"That your petitioner, still actuated by a sincere desire to see his country free and happy, and holding a high character in the world, has lately been using his humble endeavours to assist peaceably and legally in promoting applications to Parliament for a Reform in your Honourable House, that measure appearing to your petitioner to be the only effectual remedy for the great and notorious evils under which the country now groans, and for which evils, as no one attempts to deny their existence, so no one, as far as your petitioner has heard, has attempted to suggest any other remedy.
"That your petitioner, in pursuit of this constitutional, and, as he hopes and believes, laudable object (an object for which, if need be, he is resolved to risk his life against unlawful violence) lately took part in a public meeting of the City of Bristol, of which he is a freeholder; and that though a large body of regular troops and of yeomanry cavalry were placed in a menacing attitude near the place of our meeting, the meeting was conducted and concluded in the most peaceable and orderly manner, and the result of it was a petition to your Honourable House, voluntarily signed by upwards of twenty thousand men, which petition has been presented to, and received by, your Honourable House.
"That your petitioner, who had met with every demonstration of public good-will and approbation in the said city, was surprised to see in the public newspapers an account of a boy having been sent to gaol by certain Police Officers and Justices, for having pulled down a posting-bill, which alleged your petitioner to have been hissed out of the City of Bristol, and containing other gross falsehoods and infamous calumnies on the character of your petitioner, calculated to excite great hatred against your petitioner, and to prepare the way for his ruin and destruction.
"That your petitioner, who trusts that he has himself always acted an open and manly part, and who has never been so base as to make an attack upon any one, who had not the fair means of defence, feeling indignant at this act of partiality and oppression, came to London with a view of investigating the matter, and this investigation having taken place, he now alleges to your Honourable House, that the aforesaid posting-bills, containing the infamous calumnies aforesaid, were printed by J. Downes, who is the printer to the Police; that the bill-sticker received the bills from the said Downes, who paid him for sticking them up; that the bill-sticker was told by the said Downes, that there would be somebody to watch him to see that he stuck them up; that Police Officers were set to watch to prevent the said bills from being pulled down; that some of these Bills were carried to the Police-office at Hatton Garden, and there kept by the officers, to be produced in proof against persons who should be taken up for pulling them down; that Thomas Dugood was seized, sent to gaol, kept on bread and water, and made to lie on the bare boards from the tenth to the twenty-second of January, 1817, when he was taken out with about fifty other persons, tied to a long rope or cable, and marched to Hicks's Hall, where he was let loose, and that his only offence was pulling down one of those bills; that a copy of Dugood's commitment was refused to your petitioner; that your petitioner was intentionally directed to a wrong prison to see the boy Dugood; that the Magistrate, William Marmaduke Sellon, who had committed Dugood, denied repeatedly that he knew any thing of the matter, and positively asserted that Dugood had been committed by another Magistrate, a Mr. Turton, who Mr. Sellon said, was at his house very ill, and not likely to come to the office for some time.
"That your Honourable House is besought by your petitioner, to bear in mind the recently exposed atrocious conspiracies carried on by officers of the Police against the lives of innocent men, and your petitioner is confident that your Honourable House will, in these transactions, see the clear proofs of a foul conspiracy against the character and life of your petitioner, carried on by persons in the public employ, appointed by the Crown, and removable at its pleasure, and that this conspiracy has been also carried on by means of public money.
"And, therefore, as the only mode of doing justice to the petitioner and to the public in a case of such singular atrocity, your petitioner prays your Honourable House that he may be permitted to prove (as he is ready to do) all and singular the aforesaid allegations at the Bar of your Honourable House, and that if your Honourable House shall find the allegations to be true, you will be pleased to address his Royal Highness to cause the aforesaid Magistrate to be dismissed from his office.
"And your petitioner shall ever pray.
The day of the third Spafields meeting arrived, and I drove to town in my tandem, and put up at the British Coffee-house livery-stables, in Cockspur-street, where I had for several years before gone with my horses. My trunk was, as usual, taken into a bedroom, where I meant to change my dress previously to my going to the meeting. I had first to walk into Fleet-street on business, and when I got there, I saw nine pieces of artillery drawn over Blackfriars-bridge, which proceeded up Fleet-market towards Spafields, attended by a regular company of artillery men from Woolwich. I had called on Major Cartwright as I drove into town, and he informed me that he had heard, from good authority, that a Cabinet Council had been held on Saturday, and that LORD CASTLEREAGH had proposed to disperse the intended meeting by military force, but that the other Cabinet Ministers had opposed this measure, and that at length CASTLEREAGH retired, muttering vengeance, and adding that he would take the responsibility upon himself. The Major spoke with great earnestness and feeling, while, if I recollect right, I treated his information rather lightly, saying, that if they killed me I hoped the Major would write my epitaph. When, however, I saw the artillery pass up Fleet-market, in a direction for Spafields, the place of meeting, I began to think more seriously of the matter; but, as I was about to do that which my conscience approved of, and as I knew that I should not violate any law, I returned towards my inn, certainly in a serious mood, yet determined to do my duty. Not one man that I knew in the whole metropolis would or did accompany me. I called at Cobbett's lodgings, in Catherine-street, and asked the young ones, rather sarcastically, if they meant to attend the meeting? to which they answered, that their father had left positive orders that they should not go over the threshhold of the door that day. When I got to my inn, in Cockspur-street, I ordered my servant to get my horses ready, and I went to my bedroom to put on a clean shirt, but I was surprised to find that my trunk had been removed. I rung the bell several times before any one came; at length the Boots appeared, instead of the chambermaid, and I demanded the reason of my trunk being removed. He either knew or pretended to know nothing of the matter, but said he would inquire. After he had been absent for some time, I rung again, upon which a stranger appeared, a person whom I had never seen before. He said he was the master of the house, and he had ordered my trunk to be removed; to which he added, that I should not sleep in his house, as it would drive away his best customers. I told him I had slept there occasionally for many years, and was always treated with civility; and drawing out my purse, I said that as he was a stranger I would immediately pay him whatever he might demand for the use of the room. He still, however, persisted that I should leave his house. I demanded my trunk, and declared I would dress there first; he swore I should not, and made an effort to hustle me out of the room. I then told him to keep his hands off, or I would thrash him; upon which he put himself into a boxing attitude, and offered to fight me. He was a little insignificant creature, and I was just upon the point of kicking him out of the room, when I saw a fellow peeping round the corner of the door. It immediately struck me that this was a trap to get me into a scrape, and I paused and drew back in consequence. I told the little gentleman, who said his name was Morley, that I would meet him and talk over the matter at any other time; but, as I was at present engaged, I asked him as a favour to let me have my trunk to dress, and I would leave his house in ten minutes. It was agreed that we should meet at Mr. Jackson's rooms, some day in the following week. Thither I went at the time appointed, with perhaps the worst second in the world, Mr. Cobbett. When I got there each told his story, and Jackson proposed that we should go into the fields to settle the dispute, but this was not assented to by either Mr. Morley or myself, and Mr. Cobbett was vehement against my having any thing to do with my antagonist. The affair, therefore, terminated with some smart words, without either of us offering to fight. This affair was, however, blazoned forth in all the morning papers, which, in utter defiance of truth, asserted that I had behaved ill to a man of the name of Morley, who kept the British Coffee-house in Cockspur-street; that we had met by appointment at Jackson's, and that I had refused to fight him. Supposing that I had done so, I should, under all the circumstances, have been perfectly justified; but it was no such thing, the fellow never offered to fight me at any other time but in his own house, where, if I had struck him, I am thoroughly convinced that a police-officer was in attendance, to take me into custody for assaulting a man in his own house; consequently, I should have been detained till the time of the meeting in Spafields had passed; and it would have been made a pretty handle of in the papers the next day, when the public would have been told that, instead of my attending the meeting in Spafields, I had been taken to Bow-street, and detained in custody, for assaulting the landlord of the inn at which I had put up. All that I shall add upon the subject is, that on no occasion in my life did I ever turn my back upon two such men as Mr. Morley.
At the time appointed I arrived at the meeting, which was much larger than either of the former meetings. Resolutions were passed, and a petition was unanimously agreed to, praying for Reform, &c. which petition was placed the same evening in the hands of Lord Folkestone, by Mr. Clarke, who had been for the third time our chairman; and which petition was presented to the House of Commons the same night, by his Lordship. I was accompanied by the people to Hyde-Park Corner, where I took my leave of them, and returned to my house at Middleton Cottage; the whole of these three meetings in Spafields having been held in the most peaceable and orderly manner, without the least disturbance, or one single breach of the peace having been committed by any person that attended it, notwithstanding all the infamous falsehoods that were published in the newspapers to the contrary. The truth is, that I have seen ten times more disturbance, disorder, and tumult, at one Common-Hall, in the city of London, where the Lord Mayor presided, than there was at all these meetings put together.
While these things were going peaceably on out of doors, and petitions were daily and numerously pouring in from all parts of the kingdom, particularly from the North of England, and from Scotland, the two Houses of Parliament were in their way not inactive. The committees that were appointed made their report, and bills were immediately brought in to suspend the Habeas-Corpus Act, and to prevent seditious meetings; which bills were, with very faint opposition, agreed to. It ought not to be forgotten, that on this occasion the Whigs took a most prominent part against the people, and that they were quite as loud and as violent against the Reformers as the Ministers were. To be sure the people had committed one inexpiable crime. They had by their steady, peaceable, and persevering conduct, frightened the Whig leader, Mr. Ponsonby, out of his sinecure of 4,000l. per annum, which he held in consequence of his having been Lord Chancellor of Ireland, during the Whig administration, in the year 1807. The cunning Scotchman, Erskine, who had been for the same short period Lord Chancellor of England, was also pressed very hard to follow the example of his Irish friend; but Sawney was of a more tenaciously grasping nature, and he stuck to the ship, determined to partake of the plunder as long as she would swim. It was for this that the Whigs wreaked their malice upon the Reformers, and that Mr. Brougham and his confederates appeared to run a race every night which should most abuse and calumniate them.
