Memoirs of Henry Hunt, Esq. Volume 3
Henry Hunt

Part 4 out of 8

would thank me to remit the balance. This was the latter end of July,
and immediately at the point of harvest. Thus situated, I wrote an
answer, or rather dictated an answer, stating my situation; and, as I
expected I should be prevented from getting out to collect any money to
meet the expenses of the harvest, I requested that they would allow me
to draw for one hundred pounds for a few weeks, when the balance should
be repaid, and my account should be replenished with a fresh advance. To
my great surprise, however, I received a reply, saying, that they were
much in want of cash, and not only declining to comply with my request,
but re-urging the payment of the small balance due to them. I certainly
felt extremely mortified at such illiberal, ungenerous, ungrateful, and,
I might add, brutal conduct; because it was generally believed at
the time that I was in a most perilous situation, and my surgeon had
pronounced it as his opinion, that it was absolutely necessary to keep
me quiet, and my mind perfectly easy, or the most fatal result might be
expected from a relapse; and I have good reason to know that my worthy
friend, Mr. WILLIAM HEATH, the Quaker Banker, had been informed of this
fact, previous to his sending in my accounts. This treatment, however,
operated very differently upon me from what might have been expected,
and probably exactly the reverse of what might have been anticipated
by _Friend William_. I had experienced a sudden and violent attack
of illness, which had deprived me of the use of my limbs, and almost
deprived me of my sight and my speech; I was unable to leave my bed, and
it was not expected that I should be able to leave my room for several
weeks; and in the weak and very languid state in which I felt myself, I
have often thought, and I believe now, that if I had not been roused by
the base and unfeeling conduct of _Friend William_, I should have given
way to extreme lassitude; I should have had a relapse, and probably
should never have left my room alive, although I was attended by Mr.
Davis, who is at the same time one of the most skilful, experienced, and
attentive surgeons in the kingdom, and in whose ability and judgment
I placed the greatest reliance; but the moment I received this second
letter from the Quaker (which was in the evening of the third day of my
illness), I got out of bed, and with the assistance of my family I put
my clothes on, and with great difficulty I was taken down stairs. I
ordered my servant to get my horses ready, as I was determined to go to
Bath the next day, to have the advice of Dr. Parry; but the real fact
was, that I was much more anxious to see my tenants there, to receive
some rent that was due to me, that I might be prepared to pay my harvest
people, and get out of the hands of _neighbour Heath_, the Quaker
Banker. On the next day I accordingly drove to Bath, as I have before
described, and succeeded in both the objects of my journey, by obtaining
the advice of Dr. Parry, and receiving my rent.

On my return home I wrote an answer to _Friend William_, to say, that I
was sorry to hear that he was so pressed for money, the truth of which,
I told him, I did not doubt, and, as that was the case, I would pay him
the small balance which was due; but that, at the same time, I should
certainly decline placing any more money in his hands, and I should also
take good care not to keep any of his _notes_ by me any longer than I
could help; and from that time to this I have kept my word, as the day
may not be far distant when a sovereign may be worth a hundred pounds'
worth of them.

I am bound in justice to say, that I do not believe that Messrs. Charles
and Thomas Heath were in any way privy to this transaction. On the
contrary, I am convinced, that they are totally incapable of such dirty
conduct; there is no improbability in their being ignorant of the
matter; _Squire Quaker Williams_ having the sole management of the
Banking concern, while the two elder brothers, Charles and Thomas,
managed the Brewing and Wine Trade. The secret of this dirty conduct of
_Mister William Heath_ soon afterwards came out. It seems that he was at
the time bargaining to _quit the Beaver_, and to give up THEE and THOU
for a seat in the Corporation of the rotten-borough of Andover; and I
have no doubt but that he acted in this unworthy manner in hopes of
currying favour with the rotten managers of that rotten, corrupt,
and contemptible Corporation; as he very soon afterwards doffed the
straight-cut coat without a collar, sunk the broad-brimmed hat, mounted
a dandy-cut coat and puppy hat, went to church, married the Parson's
sister, and became a right worthy member of that truly worthy body, the
Corporators of Andover. Of course he had gone through the ceremony of
being _read out of the meeting_, which is similar to that of being
_drummed out of a regiment_. Alas! alas! what would his poor old father
say, if he could peep out of his grave and take a squint at his lisping,
darling, baby boy Billy! The old man was a very worthy, respectable,
staunch Quaker, and I believe the two elder brothers are very worthy
honest men; but _Master Billy_ has just that sort of cast with his eye,
that my father always used to caution me against. He always used to say,
beware how you trust any fellow that has such a twist in his eye; and I
have generally found this observation correct.

Master Billy Heath is also the nominal possessor of a toft of land,
or a pig-sty, at Ludgershal, and being a toft man of that wretched
Borough, of course he is one of the electors, and he has been
instrumental in sending to Parliament some of the most corrupt members
that ever entered that Honourable House. This amiable worthy has had a
finger in the national pie; he has been one of those who has voted for
those that created the national debt; he is, therefore, one of those
whom I hold responsible for the payment of it, as long as he has a
shilling left to pay with. We hear of a great deal of horror expressed
about the breach of national faith, when persons have talked about a
reduction of the national debt; and it would indeed be a breach of
national faith to reduce the interest of the widow and the orphan, who
have their money in the funds, while one of the ramifications of the
boroughmongers has got any thing left to pay it with; let all those who
supported the system of extravagance, which created the debt, by all
means pay the interest of it, as far as they are able; but the great
breach of national faith has been, to compel others who have had no
finger in the pie, to pay towards making it. Only think of those
impudent imposters who supported the infamous breach of national faith
in the year 1797, by passing a law to protect the Bank of England from
paying their notes; only think of those barefaced swindlers now whining
and canting about national faith; only think of the impudence of those
who, at the very moment that they are blustering about national faith,
and pretending to be shocked at the bare mention of reducing what they
call the national debt; only think of their passing an Act of Parliament
to reduce the interest of a particular portion of that debt, by lowering
the 5 per cent. stocks to 4 per cent.; thus, in the most partial manner,
reducing the income of those persons who had their money in the 5 per
cents. from one hundred pounds a-year to eighty, while all the holders
of other stock continue to receive their full interest!! And yet these
are the men that pretend they are so much shocked at the idea of being
guilty of any breach of national faith!

But to return to my narrative.--On the sixteenth of _August_, 1815, a
most sanguinary murder was committed by the French Government, in direct
violation of the treaty of Paris, which guaranteed the safety of all who
had taken part against the Bourbons. _Marshal Ney was executed_; and
this was done under the sanction of the high Allied Powers. Amiable
alliance! what a disgrace to the character of Wellington! Ney was a
brave soldier, and to execute such a man, under such circumstances, was
the height of treachery and baseness. Talk of keeping faith, indeed!
This is another proof that tyrants never keep their faith with God or
man, any longer than they think it their interest to do so. My opinion
is, that Ney deserted and betrayed Napoleon, after the battle of
Waterloo, by not doing his duty when he returned to the French capital;
but that was no excuse for the gross and cowardly violation of the terms
of the capitulation of Paris. There could, in fact, be no justification
for such an unfeeling breach of faith, and there certainly was no other
excuse for such an act, but that of a base desire to be revenged in cold
blood, upon a brave general, whom they could never subdue in honourable

On the third of October following, the brave patriot Spanish General,
Porlier, met a similar fate, and was executed at Corunna, by the order
of the execrable and treacherous tyrant Ferdinand. To shew their
detestation of such a murder, a considerable number of the British
inhabitants of Corunna appeared in mourning for the death of the brave,
though unfortunate patriot; upon which, Ferdinand immediately laid an
extraordinary contribution upon them. Let the present patriots of Spain
never forget this fact, and let them remember that the cause of rational
Liberty in that country will never be safe while such a treacherous
tyrant has any power left. It is cruelty of the very worst description
to suffer such a monster to endanger the freedom and happiness of a
whole people. In Italy the despots also enjoyed a triumph. Murat, having
been defeated by the Austrian troops, fled, and was assassinated in the
kingdom of Naples on the thirteenth of October.

About this time there were serious riots in the North, and particularly
amongst the seamen at Sunderland, Newcastle, and Shields, which were
ultimately settled by giving them the increase of wages which they
demanded. On the fifth of November a treaty was entered into between
Russia and Great Britain; by which treaty the Greek Islands, called the
Ionian Islands, were placed under the protection of the latter power;
and on the twentieth, treaties of general peace were signed at Paris.
On the twenty-first of December, Lavalette, condemned at Paris for high
treason, escaped from prison in the clothes of Madame Lavalette.
Sir Robert Wilson, and Messrs. Bruce and Hutchinson, were mainly
instrumental in procuring the escape of this destined martyr to the
Bourbon tyrants, by assisting Madame Lavalette in this holy enterprise,
for which they were afterwards tried, found guilty, and sentenced to
three months' imprisonment in Paris. Sir Robert, as well as Messrs.
Bruce and Hutchinson, one of whom was an Irishman, the other a
Scotchman, secured to themselves immortal honour, in addition to the
sweet satisfaction of having rescued a victim from the remorseless hands
of a cruel tyrant.

On the same day, Lord Cochrane was sentenced to a hundred pounds fine
for escaping from the King's Bench Prison; but such was the enthusiasm
in favour of his Lordship, that the money was raised in a few days by a
penny subscription. The House of Commons having honoured his Lordship
by expelling him, when he was found guilty of being privy to the Stock
Exchange Hoax, a dead set was made by the Westminster Rump to get Mr.
Brougham elected in his place; and many private meetings were held at
the Crown and Anchor for that purpose. These intrigues having been
communicated to me by Mr. Samuel Miller, I wrote to him a letter, which
I begged him to shew to the Members of the Rump, and say, that it was
my opinion the Electors of Westminster would disgrace themselves if
they did not unanimously give the Honourable House a kick, by returning
Lord Cochrane again, and that if they did not choose to elect Lord
Cochrane again, if they proposed to bring in any other person, except
Major Cartwright, I would come to town and oppose him for at least the
space of fifteen days. This letter was shewn by Mr. Miller to some of
the leaders of the junto, and Mr. Miller informed me that it had the
effect of making them at once come to the resolution of returning Lord
Cochrane again, or at least of not making any opposition to him, by
bringing forward any other person. I believe that on this occasion Sir
Francis Burdett stood neuter, but it nevertheless was thought that he
was favourable to the return of Mr. Brougham. Whether this was so or
not, I cannot say, but it was very natural to conclude so, because those
very persons who were his most devoted supporters, appeared to wish
it. There had, in fact, been an attempt made, a short time before, to
prepare the way for Mr. Brougham and the Whigs to have a share in the
rotten Borough of Westminster. It was made at a public meeting, held
on some occasion, I forget what, in Palace-yard. At that meeting I
attended, having heard that a resolution was to be moved, which had been
agreed to at a previous private meeting, held the night before at the
Crown and Anchor, and at which meeting some of the said Whig members
attended. This said resolution was drawn up by Lawyer Brougham himself,
and it was in effect a vote of thanks to the Whigs, for their patriotic
exertions in Parliament. Well, after a considerable portion of the
business of the day had passed off, as a matter of course, it was
announced to the gaping, astonished crowd, by old Wishart, that some
patriotic Members of Parliament were in attendance, and that they wished
to address the people, they having just arrived upon the hustings for
that purpose. The old Tobacconist, Wishart, acting as a sort of master
of the ceremonies, introduced them in form as they came to the front of
the hustings: as, "This is Mr. Brougham, Gentlemen: this is Mr. Lambton
this is Mr. Madocks, (upon which a few voices in the crowd cheered):
this is Mr. Grey Bennet: this is Mr. ----, Member for Hertfordshire,"
I forget his name, which is not of much consequence, as he has since
_changed_ it, by taking a _Peerage_. There might have been several
others, but I forget; they were, however, all exhibited to the wondering
multitude by Mr. Wishart, and very much in the tone, voice, and manner
that a showman exhibits the wild beasts at a country fair--" This is the
royal tiger from Bengal," &c.

