Imágenes de páginas

is founded. When the Bill was introduced in the Lords by Lord Sidmouth, he expressed bis great pain, and his shame for his country, at thinking it his duty to do it, and deep pain was also expressed by Lord Castlereagh, who introduced it into the Lower House. It is impossible not to believe them sincere upon this point ; for, good God! what a tbing it is to think of! At the end of a twenty-five years' war against revolutionary principles, to come, in this most solemn manner, to a declaration, that this most tremendous measure is absolutely necessary to the preservation of the English Government, that Government, which has so many thousand times been called “ the admiration and the envy of the world,” and which, in its full scope and powers, without any adulteration, really is worthy of the admiration of the world! For the American Government, though its form and name are different from those of ours, is really, in substance, the same as to its laws. There is Magna Charta, there is the Bill of Rights, and there is the sacred Act of Habeas Corpus; and, a circumstance which I, as an Englishman, used to be monstrously proud of when I was in America, was, that one of the State Constitutions consists principally,and almost solely of the declaration, that "the good people of this State shall enjoy the laws of England;" and, in every one of their wise constitutions special care has been provided, that the law called Habeas Corpus shall be regarded as the birthright of the people, and shall be held sacred accordingly.

I have no room at present to say more upon this subject. I am fully convinced that the Ministers have been deceived by designing persons, and that they think that dangers exist, which do not exist. The silly Spenceans have been going on with their nonsense for more than ten years. Their notions are foolishness itself. There are other Bills about to be passed, one for the better protection of the Prince's person; another for preventing public-meetings, unless called by sheriffs, magistrates, or persons in authority; and another for the putting down of clubs and associations; and another to punish with death all attempts to seduce soldiers from their allegiance and duty. With respect to the first and last of these, I hope they are wholly unnecessary. With regard to the preventing of public meetings, that appears to me to be also unnecessary and a lamentable curtailment of our rights; and with regard to clubs and associations, I do not see where the prevention is to stop. We have Pitt clubs, whig clubs, clubs to suppress vice, clubs to detect and punish thieves, bible clubs, school clubs, benefit clubs, methodist clubs, Hampden clubs, Spencean clubs, military.clubs, naval clubs, gaming clubs, eating clubs, drinking clubs, masters' clubs, journeymen's clubs, and a thousand other sorts of clubs and associations. Be this as it may, however, you, my readers, will know that I have always not only not recommended any sort of clubs or societies, but that I have always most earnestly endeavoured to persuade the public that clubs OF ALL SORTS were of mischievous tendency in general, and, in no possible case, could be productive of good. The reasons, on which this opinion is founded have often been stated by me; and, since the question of reform has been so much agitated, I have taken particular pains to endeavour to discourage all sorts of combinations, associations, affiliations, and correspondencies of societies having that object in view ; and I have said, upon these occasions, that if the object were not to be obtained by the general, free, unpacked unbiassed, impression and expression of the public mind, it never could be, and never ought be obtained at all. That is still my opinion.

The subjoined Petitions on the subject of the Repurts I beg you to read with attention; and, if any doubt can yet remain in the mind of any human being, as to the law or the fitness of Annual Parliaments and Universal Suffrage, that doubt must, I think, be removed by the incomparable letter of the Duke of Richmond. Let it be recollected, too, that this famous letter was addressed to a Colonel of Volunteers to be communi. cated to whole bodies of Volunteers, and that, a Convention of Delegates, from all the Counties in Ireland, met to promote reform upon the very principles of this letter! Nay, it is a fact, that Lord Castlereagh himself came first into Parliament upon a test to promote parliamentary reform. Mr. Pitt was a reformer, his father was a reformer; and, are we now to be told, that we aim at the utter subversion of the Constitution,because we ask for a reform upon the principles of this memorable and matchless letter of the Duke of Richmond ? And are we, who write as I write, to be called little short of traitors, because we, in a strain of sober arguments, endeavour to maintain these same principles, and give our reasons for believing, that, by acting upon these principles, the miseries of our unhappy country would be the more speedily and effectually changed into a state of prosperity and happiness? Oh, no! A love of truth and of fair play, so natural to all mankind ; reason, justice, human nature itself, all cry aloud, no, no, no !


P. S. There is to be a County Meeting at Winchester, on the 11th of March, called by the Sheriff. I hope that every Hampshire man, who can possibly go,

will go to that meeting, at which I shall certainly be, if I am alive, as well as Lord Cochrane, who has signed a Requisition for it.