The plot being ripe, Watson, Thistlewood, Preston, and Hooper, were committed to the Tower for high treason. On the other hand, meetings were held in Westminster, and in the city of London, to petition against the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. The following petition of mine was also presented to the House of Lords, by Lord Holland. I was below the bar at the time his Lordship presented it, immediately before Lord Sidmouth rose to move the passing of the Seditious Meetings Bill, and I shall never forget the look that his Lordship, the Secretary of State, gave me; for I stood right in front of the bar, and within a few yards of him.
"To the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled.
"The Petition of Henry Hunt, of Middleton Cottage, in the County of Southampton, "HUMBLY SHEWETH,
"That your petitioner, who had the honour to be the mover of the petitions at the recent meetings held in Spafields, one of which petitions has been received by his Royal Highness the Prince Regent, and two of which petitions have been presented to, and received by, the Honourable the House of Commons, has read, in the public prints, a paper entitled a Report of the Secret Committee of your Right Honourable House, and which Report appears to your petitioner, as far as his humble powers of disentanglement have enabled him to analyse the same, to submit to your Right Honourable House, as solemn truths, the following assertions; to wit:
"That the first public meeting in Spafields, which had for its ostensible object a petition for relief and Reform, was closely connected with, and formed part of, a Conspiracy to produce an insurrection for the purpose of overthrowing the Government.
"2. That Spafields was fixed upon as the place of assembling, on account of its vicinity to the Bank and the Tower; and that, for this same reason, 'care was taken to adjourn the meeting to the 2d of December, by which time it was hoped that preparations for the surrection would be fully matured.'
"3. That, at this second meeting, flags, banners, and all the ensigns of insurrection, were displayed, and that, finally, an insurrection was begun by persons collected in the Spafields, and that notwithstanding the ultimate object was then frustrated, the same designs still continue to be prosecuted with sanguine hopes of success.
"4. That a large quantity of Pike-heads had been ordered of one individual, and that 250 had actually been made and paid for. "5. That Delegates from Hampden Clubs in the Country have met in London, and that they are expected to meet again in March.
"That, as to the FIRST of these assertions, as your petitioner possesses no means of ascertaining the secret thoughts of men, he cannot pretend to assert, that none of the persons, with whom the calling of the first Spafields meeting originated, had no views of a riotous or revolutionary kind; but he humbly conceives, that a simple narrative of facts will be more than sufficient to satisfy your Right Honourable House, that no such dangerous projects ever entered the minds of those who constituted almost the entire mass of that most numerous meeting. Therefore, in the hope of producing this conviction in the mind of your Right Honourable House, your petitioner begs leave to proceed to state: that he, who was then at his house in the country, received, a short time before the 16th of November last, a letter from Thomas Preston, Secretary of a Committee, requesting your petitioner to attend a public meeting of the distressed inhabitants of the metropolis, intended to be held in Spafields on the day just mentioned; that your petitioner thereupon wrote to Thomas Preston to know what was the object of the intended meeting; that he received, in the way of answer, a newspaper called the Independent Whig, of November 10th, 1816, containing an advertisement in these words; to wit: 'At a meeting held at the Carlisle, Shoreditch, on Thursday evening, it was determined to call a meeting of the distressed Manufacturers, Mariners, Artizans, and others of the Cities of London and Westminster, the Borough of Southwark, and parts adjacent, in Spafields, on Friday, the 15th instant, precisely at 12 o'clock, to take into consideration the propriety of petitioning the Prince Regent and Legislature, to adopt immediately such measures as will relieve the sufferers from the misery which now overwhelms them. (Signed) JOHN DYALL, Chairman, THOMAS PRESTON, Secretary.' That your petitioner, upon seeing this advertisement, hesitated not to accept of the invitation; that he attended at the said meeting; that he there found, ready prepared, a paper, called, to the best of his recollection, a memorial, which some persons, then utter strangers to him, proposed to move for the adoption of the meeting; that your petitioner, perceiving in this paper, propositions of a nature which he did not approve of, and especially a proposition for the meeting going in a body to Carlton House, declared that he would have nothing to do with the said memorial; that your petitioner then brought forward an humble petition to the Prince Regent, which petition was passed by the meeting unanimously, and which petition, having been by your petitioner delivered to Lord Sidmouth, that Noble Lord has, by letter, informed your petitioner was immediately laid before his Royal Highness the Prince Regent. And your petitioner here begs leave further to state, upon the subject of the aforementioned memorial, that John Dyall, whose name, as Chairman of the Committee who called the meeting (and of which Committee Thomas Preston was Secretary), having, before the meeting took place, been called before Mr. Gifford, one of the Police Magistrates, had furnished Mr. Gifford with a copy of the said memorial, and that that copy was in the hands of Lord Sidmouth at the moment when the meeting was about to assemble, though (from an oversight, no doubt) neither the Police Magistrates nor any other person whatever gave your petitioner the smallest intimation of the dangerous tendency or even of the existence of such memorial, or of any improper views being entertained by any of the parties calling the meeting, though it now appears, that the written placards, entitled "Britons to Arms," are imputed to those same parties, though it is notorious that that paper appeared in all the public prints so far back as the month of October, and though, when your petitioner waited on Lord Sidmouth with the petition of the Prince Regent, that Noble Lord himself informed your petitioner, that the Government were fully apprized before-hand of the propositions intended to be brought forward at the meeting. So that your petitioner humbly begs leave to express his confidence that your Honourable House will clearly perceive, that if any insurrection had taken place on the day of the first Spafields meeting, it would have been entirely owing to the neglect, if not connivance, of those persons who possessed a previous knowledge of the principles and views of the parties with whom that meeting originated.
"With regard to the SECOND assertion, namely, that 'care was taken to adjourn the meeting to the 2d of December,' your petitioner begs leave to state, that it will appear upon the face of the proceedings of that day, that there was nothing like previous concert or care in this matter; for, that a resolution first proposed to adjourn the meeting to the day of the meeting of Parliament, and then to meet in Palace-yard, of course not so much in the vicinity of the Bank and the Tower; and that when this resolution was awarded so as to provide for a meeting on the 2d of December on the same spot, it was merely grounded on the uncertainty as to the time when the Parliament might meet. Your petitioner further begs leave to state here, as being, in a most interested manner, connected with this adjournment of the meeting, that, when your petitioner waited on Lord Sidmouth with the petition to the Prince Regent, he informed his Lordship that the meeting was to re-assemble on the 2d of December, when your petitioner had engaged to carry his Lordship's answer and deliver it to the adjourned meeting, and that his Lordship, so far from advising your petitioner not to go to the said meeting, so far from saying any thing to discourage the said meeting, distinctly told your petitioner, that your petitioner's presence and conduct appeared to his Lordship to have prevented great possible mischief. Whence your petitioner humbly conceives, that he is warranted in concluding, that there did, at the time here referred to, exist in his Lordship no desire to prevent the said meeting from taking place.
"Your petitioner, in adverting humbly to the THIRD assertion of your Secret Committee, begs to be permitted to state, that the persons who went from Spafields to engage in riot on the 2d of December, formed no part of the meeting called for that day; that these persons came into the fields full two hours before the time of meeting; that they left the fields full an hour before that time; that they did not consist, at the time of leaving the fields, of more than forty or fifty individuals; that they were joined by sailors and others, persons going from witnessing the execution of four men in the Old Bailey; that your petitioner, who had come up from Essex in the morning, met the rioters in Cheapside; that he proceeded directly to the meeting, which he found to be very numerous; that there a resolution was immediately proposed by your petitioner, strongly condemning all rioting and violence, which resolution passed with the most unanimous acclamations; that a petition, which has since been signed by upwards of 24 thousand names, and received by the House of Commons, was then passed; and that the meeting, though immense as to numbers, finally separated, without the commission of any single act of riot, outrage, or violence. And here your petitioner humbly begs leave to beseech the attention of your Right Hon. House to the very important fact of a third meeting having taken place on the 10th instant, on the same spot, more numerously attended than either of the former; and that, after having agreed to a petition, which has since been received by your Hon. House, the said meeting separated in the most peaceable and orderly manner, which your petitioner trusts is quite sufficient to convince your Honourable House that if, as your Secret Committee reported, designs of riot do still continue to be prosecuted with sanguine hopes of success, these designs can have no connection whatever with the meetings for retrenchment, relief, and Reform, held in Spafields.
"That as to the pike-heads, your petitioner begs leave to state to your Right Honourable House, that while he was at the last Spafields meeting, an anonymous letter was put into the hands of your petitioner's servant, who afterwards gave it to your petitioner; that this letter stated that one Bentley, a smith, of Hart-street, Covent-Garden, had been employed by a man, in the dress of a game-keeper, to make some spikes to put round a fish-pond; that the game-keeper came and took a parcel away and paid for them; that he came soon afterwards and said the things answered very well, and ordered more to be made; that, in a little while after this, the said Bentley was sent for to the Bow-street Office, and, after a private examination, was desired to make a pike, or spike, of the same sort, and to carry it to the office, which he did. That your petitioner perceives that the information which it contains may possibly be of the utmost importance in giving a clue to the strict investigation, which he humbly presumes to hope will be instituted by your Honourable House into this very interesting matter.