While all this was going on, I stood snug at one corner in the front of
the hustings, and I must own, that I was considering in my mind which
would be the best way to expose this intended hoax upon the people
of Westminster. I saw there was no feeling of enthusiasm amongst the
people; they looked first at the exhibited M. P. and then cast an
inquiring suspicious look at the dealer in pigtail and rappee, who
introduced them. I contrived to keep my muscles so unconcerned that no
one could imagine what was passing in my mind, yet I saw and felt that I
had a difficult card to play, and that it would seem very invidious to
oppose a mere vote of thanks to any one of the individuals, or, in fact,
to oppose a general vote of thanks to those Members of Parliament, for
their opposition to the measures of a corrupt administration. On the
other hand, it forcibly struck me that it would look very much like an
act of cowardice, to stand silent and hear a vote of thanks passed to
the Whigs, whose measures and whose conduct I had so often beheld behind
their backs, and, in conjunction with Sir Francis Burdett, reprobated
and exposed in the strongest language. I therefore determined at all
risks to stand forward, and give my reasons for my opposition. At
any rate I was determined to support my _consistency_; although I felt
some doubt about the success of my apparently difficult undertaking.
Thanks, however, to Mr. Wishart, who, at the best of times, was but a
blundering politician, and who had no other influence over the minds
of the people than that which he had acquired from being a wealthy
shopkeeper, and by putting himself forward at the Westminster elections
and dinners, as the advocate of Sir Francis Burdett, I was soon relieved
from the unpleasant situation in which I was placed. By the speech
which he made, preparatory to the moving this resolution, he likewise
completely removed all doubts which I had previously entertained
upon the question; for he began with a pompous eulogium upon the
political conduct of the Whigs generally, and on that of Mr. Fox in
particular. I took care to observe the manner in which the multitude
received this eulogium; and I plainly saw, that it only required the
boldness to refute his arguments, to be able to carry the proposition
in the negative. I saw, too, that there was every now and then a hint
given, by one of the Rump understrappers upon the hustings, to get the
people to cheer the sentiments which were delivered by Mr. Wishart,
but it would not do; a few of the powdered-headed gentry in the crowd
certainly responded these hints, by a solitary cheer or two, while the
great mass of the people listened more with astonishment than with
indifference, and continually cast their eyes towards me with an
inquiring look, as much as to say, "Hunt, will you tolerate all this
humbug? Surely you will come forward and blow it into the air; we
will support you." Mr. Wishart concluded his speech by reading the
resolution, and saying, that he confidently expected that it would be
carried unanimously. "Stop a bit," said a man in the crowd, "Softly,
Sir! let us first hear what Mr. Hunt has to say to it."

Mr. Brougham had been standing, smirking, and bowing, and smiling, all
the time that Mr. Wishart had been larding them over with praises, and
he was only waiting to have the resolution put and carried, as a matter
of course, and was absolutely making ready, and seemed even to be
clearing his throat, to thank the enlightened and patriotic Electors of
Westminster, for the great honour which they had conferred upon him, and
his honourable friends. Some person, I forget who, but it was one of
the junto, seconded the motion. I shall never forget the old Major's
supplicating look at me; as plain as looks could speak, he seemed to
say, "Pray do, Mr. Hunt, let the vote pass; if you do not oppose it no
one else will, and I shall have these gentry at any rate entangled in
the meshes of my political net." But when the paper was put into the
hands of Mr. Arthur Morris, the High Bailiff, I coolly pulled off my
hat, and before I could say a word, I was greeted with a shout that
might have been heard at the Palace, and at Brooks's. This reception was
a deathblow to the Whigs, who began to stare at each other in the most
pitiable manner. They knew me well, and they knew that I would not fail
to denounce and expose to their faces, the hypocrisy of the Whigs, as I
had so often done behind their backs. I began, and the first sentence
was received with a loud cheer, and "Bravo, Hunt! give it them; they
richly deserve it," resounded from the crowd. "I shall," said I,
"without being personal, endeavour to shew you the fallacy, the
absurdity, and the inconsistency, of all that Mr. Wishart has
said."--(_Cheers_.) I then went through the history of the Whig measures
during the administration of Mr. Fox, and this I did in the way of
questions to Mr. Wishart, asking him if he meant _that_ Mr. Fox
who brought a Bill into the House of Commons, and got it passed by
Ministerial majorities, to enable Lord Grenville to hold, at the same
time, the two incompatible offices of First Lord of the Treasury, and
Auditor of the Exchequer?--"Bravo! answer that, Wishart." Whether, when
he was speaking of the purity of mind, and disinterestedness of soul of
Mr. Fox, whether he meant _that_ Mr. Fox who brought in the said Bill,
to enable Lord Grenville to receive _six thousand_ a-year, as First Lord
of the Treasury, and at the same time _four thousand_ a-year more, to
audit his own accounts ?--_(tremendous cheers.)_--I then went on in the
same strain, to ask him, if he meant _that_ Mr. Fox, and those Whigs,
who, in defiance of all former precedents, when they were in power,
in the year 1807, introduced into the Cabinet, Lord Ellenborough, a
corrupt, political Judge, so that he might sit one day as a member of
the Cabinet, and advise the prosecution of a man for sedition, or high
treason, and the next day might sit in judgment upon him? Whether he
meant _that_ Mr. Fox, and those Whigs, who raised the allowances of
all the younger branches of the Royal Family, from twelve thousand to
eighteen thousand a-year? Whether he meant _that_ Mr. Fox, and those
Whigs, who had so violently opposed the passing of the income tax by
Mr. Pitt, declaring, in the House of Commons, that it was so unjust, so
unconstitutional, and so inquisitorial a measure, that the people of
England would be justified in taking up arms to resist the collection of
it; yet, when they came into place and authority themselves, immediately
raised the same income-tax, from six and a quarter to ten per cent.;
while, to curry favour with the Crown, they exempted the King's private
property in the funds, amounting to several millions, from the operation
of the act, though, with an infamous want of humanity, they left the
widow and the orphan of fifty pounds a-year, subject to all its demands?
Whether he meant _that_ Mr. Fox, and those Whigs, who brought a Bill
into the House to subject to the operation of the Excise Laws, all
private families who brewed their own beer; a Bill, which, if passed,
would have increased the number of Excise officers from ten to twenty
thousand, giving them power at all hours to enter the house of every
private family in the kingdom who brewed their own beer? I went on in
this way, through the whole history of the Whigs, during the time that
they were in power, one year, one month, one week, and one day, in
1806 and 1807; and, before I could get to the end of any one of the
questions, the people, who anticipated what was coming, for the subject
had been rendered familiar to the mind of every one, gave several almost
unanimous and tremendous cheers.

It will be seen that I never spoke one disrespectful word of Mr. Fox, or
ever mentioned the names of one of the Whig Members of Parliament who
were upon the hustings, or even alluded to them; but just as I was about
to wind up my string of questions, by noticing their dismissal from
office, I observed a great bustle amongst the populace, who soon burst
forth into exclamations of "Look there! they are running away! Why do
you not stay and answer the questions?" I did not at first understand
what this meant, till a gentleman exclaimed with a loud voice, "Look
round, Mr. Hunt; all the Whig gentry are run away!" I turned round, and
sure enough they were all flown, having escaped from the back part of
the hustings through the King's Arms Inn. As soon as they were gone, the
people gave three cheers, and roared out lustily, "Hunt for ever!" I
proceeded with my harangue, and lamented that the gentlemen had not
remained to assist Mr. Wishart in answering my questions; and I put it
to the good sense of Mr. Wishart, whether, unless he could answer them
satisfactorily, it would not be more prudent to withdraw the resolution
of a vote of thanks to the Whigs, especially as none of them remained to
return thanks, even supposing it possible that the resolution should
be carried. (This was received with a loud laugh, and a cry to put the
question.) Mr. Wishart, however, as if for the purpose of exposing his
friends, and totally defeating his own object, persisted in having the
resolution submitted to the meeting. The result was, that perhaps forty
or fifty hands were held up for it, and a forest of ten thousand hands
were raised against it. The High Bailiff, of course, declared that the
resolution was lost by a very large majority. This was received with
loud peals of applause, and the usual votes of thanks having been
passed to the members and the High Bailiff, the meeting was dissolved,
reiterating the warm expressions of their approbation of my blowing
up such a bubble as was intended to have been palmed upon them by the
gentlemen of the Rump Committee.

The _Courier, Morning Post_, and other Ministerial papers, were
unpardonably witty, both in prose and verse, at the expense of the
poor Whigs, while the _Morning Chronicle_, and other Whig papers, were
equally severe upon me, and the editors did not fail to be very lavish
in their vulgar abuse. That the Whigs were irritated at me is not very
wonderful; it was quite clear that they set their hearts upon this
meeting; in fact, it was got up by the Rump on purpose to gratify them,
the other measures which were brought forward being a mere secondary
consideration; and, after all, their labour was worse than thrown away;
such a complete defeat never having been before sustained by any party
at a public meeting. Yet I will take upon myself to say that, had I
not been there, the vote of thanks would have been passed without the
slightest opposition, and Messrs. Lawyer Brougham and Co. would have
figured away in great stile, and would have sworn that the meeting was
not only the most respectable and the most numerous that they ever
witnessed, but was composed of much the most intelligent, enlightened,
and patriotic citizens in the world; now, forsooth, they were a
despicable rabble, deluded and led away by that abominable demagogue,
Hunt! The fact is, that the multitude are often taken by surprise, and
an English political assemblage is not only the most peaceable, but
the best natured body in the world. They often are misled for want
of thought, and, in the warmth of their hearts, and for want of
explanation, hold up their hands for measures which, upon reflection,
they regret. But if the matter is fairly discussed, and they are clearly
made to understand the question, they always decide right; and they are
not only the most disinterested, but the most honest and upright judges
in the world.

Lord Cochrane, as I have before mentioned, having been sentenced to be
imprisoned and fined 100_l_. for escaping from the King's Bench prison,
it was proposed to pay this fine by subscriptions of one penny from each
person; and the very same Rump Committee, who had been intriguing to
bring in Mr. Brougham for Westminster instead of his Lordship, never
choosing to let a good thing slip through their fingers, and always
looking out to catch the public opinion, and to turn it to their own
advantage, now stood forward to promote this subscription. Boxes were
placed up at Brooks's, in the Strand, the standing treasurer of the Rump
Committee, as well as at many other places in London and Westminster,
and subscriptions, more or less, were sent in from every part of the
kingdom; and, what is very extraordinary, the whole sum was subscribed
to a penny; not one penny was there more or less than one hundred
pounds; at all events, I never heard of any _overplus_, and I am sure if
there had been any _deficiency_ we should have heard enough of it. When
the time came for his Lordship's liberation, it was proposed to tender
the whole in copper-pence, as it had been subscribed; and I believe it
was proposed or suggested by me, that there should be a public meeting
called in Palace-yard, on the same day, and that I would announce to the
people assembled, that we were going down to the King's-Bench, to pay in
pence, Lord Cochrane's fine of one hundred pounds, which would be taken
down in a cart; and I added, that I would give the hint, that those who
wished to accompany us might see his Lordship walk out of the front
door of the prison, instead of escaping over the walls. By this plan I
proposed to bring Lord Cochrane out of prison, and to have him drawn
in triumph through the streets of the metropolis, to his house in
Bryanstone-street, Bryanstone-square, attended by twenty or thirty
thousand people. Mr. Cobbett, who had taken a very active part in his
Lordship's favour, was in London at the time, and he fully concurred
in the propriety of carrying my plan into effect. The original plan of
paying the fine in pence, I believe, was his own: my plan of procuring
the meeting in Palace-yard, and proceeding from thence in a body, being
an after-thought.

As the period approached, there appeared to be a great deal of shuffling
by the Rump, about calling the meeting, and I was on the point of making
some stir in the affair, but Mr. Cobbett said _they_ had considered of
it, and they thought it would be better for me not to have any thing to
do with the meeting, but to let the Westminster people do it themselves.
A hint of this sort was never lost upon me, and I immediately said that
I concurred in the opinion, that it would be much better for the whole
to be done by his Lordship's constituents; but I added, "I am fearful
that some cursed _hitch_ may prevent the thing altogether, and that his
Lordship will at last be left to walk out of the prison by him self."
"Oh!" said Mr. Cobbett, "Peter Walker and the Major will take care of
that." I saw that my services were not wanted, and therefore I retired
the next day into the country, where my business demanded my presence,
and where my inclination at all times called me. Before I left Town,
however, I said in a very emphatic manner, "take my word for it,
Cobbett, there will be no meeting." Mr. Cobbett replied, "By G--, Hunt,
you are a little too bad! You would make one believe that nothing can be
done, unless it is done by you." To this sally I merely answered, "We
shall see."

I went into the country, and, as I had anticipated, there was no meeting
called. The worthy members of the Rump knew very well how to manage to a
nicety a thing of that sort, and they parried the importunities of Mr.
Walker from time to time, till at length they boldly declared that it
was too late to call a meeting. Ultimately the fine was paid, and Lord
Cochrane left the prison quietly, without his constituents knowing
any thing of the matter; whereas, if it had been made public, tens
of thousands would have paid him the compliment to have attended his
liberation, and would have conducted him home, as he ought to have been,
in triumph through the streets of the metropolis.

