The people of Bridport will never forget my visit, particularly Mr. Denzelo, the printer, who refused to print my address to the electors, after having taken the copy, and given his promise to do it, and a Mr. Nicholets, an attorney. I shall forbear to relate the circumstances, and the ridiculous figure which they cut, especially the latter, upon being detected and exposed before his own townsmen in their public hall. This exposure was ample punishment for such men, without my placing the particulars of their disgrace upon record. I was invited to remain in Bridport after the election, which invitation I accepted, and before I left the town I waited upon every voter to thank him for his civility; and, with only one or two exceptions, I received the most polite attention and kind welcome; nearly two-thirds of the electors voluntarily promised to give me their votes at the next election, whenever it might happen. If I had gone there again I should have certainly had a considerable majority of votes, without making any promise whatever; but, as I learnt that it was expected that an after-bribe would be given, I declined the honour of deceiving them and disgracing myself.
One curious fact which occurred I cannot avoid relating. I have since ascertained, that the person whom I took from Salisbury with me to Bridport, treacherously communicated all my plans and movements to my opponents, every night before he went to bed; and, what is still more curious, I have learnt that he was actually in correspondence with my LORD CASTLEREAGH. I very soon afterwards obtained the knowledge of this latter fact, and of course as soon declined the honour of any farther connection with a person who had such high acquaintance.
On the 18th of December, Mr. Hone, the bookseller, was tried in the Court of King's Bench, before Mr. Justice Abbott (who sat for the Chief Justice Ellenborough) and a London special jury. The offence which he was charged with was that of publishing a parody. After an animated and eloquent defence, made by Mr. Hone in person, which lasted seven hours, the jury returned a verdict of acquittal. The Chief Justice Ellenborough, who was ill at the time, was so enraged at this verdict, that be came into Court the next morning, and presided when Mr. Hone was tried for a second parody. His Lordship did every thing to intimidate, to interrupt, and to browbeat Mr. Hone, who, however, proved himself much the bravest as well as the most able man, and after a defence, similar to that of the day previous, which lasted eight hours, another jury of the city of London acquitted him. On the day following, the 20th of December, he was tried before the Chief Justice and another special jury of the city of London, for a third parody, and after another defence, which lasted nine hours, he was a third time acquitted. What enhances the merit of Mr. Hone's courageous defence is, that during the whole of the time he was labouring under indisposition. There is not the least doubt but these verdicts of acquittal, added to that of the acquittal of Dr. Watson, were the cause of Lord Ellenborough's death; at any rate, his decease was greatly hastened by the irritation arising from such repeated disappointments; for in all these cases his Lordship strongly charged the jury for a verdict of guilty, and no agent of the Government ever worked harder to obtain a verdict than his Lordship did. Ultimately this great lawyer became an ideot, and I have understood from pretty good authority, that for some time before his death he was in the constant habit of repeating the names of Watson and Hone, with the most evident symptoms of horror and dismay, which he continued to do till the very last, as long, at least, as he was capable of utterance.
Thus ended the year 1817, one of the most eventful of British history. The prospect was most gloomy: the poor were greatly distressed for want of employment: provisions were dear, the quartern loaf averaged about thirteen pence, and there was a general depression of trade. At the same time, every honest man in the kingdom considered himself as being injured and insulted by the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, and, indeed, a general feeling of disgust prevailed as to the proceedings adopted by the Government. As for the moral state of the country, and the wretchedness of the people, it is only necessary to record three or four facts: at Manchester, in the year 1797, the poor-rates were 16,941l., but this year, 1817, they amounted to 65,212l. The number of forged notes stopped by the Bank of England, since the year 1814, that is, during the space of two years, amounted to 113,361l., and in the year 1817, the Bank prosecuted ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY-TWO PERSONS for forgery, or uttering forged notes; and to support such a system as this, the peace establishment of the standing army, the land forces, for this year, amounted to ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-THREE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-NINE MEN! Bravo, John Gull!
I never heard of more than one public meeting being held by the people, under the provisions of the Seditious Meetings Bill, and that was advertised to be held in Palace Yard, on the 7th of September, 1817. This advertisement was signed by seven householders, and a copy of it was delivered to the Clerk of the Peace, and the neighbouring Magistrates, agreeable to the Act. I was invited to preside at the meeting, which invitation I accepted, and attended accordingly. The Seditious Meeting Act being still in force, and the Habeas Corpus Act being still suspended, it was thought a very daring and hazardous proceeding, but I took care that the laws, rigid as they were, should not be violated, and all the provisions of the Act were strictly complied with. This meeting was held within hearing, and almost in sight of the Secretary of State's office. But, as we acted according to law, not the slightest interruption was offered to the proceedings, or to those who attended the meeting. The persons who signed the requisition or advertisement, which was delivered to the Clerk of the Peace, were friends of Dr. Watson; he it was, in fact, that got up the meeting. The doctor proposed the resolutions, which were seconded by Mr. Gast, and carried unanimously: they protested in strong terms against petitioning the House of Commons any more for Reform, as being proved to be useless by the total disregard which that body had manifested to the prayers and the petitions of the people during the previous session of Parliament, when upwards of six hundred petitions, praying for Reform, had been presented to the Honourable House. A strong declaration and remonstrance, addressed to the Prince Regent, was read and unanimously agreed to at the meeting; which remonstrance I carried and delivered to Lord Sidmouth, at the Secretary of State's office, the moment the meeting was dissolved; and I was attended to the doors of the office by five or six thousand of the multitude who had composed a part of the meeting. When I entered the office, which I did alone, I was instantly conducted to his Lordship, amidst the deafening cheers of the throng without. I gave the declaration to him, and requested he would lay it before his Royal Master, as early as it was convenient. He promised me that he would read it carefully over, and if there was nothing improper, that he would present it the next day to the Prince Regent, and that he would write to apprize me of the result.
This was the first time, if I recollect right, that a public remonstrance to the throne was ever agreed to by the people; and, as might naturally have been expected, his Lordship found much in it that he thought objectionable, as well as the manner in which it was conveyed; it being in the shape of a firm though respectful remonstrance, instead of a creeping, cringing petition. I have not a copy of this document by me, but as it was agreed to at the great meeting held at Manchester, as well as at the Smithfield meeting, I will, if I can procure it, publish it hereafter; but I recollect, that, after having recited a mass of atrocities committed upon the rights and liberties, and lives of the people, by the Ministers of the Crown, it demanded that they the said Ministers, of whom his Lordship was one, should be surrendered up to justice, and brought to condign punishment. It is, therefore, almost needless to say that my Lord Sidmouth not only discovered very improper matter in the remonstrance, but that he consequently declined to communicate it to his Royal Master.
The year 1818 commenced with a great public dinner at the City of London Tavern, to celebrate the third centenary of the Reformation, at which dinner one thousand five hundred persons attended. On the 27th of January the Parliament was opened by commission, and the usual speech was made, and its echo, the address, was voted without any opposition: a bill was now brought into the House to restore the Habeas Corpus Act. A great meeting took place at the City of London Tavern, Alderman Waithman in the chair, where a subscription was opened for Mr. Hone, which ultimately amounted to more than three thousand pounds. Than this measure, nothing can more clearly show the character of the city patriot, and those who took a lead in political matters in the metropolis. While Mr. Hone was under persecution, and even up to the day of his trial, he was totally neglected and deserted; neither Mr. Waithman, nor any of those who afterwards came forwards to assist him in such a liberal way, gave him then the slightest countenance or support; nay, they even shunned and abandoned him, and he actually went into court almost alone, and probably without the means of hiring counsel, which was, in fact, a most fortunate circumstance for him, as, had he placed his case in the hands of counsel, I will warrant that he would have been found guilty upon each of the charges preferred against him; however, as soon as Mr. Hone had obtained a verdict of not guilty, these fair-weather patriots began to flock round him in order to share the honour and popularity which they now saw he was likely to obtain. This is too much the way of the world; and if Mr. Hone's jury had said guilty, instead of not guilty, if he had been tried by a country instead of a London special jury, he might have gone quickly to gaol, abandoned and ruined, before any of the above gentry would have stirred one inch to have saved him from rotting there.
A bill of indemnity was now brought in, to protect the Ministers against the legal consequences of their horrid abuses of power, during the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. Most of those who had been incarcerated were now released upon their own recognizance; but Mr. Benbow, of Manchester, bravely refused to enter into any recognizance, and he was liberated without it. The Messrs. Evans followed his example, and were also liberated without bail.
While the indemnity bill was pending, the Livery of the city of London met in Common Hall, and passed some strong resolutions, and petitioned the House of Commons not to indemnify the Ministers against prosecutions at law for their illegal and cruel conduct during the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. This petition was presented by Alderman Wood, our worthy representative, but without producing any effect, for, on the 10th of March, the bill was carried through both Houses by large majorities. In the Commons, Sir Samuel Romilly made a brilliant effort to resist the passing of this Act, but there was, nevertheless, a majority of 190 for it, and only 64 against it. In the Lords it was sanctioned by 93 for it, while there were only 27 against it; but 10 Peers entered a firm and spirited protest against the iniquitous measure. On the 23d of March, a meeting of the inhabitants of Westminster was held in Palace Yard, when a petition to the House of Commons was adopted, praying for a Reform of Parliament. About this period, the case of appeal of murder, Ashford against Thornton, excited considerable interest all over the country. The case was argued in the Court of King's Bench, which decided that the law gave to the defendant a right to his wager of battle; but the appellant, the brother of Mary Ashford, the young woman who had been murdered, not choosing to risk his life by accepting the challenge, Thornton was discharged.
