My proposition being readily accepted, and hailed as an emblem of union, we proceeded to the hustings together, and every thing went off with the greatest unanimity and cordiality amongst all the parties, with the exception of a discussion that took place upon a bye resolution, which I proposed, of a vote of thanks to the Ministers, for having concluded a "peace with the Americans, the only remaining free Government in the universe." I meant this resolution to answer a double purpose; first, by thanking the Ministers, I gave the Whigs a kick; and second, it was a compliment due to the Americans, for having bravely repelled a tyrannical invader. It was a Whig meeting, at least it was called by the Whigs, and therefore every exertion was made to prevent the passing of this resolution. Old Sir John Cox Hippisley palavered, and whined, and begged and prayed, for an hour, and endeavoured to wheedle and coax me to withdraw my motion for the sake of unanimity. Upon all public matters, however, I was ever inflexible, and I was therefore prepared at all times to do my duty without looking to the right or to the left, and I consequently insisted upon having the motion put to the meeting. On a division it was lost by only a very small majority.
In the month of January, 1815, a treaty was concluded between the Allied Powers at Vienna, to maintain the treaty of Paris. In the Congress, by which this treaty was settled, the Ministers of some of the Allied Powers seriously proposed to seize Napoleon at Elba, to carry him off by force from that island, and to convey him to St. Helena; and this base scheme was to be executed in violation of the solemn compact entered into with him; a compact granting to him the island of Elba in full sovereignty! But it is quite clear that there are no treaties, however solemn; no engagements, however binding; no obligations, however sacred, that tyrants will not violate, and laugh to scorn, when it suits their purpose so to do.
The treaty of Vienna was entered into upon the 25th of January, and it is supposed, and I believe pretty well understood, that this diabolical plot against the life and liberty of Napoleon was privately communicated to him, by some friend that he had amongst the diplomatists of the Allied Sovereigns. Napoleon, therefore, took the resolution of leaving Elba as soon as possible, and returning to France, to endeavour to reconquer that crown which had been forced from him by the very same despots whom he had more than once restored to liberty and power after he had subdued them.
Having deliberately made up his mind to risk the attempt, Napoleon promptly carried it into execution. He set sail from Elba on the 26th of February, with about one thousand brave followers, in four vessels. An English frigate pretended to chase them, but he landed his little force at Frejus, in France, on the 1st of March, 1815, and he was soon joined by various bodies of the army, who flew to the ranks of their old commander, who had bravely led them into a thousand battles, and with whom they had participated in a thousand victories over the enemies of their country. Though at the outset his force was not more than a thousand strong, he marched boldly forward in a direct line for Paris, and his numbers continued to swell as he advanced. France was in a state of the greatest agitation, and of hopes and fears for his safety and his success. He arrived at Gasson the 5th, the next day he crossed the Upper Alps, passed on through Grenoble, reached Burgoin on the 10th, and on the 11th he entered the City of Lyons, the second city of the French empire, where he was received with every demonstration of respect and attachment. The army and the people vied with each other which should evince the greatest enthusiasm; from Lyons he issued a Proclamation, annulling all that had been done in his absence. On the following day he marched on, and reached Autun; on the 16th he entered Auxerre; on the 17th he halted at Fontainbleau; and made his entrance into Paris in triumph on the TWENTIETH OF MARCH. There he was hailed with enthusiastic delight; and, amidst the deafening acclamations of the Parisians, he entered the Palace of the Thuilleries, from whence Louis the Desired had fled but a few hours before, with the utmost precipitation and dismay. Napoleon could have arrested his flight, and brought him back as a prisoner without the least difficulty, but he was too brave even to tread upon so fallen a creature. At a subsequent period the Duke d'Angouleme also fell into the hands of one of his Generals, but the moment Napoleon heard of it, he ordered him to be set at liberty to go where he pleased. But, as it turned out afterwards, this proved a fatal lenity. On the day that Napoleon entered Paris, the following notices were placarded by the people on the walls of the Thuilleries and the neighbourhood. "A Palace to be let well furnished, except kitchen utensils, which have been carried away by the late proprietor." "A large fat hog to be sold for one Napoleon," &c. &c. These things evidently shewed with what feelings of utter contempt the Bourbons were regarded by the Parisians. Napoleon, as I have already stated, was informed that Louis had only quitted Paris a few hours previously, and that it would be very easy to overtake him and his cavalcade, and bring them back prisoners to Paris; but this he positively forbade, adding, that he had no wish to touch a hair of his head. Thus was Napoleon placed upon the throne of France, restored to all his former power of sovereignty in that country without one life being lost, one single shot being fired. If ever there was a legitimate monarch, Napoleon was now that man; for he was voluntarily elected and placed upon the throne by the united voice of the whole people. The cause of the Bourbons became so desperate, that not the slightest hope remained for them, except what could arise from resorting to the aid of foreign arms to restore the King to the throne from which he had fled with the greatest precipitancy, without having made the slightest resistance. In fact the whole people were by this time completely sick of the Bourbons. The Despots of Europe, meanwhile, were in the greatest alarm, but they soon entered into a league to make war upon France to restore the old tyranny of the Bourbons, and they instantly began to prepare to carry their project into effect. Buonaparte offered peace to the combination of Sovereigns, but he did not neglect to prepare his troops for any emergency that might happen.
When the news arrived in England that Napoleon had quitted Elba, and landed at Provence, in France, it was with the greatest difficulty that John Gull could be made to believe that it was true, till the daily accounts arrived of his steady march towards Paris. As he approached that capital the most intense interest was excited, not only in France and England, but all over the civilised world. In England nothing else was talked of or thought of. I own I never before felt so much anxiety; and the desire to see the newspapers, which furnished an account of the daily progress which he made, became every hour more and more acute. At length, the official intelligence arrived, that Napoleon had entered Paris, and that he was peaceably restored to the throne amidst the shouts and applause of the whole French nation. I had been from home upon business the whole day, and I had heard of this happy event, and when I returned in the evening I was much gratified to find that my family had anticipated my wishes, had procured candles, and were preparing to ILLUMINATE MY HOUSE. I had said, in the beginning of March, when the information reached England, that Napoleon had landed in France, that I would illuminate my house if ever he reached Paris alive. Although some doubts were expressed at the time by my family, as to the prudence of such a course, yet, as I declared my determination to do so when the time arrived, there was no hesitating, no desire to baulk my intentions, or to disappoint my wishes, which, having been once seriously expressed, were quite sure to be accomplished in my family; so that, if I had not returned home that night, my house would nevertheless have been illuminated. The candles were all fixed, and every pane of glass could boast a light. The moment it was dark, MIDDLETON COTTAGE WAS ILLUMINATED from top to bottom. This was the only occasion, this was the first time in my life, that ever any house of mine had been illuminated.
Middleton Cottage is situated on the south side of the great Western Road, leading from London to Exeter, sixty-one miles from London, and three miles from Andover. The Exeter and the Auxiliary Mail, and three or four other coaches, pass towards London between seven o'clock in the evening and twelve o'clock at night. Every one of the coachmen pulled up their horses, and stopped to inquire the occasion of this blaze of light. The passengers in the first coach also inquired of the coachman whose house it was, and what was the cause of this splendid display? Some one said, he supposed it was in consequence of peace with America, which had just been announced.—"No, no;" said the coachman, "it is on account of the restoration of Buonaparte." "O, a vile Jacobin!" exclaimed a nondescript with a whistling, piping voice, "I wish somebody would break all his windows." The coachman cracked his whip, and can they passed; but as there was the mail, and four other coaches to pass, I sent my servant out to stand at the gate, to inform those that might inquire, that my house was illuminated in consequence of the safe restoration of Napoleon to the throne of France. The next coach that came was the mail; it was going very fast, being rather down the hill; and, as the glare came suddenly upon them, the coachman had some difficulty in pulling up his horses till they got rather beyond the front of the cottage. I was just coming out of the garden, and as it was dark, I heard, unseen, but very distinctly, the following dialogue: "Aye, aye, coachman, stop, by G-d! tell me whose house this is?"—"It is Middleton Cottage, Sir, the residence of Mr. Hunt." "I suppose it is illuminated for the return of Napoleon?"—"Yes, Sir," said my servant, apparently to save farther trouble of inquiry, "my master illuminates his house for the first time in his life, because Buonaparte has ascended the throne, and reconquered the crown of France, without bloodshed." With some tremendous oath, two of them (who it turned out were gemmen of the army) swore that they would get out and smash every one of the windows, and they immediately began to open the door of the coach, to put their threat into execution. Upon hearing this, I lost not a moment's time, but darted in doors, and having seized a faithful cudgel, I sallied out, with the determination of taking prisoner the first man that threw a stone, and, at all hazards, conducting him into my parlour, where he should have drank long life and success to Napoleon upon his knees, before he should have been liberated. This was the resolution I formed while I was hastening after my cudgel, and having once formed that resolution, I would have carried it into effect at the risk of my life. When I got out the coast was clear, and the mail was got nearly out of hearing. My servant informed me, that as soon as the guard saw what was going on, he jumped down from his seat, and warmly expostulated with the military heroes upon their folly and rashness; but when he saw that they persevered, he swore that the coachman should drive on and leave them behind if they got out; and he added, that he had no doubt but Mr. Hunt would blow both their brains out with his double-barrelled gun, if they offered to touch one pane of his windows. To this the coachman assented, exclaiming, at the same time, "By G—d it would serve them right for their pains." This being the case, the doughty heroes thought proper to sit still, but muttered out, "d——d jacobin," as the coachman drove off. These worthies, I have no doubt, communicated this circumstance at head-quarters, and some of my worthy neighbours, of the rotten-borough of Andover, kindly conveyed the fact to several editors of the London newspapers. The editors, however, took good care not to mention a word of it in their papers, but it was very currently talked of in the coffee-houses of Paris. I know thousands of Englishmen that rejoiced at the escape of Napoleon from Elba, and at his return to the French capital, but I know of no one except myself who had the courage to testify his joy by any open demonstration.