I forgot to mention that Lord Cochrane's original sentence, for the
Stock Exchange hoax, was, that he should be imprisoned and stand in the
PILLORY. The latter part of this sentence was remitted, not out of any
kindness, but because the more prudent part of the Cabinet considered
the experiment of placing his Lordship in the pillory, to be one upon
which it would be a little too hazardous to venture. It was currently
reported, that, when Sir Francis Burdett heard of this infamous Star
Chamber sentence, he at once declared that he would accompany his
colleague, and stand by his side during the time of his undergoing that
which was intended to be a disgraceful exposure. However, as I said
before, this part of the sentence was remitted, for reasons the most
obvious; since, instead of being a disgrace to his Lordship, it would
have redounded to his immortal honour. The intention of placing men in
the pillory is, to hold them up to the hatred, contempt, and execration
of their fellow-citizens; but it was well known to his Lordship's
persecutors, that their making the attempt, in this instance, would have
had a directly opposite effect: for if they had proceeded to place his
Lordship in the pillory, he would have been greeted with the applause
and affection of the whole population of the metropolis. This exhibition
was, however, dispensed with; but no thanks to the cruel, vindictive,
and remorseless _Ellenborough;_ no thanks to the amiable and the mild
_Judge Bayley_, who passed the sentence; no thanks to the Ministers, who
were only restrained from carrying it into effect by their fears, and by
their fears alone. Those Ministers had already received a lesson on this
subject. When Daniel Isaac Eaton was put in the pillory, for publishing
some work which was pronounced to be blasphemous by the Judges, he was
cheered by the people during the whole of the time that be stood there;
every one endeavouring to console him by kindness and attention. The
cunning Ministers did not want a second exhibition of this sort;
what had passed was calculated to bring the punishment of the pillory
into disrepute with the minions of despotism. The public were become too
enlightened to contribute to the corrupt views of such a tool to the
Government as Ellenborough, and therefore it was that one of the
precious minions of the Whigs was selected to bring a Bill into
Parliament, to abolish the punishment of the pillory, unless upon a
conviction for perjury, and some other particular offence. This Bill
passed through both Houses of Parliament without any opposition, and
without any discussion. The punishment of the pillory surely is as good
a punishment for misdemeanours as it was in the days of Prynne, who had
his nose slit, his ears cut off, and stood in the pillory, by a sentence
of the corrupt Judges of that day, but who lived to see his persecutors
brought to condign punishment. Placing a man in the pillory is an appeal
to public opinion; and therefore no punishment on earth can be inflicted
which leaves greater disgrace upon the character of the sufferer, where
public opinion coincides with and supports the sentence of the Court:
but, where public opinion does not coincide with the sentence, where, on
the contrary, the sufferer is caressed and applauded by the public, it
inflicts no disgrace whatever, but may rather be considered an honour.
It inflicted no disgrace upon Daniel Isaac Eaton, because not one single
soul in the metropolis concurred in the justice of the sentence; the
whole populace applauded him, and protected him, so that if one of the
myrmidons of lawless power had dared to insult him, or to pelt him, that
caitiff would have suffered on the spot for his temerity and villainy.
Had Lord Cochrane been placed in the pillory (and I wish the corrupt
knaves of the day had carried their design into execution), it would not
have been the slightest disgrace to his Lordship; it would have only
shewn that his malignant persecutors thought they had the power to carry
their revengeful sentence into execution. As it was, they had the shame
of having wished to do what they did not dare to do. At all events, the
sentence, the being expelled from the navy and the House of Commons, and
the kicking of his Lordship's knight's banner out of Westminster Abbey,
was quite enough to show what they would have done, could they but have
"screwed their courage to the sticking place."

When this prosecution was commenced, his Lordship was on board a ship of
war, upon the point of sailing to cruise against the Americans, and to
fight against the only free people in the universe. He was at that time
not half a real Reformer, though he had certainly incurred the hatred of
the Boroughmongers, by exposing the villainy of the Prize Courts of the
Admiralty. He had even gone further; he had done that for which he will
never be forgotten or forgiven by them. He had procured a return to be
made to the House, of all the _places, pensions_, and _sinecures_, held
under the Crown. His Lordship took the House rather unawares, he caught
its members in a _complying mood_, and, like a man of war, he pressed on
to conquest, and induced them to grant that which they can never recall;
and for granting which they have scarcely forgiven themselves, and will
certainly never forgive him as long as he lives. It was for THIS that he
was prosecuted; it was for THIS that he was sentenced to stand in the
pillory; it was for THIS that he was expelled the navy; it was for THIS
that he was expelled the House of Commons; it was for THIS that his
knight's banner was kicked out of King Henry's chapel: had it not been
for THIS, he would never have been prosecuted at all; but if these
things had never happened, I believe his Lordship would have never been
a _real Radical_ which now I hope and believe that he is; had it not
been for this, I believe he would have still continued the ornament of
the British Navy, and would never have joined to assist, by his talents
and his consummate naval skill, to emancipate the South Americans from
the slavery of Old Spain, the mother country, as it is foolishly called.

There were great emigrations to America, this year, 1815, both from
England and Ireland, in consequence of the distressed state of the
farmers, who gave up their leases, owing to the decreased prices of all
sorts of agricultural productions. The average price of wheat, during
the year, was sixty-four shillings and fourpence a quarter, about eight
shillings a bushel; the quartern loaf was sevenpence. The supplies voted
this year were EIGHTY-NINE MILLIONS eight hundred and ninety-three
thousand nine hundred pounds, for England, and NINE MILLIONS Seven
hundred and fifty thousand pounds for Ireland, making 99,643,900_l_.
This, together with the expenses of collection, (say five millions) and
ten millions paid for poor rates, makes the round sum of 114,643,900_l_.
collected in direct taxes this year from the pockets of JOHN GULL,
besides tithes and other _et ceteras_. O, brave John! thou art at any
rate a hard-headed and empty-pated fellow; and all in good time thy
pockets will be as empty as thy hard pate now is!

As might have been expected, France and Spain were ruled with a rod
of superstition, wielded by the flinty hearts and iron hands of the
Bourbons, Louis the Eighteenth of France, and Ferdinand of Spain, a
precious pair of English _proteges_. In spite of all the pledges
and securities which had been given, executions, banishments, and
proscriptions were the order of the day, both in France and Spain. In
France, Labedoyere and Marshal Ney fell the victims of Bourbon revenge
and cowardice. A law of pretended amnesty was indeed afterwards passed,
but all the relatives of Napoleon were excluded from residing in the
French territory. In the unhappy kingdom of Spain the execrable and
impotent Ferdinand, impotent in all but cruelty, exercised the most
unlimited powers of tyranny and oppression; a sad contrast to the
comparatively mild and liberal Government of Joseph Buonaparte. In
Spain, almost every man who had assisted Wellington to drive out the
French, in fact, every avowed friend of civil and religious Liberty,
were either executed, banished, or imprisoned by the execrable and
despicable bigoted tyrant Ferdinand, the beloved Ferdinand! May the
vengeance of Heaven pursue him! The Parliament of England met on the
first of February, when Castlereagh moved that a national monument
should be erected, to commemorate the late victories; which proposition
was unanimously agreed to by the "collective wisdom" of the nation. Mr.
Brougham moved for a copy of the treaty signed at Paris, by the allied
despots, commonly called the HOLY ALLIANCE. This was negatived by the
"collective wisdom," who also refused a copy of the treaty of Vienna.
John Gull had to pay for all, but John was not worthy of being trusted
with such mighty secrets.

The Ministers now attempted to continue the property tax; but this
caused such a ferment through the country, that public meetings were
called, and petitions were presented from every part of the kingdom: the
Livery of London set the example, and sounded the alarm, which flew like
lightning throughout the country. Seeing that the public were alive
and anxious to oppose this tax, the Whigs once more made an attempt to
rally; in fact, all the landed proprietors were against it; and the
leading Whigs therefore called county meetings all over the kingdom; we
had a county meeting in Hampshire. It was held at Winchester, and was
called by the Whigs, the leader of whom was Mr. Portal, of Trifolk,
whose father had amassed a large fortune, by making all the paper for
the Bank of England notes. Mr. Cobbett and myself attended, and we
completely frustrated the intention of the Whigs. The Whigs, as we
expected, endeavoured to make a party question of it, and all their
anger was directed against the Ministers, or rather against the Prince
Regent, because he would not turn those Ministers out of place, and put
_them_ in. Mr. Portal called the tax a HIGHWAYMAN'S TAX. Mr. Cobbett and
myself thoroughly exposed those hypocritical Whigs, and proved to the
satisfaction of our hearers, that, if it were a highwayman's tax, the
Whigs had taken to the road in 1807, and robbed the people quite as much
as their more fortunate opponents. I recollect that I took occasion to
remind the worthy descendant of the Bank of England paper-maker, that I
agreed with him fully in the designation that he had given to the tax,
and to assure him that I considered those who collected it as nothing
better than highwaymen; but I begged that he, as well as those that
heard me, would at the same time not fail to remember that I considered
him (Mr. Portal) an accomplice; for he aided and abetted them in their
robbery, by acting as a Commissioner of the Property Tax, and did it
with so much heart and soul, that he sanctioned not only the assessor
and the collector, but likewise scarcely ever failed to confirm every
infamous surcharge that the rascally inspector chose to make.
This caused a burst of laughter, at the expense of the said Whig
Commissioner, who looked extremely foolish. Mr. Cobbett and myself
approved of their petition, as far as it went, but we moved a rider,
which prayed for the reduction of the war malt tax, the reduction of the
standing army, the abolition of useless pensions and sinecure places,
and also for a Reform of the Parliament. The Parsons, the Whigs, and the
Tories, all united and voted against us, and maintained the propriety of
continuing these burdens; and we were consequently left in a minority
upon a division, as always was the case at every public county meeting
that I attended at Winchester, with the exception of the county meeting
held upon the subject of the Duke of York and Mrs. Mary Anne Clark,
of notorious memory. Upon that occasion the public feeling was so
unanimous, that Mr. Cobbett's motion, for a vote of thanks to Colonel
Wardle, was carried by a very large majority. Between the Parsons, the
placemen and their dependants, they have always contrived, at all other
times, to carry every thing before them; when I say _they_, I mean an
union of the Whigs and Tories against the people. I also attended the
meeting at the Common Hall of the Livery of London, to petition against
the renewal of the Property Tax. Although the petitions were by no means
so numerous, nor so numerously signed, as they were against the Corn
Bill, yet as a great body of the Members of the Honourable House were
_personally interested_ in abolishing the Income Tax, they, good souls,
kindly condescended to listen, or at least they pretended to listen, to
the prayers of the people, and on the eighteenth of March this infamous
tax was repealed.

On the nineteenth of April a Bill was passed for detaining the Emperor
Napoleon Buonaparte a prisoner at St. Helena. This Bill will ever remain
a hateful and foul blot upon the statute book of England. Whigs and
Tories joined in passing this disgraceful Bill; an act that will be
handed down to posterity as a stigma not only upon the legislature of
the country, but also upon the character of the age in which such an
unjust and tyrannical proceeding could be permitted. Napoleon was not
the prisoner of England. The moment that peace was signed he was as
free to come to England as any other man in the world, and the English
Government had no more right to seize him, and carry him prisoner to
St. Helena, than the French had a right to seize the Prince Regent of
England, and chain him to a barren rock for life. It was arbitrary,
cruel, unjust, and most cowardly. The protest which Napoleon made
against being sent to St. Helena was as follows: "I hereby solemnly
protest, in the face of God and man, against the violation of my most
sacred rights, in forcibly disposing of my person and my liberty. I came
voluntarily on board the Bellerophon, I am not the _prisoner_ but the
_guest_ of England. As soon as I was seated on board the Bellerophon, I
was upon the hearths of the British people." Alas, poor Napoleon! you
ought to have known that there was then no British people; that the
British people, who formerly held an influence over the mind and actions
of the Government, were no more; that the people of England were become
a set of abject, grovelling slaves, ready to bow the knee and bend the
neck to their taskmasters! The conduct of the Ministers, in transporting
Napoleon forcibly to St. Helena, and afterwards sending out such a
gaoler as Sir Hudson Lowe to worry him to death, was well becoming their
upstart character; for none but the basest cowards will be found to
insult a fallen foe. Mr. Brougham could not hold his tongue upon
the occasion, but must disgrace himself, not only as a man but as a
legislator, by declaring in Parliament, when this shameful measure
was brought before the House, "that the law of nations justified the
detention of Napoleon at St. Helena." Mr. Brougham did not condescend to
tell us what law of nations; but of course he meant to say that the law
of nations would justify any thing that a Government had the power to
effect; this is the only standard by which modern statesmen estimate the
law of nations. On the same principle, or, more correctly speaking, want
of principle, an Act was passed, to restrict the Bank of England once
more from paying their notes in cash; or, in other words, to protect
them from the just demands of their creditors. The Act, however,
explicitly declared that this protection should cease on the 5th of
April 1818, when the Bank should positively pay their debts which they
owed, and which they had so repeatedly promised to pay to the public.
The Parliament was, in this case, like the shepherd boy, who so often
cried "wolf," for fun to alarm the people, that when the wolf really
came and attacked his flock, nobody either believed or heeded his cries.
Thus it was with the Parliament; they had so repeatedly promised the
people that they would make the Bank of England pay their notes, and
they had so frequently broken this promise, that the people firmly
believed that payments in cash would never be made. All those, too, who
read the writings of Mr. Cobbett were persuaded that it was impossible
for it even to be attempted, and therefore those who had any faith in
his predictions were of course totally unprepared for it, on the time
arriving for its being carried into effect.

On the 24th of April, 1816, Major-General Sir Robert Wilson, Michael
Bruce, Esq. and Captain J. H. Hutchinson, were convicted, in Paris, of
assisting the escape of the Count de Lavalette, who was condemned for
high treason, and they were sentenced to three months' imprisonment. A
well-written article has appeared in the _Times_ newspaper, contrasting
the mild sentence inflicted upon these gentlemen, with that which has
been inflicted upon me, of two years and six months' incarceration in
this Bastile.