On the first of May, the Monthly Magazine, a work of great celebrity, for the talent displayed in its pages, as well as for the philanthropic character of the gentleman who has so ably and successfully conducted it for so many years, published some interesting facts relative to the cruel and illiberal treatment of Napoleon, and his brave and faithful adherents at St. Helena. The same number contained a most interesting analysis of the progress of crime during the last seven years, by which it appears that 56,308 persons had in that time been committed to the gaols of England and Wales, for criminal offences; that 4,952 had received sentence of death; 6,512 had been sentenced to transportation; and 23,795 had been subjected to minor punishments, while no bills were found against 9,287. In the same period 584 had been executed, and every number was tripled in the last year. Let the philanthropist read this—let the friends of humanity read this—and then say whether we do not want a Reform in every department of the State, particularly in the House of Commons, where the system has been so long acted upon, which has brought England to such a degraded state.
On the second of June, Sir Francis Burdett moved resolutions in the House of Commons, for Universal Suffrage and Annual Parliaments. They were negatived by a majority of 106 to 2; the minority being Sir Francis Burdett and Lord Cochrane, the two Members for Westminster. When, during the preceding session of Parliament, that of 1817, there were petitions, signed by a million and a half of names, praying for Universal Suffrage, Sir Francis Burdett unfortunately refused to support Universal Suffrage; but now that the people had declined to appeal to the House, and consequently there was not a single petition lying upon the table, to support the Hon. Baronet's motion, it was negatived, as I have stated above, by an overwhelming majority.
On the tenth of June, the most infamous and servile Parliament that ever sat in England, after having passed a Bill to continue the restriction upon cash payments at the Bank; after having passed a Bill for building New Churches, and appropriating one million of the public money to carry it into effect; after having passed a Bill to add 6,0001. a year to the incomes of the Royal Dukes, who had been married; after having passed a Bill to continue the Alien Act; after having done all this, and far more, this servile, corrupt Parliament was DISSOLVED.
I will mention one curious fact, with respect to this precious Parliament. My friend, Mr. William Akerman, of Patney, in Wiltshire, was upon a visit to me in London, and, as he was very anxious to go and have a peep at the proceedings of the House of Commons, I was prevailed upon to accompany him thither one evening, although I went rather reluctantly, as all the interest which I had formerly felt in hearing the debates had long since been banished from my breast. However, I went thither to gratify the curiosity of my friend, little thinking that I should hear or see any thing to amuse or gratify myself. The Hon. House was exceedingly thin, there not being more than about a score of our honourable representatives present: these careful trustees had voted away, as a matter of course, some hundreds of thousands of the public money. The Chancellor of the Exchequer moved the last reading of the Bill for building the New Churches. The Bill was passed, and one million of the money raised in taxes from the sweat of the brow of John Gull was voted away, by the Members of the Honourable House, with as little ceremony as an old washerwoman would toss off a glass of gin, or take a pinch of snuff; there being no debate, no more present than THIRTEEN of the Honourable Members of the Honourable House. But the best joke was what followed: a bungling, hacking, and stammering gentleman got up, on the Ministerial side of the House—(for, if I recollect right, among the honourable guardians of our lives, our liberties, and our property, there were none present belonging to the Whig or Opposition side of the House)—and after a considerable deal of beating about the bush, which I saw made the Chancellor of the Exchequer rather uneasy in his seat, I discovered that the prosing gentleman, whose name was Littleton or Thornton, was prattling about the Savings' Banks, into which it appeared that he had been inquiring rather more inquisitively than the little Chancellor approved of. The result of his inquiry, he stated to be a discovery, that three-fourths of the money placed in the banks belonged to persons of property, who placed it there for the sake of obtaining better interest than they could get elsewhere; and that the poor, such as servants and persons of small income, whose property it was intended by the legislature should be invested in these Savings Banks, scarcely made up a quarter of the number, and not a tenth of the amount. The gentleman was going on, when Mr. Vansittart jumped up, and in an under-tone pretty plainly intimated to him, that although the benches on the opposite side were empty, yet there might probably be some of the reporters left in the House, and if what had been stated should get abroad, it would do incalculable mischief, by exposing the humbug. These were not the words of the Honourable Chancellor, but I have described their import. Whether the gentlemen reporters were all absent, as well as the Whig Members, or whether they took the hint of the worthy Chancellor, or whether they did not hear what he said, I do not know; but the next morning I looked in vain in the newspapers for what had transpired, which appeared to me so curious, and which had appeared to the Chancellor a matter of so much importance; not a word of the sort was, however, to be found in any of the papers.
Perhaps it was not observed by my readers, but it is a fact, that my friend, Mr. Cobbett, who had continued to write his Register, and had sent it home from America to be published in England, seemed to have almost entirely forgotten that there was such a person as myself in existence; for more than five months, from the 8th of May, the date of his first Register written in America, till that dated the 10th of October, he scarcely ever mentioned the name of his friend, even accidentally. However, in the Register of the 10th of October, 1817, it appears that he had at length discovered that I was neither literally nor politically dead; for in a letter to Mr. Hallett, of Denford, in Berkshire, dated Long Island, 10th of October, 1817, my name was again brought fully upon the carpet, relative to my opinion of Sir Francis Burdett, as it has been frequently expressed by me in confidence to him. Very soon afterwards I received a private letter from him, full of professions of friendship, which correspondence was continued up to the period of his return from America. He also addressed to me, in the Register, twelve public letters, beginning with "My dear Hunt," and ending with "your faithful friend," occasionally complimenting my zeal, courage, and fidelity in the cause of Reform, and declaring that he was "in no fear as to the rectitude of my conduct, but always in anxiety for my health!" How faithful his friendship is, he has admirably proved! About the second or third letter which I had from him, he strongly urged me to oppose Sir Francis Burdett, for the city of Westminster; at any rate to offer myself as a candidate for that city, which would give me an opportunity of exposing the Baronet's desertion of the cause of Reform. I wrote for answer, that I dreaded the expense of the hustings; and the exorbitant charges of the High Bailiff, &c. These difficulties, however, he made light of, and assured me that, if it was not done before, he would take care to have me remunerated by a public subscription, as soon as he returned from America.
With this assurance, and from a conviction in my own mind that Sir Francis had deserted, or at least neglected, the cause of Radical Reform, I sent an advertisement to be inserted in the London papers, offering myself as a candidate for the representation of the city of Westminster. A meeting was called by my friends, in the great room of the Crown and Anchor, when my name was put in nomination, as a proper person to be one of the representatives of that city; it having been publicly announced that Lord Cochrane, who was preparing to sail to the assistance of the Patriots in South America, certainly meant to resign all pretension to sit again as the Member for Westminster. At this meeting a very large majority voted that I was a proper person to represent that city. I believe it was nearly a fortnight before any other person was put in nomination by any of the electors of Westminster, and it was thought by many of my friends that Sir Francis Burdett and myself would be returned, without any opposition. I firmly believe that this would have, indeed, been the case, had not the friends of Sir Francis Burdett, the Rump, proposed Mr. Douglas Kinnaird as his colleague. Major Cartwright was then put in nomination by some of his friends. The Whigs and Tories of Westminster perceiving that there was likely to be a great division amongst the Reformers, and that Mr. Douglas Kinnaird and Major Cartwright had been both started as it were in opposition to me, Sir Samuel Romilly was proposed as a candidate by the Whigs, and Sir Murray Maxwell by the Ministerial interest. There was a little band of very worthy and independent men, who stood forward as my supporters, namely, Mr. West, Mr. Dolby, and Mr. Giles, who were electors, and Mr. Carlile, Mr. Gale Jones, and Mr. Sherwin, who were not electors. Although at the outset I saw that, under such circumstances, there was no chance of my success, yet I was determined to keep open the poll to the last moment allowed by law, which is fifteen days. At a public dinner that was held at the Crown and Anchor, my colours were produced, and consisted of a scarlet flag, with UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE as a motto, surmounted by a Cap of Liberty, surrounded with the inscription of Hunt and Liberty. This flag was provided by Mr. Carlile; and I had the honour of being the first and only man who ever offered himself as a candidate for a seat in Parliament upon the avowed principles of Universal Suffrage, Annual Parliaments, and Vote by Ballot.
The day at length arrived for the commencement of the election in Covent-Garden. I had proclaimed that I would not, either by myself or by any of my friends, canvass or solicit a single vote—that I should go to the hustings, and act upon the constitutional principle of neither soliciting votes nor going to any expense. The High Bailiff opened the proceedings, and the following candidates were proposed by their separate friends:—Sir Francis Burdett, Sir Murray Maxwell, Sir Samuel Romilly, Major Cartwright, Mr. Douglas Kinnaird, and myself. Upon the show of hands being taken, the High Bailiff declared it to be in favour of Henry Hunt, Esq. and Sir Samuel Romilly. Sir Francis Burdett's friends appeared dissatisfied with this decision of the High Bailiff, and urged that a greater number had held up their hands for Sir Francis than for Sir Samuel; but no one disputed my having had a majority, of at least ten to one, in my favour. The reader will see that this speaks volumes as to the opinion of the people. Though the people assembled could hold up their hands, yet when it came to the vote, the result clearly showed that the people had no share in electing those who were chosen as their representatives.
During this contest I was baited like a bull; it was very different from any election that ever took place before, for I tore the mask from all parties, and all factions; in doing which I exposed myself to a combination of the whole press of England, all the managers of which were leagued together to abuse, to misrepresent, and belie me. The Tory, the Whig, and the Burdettite press attacked me not only without mercy, but also without the slightest regard to truth or fair play; and that portion of the press which was either under the influence or in the pay of these three parties consisted of more than nineteen twentieths of the press of the whole kingdom!