As soon as the news of Buonaparte's landing in France arrived in England, the Prince Regent sent a message to both Houses of Parliament, declaring his intention to join the Allies, and corresponding addresses were voted accordingly. A public meeting was called by the electors of Westminster, to take into consideration a petition to be presented to Parliament, against renewing the war for the purpose of forcing a ruler upon the people of France. I was in London when this meeting was held in Palace-yard; I attended it, and I spoke there, for the first time, in support of this petition. What I said was so favourably received by the people, that they passed an unanimous vote of thanks to me, and drew me in my carriage to my inn, the British Coffee-house, they having spontaneously taken off the horses. When I got there I mounted the roof of the carriage, briefly thanked the multitude, and requested them to retire peaceably, which they did without delay. The petition was presented by Sir Francis Burdett, and, I think, on the same evening. It was a strong remonstrance against plunging once more into a war with the French, merely to restore the Bourbons to that throne which they had not the talent or the virtue to fill, either with honour to themselves or with advantage to the people.
The Parliament now, almost by acclamation, voted that the property tax should be continued for one year. The treaties made with Holland, Russia, and Sweden, were laid before both the Houses of Parliament, and approved of. The Minister likewise proposed new taxes, to the amount of 3,728,000l. per annum.
While the British legislators were thus honourably employed, the allied despots collected their forces in two great bodies, under Marshal Blucher and Wellington, the latter of whom had been created a Duke. Napoleon on his side was busily engaged, both in civil and military affairs. He laid before the Senate of France a new constitution, which was accepted, and a meeting, called the "Champ de Mai," was held at Paris, on the 1st of May, to swear to that constitution. On the 1st of June there was a revolution at Martinico, in favour of Napoleon, but it was soon suppressed by the British troops. On the 8th, a confederation, or rather a conspiracy of tyrants and their agents, was signed at Vienna, called the "Holy Alliance." On the 12th, Napoleon left Paris, to join his army on the Belgian frontier. The Prussian army, under Blucher, was attacked at Ligny, and totally defeated by Napoleon on the 15th, and on the following day he attacked the Dutch and the English under Wellington, and compelled them to fall back from Quatre Bas, at which place they were posted. The combined English, Dutch, Belgian, and Hanoverian forces were concentrated, on the 17th, under Wellington, at Waterloo. On the eighteenth, Napoleon, with sixty-eight thousand men, attacked the combined army commanded by Wellington, consisting of ninety thousand troops. A dreadful slaughter ensued, and Wellington was hardly pressed by his illustrious opponent. This success on the side of Napoleon continued till four o'clock, at which time he considered the battle as won, when two Prussian corps, one of thirty thousand and the other of forty thousand, under Bulow and Blucher, unexpectedly arrived and turned the right wing of the French. The whole army was thrown into confusion from this unexpected reinforcement to their enemies, and at half-past nine they fled in all directions. The arrival of these two corps was occasioned by some strange misconduct, or something worse, on the part of Marshal Grouchy, who was dispatched by Napoleon to attack these corps with a division of the French army, but by some strange fatality he suffered them to approach the right wing of Napoleon's army unmolested. This and this alone caused the defeat of Napoleon, as these corps of themselves were more numerous than the whole of the troops under his command, harassed and fatigued too as they were at the latter end of a dreadful battle. "Never did the French army fight better than it did upon this occasion; it performed prodigies of valour; and the superiority of the troops, infantry, cavalry, and artillery, over the enemy opposed to them, was such, that had not Blucher arrived with his second corps of Prussians, the victory over the Anglo-Belgian army under Wellington would have been complete, though aided by Bulow's thirty thousand troops; that is to say, it would have been gained by sixty-nine thousand men opposed to nearly double their number; for the troops in the field commanded by Wellington, before Blucher's arrival, amounted to one hundred and twenty thousand men." The Allies, by their own account, lost sixty thousand men, viz. eleven thousand three hundred English, three thousand five hundred Hanoverians, eight thousand Belgians, and thirty-eight thousand Prussians. This makes a general total of sixty thousand eight hundred men. The losses of the French, including those sustained during the rout, and till their arrival at the gates of Paris, was forty-one thousand men. Out of twenty-four English Generals, twelve were killed or badly wounded. The mind quite sickens at the recital of such a horrid slaughter of human beings, for the sole purpose of gratifying the malignant passions of a few tyrants, who had sworn to annihilate the very spirit as well as the substance of liberty. To destroy NAPOLEON, and to raise up Louis, ONE HUNDRED AND TEN THOUSAND lives were sacrificed upon this occasion!
Napoleon repaired to Paris, where he found that traitors of the vilest cast had been at work. The Chambers were in a state of insurrection, and on the 22d of June, 1815, Napoleon resigned the government to a provisional Council. On the 3d of July a suspension of hostilities was signed at St. Cloud, and on the same day Buonaparte arrived at Rochfort, while Paris was evacuated by the French troops and occupied by the allied army. By the articles of capitulation, on which Paris was surrendered, a complete indemnity was secured to all persons. We shall soon see how they were fulfilled. On the 5th, the troops under General Oudinot declared for Louis; and on the 8th, Louis the Desired returned once more to Paris, and resumed the government under the protection of a foreign army. On the 15th, Napoleon took the fatal resolution of throwing himself upon the protection of the British Government. Relying upon the honour of the English character, he surrendered himself to Captain Maitland, of the Bellerophon; on the 24th he arrived in that ship at Torbay, and on the twenty-sixth he sailed to Plymouth, to which port tens of thousands of persons crowded from all parts of England to obtain a sight of him. He was not allowed to land, but on the seventh of August he was removed on board the Northumberland, Captain Cockburn, which sailed on the following day for St. Helena. Napoleon is now dead and gone, but his name will live for ever. It makes my heart ache to think that such a man should have been so deceived and deluded as to the character of the English Government, so much so, as to flatter himself for a moment that he would ever receive justice or mercy at their hands! Noble, generous, forgiving, and possessing all the attributes of a truly brave man himself, he little dreamt of the fate that awaited him; he had heard of the generosity of the English character, he knew the English to be brave, he had always found them so, but he was deceived as to their power and influence over the Government; he was grossly ignorant of the state and character of the British Parliament; he had read De Lolme and other popular writers upon the British Constitution, and he fell into the fatal, the irretrievable error, of believing that the practice of that constitution was the same thing as the theory described by these writers; and thus he was betrayed into a gulf from whence he was never to be extricated. I have before observed, that at the Congress of Vienna it was proposed and seriously urged to seize Napoleon at Elba, and to convey him to St. Helena; and those who proposed this measure had taken care to have all things in readiness to carry their project into execution, in case it had been agreed to. No time was, therefore, now lost in acting upon this plan. The English Ministers knew the sentiments of the Allied Despots upon the subject, and the brave Napoleon, the fallen Emperor, was shipped off to linger, pine, and rot upon a barren rock, in a distant and pestilential climate, in the same way that we would send out a wretch convicted of the highest crimes, as a transport for life. He who had spared Emperors, Kings, and Princes—he who had restored them to their thrones after having bravely conquered them, was now treated like a common convict transport! Disgraceful, damnable, imperishable blot in the escutcheon of England's character!!!
The Assembly of France now met, and passed such laws as might naturally be expected in a country filled with foreign troops. Treaties were entered into by the restored Monarch, to settle the terms of peace, and were signed on the twentieth of July. By these treaties France lost all the conquered territory which she had been allowed to retain in 1814, and was placed nearly in the same geographical situation as before the revolution. One hundred and fifty thousand troops of the five Allied Powers were to remain in France for five years; France was to maintain them, and pay a large pecuniary indemnity, in which a provision was made for the claims of British subjects; and all other matters, good, bad, and indifferent, were to be settled by a convention, to be held at Vienna. The expenditure of this year, drawn out of the pockets of John Gull, amounted to no less a sum than EIGHTY ONE MILLIONS, of which TWENTY-SEVEN MILLIONS were borrowed by loan. The Honourable House of Commons voted TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND POUNDS as an additional remuneration to the Duke of Wellington. In the meantime, the wretchedness of the people of Ireland had driven them to a state of desperation; the resistance to the collection of the TITHES became general in many counties, and a large army of regulars and militia was employed to put down the poor, starved, distressed, and plundered people. Many lives were lost, and a special commission was appointed, by which great numbers were found guilty, and transported to Botany Bay, and all this arose from the most horrid system of rapine and plunder that ever disgraced any nation on the face of the earth.