Some time in the spring of this year, a public meeting was called of the
freeholders of the county of Somerset, and it was advertised to be held
at Bridgwater, John Goodford, Esq. of Yeovil, High Sheriff. I forget now
what was the precise object of the signers of the requisition, but I
believe that it was to congratulate the Regent upon the marriage, or the
intended marriage, of the Princess Charlotte of Wales, to the Prince of
Saxe Cobourg. This I know, however, that the meeting was called by that
faction in the county, at the head of which stood the Rev. Sir Abraham
Elton, Bart. By accident I saw, in a London paper, the advertisement for
this meeting, and though I was then residing in town, I made up my mind
to attend it.

When I arrived at Bridgwater, I put my horses up at the Globe, and
during the time that I was changing my dress, I saw the country people
and farmers ride into the town in droves, but I did not see a single
soul whom I knew; and being a perfect stranger in the town of
Bridgwater, I had to make my way up to the hustings alone. As, however,
I passed up the street, Mr. Tynte, the present Member for that town,
accosted me, saying, "Well, Mr. Hunt, what are _you_ come here? I really
believe that the meeting was called in this town because you were not
known here, and therefore it was expected, or rather hoped, that you
would not come. At Wells they knew you would carry any proposition that
you might choose to bring forward, and I really believe it will be the
same here." After this salutation from him I passed on; he took one
side of the street, and I the other; for as he was a magistrate of the
county, and one of the gang, it would not have been at all in character
to have seen him walking at the same side of the street with me.

I reached the hustings just in time, and up I went with the rest. Little
Squire Goodford opened the proceedings, and had the requisition read,
after which he called upon the people to hear all parties that might
choose to address them, &c. &c. &c. Sir Abraham Elton next came forward,
and addressed the meeting in one of the most bombastical and ridiculous
speeches that I ever heard. He expatiated upon the GLORY that we had
acquired by the war, and the overthrow of Buonaparte, and predicted that
peace, plenty, and their concomitant train of blessings, would strew the
path of John Bull. Of the virtues of the Prince of Saxe Coburg, he
spoke in high-sounding terms; and he drew the conclusion that the union
between him and our Princess Charlotte would contribute greatly to the
happiness, and even safety, of the British people. Some one of the same
kidney followed him, and seconded his motion in a similar strain of
sublime humbug and nonsense.

While this farce was performing by the Rev. Baronet and his band, and
while the people of Somerset, who were assembled to the amount of six
or eight thousand persons, were gaping and swallowing all the stuff and
trash dealt out to them by these worthies, a Mr. Trip, a gentleman of
the lower part of the county, a barrister, addressed himself to me,
requesting to know if I meant to propose any amendment. I told him I had
some resolutions of a very different nature, which I certainly meant to
move as an amendment. He then shewed me some resolutions which he had
drawn up, and which he had intended to propose as an amendment, if no
others were offered. Upon reading them over, I found that they embraced
all the material points contained in those which I had framed; and as
they went most decidedly to object to the whole that was proposed by
Sir Abraham, it was settled between us that he should move, and that I
should second them. He accordingly moved them, after a very able and
violent speech, which certainly contained a great deal of good matter,
though it was evidently clouded every now and then by ebullitions of
party spirit, which at county meetings generally shews itself. He was,
nevertheless, heard with attention, and received considerable applause.
The moment that I came forward to second the resolutions, a murmur ran
through the crowd to know who I was; and, on my name being announced,
I was instantly honoured with three cheers. In seconding Mr. Trip's
resolutions, I certainly took rather different ground upon which to
found my arguments. I ridiculed, in indignant language, the idea of
granting sixty thousand a-year to a young German adventurer, merely for
marrying our Princess, and of giving them _fifty thousand_ pounds as
an outfit. But the most monstrous and most infamous proposition of the
whole, I considered that of settling _fifty thousand_ a-year upon him
for life, in case of the decease of his wife. It was, I said, a premium
upon her death.

I was going on amidst the laughter and cheers of the whole multitude,
when little Mr. Goodford, the Sheriff, interfered to call me to order;
adding, that as he stood there as the representative of the King, and
as a loyal man, he could never suffer the Royal Family of England to be
spoken of in the way in which I had spoken of it, and he _insisted_ that
I should not go on so in his presence. This interruption was received
with evident marks of disapprobation. Never at a loss upon such an
occasion, I replied, that I considered myself quite as loyal a man as
Mr. Goodford, both to the King and the people, and that, as the meeting
appeared almost unanimously disposed to hear me, Mr. Goodford, as
chairman, had nothing to do but to take the sense of the meeting, which,
if he did not choose to act up to, it was only for him to vacate the
chair, and we would place some one in it that would. The little Sheriff
did not relish the idea of vacating the chair, and therefore the
question was put whether the meeting would hear what I had to say or
not. The show of hands in favour of my continuing in the same strain was
nine hundred and ninety-nine out of every thousand; there being only
three hats, that I saw, held up against it. These three persons
consisted of a little knot of placemen, led on by a notorious
Custom-house scamp of that town; a tall, lanky fellow, whose head was
nearly half a foot above the rest of the crowd. From the visage of this
worthy projected a cocked nose of a very peculiar kind, the nostrils of
which appeared to be two round holes passing horizontally, instead of
perpendicularly, into his head. Upon this delicious proboscis (which was
a sort of mixture between the pug-dog and a Chinese pig), was mounted
a pair of silver barnicles, apparently placed there for the purpose of
hiding a brace of things more resembling coddled gooseberries than human
eyes. That feature which, in men, made as they ought to be, is called a
mouth, was in him not entitled to the name; it being a vulgar gash, with
a pair of very thick lips, extending across two dumpling cheeks, and
nearly uniting a brace of tremendous asinine ears. These altogether
formed something like a half-decayed turnip stuck upon a mop-stick. Let
the reader only imagine to himself a figure of this sort, constantly
opening the slit that I have above described, and vomiting forth at
once, from a fetid carcase, the most disgusting sound and stench, and
then he will have some faint idea of the scene exhibited by this animal
of a Customhouse officer. After being admonished twice to be peaceable,
and not attending to it, he and his satellites were handed out of the
crowd, and banished from the scene of action, amidst the cheers of the
multitude. This operation being performed upon the Customhouse ass and
his two supporters, I proceeded to address the meeting, for the purpose
of winding up the subject upon which I had been dilating, when Squire
Goodford spoke to order. I certainly handled, with very little ceremony,
the trash which Sir Abraham had been sporting, and, after having
admonished my hearers to exercise their own judgment like Englishmen,
and not be led by the nose like slaves, I concluded by seconding the
resolutions which had been moved by Mr. Trip, which, of course, included
a resolution declaring the necessity of a Reform in Parliament.

What followed was more curious than all the rest. Sir John Acland, the
Chairman of the county quarter sessions, now came forward, and, like a
cunning old fox, who saw which way the wind blew, he turned short round
upon those whom he meant before to support, and declared that the
resolutions moved as an amendment by Mr. Trip, and seconded by Mr. Hunt,
had his full concurrence. Sir John saw which was the strongest side, and
which way the current of popular opinion was rolling, and therefore he
was determined to come in for his share of merit, by joining in the cry
and running with the stream. Upon a shew of hands our amendment was
carried by a majority of one hundred to one, at least. I never saw a man
so delighted as Mr. Counsellor Trip was, I thought he would have jumped
over the hustings for joy. It was evident to me that this success came
upon him unawares, and that, although he had made up his mind to move an
amendment, yet he had not the slightest idea that it would be carried. I
was more accustomed to these things, and took it more coolly; in fact, I
felt it necessary to admonish him to bear his victory with more becoming
joy, and not to exult so outrageously. A vote of thanks was passed to
little Squire Goodford, the nominal High Sheriff; I say _nominal_, for,
_in fact_, all the Sheriffs of this county, for many, many years,
have been called _pauper Sheriffs_, and have been merely nominal High
Sheriffs; Messrs. _Perpetual_, or rather Messrs. _Alternate_ Sheriffs,
that is to say, Messrs. Mellior and Broderip, being the real or _bona
fide_ Sheriffs, their masters having been their mere puppets or nominal

When the meeting was dissolved, almost the whole assembly followed, or
rather attended me to my inn, where I was obliged to address them from
the window, before they could be prevailed upon to depart. Every one
appeared delighted with the result of the meeting, except poor Sir
Abraham, the Sheriff, and a little knot of Whigs, who had meant to
curry favour with the Prince Regent, by presenting to him an abject,
time-serving address from the county of Somerset; but who had been
foiled, and, in a great measure, by my exertions. Sir Abraham, and his
friend the Sheriff, looked most wretchedly; no Frenchman ever shrugged
his shoulders with a more emphatic expression of disaster, than the Rev.
Baronet did; and he really reminded me of the knight with the rueful
countenance. Will any man who reads this believe that the _worthy_
Judges of the Court of King's Bench had not the effect of this meeting
in their mind, when they sentenced me to be confined TWO YEARS AND SIX
MONTHS in Ilchester Bastile, where they well knew the Rev. Baronet and
the worthy Squire were two of the VISITING MAGISTRATES? Will any one who
reads this have the least doubt, that those who have persecuted me here
have been actuated by the cowardly feeling of wishing to be revenged
upon me, now that they have me in their power, because I defeated their
ridiculous and time-serving projects, and exposed their folly at the
said county meeting at Bridgwater? Can any one doubt that the Ministers
ordered their tools to send me here, that their underlings might exert
their petty tyranny, in order to annoy me?

On the twelfth of May, in this year, the Prince of Saxe Coburg was
married to the Princess Charlotte of Wales. The Parliament, as I have
before observed, gave them for an outfit _fifty thousand pounds_ of John
Gull's money, and settled _sixty thousand pounds_ a-year of the said
John's money, and also settled upon him as a dower, for his life, _fifty
thousand pounds a-year_, in case of her death: so that this hopeful
German now receives annually out of the pockets of the distressed
people of England _fifty thousand pounds a-year_, while the President of
the United States of America only receives _six thousand_ pounds a-year;
so that _Saxe Coburg_ does us the honour to drain the people of England
of a sum more than _eight times_ as much as the President of the
United States of America receives from the people of that country, for
attending to all their affairs, and presiding as the Chief Magistrate of
a vast and free country, containing ten millions of people.

In the middle of May there were disturbances at Bideford, from the poor
endeavouring to prevent the exportation of potatoes. There was also a
riot and great disturbances at Bury, by the unemployed, to destroy a
spinning-jenny. On the 24th, a great body of farmers and labourers
assembled in a very riotous manner at Ely, and committed many
depredations. They were at length suppressed, after some blood had been
spilt. On the 28th, there were great disturbances, amongst the pitmen
and others, at Newcastle-upon-Tyne. On the same day a serious tumult
occurred at Halstead, in Essex, to liberate some persons who had been
taken up for destroying threshing-machines. On the 2d of July, the
Prince Regent prorogued the Parliament, after a new Alien Bill, and
a Bill to regulate the Civil List, had passed. On the 12th of July,
1816, there was a public funeral of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Esq.
certainly the most brilliant and accomplished orator of the age. In my
opinion, he far surpassed either Pitt or Fox in real eloquence, and, in
the midst of all his changings and vacillations, he was always, without
one exception, the steady and zealous friend of the liberty of the
press. Poor Sheridan was always in pecuniary difficulties, and
overwhelmed with debt; and he at last became quite a swindler in order
to evade his creditors, and he died at a time when he could not obtain
credit for a pot of porter. On the 22d, the Duke of Gloucester, who was
called by the Royal Family _Silly Billy_, was married to one of his
cousins, the Princess Mary. Fortunately for the public, they have, I
believe, no children for John Gull to keep. On the 2d of August, a riot
took place in the Calton, one of the suburbs of Glasgow, on account of
the soup-kitchens, which was not suppressed till some blood was spilt.
On the 8th of the same month, a mortar of uncommon size, left by Marshal
Soult on his retreat from Cadiz, was fixed in St. James's Park, opposite
the Horse Guards. This piece of ordnance is commonly known by the name
of the Prince Regent's bomb. On the 27th, Algiers was bombarded, and the
batteries destroyed by the English fleet, commanded by Lord Exmouth--a
treaty was entered into afterwards, by the Dey of Algiers and Lord
Exmouth, in which Christian slavery was abolished. On the 16th of
September a riot and great disturbance took place at Preston, in
Lancashire, by the distressed and unemployed workmen. There was also a
riot at Frome, in consequence of a sudden rise of one-third in the price
of potatoes, in which riot the Yeomanry Cavalry sustained a defeat, and
were driven from the field of action by the stones, potatoes, and rotten
eggs that were hurled at them by the multitude, several of whom were
taken into custody. One of that anomalous hermaphrodite race called
Parson-justices, a person of the name of Sainsbury, read the Riot
Act, and called out the cavalry. But, by the judicious conduct of Mr.
Champness, of Orchardleigh, the disturbances were quelled, and peace
was restored. A Mr. Thornhill, who was a paid agent and adjutant of the
Somerset Yeomanry Cavalry, who came over from Bath on the following day,
after all was peace and quietness, wrote a letter to the Editor of the
_Courier_ newspaper, giving a most ridiculous and false account of the
whole transaction. In order to ascertain the truth, as to what really
took place, I drove over from Bath, with Mr. Allen of Bath, and having
detailed the circumstances to Mr. Cobbett, he handled the brave
blustering Captain in a masterly stile, and fixed upon him the name
of Captain Bobadil, which will last him as long as he lives. Captain
Bobadil and the battle of Frome will not readily be forgotten in the
west of England, nor, indeed, in any place where Mr. Cobbett's Register
was read, which was now published at TWO-PENCE a number, and in
consequence had increased ten-fold in its circulation. There were also
great riots at Nottingham, by persons calling themselves Luddites; these
consisted of unemployed workmen, who went about in the most lawless
manner, destroying the frames by which the stocking manufactory was
carried on. There were riots, too, at Myrthir-Tydvil, in Glamorganshire,
by the workmen employed in the iron-manufactories, on a reduction of
wages; and at Walsall, in Staffordshire, amongst the distressed and
unemployed workmen.