After the election had proceeded for a few days, it was found that upon the poll Sir Francis Burdett was left considerably behind Sir Samuel Romilly and Sir Murray Maxwell. Major Cartwright's and Mr. Douglas Kinnaird's names were, therefore, withdrawn from the contest, and the friends of both those gentlemen joined to support Sir Francis's election, which appeared to be in great danger. As, however, I had no such views as they had, my exertions being daily and solely directed to open the eyes of the electors of Westminster to what I conceived to be the gross negligence of Sir Francis Burdett with respect to the cause of the people, it was determined to stand out the contest, especially as I had made an affidavit, before the Lord Mayor of London, previous to the commencement of the election, binding myself to keep the poll open to the last hour allowed by law. Notwithstanding this affidavit, which had been printed, and posted all over London, a little impudent Irishman, of the name of Cleary, whom I have mentioned before, as a sort of writer or clerk, hired as such by Major Cartwright, came forward upon the hustings, and in a broad Irish brogue called upon me to tender my resignation, and to render all the assistance in my power to promote the election of Sir Francis Burdett, and took the liberty of insinuating that I could be no friend of the people if I did not do so. Nothing could equal the impudence of this upstart, paid secretary, this hireling of the Major's; he was no elector of Westminster, and had no legal business whatever upon the hustings in Westminster. However, I treated this proposition with the silent contempt that it merited; and this drew down the malevolence of the Rump, of which this Cleary now formed a part. They denounced me as a spy of the Government, and every thing that was base; and they put no bounds to their abuse. In the evening, as I was addressing the electors, and defending myself against these assassin-like attacks from the Rump, I stated the circumstance of their having prevented the holding of a public meeting in the metropolis, which meeting I had proposed for the purpose of raising a subscription, to enable Brandreth, Turner, Ludlam, and others, who had been indicted for high treason at Derby, to fee counsel, and pay the expenses of their witnesses, so as to obtain a fair trial; and I of course alluded to the dirty trick which had been played me, in order to prevent the meeting, by writing me a letter, in the first instance, to say that a meeting would be called, and then putting it off when it was too late for me to come to London to call the meeting myself. I did this in general terms, without mentioning any names; upon which Cleary came forward, and unblushingly declared that what I had said was false, and that there was no letter whatever of the sort written to me. On this, there was a general call "produce the letter, name, name." In reply I asserted, that not only was such a letter written, but Cleary himself was the writer, and that he had gone so far as to say, in the letter, that he was so offended with the prisoners who were charged with high treason, that he could almost find it in his heart to go down and hang them himself. Cleary again presented himself, and, in the most solemn manner, called God to witness, that what I had said was totally devoid of truth. The clamour of the party of the Rump committee, now became excessive, they one and all bawled out, "produce the letter!—you cannot, Hunt!—it is all false!" At length I vociferated that I would produce it the next day. I thought I had the said letter amongst some others in my trunk, but, upon looking them over, I found that it was left at Middleton Cottage, with my other papers. I therefore dispatched one of my family into the country, a distance of sixty-one miles, to enable me to perform my promise, and the demand of the party. The next day I was obliged to state the fact, that the letter was in the country, but that I had sent an express for it, and it should be produced as soon as that messenger returned. Upon this the whole gang burst out into a forced horse laugh, swearing that it was all false, that I had no such letter, and that I never could produce it.
On the following day, which was Sunday, I received the letter from the country. In the meantime all the London papers had misrepresented this affair in the most scandalous and unprincipled manner, and every one of them agreeing that I had made a groundless charge against Cleary, and intimating that the story of the letter was a fabrication. The gang had, in reality, contrived to raise a general outcry against me. Monday, however, came, too soon for them, and on the hustings I then produced the letter, and offered to read it; but the tumult raised by the party, totally prevented it from being heard. This being the case, I promised to have it printed the next day. I kept my word, and one thousand copies were circulated; upon which Cleary produced a letter from Mr. Cobbett, said to have been addressed to a person of the name of Wright. In this letter, written, I believe, ten years previous to this epoch, Mr. Cobbett grossly abused me, and represented me as a sad fellow, and recommended to the Westminster committee to have nothing to do with me. As on the face of it this epistle appeared to have been written some years before I knew Mr. Cobbett, I felt no anger or resentment against him; although it certainly showed that he possessed a bad heart, to be capable of writing such gross and palpable falsehoods and malignant calumny against a man whom he knew only by report; which man, report must at the same time have convinced him, was a zealous and persevering friend of Liberty. The former cry was now dropped, and in its place was substituted another. It was impudently pretended that I had behaved very unhandsomely, in producing and publishing a private letter of Cleary's; though the fact was, that it was a public letter written upon public business, by a man who was a sort of public general secretary for all public matters debated on and meetings held in Westminster, and who was also the paid secretary to Major Cartwright and the Hampden Club! To bring forward a charge of this kind against me, was stretching impudence and falsehood as far as they could possibly go.
The next morning a note was put into my hands, which had been delivered open at my lodgings, on the preceding night, after I had retired to bed. This detestable composition contained a challenge from Mister Cleary, together with a great deal of vulgar Billingsgate abuse. I inquired who delivered it, and I was informed that between twelve and one o'clock, about two hours after I was in bed and asleep, some one knocked at the door, which was opened by my female servant, upon which three fellows rushed into the passage, and demanded to see me. The servant, however, informed them that I was gone to bed, and could not be disturbed. After behaving in a very boisterous and bullying manner, they gave her a letter, and informed her that it was a challenge for her master to fight a duel, and they desired, or rather ordered her to give it me as soon as I rose in the morning. All three of them refused to leave their names. When I rose, rather late in the morning, I found that this famous challenge had not only been read by all the females of my family, but that all the people in Norfolk-street, in which I lodged, had been informed of it, and the intelligence had also been communicated to the Magistrates at Bow-street. Two Bow-street officers were likewise observed parading the street, apparently to watch me out. Now, I will candidly appeal to my readers, and ask if ever they heard of a challenge to fight a duel having been delivered in such a way before? A challenge, avowed as such, and delivered unsealed, to a female, by three drunken Irishmen (for such my servant described them), between twelve and one o'clock at night, after the person challenged bad been in bed and asleep for hours, and not one of the party consenting to leave his name! To suppose that this poor creature meant to fight, or that those who brought his challenge, and gave it open to my female servant, ever intended that he should fight a duel, would be the height of credulity. Yet, to crown the joke, this very fellow, Cleary, was put forward upon the hustings, the next day, and actually read a copy of his blackguard challenge, which he said he had sent to me the night before. This was done in the presence and bearing of Mr. the present Sir Richard Birnie, and other police magistrates. Was ever the like of this performed before in England, or any other country? The reader will perceive that this was a trick, and a very clumsy one, to endeavour to get me taken into custody, and bound over to keep the peace. Yet the venal hireling press blazoned it forth to the world, that I had injured and behaved very unhandsomely to Mr. Cleary, by publishing his letter, and that I had refused to give him the satisfaction of a gentleman, when he demanded it!! Everyone knows this was done to create effect. If Cleary had ever meant to fight me, he would have taken a very different course; he would have sent some confidential friend to communicate with me in private.
This stratagem, however, clumsy as it was, had the desired effect, and such was the beastly and scandalous misrepresentation of the whole London press, that many very worthy and honourable men think to this day that I ill used Mr. Cleary. They say it was unhandsome to produce his letter. It is difficult to conceive on what moral ground they come to such a conclusion. Now, let us see what others, who were impartial, disinterested eye-witnesses of the affair, let us hear what they say upon the subject; for no one, perhaps, can be a thoroughly fair judge of the question who was not present. I will here insert an extract from a letter, signed "Leonidas," and published in Sherwin's Register, on the 26th of December, 1818. After stating that the only apology which was ever offered by any of the Rump for Cleary's conduct was, that I had behaved unhandsomely in divulging Cleary's letter about the prisoners at Derby, he says——
"But this unhandsomeness, what was it? The present writer was near the hustings on that occasion, and a plain tale, uninfluenced except by principle, will put the whole thing down.
"Mr. Hunt, whose elocution, though bad, is not attended with any embarrassment, a token either of a clouded intellect, or of conscious finesse, spoke, in order to set himself and those who so nearly and furiously persecuted him in a clear point of view before the people assembled at the hustings, which he had a right to do, of the prisoners at Derby, of his own conduct towards them, which was most courageous and humane, and of the conduct of the party at Westminster on the same occasion, which was assuredly supine to a frightful degree, to speak in no stronger language. In the midst of the most horrid yelling of the party, from whom he was continually obliged to appeal to the mob below, as Mr. Kinnaird, unused to his new nomenclature, called them, Mr. Hunt mentioned that the party in Westminster had done less than nothing to save the lives of the Derby prisoners. So far from aiding them, one had written to him that nothing could be done, and the writer had declared his own indignation against the unhappy men for disgracing the cause to be such, that he could almost go down and hang them himself.
"This was all fair, quite unobjectionable. Whether it was judicious to introduce this topic, is quite another question. While Mr. Hunt was speaking in half sentences, on account of the clamour from the hustings, and from the stages in front of them, where the party usually took their station, there was an evident feeling of uneasiness prevailing, a consciousness that Mr. Hunt had more to say than it was pleasant to hear; and this feeling broke out in one burst of foolish interruption when he arrived at this point, and a din was raised of 'name, name; it is all a lie, the scoundrel, the villain, name, name.' Mr. Hunt seemed to pause. The present writer had not the least suspicion of whom he had to name. When the demand was often repeated, and the noise had somewhat abated, he came forward, and, with evident reluctance, pronounced, 'It was Mr. ——,' who by this time had placed himself in front of the hustings, and with writhing contortions uttered some most passionate exclamations.
