Lord Liverpool had been appointed First Lord of the Treasury, and Mr. Vansittart Chancellor of the Exchequer, before the dissolution of the old Parliament. A number of naval actions took place, which answered no other good purpose but to establish the bravery of our seamen, which was and had been for a long time established beyond the possibility of a doubt; so these expeditions only added to the waste of human blood, and of the treasures of the country. The new Parliament met on the 24th of November, but very little business was done before Christmas, except granting a sum of 200,000l. of John Gull's money to the Russians, as a compensation for the losses which they had suffered by the invasion of the French!
Thus ended the year 1812; the supplies voted out of John Gull's pocket being sixty-two millions, three hundred and seventy-six thousand, three hundred and fifty-eight pounds. The average price of wheat, per quarter, was six pounds four shillings and eight-pence, and of the quartern loaf, one and sixpence. The return of the notes of the Bank of England in circulation was twenty-three millions. By a return made to Parliament it was ascertained that out of ten thousand two hundred and sixty-one incumbents in England and Wales, only 4421 were residents: the remaining 5840 were of course non-residents; yet this precious priesthood of the established Church is receiving yearly upwards of five millions of pounds out of the earnings of John Gull! So much for politics, and so much for religion!
All my time was now occupied in preparing my evidence, to prove the allegations in my petition, the hearing of which was to come on in February. I found it necessary to take lodgings in London, as I meant to conduct the whole of the proceedings in person, on the part of myself and the petitioners. I had to apply to the Speaker for his warrants, to summon witnesses, and, amongst others, Mr. Perpetual Under Sheriff, to produce the poll, and other witnesses to produce books, papers, &c. &c.
In all these applications I found no difficulty in procuring warrants to make the parties produce whatever I applied for. At last it occurred to me, that this would be an excellent opportunity to get hold of the books of the Corporation, which were kept in the Chamberlain's office; which office was held so sacred, and the books therein contained were considered as such rare and valuable matter, that even the Members of the Corporation themselves were excluded, and could not gain access to the books, without a particular order from the Court of Aldermen. I was, however, determined at least to make an attempt to get into this sanctum sanctorum, by means of a Speaker's warrant. I never communicated my intention to a living soul; but I at length decided upon a copy of a warrant, that I thought would answer the purpose, which was to be directed to the Mayor, the Town Clerk, and the Chamberlain of the City, summoning them to appear before the Committee of the House of Commons, ordering them to permit myself and the other petitioners to have access to all the deeds, books, papers, and accounts, belonging to the Corporation, whether in the Chamberlain's office or elsewhere, and to allow us to take copies or extracts from such deeds, books, papers, or accounts, and to produce before the Committee any part of the said books and papers, that the said petitioners might require, on their giving due notice of the same, &c. &c. &c.
Having settled all this in my mind, I went to the Speaker's clerk, and desired him to draw me up a warrant to the above effect, and to get it signed by the Speaker. When he read it over he stared, and observed that it was a most sweeping warrant, and such a one as he had never before known applied for or granted. I told him it was not possible for me to complete my case before the Committee, unless I could produce some of these books, and that it was much more rational to give me power to go down and examine them upon the spot, than it would be to direct the Chamberlain to bring up a waggon load of books, to lay before the Committee, when, perhaps, three or four of them would be all that I might require. He concurred in the propriety of this remark, and appeared extremely ready to assist me in procuring the Speaker's signature, and said he would lay it upon his table the moment he had eaten his dinner. But, as it was very important for me to get this document signed, I suggested to him the advantage that might arise from his laying the warrant, with several others, before the Speaker just as he was going to sit down to dinner, as in that case he might sign it with the others, as a matter of course. This hint was made a proper use of. At half-past seven, on the same evening, I received the much-longed-for warrant from the Clerk of the Speaker, at his house in Palace-yard; at half-past eight on the same evening, (Saturday) I was safely seated in the Bristol Mail at the Gloucester Coffee-house; and, on the Monday morning following, I contrived that the Mayor, the Town Clerk, and the Chamberlain should be all served with the warrants at one and the same time! I myself delivered that which was addressed to Mr. Winter Harris, the Chamberlain.
The warrant was peremptory, but the Chamberlain required a short time to consult his brother officers of the Corporation, which I readily granted, and appointed to return at the end of two hours, to commence my examinations. I attended with my friends, at the time appointed, and found that the Mayor and the Chamberlain had got a good fire prepared in the adjoining Council Chamber, with pens, ink, and stationary. This room, they said, should be appropriated to our use, and we could have as many of the books at a time from the Chamberlain's office, as I might require. Both parties were very well satisfied with this arrangement, and we immediately sat to work, and continued at it for seven or eight hours in the day, till I had looked over all the books, papers, and deeds, belonging to the said Corporation, and taken what copies and extracts I thought proper. In this labour I was incessantly occupied for several days; I think nearly a week. I took copies of some most curious and valuable documents, many of which were published, by my old and worthy friend Cranidge, in the year 1818, I having made him a present of the manuscript for that purpose. I will here insert as specimens, two or three items which I transcribed from the cash-book
1793. Oct. 12.—Paid Lord Viscount Bateman, to reimburse him and the Officers and Men of the Herefordshire Militia, the extra expenses they have lately been put to, in providing accommodation for the said Militia at the time of the late Riots in this City, viz.—THE BRIDGE.... L105 0 0
This is an item worthy to be recorded in every publication relating to the city of Bristol, Lord Bateman was Col. Commandant of the Herefordshire Militia, at the time when they fired upon, and massacred the citizens of Bristol, at the memorable slaughter at the Bridge, in the year 1793. Was this hundred guineas the price of that slaughter? This curious fact would never have been known, had it not been for our famous all-powerful Speaker's warrant. I understand that many of the Corporation were astonished, when this fact was published; they never having heard of it, or dreamed that 105l. of the citizens own money was paid to this Lord, for ordering his troops to fire upon them!
1793. L. s. d. Oct.—Paid George Daubeny, Esq. for rais- ing Bristol volunteers........... 300 0 0 1801.—Paid expenses during the Market Riots, &c. on account of the dear- ness of Provisions, in the month of April, 1801.................. 117 7 4 N. B. The Chamberlain's Salary was this year raised from 62l. 10s. per quarter, to 125l. per quarter, making the annual amount...... 500 0 0 1806.—Paid GEORGE WEBB HALL, at sun- dry times, towards passing the Bristol Paving Bill........... 1,000 0 0 1810.—Paid commemorating the National Jubilee on the 25th October, 1809 337 11 4 1811.—Paid John Noble, Esq. for Wine sent to the Lord High Steward, the Recorder, and the two Members of Parliament.................... 315 0 0 N. B. This is an annual gift from the freemen. 1811.—Paid on account of the expenses of the invitation and the visit of
Lord Grenville, to an entertainment L. s. d. given him by the Citizens, as High Steward, in May, 1811... 1,393 11 0
1812. July 14.—Paid John H. Wilcocks, Mayor, the monies expended by him in entertaining the MILITARY, viz. (the East Middlesex Militia and Scots Greys) at the Mayoralty House; and for Beer for GUARDS MOUNTED IN THE CITY DURING THE ELECTION, VIZ.................... 437 O 4 1812. Sept.—Paid J. M. Gutch, for printing Advertisements for calling a Public Meeting of the Citizens to address the Prince Regent on the Death of the Right Hon. Spencer Perceval, Chancellor of the Exchequer..................... 52 18 0
Only let the reader cast his eye over the foregoing items, extracted from amongst some thousands of a similar nature; few as they are, they will serve as a specimen of the manner in which the Corporation of the city of Bristol spend the monies of the citizens; for whom, be it remembered, they only act as trustees. Lord Bateman was the Colonel of the Herefordshire Militia, who fired upon the citizens, and slaughtered a number of them; and his Lordship received one hundred guineas for this valiant and humane feat!! The Chamberlain's salary is raised, is doubled, in the year 1801, in consequence of the high price of provisions. Quere, has it been lowered again, now that the price of provisions is fallen? The item of July the 14th, 1812, is such as I do not believe disgraces the books of any other Corporation in England; between four and five hundred pounds paid to the military, by the civil power, for services performed during the election, some of which services I have before noticed. Four hundred and thirty-seven pounds paid to the military, for preventing the election of HENRY HUNT for the city of Bristol, in the year 1812. The item of 52l. 18s. for advertising a public meeting of the citizens of Bristol, to address the Prince Regent on the death of Spencer Perceval, is another precious proof of shameful, or rather shameless, expenditure. Why, five pounds would have been ample, to have informed every inhabitant of the city of it. But here, however, is 52l. 18s. paid to one corrupt knave of an editor, merely for calling a meeting! No wonder these caitiff editors are such time-serving tools, when they can get so profusely paid for their mercenary loyalty. This is a pretty bill of goggle-eyed Gutch, and for a pretty purpose too. This shews the expense of getting up a loyal meeting! During the whole time that I was taking the above extracts, and all those which have been published by Mr. John Cranidge, not only the Chamberlain, but the whole Corporation, were in a state of fever and the greatest agitation. This, however, did not prevent my steadily persevering in my purpose. These impudent fellows of Bristol city, who were the greatest tyrants in Christendom over those whose fate it is to be placed in their power, were quite tame, were civil, and even polite for Bristol chaps! So it is always; a subdued tyrant is the most tame, time-serving, abject slave in the world.