In fact, great distress and dissatisfaction prevailed, not only in
England, Ireland and Scotland, but all over Europe, which was in a
calamitous state, produced by the reaction of the war, the fatal effects
of which now began to be felt most severely. The distress amongst
the farmers was very great, and the agricultural gentry began to cry out
most unmercifully. The fools now began to find out that what I had told
them was true, namely, that the Corn Bill would not ultimately serve
them, that it was never intended by its promoters for any other purpose
than to enable the Government, by means of keeping up the price of corn,
to continue to extract from the farmers high rents and high taxes. In
many parts the manufacturers likewise suffered greatly, particularly in
Staffordshire, South Wales, and the Metropolis, and especially amongst
the poor weavers in Spitalfields. The truth was, that the Bank of
England had curtailed the issue of their notes, in order to meet the
demands of their creditors, which they expected they should be compelled
to pay in cash, instead of being longer protected by a pretended
restriction, designed to prevent them from being called upon to pay any
thing more than "I promise to pay," in exchange for "I promise to
pay." This restriction was nothing more nor less than a _Government
protection_ against the demands of their creditors, which enabled them
to refuse to pay their just debts with impunity, and according to Act of
Parliament. Distress and discontent therefore prevailed from one end of
the land to the other, but in no place more than the metropolis, which
was full of discharged seamen, who had been dismissed from the British
Navy, which was now dismantled almost universally. These poor fellows,
who had fancied that they had been fighting the battles of their
country, who had suffered all the hardships of a sailor's life, during a
long and bloody war, and who had been successful against every power for
such a length of time, had become exceedingly disheartened by the
checks and defeats they had experienced in the naval warfare with the
Americans, who, if I may use a familiar phrase, had completely taken
the _shine_ out of the British seamen, a race proverbial for being very
superstitious. They had always boasted that an English sailor was a
match for two Frenchmen, or any other seamen; but Jack found in the
American sailor not only his equal in bravery and skill; but more than
his match. Thus dispirited and almost broken hearted, and the British
Navy being laid up, our sailors were discharged and treated worse than
dogs; they were put on shore at any port, and they had to march to
London, barefooted and pennyless, to receive the little pay and prize
money that was due to them. Hundreds and hundreds did I relieve, as
they passed by Middleton Cottage; broken down in body and in spirit,
they were made to feel that they had been fighting for despotism instead
of Liberty. Soup Committees were established, and subscriptions raised
all over the kingdom, to supply the starving poor with soup; but to the
offer of it they replied, that they did not want charity, they wanted
work, and they would much rather live upon a scanty meal, the fruit of
their own labour, than be feasted by charity.

Some time in the early part of September, I received a letter from
London, signed A. Thistlewood, requesting me, when I came to town, to do
him the favour of a call, as he had to communicate to me matters of the
highest importance, connected with the welfare and happiness of the
people, to promote whose interest he had always observed that I was most
ready and active, &c. &c. As Mr. Thistlewood was a perfect stranger to
me, and as I was a stranger even to his name, I wrote to a Mr. Bryant, a
quondam attorney, and Clerk of the Papers at the King's Bench; a man who
was said to know every body and every thing that was going on in London,
both in high and low life;--I wrote to this gentleman, and requested him
to inquire at such a number for Mr. Thistlewood, and let me know who and
what he was, as I had received rather a mysterious letter from him, and
I wished to know something of him before I gave him any answer. The
answer which I received from Mr. Bryant was such that I never replied to
the letter of Mr. Thistlewood, or took any further notice of it.

Some time, however, in the beginning of November, I received a letter
from London, signed Thomas Preston, Secretary, to say that a public
meeting of the distressed inhabitants of the metropolis was advertised
to be held in Spafields, on Monday, the 15th of November, and that he
was instructed by the Committee to solicit my attendance. This letter
was dated from Greystoke-place, and the writer requested an answer,
which I gave him by return of post, desiring to be informed what was the
object of the meeting. I received a reply, stating, that the object
was to agree to a memorial to the Prince Regent, setting forth their
grievances, and praying for relief. I instantly wrote, to say that I
accepted their invitation, and I would attend the meeting at the time

On the next day I rode over to my friend Cobbett, at Botley, to consult
with him what was best to be done. When I mentioned the circumstance to
him, he looked very grave, and said it was a dangerous experiment, and
he scarcely knew how to advise me, whether to go or not. "Oh," said I,
"make your mind quite easy upon _that_ point; there is no difficulty in
it, I have accepted the invitation, and I mean to attend the meeting.
The moment that I ascertained that it was for a legal purpose, that of
addressing the Prince Regent upon the distressed state of the people,
and praying for redress, I no longer hesitated, but accepted the
invitation, and promised to be there in time. All that I want you to
do, therefore, is, to assist me in drawing up some resolutions, and
preparing a proper address to be presented to his Royal Highness upon
the occasion." "That," said he, "I will do with great pleasure." After
due consideration the resolutions and the address were agreed upon, and
drawn up by him. Mr. Cobbett never mentioned one word to me that he had
been invited by the same party to attend this said meeting; but he said
he should be at his lodgings in London at the time.

I arrived in London the Saturday before the intended meeting, and called
at Graystockplace, to inquire for Mr. Thomas Preston. I found no one
there but two or three dirtily dressed, miserable, poor children,
who told me that I should find their father at some house in
Southampton-buildings, Chancery-lane. Thither I repaired, meditating
as I went along on the wretched emblem of the distresses of the times,
which I had just witnessed in the family of Mr. Thomas Preston. When I
reached Southampton-buildings, I knocked at the door, and inquired for
Mr. Preston. The servant said there was no such person there, but she
would go and inquire of Mr. Thistlewood and the Doctor. She then desired
me to walk in, and I was shewn into a very neat and well-furnished
dining-room. I could not avoid observing to myself the contrast between
the elegant apartment I was now in and that which I had just quitted in
Graystock-place; the name of Thistlewood was still tinkling upon the
drum of my ear, I having quite forgotten where I had heard it before.

In a few minutes two gentlemen walked in; the one dressed in a handsome
dressing-gown and morocco slippers, the other in a shabby-genteel black.
The former addressed me very familiarly by name, saying, that he was Mr.
Thistlewood, and he begged to introduce his friend Dr. Watson. They at
once informed me that they were part of the Committee, for whom Mr.
Preston acted as Secretary; that they had called the meeting, and
directed their Secretary to invite me to attend it, and that they had
also written to invite Sir Francis Burdett, Major Cartwright, Mr.
Waithman, Mr. Cobbett, and several other political characters. I then
inquired what was the nature of the memorial or address which they meant
to submit to the Prince Regent? They answered, that they had it not then
by them, but that, if _I wished it_, they would procure me a sight of it
before I went to the meeting. To this I replied, that I certainly did
not wish merely for a sight of it, but for something more; as, if I
attended the meeting to take any part in it, I should choose to have
time to peruse the memorial very minutely before I undertook to give it
my support. This they promised I should have an opportunity of doing,
and the Doctor appeared anxious to have my opinion upon it. I could,
however, see that Mr. Thistlewood had set his heart upon this memorial
as it stood, and he slightly intimated that the Committee had made up
their minds on the subject, and that it was finally settled that
the memorial was to be submitted to the meeting. I inquired who the
Committee were composed of, and I soon found that Mr. Thistlewood and
Dr. Watson, the two gentlemen before me, were in reality the Committee;
young Watson, Preston, Hooper, _Castles_, and one or two others, who
formed the remainder of the Committee, being merely nominal members. I
informed them that I was staying at Cooper's Hotel, in Bouverie-street,
which makes part of the Black Lion Inn, in Water-lane, where they
promised to wait upon me in the evening with the memorial, that I might
look it over.

Mr. Thistlewood and the Doctor came at the appointed hour, and brought
the document with them. It was very long, and filled several pages
closely written upon foolscap paper. As soon as I had read the first
resolution, I was satisfied in my own mind as to how I ought to act
with respect to this voluminous production; but when I had read to the
bottom of the first page I closed the book, and very seriously informed
my visitors that it evidently contained treasonable matter, and that
nothing more than the overt act of holding the meeting, to carry the
scheme into execution, was required to make all that were concerned in
it liable at least to be indicted for high treason. I certainly should
not, I told them, countenance any such measures as were proposed even in
the first page, and the project of marching in a body to Carlton House,
to demand and enforce an audience of the Prince Regent (which formed a
part of their design), was quite preposterous, as well as unjust and
unreasonable. As a private gentleman, I myself would not submit to be
intruded upon in such a manner, and it was very unreasonable to expect
that it could be endured by the Chief Magistrate of the country.
I found, in fact, that the whole affair was made up of Spencean
principles, relating to the holding of all the land in the kingdom as
one great farm belonging to the people, or something of that sort. I
told them my ideas upon the subject, which were, that the first thing
the people had to do, in order to recover their rights, was to obtain a
Reform of the Commons' House of Parliament. When once the people were
fairly and equally represented in that House, such propositions as were
contained in their memorial might then be discussed, but for one set of
people to dictate to any other what should be the law, I maintained to
be arbitrary and unjust. The Doctor very readily concurred with me, and
he asked my advice as to what was best to be done. I replied, that the
only course to be pursued was, to pass certain resolutions, pointing
out the distressed state of the country, and the absolute necessity of
Reform, to save the wreck of the constitution, and declaring that the
only Reform that would be of any avail must be upon the principles of
Annual Parliaments, Universal Suffrage, and Vote by Ballot. They
both at once agreed to the propriety of my suggestions, and requested
that I would prepare some resolutions, and an address to his Royal
Highness, which they also begged me to propose to the meeting, and they
would support them. I asked them if they did not expect the attendance
of any other of the public characters to whom they had written? To
this they replied, that I was the only person who had accepted the
invitation. The Doctor and Mr. Thistlewood promised to take care about
the hustings being erected in Spa-fields, and the former was to call on
me on Monday morning, to prepare and transcribe the resolutions and the
petition which were to be submitted to the meeting.

