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whom he ordered to be thrown out of a window," and some of her blood “was sprinkled on the wall and on the horses, and he trod her under “ foot.” Some of the friends of Ahaziah called this “ treason" on the part of Jebu; but Jehu answered, Surely I have seen yesterday the “ blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons, and I will requite thee “ in this plat, saith the Lord.”
With this I take my leave of the Knights of the Order of Brunswick, being well assured, that they will never again show their faces in the streets of Norwich, unaccompanied with hisses and groans, though they carry, by way of protection, the applauding letter from the Office of the Secretary of State.
Let me now beg your attention to subject of very deep interest at this time, and with regard to which it is of primary importance that we should all entertain correct opinions. We complain that the people of this kingdom are worse off' than they used to be. We talk of the good old times of our forefathers. We conclude, that we might, under a good system, be as happy as our forefathers were; and, this good system we (I do for one) most firmly believe, would be brought about speedily by a reform of Parliament, and this belief we have proved to be rational. The sons of Corruption meet us at the threshold of the argument, and assert, in the most unqualified manner, that we are much better off than our forefathers were, whom they represent as a set of despicable raggamuffins and vassals. To read the essays upon this subject in the Courier and the TIMEs, one would suppose, that, until the days of Pitt, or thereabouts, Englishmen were a species of barbarians, clad in skins of wild animals, sleeping amongst fern under hedges, and living upon hips and haws.
Now, if this were the case, the answer would be worth very little, unless it could be shown, that, because a father has been miserable the children ought to be miserable too. But this is not the case. The charge against our forefathers is as false as the hearts of those who make it. Englishmen, until within the last fifty years, when long Parliaments and banking and funding and borrowing and taxing began to produce poverty and misery and crimes, were always well off, in the oldest of times. They were always an industrious, an honest, a frank, a sincere race of men, and always bore an unshaken attachment to their political rights. Those, who, like me, are now fifty years of age, can well remember, when it was thought a sorrowful sight to see a labouring man apply for parish relief. Will these libellers of the people say, that our natures have been changed? And, if we were to allow that, by what have they been changed ? No: the blood of our fathers circulates in our veins, but the want of what they possessed as the fair fruit of their toil, has compelled us to resort to alms and to parish relief. Well do I remember, when old men, common labourers, used to wear to church good broad-cloth coats, which they had worn at their weddings. They were frugal and careful, but they had encouragement to practise those virtues. The household goods of a labouring man, his clock, his trenchers and his pewter plates, his utensils of brass and copper, his chairs, his joint-stools, his substantial oaken tables, his bedding and all that belonged to him, form a contrast with his present miserable and worthless stuff, that makes one's heart ache but to think of. His beer and his bread and meat are now exchanged for the cat-lap of the tea-kettle, taxed to more than three-fourths of its prime cost, and for the cold and heartless diet of the potatoe plat. I can well remember when the very poorest of the people would not eat potatoes, and I have lived to see people hanged for forcing them out of a market-cart at their own price! I can remember, when every poor man brewed a barrel of ale to be drunk at the lying-in of bis wife, and another to be spent at the christening of the child. Now, I know not the instance of the cheering smell of malt finding its way into his dwelling, where dreariness and dread preside upon occasions which used to produce scenes of pleasing anxiety, congratulation, and innocent mirth. Perhaps many thousands of persons of my own age will read what I am now writing, and, if they have been conversant in the sphere of life to which I am adverting, their hearts will but too loudly tell them that the picture is true.
But, to what period will the calumniators of our forefathers go back ? I will take them back four hundred years, and will draw my description of what our forefathers were then from Sir John Forresque's work on the ercellence of the Laws of England. This gentleman, who was Lord Chancellor in the reign of Henry The Sixth, wrote a book for the instructio of that king's son, one of the objects of which book was to convince him, that it was his interest as well as his duty to preserve inviolate that excellent system of laws. In the course of his lessons, which are divided into chapters, he gives the prince a description of the effects of the good laws of England compared with that of the bad laws of France, which some of the prince's ancestors had endeavoured to introduce into England. This leads him to speak of the condition of the English compared with the condition of the French ; and, here it is, that we find the dresses, the houses, and the food and manner of living of our forefathers described; those forefathers who the Courier and Times would make us believe, were a set of vagrants, living upon pig-nuts and acorns and haws! Alas! The picture which is here given of France, would really be now very nearly applicable to England!