At the latter end of July, 1815, I was one night taken suddenly ill; I had gone to bed in high robust health, but about three o'clock in the morning I was awoke by a most violent attack in my head, which caused a sensation like the ringing of a church bell in my ear. The fact was, that a sudden pressure of blood upon the brain had taken place. The effect was such that I was almost blind and speechless. My surgeon, Mr. Davis, of Andover, was instantly sent for; but, before he could arrive, I had fainted away four or five times, and he found me in such a state, without any pulse, that he at first hesitated to bleed me; however, upon my urging him to do so, he complied, and the horrid noise which was caused in my head by the blood rushing through my brain with accelerated velocity, somewhat abated, and in the course of the day it wore off, and became like the singing of a tea-kettle. This attack was so violent, and left such a weakness, that I was incapable of rising from my bed, and it was several days before I could walk across the room without assistance. As soon as I was able, which was in four or five days, I drove to Bath, for the advice of Dr. Parry, one of the most eminent physicians of the day, and under whose care one of my family had recovered from the very point of death. Dr. Parry and myself had been upon very friendly and intimate terms, during the time I had lived in Bath, and he had always attended my family while I was there.
When I had described to him the way in which I was taken, and the extraordinary sensation and noise which I had in my head, which still continued like the singing of a teakettle, he said, "You have had a narrow escape, Sir; and had you not been a very temperate man, you would have never spoken again; you have had a violent pressure of blood upon the brain, and you are wholly indebted for your safety to your temperate manner of living; if, however, you will put yourself under my care, and strictly follow my advice, I am confident that I can effect a radical cure, so that you will be no longer liable to a return of your complaint. The means I propose will be slow and tedious, but they will be certain. If you return into the country, and follow the course usually pursued in similar cases, you will, in all probability, be apparently recovered, and as well as ever in a month; but they take my word for it, you will be very liable to a repetition of the same sort of attack, which will very likely prove fatal." I told him that I would most certainly place myself in his hands, and scrupulously follow his directions. "Well, then," said he, "I shall have you bled twice before you leave Bath, and my directions are, that you abstain from all fermented liquors; eat very sparingly of animal food, take regular strong exercise, and lose a pound of blood at least once a month, for a twelvemonth." I certainly looked at him with some degree of astonishment, but when I saw that he was serious and in earnest, I replied, "If you say that all this is absolutely necessary for the recovery of may health, it shall be done; but so excessively weak and languid am I at present, that I do not think I shall be able to take what you call strong exercise. I drove my tandem down here yesterday to see you, and I was so excessively exhausted, that I was obliged to be carried out of the carriage into the inn where I arrived." "O," said he, "driving fifty miles in a tandem may be very good exercise for your horses; but it is not sufficient exercise for you; you must take regular walking and riding exercise. To keep a man in good health, it is always necessary that he should take sufficient exercise to make it a labour; it is indispensible for the health of man that he should labour—and it will be absolutely necessary to your recovery, that you labour daily. I assure you, my good friend," added he, "there is not one in a thousand that ever recover from such an attack as you have had. I never knew a patient who had the resolution to follow the advice which I have given you; I rely, however, upon your good sense, to concur with me in the absolute necessity of reducing your system very low, by abstaining from fermented liquors and animal food—by laborious exercise—and by a constant and regular succession of copious bleeding; and I have confidence in your courage and perseverance in carrying my plan into execution, by which I mean to effect a permanent and radical cure; that is to say, I mean that you shall be rendered as perfectly free from any future attack of the sort, as you were when you were born. I know the precise nature of your complaint well, and I am confident of the remedy, although I have no particular precedent, because I never knew any one act up to the rules I have laid down for you. I know that you have had a violent pressure of blood upon the brain; I know, also, that this attack was not produced by excess or intemperance, but that it arose from your having naturally too great a disposition of blood to the head. I know that your system has received a violent shock, that the blood-vessels upon your brain have been distended, and thereby rendered liable to another and a more fatal attack, unless it can be guarded against by a total alteration of your whole system, which can alone be accomplished by the means that I have suggested." Here he made a short pause, and then earnestly demanded if I was prepared to give him my word that I would act up to his directions; "because," added he, significantly, "I know if you once make up your mind to it, and give me your word that you will do it, that our object will be attained."
Thus it is, that a clever and intelligent physician, by flattering his patient, prevails upon him to encounter what would otherwise appear to be insurmountable difficulties; and thus it is, that human nature is able to bear so much. I promised strictly to abide by his prescription, both as to regimen, exercise, and bleeding. He then sent for Mr. George Norman, the surgeon, and I was bled immediately. This being done, the doctor said that he would call again in the morning, and see the bleeding repeated, and then I should have nothing to do but to return to my home in the country, and follow the plan that he laid down for me. He did so; and, although I was in a state of great weakness, I reached Middleton Cottage the same evening, having driven my tandem fifty miles in the afternoon.
A circumstance that occurred at this time made such a lasting impression upon my memory, that I shall record it for the benefit of future generations. Although it is of a private and pecuniary nature, yet I suspect that it will not be altogether devoid of interest, as it makes part of my history. When I left Rowfant, in Sussex, my stock, crops, underwood, and furniture, produced a very considerable sum, amounting to eight thousand pounds; and, after paying off all pecuniary demands upon me, I purchased five thousand pounds in Exchequer Bills, which I took with me to Middleton Cottage, and opened an account with Messrs. Heaths, the bankers, of Andover. In their hands I deposited several hundred pounds, and the Exchequer Bills, taking all their notes, and drawing upon them for what sums I required to furnish my house, stock my farm, &c. &c., they turning the Exchequer Bills into cash as often as I wanted money. I took care never, for any length of time, to have less than five hundred pounds in cash in their hands, generally several hundreds more, and sometimes as much as fifteen hundred pounds balance of cash in my favour, which they had the use of, as well as the advantage of my taking their notes, and circulating them round the country, besides what I kept in my house. I stocked my farms, both in Hampshire and Wiltshire, at a most expensive time, giving as high as fifty guineas each for my cart-horses; and as I had made great alterations and improvements, at a heavy expense, the money flew pretty fast. When I was taken so dangerously ill, the news spread over the country with considerable rapidity, and, amongst others, it seems it reached the ears of my bankers, who, for the first time, the next morning sent in my account by the post, saying, that as I had overdrawn it a few pounds, they would thank me to remit the balance. This was the latter end of July, and immediately at the point of harvest. Thus situated, I wrote an answer, or rather dictated an answer, stating my situation; and, as I expected I should be prevented from getting out to collect any money to meet the expenses of the harvest, I requested that they would allow me to draw for one hundred pounds for a few weeks, when the balance should be repaid, and my account should be replenished with a fresh advance. To my great surprise, however, I received a reply, saying, that they were much in want of cash, and not only declining to comply with my request, but re-urging the payment of the small balance due to them. I certainly felt extremely mortified at such illiberal, ungenerous, ungrateful, and, I might add, brutal conduct; because it was generally believed at the time that I was in a most perilous situation, and my surgeon had pronounced it as his opinion, that it was absolutely necessary to keep me quiet, and my mind perfectly easy, or the most fatal result might be expected from a relapse; and I have good reason to know that my worthy friend, Mr. WILLIAM HEATH, the Quaker Banker, had been informed of this fact, previous to his sending in my accounts. This treatment, however, operated very differently upon me from what might have been expected, and probably exactly the reverse of what might have been anticipated by Friend William. I had experienced a sudden and violent attack of illness, which had deprived me of the use of my limbs, and almost deprived me of my sight and my speech; I was unable to leave my bed, and it was not expected that I should be able to leave my room for several weeks; and in the weak and very languid state in which I felt myself, I have often thought, and I believe now, that if I had not been roused by the base and unfeeling conduct of Friend William, I should have given way to extreme lassitude; I should have had a relapse, and probably should never have left my room alive, although I was attended by Mr. Davis, who is at the same time one of the most skilful, experienced, and attentive surgeons in the kingdom, and in whose ability and judgment I placed the greatest reliance; but the moment I received this second letter from the Quaker (which was in the evening of the third day of my illness), I got out of bed, and with the assistance of my family I put my clothes on, and with great difficulty I was taken down stairs. I ordered my servant to get my horses ready, as I was determined to go to Bath the next day, to have the advice of Dr. Parry; but the real fact was, that I was much more anxious to see my tenants there, to receive some rent that was due to me, that I might be prepared to pay my harvest people, and get out of the hands of neighbour Heath, the Quaker Banker. On the next day I accordingly drove to Bath, as I have before described, and succeeded in both the objects of my journey, by obtaining the advice of Dr. Parry, and receiving my rent.
On my return home I wrote an answer to Friend William, to say, that I was sorry to hear that he was so pressed for money, the truth of which, I told him, I did not doubt, and, as that was the case, I would pay him the small balance which was due; but that, at the same time, I should certainly decline placing any more money in his hands, and I should also take good care not to keep any of his notes by me any longer than I could help; and from that time to this I have kept my word, as the day may not be far distant when a sovereign may be worth a hundred pounds' worth of them.
I am bound in justice to say, that I do not believe that Messrs. Charles and Thomas Heath were in any way privy to this transaction. On the contrary, I am convinced, that they are totally incapable of such dirty conduct; there is no improbability in their being ignorant of the matter; Squire Quaker Williams having the sole management of the Banking concern, while the two elder brothers, Charles and Thomas, managed the Brewing and Wine Trade. The secret of this dirty conduct of Mister William Heath soon afterwards came out. It seems that he was at the time bargaining to quit the Beaver, and to give up THEE and THOU for a seat in the Corporation of the rotten-borough of Andover; and I have no doubt but that he acted in this unworthy manner in hopes of currying favour with the rotten managers of that rotten, corrupt, and contemptible Corporation; as he very soon afterwards doffed the straight-cut coat without a collar, sunk the broad-brimmed hat, mounted a dandy-cut coat and puppy hat, went to church, married the Parson's sister, and became a right worthy member of that truly worthy body, the Corporators of Andover. Of course he had gone through the ceremony of being read out of the meeting, which is similar to that of being drummed out of a regiment. Alas! alas! what would his poor old father say, if he could peep out of his grave and take a squint at his lisping, darling, baby boy Billy! The old man was a very worthy, respectable, staunch Quaker, and I believe the two elder brothers are very worthy honest men; but Master Billy has just that sort of cast with his eye, that my father always used to caution me against. He always used to say, beware how you trust any fellow that has such a twist in his eye; and I have generally found this observation correct.