The Doctor came at the time appointed, and he copied the resolutions and
the petition which I had drawn up, which, with some few alterations and
additions, were the same as were agreed upon by Mr. Cobbett and myself
at Botley. Before we had finished these, a messenger arrived, to say
that an immense number of persons were assembled in the front of the
Merlin's Cave public-house, in Spa-fields, and that they were
impatient for our arrival. Upon this, the Doctor and myself got into a
hackney-coach, and drove immediately to the spot, which was covered
by much the largest concourse of people I had ever seen together in my
life. We were hailed with the most deafening shouts, and, with some
considerable difficulty, we were driven to the summit of the hill,
surrounded by the multitude. Upon inquiry where the hustings were, I
found that nothing had been done or thought of towards the erecting of
them. In this dilemma I mounted upon the top of the hackney-coach, and
was immediately followed by the Doctor and another person, which person,
without further ceremony, hoisted a tricoloured flag, _red, white,_
and _green!_ The bearer of this flag was no less a personage than the
notorious Mr. JOHN CASTLES, a gemman that I had never seen before. I
soon found that it was impossible to address such an immense multitude
from such a situation as that of the top of a coach, and as the wind
blew very sharp, our birth was a very disagreeable one. While we were
looking round for a better situation, we were hailed by some gentlemen
from the window of a house in the neighbouring row, and a young person,
whom I afterwards found to be Mr. William Clark, having made his way to
the coach, invited me to enter the house opposite, and to address the
multitude from the window; and, as the party who were assembled in
that room still kept beckoning me to join them, I readily assented. We
dismounted and followed Mr. Clark, who led us up stairs into the front
room of the Merlin's Cave public-house, which I afterwards found had
been taken by, and was partly occupied by, the Magistrates, accompanied
by a number of the officers of the police and the reporters of the
public press. The sashes were immediately removed from the window, and I
presented myself to the assembled multitude amidst universal shouts of
applause. I found myself surrounded by strangers, there being scarcely a
man in the room I had ever before seen, with the exception of Mr. Clark
and some of the reporters of the public press. I proposed that Mr. Clark
should take the chair, which proposal was seconded, and carried by
acclamation. I was the only person present who was known to the
multitude as a public man. I had often appeared before the people at
Palace-yard, and at the Guildhall of the city of London, and I was
instantly recognized by them. In fact, I believe that it had been
publicly placarded and advertised that I had accepted the invitation
to attend, which had been sent to me by the Committee, and I was,
therefore, expected. The Chairman having, in an appropriate speech,
briefly opened the meeting, I stood forward to move the resolutions,
which I prefaced by a speech of about an hour in length. I pointed out
the enormous sums paid by the public for what is called the Civil List,
amounting in the last year to 1,038,000L; and in the same year, on
account of deficiencies of the said Civil List, 584,713L more; and for
the Civil List for Scotland, 126,613L additional, making in the
whole, for the Civil List of that year, ONE MILLION SEVEN HUNDRED AND
that the expense of keeping up the army, including the ordnance, was
26,736,017L; that the additional allowance to the Royal Family that year
was 366,660L; that the secret service money was 153,443L; and that the
sum voted for the poor clergy of the Church of England was 100,000L.
I also read a list of some of the most profligate sinecurists and
pensioners, male and female, in which I included a sufficient sprinkling
of ladies and gentlemen belonging to both the great factions of Whigs
and Tories, taking as nearly as I could an equal number from each of
them. Among those whom I specified were the Marquis of Buckingham and
Lord Camden, the two Tellers of the Exchequer, whose sinecures at that
time were about thirty-five thousand a-year each; Lord Arden, the elder
brother of Perceval, thirty-eight thousand a-year; Lords Grenville and
Erskine, &c. &c. &c. Amongst the number of lady pensioners I noticed
Lady Auckland, Lady Louisa Paget, Mrs. Hunn, the mother of Mr. Canning,
&c. &c. I represented these persons as contributing to the distresses of
the country, by taking such large sums out of the taxes, without doing
any thing for it. I contended that the enormous weight of taxation alone
produced the misery under which the people were groaning, and that the
sole cause of such heavy impositions being placed upon the people, arose
from the corrupt state of the representation in the Commons' or people's
House of Parliament; and I laboured strenuously to convince them that
the high price of bread and meat did not originate with the bakers
and butchers, as was falsely asserted to be the case by the corrupt
conductors of the daily press. I demonstrated to them the folly of
wreaking their vengeance upon unoffending tradesmen, who were suffering
from the weight of taxes nearly as much as themselves; and I endeavoured
to convince them of the _superiority of mental over physical force_;
contending that it would be an act of injustice, as well as folly, to
resort to the latter while we had the power of exercising the former.
Above all things, I took the greatest pains to promote peace and good
order, as the only means by which they were likely to obtain any redress
for their grievances, or any alleviation of their miseries, and to
convince them that to commit acts of violence was to prove themselves
unworthy of relief. I concluded by reading and recommending to their
adoption the four following resolutions. These resolutions were received
with long continued shouts of approbation:

Resolved 1st, That the country is in a state of fearful
and unparalleled distress and misery; and that the principal
immediate cause of this calamity, which has fallen
upon all classes of persons, except that class which derive
their incomes from the Taxes, is, that enormous load
of taxation, which has taken, and which still takes, from
the Farmer, the Manufacturer, and the Tradesman, the
means of maintaining their families, and paying their
debts, and of affording, in the shape of wages, a sufficiency
to employ and support their Labourers and Journeymen.

Resolved 2d, That the causes of this intolerable burden,
are, 1st, the amount of a Debt contracted by Boroughmongers
for the purposes of carrying on a _long, unnecessary,
and unjust War_, the main objects of which
now appear to have been to _stifle_ Civil, Political, and Religious
Liberty, and to restore Despotism and Persecution;
2d, The maintenance of an Army in France, in order to
uphold the restored Despots and Priests in opposition to
the express wishes of the whole French Nation; 3d, The
keeping up of an enormous Standing Army in these Kingdoms,
with a view of overawing the People, and compelling
them to submit to War Taxes in time of Peace;
4th, A lavish and profligate expenditure of the Public
Money on innumerable men and women, who are the
holders of Sinecures, Pensions, Grants, and Emoluments
of various descriptions, without having ever performed
the smallest service to their Country.

Resolved 3d, That the _sole cause_ of these desolating
measures and practices, _is the want of the People being represented
in the Commons' House of Parliament_, and the
return of Members to that House by those base and corrupt
means, which were by the Members themselves
shamelessly confessed to be "as notorious as the sun at

Resolved 4th, That a Petition be presented to the
Prince Regent, beseeching him to take into his gracious
consideration the sufferings of this industrious, patient, and
starving People, praying that he will be pleased immediately
to cause the Parliament to be assembled, and to recommend
to them, in the most urgent manner, to reduce
the Army, to abolish all Sinecures and all Pensions, Grants,
and Emoluments not merited by Public Services; and to
apply the same to feed the "HUNGRY AND CLOTHE THE
NAKED," so that the unhappy and starving People may
be saved from desperation; and above all, to listen, before
it be _too late_, to those repeated prayers of the People, for
being restored to their undoubted right of enjoying the
benefit of Annual Parliaments chosen freely by the People.

Dr. Watson seconded these resolutions, and they were carried
unanimously, amidst the cheers of the multitude, without one dissenting
voice. I then read the following petition, which, after having been
seconded by the Doctor, was unanimously adopted by the greatest
concourse of people that had ever, within the memory of man, been known
to assemble for any political purpose.

_"To his Royal Highness the Prince Regent of the United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland._

"The Petition of the distressed Inhabitants of the Metropolis,
held in Spa-fields, the 15th day of November, 1816,

"HUMBLY SHOWETH--That this kingdom is in a state
of unparalleled distress and misery, and that the principal
immediate cause of this calamity, which has fallen upon
all classes of persons (except that class which derive their
incomes from the taxes), is that enormous load of taxation
which has taken, and which still takes, from the
farmer, the manufacturer, and the tradesman, the means
of maintaining their families, and of paying their debts,
and of affording, in the shape of wages, a sufficiency to employ
and support their labourers and journeymen.

"That the causes of this intolerable burden are--First,
The amount of a debt, contracted by Borough-mongers
and their agents, for the purpose of carrying on a long,
unnecessary, and unjust war, the object of which now appears
to have been to stifle civil, political, and religious
liberty, and to restore despotism and persecution. Second,
The maintenance of an English Protestant Army in France,
in order to uphold the restored Despots and Priesthood,
whom we have been taught to hold in abhorrence. Third,
The keeping up in these kingdoms of an enormous Standing
Army, with all its _colleges, barracks_, and _arsenals_,
with a view of overawing the people, and compelling
them to submit to War Taxes in time of Peace. Fourth,
A lavish and profligate expenditure of the public money
on innumerable men and women, who are holders of _sinecures,
pensions, grants_, and _emoluments_ of various descriptions,
without having ever performed the smallest
service to the country.

"That the _sole cause_ of these desolating measures and
practices is, _the want of the people being represented in
their own House of Parliament_, and the return of Members
to that House by those base and corrupt means,
which means were, by the Members themselves, shamelessly
confessed 'to be as notorious as the sun at noonday.'

"Upon the ground of these facts, the existence of which
must be familiar to the mind, and painful to the heart of your
Royal Highness, we earnestly beseech your Royal Highness
to take into your gracious consideration the sufferings of this
_industrious, patient, and starving people_; and we earnestly

"That your Royal Highness will be pleased to cause
the Parliament to be assembled immediately, and, as the
friend of your Royal Father's people, to urge the two
Houses to reduce the Army, to remove those barracks,
military colleges, and all those menacing parades so hateful
to our eyes and so hostile to that Constitution which
your Royal House were placed on the Throne to defend;
to abolish all sinecures and all _pensions, grants,_ and _emoluments_
not merited by public services, and to apply the
amount of the same to _feed the hungry and clothe the
naked;_ and, above all, to listen, before it be TOO LATE,
to those repeated prayers of the people for being restored
to their undoubted right of annually choosing their own
Representatives. In the mean time we implore your
Royal Highness to appropriate a _few hundred thousands_
of the enormous Civil List for the immediate relief of the
_numerous suffering, starving,_ and _dying_ people.

"And we shall ever pray, &c. &c."

The following resolutions were then proposed and carried
unanimously:Resolved 5th, That Sir Francis Burdett, Bart.
be requested to wait on the Prince Regent, and deliver this
Petition into his hands as soon as possible.

Resolved 6th, That Henry Hunt, Esq. be requested to
accompany Sir F. Burdett.

Resolved 7th, That Sir Francis Burdett, Bart. assisted
by Major Cartwright, be requested to prepare and bring
into Parliament, as soon as they meet, a Bill for a Reform
thereof, agreeable to the Constitution.

Resolved 8th, That this Meeting do adjourn to Monday
fortnight, then to assemble to hear the answer of
the Prince Regent, in Spa-fields, at One o'Clock precisely.

Resolved 9th, That this Meeting do re-assemble the
first day after the meeting of Parliament, in Palace-yard,
Westminster, at One o'clock, to petition Parliament for
a Reform thereof, agreeable to the Constitution.

Resolved 10th, That our fellow-countrymen of Bristol,
Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham, Leicester,
Glasgow, Paisley, and of every City, Town, and
populous place in the United Kingdom, are hereby invited,
and requested by this Meeting to assemble and meet on
the _same day_, at the same hour, and for the SAME PURPOSE.

Resolved 11th, That the Thanks of the Meeting be given
to H. Hunt, Esq.

Resolved 12th, That the Thanks of the Meeting be given
to Mr. Dyall and Mr. Preston, and those Gentlemen who
called the Meeting.

Resolved 13th, That the Thanks of the Meeting be given
to the Chairman, William Clark, Esq.

The parties thanked having briefly returned the compliment, the meeting
was dissolved by the Chairman, who accompanied me into a coach, which
the multitude immediately took possession of, and drew amidst the most
unanimous cheers, to my inn, the Black Lion, Water-lane, where I had
appointed to meet a friend to dine. As soon as they had safely conveyed
us, they dispersed to their several homes, in the most peaceable manner.

Just as we were sitting down to dinner, four of us, Mr. Bryant, his son,
Mr. Clark, and myself, to our great surprise in marched Messrs. Watson,
Thistlewood, and three or four strangers, whom they introduced as Mr.
Watson, jun. Mr. Castles, Mr. Hooper, &c. who had followed us from the
meeting, with an intention, as they said, of dining with me. I was very
much disconcerted by this intrusion, and told them that I had private
business to settle, that I had no idea of dining in public, and that
dinner was only ordered for four. As, however, they did not appear to
take the hint (although it was a pretty broad one), Mr. Bryant ordered
more fish and some chops to be added to our dinner, and the table being
lengthened, down we all sat together. Mr. Bryant took the chair, at my

Dinner being ended, Mr. Bryant drank the health of the King, which toast
passed round till it came to Mr. Castles, who, having filled a bumper,
substituted the following vulgar and sanguinary toast for that of the
King--"_May the last of Kings be strangled with the guts of the last
priest_;" a piece of brutality which had not even the miserable merit of
being original, he having copied it from one of the French anarchists.
This was a pretty specimen of the company that had intruded upon us! I
remonstrated against such blackguardism, and declared that I would not
remain in the room if there was any repetition of it. Mr. Castles,
nevertheless, soon began again in a similar strain, and having put forth
some most outrageous speech, as vulgar as it was seditious, both myself
and Mr. Bryant insisted upon the worthy gentleman leaving the room, or
holding his peace. He promised to do the latter, and he soon dropped
off, or appeared to drop off, into a very sound sleep. This was a
circumstance which struck me as being very suspicious, and therefore I
was particularly guarded in what I said, and in what was said by others.
At length two of the party, young Watson and Hooper, made a move to
retire, and I insisted upon it that they should take their friend
Castles with them; but he shammed so sound a sleep that it was with
difficulty he was got out of the room, and it was only effected by my
pulling the chair from under him; upon which he was in an instant as
wide awake as any man in the room. This convinced me that his sleep was
all a mere pretence. Soon after this the rest of the party left us, and
Mr. Bryant and myself remained to talk over the curious adventures of
the evening. We were both convinced that Castles was at any rate a great
villain, and I was determined in future not to be in a room where he

On the next morning, Dr. Watson and Mr. Thistlewood came to apologise
for the ill-behaviour of their friend Castles, who they assured me was
at heart a very good fellow, but that he was overcome with liquor on
the preceding evening, and that he now wished very much to have an
opportunity of making an apology in person, for which purpose he was
waiting hard by. I, however, positively refused to see him, saying, that
I believed him to be a great scoundrel, and that I would on no account
suffer him to come into my room again; and I not only cautioned the
Doctor against him, but I believe I told him to take care, or Castles
would bring him to the gallows. In fact, I made up my mind that as long
as the Doctor and Mr. Thistlewood kept company with such a fellow, I
would have nothing to do with them in private, nor would ever see them
alone. The Doctor will recollect that, when they called on me in the
evening afterwards, to make some inquiry about the proceedings which
were to be adopted on the following meeting, intended to be held on the
2d of December, I declined to enter into any particulars, and did not
even ask them to take a seat, although Mr. Mitchell, a liveryman of the
city, was with me. I felt that I had been in very dangerous company,
and, though I would not neglect my public duty, I was determined that
I would not place myself in the power of such a man as Mr. Castles
appeared to me to be.