Perhaps there never before was such a mass of fraud and chicanery discovered and exposed. There might be seen charities upon charities, vast estates left for charitable purposes, producing a large annual income, and which, if fairly let, would produce an enormous increase, at least three times the sum; but one and all of these, with their immense revenue and patronage, were misapplied and perverted to corrupt electioneering purposes! In fact, whenever I could come at the truth, there did not appear to be a single charity in the whole city, whether vested in the Corporation or not, and great numbers there are, but what was perverted to electioneering purposes. Hospitals, schools, alms-houses, charities for apprenticeing freemen's sons—charities for setting up young freemen in business—charities for lying-in women—charities for widows—charities for orphans, in fact, all sorts of charities, all were rendered subservient to the accursed purpose of rivetting the fetters of the people, by being made instruments of bribery. In the first place, the original property is in most instances granted out upon long leases, or upon lives, for a mere nominal premium and nominal rent, to the tools and dependents of the Corporation. In truth, almost all the Corporation, all their dirty instruments, and the major part of the parsons and lawyers, are tenants. Large sums of money are lent by the Corporation, to the members of the Corporation, at mere nominal interest. Almost all the merchants and tradesmen of the city hold something under the Corporation, and at the time of the elections are their abject tools;—but to give a full and faithful account of these, would be to write the history of Bristol, and, as that is not my purpose, I shall proceed to other matters, not, however, till I have strongly recommended to every one, who is in any way connected with that city, to read the book published by John Cranidge, A.M. in the year 1818, entitled, "A Mirror for the Burgesses and Commonalty of the City of Bristol; in which is exhibited to their view, a part of the great and many interesting benefactions and endowments, of which the city has to boast, and for which the CORPORATION are responsible, as the stewards and trustees thereof: correctly transcribed from authentic documents, by John Cranidge, A.M."
It is very true, as Mr. Cranidge asserts, that the Corporation are the trustees for the freemen and burgesses, to whom they are, or rather ought to be, responsible. Having made myself complete master of this subject, I had resolved in my own mind, in case I had been elected the member for the city of Bristol, to make these worthies, the Corporation, really and not nominally responsible; and, with the blessing of God, I would have made them account for and refund those enormous sums and immense funds which they had so disgracefully, so infamously, misapplied. The charities are so numerous and so ample, that I firmly believe, if the property belonging to them were fairly let and made the most of, there would not be a citizen of Bristol that would not be handsomely provided for out of these funds. No city in the world ever produced more philanthropists, or more misanthropists, than the city of Bristol. No city of its size in the world can boast more charitable institutions—no city is more degraded by poverty and wretchedness amongst its inhabitants, mainly created by the corrupt misapplication of those very charities.
On the 24th or the 25th of February, 1813, the Committee was ballotted for in the House of Commons; the petitioners and the sitting members each striking out a certain number till they were reduced to thirteen, which, together with the nominee for each party, made fifteen, as follows——
Michael Angelo Taylor, Esq. Member for Poole, Chairman. P. Grenfell, Esq. Great Marlow. Philip Gell, Esq. Penryn. Hon. R. Neville, Berkshire. H. Pierce, Esq. Northampton. Abel Smith. Esq. Wendover. Lord G. Russell, Bedford. C. Harvey, Esq. Norwich. T. Whitmore, Esq. Bridgenorth. G. Shiffner, Esq. Lewes. D.S. Dugdale, Esq. Warwick. J. Daley, Esq. Galway. B. Lester Lester, Esq. Poole.
Sir Francis Burdett, Bart. Westminster; for the Petitioners. Sir James Graham, Bart. Carlisle; for the Sitting Members.
Richard Hart Davis, Esq—Edward Protheroe, Esq.
1st. Henry Hunt, Esq.—2nd. Wm. Pimm, T. Pimm, Wm. Weech, T. Gamage, Electors.
Counsel for Mr. Davis, Mr. Warren and Mr. Harrison. Counsel for Mr. Protheroe, Mr. Adam & Mr. Randle Jackson.
Mr. Hunt appeared in person for himself and other petitioners.
The parties were all called to the bar of the House, when the names of the Committee were called over, and the 26th was appointed for commencing the proceedings.
On the 26th of February, 1813, the Committee assembled at twelve o'clock, and I opened the proceedings by an address of about two hours in length, in which I laid before them my case; a case containing a detail of the evidence by which I meant to substantiate the charges and allegations contained in the petition. The hearing of this petition lasted fourteen days, and it concluded by the Committee deciding "that the Sitting Members were duly elected, but that the petition was not frivolous or vexatious." So each party had the pleasure of paying his own costs. My expenses I estimated at about six hundred pounds. The whole of the mighty subscriptions which I was to have received from the friends of Sir Samuel Romilly, amounted to the amazing sum of TWENTY-FIVE POUNDS, and no more; which sum exactly paid one of my witnesses, Mr. Alderman Vaughan. I have heard since that there was a much larger sum subscribed; but, if it was so, somebody else took care of that. I can only say that was the whole amount that ever came to my hands, or was ever appropriated to pay any part of the expenses that I incurred, Many of my friends paid their own expenses to London and back, as witnesses, and raised a subscription to pay the expenses of other friendly witnesses; and I believe some of the petitioners were sued for some expenses afterwards. It was calculated that the sum expended by the sitting members in resisting the petition, was not less than four thousand pounds. All that I can say is, I am quite confident that had the Committee been chosen from a House of Commons fairly elected by the people of England, or had they been the honest representatives of the people of England, instead of being, as they were, the representatives of corrupt and rotten boroughs, and corrupt and rotten influence, I repeat, I am quite sure that I proved abundantly sufficient to have rendered it a void election. But it must be borne in mind, that this Committee was chosen from as corrupt and profligate a Boroughmongering Parliament as ever disgraced the Parliamentary annals of once free and happy England.
I now retired once more to my farm, at Rowfant, in Sussex; and although pretty much minus in pocket, I had yet the gratification of being conscious that I had done my duty to the people of Bristol, and had effected a great national good, by the exposures which I had made of the corrupt state of the representation, even in what was called a popular representation of a populous and free city. So satisfied were the people of Bristol with my exertions, that they invited me down to a public dinner, as a testimony that, although I was unsuccessful, still the Citizens of Bristol were not insensible of the services which I had rendered them, by making an effort in their behalf, and fighting so gallantly their battle and the battle of Reform. I was received with every demonstration of respect; and indeed with increased enthusiasm and attention by all classes of the citizens, except the corrupt factions and their corrupt and time-serving dependants and tools. These testimonials of respect and attachment to me, as the avowed champion of Radical Reform, were excessively galling to the Corporation, and to the corrupt knaves of attorneys, parsons, merchants, and pettyfoggers of all sorts, who lived on the taxes, and battened on the distresses of the people; those, in short, who were gorging upon the vitals of the poor, rioting in luxury, and wallowing in wealth, wrung from the sweat of the labourers' and mechanics' brows.