"That as to the FIFTH assertion, that Delegates have assembled in London, from Hampden Clubs in the country, your petitioner has first to observe, that these persons never called themselves Delegates, and were not called Delegates by any body connected with them; that they were called, and were, 'Deputies from Petitioning Bodies' for Parliamentary Reform; that your petitioner was one of them, having been deputed by the petitioners at Bristol and Bath; that these Deputies met three times, and always in an open room, to which newspaper reporters were admitted ; that an account of all their proceedings was published; that they separated at the end of three days, not upon a motion of adjournment, but of absolute dissolution, which motion was made by your petitioner, who is ready to prove that your Committee has been imposed upon as to the tact that these Delegates, or Deputies, are expected to meet again in March.
"That your petitioner is ready to prove at the Bar of your Right Honourable House, all the facts and allegations contained in this petition, and that he humbly prays so to be permitted there to prove them accordingly.
"And your petitioner will ever pray.
As soon as this petition was read, Lord Sidmouth rose, apparently very much disconcerted, another petition having been presented previously from Cleary, the secretary of the Hampden Club, denying, and offering to prove the falsehood of, many of the statements in the Report of the Committee. His Lordship made a long and violent speech against the measures and views of the Reformers, and called upon the House to put them down, or the Constitution and Government of the country would be soon overthrown. He never attempted to controvert or deny one word that was contained in my petition, just presented; but he said, that the Government of this country had often to contend with discontented and turbulent men; "but those who took the lead in these meetings, although their steps were directed with caution, yet (turning round and looking me full in the face) THEY WERE MEN OF MOST EXTRAORDINARY ENERGY, and PURSUED THEIR COURSE WITH AN INFLEXIBLE PERSEVERANCE AND COURAGE that was worthy a better cause." This was said in the most lofty tone, and so evidently directed to me, that it drew all the eyes in the House upon me; and it was with considerable difficulty that I could resist the inclination I felt to declare, that it was impossible there could be a better cause than that of contending for the freedom of the whole people. His Lordship, in alluding to cheap seditious publications, such as Cobbett's and Sherwin's Registers, and Wooler's Dwarf, which at this time were published at twopence each, in great numbers, lamented that the law officers of the Crown could find nothing in them that they could prosecute with any chance of success. Cobbett's Register alone, at this period, attained a sale of fifty thousand copies a week. The Bill was passed, with very little opposition, to prevent any public meeting being held to petition for Reform, or any alteration in the government or constitution of the country, without its being called with the concurrence of the magistrates, &c. &c.; which was nothing more or less than prohibiting all public meetings, except such as the corrupt tools of Government chose to sanction. While the Acts were in progress, a public county meeting was called by the Sheriff of Hampshire, upon a requisition, signed by the Marquis of Winchester, the Marquis of Buckingham, old George Rose, Lord Palmerston, Mr. Sturges Bourne, Lord Malmsbury, Lord Fitzharris, and all the great Tory leaders of the county, "to consider of an address to his Royal Highness the Prince Regent, on the outrageous and treasonable attack made upon his Royal Highness, on his return from opening the session of Parliament." The meeting was held on the 11th of March. Sir Charles Ogle moved an address, which was seconded by Mr. Asheton Smith; both did this in dumb show, for not one word that they said could be heard. Lord Cochrane moved an amendment, which was opposed by Mr. Lockhart; and as the Sheriff refused to put his Lordship's amendment, declaring it to be irregular, Mr. Cobbett addressed the assembled thousands, and moved an amendment, which I seconded. This amendment merely proposed to add, after the word Constitution, in the original address, "as established by Magna Charta, the Bill of Rights, and the Act of Habeas Corpus, for which our forefathers fought and bled." This amendment Mr. Lockhart and his gang declared to be most seditious and wicked, and the Sheriff, a little whipper-snapper fellow, of the name of Fleming, absolutely refused to put it to the meeting. A show of hands took place upon the original ministerial address, and, as far as my judgment went, it was lost by a considerable majority. The Sheriff, however, decided that the address was carried by three to one; but when a division was called for, the Sheriff retired in haste from the meeting, amidst the yells and groans of the multitude, and the Under-Sheriff actually threatened to take Lord Cochrane and myself into custody, if we offered to address the meeting any more.
The Seditious Meeting Act had not yet received the Royal Assent, but these worthies knew the clauses which it contained, and the perpetual Under-Sheriff, a Mr. Hollis, appeared determined to act upon it by anticipation. Perhaps there never was such a disgraceful scene before exhibited at a public meeting in England. The most foul, the most unfair, the most outrageous, and most blackguard conduct was resorted to by the ministerial tools and dependants of the county, amongst whom were all the parsons, all the half-pay officers, and all the dependants of the corrupt corporations of Andover and Winchester. A person of the name of Loscomb, and another, Feston, of Andover, the former one of the Andover corporation, the latter a half-pay lieutenant, were eminently conspicuous as the brazen tools of those who called the meeting. Such a scene of riot, confusion, and uproar had never, I believe, disgraced a county meeting. These ministerial dependants appeared determined to carry every thing with a high hand, now that they found laws were passing to justify and protect arbitrary and corrupt power.
On the 12th of this month, the sailor Cashman was executed at the front of Beckwith's, the gunmaker's, shop, on Snow-hill. Nothing will show the distressed situation of the poor and friendless better than the answer which Cashman made to the Judge, after he was found guilty, upon being asked "why sentence of death should not be passed upon him." His memorable words were:—
"My Lord—I hope you will excuse a poor friendless sailor for occupying your time. Had I died fighting the battles of my country I should have gloried in it: but I confess that it grieves me to think of suffering like a robber, when I can call God to witness that I have passed days together without even a morsel of bread rather than violate the laws. I have served my King for many years, and often fought for my country. I have received nine wounds in the service, and never before have been charged with any offence. I have been at sea all my life, and my father was killed on board the Diana frigate. I came to London, my Lord, to endeavour to recover my pay and prize-money, but being unsuccessful, I was reduced to the greatest distress, and being poor and pennyless, I have not been able to bring forward witnesses to prove my innocence, nor even to acquaint my brave officers, or I am sure they would all have come forward in my behalf. The gentlemen who have sworn against me must have mistook me for some other person (there being many sailors in the mob); but I freely forgive them, and I hope God will also forgive them, for I solemnly declare that I committed no act of violence whatever."
Cashman, who had been accustomed to witness scenes of death, met his fate with determined courage, exclaiming, "Huzza, my boys, I'll die like a man!" Calling to the executioner, he said, "Come, Jack, let go the jib-boom." "Now, my lads, give me three cheers when I trip." The few remaining seconds of his existence he employed in similar addresses, and at the instant when the fatal board fell from beneath his feet, he was cheering. This exhibition was calculated to harden the distressed inhabitants of the metropolis who witnessed his execution, and thousands felt and exclaimed that it was much better and easier to encounter death in such a way than to endure the lingering torture of being starved to death. The multitude did not fail to shower down their deepest execrations against all those who were concerned in this affair, and the public were so exasperated at what was justly called the murder of this man, that, had the poor fellow shewn any disposition to avoid that death which he appeared rather to court, there is little doubt but he would have been rescued, in spite of the host of constables and police officers that attended the execution.
A system of terror was now the order of the day. The reader will bear in mind that a Bill had passed both Houses of Parliament, and only waited for the Royal Assent, to make it death to attend any seditious meeting; at least to make it death not to disperse when ordered by any Magistrate or public officer. It was under such auspices that a public county meeting for Wiltshire was called, and appointed to be held at Devizes. This meeting was called, as in Hampshire, by the great aristocratical leaders of both the Whig and Tory factions. It will be remembered that I had given Mr. Cobbett a freehold, to enable him to take part in the Wiltshire county meetings, all of which, that had been subsequently held, he had attended with me, and at all these Wiltshire county meetings the resolutions and petitions proposed by myself and Mr. Cobbett had been invariably carried. The meeting now in question was to be convened the latter end of March, or the beginning of April. On my leaving London, Mr. Cobbett had promised to meet me at Devizes, on the day appointed. I went to Devizes, with my friend Mr. William Akerman, of Potney, at whose house I had slept the preceding night. When we arrived at the Castle Inn, the place of rendezvous, I was surprised to find that, though it was rather late, my friend Cobbett had not arrived; yet, so thoroughly convinced was I that he would not disappoint me, that I was determined to wait at the inn for him, and not to go to the Town-hall, the place of meeting, till he joined me. As I wished to know what time the business was to commence, Mr. Akerman, at my request, went down to the Bear Inn, where the Sheriff and my Lord Pembroke, with all those who had called this meeting to address the Prince Regent upon his miraculous escape from the potatoe (which I had now ascertained was thrown by Mr. JOHN CASTLES), had assembled. He very soon came back, almost out of breath, to inform me, that the party, with the Sheriff at their head, were just proceeding to the Hall; and with a loud laugh he informed me that the Courier newspaper, which had just arrived in the coffee-room of the Bear Inn, had an article in it which stated that "COBBETT WAS ARRIVED AT LIVERPOOL, AND HAD TAKEN HIS PASSAGE FOR AMERICA" "I at once," said he, "declared this to be an infamous lie, and I offered to bet any of the party 50l., which I put on the table, that Mr. Cobbett would be in Devizes, and attend the meeting, within one hour from that time." Fortunately for my friend Akerman, not one of the gang assembled had confidence enough in the rascally Courier to induce them to take the bet; had they done so, my friend would have lost his 50l. note.
