an overwhelming majority.

On the tenth of June, the most infamous and servile Parliament that ever
sat in England, after having passed a Bill to continue the restriction
upon cash payments at the Bank; after having passed a Bill for building
New Churches, and appropriating one million of the public money to carry
it into effect; after having passed a Bill to add 6,000_1_. a year to
the incomes of the Royal Dukes, who had been married; after having
passed a Bill to continue the Alien Act; after having done all this, and
far more, this servile, corrupt Parliament was DISSOLVED.

I will mention one curious fact, with respect to this precious
Parliament. My friend, Mr. William Akerman, of Patney, in Wiltshire, was
upon a visit to me in London, and, as he was very anxious to go and have
a peep at the proceedings of the House of Commons, I was prevailed
upon to accompany him thither one evening, although I went rather
reluctantly, as all the interest which I had formerly felt in hearing
the debates had long since been banished from my breast. However, I went
thither to gratify the curiosity of my friend, little thinking that I
should hear or see any thing to amuse or gratify myself. The Hon. House
was exceedingly thin, there not being more than about a score of our
honourable representatives present: these careful trustees had voted
away, as a matter of course, some hundreds of thousands of the public
money. The Chancellor of the Exchequer moved the last reading of the
Bill for building the New Churches. The Bill was passed, and _one
million_ of the money raised in taxes from the sweat of the brow of John
Gull was voted away, by the Members of the Honourable House, with as
little ceremony as an old washerwoman would toss off a glass of gin,
or take a pinch of snuff; there being no debate, no more present than
THIRTEEN of the Honourable Members of the Honourable House. But the best
joke was what followed: a bungling, hacking, and stammering gentleman
got up, on the Ministerial side of the House--(for, if I recollect
right, among the honourable guardians of our lives, our liberties,
and our property, there were none present belonging to the Whig or
Opposition side of the House)--and after a considerable deal of beating
about the bush, which I saw made the Chancellor of the Exchequer rather
uneasy in his seat, I discovered that the prosing gentleman, whose name
was Littleton or Thornton, was prattling about the _Savings' Banks,_
into which it appeared that he had been inquiring rather more
inquisitively than the little Chancellor approved of. The result of his
inquiry, he stated to be a discovery, that _three-fourths_ of the money
placed in the banks belonged to persons of property, who placed it there
for the sake of obtaining better interest than they could get elsewhere;
and that the poor, such as servants and persons of small income, whose
property it was intended by the legislature should be invested in these
Savings Banks, scarcely made up a quarter of the number, and not a tenth
of the amount. The gentleman was going on, when Mr. Vansittart jumped
up, and in an under-tone pretty plainly intimated to him, that although
the benches on the opposite side were empty, yet there might probably
be some of the reporters left in the House, and if what had been stated
should get abroad, it would do incalculable mischief, by exposing the
humbug. These were not the words of the Honourable Chancellor, but I
have described their import. Whether the gentlemen reporters were all
absent, as well as the Whig Members, or whether they took the hint of
the worthy Chancellor, or whether they did not hear what he said, I do
not know; but the next morning I looked in vain in the newspapers for
what had transpired, which appeared to me so curious, and which had
appeared to the Chancellor a matter of so much importance; not a word of
the sort was, however, to be found in any of the papers.

Perhaps it was not observed by my readers, but it is a fact, that my
friend, Mr. Cobbett, who had continued to write his Register, and had
sent it home from America to be published in England, seemed to have
almost entirely forgotten that there was such a person as myself in
existence; for more than five months, from the 8th of May, the date
of his first Register written in America, till that dated the 10th of
October, he scarcely ever mentioned the name of _his friend_, even
accidentally. However, in the Register of the 10th of October, 1817, it
appears that he had at length discovered that I was neither literally
nor politically dead; for in a letter to Mr. Hallett, of Denford, in
Berkshire, dated Long Island, 10th of October, 1817, my name was again
brought fully upon the carpet, relative to my opinion of Sir Francis
Burdett, as it has been frequently expressed by me in confidence to
him. Very soon afterwards I received a private letter from him, full of
professions of friendship, which correspondence was continued up to
the period of his return from America. He also addressed to me, in the
Register, twelve public letters, beginning with "My dear Hunt," and
ending with "_your faithful friend_," occasionally complimenting my
zeal, courage, and fidelity in the cause of Reform, and declaring that
he was "in no fear as to the rectitude of my conduct, but always in
anxiety for my health!" How faithful his friendship is, he has admirably
proved! About the second or third letter which I had from him, he
strongly urged me to oppose Sir Francis Burdett, for the city of
Westminster; at any rate to offer myself as a candidate for that city,
which would give me an opportunity of exposing the Baronet's desertion
of the cause of Reform. I wrote for answer, that I dreaded the expense
of the hustings; and the exorbitant charges of the High Bailiff, &c.
These difficulties, however, he made light of, and assured me that, if
it was not done before, he would take care to have me remunerated by a
public subscription, as soon as he returned from America.