On the day of the meeting of the 15th of November, the _Courier_
newspaper roundly stated that HUNT had arrived at the meeting about
one o'clock, and, after having addressed the multitude in a most
inflammatory speech, had submitted to them a memorial to be presented to
the Prince Regent, full of _treasonable matter_; and the corrupt knave,
who conducts that paper, actually inserted one of the resolutions of the
memorial which Dr. Watson and Mr. Thistlewood had submitted to me, and
which I had rejected. The truth was, that the Government had previously
procured a copy of the said memorial, from a person of the name of
Dyall, one of the party who had called the meeting, and as this memorial
had been unanimously agreed to by the Committee, my Lord Sidmouth, the
Secretary of State, and his agents, made so certain that I should fall
into this _trap_, and propose it to the meeting, that their principal
organ, the editor of the _Courier_ newspaper, actually inserted a copy
of it in the paper, as having been proposed by me at the meeting. But
they soon found, to their sorrow, that old birds were not to be caught
with chaff; for that I had blasted their fondest hopes of bloodshed,
by proposing a petition to the Prince Regent, of a nature totally the
reverse of the said memorial; which petition was universally adopted
by the meeting; and that I had undertaken to present it to his Royal
Highness the Prince Regent, and had also promised to report the answer,
if I received any, at the next meeting, which was appointed to be held
on Monday, the 2d of December.

On the following day, not only the _Courier_ and the _Morning Post_,
but every paper published in the metropolis (with the exception of the
_Statesman,_ which was then conducted by Mr. Lovell), joined in pouring
forth a torrent of falsehood, misrepresentation, and abuse of me. I do
not know that I can give a more correct account of what took place in
London, more fairly represent the conduct of the public press upon this
occasion, than by giving an extract from Mr. Cobbett's Register, which
was published the ensuing week, as follows, headed "SPA-FIELDS MEETING:"

"Since my long acquaintance with the press, I do not
think that I have ever witnessed so much baseness of conduct
as this Meeting has given rise to. If Mr. Hunt had
been the most notorious pick-pocket; if he had been a
raggamuffin covered with a coat hired for the day; if he
had been a fellow who took up his lodgings in the brick-kilns
or in the niches on Westminster Bridge; and if he
had actually proposed to the Meeting to go directly and
plunder the silversmiths' shops and cut the throats of all
those who opposed them; if he had drank off a glass of
human blood by way of moistening his throat: monstrous
as this is, it is a real fact, that, if he had been and had
done all this, the London press could not have treated
him in a worse manner than it has. The _Statesman_ newspaper
is an exception; but, I believe, that it is almost
the only exception. Talk of _violence_ indeed! Was there
ever violence _like this_ heard of in this world before?
And, what is the monstrous _crime_ which has emboldened
these literary ruffians to make this savage assault, and
which induces them to suppose that they shall finally escape
with impunity? They, the vile wretches, are the
_real mob_. They attack in body; they know that _defence
is impossible_; they know, that a hundred times the fortune
of Mr. Hunt would not purchase enough of their columns
to contain an answer to their falsehoods. Is this
_manly_, is this _fairness_, is this _discussion_, is this _liberty of
the press_? Infamous cowards! They merit to be dragged
by a halter fastened round their necks, and whipped
through the streets. They talk of _decency_ and _decorum_
indeed! _They_ call people _blackguards_ and ruffians!
_They_ pretend to complain of _misrepresentation_ and _exaggeration_!
They! who set up one common howl of foul
abuse and viperous calumny.

"But, what is the act which has awakened all those
filthy curs, and put them in motion? Some persons, no
matter who, but, I believe, some suffering tradesmen, in
London, agreed to call a meeting of _distressed_ people in
Spa-fields, in order to present a petition on the subject of
their sufferings: one of the Committee, who had called
this Meeting, wrote to Mr. Hunt to come and assist at it.
This he did. Being there, he proposed a Petition, which
was agreed to. This Petition has appeared in the _Statesman_
newspaper, to which I refer the reader; and when
he has looked at it, he will be convinced, that, if the language
of _moderation_ be desirable, the language of this
petition is much _more moderate_ than that of almost any
petition, which has recently appeared in print. Upon
what _ground_, then, is this outrageous abuse founded? The
Meeting separated very quietly; never did any Meeting
partake less of riotous behaviour. In the evening of the
same day, a mob of boys and others attacked some _bakers'_
and _butchers'_ shops. But, whose fault was this? Was
it Mr. Hunt's, who seems to have spent a quarter of an
hour in endeavouring to convince his hearers, _that to commit
such acts was to prove themselves unworthy of relief_;
or, was it the fault of those pestiferous vehicles of falsehood,
the _Courier_ and the _Times_, who are incessantly
_inveighing against the avarice of bakers and butchers_?

"It is clear, that these proceedings of the evening had
no connection with the Meeting, but, on the contrary,
that every thing which was said at the Meeting had a
natural tendency to prevent them. As to the _attack on
the office of the Morning Chronicle_, that might possibly
arise out of what Mr. Hunt said at the Meeting. And,
what then? Was he to endure the calumnies, the unprovoked
calumnies, of that paper _for years_, and never reply
a word? It would have _cost him hundreds of pounds_ to
cause to be published in that paper _answers_ to a hundredth
part of the base attacks upon him contained in that
same paper. And, was he never to answer in any way?
Was he, when he had a hundred thousand men within his
hearing, to abstain from expressing his indignation at the
conduct of that paper, lest, by possibility, the indignation
might be catching? _The Morning Chronicle_, _The Courier_,
and _Times_, make no scruple to endeavour _to cause
him to be knocked in the head_; they point him out for
either hanging or murdering; they are ready beforehand
with an apology for any one who may take his life. And
is he, who can find no entrance into their columns, without
covering his paragraph with gold, to abstain from uttering
a word against them when he comes before a public
meeting, lest the people should espouse his cause and
demolish their windows? Whence have _they_ derived this
privilege of assaulting him with impunity? He has no
newspaper in his hands. He has no means of answering
them through the press. They assail him, sitting snugly
in their offices. They assail him daily. And, is he never
to open his lips at any time, or at any place?

"Where, then, is the ground of all this infamous abuse?
After accusing Mr. Hunt of having raised a mob for _treasonable_
purposes, some of the papers have, in the most
_serious_ manner, asserted that he was _insane_, and that he
had been to a _madhouse_! Is not this a pretty stretch of
calumny? Is a man bound to endure this in _silence_? 'He
has his redress _at law_.' Oh! the base cowards! Their
answer is worse than their crime.

"Was it any _fault_ in an Englishman, living in the country,
to come to London to take part at a _Meeting of Englishmen
in distress_? Was this any _fault_? No one can
say that it was.--The Meeting had been advertised many
days before any knowledge of it reached Mr. Hunt; he
was requested to come up; and who can blame him for
coming? However, it is not a question of blame or no
blame; he had _a right_ to come, and he chose to exercise
his right. If, indeed, the invitation had been from persons
in _prosperity_, he might have easily declined; but, I
do not see how he was to resist the call of people in distress.

"But his speech, that was '_inflammatory_.' Good God!
what is _not_ inflammatory now-a-days? But, though the
speech might, and, I dare say, did contain matter much
stronger than that which I have read in the report of it,
I am very sure that it could not surpass what I have read in
the _Morning Chronicle_ within this month; and that it
could not surpass (for nothing can surpass) the inflammatory
matter in the _Times_ and the _Courier_ on the subject
of their alleged extortions of the Bakers and Butchers.
Besides, as to the printed reports of the speech, Mr. Hunt
was wholly _at the mercy of the Reporters_. They have
made him say just what they pleased, and he has no redress;
no means of correction; no chance of being heard
in explanation. They impute to him the having asserted,
that _Lady Oxford_ is on the _pension list_. This was false,
as he has since proved to me by the list which he read.
It has been asserted, that he went to the Meeting with a
tri-coloured flag. This is also false, he never having
known of the existence of any flag until his arrival on the
spot; and, was he to go away merely because some whimsical
persons had _hoisted a flag and a cap of Liberty?_ Besides,
are there not flags enough at contested elections?
Do not freemasons and others parade about with flags?
Why was this meeting not to have a flag, if it chose it?
Call the thing _nonsensical_ if you please, and I shall not
dissent. But, where was the _harm?_ Where was the
justification for all this vile, this atrocious abuse?

"It is said, that Mr. Hunt urged the people to use _physical
force_ if their petition was not granted. This also is
false; or, at least, he assures me that it is; and I believe
him, because it was too foolish for him to think of. But,
how often have we heard of _resistance_ being recommended?
Mr. Fox once recommended it, and he never was
calumniated in this outrageous manner. I have no doubt
that many things escaped Mr. Hunt during his speech,
that he himself wished he had uttered in more select
phrases; but, who is there who is so very choice upon
such occasions? If any one say, that he would do better
to remain in Hampshire or Wiltshire, and take care of his
farms, the answer is, that _he_ is seemingly of a different
opinion. He _chooses_ to take a part in public matters.
He prefers this bustle to the tranquillity of a country life.
The boisterous hallooing of multitudes is more pleasing to
his ears than the chinkling of the plough traces, the bleating
of lambs, or the song of the nightingale. His taste
may be bad; but, a'God's name, do not cover him with
all sorts of infamous names and imputations, on account of
his want of taste. Besides, if this sort of objection were
made to leaders at Public Meetings, we should, I imagine,
have very few meetings. One might be told to keep to
his snuff shop, another to his haberdashery, and so on.
Indeed, the tools of Corruption are so very nice upon this
head, that I have never yet heard of any one trade, or
calling, which they did not despise, if a man who came
forward against abuses happened to be of that trade or
calling; and, on the other hand, there is nothing too low
or vile for them, if it be put forward in Corruption's defence,
or employed as one of her agents.

"We shall see in the end how this most calumniated
gentleman conducts himself. He has engaged to carry
the Prince's answer to the Spa-fields Meeting next Monday
week. Now, if, in the conducting of this business, he
shall be found to have acted the part of a stupid country
jolterhead, or of a head-strong insolent ass, let him be
left to the public contempt; but, if he shall be found to
have carried the matter through with due respect towards
the Prince and his Ministers, and at the same time, with
the spirit and resolution of an independent man, let him
have the praise that will be his due.

"In the meanwhile it must be not a little mortifying
to the _Morning Chronicle_ in particular to see, that _votes of
thanks to Mr. Hunt_ have been passed at many of those
meetings, in different parts of the kingdom, the proceedings
at which meetings Mr. Perry has very highly and
very justly _praised!_ How will this calumniator of Mr.
Hunt account for this? And how will he account for
the speech of Mr. Hunt, at the late Westminster Meeting,
having been re-published in _Norfolk_, and widely circulated
in that county? There can have been no _trick_
made use of by Mr. Hunt to produce these effects. He
has no acquaintances and cronies about the country. Ten
times his fortune would not have purchased him these
marks of popularity. And, why should the people of Spa-fields
be abused for having chosen to ask the assistance of
him, who has received votes of thanks from those very
meetings, both in England and Scotland, the proceedings
of which meetings Mr. Perry of the _Chronicle_ has _praised_
to the skies? Surely, the people in Scotland, in Norfolk,
in Lancashire, cannot have had their judgment _unduly
biassed_ in his _favour!_ They have heard the former outrageous
_abuse_ of Mr. Hunt; never have heard, except by
mere accident, a word in his defence; and, yet they have
most solemnly decided, that his efforts are worthy of their
praise and of their specific thanks.

"Were I, who am acquainted with Mr. Hunt, to say to
him, 'why do you not stay quietly at home and attend
to your country affairs, and pursue the foxes, and hares,
and pheasants, when you find yourself in need of recreation?
You will be much happier in so doing, than in getting
into all this turmoil of politics, and exposing yourself
to so much calumny, and, indeed, to the hatred of
those, whose hatred is full of danger to you.' If I were
to say this to him, would he not be fully justified in asking
me, why _I did not myself_ act upon the principle of
my own advice? _Times_ and _circumstances_ create _men;_
or, at least, they call men forth, who would otherwise
have remained unknown to the end of their days; and the
present are times when it is impossible for such men as
Mr. Hunt to remain dormant.

"Since writing the former part of this article, I have
discovered, that the report of Mr. Hunt's speech in the
_Statesman_ was taken, word for word, or nearly so, from
the _Chronicle_. The evening papers have, I find, _no
reporters_. So that _no true_ account has gone forth; and
thus has the misrepresentation circulated without the
_possibility_ of defence! There is a gentleman in Wiltshire,
whose name is Benett, whose speech, at an agricultural
meeting, about the Corn Bill, was published in all the
London papers, and which speech, as published, drew
down on him the _execrations_ of those same papers, and,
indeed, of the public in general. He said, that he never
uttered such words; that he bad been very grossly
misrepresented. He wrote to some of these same papers a
_contradiction_ of the statement; a _defence of himself_. But,
in order to get in a short paragraph, he was called upon
to pay to one paper _nineteen guineas!_ and, though he
has a fortune of, probably, 10,000_l_. a year, he declared
that his fortune would have been insufficient to obtain the
means of defending himself through the same channels
which had attacked him. A hundred such fortunes would
not have obtained the means of such defence; for, the
moment he had paid for inserting a defence against one
calumny, he would have found another to defend himself
against. What, then, is a calumniated man to do? The
_law!_ The reptiles know how to evade that; and, besides,
where is the fortune sufficient for _law?_ Therefore,
the calumnies must go and take their course. If men
cannot hear up against them, they must hold their peace,
and retire from before the public. Whether Mr. Hunt is
to be driven off by these means remains to be seen.