Master Billy Heath is also the nominal possessor of a toft of land, or a pig-sty, at Ludgershal, and being a toft man of that wretched Borough, of course he is one of the electors, and he has been instrumental in sending to Parliament some of the most corrupt members that ever entered that Honourable House. This amiable worthy has had a finger in the national pie; he has been one of those who has voted for those that created the national debt; he is, therefore, one of those whom I hold responsible for the payment of it, as long as he has a shilling left to pay with. We hear of a great deal of horror expressed about the breach of national faith, when persons have talked about a reduction of the national debt; and it would indeed be a breach of national faith to reduce the interest of the widow and the orphan, who have their money in the funds, while one of the ramifications of the boroughmongers has got any thing left to pay it with; let all those who supported the system of extravagance, which created the debt, by all means pay the interest of it, as far as they are able; but the great breach of national faith has been, to compel others who have had no finger in the pie, to pay towards making it. Only think of those impudent imposters who supported the infamous breach of national faith in the year 1797, by passing a law to protect the Bank of England from paying their notes; only think of those barefaced swindlers now whining and canting about national faith; only think of the impudence of those who, at the very moment that they are blustering about national faith, and pretending to be shocked at the bare mention of reducing what they call the national debt; only think of their passing an Act of Parliament to reduce the interest of a particular portion of that debt, by lowering the 5 per cent. stocks to 4 per cent.; thus, in the most partial manner, reducing the income of those persons who had their money in the 5 per cents. from one hundred pounds a-year to eighty, while all the holders of other stock continue to receive their full interest!! And yet these are the men that pretend they are so much shocked at the idea of being guilty of any breach of national faith!
But to return to my narrative.—On the sixteenth of August, 1815, a most sanguinary murder was committed by the French Government, in direct violation of the treaty of Paris, which guaranteed the safety of all who had taken part against the Bourbons. Marshal Ney was executed; and this was done under the sanction of the high Allied Powers. Amiable alliance! what a disgrace to the character of Wellington! Ney was a brave soldier, and to execute such a man, under such circumstances, was the height of treachery and baseness. Talk of keeping faith, indeed! This is another proof that tyrants never keep their faith with God or man, any longer than they think it their interest to do so. My opinion is, that Ney deserted and betrayed Napoleon, after the battle of Waterloo, by not doing his duty when he returned to the French capital; but that was no excuse for the gross and cowardly violation of the terms of the capitulation of Paris. There could, in fact, be no justification for such an unfeeling breach of faith, and there certainly was no other excuse for such an act, but that of a base desire to be revenged in cold blood, upon a brave general, whom they could never subdue in honourable warfare.
On the third of October following, the brave patriot Spanish General, Porlier, met a similar fate, and was executed at Corunna, by the order of the execrable and treacherous tyrant Ferdinand. To shew their detestation of such a murder, a considerable number of the British inhabitants of Corunna appeared in mourning for the death of the brave, though unfortunate patriot; upon which, Ferdinand immediately laid an extraordinary contribution upon them. Let the present patriots of Spain never forget this fact, and let them remember that the cause of rational Liberty in that country will never be safe while such a treacherous tyrant has any power left. It is cruelty of the very worst description to suffer such a monster to endanger the freedom and happiness of a whole people. In Italy the despots also enjoyed a triumph. Murat, having been defeated by the Austrian troops, fled, and was assassinated in the kingdom of Naples on the thirteenth of October.
About this time there were serious riots in the North, and particularly amongst the seamen at Sunderland, Newcastle, and Shields, which were ultimately settled by giving them the increase of wages which they demanded. On the fifth of November a treaty was entered into between Russia and Great Britain; by which treaty the Greek Islands, called the Ionian Islands, were placed under the protection of the latter power; and on the twentieth, treaties of general peace were signed at Paris. On the twenty-first of December, Lavalette, condemned at Paris for high treason, escaped from prison in the clothes of Madame Lavalette. Sir Robert Wilson, and Messrs. Bruce and Hutchinson, were mainly instrumental in procuring the escape of this destined martyr to the Bourbon tyrants, by assisting Madame Lavalette in this holy enterprise, for which they were afterwards tried, found guilty, and sentenced to three months' imprisonment in Paris. Sir Robert, as well as Messrs. Bruce and Hutchinson, one of whom was an Irishman, the other a Scotchman, secured to themselves immortal honour, in addition to the sweet satisfaction of having rescued a victim from the remorseless hands of a cruel tyrant.
On the same day, Lord Cochrane was sentenced to a hundred pounds fine for escaping from the King's Bench Prison; but such was the enthusiasm in favour of his Lordship, that the money was raised in a few days by a penny subscription. The House of Commons having honoured his Lordship by expelling him, when he was found guilty of being privy to the Stock Exchange Hoax, a dead set was made by the Westminster Rump to get Mr. Brougham elected in his place; and many private meetings were held at the Crown and Anchor for that purpose. These intrigues having been communicated to me by Mr. Samuel Miller, I wrote to him a letter, which I begged him to shew to the Members of the Rump, and say, that it was my opinion the Electors of Westminster would disgrace themselves if they did not unanimously give the Honourable House a kick, by returning Lord Cochrane again, and that if they did not choose to elect Lord Cochrane again, if they proposed to bring in any other person, except Major Cartwright, I would come to town and oppose him for at least the space of fifteen days. This letter was shewn by Mr. Miller to some of the leaders of the junto, and Mr. Miller informed me that it had the effect of making them at once come to the resolution of returning Lord Cochrane again, or at least of not making any opposition to him, by bringing forward any other person. I believe that on this occasion Sir Francis Burdett stood neuter, but it nevertheless was thought that he was favourable to the return of Mr. Brougham. Whether this was so or not, I cannot say, but it was very natural to conclude so, because those very persons who were his most devoted supporters, appeared to wish it. There had, in fact, been an attempt made, a short time before, to prepare the way for Mr. Brougham and the Whigs to have a share in the rotten Borough of Westminster. It was made at a public meeting, held on some occasion, I forget what, in Palace-yard. At that meeting I attended, having heard that a resolution was to be moved, which had been agreed to at a previous private meeting, held the night before at the Crown and Anchor, and at which meeting some of the said Whig members attended. This said resolution was drawn up by Lawyer Brougham himself, and it was in effect a vote of thanks to the Whigs, for their patriotic exertions in Parliament. Well, after a considerable portion of the business of the day had passed off, as a matter of course, it was announced to the gaping, astonished crowd, by old Wishart, that some patriotic Members of Parliament were in attendance, and that they wished to address the people, they having just arrived upon the hustings for that purpose. The old Tobacconist, Wishart, acting as a sort of master of the ceremonies, introduced them in form as they came to the front of the hustings: as, "This is Mr. Brougham, Gentlemen: this is Mr. Lambton this is Mr. Madocks, (upon which a few voices in the crowd cheered): this is Mr. Grey Bennet: this is Mr. ——, Member for Hertfordshire," I forget his name, which is not of much consequence, as he has since changed it, by taking a Peerage. There might have been several others, but I forget; they were, however, all exhibited to the wondering multitude by Mr. Wishart, and very much in the tone, voice, and manner that a showman exhibits the wild beasts at a country fair—" This is the royal tiger from Bengal," &c.
While all this was going on, I stood snug at one corner in the front of the hustings, and I must own, that I was considering in my mind which would be the best way to expose this intended hoax upon the people of Westminster. I saw there was no feeling of enthusiasm amongst the people; they looked first at the exhibited M. P. and then cast an inquiring suspicious look at the dealer in pigtail and rappee, who introduced them. I contrived to keep my muscles so unconcerned that no one could imagine what was passing in my mind, yet I saw and felt that I had a difficult card to play, and that it would seem very invidious to oppose a mere vote of thanks to any one of the individuals, or, in fact, to oppose a general vote of thanks to those Members of Parliament, for their opposition to the measures of a corrupt administration. On the other hand, it forcibly struck me that it would look very much like an act of cowardice, to stand silent and hear a vote of thanks passed to the Whigs, whose measures and whose conduct I had so often beheld behind their backs, and, in conjunction with Sir Francis Burdett, reprobated and exposed in the strongest language. I therefore determined at all risks to stand forward, and give my reasons for my opposition. At any rate I was determined to support my consistency; although I felt some doubt about the success of my apparently difficult undertaking. Thanks, however, to Mr. Wishart, who, at the best of times, was but a blundering politician, and who had no other influence over the minds of the people than that which he had acquired from being a wealthy shopkeeper, and by putting himself forward at the Westminster elections and dinners, as the advocate of Sir Francis Burdett, I was soon relieved from the unpleasant situation in which I was placed. By the speech which he made, preparatory to the moving this resolution, he likewise completely removed all doubts which I had previously entertained upon the question; for he began with a pompous eulogium upon the political conduct of the Whigs generally, and on that of Mr. Fox in particular. I took care to observe the manner in which the multitude received this eulogium; and I plainly saw, that it only required the boldness to refute his arguments, to be able to carry the proposition in the negative. I saw, too, that there was every now and then a hint given, by one of the Rump understrappers upon the hustings, to get the people to cheer the sentiments which were delivered by Mr. Wishart, but it would not do; a few of the powdered-headed gentry in the crowd certainly responded these hints, by a solitary cheer or two, while the great mass of the people listened more with astonishment than with indifference, and continually cast their eyes towards me with an inquiring look, as much as to say, "Hunt, will you tolerate all this humbug? Surely you will come forward and blow it into the air; we will support you." Mr. Wishart concluded his speech by reading the resolution, and saying, that he confidently expected that it would be carried unanimously. "Stop a bit," said a man in the crowd, "Softly, Sir! let us first hear what Mr. Hunt has to say to it."