[ocr errors]

To the Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the

United Kingdom of Great Britain und Ireland, in Parliament assembled.

The Petition of Thomas Cleary,* Secretary to the London Union Society,

Humbly sheweth,

That it is with great reluctance, as well as humility, that your petitioner offers himself to the notice of, and prays for a hearing from your right honourable House ; but that your petitioner, though a very humble individual, feels himself impelled by a sense of imperious duty, to beseech your right honourable House to pause, and to hear further evidence, before your right honourable House proceed to adopt legislative measures upon the Report, now on the table of your right honourable House, from your late Secret Committee.

Your petitioner begs permission humbly to state to your right honourable House, that he has read in the afore-mentioned Report of the Secret Committee of your Lordships, the following passage; to wit:

“ Others of these Societies are called Union Clubs, professing the same object of Parliamentary Reform, but under these words under

* These petitions were written by Mr. COBBETT.-Ed.

“ standing Universal Suffrage and Annual Parliaments-projects which evi“ dently involve not any qualified or partial change, but a total subversion “ of the British Constitution. It appears that there is a London Union “ Society, and branch Unions corresponding with it, and affiliated to it. “ Others of these Societies have adopted the name of Spencean Philan“ thropists; and it was by members of a club of this description that “ the plans of the conspirators in London were discussed and prepared “ for execution.”

Your petitioner presumes not to oppose his opinions against those of a Committee of your right honourable House ; but, he hopes, that he may be humbly permitted to state, that, when a bill was brought before your right honourable House by the late Duke of Richmond, laying it down as a matter of principle, that Annual Parliaments and Universal Suffrage were the inherent and unalienable rights of Englishmen, the noble Duke was not accused of a desire to produce a total subversion of the British Constitution.

It is not, however, on matters of opinion, but on matters of most important fact, that your petitioner humbly appeals to the candour, the wisdom and the justice of your right honourable House, and on matters of fact, too, with regard to which your petitioner is able to submit to your right honourable House the clearest and most indubitable testimony.

Your petitioner's entire ignorance of the views of the Secret Committee of your right honourable House, as well as his profound respect and extreme deference for every thing done within the walls of your right honourable House, are more than sufficient to restrain your petitioner from attempting even to guess at the reasons for your Committee's having so closely connected the “ London Union Society," with the Societies of " Spencean Philanthropists;" but, your petitioner humbly begs leave to assure your Lordships, that he is ready and able to prove at the Bar of your Lordships, that there never has existed, between these Societies, the smallest connection of any sort, either in person or design, the object of the former being to obtain “a Parliamentary Reform. according to the Constitution,while that of the latter, as appears by the Report of your Lordships' Committee, has been to obtain a common partnership in the land : and that, therefore, any evidence which may have been laid before the Secret Committee of your Lordships to establish this conuection, is, as your petitioner is ready to prove at the bar of your Lordships, wholly destitute of truth.

But, the facts to which your petitioner is most anxious humbly to endeavour to obtain the patient attention of your right hon. House, relate to that affiliation and correspondence, which your Lordships' Secret Committee have been pleased to impute to the London Union Society, by observing that “ it appears that there is a London Union Society, and Branch Unions, corresponding with it, and affiliated to it;" a description which seems, in the humble conception of your petitioner, to resem. ble that which was given of the London Corresponding Society in 1795, and which, as your petitioner humbly conceives, point to measures of a nature similar to those which were then adopted ; and your petitioner, though with all humility, ventures to express his confidence, that the evi. dence which he doubts not has been produced to your Lordships' Secret Committee to justify this description, is wholly and entirely false, as your petitioner is ready to prove, in the most satisfactory manner, at the bar of your right honourable House.

Upon this important point your petitioner humbly begs leave to represent to your right honourable House, that the London Union Society was founded in 1812 by Mr. Edward Bolton Clive, Mr. Walter Fawkes, the late Colonel Bosville, Mr. Montague Burgoyne, the present Lord Mayor, Mr. Alderman Goodbehere, Mr. Francis Canning, Mr. William Hallett, Sir Francis Burdett, Major Cartwright, Mr. Robert Slade, Mr. Timothy Brown, Mr. F. J. Clarke, and several other individuals equally respectable; that it continued to hold meetings but a very short time; that it never did any act except the publishing of one address to the nation on the subject of Reform ; that it never had any onebranch ;" that it never held any correspondence either written or verbal with any Society of any sort; that it never was affiliated to any society or branch or any body of men whatsoever ; finally, that it has not even met for nearly three years and a half last past; and, of course, that it is not now in existence.