During these public exertions I had not been inattentive to the management of my farm. As I had made up my mind not to remain at Rowfant; first, because it was not a profitable farm to occupy; and, second, because the situation of the country being low, and damp in the winter, did not agree with me, and had caused me to suffer very considerable ill health from rheumatism, I was induced to improve the estate, more with an idea of disposing of the lease, than with the intention of making any immediate profit from the cultivation of the soil. In this object I completely succeeded. I so effectually on my own principles drained a great part of arable, as well as of the pasture land, that it paid me an hundred-fold; for, during the spring and summer of 1813, no farm in the kingdom had a more flourishing appearance, or bid fairer for better crops. Every thing was beautiful and luxuriant, and put on such a face as would have done credit to the cultivation of the very best land, much more to a poor, hungry, deceitful and barren soil, which a great portion of this farm at Rowfant really was. I advertised the lease to be sold, and very soon had some customers, with one of whom I quickly struck a bargain, and disposed of my lease and crops, the whole of which the purchaser undertook to take off my hands at a valuation, as soon as it could be made. Some of my speculations upon this estate completely failed. I had sunk a considerable sum in endeavouring to keep a flock of sheep, for which the farm was by no means congenial; added to this, my flock became infected with the foot rot, having been contaminated by the few half Southdown half Merinos which I had purchased of Mr. Dean, of Chard, of which unfortunate deal I have before spoken. In calculating the loss which I sustained by purchasing these sheep, which were unsound, and infected with that incurable disorder (at least incurable upon a wet soil), I then placed it as before, much below the mark; for I sincerely believe I was ultimately two hundred pounds out of pocket by the bargain, notwithstanding the infamous falsehoods of the infamous editor of the Taunton Courier.
Another speculation, in which I was very unfortunate, was the making of charcoal. I had a very fine lot of wood, which I could not dispose of, and I was therefore advised to make it into charcoal, as other farmers in that neighbourhood were accustomed to do. In fact, there did not appear any other rational method of disposing of my wood, which I had been obliged to take at a valuation when I took the estate. Well, I hired a man to make this charcoal; so far the business succeeded, for as it was very fine wood, so it produced a large quantity of very nice charcoal, as good as ever was seen. But then the next thing was to procure sacks to put it in, that it might be sent to the London market for sale. It required two-hundred and forty sacks, of about two bushels each, to make a load; these were ordered from a manufacturer at East Grinstead. The charcoal was loaded and sent off to London, altogether as good a set-out as ever passed over Blackfriars Bridge. A customer was soon found, but I never touched the cash, nor ever saw my 240 sacks again, so that the whole was a dead loss of about fifty pounds. Thus ended my speculations in charcoal, as I was determined that I would never cut any more wood as long as I kept the estate, but that I would let it grow for the next person who should follow me, to try, if he pleased, his hand at dealing in charcoal; it appeared to me to be wise to put up with the first loss, and quit the concern.
I had, in the whole, expended six thousand pounds in the purchase of what I took to when I entered upon this farm, and in the improvement which I had made in cultivation, stock, &c. I sold my lease for two thousand pounds, and the valuations were to the amount of six thousand more; the whole sum being eight thousand pounds, which was paid me on the nail, by Richard Crawshaw, Esq. the present proprietor; and I took my leave of Rowfant, bearing away with me two thousand pounds more than I carried thither. This was such an occurrence as had never been known, in the memory of man, to have happened to any stranger that had come to reside in the parish of Worth—that of leaving the parish richer than he entered it.
On the same morning that I received this money, which was paid me in one thousand pounds' Bank notes, I called at the Bank of England, to change one of the thousand pound notes. I was desired to present it to the inspector, which I did, and he made his mark upon it as good, and tore off at the lower corner the name of the person who had entered it. He then desired me to carry it back to the clerk, to whom I had first presented it for payment; I did so, and presented it again. The gentleman inquired in what notes I should like to have the change? I replied, one five hundred, and five of one hundred each. Drawing the pen from behind his ear, and dipping it in the ink, he handed it to me, together with the note, saying, "write your name and address on the back of the note, I will give you the change immediately." I stared the jockey full in the face for a short time, which stare he returned; and then exclaimed, "come, Sir, write your name and address." "Not I, indeed," was the answer. "What," said he, in a loud voice, "what, refuse to sign your name?" "Yes," said I, "I do refuse to sign my name." This was said in about two keys higher than Mr. Clerk's interrogatory. "Well, then," said he, "I shall not give you the change, till you do sign your name and address upon the back of the note." "What," said I, raising my voice still higher, "back one of your notes for a thousand pounds? Indeed, I shall do no such thing! I have not confidence enough in your firm to back one of your one pound notes, and much less one of your notes for a thousand pounds."
By this time I had a mob collected round me, some professing to be astonished at my impudence, but others unequivocally expressing their approbation of my conduct; adding, that they were very happy to hear me take these impudent, all-sufficient gentlemen clerks to task a little. The former set, who expressed their astonishment, seemed, from the cut of their coats, and the turn of their phizzes, to be bankers' and merchants' clerks; but many of the latter seemed to be gentlemen. I continued boldly to demand any change, or my note. The latter was instantly handed to me; but, as it was mutilated, and the name of the person, by whom it had been entered, had been torn off by the inspector, I declined to take it. Mr. Clerk as resolutely refused to give me the change, saying, that they had positive orders not to take any notes of that description, above 50l. from a stranger, without his name and address were endorsed on the note. I demanded what law there was for such a proceeding, but I could get no answer. I then demanded to see the Governor; but I was told that he was engaged, and could not be spoken with. I asked if it was not a good note? They replied "yes, it was admitted to be so by the inspector." "Then," said I, "as you have mutilated the note, and refuse to give me change; and as you also refuse to admit me to the Governor, I will swear the debt of 1000l. against the Governor and Company of the Bank of England; and if there is an independent attorney in London, I will instantly strike a docket against them. On hearing this they all started; all the clerks stood with their pens behind their ears; all business was at an end; and, as I spoke loud, every man in the Rotunda heard what I said. Two or three gentlemen present gave me their cards of address, promising to come forward, to prove that the clerk refused payment, and denied the Governor of the Bank, which, as I said, was evidently an act of bankruptcy; and they offered me numerous thanks for calling these impudent gentry to account, and checking their usual insolence, which, many of them said, was unpardonable. I repeated my declaration, and walked out of the Bank, leaving my note in their hands, and all the clerks half petrified and gazing on each other in utter astonishment.
I tried three or four attorneys, to induce them to strike a docket against the Governor and Company of the Bank of England, and offered to make an affidavit of the debt, the refusal of payment, and the denial of the Governor. But I could not get one of these worthies to move a peg in the affair; so I left the note where it was, and went into the country for three or four days.
Upon my return to my inn in London, Cooper's Hotel, in Bouverie-street, I found a letter from Mr. Henry Hase, the cashier of the Bank of England. It seems that, on my quitting the Bank, they sent some one to dog me to the inn, and by these means they found out who I was. The letter was couched in very civil language, requesting me to call for the thousand pounds, or offering to send it to me to the inn, in any notes I pleased. The next day I called at the Bank, with my son, who was then about fourteen years of age, being determined, one way or another, to set at rest this question of giving names. I gave to my son a five hundred pound note, to put in his pocket, that he might, at a proper time demand it to be exchanged; for it was a mockery to call it payment, it being only exchanging one PROMISE TO PAY for another PROMISE TO PAY. On my arrival at the Bank, I demanded to see Mr. Hase. Business was at an end the moment that I entered the Rotunda, the clerks all having their eyes fixed upon me. I was immediately introduced to Mr. Hase, in his private room, and I expostulated with him against such illegal conduct as I had experienced. I was introduced by him to the Governor, who, together with Mr. Hase, admitted that there was no law to compel any person to sign his name or give his address; but they said it was, nevertheless, their invariable practice not to exchange a note above fifty pounds for any stranger, without first obtaining his name and address, and they pleaded the necessity of this, to enable them to trace forgeries or robberies; and they proceeded to say, that they did so for the benefit of the public. I contended, on the contrary, that it was not only illegal, but an insult upon the public, and a particular insult to the person presenting the note to be exchanged (I always calling it exchanged, they always calling it payment); for, after their inspector had admitted the note to be a good one, they had no legal or moral right to refuse to exchange it for other notes. I candidly told them that I had kept my promise, and that I had seriously endeavoured to get a DOCKET struck against thein, for an act of bankruptcy. The Governor smiled, but Mr. Hase looked very grave. They, however, apologised for the trouble which I had experienced; Mr. Hase adding, "it will not happen again, Mr. Hunt. As you are now so well known to the clerks, they will not require your name in future. We certainly ought, (continued he) to have known you, as we recollect that you brought an action against Messrs. Hobhouse, Clutterbuck and Co. bankers, of Bath, because they would not pay you their notes in cash; you having refused to take Bank of England notes in exchange. We know that you are an enemy to our paper system; but we recognise you as an honourable and open enemy."
A good deal of such conversation passed between us, and it ended by a polite offer, on the part of the Governor, to shew me and my son over the establishment. As I was rather in a hurry, and had other business to do, I declined on that account to accept the offer. Mr. Hase then said, with a smile, that he would feel pleasure in taking another opportunity to shew me over their whole establishment, when he had no doubt but he should convince me of their solvency.