"Well, this was not sufficient. The cry now was, 'produce the letter, produce the letter; you cannot, you blackguard; it is a lie,' &c. &c. Mr. Hunt could not, at the instant, produce the letter; but said it should be forthcoming the next day. It was not produced the next day, when the grossest abuse was poured on him from the usual quarter. The party would not hear his explanation, that it was left in the country, and scarcely could this assurance reach the ears of the more indifferent spectators. An express was sent for it, who could not return without some delay. In the interval, Mr. Hunt was assailed with every opprobrious epithet of liar, scoundrel, base slanderer, and exclamations, 'He cannot produce it, it is all a fabrication,' &c. &c. At last, the letter came, and an attempt was made to read it, without effect. Mr. Hunt was obliged to say, 'Well, you shall have it printed to-morrow.'
"I am not conscious that I misrepresent a tittle of this most abominable scene, such as I hope never to witness again among human beings. This was the unhandsome way that is said to justify the production of a private letter of Mr. Cobbett, even if it had been written by him; a letter now however proved to be a forgery, and of the genuineness of which no evidence was sought even at the time, except that it was furnished by Mr. Place, the tailor.
"Now, nothing could be more justifiable than Mr. Hunt's conduct. It was absolutely forced on him. He could not avoid producing the letter. Those who complain of unhandsomeness themselves laid on him the disagreeable necessity. What did they say of his not having the letter ready to produce? Why, that it was a proof of his being a liar, and a scoundrel. Of what was it a proof? Simply that Mr. Hunt had no previous intention to disclose that letter, that he was forcibly obliged to produce it to satisfy the clamour of the complaining party. If, after he had alluded to it, which might not be discreet, but which was not at all criminal because it was not on private, but public business—if after alluding to the letter, he had refused to produce it, let any man judge what would have been his treatment from the party. Their character demonstrates, to a certainty, that they would not have allowed the existence of such a letter, though fully conscious of it, and would have suffered Mr. Hunt to the end of time to be considered, what they called him, a liar, a Scoundrel, and a slanderer.
"This subject, which I had not anticipated when my last letter was written, and did not mean, before the appearance of the confused and timid letter in Cobbett's Register, to advert to, has occupied too much time to permit me to comprehend, in this communication, all the remarks which I announced. It must be granted me, who am of no party but that of truth, to pursue my way, at leisure, and as free as possible from the mere forms of detail. Meaning to resume my pen, I am, for the present, Sir, &c.
The reader will observe, that this letter was written in December, six months after the election; and I beg here to observe, that I never knew or spoke to the writer till some time after this letter was written; but I am proud to say, when I was introduced to him, that this fair advocate of truth, proved to be a gentleman and a man of the strictest honour, bred up and associating with the higher ranks of society, and who was a doctor (of divinity, I believe). He was altogether just such a man as I should have selected as an arbitrator to decide any dispute, a man of strict veracity and unimpeachable character. I have said thus much upon this affair, in order to clear myself from the imputation of unhandsome conduct, and the charge of cowardice which was so lavishly bestowed upon me by the whole of the corrupt, hireling, partial London press, the falsehoods vomited forth by which were re-echoed from shore to shore, by all the dastardly local press of the kingdom. This virulence arose from the following fact. In consequence of my exposure of the conduct of Sir Francis Burdett, not more than 500 hands were held up for him out of 20,000 persons present, when his name was put in nomination; and now, on the eighth or ninth day of the election, Sir Francis stood THIRD upon the poll, and ultimately he was returned only SECOND upon it—Sir Samuel Romilly standing several hundreds (three hundred) above him, and Sir Murray Maxwell only about four hundred below him. In fact, nothing but the foul play shown towards Sir Murray and his friends, together with the very bad management of his committee, prevented his being returned with Sir Samuel Romilly, and Sir Francis being rejected and thrown out altogether. This was what made the party so outrageously clamorous and vindictive against me. Independent of the wound which their pride suffered, from the dread of being defeated, they had another reason to abominate me. They were compelled to make no trifling sacrifices of a certain kind. About the eighth or ninth day of the election, a dreadful effort was made by the party, and money flew about in all directions; poor electors had their taxes paid up, others were paid for voting, public-houses were opened, and all the sources of corruption and bribery were resorted to, by the friends and supporters of Sir Francis Burdett, which were employed by the Ministerial faction for Sir Murray Maxwell. By these means there was at length an apparent spirit of enthusiasm revived for the Baronet. Hundreds, who had viewed his conduct in a similar light to that in which I had viewed it, and who had condemned him, and given him up, and who had actually stood neuter hitherto, not meaning to vote at all at the election, as their votes could not have rendered me any service, now came forward and voted for him, under the impression that it would be better to return him, bad and indolent as he was, than to return the rank Ministerial tool, Sir Murray Maxwell.
At the end of the election, the numbers were declared by the High Bailiff to be as follow:-Romilly 5,538, Burdett 5,239, Maxwell 4,808, Hunt 84. Upon the show of hands at the nomination by the High Bailiff, when the election commenced, Sir Francis stood third, below myself and Sir Samuel; at the end of the election Sir Francis stood second upon the poll, 300 below Sir Samuel Romilly. This was a sad blow to the Baronet's popularity, and a still more severe blow to the upstart gentry who formed the Rump Committee. When Lord Cochrane resigned his seat, at the dissolution of the Parliament, and I publicly offered myself as a candidate, if Sir Francis and the Committee had stood neuter, even I should have been returned with him without any opposition; but this did not suit him, or the Committee; they opposed me, and no one doubted their power to prevent my being elected, though, at the same time, they little dreamt that I had the power to endanger the election of their idol, Sir Francis, and by my exertions to cause the Whig candidate, Romilly, to be placed at the head of the poll 300 above him. Even all that, however, was easier to be borne than to have me in Parliament. Whether I acted right, or whether I acted wrong, in thus opposing and bringing down that man, who had but a few years before been returned at the head of the poll for Westminster (2,000 above all the other candidates), is a matter of great doubt with a number of good men; I can only say, if I erred, I erred from public and not from private motives. Sir Francis Burdett has, since I have been here, acted the most noble part towards me, and I have no doubt but he is convinced that I was actuated in my opposition to him solely by public views; and if I was then deceived and mistaken as to his public conduct, he has shown that he has the nobleness of soul that knows how to forgive my hostility to him, because he believes that I was his opponent, not to serve any selfish end, but from a sense of public duty.
A few days after I had been so grossly misrepresented by the press, with respect to Cleary's affair, another circumstance occurred. One of the gents belonging to the Observer newspaper, was a Mr. Spectacle Dowling, who appears to have written so many falsehoods upon the subject, that he actually believed at last that what he had written was true. I had, in one of my speeches, alluded to the evidence which this person had given, on behalf of the Crown, upon the trial of Watson. The next morning, when I entered the hustings, a person at the door spoke to me, and while I was looking back to answer him, I felt the stroke of a small whip upon my hat, and, on turning hastily round to see what it meant, there was Mr. Spectacle Dowling flourishing a small jockey whip in a violent manner. I dashed up to him, and had just reached him a slight blow in the chin, when I was seized by the constables; but in his flight he received a blow in the mouth from my brother, and another from my son Henry, a lad of eighteen. We were all three held by the constables, who were all prepared to favour his escape.
Mr. Dowling immediately summoned my brother before Sir Richard, then Mr. Birnie, for the assault. I attended to give bail for him, and I certainly never saw a person who more resembled "raw head and bloody bones" than Mr. Dowling did, for he was bleeding at every pore; the marks of the three blows he had received were very evident upon his forehead, his mouth, and his chin. It appeared that Mr. Dowling's object was, not so much to get my brother held to bail, as it was to get himself bound over to keep the peace towards me; and Mr. Birnie, who had learned that Mr. Dowling was the first aggressor, urged me to prefer the complaint, and he would hold him to bail for the assault, as Dowling bravely protested before the Magistrates that he should have given me a good horsewhipping if the constables had not interfered. I, however, positively declined to make any charge against the gentleman, as I had resolved that the first time I met him I would give him an opportunity of taking a belly-full. I own that I walked the streets many an hour afterwards, in hopes of meeting him, and I carried a good cane in my hand, in order to lay it smartly about his shoulders. It was, however, many months before I met the gentleman. At length, one day, I was standing in Mr. Clement's shop, talking with Mr. Egan, the gentleman who at that time was the fashionable slang reporter of all the pitched battles and prize fights of the day, and who has since produced from his pen those characters which have made such a noise at the Adelphi and other theatres, namely, Tom and Jerry. While I was conversing with Mr. Egan, Mr. Dowling opened the door and walked in. I immediately addressed him, and said, "The last time I had the honour to meet you, Mr. Dowling, I believe was at Bow-street, when you stated to Mr. Birnie that you had struck me upon the Westminster hustings with a whip, and if you had not been prevented by the constables you would have given me a good horsewhipping." "Sir, (said he) I do not wish to have anything to say to you." "But, (replied I) there is a little account to settle between us; you struck me a blow with a whip, and I gave you a slap on the chin, so far we were equal; but you informed the Magistrates, that, if you had not been prevented by the constables, you would have given me a good thrashing; now, Sir, there are no constables present to interfere, and I will give you an opportunity to carry your threat into execution." "Sir, (he again repeated) I do not wish to have any thing to say to you;" and he was making out of the shop as fast as he could shuffle; but as soon as he opened the door, and stepped upon the pavement, I said, "Protect yourself," and at the same time I gave him a slight blow in the face with my flat hand, which knocked off his spectacles. The gallant reporter picked them up very coolly, and putting both hands before his face, he sued for mercy, saying, that if I persisted he should take the law of me. He kept his word, and I was indicted at the Middlesex sessions, and fined five pounds.