Mr. Brougham had been standing, smirking, and bowing, and smiling, all the time that Mr. Wishart had been larding them over with praises, and he was only waiting to have the resolution put and carried, as a matter of course, and was absolutely making ready, and seemed even to be clearing his throat, to thank the enlightened and patriotic Electors of Westminster, for the great honour which they had conferred upon him, and his honourable friends. Some person, I forget who, but it was one of the junto, seconded the motion. I shall never forget the old Major's supplicating look at me; as plain as looks could speak, he seemed to say, "Pray do, Mr. Hunt, let the vote pass; if you do not oppose it no one else will, and I shall have these gentry at any rate entangled in the meshes of my political net." But when the paper was put into the hands of Mr. Arthur Morris, the High Bailiff, I coolly pulled off my hat, and before I could say a word, I was greeted with a shout that might have been heard at the Palace, and at Brooks's. This reception was a deathblow to the Whigs, who began to stare at each other in the most pitiable manner. They knew me well, and they knew that I would not fail to denounce and expose to their faces, the hypocrisy of the Whigs, as I had so often done behind their backs. I began, and the first sentence was received with a loud cheer, and "Bravo, Hunt! give it them; they richly deserve it," resounded from the crowd. "I shall," said I, "without being personal, endeavour to shew you the fallacy, the absurdity, and the inconsistency, of all that Mr. Wishart has said."—(Cheers.) I then went through the history of the Whig measures during the administration of Mr. Fox, and this I did in the way of questions to Mr. Wishart, asking him if he meant that Mr. Fox who brought a Bill into the House of Commons, and got it passed by Ministerial majorities, to enable Lord Grenville to hold, at the same time, the two incompatible offices of First Lord of the Treasury, and Auditor of the Exchequer?—"Bravo! answer that, Wishart." Whether, when he was speaking of the purity of mind, and disinterestedness of soul of Mr. Fox, whether he meant that Mr. Fox who brought in the said Bill, to enable Lord Grenville to receive six thousand a-year, as First Lord of the Treasury, and at the same time four thousand a-year more, to audit his own accounts ?—(tremendous cheers.)—I then went on in the same strain, to ask him, if he meant that Mr. Fox, and those Whigs, who, in defiance of all former precedents, when they were in power, in the year 1807, introduced into the Cabinet, Lord Ellenborough, a corrupt, political Judge, so that he might sit one day as a member of the Cabinet, and advise the prosecution of a man for sedition, or high treason, and the next day might sit in judgment upon him? Whether he meant that Mr. Fox, and those Whigs, who raised the allowances of all the younger branches of the Royal Family, from twelve thousand to eighteen thousand a-year? Whether he meant that Mr. Fox, and those Whigs, who had so violently opposed the passing of the income tax by Mr. Pitt, declaring, in the House of Commons, that it was so unjust, so unconstitutional, and so inquisitorial a measure, that the people of England would be justified in taking up arms to resist the collection of it; yet, when they came into place and authority themselves, immediately raised the same income-tax, from six and a quarter to ten per cent.; while, to curry favour with the Crown, they exempted the King's private property in the funds, amounting to several millions, from the operation of the act, though, with an infamous want of humanity, they left the widow and the orphan of fifty pounds a-year, subject to all its demands? Whether he meant that Mr. Fox, and those Whigs, who brought a Bill into the House to subject to the operation of the Excise Laws, all private families who brewed their own beer; a Bill, which, if passed, would have increased the number of Excise officers from ten to twenty thousand, giving them power at all hours to enter the house of every private family in the kingdom who brewed their own beer? I went on in this way, through the whole history of the Whigs, during the time that they were in power, one year, one month, one week, and one day, in 1806 and 1807; and, before I could get to the end of any one of the questions, the people, who anticipated what was coming, for the subject had been rendered familiar to the mind of every one, gave several almost unanimous and tremendous cheers.
It will be seen that I never spoke one disrespectful word of Mr. Fox, or ever mentioned the names of one of the Whig Members of Parliament who were upon the hustings, or even alluded to them; but just as I was about to wind up my string of questions, by noticing their dismissal from office, I observed a great bustle amongst the populace, who soon burst forth into exclamations of "Look there! they are running away! Why do you not stay and answer the questions?" I did not at first understand what this meant, till a gentleman exclaimed with a loud voice, "Look round, Mr. Hunt; all the Whig gentry are run away!" I turned round, and sure enough they were all flown, having escaped from the back part of the hustings through the King's Arms Inn. As soon as they were gone, the people gave three cheers, and roared out lustily, "Hunt for ever!" I proceeded with my harangue, and lamented that the gentlemen had not remained to assist Mr. Wishart in answering my questions; and I put it to the good sense of Mr. Wishart, whether, unless he could answer them satisfactorily, it would not be more prudent to withdraw the resolution of a vote of thanks to the Whigs, especially as none of them remained to return thanks, even supposing it possible that the resolution should be carried. (This was received with a loud laugh, and a cry to put the question.) Mr. Wishart, however, as if for the purpose of exposing his friends, and totally defeating his own object, persisted in having the resolution submitted to the meeting. The result was, that perhaps forty or fifty hands were held up for it, and a forest of ten thousand hands were raised against it. The High Bailiff, of course, declared that the resolution was lost by a very large majority. This was received with loud peals of applause, and the usual votes of thanks having been passed to the members and the High Bailiff, the meeting was dissolved, reiterating the warm expressions of their approbation of my blowing up such a bubble as was intended to have been palmed upon them by the gentlemen of the Rump Committee.
The Courier, Morning Post, and other Ministerial papers, were unpardonably witty, both in prose and verse, at the expense of the poor Whigs, while the Morning Chronicle, and other Whig papers, were equally severe upon me, and the editors did not fail to be very lavish in their vulgar abuse. That the Whigs were irritated at me is not very wonderful; it was quite clear that they set their hearts upon this meeting; in fact, it was got up by the Rump on purpose to gratify them, the other measures which were brought forward being a mere secondary consideration; and, after all, their labour was worse than thrown away; such a complete defeat never having been before sustained by any party at a public meeting. Yet I will take upon myself to say that, had I not been there, the vote of thanks would have been passed without the slightest opposition, and Messrs. Lawyer Brougham and Co. would have figured away in great stile, and would have sworn that the meeting was not only the most respectable and the most numerous that they ever witnessed, but was composed of much the most intelligent, enlightened, and patriotic citizens in the world; now, forsooth, they were a despicable rabble, deluded and led away by that abominable demagogue, Hunt! The fact is, that the multitude are often taken by surprise, and an English political assemblage is not only the most peaceable, but the best natured body in the world. They often are misled for want of thought, and, in the warmth of their hearts, and for want of explanation, hold up their hands for measures which, upon reflection, they regret. But if the matter is fairly discussed, and they are clearly made to understand the question, they always decide right; and they are not only the most disinterested, but the most honest and upright judges in the world.
Lord Cochrane, as I have before mentioned, having been sentenced to be imprisoned and fined 100l. for escaping from the King's Bench prison, it was proposed to pay this fine by subscriptions of one penny from each person; and the very same Rump Committee, who had been intriguing to bring in Mr. Brougham for Westminster instead of his Lordship, never choosing to let a good thing slip through their fingers, and always looking out to catch the public opinion, and to turn it to their own advantage, now stood forward to promote this subscription. Boxes were placed up at Brooks's, in the Strand, the standing treasurer of the Rump Committee, as well as at many other places in London and Westminster, and subscriptions, more or less, were sent in from every part of the kingdom; and, what is very extraordinary, the whole sum was subscribed to a penny; not one penny was there more or less than one hundred pounds; at all events, I never heard of any overplus, and I am sure if there had been any deficiency we should have heard enough of it. When the time came for his Lordship's liberation, it was proposed to tender the whole in copper-pence, as it had been subscribed; and I believe it was proposed or suggested by me, that there should be a public meeting called in Palace-yard, on the same day, and that I would announce to the people assembled, that we were going down to the King's-Bench, to pay in pence, Lord Cochrane's fine of one hundred pounds, which would be taken down in a cart; and I added, that I would give the hint, that those who wished to accompany us might see his Lordship walk out of the front door of the prison, instead of escaping over the walls. By this plan I proposed to bring Lord Cochrane out of prison, and to have him drawn in triumph through the streets of the metropolis, to his house in Bryanstone-street, Bryanstone-square, attended by twenty or thirty thousand people. Mr. Cobbett, who had taken a very active part in his Lordship's favour, was in London at the time, and he fully concurred in the propriety of carrying my plan into effect. The original plan of paying the fine in pence, I believe, was his own: my plan of procuring the meeting in Palace-yard, and proceeding from thence in a body, being an after-thought.