I was thunderstruck for a moment, as Mr. Cobbett had never given me the slightest intimation of his intention, and till I saw the Courier I could not believe it possible that any man could act so treacherously towards one for whom he had expressed, not only in public but in private, the most unbounded confidence. For the first time it now occurred to me, that there was something mysterious in Mr. Cobbett's conduct when I last saw him, which was a few days before in London. It was, however, of no use to ponder or to despair, and therefore, I jumped up out of my chair, in which I had been almost riveted by the unexpected intelligence, and earnestly inquired of Mr. Akerman if he had actually made the bet. He replied, "no one would accept it, or I should most willingly have made it." "Well," said I, "I am glad that none of the villains had confidence in the rascally Editor of the Courier, but whether it be true or false, I will go to the meeting." It is much more easy for the reader to imagine what were the sensations which I felt as I walked to the meeting, than it is for me to describe them. I had for many years acted in strict union with Mr. Cobbett, both in Wiltshire and Hampshire, at all the public meetings that had been held in these counties; I had placed implicit and unbounded confidence in him, and I thought that on his part such feelings had been reciprocal; but a thousand occurrences which hitherto had made no impression on me now rushed upon my mind, and half convinced me that I had been deceived.
We reached the Town-hall soon after the business of the day was begun; it was crammed to suffocation, and a great many persons who could not gain admission, were standing at the outside. By the assistance of my friend Akerman, I contrived to get near enough to the entrance of the hall, to expostulate with the Sheriff, for attempting to hold a county meeting in such a confined situation; adding, that a great number of people were totally excluded, and amongst that number was Mr. Richard Long, one of the Members for the county. Upon this, Mr. Long replied, that he was very well off, and that he did not wish to gain admittance. This, to be sure, caused a great laugh, but I persevered by moving an adjournment, and after a great deal of noise and squabbling, the Sheriff agreed to adjourn the meeting to the Market-place, whither we proceeded, and Mr. Sheriff Penruddock took his station upon the steps of the Market-cross, where he was surrounded by such a gang of desperadoes as never disgraced a meeting of highwaymen and pickpockets in the purlieus of St. Giles's. This gang was headed by the notorious John Benett, of Pyt-House, from whom they took the word of command, when to be silent and when to bellow, hoot, hallow, and make all sorts of discordant vulgar noises, such as would have degraded and lowered the character of a horde of drunken prostitutes and pickpockets, in the most abandoned brothel in the universe.—The plan of operations had been previously arranged, and a set of wretches had hired themselves, to play the most disgraceful and disgusting part. Lord Pembroke, the Lord Lieutenant of the county, had ordered and commanded all his tenantry, and even his tradesmen, to attend the meeting to oppose HUNT. A butcher at Wilton, who served his Lordship's family with meat, pleaded his previous engagements on business of importance, as an excuse for his non-attendance; but he was informed by his Lordship's agent, that if he did not appear at Devizes, to oppose any proposition that was made by Hunt, he should never serve the family at Wilton-house with another joint of meat. The gang thus raked together was led on by regular leaders; Black Jack, alias the Devil's Knitting Needle, was commander in chief; Bob Reynolds, a scamping currier of Devizes, who was a sort of lickspittle to Old Salmon, the attorney, was bully major; and a jolter-headed farmer, of the name of Chandler, who lived on the Green, was captain of a gang of little dirty toad-eaters of the corporation; in fact, every scamp who lived upon the taxes—every scrub who had an eye to a place—and every lickspittle of the corrupt knaves of the corrupt and vile rotten-borough of Devizes, took a part in these un-Englishman-like, partial, cowardly, and disgraceful proceedings. Every expectant underling, every dirty, petty-fogging scoundrel showed his teeth, opened his vulgar mouth, and sent forth the most nauseous and disgusting ribaldry. A time-serving, place-hunting, fawning address to the Prince Regent was moved by some person. It was stuffed with all sorts of falsehoods, and was supported by John Benett, of Pyt-House, in an address to the people, which contained nothing but a violent, dastardly, and unmanly attack upon me, attributing to me all the disturbances that had taken place in London, and roundly asserting that I was the cause of Cashman's being brought to the gallows. By the independent portion of the meeting, this harangue was listened to with considerable impatience; but he had, nevertheless, every sort of fair-play shown him, from their natural conviction, that, as I was present, I should have an opportunity of replying to these infamous charges: it was this conviction alone that procured him a hearing, and gave him an opportunity of uttering such diabolical and premeditated falsehoods. But the fellow knew that he was safe, and that he could lie and abuse with impunity. He knew that his dirty hirelings would protect him against a reply from me, and he, therefore, gave a-loose to a most malignant spirit. The moment that I attempted to speak, the yell began. About fifty or sixty, or perhaps one hundred, out of two or three thousand persons assembled, commenced a bellowing and braying like so many of their four-legged brethren, and they were so well marshalled, and acted so well in concert, that it was impossible for the great majority of the people to gain me a hearing. At length the Sheriff, Hungerford Penruddock, Esq. who looked ready to faint with shame at what he was about to do, dissolved the meeting, and ordered the Riot Act to be read, which, I believe, little whiffling Mr. Salmon made a sort of dumb-show or pretence to do, and then immediately gave orders to have me taken into custody. Now began such a contest as was seldom if ever seen; the descendants of a petty-fogging attorney, a bankrupt tailor, a usurious splitfig, &c. &c. &c. William H——s, William S——n, Stephen N——t & Co. who were members of the corporation, and now become great men, (good Lord, what would their forefathers have said to have heard this?) aided by Reynolds, Chandler, and Co. made a desperate effort to seize me, but all their attempts were in vain; the gallant, brave, and kind-hearted people of Wiltshire surrounded me with an impenetrable phalanx; they formed an irresistible bulwark with their persons, which proved an impregnable barrier against all the assaults of the constables, bullies, and blackguards, that were urged on by the Mayor and his myrmidons—a "matchless crew." I was hoisted upon the shoulders of those who stood in the centre of this brave phalanx, and had a perfect view of all their operations. The gang repeatedly returned to the charge upon the people, with staves and clubs, but the people stood as firm as rocks, upon whom they never made the slightest impression, the people all the while acting solely on the defensive. At length, two ruffians, Reynolds and Chandler, seized my brother by the collar, one on each side; he was standing as a spectator, taking no part but that of looking on. My brother smiled at first, but finding them in earnest, and being surrounded by the whole gang, who began to drag him off, he let fly right and left, and, as if they had been shot, the two bullies fell like slaughtered calves upon the ground, and before the people could get to his assistance, the whole cowardly gang had taken flight. This all occurred in the Market-place, in the front of the Bear-inn, where the Sheriff and the notable founders and supporters of the infamous time-serving petition were assembled, and from the windows of which they had the mortification of witnessing the defeat, the disgrace, and the complete routing of their hirelings, and the victory of the people, who, instead of taking advantage of their success; instead of inflicting summary vengance upon those who had assaulted them in such a cowardly manner; instead of chastising those who had conducted themselves in such a partial, corrupt, unmanly, and disgraceful way; they peaceably bore me off to my inn. The pot-valiant Jack-in-office, Mr. Mayor, soon after followed us, with a fresh posse of constables, and repeated the reading of the Riot Act under my window, amidst the jeers, the scoffs, the hootings, and the execrations of the people, who had committed no act of riot, or breach of the peace, to justify such a measure. From the window of the Castle-inn, where I was dining with some friends, I addressed the people, and they peaceably dispersed, although they kept a good look-out to see that there was no attempt made to annoy or interrupt me. Had any attempt of that sort been made, I believe, from what I have since heard, that the consequences might have proved very serious to those who had been concerned in it.
One circumstance that occurred in the evening afterwards is worth recording. One of my tenants, Mr. George Jones, who keeps the George Inn, in Walcot-street, Bath, had driven his niece up to Devizes in the morning, for the purpose of seeing me on some business, and also to attend the meeting. As an Englishman, he of course wished for a fair hearing of both parties, and standing near the bullies Bob Reynolds and his brother, at the time they were conducting themselves so foully towards me, he admonished them in a way which they did not appear to relish. Mr. Jones drove home in his gig, in the evening, with his niece, and just as they were entering Melksham, they passed Reynolds's brother, who resided there at the time, in the capacity of a paid serjeant of the Melksham troop of yeomanry. As soon as Mr. Jones had passed him, Reynolds rode up to the back of the gig, and, without giving him any notice, coward and assassin like, he struck him a heavy blow on the back of his head, with a thick bludgeon. Fortunately Mr. Jones wore a high-crowned stout beaver, which saved his head, but the crown of the hat was severed in two by the blow. Jones no sooner recovered himself, than he turned-to, and with his gig whip he gave a sound flogging to the dastardly ruffian, who sued in vain for mercy, till the whip was completely demolished. Some gentlemen, who happened to be passing at the time, and saw the whole transaction, offered to give Mr. Jones their address, and recommended him to take legal proceedings against the villain, they vollunteering their services as witnesses. But Mr. Jones very coolly replied, "I have taken summary redress, and paid the fellow in his own coin; therefore it will be only necessary to give such a scoundrel 'rope enough and he will hang himself.'" Mr. Jones's observation was not only very just, but most prophetic. The loyal and the worthy Mr. Reynolds, a few months afterwards, to save Jack Ketch the trouble, put an end to his own existence, by hanging himself in a malt-house. If what I hear of another of them be true, it is not very improbable that he may soon follow his example.