I now took my leave of the Governor, and Mr. Hase accompanied me out to the clerk, and desired him to give Mr. Hunt change for his note, in any sums which he might choose. He then made his bow, and quitted me. When this was arranged, my son, whose name was unknown, produced his note for five hundred pounds. It was, as usual, handed to the inspector, amidst the inquiring eyes of all the clerks. It was marked as a good one, and my son returned to the clerk, and demanded five hundred pound notes. Mr. Clerk handed him the pen, and desired him to write his name and address; to which he replied, that he should certainly do neither, but that he insisted on the change. The clerk refused, saying it was as much as his situation was worth to comply. I was, meanwhile, taking down notes with a pencil in my pocket-book, without saying one word, except that I would be a witness for him. The whole place was again in a state of uproar, but my young friend was immovable, and acted his part like a hero. At length Mr. Hase was called out again, and the clerk informed him that the youth refused to give his name, and he wished to know if he must pay him the five one hundred pound notes without it. For a moment Mr. Hase lost his temper, and positively ordered the clerk not to pay it unless the usual custom was complied with; and he began in a pettish manner to question my son, and in a peremptory tone demanded his name. The younker, however, as peremptorily and as sturdily refused to comply. Mr. Hase was just going away in dudgeon, when he happened to cast his eye upon me, and perceived that I was deliberately taking down all that passed without saying a word; upon which, instantly recollecting himself, he turned back, and laughing, said to the clerk, "pay him the notes; as he is with Mr. Hunt we can call upon him to give us his name, if ever it should be found necessary." Then, patting my son upon the shoulder, he added, "recollect, young gentleman, that you are the first who ever left the Bank with such a sum without giving his name." He then turned to me, and said, "You have carried your point, Mr. Hunt; good morning." I answered sarcastically, "good morning, Mr. Cashier." The clerk having paid my son the notes, I bade him good morning, telling him, at the same time, that I was very sorry he should have given himself and his master so much unnecessary trouble. My son also significantly nodding his head, and patting his pocket, added his "good morning, Mr. Clerk;" and off we marched, amidst the cheers of a very considerable multitude, who had collected and listened to this curious dialogue. Amongst the number was one of the gentlemen who had given me his address on the previous day, when I left my thousand pounds; and he heartily thanked me for having brought these Jacks-in-office for once to their senses, and compelled them to act agreeably to the law, which they had so long been in the habit of setting at defiance.
I now went to reside at Middleton Cottage, in Hampshire, situated on the London-road, about three miles from Andover, which I rented of James Widmore, Esq. together with the manor of Longparish, extending over a very fine sporting country, of eight or ten thousand acres, well stocked with game, particularly partridges and pheasants. As I found that farming was become a very expensive amusement, and that in consequence of the great increase of poor's rates and king's taxes, the profits attending the best managed farm were very precarious, I had made up my mind to remain out of business rather than run the risk of sinking my capital without any corresponding chance of making it pay common interest; and, therefore, for a while I lived at Middleton Cottage, enjoying domestic happiness, combined with the sports of the field. I soon, however, found that I was not formed for an idle life. Although I took more exercise, in shooting and fishing, than most men in business are in the habit of taking, yet some more serious occupation was required to fill up the measure of my time. An opportunity having also offered for me to resume my agricultural pursuits, by the lease of Cold Hanly Farm, near the Borough of Whitchurch, being sold by auction, I was induced, from the representations of my attorney (who I afterwards discovered to have been interested in the sale of this lease), to purchase it, and I entered upon the farm early in the year 1814. This certainly was a bad speculation, as the lease had only three years to run. I bought in the stock upon this farm at a very high price. Many of my horses cost me upwards of fifty pounds each, and all the other farming stock a proportionably high price. My principal inducement to take this farm, which contained about four hundred acres of land, was my wish to try the experiment of raising large crops of corn in the manner recommended in Tull's Husbandry; which work I had been reading with great pleasure, on the recommendation of Mr. Cobbett, who had begun partially to adopt the system of drilling at wide intervals, as practised by the late Mr. Jetheroe Tull, of Shalbourn, near Hungerford, Berks. There is something very captivating in the language of Mr. Tull's writings upon cultivation. It is so clear and so reasonable, that, when combined with the facts which he lays before the reader, as to the nature and the amount of the crops raised by him, every line almost carries conviction with it. Unfortunately, both Mr. Cobbett and myself placed too great reliance on the opinions and assertions of Mr. Tull. We both suffered severely in pocket, by persevering too long in, and acting too extensively upon, the plan of drilling wheat at wide intervals, as laid down by Tull. I do not mean to insinuate that Mr. Tull ever stated the amount of his crops to be better in quality, or more in quantity, than they really were; but I have no hesitation in saying, that the climate of England must have been very different in the time of Mr. Tull from what it was in the days of Mr. Cobbett and Mr. Hunt, to have produced either the quantity or the quality of wheat which Mr. Tull says was produced per acre upon his farm, according to his system. When I found the practice fail, and that wheat was blighted upon the high hills and cold soil of Hampshire, I took a farm into my own hands at Upavon, in Wiltshire, for the purpose of giving the system a fair trial. Nay, so convinced was I of the truth of the principles laid down by Tull, respecting the food of plants, and such reliance did I place upon the truth of his assertions, that I persevered one or two years after Mr. Cobbett had given the thing up as a hopeless and losing speculation. I mean to be understood only as far as relates to the drilling of wheat at four feet intervals, to plough between the rows; for the practice certainly succeeds with turnips, to the full description of any thing given by Tull. Mr. Cobbett, I see, has lately republished the work of Tull, and I therefore caution such of my friends as may read that work, not to be led away with the beautiful theory of Mr. Tull, so as to adopt the plan of drilling wheat to any extent. In certain soils it may succeed with barley; but in these times it is too expensive a system for any one to pursue with advantage to any extent. Those who have good light ploughing sandy, or sandy loam soils, will find it answer their most sanguine expectations, in turnips of any sort, and particularly in the cultivation of Swedish turnips. Of course, I only address myself to those farmers who superintend the whole progress of drilling, transplanting, hoeing and ploughing; for Tull's is not a system to answer if trusted to servants. I can only say for myself, that I adhered to the system so long, that I believe I was minus by it, first and last, above a thousand pounds, and I believe Mr. Cobbett was a loser to an equal degree.
We must now turn our attention again to politics. The immense losses sustained by the French in their retreat from Moscow to the Russian frontier, compelled them to continue their retreat, and from Wilna Napoleon set off for Paris. The treacherous Prussians now betrayed him; their General led the way by entering into a convention, and the King followed by joining the coalition. Many places fell, and the victorious Russians entered Warsaw, and advanced to the Elbe. Jaded and dispirited, the French troops were defeated in almost every battle; in fact they had never recovered the effect of the dreadful ravages committed upon their ranks by the horrors of a Russian winter. Russia, Prussia, and Sweden now all leagued together, and supported by the treasures of England, the wealth of the British nation, wrung from the sweat of John Gull's brow, was lavished to maintain the armies of the Northern hordes, which were advancing against France. John Gull was stark mad with joy at the news of the defeat of the French; and the general cry amongst the shopkeepers and farmers was, "down with Buonaparte, cost what it will!" They not only were willing to advance large sums in taxes, but the Parliament was encouraged and hallooed on, by what are called the middle classes, to borrow and spend without controul. O how drunk the farmers used to get at every account that reached England of the ill success and the defeat of the French! John would at this time not only have spent his last shilling, but he was ready to pawn even his breeches off his rump, to support the Ministers in their extravagance.