So ended the horse-whipping affair and the Westminster election, with the exception of a trifling after-clap or two, such as the High Bailiff sending me in a bill for my third share of the hustings, amounting to upwards of two hundred and fifty pounds (I think that was the sum). I refused the payment of it, and he commenced an action for the amount, and obtained a verdict for a great part of his charge. This brought me for the first time in contact with Mr. Counsellor Scarlett, he having been employed by the High Bailiff against me. I at once discovered, that this worthy Barrister, although a very clever fellow, was cursed with a very irritable, waspish disposition, of which I always took advantage afterwards, as often as we met in the Courts, which, unfortunately for me, was much too frequently for my pocket.
About this time an action had been brought against me, in the name of my landlord, Parson Williams, of Whitchurch, of whom I had rented Cold Henly Farm for three years, at a loss of about two thousand pounds, which I sunk in cleaning and improving the estate. When Mr Cobbett fled from England to go to America, in 1817, some of the Winchester attorneys and parsons openly said that they "had driven Cobbett out of the country, and they would try hard to make me follow him." They were as good as their words, for they tried all sorts of ways to injure my credit, and not succeeding to their wishes, an action was commenced against me, by a man who is clerk to the Magistrates, a Mr. Woodham, an attorney at Winchester, in the name of Mr. Williams, for breaches of covenants while I occupied Cold Henly Farm. I called on Mr. Williams, who denied having ever given any orders to Woodham to commence the action; he said that Woodham had urged him to do it, but that he refused to do so, and he wished every thing to be settled amicably. I relied upon the word of the old parson, who said he would write and stop any further proceedings; but my confidence was very soon betrayed, as I had notice that I had suffered judgment to pass by default, and a writ of inquiry was to be held at the next assizes to assess the damages. The writ of inquiry was executed at Winchester, and a verdict was obtained against me for, I believe, 250l. The breaches of covenant were easily proved, although they had been assented to by the parson, which assent I had carelessly and confidingly neglected to obtain from him, either in writing or before witnesses. Mr. ABRAHAM MORE, an eminent barrister upon the Western Circuit, was employed, and conducted the inquiry for Mr. Attorney Woodham. Mr. More was esteemed the best special pleader, and, after Mr. Sergeant Pell, he was certainly the best advocate upon the Western Circuit. But I take leave to ask, what is become of Mr. More? Mr. More has quitted the circuit and the bar, and fled from his country, since I came to this Bastile. I believe Mr. More was the Recorder of Lord Grosvenor's rotten borough of Shaftesbury, and he was, I am told, his lordship's steward, and suddenly left England under such circumstances as would have been blazoned forth in every newspaper in England, if he had been a poor Radical. I bear no personal hostility to Mr. More, therefore I shall not say any thing to wound the feelings of those of his relatives and friends who are left behind. But it is a remarkable fact, that the learned barrister, the Recorder of Shaftesbury, and the once learned and honest attorney, Mr. Richard Messiter, of Shaftesbury, should have left their country, and both have fled to America, under such peculiar circumstances.
On the 22d of July the son of Napoleon was created Duke of Reichstadt by his grandfather, the Emperor of Austria. On the 15th of August, very considerable disturbances took place at Manchester, amongst the manufacturing poor, who were suffering great privations and misery, in consequence of the high price of provisions, and the ruinous low prices given for manufacturing labour. On the 29th of September, the Emperors of Russia and Austria, and the King of Prussia, held a congress at Aix-la-Chapelle, assisted by ministers from England and France. On the 2d of October, the convention of Aix-la-Chapelle was signed. At the same period it was publicly announced by the Americans, that their navy consisted of six ships of the line, eleven frigates, and twenty-two sloops. On the 21st, Lord Ellenborough resigned the office of Chief Justice of the Court of King's Bench.
On the 2d of November, Sir Samuel Romilly put an end to his existence, by cutting his own throat with a razor. This event excited a very considerable sensation throughout the whole kingdom. Sir Samuel Romilly, although a lawyer, was very generally beloved and respected. By his death, a vacancy occurred for the representation of the city of Westminster, and, within ten minutes after I heard of the deed which had been committed by Sir Samuel, I determined upon an opposition against whoever might be nominated by Sir Francis and the Westminster Committee. I did not, indeed, myself, choose to encounter a repetition of the expenses which I had recently incurred, by standing a contested election for Westminster, but I was, nevertheless, determined to have some one put in nomination, to prevent, as far as lay in my power, the great and powerful city of Westminster from being made a rotten borough, under the influence of Sir Francis Burdett. But I found all the little staunch phalanx who had supported me during my own contest, now declined supporting an opposition in favour of Mr. Cobbett, whom I proposed to put in nomination. In fact, I could not get a single elector of Westminster either to propose or second the measure.
I ought to have noticed before, that, at the former contest, I was manfully and ably supported by Mr. John Gale Jones, who never deserted me, and who stood boldly by me to the very last day of the election. I ought also to have noticed, that my colours, surmounted by the Cap of Liberty, with the mottos of "Universal Suffrage" on one side, and "Hunt and Liberty" on the other, were every day, during the first general election in this year, carried to the hustings, and there nailed to the same, where they remained proudly floating in the air the whole day, till they were taken down, when the polling was closed, to proceed with my carriage every night into Norfolk street. I beg the reader, young or old, not to forget this fact, that at the general election in June 1818, for the first time in England, a gentleman offered himself as a candidate, upon the avowed principles of "Annual Parliaments, Universal Suffrage, and Vote by Ballot;" that at this election, which lasted fifteen days, the Cap of Liberty, surmounting the colours with that motto, was hoisted and carried through the streets morning and evening, preceding my carriage to and from the hustings in the city of Westminster; and that these were the only colours that were suffered by the people to remain upon the hustings, all other colours that were hoisted being torn down and trampled under the feet of the multitude, while the Cap of Liberty and the flag with Universal Suffrage remained all day, and every day, for fifteen days, fixed to the hustings, without the slightest insult or molestation being offered to it by any one. The cap and flag were frequently left for several hours together, without any one of my committee or myself being present; and I never heard that it was even hinted to offer to remove them, except once, on which occasion the following curious circumstance took place. One day, one of the constables, observing that myself and all my immediate friends were absent from the hustings, proposed in a low voice to some of his companions, to remove Hunt's flag and Cap of Liberty; but, softly as he had spoken, the proposal reached the quick ears of the multitude, and a loud and general cry was raised, "Protect Hunt's flag, my lads; touch it, if you dare!" This was accompanied by a rush towards that part of the hustings where it was fixed. The constable gentry slinked off, and never mentioned it afterwards, or attempted any thing of the sort.
One or two more instances of the devotion of the people towards me, I have forgotten to record. On the day when Mr. Dowling affected to strike me with a horse-whip, within the hustings, some one upon the hustings, Dr. Watson, I believe, communicated to the people without, that the constables were ill-using me; he seeing that the constables had seized me by the arms. With the quickness of lightning the boards which formed the lower end of the hustings were demolished, and the brave and generous people rushed in to my assistance, declaring that they were ready to lose their lives in my defence. I will give but another instance of their honest devotion to the man who they thought was advocating their rights. One evening, as I was leaving the hustings to pass to my carriage, there was, as usual, a great crowd at the door awaiting to salute me, and, amidst the pressure it so happened, that, without my being aware of any thing of the sort, a pickpocket neatly drew my watch from my pocket. But, although the act was unobserved by me, it did not escape the vigilance of my friends, who surrounded the door from purer motives. I passed on through the crowd to my carriage, which stood at a distance of twenty yards, the coachman not being able to bring it nearer up to the hustings, and, after I had got into the carriage, a man who was standing close to the door of the hustings hailed me, and holding up my watch and seals in his hand, passed it over the heads of the crowd, till it was handed into the carriage-window to me. The fact was, that some of the people saw the fellow take my watch and pass it to another of his gang, and he did the same to a third, but they were pursued, and the watch was rescued from the gang, who got a sound drubbing for their pains, and the watch was restored to me in the way which I have stated. Amongst the number who acted in this gallant and handsome way to me, I did not recognise any one that I knew by name. Mr. Gale Jones was with me in the carriage, and was an eyewitness of this affair, so honourable to the people of Westminster, who attended the hustings during the election.
On the 17th of November, Queen Charlotte died at Kew, in her 75th year. The Lord have mercy on her! although I never heard that, during the very long period that she was Queen of England, she ever attempted to use her influence with her husband, George the Third, to save the life of a single fellow-creature, with the exception of Dr. Dodd, a parson, who was hanged for forgery! but may the Lord have mercy upon her!