As I drove home in the evening from this meeting, I could not avoid seriously reflecting upon the critical situation in which I was placed by my friend Mr. Cobbett having deserted me, and stolen away to America. I had been constantly and faithfully acting with him for many years, up to the very hour of his flight, for I had now no doubt in my mind that the report in the Courier was true. I felt indignant and mortified in the extreme, at this desertion on the part of my friend, at such a moment, and without his ever having given me the slightest reason to suspect him of any such intention. My first resolve was this:—let what will come I will never fly my country, never desert my countrymen in the hour of peril. The Habeas Corpus Act was suspended, the Seditious Meetings Bill had been passed and received the Royal Assent. Many of the brave Reformers of Lancashire had, in consequence, been arrested and thrown into dungeons, particularly those who had attended in London at the delegate meeting; therefore I expected to share the same fate, but still I made up my mind to this, that I would never run from the danger; and, as I never secreted myself, but was always to be met with any day, and every day, I was also resolved that no one should with impunity treat me in the way in which Messrs. Knight, Bamford, Healy, and others had been treated. They had not merely been arrested, but their houses had been broken into, and they had been dragged out of their beds in the dead of the night, and hurried away in irons to the dungeons of the Boroughmongers.
When I reached home I informed my family of what it was possible might happen, and this I did, not to alarm them, but to put them upon their guard, that they might not lose presence of mind in case of any nocturnal assault being made upon my house. In my own mind I had firmly settled how to act: if any messenger from the Secretary of State's office came to apprehend me in the day time, I should attend him very quietly and peaceably; but if any nocturnal visit was intended me by the officers of the ministers, I was determined to resist and to defend my house to the last moment; because by so doing they would leave themselves without the shadow of an excuse, as they always knew when and where I was to be found in the face of day. Desperate as this plan may appear in the eyes of many, it was that on which I was determined to act. I took with me every night into my bed-room a brace of loaded pistols, that never missed fire, and my double-barrelled gun, charged and fresh primed; and any number of men less than four would not have gained admittance alive into my house in the night time. I had violated no law, I had committed no breach of the peace, and I was resolved that I would maintain the right of an Englishman's house being his own castle, in spite of Seditious Meeting Bills, or the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. Fortunately, my coolness and determination were never put to the test. I, however, never went to bed for many weeks without expecting the enemy, and cautioning my family not to be alarmed in case of any nocturnal visit being paid me.
Mr. Cobbett's leave-taking address was published, in which he pretty clearly intimated what would be the fate of every man that remained in the country, who had been an active leader of the people in promoting petitions for Annual Parliaments, Universal Suffrage, and Vote by Ballot; and he avowed the dread of a dungeon to be the cause of his leaving the country! As he had never communicated the slightest hint to me of his intention, so he never made the slightest allusion to me in his leave-taking address, any more than as if he never had such a friend. This, at the moment, I considered as most unkind, unfeeling, and treacherous. But, upon reflection, I esteem it the highest compliment that he could have paid me; for it clearly proves that he knew the honesty of my nature too well, to expect that I should have ever sanctioned so dastardly, so thoroughly unmanly a proceeding as that of flying from my country, and abandoning the Reformers to the uncontrolled malice of their enemies, and that, too, at such a moment of difficulty and danger.
Yet, doubly wounded as I was by the conduct of Mr. Cobbett, wounded both personally and as a friend of the people, I, nevertheless, soon endeavoured to find at least some excuse for him, and I made up my mind not to act the same part towards him which he had done towards me. Real friendship is not easily alienated from its object. On the very first opportunity, therefore, I rode over to Botley, to make inquiries about his circumstances, and, if possible, to serve my friend, notwithstanding his desertion of me. I found that Mr. Tunno, the mortgagee, had taken possession of his estate, and that the landlord of the farm which he occupied, and of the house in which he had lived, had seized for rent; and, as might naturally be expected under such circumstances, every thing was going, or rather gone, to rack; all his family had abandoned the place, and were in London. I called upon the only person in Botley that used to be intimate with him, from whom I received such an account as made me form a worse opinion of mankind than I had ever before entertained. He spoke in opprobrious terms of his former acquaintance, saying that he, Cobbett, had run away in every one's debt, and, with an oath, (most brutally, as I felt it) he declared "hanging was too good for him." I never spoke to this man afterwards; neither was I deterred by his language from proceeding in my endeavours to serve my absent friend. I therefore rode on to Mr. Hinxman's, of Chilling, near Titchfield, who had been for some time a friend of Mr. Cobbett's; and when I got there I was much delighted to find him as zealous for him as he had been. He was not merely a professing friend, but he wished to show his friendship by deeds as well as words, and he had been devising the best means of showing his friendship. As the result of his reflections, he put into my hands an address, which he had drawn up, to the people of England, proposing a subscription of one shilling each person, to pay off the debts of Mr. Cobbett, and thus to enable him to return to his country, free from pecuniary embarrassments. This address was penned in a masterly style, and in every sentiment which it contained, I fully concurred. I promised to do every thing that lay in my power to promote its object, and to attend a public meeting, which was to be called at the Crown and Anchor, for the purpose of promulgating it; and I agreed to take the chair upon the occasion, provided that Major Cartwright and Lord Folkestone declined the offer of it, which was, in the first instance, to be made to them. With the firm impression on my mind that this plan would be carried into full effect, I left Mr. Hinxman, perfectly satisfied with the result of my journey of three days to serve my friend. Mr. Hinxman sent his address to London, as proposed; but the parties applied to immediately put a negative on the proposition, assigning as a reason, that it would be establishing a very bad precedent, to raise a subscription amongst the Reformers to pay the debts of a man who had deserted the cause of the people, by flying from the country at a moment of peril and difficulty; and thus at once was a stop put to the laudable intentions of Mr. Hinxman. There was, indeed, no possibility of giving any satisfactory answer to such a reason, and the project was in consequence altogether abandoned. By this time upwards of SIX HUNDRED PETITIONS had been presented to the House of Commons, praying for retrenchment, a reduction of the army, and for a RADICAL REFORM IN PARLIAMENT. These petitions were signed by nearly a million and a half of people. The only answer that was given to them was, as the reader has already seen, passing the Seditious Meetings Bill, and the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. These petitions were suffered silently to be laid upon the table of the House; nothing that they prayed for was ever granted, and so far from the Honourable House, or any of its members, ever answering the allegations contained in them, they never even condescended to discuss any of the matters contained in them.
Although Mr. Cobbett, the great literary champion of the Radical Reformers, had deserted and fled to America, yet others sprung up. About this period Mr. Wooler began to publish his Black Dwarf, and Mr. Sherwin published his Weekly Register. These were two bold and powerful advocates of Reform, and Mr. Wooler, as well as Mr. White, of the Independent Whig, lasbed Mr. Cobbett most unmercifully for his cowardice in flying his country, and abandoning the Reformers at such a critical moment. Mr. Wooler was excessively severe, and he laid it on with an unsparing hand. I lost no opportunity to vindicate the character of my absent friend, and in doing this I attacked Mr. Wooler as violently as he attacked Mr. Cobbett, for which Mr. Wooler denounced me as a spy of the Government!
Some time in May, 1817, a Count Maubrueil was tried at Paris for robbing the Queen of Westphalia, when it came out that he had been hired by an accredited agent to assassinate the Emperor Napoleon, on his journey to Elba. Maubrueil afterwards published in London the details of this transaction. On the 17th of May, Messrs. Watson, Thistlewood, Hooper, and Preston, were brought into the Court of King's Bench, to plead to charges of high treason. Mr. Hone also appeared, and complained of the illegality of his arrest on Lord Ellenborough's warrant. On the 30th of May, the Right Honourable Charles Abbott resigned the situation of Speaker of the House of Commons, and Mr. Manners Sutton was chosen in his place. On the 6th of June, Mr. Wooler was tried for a libel on Ministers; he was acquitted in consequence of doubts having arisen respecting the validity of the verdict of guilty delivered in by the foreman of the jury, although some of them were not agreed in the verdict.
On the 9th of June, Messrs. Watson, Thistlewood, Preston, and Hooper, were conveyed from the Tower, where they had been confined, to the Court of King's Bench to be tried for high treason. Watson was tried first. His trial lasted seven days, at the end of which he was acquitted. The Attorney-General then gave up the prosecution against the others. The principal witness called by the Crown was the famous Mr. John Castles, the worthy gentleman who feigned asleep in my room at the Black Lion, Waterlane, on the evening after the first Spafields meeting, and the same worthy who met me in Cheapside, as I was driving to the second meeting on the second of December, and who kindly invited me to go to the Tower with him, which he assured me was in the possession of young Watson. What follows is curious and worthy of notice. It was publicly known that Castles was to be the principal witness against his former associates. I therefore sent a gentleman, to inform the attorney for the prisoners, that I had become acquainted with certain circumstances, relating to this Mr. Castles, which would be of infinite service to his clients. This message was sent a fortnight before the time fixed upon for their trial; but the 9th of June approached without my having received any answer. I sent a second message, by another person; but, as no notice was taken of it, I sent a third person, on the 8th, to say that I was in town, and unless it was intended to hang the prisoners, I expected that I should be subpoened, and that I was come to town on purpose to give my evidence. In fact, this third message rather conveyed a demand than a request, and I was next morning subpoened.