Upon Napoleon's return to Paris he laid the state of his affairs candidly before the Senate, and they immediately voted him 350,000 men to repair his losses. Having accomplished this point, he was not disposed, like some of his Royal enemies, to waste his time in the lap of luxury and slothful, inglorious idleness; he therefore set off and joined his army again at Mentz, on the 20th of April. He opened the campaign by the battle of Leitzen, in which the French arms were once more victorious. This was followed up by two successful battles at Baultzen and Wiertzen, which compelled the Allies to repass the Oder. Napoleon then proposed an armistice, which was accepted; but, as the terms of peace could not be settled, the war re-commenced, and with great disadvantage to the French. The Crown Prince of Sweden, who had deserted his benefactor, and joined the Allies against him in the North of Germany, now took the field with a formidable army. But the fatal blow to Napoleon was the defection of Austria, which never joined the coalition on the 12th of August. The Allies having united all their forces, to the number of 180,000 men, the French army now took up a position on the river Elbe, and attacked Napoleon in his position near Dresden; but they were foiled, and compelled to retire into Bohemia by the superiority of his military skill. This advantage was, however, rendered of no avail by the loss of a division of 12,000 men under Vandamme, who had imprudently entangled himself in the defiles of Bohemia, where he was surrounded and compelled to surrender. Macdonald was also defeated, with heavy loss, in Silesia; and Marshal Ney at Dennewitz. Bavaria, which owed so much to Napoleon, now not only abandoned him, but also united its forces with those of Austria, its natural enemy. Napoleon had by this time taken up a position in the neighbourhood of Leipsic, and to that spot the combined forces, consisting of 330,000 men, advanced to give him battle. The French army was not more than 175,000 strong. The battle, or rather succession of battles, lasted from the 16th to the 19th of October, and was sanguinary beyond example. The scale was, at length, decisively turned against the French by the desertion of the Saxons, who went over to the Allies, and turned their cannon against their recent comrades at the critical period of the contest. The French were compelled to commence their retreat, and by the destruction of a bridge their rear-guard was cut off, and made prisoners. They fell back towards the Rhine, and found the Bavarian army posted at Hanau to intercept them. The Bavarians were, however, defeated, and the French army reached the Rhine.
Napoleon now hasted to Paris, and having assembled the Senate, he laid before them the full particulars of his disastrous campaign, upon which they immediately ordered out 300,000 conscripts. At this time the news reached the French capital of the counter-revolution that had taken place in Holland—that Dresden had surrendered to the enemy with 23,000 men—that Westphalia was lost, and that the Dalmatian coast was occupied by the Austrians; in fact, that misfortune and defeat attended the French arms in every quarter. The arms of England meanwhile were victorious in Spain, and under Wellington gained a decisive victory at Vittoria. Wellington having stormed St. Sebastian, entered France without any interruption, and easily defeated the French at St. Jean de Leu and on the Nive. As, by the advance of Wellington into France, they had got rid of what were always considered by the Spanish people as equally troublesome intruders, namely, both the French and English armies, the Cortes began to act with some vigour; the Regency was dimissed, and a new one formed. The extraordinary Cortes were dissolved, and the ordinary Cortes summoned.
In America, Mr. Madison was elected President in the room of Mr. Jefferson. The Congress assembled, and a paper was laid before them that justified the war which they had entered into against England. One of their armies made an attempt upon Niagara, but it was repulsed. Dearborn was also obliged to retire from Lake Champlain. In the mean time the ports were declared to be in a state of blockade by the English. The Americans took York town, in Canada, and Mobille, in West Florida. The Emperor of Russia offered himself as mediator, and the President appointed three citizens to treat with England. On Lake Ontario the British fleet was successful; but on Lake Erie the Americans defeated the English fleet, and took the whole of her naval force in that quarter.
When the Parliament met, the British Ministers also laid papers upon the table to justify themselves from being in fault in making war upon America. The great cause of this war with America, be it remembered, was this: The English had always claimed a right to search all American vessels, and even ships of war, for English seamen, which, if found on board an American ship, were seized and forcibly removed on board English ships of war. This had been always complained of by the Americans as an unjust and arbitrary proceeding. But the English fleets being always masters of the ocean, the British claimed and enforced this right of search, which the Americans, not being able to resist, reluctantly submitted to, no doubt with a determination to throw off the galling yoke as soon as they thought themselves able to offer a successful resistance. They now believed that time to be arrived, and they resolved to make the attempt; and wherever they were strong enough they resisted all attempts to search. On the part of the Americans I may say that this was the only substantial cause of the war; all the other aggressions and insults that were offered by the English, (and they were many) might have been, and would, for some time at least, have been endured without an open rupture; the right of search by the English was therefore the grand matter in dispute.
Some debates took place in the House of Commons respecting the Princess of Wales, but nothing definite was agreed upon. At length, however, her conduct was inquired into, and as it was approved of, the public could no longer be restrained, by the intrigues of petty and interested politicians, from openly expressing their sentiments upon the subject of her ill-treatment. A Common Hall was called, on the suggestion of Alderman Wood, who got a requisition signed, and who moved the Resolutions and an Address to her Royal Highness, all which were strenuously opposed by Mr. Waithman, who was backed by the "well weighed opinion" of Mr. Sturch, of Westminster, so well known as having taken a very active part in the election of Sir F. Burdett. This was the first and the last time I ever knew Daddy Sturch, (as he is called in Westminster) appear upon the hustings at Guildhall, to address the Livery at a Common Hall. Nevertheless, in spite of the violent opposition of Mr. Waithman, and "the well weighed opinion" of Mr. Sturch, to which Mr. Waithman earnestly recommended the Livery to attend, the Address was carried by an overwhelming majority. Notwithstanding Mr. Waithman's objections to voting the Address, yet he fell in with the stream, and went up in his carriage with the procession, to present the Address to her Royal Highness, who then resided at Kensington Palace, and he received with great sang froid the sarcastic thanks and polite attention of the Princess.
I do not know that the circumstances attending the management of the various parties, who took a lead in this affair, have ever been placed in a clear light before the public, and possibly some of them may never be made known; but, as I am acquainted with many of the secret springs by which the parties were worked upon and moved, I will relate one of the intrigues of the City plotters, which delayed for a whole year the expression of the public opinion. While Mr. Cobbett was in Newgate, in the year 1812, Mr. Alderman Wood was very anxious to procure a Common Hall, to address her Royal Highness, and I was present when a requisition was drawn up, which he took away with him, for the purpose of getting it signed by a number of the Livery, that it might be presented to the Lord Mayor. On the next day, he came back, and said that he had found it almost impossible to succeed; that when they became acquainted with his object, the friends of Mr. Waithman had so actively exerted themselves to prevent the calling a Common Hall, that he was induced to decline proceeding at that time, he being fully convinced that, even if he procured a meeting, there would be such an opposition to the Address that it would be imprudent for him at this moment to persevere. Thus it will be seen that the worthy Alderman was anxious to exert himself in favour of an Address to her Royal Highness, a full year before he could bring it to bear; and that the very same party in the city who, by dint of intrigue, contrived at that period to prevent the Common Hall, likewise strained every nerve to prevent the Address being carried, when the worthy Alderman did at length get a Hall of the Livery convened. Mr. Waithman, who found that there was a great public feeling in favour of the Princess of Wales, brought forward Mr. Sturch, (who had acquired a considerable degree of popularity in Westminster) to assist him at the Common Hall inputting down and neutralizing that honest feeling. He urged the Livery, if he had lost their confidence, and they did not choose to rely upon his advice, at least to listen with attention to the "well weighed opinion of his respectable and intelligent friend, Mr. STURCH." But all would not do! The City Cock was left in a contemptible minority, the honest efforts of the worthy Alderman Wood were crowned with complete success, the Address was carried by acclamation, and it was agreed that the Lord Mayor, Sheriffs, and Livery, dressed in their gowns, should carry up their Address, and present it to her Royal Highness at Kensington Palace; and, to crown the whole, Mr. Waithman, who had so pertinaciously opposed the Address, was one of the most conspicuous in the procession to carry it up to her Royal Highness, to whom this fact of his opposition was well known! There are some other curious circumstances, connected with this support of her Royal Highness at that epoch, which it may be necessary at a future time to lay before the public; and although, after what we have seen, they will not create any great surprise as to the conduct of the party concerned, yet they will doubtless excite the indignation of every honest man and woman in the country.
In consequence of this sort of conduct in Mr. Waithman, in his frequent opposition to the honest, straight-forward proceedings of Mr. Alderman Wood, I was induced to accept the invitation that had been often given me by Mr. Samuel Millar, as well as by many others, to become a Liveryman of the city, the expenses attending which, I was always told, should be discharged for me as soon as I would give my assent. At length I agreed to the proposal, solely with a view to endeavour to counteract the tricks and intrigues of the Whig or Waithmanite faction in the city, when assembled in Common Hall. Well, the time came, I obtained my freedom, and I was sworn a Liveryman in the Lorimer's Company. This was managed by Mr. Millar, through the instrumentality of Mr. Ireland, of Holborn-bridge; but instead of having the expenses paid for me, I had to pay the whole myself, which I believe were about fifty pounds. I shall not easily forget, when I appeared for the first time upon the hustings in Guildhall, what long faces were exhibited, and what surprise it created. On my stepping forward to address that Livery, the Lord Mayor, Scholey, jumped up out of his chair, and exclaimed, "is he a liveryman?" Mr. Millar answered significantly, "YES;" and I proceeded. At this period I found Mr. Millar, Mr. Thompson, the spirit-merchant, of Holborn-hill, and Mr. Alexander Galloway, with a few others, decidedly hostile to the measures of Mr. Waithman, but wanting the resolution and the confidence to oppose him openly.