As the period approached, there appeared to be a great deal of shuffling by the Rump, about calling the meeting, and I was on the point of making some stir in the affair, but Mr. Cobbett said they had considered of it, and they thought it would be better for me not to have any thing to do with the meeting, but to let the Westminster people do it themselves. A hint of this sort was never lost upon me, and I immediately said that I concurred in the opinion, that it would be much better for the whole to be done by his Lordship's constituents; but I added, "I am fearful that some cursed hitch may prevent the thing altogether, and that his Lordship will at last be left to walk out of the prison by him self." "Oh!" said Mr. Cobbett, "Peter Walker and the Major will take care of that." I saw that my services were not wanted, and therefore I retired the next day into the country, where my business demanded my presence, and where my inclination at all times called me. Before I left Town, however, I said in a very emphatic manner, "take my word for it, Cobbett, there will be no meeting." Mr. Cobbett replied, "By G—, Hunt, you are a little too bad! You would make one believe that nothing can be done, unless it is done by you." To this sally I merely answered, "We shall see."
I went into the country, and, as I had anticipated, there was no meeting called. The worthy members of the Rump knew very well how to manage to a nicety a thing of that sort, and they parried the importunities of Mr. Walker from time to time, till at length they boldly declared that it was too late to call a meeting. Ultimately the fine was paid, and Lord Cochrane left the prison quietly, without his constituents knowing any thing of the matter; whereas, if it had been made public, tens of thousands would have paid him the compliment to have attended his liberation, and would have conducted him home, as he ought to have been, in triumph through the streets of the metropolis.
I forgot to mention that Lord Cochrane's original sentence, for the Stock Exchange hoax, was, that he should be imprisoned and stand in the PILLORY. The latter part of this sentence was remitted, not out of any kindness, but because the more prudent part of the Cabinet considered the experiment of placing his Lordship in the pillory, to be one upon which it would be a little too hazardous to venture. It was currently reported, that, when Sir Francis Burdett heard of this infamous Star Chamber sentence, he at once declared that he would accompany his colleague, and stand by his side during the time of his undergoing that which was intended to be a disgraceful exposure. However, as I said before, this part of the sentence was remitted, for reasons the most obvious; since, instead of being a disgrace to his Lordship, it would have redounded to his immortal honour. The intention of placing men in the pillory is, to hold them up to the hatred, contempt, and execration of their fellow-citizens; but it was well known to his Lordship's persecutors, that their making the attempt, in this instance, would have had a directly opposite effect: for if they had proceeded to place his Lordship in the pillory, he would have been greeted with the applause and affection of the whole population of the metropolis. This exhibition was, however, dispensed with; but no thanks to the cruel, vindictive, and remorseless Ellenborough; no thanks to the amiable and the mild Judge Bayley, who passed the sentence; no thanks to the Ministers, who were only restrained from carrying it into effect by their fears, and by their fears alone. Those Ministers had already received a lesson on this subject. When Daniel Isaac Eaton was put in the pillory, for publishing some work which was pronounced to be blasphemous by the Judges, he was cheered by the people during the whole of the time that be stood there; every one endeavouring to console him by kindness and attention. The cunning Ministers did not want a second exhibition of this sort; what had passed was calculated to bring the punishment of the pillory into disrepute with the minions of despotism. The public were become too enlightened to contribute to the corrupt views of such a tool to the Government as Ellenborough, and therefore it was that one of the precious minions of the Whigs was selected to bring a Bill into Parliament, to abolish the punishment of the pillory, unless upon a conviction for perjury, and some other particular offence. This Bill passed through both Houses of Parliament without any opposition, and without any discussion. The punishment of the pillory surely is as good a punishment for misdemeanours as it was in the days of Prynne, who had his nose slit, his ears cut off, and stood in the pillory, by a sentence of the corrupt Judges of that day, but who lived to see his persecutors brought to condign punishment. Placing a man in the pillory is an appeal to public opinion; and therefore no punishment on earth can be inflicted which leaves greater disgrace upon the character of the sufferer, where public opinion coincides with and supports the sentence of the Court: but, where public opinion does not coincide with the sentence, where, on the contrary, the sufferer is caressed and applauded by the public, it inflicts no disgrace whatever, but may rather be considered an honour. It inflicted no disgrace upon Daniel Isaac Eaton, because not one single soul in the metropolis concurred in the justice of the sentence; the whole populace applauded him, and protected him, so that if one of the myrmidons of lawless power had dared to insult him, or to pelt him, that caitiff would have suffered on the spot for his temerity and villainy. Had Lord Cochrane been placed in the pillory (and I wish the corrupt knaves of the day had carried their design into execution), it would not have been the slightest disgrace to his Lordship; it would have only shewn that his malignant persecutors thought they had the power to carry their revengeful sentence into execution. As it was, they had the shame of having wished to do what they did not dare to do. At all events, the sentence, the being expelled from the navy and the House of Commons, and the kicking of his Lordship's knight's banner out of Westminster Abbey, was quite enough to show what they would have done, could they but have "screwed their courage to the sticking place."
When this prosecution was commenced, his Lordship was on board a ship of war, upon the point of sailing to cruise against the Americans, and to fight against the only free people in the universe. He was at that time not half a real Reformer, though he had certainly incurred the hatred of the Boroughmongers, by exposing the villainy of the Prize Courts of the Admiralty. He had even gone further; he had done that for which he will never be forgotten or forgiven by them. He had procured a return to be made to the House, of all the places, pensions, and sinecures, held under the Crown. His Lordship took the House rather unawares, he caught its members in a complying mood, and, like a man of war, he pressed on to conquest, and induced them to grant that which they can never recall; and for granting which they have scarcely forgiven themselves, and will certainly never forgive him as long as he lives. It was for THIS that he was prosecuted; it was for THIS that he was sentenced to stand in the pillory; it was for THIS that he was expelled the navy; it was for THIS that he was expelled the House of Commons; it was for THIS that his knight's banner was kicked out of King Henry's chapel: had it not been for THIS, he would never have been prosecuted at all; but if these things had never happened, I believe his Lordship would have never been a real Radical which now I hope and believe that he is; had it not been for this, I believe he would have still continued the ornament of the British Navy, and would never have joined to assist, by his talents and his consummate naval skill, to emancipate the South Americans from the slavery of Old Spain, the mother country, as it is foolishly called.
There were great emigrations to America, this year, 1815, both from England and Ireland, in consequence of the distressed state of the farmers, who gave up their leases, owing to the decreased prices of all sorts of agricultural productions. The average price of wheat, during the year, was sixty-four shillings and fourpence a quarter, about eight shillings a bushel; the quartern loaf was sevenpence. The supplies voted this year were EIGHTY-NINE MILLIONS eight hundred and ninety-three thousand nine hundred pounds, for England, and NINE MILLIONS Seven hundred and fifty thousand pounds for Ireland, making 99,643,900l. This, together with the expenses of collection, (say five millions) and ten millions paid for poor rates, makes the round sum of 114,643,900l. collected in direct taxes this year from the pockets of JOHN GULL, besides tithes and other et ceteras. O, brave John! thou art at any rate a hard-headed and empty-pated fellow; and all in good time thy pockets will be as empty as thy hard pate now is!
As might have been expected, France and Spain were ruled with a rod of superstition, wielded by the flinty hearts and iron hands of the Bourbons, Louis the Eighteenth of France, and Ferdinand of Spain, a precious pair of English proteges. In spite of all the pledges and securities which had been given, executions, banishments, and proscriptions were the order of the day, both in France and Spain. In France, Labedoyere and Marshal Ney fell the victims of Bourbon revenge and cowardice. A law of pretended amnesty was indeed afterwards passed, but all the relatives of Napoleon were excluded from residing in the French territory. In the unhappy kingdom of Spain the execrable and impotent Ferdinand, impotent in all but cruelty, exercised the most unlimited powers of tyranny and oppression; a sad contrast to the comparatively mild and liberal Government of Joseph Buonaparte. In Spain, almost every man who had assisted Wellington to drive out the French, in fact, every avowed friend of civil and religious Liberty, were either executed, banished, or imprisoned by the execrable and despicable bigoted tyrant Ferdinand, the beloved Ferdinand! May the vengeance of Heaven pursue him! The Parliament of England met on the first of February, when Castlereagh moved that a national monument should be erected, to commemorate the late victories; which proposition was unanimously agreed to by the "collective wisdom" of the nation. Mr. Brougham moved for a copy of the treaty signed at Paris, by the allied despots, commonly called the HOLY ALLIANCE. This was negatived by the "collective wisdom," who also refused a copy of the treaty of Vienna. John Gull had to pay for all, but John was not worthy of being trusted with such mighty secrets.