Another very extraordinary circumstance made up part of this transaction. Mr. Brougham had been applied to, and I understood had positively refused to become counsel for the prisoners, and Mr. Wetherell and Mr. Copley were retained; the former a most decided rank thick and thin supporter of the Ministers; the latter, as I was informed, not only a decided opponent of the Ministers, but an avowed Republican in principle. Mr. Samuel Shepherd was Attorney, and Mr. Gifford Solicitor-General; and they of course were counsel for the prosecution. When I saw Mr. Wetherell at his chambers, which was in the evening of the 9th, after the first day's proceedings were over, and stated to him what I knew of Castles, he at once declared that my testimony would be most important, and would most likely save the lives of the prisoners; and he expressed great astonishment that this had never been communicated to him before. From what I stated to him, he was enabled to draw out of Mr. Castles' own mouth, in cross-examination, the full proof of his own infamy, which he never could have done without it. After I had given my testimony in court, I saw plainly that the jury had made up their minds to acquit the doctor, who was the first and only one put upon his trial. At the end of seven days, the time Watson's trial lasted, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty, and the Attorney-General then gave up the prosecution against the other three prisoners. It is very curious that it was never communicated to the prisoners that I was in attendance to give evidence on their behalf; but when they saw me in court, they actually thought that I was subpoened as an evidence for the Crown against them.
Lord Sidmouth now brought in a Bill for the further suspension of the Habeas-Corpus Act. In the House of Commons, Sir Francis Burdett called the attention of its Members to the conduct of Oliver, the spy, and of others who had been employed by Government, and who had excited distressed persons to riot in the North. The county of Middlesex petitioned in vain against the renewal of the Habeas-Corpus Act. The Bill passed, and Parliament was prorogued by the Prince Regent on the 12th of July.
On the 31st of July, a public dinner was given at the Crown and Anchor, to celebrate the acquittal of Watson, Thistlewood, Preston and Hooper, at which dinner I was in the chair, and upwards of a hundred persons sat down to it. Hooper very shortly after died; he fell a victim to a cold which he caught in prison.
Such was the increasing distress of the people in the metropolis, that the Old Bailey Calendar contained above 400 prisoners for trial; forty-five more than were ever before known. In this year, 1817, the Bank of England prosecuted one hundred and twenty-four persons for forgery, or uttering forged notes. This speaks for itself, and shews the state of society produced by the Pitt system. On the 22d of September the Bank of England announced their intention of paying in cash all their small notes issued before the first of January 1817. This was a beginning of calling in one pound Bank of England notes.
In this year the Common Hall of the City of London had petitioned against the passing of the suspension of the Habeas-Corpus Act, and they had instructed their members to support the prayer of their petitions, by opposing the measure. As usual, their members set the prayers of the Livery at defiance, and supported the Bill; at least Curtis and Atkins did; and as for Alderman Combe, the Whig Member, he was not in the House during any of the debates. When the Common Hall assembled the next time, the Waithmanite faction intended to move a vote of censure against Curtis and Atkins, for not attending to the instructions of their constituents; and of course they contrived to procure from Alderman Combe a letter to be read in the Hall, apologising for his non-attendance in his place in the House of Commons, in consequence of very ill health, which had prevented his attendance there ever since he had been last elected, and which, in all probability, would prevent his attending there any more. This game had been carried on for a long time by the Waithmanites, and I had made up my mind, whenever an occasion should offer, to enter my protest against the City of London being represented by a person who never attended the House, and who was rendered incapable of doing so from ill health. I had several times carried some resolutions in my pocket, to the meetings of the Livery, but no opportunity had offered for me to bring the subject forward before. As soon as this letter was read from Alderman Combe, which stated his inability to attend in his place, &c. &c., I told Sir Richard Phillips, who was standing near me upon the hustings, that, as soon as the usual vote of thanks was moved to Alderman Combe, I should move some short resolutions, which I shewed him, as an amendment: "1st, thanking the Alderman for his past honourable services: 2nd, sympathizing with him on his illness, and lamenting the cause of his incapacity to attend the House of Commons: and 3rd, respectfully calling upon him to resign his seat, to give the Livery an opportunity of electing an efficient Member of Parliament as their representative, in his stead." I asked Sir Richard if he would second these resolutions; he replied no, he could not, but he would ask Mr. Waithman to do it; and away he went in the honesty of his heart, and told Mr. Waithman that I was going to move such resolutions as an amendment to the usual vote of thanks to Alderman Combe, and he very innocently asked him if he would second them? I shall never forget the city hero's look; be turned round as if he would have bit Sir Richard's nose off, and in a whisper that I could hear all across the hustings, replied, "NO it is meant to cut my throat." Sir Richard, surprised and mortified at the mistake which he had unintentionally made, returned me the resolutions, without saying a word, as he saw that I had heard Waithman's answer, which I was laughing at most heartily. I knew that Mr. Waithman would not have joined me in any measure, even if it had been to save the City of London from an earthquake, or its citizens from the greatest of all calamities, a famine; but at the first view of the thing, I did not perceive how this amendment was calculated to injure or cut the throat of Mr. Waithman. The dread of this mighty sacrifice did not, however, deter me from doing my duty. The vote of thanks having been moved to Alderman Combe, I stepped forward and proposed my resolutions as an amendment; this I did in the most respectful and handsome manner towards the Alderman, giving him much greater credit for his past exertions, as our City Member, than he in fact ever merited.
I had never consulted one single individual as to the propriety or the policy of this measure, and it was by mere accident that I mentioned it upon the hustings to Sir Richard Phillips; therefore, I was not prepared with any one to second my proposition, but it was, nevertheless, received by the Livery with strong marks of approbation. Never were resolutions more appropriate, or that came more pat to suit the occasion. I saw that this was a happy opportunity to appeal to the honest sentiments of the Livery, and I seized it, as an act of justice to them and to the public, without the slightest intention to annoy or injure Mr. Waithman, and without the slightest intention of gratifying the factious views of any party. It certainly struck me, and it had all along struck me, that if Mr. Alderman Combe could be prevailed upon to resign during the second mayoralty of my worthy friend Alderman Wood, the latter would be selected by the citizens of London as his successor, without the chance of a successful opposition against him; but I had never given him the most remote hint of my thoughts or designs, neither did I expect that the friends of Waithman, amongst the Livery, would be prevailed upon to do any thing that was likely to promote the election of Alderman Wood. All that under such circumstances I ever considered was, how best to perform my duty, when I was before the public, either at a meeting of the people in Spafields, or in Palace-yard, or at a meeting of my fellow Liverymen in the Guildhall. I never personally cared whether my motions were carried, or whether they were rejected, my main object, being to perform my duty boldly and conscientiously. This I did on the occasion to which I have alluded, without knowing whether any one would second my proposition or not.
Before, however, any one could came forward as my supporter, Mr. Waithman presented himself to the Livery, and endeavoured, by every art that he was master of, to prevail upon the citizens not to countenance my proposition. His own little gang attempted to get him cheered, but all their efforts proved fruitless. He coaxed, he wheedled, he begged, and he prayed; when that did not take, he blustered, bullied, and threatened them, but all would not do; he bullied one moment, and cringed the next, with equal ill success. He and his friends began to feel for once that the force of truth was likely to prevail over fraud, trickery, and cunning. At last, when he found that none of these had a chance of prevailing, he turned about and resorted to tactics. He declared that the proposition was irrelevent, that the Livery were taken by surprise, that they were not assembled for any such purpose, and that another Common-Hall ought to be convened, on purpose to take my resolutions into consideration; and he boldly called upon the Lord Mayor, Wood, to prohibit the resolutions being put to the Livery. I never saw Mr. Waithman labour so hard in my life; if his existence had been at stake, he could not have shown more anxiety.
The Lord Mayor now came forward, and in the most unequivocal manner declared that the resolutions were not only perfectly in order, but that he considered them most proper to be submitted to the consideration of the committee upon that occasion. I thought Waithman would have bursted a blood-vessel with rage and mortification at this decision of the Lord Mayor, who was not to be bullied out of doing his duty honestly, particularly when he saw that it received the sanction of so great a portion of his fellow-citizens. The question was at length put, and the resolutions were carried by a very large majority, amidst such a round of cheers as I seldom ever heard in the Common-Hall. I then moved that the Lord Mayor be requested to convey the resolutions of the Livery to Mr. Alderman Combe, as soon as he could conveniently do so, and also to call another Common-Hall, to communicate the answer of the worthy Alderman to his constituents. This likewise was carried, with a faint opposition from the puny faction that surrounded the mortified and discomfited great little man. The Lord Mayor then stepped forward, and promised that the wishes of the Livery should be promptly executed; and, after he had given this promise, the meeting broke up.
The Lord Mayor kept his word, and waited upon Mr. Alderman Combe with the resolutions, the same night, before the faction had time to plan any scheme to frustrate the wishes of the Livery. The result was, that the Alderman was glad of an opportunity of sending in his resignation of an office which he was totally incompetent to fill, and, in the most honourable and patriotic manner, he wrote his formal compliance with the wishes of his constituents, and delivered it into the hands of the Lord Mayor, who immediately offered his services to his fellow-citizens, to supply the vacancy. They estimated correctly the value of those services, and, in spite of the most pitiful arts, the most diabolical misrepresentations, and the most unblushing falsehoods of the Waithmanite faction to prevent it, the worthy Alderman Wood was unanimously elected, during his second Mayoralty, one of the Representatives in Parliament for the City of London. I must own that I gloried more in this successful single-handed effort of mine, spontaneously made, and so honourably carried into execution, than I ever did in any public act of my life. When the Alderman was elected, I addressed my brother Liverymen, and I boldly predicted that he was elected for life; that his conduct in the House of Commons would be such as would secure him a seat for the City of London, as long as human nature would enable him to attend his duty in Parliament. This was more than five years ago, and I believe that the prediction has not only been made good up to this time, but that it is more likely to be confirmed than ever it was. Such, however, was the prejudice of a certain party in the city against Radicals, and particularly against me, that the worthy Alderman never dared to thank me publicly for what I had done to serve him. In truth I never looked for any such thing; I only did my duty; and I had full confidence, whenever the worthy Alderman was called upon, he would not fail to do his duty. My confidence was not misplaced, as has been fully proved by the conduct of the Alderman, in the case of the persecuted Caroline, the injured Queen of England. Nor has the worthy Alderman ever flinched from his duty during the persecutions of the "Captive of Ilchester."