I have been frequently reminded of particular events of my life that I have omitted in my Memoirs, many of which had for years been banished from my memory, and if I were to record every little incident which might occur to me I should extend my volumes to an unwieldy size. I have therefore been compelled to pass over many occurrences which some might think of importance, but I have been careful not to omit any part of my political history which I could recollect. One circumstance I shall notice, which has been recalled to my memory by the publication of a virulent although impotent attack upon my public and private character, by one of those mushroom politicians, of which class I have seen hundreds, who spring up in a day and are gone in an hour, and we hear no more of them. I have been reminded of the imprisonment of Mr. White, the proprietor and editor of the Independent Whig, a London weekly newspaper, which was published by him for many years with great public spirit and patriotic talent. As a public writer, I consider Mr. White to be a man of the most inflexible integrity, and although from the very title of his paper it may easily be conceived that Mr. White and myself were of opposite sentiments as to the course that ought to be followed to recover our lost rights and violated liberties, yet we never were at variance on that account. I always believed Mr. White to be a real friend to Liberty, and I believe that he considered me to be the same; consequently we never quarrelled about shades of difference in opinion how that liberty was to be obtained and secured. The Editor of the Independent Whig was also a zealous guardian of the right conferred by real, undisguised, and honest trial by jury. He was the lynx-eyed scrutinizer of the conduct of the Judges; the honest censor of the Courts of Justice; therefore, of all men he was the most likely to fall under the displeasure of the dispensers of the laws. To criticise fairly the conduct of the Judges, though it is one of the most necessary and the most honourable of occupations, is likewise one of the most dangerous. There is always plenty of room for severe animadversion, and the harpies of the Courts are always upon the look-out, to pounce upon and make victims of those who venture to animadvert on them. Having been justly strong in his censures upon the arbitrary and corrupt conduct of Lord Ellenborough, the Chief Justice of the Court of King's Bench, who was as violent and intemperate a political Judge that ever disgraced the Bench, Mr. White was prosecuted by the Attorney-General for a libel, and was sentenced to be imprisoned in Dorchester Gaol for three years. Mr. Hart, the printer of the Independent Whig, was imprisoned in Gloucester Gaol at the same time, for the same libel. I was not then personally acquainted with either of them; but in some newspaper, (most likely the Independent Whig) I read that Mr. Hart was subject to very great privations in Gloucester Gaol, and, amongst other things, that he was deprived of seeing his family and friends in private, he being obliged, even with his wife, to converse in the presence and hearing of a turnkey, through the iron bars of his dungeon door; and that he was very much restricted for room to walk in to procure fresh air. I was then living at Clifton, and had as yet entered but very little into politics; but from my earliest age I had been taught to hate oppression and practice humanity. I was told that the readers of the Independent Whig had met in Bristol, and in London also, I think, and passed some strong resolutions, and made some excellent speeches, condemning such inhuman and barbarous conduct; but still the restrictions remained the same, and these worthy men might have met and passed resolutions till the imprisonment of Mr. Hart had been at an end, without the slightest chance of rendering him any real service. As mere pity and speech-making could be of no use, I drove over in my curricle to Gloucester, a distance of nearly forty miles, to see what could be done for the aggrieved prisoner. I called at the prison, and asked to see Mr. Hart, but I was too late in the evening. I slept at the Bell, and called again the next morning, as soon as I could gain admittance, having employed the intermediate time in endeavouring to obtain information relating to the Gaol, the Visiting Magistrates, and other necessary particulars. As, however, I was a perfect stranger at Gloucester, I made but little progress; for every one I met appeared as shy of having any thing to say about the gaol, as if he were himself afraid of becoming an inmate in the horrid place. At length, I found a person of the name of Wittick, a hair-dresser, the genuine Dickey Gossip of the city, who was exactly what I wanted. Having told him my name and my business, he "let loose his tongue," and gave me such a history of some of the revolting scenes that occurred within the walls of their city bastile, as harrowed up my soul with horror. The victims of oppression and tyranny, as Wittick had described them, flitted before my imagination during the whole night, and I rose in the morning but little refreshed with my night's rest.
On my repairing to the Gaol I was admitted to the door of Mr. Hart's dungeon, and there I ascertained from his own mouth, and indeed from my own observation, the truth of the statements which I had seen in the paper. All that passed was in the presence of a turn-key, Mr. Hart standing in the inside, and I on the outside, of a door composed of iron bars. He said his wife was come from London, in hopes of being permitted to administer to his comforts, and to alleviate the horrors of his imprisonment; but she was nearly heart-broken, and was going to return the next day, as she had been refused by the Visiting Magistrates any further admission to him than to see him through the iron door; he added also, that his health was impaired by the want of fresh air, as he was only permitted to walk certain hours in the day, in a small court, surrounded with high walls, which excluded a free circulation of air and the genial influence of the sun. I told him who and what I was; and, as I had come from Clifton on purpose to endeavour to render him some assistance, I desired him to delay for a few days the departure of his wife, while in the interval I would do my best to procure her admission to him. As I was quite a stranger to the Magistrates, I could not answer for my success, but I would at any rate make the attempt. He thanked me, but with a deep sigh said, he feared my kindness would be in vain, though his wife should certainly not leave the place till I had tried the experiment.
I took leave of Mr. Hart, and repaired to the Visiting Magistrates; one of them was from home; the second, a parson, I think, heard what I had to say, was exceedingly civil and polite, but preached a good deal about good order and the necessity of keeping up a strict prison discipline. He, nevertheless, promised that he would do all that was in his power at the next meeting of the Magistrates, which would take place in a fortnight; but he emphatically observed, "you know I am but one, Mr. Hunt." "A fortnight!" I exclaimed, "why, Sir, the poor woman will leave Gloucester broken-hearted long before half that time arrives." "Come, come, Sir," replied he, "these things cannot be accomplished so easily as you imagine; and after all I must say, that although I promise to do every thing that lies in my power to serve the unfortunate prisoner, you must allow that his crime is a most heinous one. I cannot give you any great encouragement to hope that I shall succeed with Sir George Paull and the other Magistrates." This chap was a thorough Dr. Colston in his heart, and I left him with a determination not to trust my case in his hands. I next ordered my curricle and drove to Sir George Paull's. I was introduced to him immediately, and I communicated the object of my visit. He had received me very politely, but the moment that I mentioned my business, he drew up, and began to hesitate and make excuses. Before I left him, however, he admitted that Mr. Hart's case was a very hard one, and he promised most faithfully that he would do whatever was in his power to comply with my request, which was, that his wife might have free access to him, and that he might have the liberty of walking in a larger yard. But I found this could not be done under a fortnight, and he politely assured me that he would write me the result of the meeting of Magistrates.
Though in the manner of this gentleman, who I believe was chairman of the quarter sessions, there was something much more honest and open than in that of his brother justices, yet when I left him, to return to Gloucester, I was not satisfied that I had done all that I could do, and therefore I drove on to Bromsgrove, in Herefordshire, to call on Mr. Honeywood Yate, of whom I had heard as an independent Magistrate, as well as a friend of Reform. I soon enlisted him in the service; but he was very much engaged with other business, which, after awhile, as Mr. Yate was a very humane man, was made subservient to the cause of the oppressed and persecuted captive. Mr. Yate went to Gloucester the next day. Before I returned to Clifton I had the satisfaction of hearing that there was an order made for Mrs. Hart to visit her husband in his room, and for him to walk in the garden, I think, of the Governor. To the kindness and humanity of Mr. Yate was Mr. Hart greatly indebted for this indulgence. Without his assistance it might never have been granted; at any rate it would have been protracted to a cruel distance.