I am your friend,
P.S.-Walter of the Times has published what he calls a “CAUTION to the hawkers of Cobbelt's Register ; ” and then he tells his readers, that a man has been committed from the Hatton Garden police-office, for selling the Register in the streets, without a pedlar's license.
" WEAVER BOYS” OF LANCASHIRE.
On the Manchester Pigtail-Meeting.–False-Alarms of no avail., The Ministers
do not wish for Sham Plots.-Signor Waithman's Show, with all his pegs and wires.-His Letter to Sir Francis Burdett and Major Cartwright.
(Political Register, January, 1817.)
London, January 201h, 1817. MY FRIENDS,
The appellation of "Weaver-Boys" was, by the sons of Corruption, bestowed on the speakers at the numerous meeting, held at Manchester, in November last, and which Weaver-Boys, it was said, had belcher hundkerchiefs round their necks. Well! And what then? So much the worse for Corruption; for, if Weaver-Boys possess such spirit and such talent as were displayed upon that occasion against Corruption, how desperate must be her state! I was very much delighted with the whole of the proceedings of the day here alluded to; but, the speech of Mr. Fitton was that part that pleased me most. His just and spirited observations upon the false, upstart pride of those, who call themselves the gentlefolks of Manchester, were excellent. His “ Order of the Pige Tail” has always been present to my mind, since I read his speech, whenever I have seen, heard of, or thought of, any of the ridiculous vanities of puffed-up farmers or tradesmen. He laid on the lash not only with great force, but just in the tender parts. One would have expected a reformation of manners from such a castigation ; but, it appears, that this stupid, this empty, this peacock-like pride is still to live a little longer. These vain persons seem still to entertain the hope, that they are to go on to the end of their days, treating as the scum of the earth those, to whose labour and talent they owe their wealth and all that they possess above the commonest labourer.
If, indeed, the object of any of the recent meetings had been to divulge plans of a levelling nature; if any propositions had been made to take from people of property any part of their property; if any scheme had been broached for destroying titles or any other ancient establishment; then there might have been good reason for the rich to stand aloof. But, what do we ask for other than our birthright ? MAGNA CHARTA says, that no man shall be taxed without his own consent, and that Parliaments shall be annual. Lord Coke says, that Magna Charta cannot be abrogated even by Act of Parliament. What do we seek for more than these? And, because we ask for these, are we to be considered as persons aiming at general confusion and destruction ?
But, let us, before we proceed any further, hear what the “ SocialOrder” people of Manchester have to say. The following account of their meeting is taken from the Courier newspaper of the 18th instant, and a curious account it is. We will not do as our adversaries do. We will read with attention, and examine fairly. TRUTH is our motto, and, not an inch will we go without her sanction.
"A meeting took place on Monday last at Manchester, attended by " the most respectable inhabitants of that town, Salford, and their "neighbourhood; the Boroughreeve, JOSEPH GREEN, Esq., in the chair. “ Several Resolutions were passed with entire unanimity, and the fol'lowing Declaration agreed to, which cannot be too highly applauded, "and which we trust will be adopted by all other towns:
" DECLARATION. " We the undersigned, Magistrates for the Division of Manchester, the “ Boroughreeves, and Constables of Manchester and Salford, and other Inhabitants
of these Towns and their Neighbourhood, being at all times fully sensible of " the many blessings of the Constitution under which we live, feel ourselves "called upon at this moment to express our firm attachment to its laws, as well " as our utter detestation of those mischievous attempts which are now pursued “ with incessant diligence and ardour, to excite a general spirit of disaffection. “ We especially deprecate the circulation of seditious tracts, and the adoption of inflammatory speeches, to produce an impression amongst the labouring " classes, that the present distresses and privations are attributable to the erruption and misconduct of Government, and may be removed by a system of Representation, embracing almost universal suffrage, annual Parliaments, the unqualified exclusion of all persons deriving emolument from the public, and consequently of his Majesty's Ministers. " The numerous Meetings held for these purposes, hoth publicly and secretly, the organised system of Committees, Delegates, and Missionaries, the contribu“tions levied, particularly for disseminating pamphlets, calculated to mislead and "irritate the public mind, the indecorous and highly unconstitutional reflections upon the exalted Personage now exercising the Regal Authority, the marked disparagement of the most extensive charitable relief in seasons of unavoidable pressure, the language of intimidation, not merely hinted, but plainly expressed, the appointment of popular assemblies in various parts of the Kingdom on one and the same day, after the meeting of Parliament, and the previous assembling
of Deputies in London ; all these circumstances afford strong manifestation of “meditated disorder and tumult, and bear no analogy whatever to the fair and
legitimate exercise of that Constitutional liberty, which is emphatically the birth-right and security of Enylishmen.