In consequence of the diabolical machinations of the villain Oliver, the spy, who was imprudently introduced to the Reformers in the North by Mr. Mitchell, one of the delegates who had attended the Major's meetings in London—in consequence of this infamous fellow's hellish plots, a number of the distressed inhabitants of Derbyshire and Nottingham were instigated to acts of violence and riot, which, although of a most contemptible nature, were magnified by the Government into acts of treason and rebellion. In pursuance of what had been planned by the villain Oliver and his employers, these deluded men were immediately made prisoners, and committed to Derby Gaol; upon a charge of high treason. Unfortunately, one Jeremiah Brandreth, who was at the head of those rioters, very wantonly fired a shot at random through the back window of a farm-house, where the inmates had refused to admit them, or to deliver them any arms, which the rioters, scarcely one hundred in number, had demanded. It so happened that a boy was killed by this random shot, which gave a colouring to the proceedings of the Ministers, and created a great prejudice against these deluded men; and therefore, instead of indicting some of them for a foolish and contemptible riot, and prosecuting Brandreth for murder or manslaughter, the Government proceeded against them for high treason. This petty riot, which was put down without any military force, was consequently blazoned forth and proclaimed through the country as an insurrection and open rebellion, and great preparations were making to bring the prisoners to trial for high treason, and a special commission was appointed to be held at Derby to try them. The Ministers had failed in their attempt, in London, to spill the blood of Watson, Thistlewood, & Co. whose lives were saved by the honesty of a Middlesex Jury. The despicable riot in London, ridiculous and contemptible as it was, yet it was ten times more like a premeditated insurrection than the Derbyshire riot; yet an honest Middlesex Jury, with Mr. Richardson, of the Lottery-office, as their foreman, refused to find the instigators of it guilty of high treason. This having been the case, the Ministers were determined to try their hands at a trial for high treason in the country. It was, in fact, necessary to bring forward at least some shadow of a pretext for the infamous measures which had been passed by the Parliament, and for the still worse conduct of the Secretary of State, who had thrown such a number of the Reformers into dungeons, the secret dungeons of the Boroughmongers, where they were lingering under the suspension of the Habeas-Corpus Act, without any charge being brought against them, and without being brought to trial, there being nothing to prove against them. I repeat, that it was necessary to make a show, a pretence, a sort of justification, for these proceedings; and the riot which had taken place at Pentridge, in Derbyshire, was the thing fixed upon for that purpose, as they could not trump up a better.
Brandreth, Turner, Ludlam, and thirty-five or six others, were accordingly thrown into prison, and indicted for high treason. These poor fellows, thus assailed and immured in a gaol, were without a friend to protect them, and to see that they had a fair trial, and in fact were without the means of paying counsel and witnesses, to enable them to stand any chance of having a fair trial. In this forlorn and wretched situation, their attention, as a dernier resort, was directed to me. I was a perfect stranger to every one of them, but they had heard of my exertions in the cause of the people, and they prevailed upon their attorney, Mr. Wragg, of Belper, to write to me, and inform me of their deplorable and forlorn situation, and to request that I would endeavour to raise a public subscription, to enable them to fee counsel, and to pay for bringing their witnesses to the trial, which Mr. Wragg assured me they were totally incompetent to do, they being all poor men, without any money or friends to help them.
I received this letter at Middleton Cottage, where I had been for some time peaceably enjoying the sports of the field. I showed it to a friend, who was visiting me at the time, and he at once pronounced it to be a trap, to inveigle me into a participation of their crimes. At any rate, he thought my only prudent course would be, either to take no notice of the letter, or to reply that I knew nothing of the parties, and would have nothing to do with them. I put the letter into my pocket, and said no more to him upon the subject, as his cold, calculating, prudent advice did not correspond with the feelings of my heart. My visitors and my family had retired to rest, when I deliberately sat down, and answered the letter of Mr. Wragg by the return of post. Those who are of the same opinion with my prudent friend will ask, why did you do so? I will tell them why. I said to myself, here are some fellow-creatures in distress, they have not a living soul to aid them; the whole power and weight of the Government are mustered against them; and although they are totally unknown to me, and although I cannot countenance or approve of their foolish and wanton proceedings; yet, as the law of England presumes every man to be innocent till he is convicted of guilt, and as they have appealed to ME in their distressing situation, as the only man to whom they can look up for assistance; shall I, because there appears to be personal danger and difficulty in the undertaking, shall I refuse or neglect to do my best to enable them to obtain a fair trial? shall I abandon them, and refuse to obey the call of humanity, and, because they are poor and defenceless, turn a deaf ear to the prayer of those that are in trouble and in prison? I asked myself these questions, and without a moment's pause, my tongue obeyed the impulse of my heart, and I exclaimed "forbid it, Heaven, rather let me perish this instant, than harbour a thought so base, so unfeeling, and so opposite to every act of my life!" I therefore acknowledged Mr. Wragg's letter, and told him that, although he was a perfect stranger to me, and although the prisoners were all strangers to me, yet my heart would not allow me to entertain any unworthy suspicions of him; and as the lives of our fellow-creatures were at stake, I would do every thing in my power to enable them to obtain a fair trial. With this view I would, by the same post, write to London, and endeavour to procure a public meeting, for the purpose of raising a subscription to assist them, lamenting, at the same time, my own want of the means to assist them.
Before I went to bed I wrote to Mr. Cleary, who was secretary to Major Cartwright and the Hampden Club, and also a sort of general secretary to the Westminster committee. I desired him to lay a copy of Mr. Wragg's letter before some of the patriotic friends of liberty, justice, and humanity, in London, and to get them to call a public meeting, at the Crown and Anchor, on the following Monday, to raise a subscription, to enable the prisoners to fee counsel before their trial, which was to take place at Derby, in the following week. I added, "if there should be any hitch or difficulty, still by all means to call the meeting, and I will pay for the room and the advertisements, and take the chair myself, if no other person more eligible offers." I wrote also to Mr. West, the wire-worker, in Wych-street, to the same effect, and to inform him of what I had written to Cleary. Mr. West was the person who had taken a very decisive, active, and manly part in assisting Dr. Watson and Thistlewood, in getting up their defence, when they were imprisoned under a similar charge; therefore, I thought him the most likely man I knew in London or Westminster to promote such a measure.
The reader will bear in mind that I did not get Mr. Wragg's letter, urging me to come forward in behalf of these poor fellows, till five o'clock in the afternoon, when I returned home to dinner from shooting; that before I went to bed, I wrote an answer to the attorney of the prisoners, unhesitatingly promising to do all that lay in my power to serve them; and that I also wrote to Mr. Cleary and Mr. West, to procure a public meeting, and, without any reservation on my part, to call it in my name, in the metropolis; and the reader will not fail to recollect, that the HABEAS CORPUS ACT was still suspended, and that the Seditious Meeting Act was in full force.
I received an answer from Mr. Cleary, to say that he had seen the friends of liberty in Westminster, and that the meeting would be appointed, to be held at the Crown and Anchor, as I wished it, on the following Monday, and he would take care to have it advertised, &c. I also received a letter from Mr. West, who said he had seen Cleary, and that the meeting would take place, according to my request, on the Monday. I wrote by return of post, to Mr. Wragg, to inform the prisoners what I had done, and how far I had succeeded and I promised to be at the meeting, and to proceed to Derby in the mail, as soon as the result was known.
On the Sunday, just as I was preparing to set off to London to attend this meeting, I received a letter from Mr. Cleary, to say that he had consulted the friends of liberty in Westminster, who were unanimously of opinion, that it would be highly impolitic to call a public meeting upon such an occasion, in which opinion he fully concurred; and that the worthy Major Cartwright also thought it extremely improper for the Reformers to identify themselves with HOUSE-BREAKERS AND MURDERERS. Mr. Cleary also added, that the Derby rioters had by their conduct done the greatest injury to the cause of Reform, and that he felt so indignant at them, that, instead of assisting there by a subscription, he could almost GO DOWN AND HANG THEM HIMSELF. I have not the letter at hand, but this was the substance of it. I must do Mr. West the justice to say, that he did every thing in his power to procure a meeting, and if he had not, as well as myself, been tricked into the idea that the meeting would be held, he would have called it himself.