What, then, must have been the surprise and the pain of your humble petitioner, when he saw, in the Report of your Lordships' Secret Committee, this London Union Society represented, not only as still being in existence, but busily and extensively at work, establishing branches and affiliations, carrying on an active correspondence, infusing life into Societies of Spencean Philanthropists, and producing, by these means, plans of conspiracy, revolution and treason ! And, though your petitioner is too well assured of the upright views and of the justice of every Committee consisting of members of your noble and right honourable House not to be convinced that very strong evidence in support of these charges must have been produced to your Lordships' Secret Committee, your petitioner cannot, nevertheless, refrain from expressing most hnmbly his deep regret that your Lordships' Committee should not have deigned 10 send for the books and other testimonials of the character and proceedings of the London Union Society; and your petitioner humbly begs leave to observe, that this omission appears singularly unfortunate for the London Union Society, seeing that the Secret Committee of your Lordships appear, in another part of their Report, to lament the want of means of obtaining the written proceedings of Societies, and seeing that it was natural to expect, that a Society having branches, an affiliation and an active correspondence, had also a copious collection of written documents.

Your petitioner is aware, that he has trespassed too long on the patience of your Lordships; but, well knowing that your Lordship's seek only for truth as the basis of your proceedings, he humbly hopes that you will be pleased to excuse the earnestness of his present representation, and he also presumes humbly to express his hope, that your Lordships will be pleased, in your great tenderness for the character and liberties of his Majesty's faithful subjects, to consider whether it be not possible that your Secret Committee may have been misled, by what they may have deemed good evidence, as to other parts of their secret Report; and, at the least, your petitioner humbly prays that your Lordships will, in your great condescension, be pleased to permit your petitioner to produce all the books and papers of the London Union Society at the bar of your right honourable House, where your petitioner confidently assures your Lordships that he is ready to prove all and singular the allegations contained in this his most humble petition.

And your petitioner will ever pray,


To the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of

Great Britain and Ireland in Parliament assembled.

The Petition of Henry Hunt, of Middleton Cottage, in the County of

Southampton, Humbly Sheweth,

That your petitioner, who had the honour to be the mover of the petitions at the recent Meetings held in Spa-fields, one of which petitions bas been received by his Royal Highness the Prince Regent, and two of which petitions have been presented to, and received by, the honourable the House of Commons, has read, in the public prints, a paper entitled a Report of the Secret Committee of your right honourable House, and which Report appears to your petitioner, as far as his humble powers of disentanglement have enabled him to analyse the same, to submit to your right honourable House, as solemn truths, the following assertions ; to wit: 1. That the first public meeting in Spa-fields, which had for its osten.

sible object, a petition for relief and Reform, was closely connected with, and formed part of, a conspiracy to produce an insurrection

for the purpose of overthrowing the Government. 2. That Spa-fields was fixed upon as the place of assembling, on

account of its vicinity to the Bank and the Tower; and that, for this same reason, cure was taken to adjourn the meeting to the 2d “ of December, by which time it was hoped that preparations for

“the insurrection would be fully matured.” 3. That, at this second Meeting, flags, banners, and all the ensigns of

insurrection were displayed, and that, finally, an insurrection was began by persons collected in the Spa- fields, and that notwithstanding the ultimate object was then frustrated, the same designs

siill continued to be prosecuted with sanguine hopes of success. 4. That a large quantity of pike- heads had been ordered of one individual,

and that 250 had actually been made and paid for. 5. That Delegates from Hampden Clubs in the Country have met in

London, and that they are expected to meet again in Murch. That, as to the First of these assertions, as your petitioner possesses no means of ascertaining the secret thoughts of men, he cannot pretend to assert, that none of the persons, with whom the calling of the first Spa-fields Meeting originated, had no views of a riotous or revolutionary kind ; but be humbly conceives, that a simple narrative of facts will be more than sufficient to satisfy your right honourable House, that no such dangerous projects ever entered the minds of those who constituted almost the entire mass of that most numerous Meeting. Therefore in the hope of producing this conviction in the mind of your right honourable House, your petitioner begs leave to proceed to state : that he, who was then at his house in the country, received, a short time before the 15th of November last, a letter from Thomas Preston, Secretary of a Committee, requesting your petitioner to attend a Public Meeting of the distressed inhabitants of the metropolis, intended to be held in Spa-fields on the day just mentioned ; that your petitioner thereupon wrote to Thomas Preston to know what was the object of the intended meeting ;-that he received, in the way of answer, a newspaper

« AnteriorContinuar »