The reader, who is old enough to recollect this circumstance, will
never forget the infamous conduct of the public press at that time. Mr.
Cobbett's description of it, in the above extract, is by no means an
exaggeration. The younger branch of my readers may thus form some faint
idea of what a bold and straight-forward friend of the people had to
encounter in the year 1816. While this cry was yet at its height, I
wrote to Sir Francis Burdett, who was then staying at Brighton, with
General Halse, the Aid-de-Camp of the Prince Regent, and I informed him
of the resolution which had been passed, requesting him, at the same
time, to present the petition to the Prince Regent, a copy of which and
of the resolutions, I enclosed to him as they were published in the
_Statesman_ newspaper. I likewise begged that he would favour me with
an answer, to say when he would please to present it, as I wished to
accompany him, agreeable to the instructions of the meeting. I received
a very laconic answer from the Baronet, saying, that "_he did not choose
to be made a cat's-paw of, neither would he insult the Prince Regent_."
As I had for many years been upon terms of intimacy with Sir Francis
Burdett, and had always acted in strict conformity with his political
principles, I own that I considered that answer to me as a direct
insult, and, in the heat of the moment, I was disposed at once to resent
it as such. From this, however, I was dissuaded by Mr. Cobbett and Major
Cartwright, who were extremely anxious not to do any thing to risk the
loss of Sir Francis Burdett's support to the numerous petitions which
had been agreed to, and were preparing to be sent up to the Parliament,
from all parts of the kingdom.

Mr. Cobbett had addressed several of his Registers to Sir Francis,
pointing out what sort of Reform it was necessary and just the people
should have. In these letters he contended for Annual Parliaments, and
that all direct tax-payers should have a vote, but no others. In his
Register, No. 16, of Volume 31, published on the 19th of October, after
having in a very elaborate manner maintained this doctrine, he says,
"All, therefore, that the Reformers have now to do, is to adhere to the
above-stated main points. _Every man who pays a direct tax to have a
vote; and Parliaments to be elected annually_." The test to ascertain
whether a man should have a vote or not, is laid down by Mr. Cobbett as
follows:--"When a man comes to vote, the Church-wardens who have the
charge of the ballot-box ask his name; the Overseers look into their
rate-book, to see whether he be a TAX-PAYER; finding his name there,
they bid him put in his ballot, which done, home he goes to his
business. _If the Overseers do not find him to be a tax-payer, he, of
course, does not vote_." This was the sort of Reform which, on the
19th of October, 1816, Mr. Cobbett proposed as competent to work our

Mr. Cobbett, very properly, attributed a great portion of the evils
which the people endured to the corrupt state of the public press, which
he denominated "_blind guides_." "They are," said he (in speaking of the
provincial papers), "some of them tools of corruption, and some of them
_dumb dogs_, that have not the courage to take the part either of right
or wrong; they are neither one thing nor the other; they are quite
vapid, and, therefore, will the public 'spew them out of their mouths.'
Not, indeed, such papers as the _Nottingham Review_, the _Stamford
News_, the LIVERPOOL MERCURY, and some others, the proprietors of which
do honour to the press, and the pages of which will always be read with
pleasure and advantage." This is the way in which he spoke and wrote of
Mr. Egerton Smith, the proprietor of the _Liverpool Mercury_, in the
year 1816.

After the great public meeting, which had been held in Spa-fields,
on the 15th of November, Mr. Cobbett, in the very next Number of his
Register, published on the 23d of that month, came round all at once to
_Universal Suffrage_; and he says, "In Nos. 16 and 18 I gave my reasons
for _excluding_ from the vote all persons who did not pay direct taxes."
He then very clearly demonstrates the justice of _every one_ having a
vote, and adds, "But, it appeared to me, when I wrote Nos. 16 and 18, to
be too difficult to put this right in motion all at once; and therefore
I recommended the confining of the right of voting _to the payers of
direct taxes_, until there should be time for a reformed Parliament _to
change the mode of taxing_. Since, however, I have come to London, I
have had an opportunity of consulting MAJOR CARTWRIGHT upon the subject;
and the result is, my THOROUGH CONVICTION that nothing short Of
UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE would be just, and that such a system is perfectly
practicable." This was published on the 23d of November, 1816. The
reader will have to recollect these things when I come to detail what
took place at the meeting of delegates, in London, on the following
January. _Now_, Mr. Cobbett says that "there are three things for which
I contend--_Universal Suffrage, Annual Parliaments_, and _Vote by

As soon as I received Sir Francis Burdett's letter, declining to present
the petition of the distressed people to the Prince Regent, I took the
earliest opportunity of proceeding to Carlton House by myself. When I
arrived there, I was informed that Colonel McMahon, his Royal Highness's
secretary, had left town, and would not return till two o'clock the next
day. I informed the under secretary, who was in waiting, who I was,
and what was my business, and I made an appointment to wait on Colonel
McMahon at two o'clock on the following day. I took care to knock at the
gate at Carlton House at the appointed time, and the moment that the
gate was open, the porter took off his hat, and, ringing a bell,
accosted me by _name_, and requested me to walk forward to the front
door, which I had scarcely reached before the large folding doors of
Carlton House were thrown open, and I was politely requested by the
attendants to walk in, as Colonel McMahon was ready to receive me. I
was ushered into his apartments in great state, and was immediately
introduced to him by name. I was most graciously received by the
Secretary, to whom I stated that I was deputed to present to his Royal
Highness a petition, agreed to at a meeting of nearly one hundred
thousand of his distressed subjects of the metropolis, assembled in
Spafields on the 15th, and that I wished to know when I could have an
audience for that purpose. The Colonel then took his book, and informed
me that the next levee would take place in about three weeks, which was
the first opportunity that I could have of being introduced to his Royal
Highness the Prince Regent. I told him that would be too distant a date,
and I begged to know if there were no means of presenting the petition
earlier, as I had promised to deliver the Prince's answer to the people
on the second of December, when they would assemble again to hear what
the answer was. To this he replied, that the only other means was
to forward the paper through the Secretary of State for the Home
Department, who, he had no doubt, would deliver it to his Royal Master
immediately, as he knew it was considered by the Ministers as a matter
of very considerable importance. I thanked him for his polite attention
and obliging information, and I then retired with the same form as I
entered, the Colonel attending me to the doors, which were thrown wide
open as before.

I immediately wrote a letter to Lord Sidmouth, to appoint a time when
I could have an audience, for the purpose of delivering to him the
petition to be presented to the Prince Regent, and I carried this letter
myself direct to the office of the Secretary of State, and sent it up to
his Lordship, saying, that I would wait in the ante-room for an answer.
In a very few minutes the servant in waiting returned, attended by an
under secretary, who said that Lord Sidmouth would give me an audience
immediately, and he desired that I would follow him. I did so, and was
forthwith introduced into the audience room, where his Lordship received
me with all that parade of overstrained politeness which belongs to a
finished courtier. He was surrounded by some half-dozen lordlings, who,
from the manner in which he ordered them out of the room, appeared to be
hungry expectants, seeking and supplicating some place, office, or boon.
They vanished in a twinkling, and his Lordship could not hear a word for
the world, till I did him the honour to take a seat, which he politely
drew for me. My letter had explained the object of my visit, and, after
having briefly apologised for intruding at a time when he was surrounded
by others, I expressed my wish to have the petition of 100,000 of the
distressed inhabitants of the metropolis, who had assembled in Spafields
the preceding Monday, presented to the Prince Regent; and I then put
into his hands the petition: he read it over attentively, and having
finished the perusal of it, he said that it was a most important paper,
and was couched in such proper language, that he should feel it his duty
to lay it before his Royal Master the very first thing on the following
morning, and he had not the least doubt but every attention would be
paid to the prayer of it. I begged to know if I might expect any reply
from his Royal Highness. He answered, certainly not; it being the
practice never to give any answer to petitions; but, if it was thought
advisable to attend to the prayer of it, his Royal Highness's Ministers
would immediately act upon it, and indeed he had no doubt that it would
receive due attention. He then entered into familiar conversation as to
the nature and extent of the meeting; and I embraced the opportunity
of pointing out, in glowing terms, the great and severe distress under
which the mass of the people were labouring, and expressing my earnest
hopes that some relief would be granted to them. He next introduced
the subject of the _Memorial_, a copy of which, he informed me, he had
received several days before the meeting was held; and he declared, that
if any attempt at going in a body to Carlton House had been made, it
would have been resisted by the military, and that bloodshed would have
been the consequence. He was perfectly aware that I had been the cause
of setting aside the Memorial, and substituting the petition in its
stead; and he emphatically added, "his Majesty's Ministers are greatly
indebted to you, and they are fully sensible that you have been the
cause of preventing a great public calamity; you have prevented the
spilling of human blood." I told him that I had promised to attend
another meeting, in the same place, on the Second of December, to
acquaint them with the result of my application, and I promised him that
I would represent it fairly. With this he appeared perfectly satisfied,
and he repeated the assurance, that he would lay the petition before his
Royal Highness the moment he could gain access to him in the morning,
and that he had no doubt it would receive due attention.

In the evening paper, the _Courier_, of the next day, it was announced
that the Spafields petition bad been presented to the Prince Regent,
who had graciously ordered FOUR THOUSAND POUNDS to be paid to the
Spitalfields soup committee; which sum was to be taken from the Droits
of the Admiralty. In consequence of this grant from his Royal Highness,
the soup committee met, and called a public meeting in the city, for the
purpose of promoting the subscriptions, and devising the best means of
relieving the distress which now was admitted universally to prevail
amongst the labouring classes in the metropolis; so that it was quite
evident that our Spafields meeting had produced infinite good, that
in all probability it had been the means of saving the lives of
thousands, and relieving the distresses of tens of thousands. Mr.
Fowell Buxton attended this meeting, and, after having described the
unparalleled distress and misery of the people, he made a most animated
and feeling appeal to the humanity of the public, to come forward to
relieve them. This and all the other meetings that followed, and all
the subscriptions that were raised, may very justly be ascribed to the
meeting at Spafields; for till that meeting took place, the general
overwhelming distress was little known, and less regarded, by the
opulent and powerful, who alone had the means of relieving it.
Notwithstanding this was undeniably the fact, yet the whole public press
of the metropolis, with very few exceptions, was daily employed in
spreading the most atrocious falsehoods and calumnies against me, for
having attended that meeting. I was represented as a traitor, and one
who wished to overturn the sacred institutions of the country, and
to produce revolution, confusion, and bloodshed. The _Times_, the
_Chronicle_, the _Morning Post_, and the _Courier_, held me up to public
execration, and even pointed me out for destruction. The editor of the
_Times_, who was then the notorious Dr. Slop, alias Dr. Stoddart,
the present proprietor of the _New Times_, urged my assassination
over and over again. As, however, no one would kill me in reality, he
determined at least to kill me in print. Accordingly along article was
inserted in the paper, announcing, in the gravest manner, the death of
Hunt. It stated that I bad got drunk, at Mr. Thompson's gin-shop on
Holborn-hill, and had fallen into one of the areas of the new buildings
at Waterloo-place, opposite Carlton-House, where I was found dead. A few
days afterwards, it was declared that they were misinformed as to my
death, but that I was taken in a melancholy state of insanity to Bedlam;
and the writer gave an account of the incoherent conversation which I
had held with Major Cartwright, Mr. Cobbett, and Sir Francis Burdett,
who had been to visit me. These accounts were given in such a serious
manner, the details were so minute, and they had altogether so much
the appearance of truth, that many of my friends and relations in the
country were exceedingly alarmed, not having any idea that the editor
of a respectable newspaper would have the impudence to put forth such
barefaced falsehoods. There was also generally one scoundrel or other
who gratified his malignity by writing to my family some dreadful
story of my death, or of some serious injury which I had received.

On the Saturday previous to the 2d of December I drove again to London,
and as I was sitting, in the evening of that day, in the room at the
Black Lion, Water Lane, Dr. Watson and Mr. Thistlewood called to consult
me upon what I meant to propose on the following Monday. I declined,
however, to have any conversation with them upon the subject. I should,
I told them, be there at the time appointed (one o'clock), on the
ensuing Monday; but that I was going out of town on the next morning,
and should return on the following day in time for the meeting. On
Sunday morning I left London with my servant, and drove to a friend's,
at Wanstead, in Essex, where I passed the day and slept, on purpose to
be out of the way of the party which I had before met at Spafields; as,
after what I had seen and heard when Mr. Castles was present, I was
determined to avoid having any communication with any of them, unless it
was in public.

About twelve o'clock I started from Wanstead in my tandem, and, as I
was driving down Cheapside at a pretty smart pace, I met a considerable


Back to Full Books