“With these decided sentiments, it is our duty to unite in supporting the "Laws and Constitution against those wicked efforts, which we are convinced “must be regarded with equal abhorrence by the great majority of his Majesty's subjects in every class and condition of society. We, therefore, severally
pledge ourselves to contribute, by the most effectual means our situations may " allow, to the maintenance of the peace and tranquillity of these towns and their
neighbourhood, from the unlawful and nefarious designs of those who are seeking to involve us in riot and confusion ; and we earnestly solicit the cooperation of all friends to SOCIAL ORDER and good government."
This is the “ declaration" of this famous meeting, and, it shall now be shown, that it is a tissue of falsehoods and follies. But, in the first place, where was this meeting of Magistrates, Constables, Boroughreeves, and “ most respectable inhabitants” held ? What hole, what corner, was the scene of its deliberations? If its object had been fair, and if any argument founded on truth had been at its command, why was not the meeting public like those of the Reformers? Where is the public paper, which apprized the people of such meeting? It was a secret meeting to
all intents and purposes, and as such it ought to be regarded. The " most respectable inhabitants” were there, it is said. That is to say, 1 suppose, the most rich. I I do not believe the fact; but, if it were so, why did not these respectable inhabitants attend the Meeting of the mass of the people in November ? They were most respectfully invited to attend; they were pressed to attend ; they were urged to come and take the lead, agreeably to their weight in point of property. They, if they thought Parliamentary Reform improper, might have come and shown the people that it was improper. Why did they keep aloof, then, and lose the opportunity of peaceably effecting, or, at least, endeavouring to effect, that which they can never effect by force ? They must have powerful reasons to give against Reform, or they possess no such reasons. If the latter, what can justify their outcries and their accusations against the Reformers? And, if they have powerful reasons to urge against Reform, why do they not fairly meet the people, and endeavour to convince them of their error? Why do they keep aloof from the Meetings of the people, and, when those Meetings have passed, assemble in this private manner, to accuse and abuse the people ? In fact, the only reason for their keeping aloof, is, that their ignorance as well as selfish fears make them enemies to Reform, and that they have no reasons to give why a Reform should not take place. However, they have the honour to hear their efforts applauded by the sons of Corruption, with which honour they will have to remain content.
This Meeting charges you, whom they call “ Weaver-Boys,” with using "language of intimidation." What ? “ Weaver. Boys,” intimidate! Who are they to frighten ? No: but our adversaries use this sort of language and that, too, in the most open manner. They threatened the labouring classes at Bristol with starvation, if they went to the Reform Meeting; the Magistrates in London and Westminster cautioned all peaceable people against going to Spa-fields; men have been menaced for selling my Register; some have been taken up, under the Hawker's and Pedlar's Act, for selling them without a license; and, I understand, that this has been threatened to be done for selling openly in a market-town on the market-day, though this is expressly allowed by law. I am informed of one master manufacturer in Lancashire, who has threatened to turn off every man to starve, “who shall eren reau Cobbett.” The name of this petty tyrant shall be made known as soon as I receive the evidence in detail; for such an execrable despot ought to be held up to public scorn ; and, indeed, legal punishment ought to be inflicted on him, and shall be inflicted on him, if I find, that the law will bear me out. I will neglect nothing to expose, and, if possible, to punish legally such men as this, who are not to be allowed, I am sure, thus to treat their workmen as the lowest of slaves. After all this, which has been seen going on in all parts of the country, it is pretty impudent in this Meeting to talk about the “ language of intimidation,” made use of by Reformers !
Come, come! grave gentlemen of the “ Order of the Pigtail ! ” you do not mean what you say. You know, that it is we who have the majority, and that, too, a majority of a hundred to one! And it your
* Since the above was written, I have received a letter informing me, that the “ Declaration" was drawn up and passed at the “ POLICE-OFFICE" in Manchester, and then handed about for names !