On the same day, I think it was, there was a meeting called at the Crown and Anchor, to nominate someone, as a proper person to be elected for Westminster, in the room of Sir Samuel Romilly. I attended that meeting, and by accident was seated next to Sir Charles Wolseley, with whom I then, for the first time, became personally acquainted. The chair was taken by Sir Francis Burdett, who briefly stated the purpose for which the electors had met. A Mr. Bruce, the young man of that name who was imprisoned in France, for assisting in the escape of Lavalette from prison, proposed John Cam Hobhouse, Esq. as a fit and proper person for the choice of the electors of Westminster as their representative. One of the Westminster committee seconded this nomination, and Mr. Hobhouse, a very young man, mounted the table, and addressed his auditory in a good set speech, which appeared to have been prepared for the occasion, as it consisted of nothing definite, but was merely made up of general professions of his being friendly to Liberty and Reform. After he had done he left the room, amidst a pretty general expression of approbation. Some time now elapsed, during which there was a pause, as every one was in expectation of Mr. Wooler, or some friend of Major Cartwright, putting that gentleman in nomination; but, as no one came forward, I mounted the table. After some time I obtained a hearing, and I began by inquiring who and what Mr. Hobhouse was? I demanded if he was any relation to the Under Secretary of State, or if he were any relation of that Sir Benjamin Hobhouse house who had formerly professed in that very room the same sort of general principles of Liberty which were now professed by the youth whom we had just heard? whether he was any relation to that same Sir Benjamin Hobhouse, who afterwards accepted a place in the Addington administration, and who had for so many years annually received 2,000l of the public money, for doing nothing, as a commissioner to inquire into the state of the Nabob of Arcot's debts. The truth was, that I thought this young gentleman was a brother of the then Under Secretary of State, and that he was a nephew of Sir Benjamin Hobhouse, and not his son. I followed up these questions, which were well received, and made a considerable impression upon the meeting; and at length I proposed my friend, Mr. Cobbett, as a fit and proper person to represent the enlightened citizens of Westminster, and I put him in nomination accordingly. There was a pretty general cry of no! no! and a loud laugh from the gentlemen of the Rump Committee; however, some persons in the crowd seconded my nomination. Mr. Wooler was then called for, as it was understood that he was to propose Major Cartwright. After a short parley, Sir Francis Burdett stated, that Mr. Wooler was not an elector of Westminster, and that he had nothing to say. But, though Mr. Wooler had nothing to say, it appeared that Mr. Gale Jones had something to say. But Mr. Jones was not permitted to express his sentiments; for, as usual, the impartial gentlemen of the committee cried him down with the most horrible yell, howling out that he was no elector. I believe Mr. Bruce, who proposed Mr. Hobhouse, was no elector. I was no elector, who proposed Mr. Cobbett.—This I stated; but the answer was, "we did not know but you were going to propose yourself, which you had a right to do." "Well," said I, "hear Mr. Jones. How do you know that he is not going to propose himself?" But all that I could urge was fruitless. No man, who has not been an ear-witness, knows, nor can any man imagine, what sort of a thing is the howl which is set up by the party who attend those meetings, it would disgrace a conclave of fiends. I have always seen Mr. Jones hooted down by these worthies, and I never knew them give him a single fair hearing in my life. However, Mr. Jones had taken ample revenge upon them at the late election; during that fortnight he paid them off in full, for all the dastardly foul-play that they had shown towards him for many years, and now, when they got him upon their own dunghill, they retaliated, not by answering him, or controverting what he had to say, but by refusing to hear him at all. Mr. Gale Jones, who is one of the most eloquent and powerful speakers that I ever heard, was always too independent in spirit for these gentlemen; he could neither be purchased nor wheedled out of his opinion. Every art had been tried to seduce him from the path of honour, but the humble walk of life in which he has always moved is the best proof of his sincerity, and that his noble mind stands far above the reach of all corruption's dazzling temptations. A man, who possesses his eminent talent and very superior eloquence, might in this venal age have been elevated to wealth and power, if he would have condescended to speak a language foreign to his heart, and become the slave and tool of the Government, or of one of the factions. I believe Mr. Jones to be one of the most amiable, virtuous, and truly humane men in the kingdom. Those who have been envious and jealous of his talents, are the only persons who speak ill of him. In his profession of a surgeon, he is skilful and assiduous, but his modesty has always prevented him from pushing his practice to any extent, so as to render it lucrative. How many unfeeling, stupid block-heads are there in London, who ride in their carriages, and keep elegant establishments, clearing thousands a-year as surgeons, who do not possess a tenth part of the talent and skill of Mr. Gale Jones! It may be asked, why then is he not rich, like other men in his profession? This question is very easily answered by me. Alas! his humanity and his modesty have been the cause of his poverty. Some people will laugh at the idea of the retiring modesty of a man who could stand forward upon the hustings, and address twenty thousand of his fellow-creatures, with so much ease, and with so little embarrassment; but my assertion is, nevertheless, not only perfectly true, but also perfectly consistent; he is a lion in the cause of Freedom and Humanity, but a lamb in all other cases. He is bold and fearless when contending for public Liberty; but he is no less modest, meek, and humble, in private life. This has assisted to keep Mr. Jones poor, but his poverty has principally arisen from his great benevolence. I have known Mr. Jones run a mile, and gratuitously devote hours, to assist a poor and friendless fellow-creature; I have known him to do this, and share the shilling in his pocket with the sufferer, and return weary and pennyless to his wife and family, when he might have obtained a rich patient in the next street, and a guinea fee, with a twentieth part of the trouble and time he had gratuitously bestowed upon the poor and helpless.
I have said thus much of Mr. Gale Jones, as a matter of common justice; and, as a public duty, I call the attention of my readers in the metropolis to the situation of this worthy man, this real friend of Liberty, who has been neglected and insulted by that venal band of mercenary and time serving politicians, those flippant summer flies of the metropolis, those fair-weather patriots, which, when compared with the steady, sound, and inflexible patriotism of Mr. Jones, are like the dross of the vilest metal put in competition with the purest gold. In doing this justice to Mr. Jones's character (and it is but bare justice), I do not, however, mean to say that all the members composing the Westminster Committee are quite the reverse of what he is; on the contrary, I know many of them to be very worthy and most respectable men in private life, and perhaps they have very unintentionally been instrumental in making Westminster a rotten borough, in the hands of a particular circle. Probably there did not live a more honourable, upright man, in private life, than the late Mr. Samuel Brooks; and, as to his public exertions, I believe that his intentions were equally honourable, although he was frequently made the instrument to promote injustice, partiality, and foul play, by some of the designing and unprincipled knaves who surrounded him, some of whom had great influence over him, and frequently urged him on to do that which in his heart I know he very much disapproved.
But I must now return to my narrative, from which I was led by the foul, unmanly, un-Englishman-like conduct of the Westminster party, in hooting and howling down Mr. Jones at the public meeting at the Crown and Anchor, which meeting was called expressly to discuss a subject of great national importance, and to decide upon who was the most proper man to represent the great, the enlightened, the opulent city of Westminster. Mr. Hobhouse and Mr. Cobbett were, as I have already stated, put in nomination, and the chairman took the sense of the meeting, which, certainly, was very evidently in favour of Mr. Hobhouse; those who held up their hands in his favour being more than ten to one. Upon this occasion I produced a letter, which I received from my friend Mr. Cobbett, from America, and likewise a New York newspaper, wherein was inserted a letter, which he had written to the editor of that paper. In his letter to me, as well as his letter in the New York paper, he solemnly declared that the letter which was read by Cleary upon the hustings, at the late Westminster election, which Cleary stated to be written by Cobbett, was a FORGERY, and, of course, was never written by him. Upon this Cleary went to Brooks's and produced the letter, which, when it was shown to me, still appeared to be forged, as it was written in a much stronger hand than Mr. Cobbett usually wrote; and I also observed the post-mark was different from that of the office where I knew he always sent his letters when at Botley. These circumstances, and my having implicit reliance upon the word of my friend, who in the most solemn manner declared it to be a forgery, made me have no hesitation in pronouncing it as my belief that it was such.
As the show of hands was so decidedly in favour of Mr. Hobhouse, and as I could not get a single Westminster man to join me, it was in vain to persist in forcing Mr. Cobbett's claims upon the electors; but I was nevertheless determined to look out for some other cock to fight, so satisfied was I that it was necessary to oppose the schemes of that party who appeared determined to make Westminster a rotten borough, it being very evident that Mr. Hobhouse was the mere nominee of Sir Frances Burdett. There was plenty of time to look about for a candidate, but I felt quite sure that no one would oppose him if I did not bring forward that candidate. The Whigs had no chance whatever, unless some popular character stood forward to oppose the Westminster faction; and as for the Ministers, they had no relish to start another man, after the failure of Sir Murray Maxwell. Nothing could, indeed, have more forcibly shown their conscious weakness, and the thorough detestation in which they were held by the public, than that they did not even dare to start a candidate in the very hot-bed of corruption, the very citadal of Court influence.
The election was not to take place till the spring; in the mean time I did not fail to sound all the men that I thought likely to assist me, but I did this quite privately, while every possible exertion was made by Mr. Hobhouse and his friends, aided by the powerful influence, and still more powerful purse, of Sir Francis. The Westminster Committee now found it necessary to exert their utmost, and to strain every nerve. Canvassing committees were formed in every parish, and meetings were called, at which Mr. Hobhouse attended in person, to solicit the favour of the electors. The reports of these meetings I watched very narrowly, and in all the speeches of Mr. Hobhouse, I never could discover any one pledge given by him, to show that he was a friend to a real constitutional and efficient Reform. He dealt in general terms, such as his father Sir Benjamin, or Burke, or any other apostate from the cause of Liberty, might have used with perfect safety. There, nevertheless, appeared great enthusiasm amongst the party, and a general committee was formed, consisting, as it was said, of three hundred electors, selected from the different parishes. Those who were not in the secret, were astonished to hear of such extraordinary exertions, such seemingly overwhelming preparation; and the general opinion was, that the election of Hobhouse was placed far above the chance of a failure. In fact, he did not appear to have any opponent; no one had offered himself—no one had been proposed but Mr. Cobbett, who was named by me under such circumstances as made any opposition from such a quarter worse than futile, absolutely ridiculous. Apparently there was but one person who even insinuated any opposition to Mr. Hobhouse, but that one person was Hunt. The Rump knew me too well to treat my opposition lightly. They had so very recently experienced my power, that they saw with dismay that I had been the sole cause of endangering the election of Sir Francis, and that, by my exertions alone, he, their IDOL, Westminster's pride and England's hope, had been placed SECOND upon the poll, having received three hundred votes less than Sir Samuel Romilly. The Rump Committee and Sir Francis knew all this perfectly well: they knew that if it had been a contest between Romilly and Burdett, without any interference of mine, that Burdett would have had a thousand or fifteen hundred votes more than Romilly. Hence all the preparations and exertions that were now made.