With this assurance, and from a conviction in my own mind that Sir
Francis had deserted, or at least neglected, the cause of Radical
Reform, I sent an advertisement to be inserted in the London papers,
offering myself as a candidate for the representation of the city of
Westminster. A meeting was called by my friends, in the great room of
the Crown and Anchor, when my name was put in nomination, as a proper
person to be one of the representatives of that city; it having been
publicly announced that Lord Cochrane, who was preparing to sail to the
assistance of the Patriots in South America, certainly meant to resign
all pretension to sit again as the Member for Westminster. At this
meeting a very large majority voted that I was a proper person to
represent that city. I believe it was nearly a fortnight before
any other person was put in nomination by any of the electors of
Westminster, and it was thought by many of my friends that Sir Francis
Burdett and myself would be returned, without any opposition. I firmly
believe that this would have, indeed, been the case, had not the friends
of Sir Francis Burdett, the Rump, proposed Mr. Douglas Kinnaird as his
colleague. Major Cartwright was then put in nomination by some of his
friends. The Whigs and Tories of Westminster perceiving that there
was likely to be a great division amongst the Reformers, and that Mr.
Douglas Kinnaird and Major Cartwright had been both started as it were
in opposition to me, Sir Samuel Romilly was proposed as a candidate by
the Whigs, and Sir Murray Maxwell by the Ministerial interest. There was
a little band of very worthy and independent men, who stood forward as
my supporters, namely, Mr. West, Mr. Dolby, and Mr. Giles, who were
electors, and Mr. Carlile, Mr. Gale Jones, and Mr. Sherwin, who were not
electors. Although at the outset I saw that, under such circumstances,
there was no chance of my success, yet I was determined to keep open
the poll to the last moment allowed by law, which is fifteen days. At
a public dinner that was held at the Crown and Anchor, my colours were
produced, and consisted of a scarlet flag, with UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE as a
motto, surmounted by a Cap of Liberty, surrounded with the inscription
of Hunt and Liberty. This flag was provided by Mr. Carlile; and I had
the honour of being the first and only man who ever offered himself as
a candidate for a seat in Parliament upon the avowed principles of
Universal Suffrage, Annual Parliaments, and Vote by Ballot.

The day at length arrived for the commencement of the election in
Covent-Garden. I had proclaimed that I would not, either by myself or by
any of my friends, canvass or solicit a single vote--that I should go
to the hustings, and act upon the constitutional principle of neither
soliciting votes nor going to any expense. The High Bailiff opened
the proceedings, and the following candidates were proposed by their
separate friends:--Sir Francis Burdett, Sir Murray Maxwell, Sir Samuel
Romilly, Major Cartwright, Mr. Douglas Kinnaird, and myself. Upon the
show of hands being taken, the High Bailiff declared it to be in favour
of Henry Hunt, Esq. and Sir Samuel Romilly. Sir Francis Burdett's
friends appeared dissatisfied with this decision of the High Bailiff,
and urged that a greater number had held up their hands for Sir Francis
than for Sir Samuel; but no one disputed my having had a majority, of
at least ten to one, in my favour. The reader will see that this speaks
volumes as to the opinion of the people. Though the people assembled
could hold up their hands, yet when it came to the vote, the result
clearly showed that the people had no share in electing those who were
chosen as their representatives.

During this contest I was baited like a bull; it was very different from
any election that ever took place before, for I tore the mask from
all parties, and all factions; in doing which I exposed myself to a
combination of the whole press of England, all the managers of which
were leagued together to abuse, to misrepresent, and belie me. The
_Tory, the Whig, and the Burdettite_ press attacked me not only without
mercy, but also without the slightest regard to truth or fair play; and
that portion of the press which was either under the influence or in the
pay of these three parties consisted of more than nineteen twentieths of
the press of the whole kingdom!