Since that period I have never seen Mr. Hart except once, and that was in London, after the term of his imprisonment had expired; and for the trouble which I had taken in his behalf, I was amply rewarded by the manner in which he expressed his sense of the accommodation that I had been so instrumental in procuring for him. If he read this, it will recall the whole to his recollection. Mr. White laboured under an asthmatic complaint, and suffered greatly from his confinement; but I understood that he was treated with proper respect and attention by the Magistrates. Pittman, who was then the head turnkey of Dorchester Gaol, called upon me the other day, and almost the first words he uttered were, that the apartments allotted to Mr. White and his family, in Dorchester Gaol, were quite a palace compared to the room in which he found me. He said that Mr. White had two airy rooms over the Chapel, which commanded a view of the circumjacent country, and that he had the liberty of walking round the large open area of the Gaol, which was composed of a beautiful gravel walk; that his was, in short, altogether a very comfortable situation compared to that which I occupy in Ilchester Bastile. He was here before the walls were lowered, and consequently, he saw the place in all its native wretchedness.
Before I proceed with my narrative, I must mention a few circumstances, which it will not be improper to record. At the latter end of this year, 1813, there was a most remarkable fog, which extended fifty or sixty miles round London, accompanied by a severe frost, which lasted six weeks without intermission. The average price of wheat this year was one hundred and seven shillings and ten-pence halfpenny, and the quartern loaf was one shilling and five-pence: these were glorious times for the farmers, whose antipathy to jacobins and levellers, or rather reformers, increased in proportion to the high price of corn and bread. To be sure John Gull was taxed pretty handsomely, but the farmers, at least such of them as looked only to self, always contrived to squeeze their taxes out of the earnings of the labourer. Those, on the contrary, who thought that the labourer had a right to something more than what would barely keep life and soul together, could not cultivate the soil to the same advantage. The supplies voted this year were SEVENTY-SEVEN MILLIONS, FIVE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-SEVEN THOUSAND, FOUR HUNDRED AND SIXTY-FIVE POUNDS.
While the British arms were crowned with complete success in Spain, the Government was carrying on, both by sea and land, a ruinous and disastrous war in America. The American frigate Chesapeake was taken by the Shannon; but, in return, the Americans captured the Java frigate. The British troops were compelled to evacuate Fort Erie and Fort George, which were taken possession of by the Americans, and ultimately the American fleet took, burnt, sunk, or destroyed the whole of the English fleet on Lake Erie. Every real lover of liberty in England deprecated this war with our brethren of America; but the enemies of liberty now began to boast that they would put down and destroy the principles of Republicanism throughout the world. I always considered the war with America to be a most unjust war; and, although I lamented to hear of the destruction of human lives, and the spilling of human blood, and particularly that of my own countrymen, yet I always wished success to the Americans, who were fighting for their rights and liberties against an invader, who would gladly have reduced them to that state of slavery from which they had emancipated themselves by a glorious and successful struggle. The late harvest was very fine, and the crops were good; corn, therefore, began to fall, and of course the landed interest caught the alarm, and set about sounding the tocsin for a corn bill, to keep up the price of the grain. In consequence of this, the subject was frequently discussed in Parliament. The Ministers professed to disclaim the proposition, but they set their friends, the Country Gentlemen, forward to propose the measure. It was at length settled, that corn should not be imported unless the price of wheat was above eighty shillings per quarter. Although a farmer myself, I always exclaimed against this measure, notwithstanding it did not appear likely that the country would be immediately affected by it, as there was no probability of the price of wheat being much below eighty shillings a quarter during that season.
At this period I was fully occupied in a most laborious and uprofitable speculation. I had taken a farm of nearly four hundred acres. This farm had been occupied by a Major Andrews, a retired militia officer, who had commenced farmer, a business of which he was totally ignorant, and in the pursuit of which he sunk a good fortune; yet when he quitted this farm, or rather when his property and stock were seized and sold under an execution, perhaps the county of Hants could not have produced its equal for foulness and bad condition. I had occupied three thousand acres of land in Wiltshire, and I will venture to say, that there was not half the quantity of couch grass upon the whole of it that I now found upon the cleanest acre on Cold Henly Farm. Couch grass is the most injurious of all weeds, and, in some parts of Wiltshire, it is very appropriately called "the farmer's devil." This farm of Cold Henly was about seven miles from my residence at Middleton Cottage, and therefore I had ample exercise in riding to and fro, and attending all day to the cleaning of the land. The proprietor of the farm was a clergyman, and, as he professed to be very friendly with me, and gave me to understand that he should be happy to continue me as a tenant after my lease was out, I spared neither pains nor expense in cultivating the land, in hopes of hereafter reaping a reward for my labour. In fact, it was absolutely necessary to have the soil perfectly clean and free from all sorts of weeds and grass, to be enabled to cultivate it upon the drill system, as laid down by Tull. I believe that in the course of the first summer I burned forty thousand cart loads of couch, which made as many bushels of ashes for manure. Almost all the land required to be ploughed five or six times, by means of which, and of innumerable draggings and harrowings, and incessant and persevering labour, the farm became, in my hands, altogether as clean as it was foul and overrun with every description of weeds and grass, before I came to it. I was induced to expend a large sum of money in improving this farm, from the promises of the cunning, artful, and deceitful old clergyman, who was the proprietor of it. The buildings, which were very extensive, and miserably dilapidated, I put into complete repair; and, perhaps, altogether I expended on the land and offices three times as much as a common rack-renting farmer would have done. Being fully satisfied that I was greatly benefiting his estate, the parson not only gave his consent to any alteration that I thought proper in the course of husbandry, which the old tenant was bound in his lease to pursue, but he took all occasions to encourage me to do so; and, as my proceedings were so extremely beneficial to his farm, which he never failed to acknowledge, I did not once dream that he would hereafter, for the sake of litigation, pretend to object to it. As this farm was a manor of itself, and was well stocked with game, I had plenty of shooting of all sorts upon it, as well as over the manor of Longparish, over which I also held the deputation.
This year, 1814, was one of the most eventful periods in the history of the world. The first week in January, Dantzic was occupied by the allies, whose grand army passed the Rhine, and occupied Coblentz. The treacherous and dastardly Murat, King of Naples, basely betrayed and deserted his patron, his friend, his benefactor, and his relation, Napoleon, by concluding a treaty with England; and on the 17th he openly joined the allies against France. Of all the despicable, base, and treacherous conduct of the base and dastardly crowned heads, during the whole war, this desertion of Napoleon, by his brother-in-law, Murat, was the most base and dastardly. To be sure, during the whole of this long and bloody war, carried on by the despots and tyrants of the earth, their conduct was one continued exhibition of treachery, falsehood, selfishness, and deception. This abandoned race of Sovereigns, Kings and Emperors, who assume a divine origin, and set up a claim of divine rights, have, by their acts, unequivocally proclaimed to the whole world that no reliance can be placed in their words, their bonds, or their oaths. They have all of them broken the most solemn treaties, and violated the most sacred and binding obligations, without the least regard to truth, to honour, or to honesty. At the very time that the Governments of the different states of Europe have, in high-sounding language, been preaching about national faith, national honour, and national credit; the favoured Ministers of each of them, in conjunction with their masters, have, wherever it suited their interested and corrupt purposes, without the least regard to precept or principle, unblushingly violated and abandoned all national credit, honour, and faith; and have rendered faith, honour, and credit, mere bye-words among nations. If a man in common life were to act in the same unprincipled and dastardly manner as these Sovereign Princes have done, he would be shunned and spurned out of all society. If one of the "lower orders" were to conduct himself in a similar manner, he would be kicked out of the company of the most abandoned frequenters of the lowest brothels and tap-rooms; no man would employ him or have any transaction with him; he would be driven from amongst even the lowest of mankind, and deservedly left to starve, to perish, and to rot upon a dunghill.