Seeing all this, I was obliged to act with great caution. I had applied, over and over again, to those that I thought the staunchest friends of Major Cartwright, but I found them wavering and insincere; desponding, and exclaiming "it is all no use! it is impossible to return the Major!" I had taken care to get a friend to sound the Major, and I found that the old veteran was exceedingly pleased at the thought of being once more nominated for Westminster, for which city he certainly ought to have been the member long before. This was the Old Game Cock, then, that I had determined to set up against the young Bantam, although I found that I should have great difficulty in bringing his seconds, or rather his proposers, up to the mark. I had therefore solemnly made up my mind as a dernier resort, that if my effort to have the Major proposed should ultimately fail, I would once more offer myself, and stand the contest in person, so convinced was I of the absolute necessity of exposing the conduct of the electors of Westminster, who constituted what was called the Rump Committee. They had treated me at the late election in the most foul and unhandsome way, such as was totally unbecoming the character of the very lowest of those who set up any pretension to honour or honesty. I had made them feel the weight of my opposition, and I was determined that they should a second time experience the effect of my single-handed hostility. I well knew that Major Cartwright was by no means popular amongst the Westminster electors, and that he would not stand the slightest chance of being elected; but I was alse thoroughly assured, that, as soon as the Whigs were quite certain that I had determined to stand forward against the Burdettite faction, they also would start a candidate. This was the state of parties in Westminster at the close of the year 1818.
By a report of a Committee, appointed by the House of Commons, it appeared that four millions of pounds weight of sloe, liquorice, and ash-tree leaves, are every year mixed with Chinese teas in England, besides the adulterations that take place in China, before the teas sent to England leave that country! The new Parliament met on the 14th of January, 1819, and was opened by commission. The Queen's death was noticed in the speech, and a Bill was brought in, and passed, to give the custody of the old insane King's person to the Duke of York, instead of the Queen, with an allowance of TEN THOUSAND POUNDS per annum! This is about four thousand pounds a year more than the salary of the President of the United States of America. The guardians of John Gull's purse vote the King's son four thousand pounds a year more, for having the custody of his father's person, who was confined as a lunatic in Windsor Castle, than the Americans pay to their Chief Magistrate, for managing all the business of the American nation! In settling the election petitions, three boroughs were declared by the committees and by the House of Commons to have been carried by bribery, and an order was given to the Attorney-General to prosecute the parties. Another bill was passed to prevent the Bank of England from paying their notes in gold. What a hoax! A bill was likewise passed, to prevent the subjects of England from inlisting into the service of any foreign state at war with another, which bill was intended to apply to the colonies of Spain.
The middle of February was fixed for the Westminster election, and not a breath had been heard about any opposition to Mr. Hobhouse. I, however, put an advertisement into the Sunday Observer, I think it was, signed with my name, assuring the electors that an independent, real friend of Reform would be nominated at the hustings on the day of election. Before this letter appeared in the paper alluded to, the Westminster committee were so satisfied in their own minds that, by their great and overwhelming show of preparations and canvassings, they had deterred any one from offering any opposition, and that their candidate would be returned on the same day, without going to the poll, that the high bailiff had not taken the usual precaution of erecting a hustings, a temporary scaffold being thought quite sufficient. Nay, so thoroughly convinced of this was the Rump, that they actually ordered the CAR, and got it prepared for chairing their candidate, Mr. Hobhouse, and every necessary preparation was made for this ceremony being performed on the first day of the election: but, as soon as my letter appeared in the papers, it was all consternation and confusion amongst them, and the party were running about from one to the other like so many wild men! In the mean time, Sir Charles Wolseley and Mr. Northmore had been written to, and had arrived in London. A meeting was called, at the Russell Coffee-house, under the Piazzas, over night; Sir Charles and Mr. Northmore subscribed 50l. each, and a few other subscriptions were entered into, making in the whole about 120l., which was placed in the hands of Mr. Birt, of Little Russell Street, who was appointed treasurer; and with this sum I undertook to conduct the election of the Major for fifteen days, if the arrangements were left to me. This was agreed to, and a placard was issued, and posted immediately, merely stating "that the gallant Major was in the field."
A friend of mine that evening communicated to the Whigs, who were assembled at Brooks's, in St. James's Street, what had been done, and what was decided upon, and that I pledged my life for a fifteen days opposition to Sir Francis's nominee, Mr. Hobhouse. This intelligence was not communicated to the Whigs till late in the evening preceding the day on which the election was to be held; but they instantly assembled a council of war, to decide upon what steps ought to be taken. At length it was agreed upon by them to start Mr. George Lambe, the son of Lord Melbourne. He was instantly sought for, and, as I was credibly informed, he was called out of bed, to hear the news, so late as one o'clock in the morning; the election being to commence at eleven the same day. I immediately agreed for a Committee Room, at the Russell Coffee-house, where, as I have said, we had a previous meeting of some half dozen the evening before, to settle who was to propose and second the nomination of the Major in the morning. The only two electors of Westminster who attended, besides Mr. Birt, were Mr. Nicholson and Mr. Bowie. These gentlemen hesitated about performing this office, and we separated without any thing being decided upon as a certainty. However, I knew that Mr. Birt was to be depended upon as a man of strict honour and integrity; and looking forward to the probability of the other two gentlemen failing to attend, I had taken care to provide against any contingency of that sort. It was necessary to take every precaution, for I was aware that I had to contend with the greatest tricksters of the age; I knew Mr. Morris, the High Bailiff, to be one of the Rump faction; and I knew Master Smedley, the deputy of the High Bailiff, to be a cunning, sly, intriguing fellow; and it was therefore certain that I should have to watch their motions narrowly, being quite sure in my own mind that they would take advantage of any little informality to close the election—a step, or their part, which I was determined, if possible, to frustrate.
The morning arrived, and I attended the committee room early; but I found no one there except Mr. Birt and Dr. Watson, from whom I learned that Messrs. Bowie and Nicholson, the professed friends of the Major, had appointed to meet, to breakfast, at a Coffee-room, at the top of Catherine Street, in the Strand. Thither I repaired, and found them still wavering and undecided. When, however, I gave them to understand that it did not depend upon them alone, whether the Major should be proposed or not, as I had procured two electors, who were ready to propose and second the nomination of the Major if they failed to do so, their doubts and hesitation vanished, and they immediately agreed to go upon the hustings, and perform the task.
At this moment I received a message from the Major, who wished to see me at Probat's hotel, in King Street, Covent Garden, where he was waiting. I found the Major very anxious to know how matters were going on, he having heard of the difficulties which had been started; I assured him that all was going on well, but I strongly remonstrated against his taking any part in the election, and censured his coming so near the hustings as Probat's hotel, as I knew that the Rump would have been delighted to have saddled the Major with a heavy share of the expenses of the hustings, &c. The Major agreed to return home, and not interfere any further, and he also assured me that he had positively prohibited the little upstart Irishman, Cleary, from going near the committee room, or interfering at all in the election on his account, as he knew that I had an objection to place myself in the power of such a fellow, by being even in the same room with him. Cleary, who, upon such occasions, was always a very busy, officious, meddling Marplot, felt very much mortified at this prohibition, so much so, that I am informed he immediately offered his services to the Rump, to act in opposition to his patron and friend, the Major. But, however basely the Rump might have acted in other respects, they acted very properly in this instance; for they declined to accept this treacherous offer, and poor Mister Cleary sunk into his original nothingness.
When I returned from visiting the Major, I found that the High Bailiff had proceeded to Covent Garden, mounted the scaffold, and with unusual haste had proceeded to have the writ read, and to open the proceedings of the election. I got as near as possible to the hustings, upon which I observed that Mr. Bowie and Mr. Nicholson had taken their stations; and with considerable difficulty I also contrived to mount them. Mr. Hobhouse was proposed, Mr. Lambe was proposed, and the Major also was proposed and seconded in due form; and the High Bailiff, upon a show of hands, declared the election to have fallen upon John Cam Hobhouse, Esq. by a very large majority, which was evidently the case, in the proportion of eight or ten to one.
As soon as this ceremony was over, I found Mr. Lambe and his friends, Lambton, Macdonald, and Co. hastening off the hustings, apparently to prepare for the polling, without ever taking any steps to demand a poll. Now was the moment to exert myself, and, as no time was to be lost, I made my way through the dense crowd upon the scaffold up to Messrs. Nicholson and Bowie, and requested them immediately to demand a poll, as I saw that the High Bailiff was preparing to declare Mr. Hobhouse duly elected. When thus brought to the test, they both began to shuffle, and finally replied that they would not undertake to do this, as it would make them liable to the expenses. It was in vain that I denied this, and requested them to tender their votes for the Major; they were not to be moved, and as every thing would be lost by a single instant of indecision, I rushed back again through the crowd, to that part of the scaffolding where I had seen Mr. Lambe and his friends retreating, and in my way I nearly overturned several of the Rump. I assured the High Bailiff that a poll would be demanded, and with great difficulty I was just in time to seize the tail of Mr. Lambe's coat, as he was walking down the ladder of the scaffold. In doing this I was obliged to jostle Mr. Lambton, who appeared excessively indignant at the shake which he received from me. I, however, kept fast hold of Mr. Lambe's coat, and earnestly requested him to return that instant and demand a poll, as otherwise the election would be closed in favour of Hobhouse. Both he and Mr. Macdonald, although they had been bred to the bar, appeared to know nothing of the matter, and seemed to doubt the accuracy of my assertion. I again emphatically assured them that, unless they returned and instantly in writing demanded a poll, the law would justify the High Bailiff in declaring Hobhouse to be duly elected. My earnestness induced them to return and do so, and if they had not complied with my suggestions, the election of Hobhouse would have been irrevocably declared in less than one minute after.