After the election had proceeded for a few days, it was found that upon
the poll Sir Francis Burdett was left considerably behind Sir Samuel
Romilly and Sir Murray Maxwell. Major Cartwright's and Mr. Douglas
Kinnaird's names were, therefore, withdrawn from the contest, and
the friends of both those gentlemen joined to support Sir Francis's
election, which appeared to be in great danger. As, however, I had no
such views as they had, my exertions being daily and solely directed to
open the eyes of the electors of Westminster to what I conceived to be
the gross negligence of Sir Francis Burdett with respect to the cause of
the people, it was determined to stand out the contest, especially as I
had made an affidavit, before the Lord Mayor of London, previous to the
commencement of the election, binding myself to keep the poll open to
the last hour allowed by law. Notwithstanding this affidavit, which had
been printed, and posted all over London, a little impudent Irishman, of
the name of Cleary, whom I have mentioned before, as a sort of writer
or clerk, hired as such by Major Cartwright, came forward upon the
hustings, and in a broad Irish brogue called upon me to tender my
resignation, and to render all the assistance in my power to promote the
election of Sir Francis Burdett, and took the liberty of insinuating
that I could be no friend of the people if I did not do so. Nothing
could equal the impudence of this upstart, paid secretary, this hireling
of the Major's; he was no elector of Westminster, and had no legal
business whatever upon the hustings in Westminster. However, I treated
this proposition with the silent contempt that it merited; and this drew
down the malevolence of the Rump, of which this Cleary now formed a
part. They denounced me as a _spy of the Government_, and every thing
that was base; and they put no bounds to their abuse. In the evening,
as I was addressing the electors, and defending myself against these
assassin-like attacks from the Rump, I stated the circumstance of their
having prevented the holding of a public meeting in the metropolis,
which meeting I had proposed for the purpose of raising a subscription,
to enable Brandreth, Turner, Ludlam, and others, who had been indicted
for high treason at Derby, to fee counsel, and pay the expenses of their
witnesses, so as to obtain a fair trial; and I of course alluded to the
dirty trick which had been played me, in order to prevent the meeting,
by writing me a letter, in the first instance, to say that a meeting
would be called, and then putting it off when it was too late for me to
come to London to call the meeting myself. I did this in general terms,
without mentioning any names; upon which Cleary came forward, and
unblushingly declared that what I had said was false, and that there
was no letter whatever of the sort written to me. On this, there was a
general call "produce the letter, name, name." In reply I asserted, that
not only was such a letter written, but Cleary himself was the writer,
and that he had gone so far as to say, in the letter, that he was so
offended with the prisoners who were charged with high treason, _that
he could almost find it in his heart to go down and hang them himself._
Cleary again presented himself, and, in the most solemn manner, called
God to witness, that what I had said was totally devoid of truth. The
clamour of the party of the Rump committee, now became excessive, they
one and all bawled out, "produce the letter!--you cannot, Hunt!--it is
all false!" At length I vociferated that I would produce it the next
day. I thought I had the said letter amongst some others in my trunk,
but, upon looking them over, I found that it was left at Middleton
Cottage, with my other papers. I therefore dispatched one of my family
into the country, a distance of sixty-one miles, to enable me to perform
my promise, and the demand of the party. The next day I was obliged to
state the fact, that the letter was in the country, but that I had sent
an express for it, and it should be produced as soon as that messenger
returned. Upon this the whole gang burst out into a forced horse laugh,
swearing that it was all false, that I had no such letter, and that I
never could produce it.

On the following day, which was Sunday, I received the letter from the
country. In the meantime all the London papers had misrepresented this
affair in the most scandalous and unprincipled manner, and every one of
them agreeing that I had made a groundless charge against Cleary, and
intimating that the story of the letter was a fabrication. The gang had,
in reality, contrived to raise a general outcry against me. Monday,
however, came, too soon for _them_, and on the hustings I then produced
the letter, and offered to read it; but the tumult raised by the party,
totally prevented it from being heard. This being the case, I promised
to have it printed the next day. I kept my word, and one thousand copies
were circulated; upon which Cleary produced a letter from Mr. Cobbett,
said to have been addressed to a person of the name of Wright. In this
letter, written, I believe, ten years previous to this epoch, Mr.
Cobbett grossly abused me, and represented me as a _sad_ fellow, and
recommended to the _Westminster committee_ to have nothing to do with
me. As on the face of it this epistle appeared to have been written some
years before I knew Mr. Cobbett, I felt no anger or resentment against
him; although it certainly showed that he possessed a bad heart, to be
capable of writing such gross and palpable falsehoods and malignant
calumny against a man whom he knew only by report; which man, report
must at the same time have convinced him, was a zealous and persevering
friend of Liberty. The former cry was now dropped, and in its place was
substituted another. It was impudently pretended that I had behaved very
unhandsomely, in producing and publishing a private letter of Cleary's;
though the fact was, that it was a _public_ letter written upon public
business, by a man who was a sort of public general secretary for all
public matters debated on and meetings held in Westminster, and who was
also the paid secretary to Major Cartwright and the Hampden Club! To
bring forward a charge of this kind against me, was stretching impudence
and falsehood as far as they could possibly go.

The next morning a note was put into my hands, which had been delivered
open at my lodgings, on the preceding night, after I had retired to bed.
This detestable composition contained a challenge from Mister Cleary,
together with a great deal of vulgar Billingsgate abuse. I inquired who
delivered it, and I was informed that between twelve and one o'clock,

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