I was extremely mortified at being thus defeated in my plan, at being thus swindled out of the meeting. Cleary's first letter was evidently written with a view to prevent my going to London, and personally convening the meeting; because he saw, from the manner of my first letter, that I was in earnest, therefore it was necessary to deceive me into a belief that what I was desirous of would be done, as, otherwise, he knew that I would be instantly on the spot to carry it myself into execution. Well, it was too late now to think of going to London to get a meeting, and, as I had been thus disappointed, it might by most people have been thought sufficient for me to have written a letter to Mr. Wragg, to inform him of the circumstance, and there would have been at once an end to all trouble or expense on my part. Now I beg the reader to mark what was my conduct. Instead of abandoning these poor fellows to their fate, and merely writing a letter to say how I had been disappointed by the Westminster patriots, or rather pretended patriots, I ordered my servant to get my horses and gig ready immediately, and I started off the same evening across the country to Newbury, on my road through Abingdon and Oxford, towards Derby. I arrived at Leicester on the Tuesday evening, previous to the trials commencing on the Thursday following; and what was very curious, Judge Dallas and myself were shown into the same room, at Bishop's, at the Three Crowns. Although we did not appear to know each other, great marks of civility were mutually exchanged, and if I had not been otherwise engaged, it is possible we might have spent the evening together; and I have often thought how very curious the conversation might have proved, if we had compared notes. We were both going the next day to Derby, both going to attend the trials of Brandreth and Co.; but how widely different would it have been found was the object of our journey. He, a judge, going to hang the prisoners; I, an humble individual, going to do all that lay in my power to save their lives, by procuring for them a fair trial. We, however, did not remain in company; the fact was, it soon got wind at Leicester who I was; one of the waiters knew me, and to my surprise, as I was sitting with Mr. Thompson, of the Chronicle office, and Mr. Warburton, who had been one of the delegates at the London meeting, a deputation waited upon me, to request that I would spend the evening with a number of gentlemen of Leicester, who had assembled in a public room in the inn, to receive me. This invitation I accepted, and, accompanied by my two friends, I spent a few hours very pleasantly, amongst an assemblage composed of the most respectable men belonging to all parties in Leicester.
On the following day I reached Derby, where I found out Messrs. Wragg, of Belper, and Bond, of Leicester, the attorneys for the prisoners, and communicated my ill success as to collecting any subscriptions in London, by means of the public meeting which was proposed. I, however, offered my services in any way in which they might think that I could be useful; but I soon learnt from them that it was a hopeless case, that the men had been led into a disgraceful riot, urged on by the villain Oliver, and his accomplices; that they were worthy, poor men; Brandreth, their captain, a mere helpless pauper, and that there was no chance of saving them. Those who had a little property, had sold their little all, even to their beds, as had also their relations, to raise money enough to pay for the expenses, of the witnesses, who had been subpoened on their behalf; but the whole did not amount to enough to include the fees of counsel. For the fees, however, we calculated that might be raised at some future time, as it was hoped that, under such circumstances, the gentlemen of the long robe would not press for their immediate payment.
I saw some of the witnesses, and amongst others one who had been acting in concert with Oliver, a regular hired spy, who described to us what passed between them and Lord Sidmouth, when he and Oliver presented their bill of expenses, after they had performed their job. It appeared that his Lordship abused Oliver for a great fool, for being detected by the people in his communications with Sir John Byng, who had the military command of the district. O, it was a horrible plot, to entrap a few distressed, poor creatures to commit some acts of violence and riot, in order that the Government might hang a few of them for high treason! The projectors of it had been frustrated in London, by a Middlesex Jury, who had refused to find Dr. Watson guilty of high treason, although what was proved against him was ten thousand times more like high treason than that which was proved against these poor deluded men. But it was thought necessary to sanction the suspension of the Habeas-Corpus Act, and the other infamous encroachments that had been made upon the liberties of the people, by the sacrifice of some lives for high treason, and the Government paid the freeholders of the county of Derby, the disgraceful compliment of selecting that county as the scene of their diabolical operations; and, as it will be hereafter seen, they were correct in their calculations.
The next morning I waited upon the attorneys, previous to their going into Court, when I found them in rather an awkward dilemma. Mr. COUNSELLOR CROSS, who, by some unaccountable means or other, had been sent for from Manchester, to take the lead of Mr. Denman, who was the other counsel employed, had just sent to the attorneys to demand ONE HUNDRED POUNDS as his fee, before he went into Court, declaring, that he would not stir a peg till he received it. I knew nothing of this fellow at the time, and as the attorneys, particularly Mr. Bond, appeared to place great confidence in him, Mister Cross had the one hundred pounds paid into his hands immediately. Thus, by the cupidity of Mr. Cross, were these poor fellows deprived at once of those means which ought to have been spent in procuring them witnesses for their defence. I immediately waited upon Mr. Denman at his lodgings, and sent up my name, to say that I had some particular information to communicate that might be of service to the prisoners; but I could gain no access to Mr. Denman. I had this information from the brother of Turner, who was afterwards executed. I returned to the attorneys, and I soon found that my interference was considered officious. They refused to take me into Court with them, or at least they pretended that it was against the rules for attorneys to take any person with them into the Court. I was, therefore, obliged to find another mode of admittance; and I ultimately, by dint of perseverance, got in with considerable difficulty, after having been violently assaulted and grossly insulted by the officers of the Court, under the direction of a Jack-in-office, who acted as Under Sheriff, the real Under Sheriff having resigned, pro tempore, on purpose to become Solicitor for the Crown, in the prosecution against the prisoners. I, however, at length succeeded in getting a seat in the front of the body of the Court, and I heard the whole of the trial of Brandreth. The whole of the evidence merely went to establish the fact, that one of the most contemptible riots took place that ever deserved the name of a riot, whether with respect to the numbers engaged, or the total want of influence of those who took a lead in it. As for poor Brandreth, who was called the Captain of the Insurrection, he was nothing more nor less than a contemptible pauper, without power, or talent, or courage; and it was distinctly sworn that the whole gang fled upon the appearance of one soldier!
The means taken to procure tractable juries were the most barefaced and abominable, and as the jurors were mostly selected from amongst the tenantry of the Duke of Devonshire, the prisoners had not the slightest chance of escape, even if Mr. Cross had done his duty; but, so far was he from doing it, that he actually confessed the guilt of his clients, and urged as a palliation, that they were led into the insurrection by reading the writings of Cobbett. The principal witnesses, in my opinion, for the prisoners, were never examined; and, although Mr. Denman made an eloquent appeal to the jury, yet he could not remove the impression which had been left upon the minds of the jurors and of the whole Court by the precious pleadings of Mr. Cross. Brandreth and four others were found guilty of high treason. Brandreth, Turner, and Ludlam, were executed shortly afterwards, and Mr. Cross was speedily promoted to a silk gown, as a King's Sergeant at Law.
The avenging hand of Providence, however, caused the announcement of the execution of these men, and the Death of the PRINCESS CHARLOTTE OF SAXE-COBURG AND HER INFANT SON, to appear in the newspapers of the day at one and the same time. The death of this Princess was so mysterious, and attended with such singular circumstances, that I dare not trust myself to write upon the subject. The whole nation appeared to mourn her loss, much more, I believe, in consequence of her having always espoused the cause of her unhappy and persecuted mother, than from any conviction or well-grounded hope that any public good would ever be derived from her being our future Queen. A certain party at Court could not disguise the satisfaction which they felt at being released from a most persevering and troublesome advocate of the Princess of Wales, her mother. But the nation had this delightful comfort, that the gallant PRINCE OF SAXE-COBURG bore his loss with great fortitude, and was likely to survive his wife for many, many years, to enjoy the spending of FIFTY-THOUSAND POUNDS A-YEAR, which had been settled upon him for life, in case the Princess should pop off.
I have omitted one circumstance which occurred in the spring of the year, and which I shall now briefly notice. Mr. Sergeant BEST, who was one of the Members for Bridport, was appointed Chief Justice of Chester, a post which he had been long seeking for in vain. His client, Colonel Despard, had been executed for nearly fifteen years, yet Mr. Sergeant had only been promoted to a silk gown; and in spite of every effort to become a Judge, he had been frustrated, it is understood, by the objections raised by the Lord Chancellor. He, therefore, procured a seat in Parliament, and became a violent oppositionist to the Government. At length, the Prince Regent, it is said, demanded his promotion, and he was appointed to the Chief Justiceship of Chester, which is the stepping stone to the Bench. He vacated his seat for Bridport, as a matter of course; and, as it was expected he would be returned again for that borough without any opposition, I thought it would be a good opportunity to remind him of the fate of Despard, and of his own apostacy, in quitting his pretended opposition as soon as he was offered a place of profit under the Crown. Without further ceremony, therefore, I drove to Bridport, about three days before the election commenced, and announced my intention of opposing the election of the Welch Judge, and former counsel for Despard. Though I was not known to a single person in the town of Bridport, yet I was received with great kindness by a considerable portion of the electors, and was at once promised the support of some of the most respectable of them. The Welch Judge, however, did not make his appearance; but in his stead came a young 'Squire Sturt, the son of BEST'S former patron. As I had avowedly attended only for the purpose of opposing and exposing the Chief Justice of Chester, I now, at the request of some of those whose support against Best I chiefly relied upon, declined to offer myself in opposition to the young 'Squire, who possessed a majority of the houses in which the small voters lived, and whose father had always been a great favourite in the borough. I gained great credit for the manner in which I did this, in an address to the electors from the hustings, declaring that my only object was to expose the delinquency of their former Member, the new Welch Judge. The reader will observe that I had no acquaintance with Mr. Sergeant Best, nor had even in the remotest degree ever had any connection with him, or come in contact with him, either in the way of his profession or otherwise. I was solely actuated by public duty, without the slightest cause for personal dislike to the lawyer. Perhaps those who have read what I have written since I came here, will not now be at a loss to account for the vindictive hostility of the venerable Judge towards me, when I was brought up for judgment, and since I have been here. They may now account for that Judge's voting for my having SIX YEARS imprisonment, and for his having afterwards come the western circuit, and signed an order, drawn up by the junto of Somersetshire Magistrates, for placing and keeping me in solitary confinement for the last ten months of my incarceration.