Thus by my presence of mind were the High Bailiff and the Rump frustrated in their schemes; for, had it not been prevented by my prompt, bold, and decisive interposition, Hobhouse would have been at once chaired as one of the Representatives of the city of Westminster. In consequence of the want of such decision and presence of mind, this trick has been a hundred times successfully played off at elections, and would most certainly and most effectually have succeeded here; for, after the show of hands is taken, unless one of the candidates or two of the electors immediately present to the returning officer a written demand of a poll, he is justified by law in declaring that person duly elected for whom the show of hands has been given.
It was, I repeat it, my interference, and my single exertions upon this occasion, that prevented Mr. Hobhouse from being at once returned as the colleague of Sir F. Burdett; and yet some persons are so foolish as to inquire, "what can be the reason of such men as Tailor Place, Currier Adams, &c. &c. and the rest of the Rump, persisting with such vindictive and rancorous hostility against Mr. Hunt?" The fact which I have stated is of itself a sufficient reason for their malice; but there are other reasons for the display of the malignant feelings of Mr. Tailor Place and Co. The reader should recollect, that I have often called the public attention to the conduct of this said professed Jacobin Tailor; for instance, when Sir Francis Burdett left the Tower, and the procession was got up for him, Tailor Place undertook to attend, and to take the management of those who were on horseback; but when the time arrived, the Tailor forgot to attend, although he was one of the most violent against the Baronet, for going over the water and deceiving the people. Again, when the famous Inquest was held upon the body of the murdered SELLIS, in the Duke of Cumberland's apartments in the Palace, who, in Heaven's name, should be selected for the foreman of that jury which sat on the inquest, who but Tailor Place, of Charing Cross! The verdict was felo de se, and the body of poor Sellis was buried in a cross road! Tailor Place was considered by some as having been a very lucky fellow, to be selected as the foreman of the said jury, by the Coroner for the Palace. I know, and I beg to remind the public, that the conduct of the said tailor was so very suspicious, that Colonel Wardle and Sir F. Burdett did not fail to speak very plainly upon the subject; and I know also that for many years Sir Francis Burdett would not trust himself in the same room with the said tailor, and that when he spoke of him he did it in the most unequivocal terms of suspicion and distrust—and more-over, that for many years the late Samuel Brooks never would have any communication with the said tailor. These things, with many others, came to my knowledge, and I never failed to speak of them in the language which they merited, both to the face of the said tailor and behind his back: my friends will therefore at any rate not be surprised at the malignant and cowardly hostility of this part of the Rump, in order to be revenged upon me. The exposures that I have made, the hundred times that I have frustrated the dirty plots of this gang, have entitled me to, and secured to me, the honour of their everlasting hatred, and a high honour I assure them I esteem it.
After the poll had been demanded by Mr. Lamb, the High Bailiff adjourned the election till the next morning, to give time for the workmen to erect a proper hustings. The polling commenced under the most vindictive and malignant feelings towards me on the part of the Rump; in consequence of the disappointment and the defeat which they had sustained, in not carrying the election of Mr. Hobhouse without opposition; which opposition they very justly attributed to me alone. I stood upon the hustings the avowed advocate of the Major, but at the same time the openly avowed opponent of Mr. Hobhouse, because he was the nominee of Sir Francis Burdett, whom I was determined to convince that he was nothing without the support of the people, that people which I contended he had deserted in 1816, when he refused to present their Address and Petition to the Prince Regent, and when he declared himself hostile to Universal Suffrage. The Baronet felt his situation to be such that he must either retire for ever from politics, or make a desperate effort to carry his point; he had set the die upon the election of Mr. Hobhouse, and his failing to carry that election would be a death blow to his popularity throughout England, and to his future influence in Westminster. I thought the Baronet had deserted his post, by refusing his aid and protection to the suffering people, in the years 1816 and 1817, and upon public grounds alone was I determined publicly to bring him to a sense of the relative situation in which he stood with the people. Whether I was right, or whether I was wrong, is not the question. I believed that he had neglected his public duty, and I took this public occasion, even as it might be said upon his own dunghill, to convince him of his error. I solemnly declare that I was actuated solely by a sense of what I owed to the public, and that I never in my life felt any private enmity towards Sir Francis; on the contrary, I always entertained a personal regard for him. But no influence on earth could induce me to abandon what I thought a public duty, to gratify any private or personal considerations. I now met Sir Francis Burdett openly upon his own ground, where he had been always idolized, in the midst of his friends, and surrounded by his constituents. I did not go behind his back to attack him, I met him face to face, and I boldly charged him with having deserted the cause of the people. I was indeed urged on to do this in a less courteous manner than I should otherwise have done, by the cowardly and blackguard attacks which I was daily experiencing from the dirty members of the Rump, by whom I was assailed with all the malice, filth, and falsehood which that august body could rake together, and fabricate against me. In fact, when I began to speak, I was baited like a bull, by a set of as cowardly caitiffs as ever disgraced, by their presence, the face of the earth; and, in addition to these, towards the latter end of the election, ruffians and assassins were regularly hired to attack me in a body.
The Baronet attended daily on the hustings, and he went round and visited the committees, and addressed them at night; his purse-strings were thrown open, and, in truth, if the Baronet's life had depended upon the event, he could not have laboured harder or have done more to have saved it, than he did to secure the election of Mr. Hobhouse;—but all would not do! The gang composing the Rump also attended every evening, with their hired myrmidons. As my only object was to expose them and their corrupt system, so their only apparent object now appeared to be to vilify and abuse me, and when, at length, the election of Mr. Lamb seemed to be almost certain, they became desperate. I was not only hissed and hooted, but I was pelted with sticks and stones by their hired agents, and although the people appeared excessively indignant at these outrages, they could not altogether prevent them. A little gang of desperadoes was always placed to open on me as soon as I began to speak, to endeavour to drown my voice in the most vulgar, brutal, and beastly manner. Amongst this gang generally some of the reporters to the Burdettite newspapers took up their station, and in such beastly abuse, as I have alluded to, much too coarse and horrid to mention in print, these worthies freely indulged. The commencement of their attack was, "Hunt, where's your wife?" And then followed a volley of such beastly and disgusting ribaldry as would have disgraced the most abandoned inmates of the lowest brothel in the metropolis.
It had been frequently suggested to me that none but wretches of the most profligate character could be guilty of such atrocious conduct, in which opinion I fully concurred. One day, when I was about to address the people at the close of the poll, this gang began their accustomed attack, and vociferated the most revolting, obscene, and truly horrid observations, relating to my wife; upon which I turned round and asked, if it were possible for such language to proceed from the mouth of any one who possessed the character of a man? And I added, that it did appear to me more than probable, that no one would resort to such cowardly, base, and horrid language, but some monster who was connected with a gang like that of Vere-street notoriety. This silenced the scoundrels for a moment, but at length some fellow among them took this to himself, and demanded if I meant to accuse him of unnatural propensities? I replied that I did not allude to any one individual, but that it did seem clear to me that none but monsters of the worst description could be guilty of such conduct as had been exhibited daily before the hustings when I addressed the people.
This circumstance, which occurred exactly as I have stated it, was, nevertheless, grossly perverted in a great number of the newspapers the next day; they falsely asserting that I had accused a person of being guilty of an unnatural crime, and pointed him out to the vengeance of the multitude before the hustings; and this has frequently been repeated and harped upon since by some scoundrels, who know the utter falsehood of the accusation. It is, however, a very curious fact, which would require but little trouble to prove, that one of the very men who suffered last week at the Old Bailey, for this detestable crime, was a constant attendant at the aforesaid Westminster election, amongst that part of the crowd from whence the horrid insinuations with respect to my wife were daily vociferated. So much for the dreadful cry out that was made against me by the daily press, for having, as they falsely asserted, accused a person wrongfully. I remember at the time of the general election, in 1812, when Mr. Cobbett offered himself a candidate for the county of Hants, a drunken, vulgar blackguard was abusing him in a most beastly and insufferable manner, whereupon Mr. Cobbett seriously informed the people that he was a maniac, and that his opponents had suffered him to escape for the purpose of abusing him; and he made a most feeling appeal to the people, and expostulated, in the most grave and serious manner, upon the baseness and cruelty of suffering the poor maniac to come amongst the crowd to expose himself without his keeper. This appeal had the desired effect, for the drunken ruffian was led away out of the crowd perforce, under the impression that he was actually a madman, who had just escaped from his keeper; yet no one thought of abusing Mr. Cobbett for this trick to get rid of an intoxicated beast, who was unwarrantably abusing him.
I attended the hustings daily till the last day but one, when the success of Mr. Lamb, and the defeat of the Baronet and Mr. Hobhouse, were certain. Mr. Lamb was declared duly elected at the end of the fifteenth day, to the great mortification of Sir Francis Burdett, and the total discomfiture of the Rump; and the CAR which had been provided for the chairing of Sir Francis's disciple, was laid by for another occasion.