The Ministers now attempted to continue the property tax; but this caused such a ferment through the country, that public meetings were called, and petitions were presented from every part of the kingdom: the Livery of London set the example, and sounded the alarm, which flew like lightning throughout the country. Seeing that the public were alive and anxious to oppose this tax, the Whigs once more made an attempt to rally; in fact, all the landed proprietors were against it; and the leading Whigs therefore called county meetings all over the kingdom; we had a county meeting in Hampshire. It was held at Winchester, and was called by the Whigs, the leader of whom was Mr. Portal, of Trifolk, whose father had amassed a large fortune, by making all the paper for the Bank of England notes. Mr. Cobbett and myself attended, and we completely frustrated the intention of the Whigs. The Whigs, as we expected, endeavoured to make a party question of it, and all their anger was directed against the Ministers, or rather against the Prince Regent, because he would not turn those Ministers out of place, and put them in. Mr. Portal called the tax a HIGHWAYMAN'S TAX. Mr. Cobbett and myself thoroughly exposed those hypocritical Whigs, and proved to the satisfaction of our hearers, that, if it were a highwayman's tax, the Whigs had taken to the road in 1807, and robbed the people quite as much as their more fortunate opponents. I recollect that I took occasion to remind the worthy descendant of the Bank of England paper-maker, that I agreed with him fully in the designation that he had given to the tax, and to assure him that I considered those who collected it as nothing better than highwaymen; but I begged that he, as well as those that heard me, would at the same time not fail to remember that I considered him (Mr. Portal) an accomplice; for he aided and abetted them in their robbery, by acting as a Commissioner of the Property Tax, and did it with so much heart and soul, that he sanctioned not only the assessor and the collector, but likewise scarcely ever failed to confirm every infamous surcharge that the rascally inspector chose to make. This caused a burst of laughter, at the expense of the said Whig Commissioner, who looked extremely foolish. Mr. Cobbett and myself approved of their petition, as far as it went, but we moved a rider, which prayed for the reduction of the war malt tax, the reduction of the standing army, the abolition of useless pensions and sinecure places, and also for a Reform of the Parliament. The Parsons, the Whigs, and the Tories, all united and voted against us, and maintained the propriety of continuing these burdens; and we were consequently left in a minority upon a division, as always was the case at every public county meeting that I attended at Winchester, with the exception of the county meeting held upon the subject of the Duke of York and Mrs. Mary Anne Clark, of notorious memory. Upon that occasion the public feeling was so unanimous, that Mr. Cobbett's motion, for a vote of thanks to Colonel Wardle, was carried by a very large majority. Between the Parsons, the placemen and their dependants, they have always contrived, at all other times, to carry every thing before them; when I say they, I mean an union of the Whigs and Tories against the people. I also attended the meeting at the Common Hall of the Livery of London, to petition against the renewal of the Property Tax. Although the petitions were by no means so numerous, nor so numerously signed, as they were against the Corn Bill, yet as a great body of the Members of the Honourable House were personally interested in abolishing the Income Tax, they, good souls, kindly condescended to listen, or at least they pretended to listen, to the prayers of the people, and on the eighteenth of March this infamous tax was repealed.
On the nineteenth of April a Bill was passed for detaining the Emperor Napoleon Buonaparte a prisoner at St. Helena. This Bill will ever remain a hateful and foul blot upon the statute book of England. Whigs and Tories joined in passing this disgraceful Bill; an act that will be handed down to posterity as a stigma not only upon the legislature of the country, but also upon the character of the age in which such an unjust and tyrannical proceeding could be permitted. Napoleon was not the prisoner of England. The moment that peace was signed he was as free to come to England as any other man in the world, and the English Government had no more right to seize him, and carry him prisoner to St. Helena, than the French had a right to seize the Prince Regent of England, and chain him to a barren rock for life. It was arbitrary, cruel, unjust, and most cowardly. The protest which Napoleon made against being sent to St. Helena was as follows: "I hereby solemnly protest, in the face of God and man, against the violation of my most sacred rights, in forcibly disposing of my person and my liberty. I came voluntarily on board the Bellerophon, I am not the prisoner but the guest of England. As soon as I was seated on board the Bellerophon, I was upon the hearths of the British people." Alas, poor Napoleon! you ought to have known that there was then no British people; that the British people, who formerly held an influence over the mind and actions of the Government, were no more; that the people of England were become a set of abject, grovelling slaves, ready to bow the knee and bend the neck to their taskmasters! The conduct of the Ministers, in transporting Napoleon forcibly to St. Helena, and afterwards sending out such a gaoler as Sir Hudson Lowe to worry him to death, was well becoming their upstart character; for none but the basest cowards will be found to insult a fallen foe. Mr. Brougham could not hold his tongue upon the occasion, but must disgrace himself, not only as a man but as a legislator, by declaring in Parliament, when this shameful measure was brought before the House, "that the law of nations justified the detention of Napoleon at St. Helena." Mr. Brougham did not condescend to tell us what law of nations; but of course he meant to say that the law of nations would justify any thing that a Government had the power to effect; this is the only standard by which modern statesmen estimate the law of nations. On the same principle, or, more correctly speaking, want of principle, an Act was passed, to restrict the Bank of England once more from paying their notes in cash; or, in other words, to protect them from the just demands of their creditors. The Act, however, explicitly declared that this protection should cease on the 5th of April 1818, when the Bank should positively pay their debts which they owed, and which they had so repeatedly promised to pay to the public. The Parliament was, in this case, like the shepherd boy, who so often cried "wolf," for fun to alarm the people, that when the wolf really came and attacked his flock, nobody either believed or heeded his cries. Thus it was with the Parliament; they had so repeatedly promised the people that they would make the Bank of England pay their notes, and they had so frequently broken this promise, that the people firmly believed that payments in cash would never be made. All those, too, who read the writings of Mr. Cobbett were persuaded that it was impossible for it even to be attempted, and therefore those who had any faith in his predictions were of course totally unprepared for it, on the time arriving for its being carried into effect.
On the 24th of April, 1816, Major-General Sir Robert Wilson, Michael Bruce, Esq. and Captain J. H. Hutchinson, were convicted, in Paris, of assisting the escape of the Count de Lavalette, who was condemned for high treason, and they were sentenced to three months' imprisonment. A well-written article has appeared in the Times newspaper, contrasting the mild sentence inflicted upon these gentlemen, with that which has been inflicted upon me, of two years and six months' incarceration in this Bastile.
Some time in the spring of this year, a public meeting was called of the freeholders of the county of Somerset, and it was advertised to be held at Bridgwater, John Goodford, Esq. of Yeovil, High Sheriff. I forget now what was the precise object of the signers of the requisition, but I believe that it was to congratulate the Regent upon the marriage, or the intended marriage, of the Princess Charlotte of Wales, to the Prince of Saxe Cobourg. This I know, however, that the meeting was called by that faction in the county, at the head of which stood the Rev. Sir Abraham Elton, Bart. By accident I saw, in a London paper, the advertisement for this meeting, and though I was then residing in town, I made up my mind to attend it.
When I arrived at Bridgwater, I put my horses up at the Globe, and during the time that I was changing my dress, I saw the country people and farmers ride into the town in droves, but I did not see a single soul whom I knew; and being a perfect stranger in the town of Bridgwater, I had to make my way up to the hustings alone. As, however, I passed up the street, Mr. Tynte, the present Member for that town, accosted me, saying, "Well, Mr. Hunt, what are you come here? I really believe that the meeting was called in this town because you were not known here, and therefore it was expected, or rather hoped, that you would not come. At Wells they knew you would carry any proposition that you might choose to bring forward, and I really believe it will be the same here." After this salutation from him I passed on; he took one side of the street, and I the other; for as he was a magistrate of the county, and one of the gang, it would not have been at all in character to have seen him walking at the same side of the street with me.
I reached the hustings just in time, and up I went with the rest. Little Squire Goodford opened the proceedings, and had the requisition read, after which he called upon the people to hear all parties that might choose to address them, &c. &c. &c. Sir Abraham Elton next came forward, and addressed the meeting in one of the most bombastical and ridiculous speeches that I ever heard. He expatiated upon the GLORY that we had acquired by the war, and the overthrow of Buonaparte, and predicted that peace, plenty, and their concomitant train of blessings, would strew the path of John Bull. Of the virtues of the Prince of Saxe Coburg, he spoke in high-sounding terms; and he drew the conclusion that the union between him and our Princess Charlotte would contribute greatly to the happiness, and even safety, of the British people. Some one of the same kidney followed him, and seconded his motion in a similar strain of sublime humbug and nonsense.
While this farce was performing by the Rev. Baronet and his band, and while the people of Somerset, who were assembled to the amount of six or eight thousand persons, were gaping and swallowing all the stuff and trash dealt out to them by these worthies, a Mr. Trip, a gentleman of the lower part of the county, a barrister, addressed himself to me, requesting to know if I meant to propose any amendment. I told him I had some resolutions of a very different nature, which I certainly meant to move as an amendment. He then shewed me some resolutions which he had drawn up, and which he had intended to propose as an amendment, if no others were offered. Upon reading them over, I found that they embraced all the material points contained in those which I had framed; and as they went most decidedly to object to the whole that was proposed by Sir Abraham, it was settled between us that he should move, and that I should second them. He accordingly moved them, after a very able and violent speech, which certainly contained a great deal of good matter, though it was evidently clouded every now and then by ebullitions of party spirit, which at county meetings generally shews itself. He was, nevertheless, heard with attention, and received considerable applause. The moment that I came forward to second the resolutions, a murmur ran through the crowd to know who I was; and, on my name being announced, I was instantly honoured with three cheers. In seconding Mr. Trip's resolutions, I certainly took rather different ground upon which to found my arguments. I ridiculed, in indignant language, the idea of granting sixty thousand a-year to a young German adventurer, merely for marrying our Princess, and of giving them fifty thousand pounds as an outfit. But the most monstrous and most infamous proposition of the whole, I considered that of settling fifty thousand a-year upon him for life, in case of the decease of his wife. It was, I said, a premium upon her death.