The moment that the fortune of war turned against Napoleon, all the royal, mean, cringing, timid, time-serving, contemptible wretches, who had filled up the measure of his glory, and almost worshipped him when he was victorious; those who had partaken of his bounty, and whose whole existence had depended on his smiles; all those that he had elevated to power, and who had reigned by his sufferance, now joined the tide and swelled the torrent that was collected to overwhelm him. Sweden and Denmark having, like others, been bribed by English gold, drawn from the sweat of John Gull's brows, had now joined the allies against France, and the first action upon the territory of Old France took place on the 24th of January, when Mortier was defeated; and on the 27th the army commanded by Napoleon in person, at St. Dizier, in Champagne, was overpowered by numbers, and repulsed with considerable loss. The tyrants of Russia, Austria, and Prussia met at Basil, and soon after all their armies advanced. Blucher and Bernadotte, Crown Prince of Sweden, crossed the Rhine with their numerous hordes, and the armies of France gave way. Nancy, Troyes, Vitry, and Chalons were taken by the allies. But Napoleon having rallied his divisions, defeated first the Russians, and then Blucher, who led his army on to attack Marmont, but he was defeated a second time. Prince Schwartzenburg advanced with the troops under his command direct for Paris, but Napoleon attacked him with an inferior force, beat him, and obliged him to retreat. The battles were now so numerous, and the success was so equally balanced, that it would require a history of itself to recount them. With an army which was never one third as strong as that of the invaders, Napoleon contested every inch of the ground, and fought so bravely and so skilfully, that the issue was for some time doubtful. At length the numerous hordes of the confederated nations of Russia, Austria, Prussia, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Bavaria, flushed with their success, pushed on to Paris, to defend which Marshals Marmont and Mortier had but very inadequate means. The assailants, two hundred thousand in number, reached the northern side of Paris on the 29th of March, and on the following day a desperate battle took place. It was not till they had sacrificed fifteen thousand men that the allies could make themselves masters of the posts which the French held in the neighbourhood of Paris. Not disposed to run the risk of another engagement, and especially of the arrival of Napoleon, who was hastening back by forced marches, the coalesced despots were glad to obtain the surrender of the capital, by granting honourable terms to Marmont, who accordingly withdrew with his troops from Paris, which Maria Louisa had already quitted. On the 1st of April all the allied Sovereigns entered that city as conquerors. The Emperors of Russia and Austria, and the King of Prussia, all of whom had been so repeatedly conquered by Napoleon, who had generously, although foolishly, restored two of them, after having conquered them and taken their capitals, now, in return for his generous conduct to them, had the meanness and the cowardice to declare that Napoleon was the only obstacle to the establishment of a peace; upon which he magnanimously, to save the effusion of human blood, did not hesitate to offer his resignation. This was accepted; the French Senate met, and agreed to a provisional Government, till a Constitution could be formed, and they passed a decree on the 2d of April, declaring Napoleon Buonaparte and his family to have forfeited the Imperial Crown. It was agreed to by all the allied Sovereigns that Napoleon should retire to the Isle of Elba, which he was to possess in full sovereignty—that he and Maria Louisa should, for life, retain the titles of Emperor and Empress—that a large revenue should be granted to both of them, and to the Empress the Duchies of Parma, Placentia, and Guastalla, which were to descend to her son. The treaty being thus arranged, on the 4th day of April, 1814, the brave Napoleon signed his abdication of the Crowns of France and Italy. On the 13th the treaty between the allied Powers and Napoleon received the signatures of the contracting parties, and on the 28th of April he embarked at Frejus, in Provence, for the Isle of Elba, in the British frigate the Undaunted.
In the meantime the English army under Lord Wellington had advanced from Spain, invested Bayonne, and passed the Odour. A division under Marshal Beresford entered Bourdeaux. At Toulouse Wellington had a battle, and the dispirited skeleton of an army under Soult was defeated about the time that the news arrived of a cessation of arms.
Although Napoleon had retired, it yet required very considerable address to replace on the Throne of France the Bourbons—a race that was deservedly despised and execrated by the whole French nation, with the exception of the lazy, indolent, rapacious, and profligate priesthood, and a few of the old bigotted nobility. The provisional Government presented to the Conservative Senate a CONSTITUTION, and proposed that Louis, the brother of Louis the Sixteenth, should, on the acceptance of that constitution, be declared King of France. It is time now to turn our eyes towards England, from the affairs of which the reader will remember that I broke off at the period when the Parliament had settled that corn should not be imported, unless the price was above eighty shillings a quarter. Motions were now made to address the Prince Regent, to seize the favourable opportunity to procure from the allied Powers some salutary regulations respecting the slave trade. The country, both in and out of Parliament, was mad drunk with GLORY. The House manifested its intoxication by a profligate and extravagant grant of the public money to Wellington, who was also created a Duke. While this was going on within the walls of Parliament, the farmers were drunk and mad without, and were amusing themselves by burning and hanging Napoleon in effigy. Deputies had already arrived in England, to invite Louis the Eighteenth to return to France. He entered London on the 20th of April, with great pomp and state; he came from his retreat at Hartwell, attended by the Life Guards and many of the King's carriages, and accompanied by our magnanimous conqueror, the Prince Regent. He took up his residence at Grillon's hotel, in Albemarle-street, where be held his Court, and was congratulated by the Lord Mayor (Sir William Domville), and the citizens of London, and also by many of the nobility, all of whom would no doubt have as readily paid their devoirs to a mastiff dog, if he had been called a King. Louis left London in great state, to embark for France, on the 23d of April, and he set sail from Dover on the 24th, in the Royal yacht, and landed at Calais in four hours. His public entry into Paris took place on the 3d of May, and on the 14th of the same month a grand farce, or funeral service, was performed in France for the Kings Louis the Sixteenth and Seventeenth, the Queen and the Princess Elizabeth. Louis was no sooner in possession of power, than he discovered that the Constitution which had been framed, and on his presumed acceptance of which he had been restored, was NOT PRACTICABLE, and that the people of France must submit to receive as a boon, one of his own manufacture. "Put not your trust in Princes." The Marshals had been brought over one by one, and peace was at length settled upon the terms which the Allies dictated. By this treaty France was to keep her ancient boundary, with some additions; the navigation of the Rhine was to be free; the territory of Holland and the Netherlands were to be incorporated and governed by the Stadtholder; Germany was to form a federal Government; and Switzerland to be independent.
While these things were going on in France, the Ministers were not inactive in England. They caused Lord Cochrane, and Colonel Cochrane Johnson, his uncle, to be expelled the House of Commons, for what was called a conspiracy to defraud the Stock Exchange. To punish men for defrauding, or rather playing off a hoax upon a set of swindlers and gamblers in the stocks, was curious enough! The Emperor of Russia and King of Prussia arrived in London on the 7th of June, and the town was illuminated. The Emperor of Russia took up his residence at the Imperial Hotel, in Piccadilly, and the King of Prussia in St. James's Palace. They were received in state at Court, which was held at Carlton House, and the Emperor of Russia and King of Prussia were invested with the Order of the Garter. All the Tom and Molly fools in the country were flocking to London, to see these mighty Sovereigns; they spent their money, and most of them returned disappointed, the fools having expected to see something more than man in a King and an Emperor, and something more than a brute in the dirty old animal Blucher. Nothing else but our new visitors was talked of in town or country. Whatever company you went into, the first question was, "Well, what do you think of the Emperor Alexander? what do you think of Blucher? What! not seen the Emperor, and not seen Marshal Blucher's whiskers?" To hear the females of England, my fair countrywomen, talk of shaking hands with this filthy old beast, and some of them even boasted of his having kissed them, not only disgusted but quite sickened me; and I must own that the scenes I have heard described, which took place at Portsmouth, when they were all there at the great naval fete, made such an unfavourable impression upon my mind, that I have always thought with the utmost contempt of those who participated in these disgusting, revolting orgies. It was all very natural that the time-serving, corrupt, vain, purse-proud Aldermen of London should act as they did; it was very natural that they and their wives and daughters should disgrace themselves as they did; but that my good, handsome, wholesome country-women, should have suffered such a disgusting monster as old Blucher to have slobbered them over and mouselled them with his dirty, stinking whiskers and mustachios, is something so extraordinary and so abhorrent to the character of English women, or, in fact, of any modest woman, that I, as an Englishman, was horror-struck every time I heard the filthy accounts of it. Thank God, none of my family or connections ever disgraced themselves, even by going to see any of these German, Russian, Prussian, or Cossack animals. I had business in London, but I put it off, nay neglected it, because I would not make one of the throng of fools who flocked to grace the triumph of these tyrants, who had been so long waging war against the liberties of mankind, and who had caused the shedding of oceans of human blood, for the sole purpose of gratifying their own malignant desire, to destroy every vestige of liberty and rational freedom upon the face of the globe. During the whole time that these fiends in human form, these enemies and destroyers of the human race, remained in England, I stayed at home; I never spoke of them but with abhorrence and disgust; and as my family felt towards them as I did, they were seldom mentioned at all. I even, as much as possible, avoided having any company at my house, that their blood-stained names might never be introduced. I shall, perhaps, be told by some who read this, that I am inconsistent to express such a horror at blood-stained tyrants, and yet take every opportunity of extolling Napoleon, who was as great a tyrant as any of those whom I condemn. To the unthinking, an explanation is certainly necessary from me; for I fully concur in the opinion that CONSISTENCY is absolutely necessary to form the character of a useful and honourable public man; that amongst the dangerous failings in a public character, inconsistency is the most dangerous. A vacillating, weathercock, changeable being, in the common