I was going on amidst the laughter and cheers of the whole multitude, when little Mr. Goodford, the Sheriff, interfered to call me to order; adding, that as he stood there as the representative of the King, and as a loyal man, he could never suffer the Royal Family of England to be spoken of in the way in which I had spoken of it, and he insisted that I should not go on so in his presence. This interruption was received with evident marks of disapprobation. Never at a loss upon such an occasion, I replied, that I considered myself quite as loyal a man as Mr. Goodford, both to the King and the people, and that, as the meeting appeared almost unanimously disposed to hear me, Mr. Goodford, as chairman, had nothing to do but to take the sense of the meeting, which, if he did not choose to act up to, it was only for him to vacate the chair, and we would place some one in it that would. The little Sheriff did not relish the idea of vacating the chair, and therefore the question was put whether the meeting would hear what I had to say or not. The show of hands in favour of my continuing in the same strain was nine hundred and ninety-nine out of every thousand; there being only three hats, that I saw, held up against it. These three persons consisted of a little knot of placemen, led on by a notorious Custom-house scamp of that town; a tall, lanky fellow, whose head was nearly half a foot above the rest of the crowd. From the visage of this worthy projected a cocked nose of a very peculiar kind, the nostrils of which appeared to be two round holes passing horizontally, instead of perpendicularly, into his head. Upon this delicious proboscis (which was a sort of mixture between the pug-dog and a Chinese pig), was mounted a pair of silver barnicles, apparently placed there for the purpose of hiding a brace of things more resembling coddled gooseberries than human eyes. That feature which, in men, made as they ought to be, is called a mouth, was in him not entitled to the name; it being a vulgar gash, with a pair of very thick lips, extending across two dumpling cheeks, and nearly uniting a brace of tremendous asinine ears. These altogether formed something like a half-decayed turnip stuck upon a mop-stick. Let the reader only imagine to himself a figure of this sort, constantly opening the slit that I have above described, and vomiting forth at once, from a fetid carcase, the most disgusting sound and stench, and then he will have some faint idea of the scene exhibited by this animal of a Customhouse officer. After being admonished twice to be peaceable, and not attending to it, he and his satellites were handed out of the crowd, and banished from the scene of action, amidst the cheers of the multitude. This operation being performed upon the Customhouse ass and his two supporters, I proceeded to address the meeting, for the purpose of winding up the subject upon which I had been dilating, when Squire Goodford spoke to order. I certainly handled, with very little ceremony, the trash which Sir Abraham had been sporting, and, after having admonished my hearers to exercise their own judgment like Englishmen, and not be led by the nose like slaves, I concluded by seconding the resolutions which had been moved by Mr. Trip, which, of course, included a resolution declaring the necessity of a Reform in Parliament.
What followed was more curious than all the rest. Sir John Acland, the Chairman of the county quarter sessions, now came forward, and, like a cunning old fox, who saw which way the wind blew, he turned short round upon those whom he meant before to support, and declared that the resolutions moved as an amendment by Mr. Trip, and seconded by Mr. Hunt, had his full concurrence. Sir John saw which was the strongest side, and which way the current of popular opinion was rolling, and therefore he was determined to come in for his share of merit, by joining in the cry and running with the stream. Upon a shew of hands our amendment was carried by a majority of one hundred to one, at least. I never saw a man so delighted as Mr. Counsellor Trip was, I thought he would have jumped over the hustings for joy. It was evident to me that this success came upon him unawares, and that, although he had made up his mind to move an amendment, yet he had not the slightest idea that it would be carried. I was more accustomed to these things, and took it more coolly; in fact, I felt it necessary to admonish him to bear his victory with more becoming joy, and not to exult so outrageously. A vote of thanks was passed to little Squire Goodford, the nominal High Sheriff; I say nominal, for, in fact, all the Sheriffs of this county, for many, many years, have been called pauper Sheriffs, and have been merely nominal High Sheriffs; Messrs. Perpetual, or rather Messrs. Alternate Sheriffs, that is to say, Messrs. Mellior and Broderip, being the real or bona fide Sheriffs, their masters having been their mere puppets or nominal Sheriffs.
When the meeting was dissolved, almost the whole assembly followed, or rather attended me to my inn, where I was obliged to address them from the window, before they could be prevailed upon to depart. Every one appeared delighted with the result of the meeting, except poor Sir Abraham, the Sheriff, and a little knot of Whigs, who had meant to curry favour with the Prince Regent, by presenting to him an abject, time-serving address from the county of Somerset; but who had been foiled, and, in a great measure, by my exertions. Sir Abraham, and his friend the Sheriff, looked most wretchedly; no Frenchman ever shrugged his shoulders with a more emphatic expression of disaster, than the Rev. Baronet did; and he really reminded me of the knight with the rueful countenance. Will any man who reads this believe that the worthy Judges of the Court of King's Bench had not the effect of this meeting in their mind, when they sentenced me to be confined TWO YEARS AND SIX MONTHS in Ilchester Bastile, where they well knew the Rev. Baronet and the worthy Squire were two of the VISITING MAGISTRATES? Will any one who reads this have the least doubt, that those who have persecuted me here have been actuated by the cowardly feeling of wishing to be revenged upon me, now that they have me in their power, because I defeated their ridiculous and time-serving projects, and exposed their folly at the said county meeting at Bridgwater? Can any one doubt that the Ministers ordered their tools to send me here, that their underlings might exert their petty tyranny, in order to annoy me?
On the twelfth of May, in this year, the Prince of Saxe Coburg was married to the Princess Charlotte of Wales. The Parliament, as I have before observed, gave them for an outfit fifty thousand pounds of John Gull's money, and settled sixty thousand pounds a-year of the said John's money, and also settled upon him as a dower, for his life, fifty thousand pounds a-year, in case of her death: so that this hopeful German now receives annually out of the pockets of the distressed people of England fifty thousand pounds a-year, while the President of the United States of America only receives six thousand pounds a-year; so that Saxe Coburg does us the honour to drain the people of England of a sum more than eight times as much as the President of the United States of America receives from the people of that country, for attending to all their affairs, and presiding as the Chief Magistrate of a vast and free country, containing ten millions of people.
In the middle of May there were disturbances at Bideford, from the poor endeavouring to prevent the exportation of potatoes. There was also a riot and great disturbances at Bury, by the unemployed, to destroy a spinning-jenny. On the 24th, a great body of farmers and labourers assembled in a very riotous manner at Ely, and committed many depredations. They were at length suppressed, after some blood had been spilt. On the 28th, there were great disturbances, amongst the pitmen and others, at Newcastle-upon-Tyne. On the same day a serious tumult occurred at Halstead, in Essex, to liberate some persons who had been taken up for destroying threshing-machines. On the 2d of July, the Prince Regent prorogued the Parliament, after a new Alien Bill, and a Bill to regulate the Civil List, had passed. On the 12th of July, 1816, there was a public funeral of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Esq. certainly the most brilliant and accomplished orator of the age. In my opinion, he far surpassed either Pitt or Fox in real eloquence, and, in the midst of all his changings and vacillations, he was always, without one exception, the steady and zealous friend of the liberty of the press. Poor Sheridan was always in pecuniary difficulties, and overwhelmed with debt; and he at last became quite a swindler in order to evade his creditors, and he died at a time when he could not obtain credit for a pot of porter. On the 22d, the Duke of Gloucester, who was called by the Royal Family Silly Billy, was married to one of his cousins, the Princess Mary. Fortunately for the public, they have, I believe, no children for John Gull to keep. On the 2d of August, a riot took place in the Calton, one of the suburbs of Glasgow, on account of the soup-kitchens, which was not suppressed till some blood was spilt. On the 8th of the same month, a mortar of uncommon size, left by Marshal Soult on his retreat from Cadiz, was fixed in St. James's Park, opposite the Horse Guards. This piece of ordnance is commonly known by the name of the Prince Regent's bomb. On the 27th, Algiers was bombarded, and the batteries destroyed by the English fleet, commanded by Lord Exmouth—a treaty was entered into afterwards, by the Dey of Algiers and Lord Exmouth, in which Christian slavery was abolished. On the 16th of September a riot and great disturbance took place at Preston, in Lancashire, by the distressed and unemployed workmen. There was also a riot at Frome, in consequence of a sudden rise of one-third in the price of potatoes, in which riot the Yeomanry Cavalry sustained a defeat, and were driven from the field of action by the stones, potatoes, and rotten eggs that were hurled at them by the multitude, several of whom were taken into custody. One of that anomalous hermaphrodite race called Parson-justices, a person of the name of Sainsbury, read the Riot Act, and called out the cavalry. But, by the judicious conduct of Mr. Champness, of Orchardleigh, the disturbances were quelled, and peace was restored. A Mr. Thornhill, who was a paid agent and adjutant of the Somerset Yeomanry Cavalry, who came over from Bath on the following day, after all was peace and quietness, wrote a letter to the Editor of the Courier newspaper, giving a most ridiculous and false account of the whole transaction. In order to ascertain the truth, as to what really took place, I drove over from Bath, with Mr. Allen of Bath, and having detailed the circumstances to Mr. Cobbett, he handled the brave blustering Captain in a masterly stile, and fixed upon him the name of Captain Bobadil, which will last him as long as he lives. Captain Bobadil and the battle of Frome will not readily be forgotten in the west of England, nor, indeed, in any place where Mr. Cobbett's Register was read, which was now published at TWO-PENCE a number, and in consequence had increased ten-fold in its circulation. There were also great riots at Nottingham, by persons calling themselves Luddites; these consisted of unemployed workmen, who went about in the most lawless manner, destroying the frames by which the stocking manufactory was carried on. There were riots, too, at Myrthir-Tydvil, in Glamorganshire, by the workmen employed in the iron-manufactories, on a reduction of wages; and at Walsall, in Staffordshire, amongst the distressed and unemployed workmen.