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called the Independent Whig of November 10th, 1816, containing an advertisement in these words; to wit : “At a Meeting held at the “ Carlisle, Shoreditch, on Thursday evening, it was determined to call a “ meeting of the distressed manufacturers, mariners, artisans and others “ of the cities of London and Westminster, the borough of Southwark “ and parts adjacent, in Spa-fields, on Friday the 15th instant, precisely " at twelve o'clock, to take into consideration the propriety of petitioning “ the Prince Regent and Legislature, to adopt immediately such mea“sures as will relieve the sufferers from the misery which now overwbelms " them. (Signed) John Dyall, Chairman, Thomas Preston, Secre“ tary;"- that your petitioner upon seeing this advertisement, hesitated not to accept of the invitation ;- that he attended at the said meeting : —that he there found ready prepared, a paper, called, to the best of his recollection, a memorial, which some persons, then ut'er strangers to him, proposed to move for the adoption of the Meeting ;- that your petitioner perceiving in this paper, propositions of a nature which he did not approve of, and especially a proposition for the Meeting going in a body to Carlton House, declared that he would have nothing to do with the said memorial- that your petitioner then brought forward an humble petition to the Prince Regent, which petition was passed by the Meeting unanimously, and which petition, having been by your petitioner, delivered to Lord Sidmouth, that noble Lord has, by letter, informed your petitioner, was immediately laid before his Royal Highness the Prince Regent. And your petitioner here begs leave further to state, upon the subject of the aforementioned Memorial, that John Dyall, whose name, as Chairman of the Committee who called the Meeting (and of which Committee Thomas Preston was Secretary), having, before the Meeting took place, been called before Mr. John Gifford, one of the Police Magis. trates, had furnis 'ied Mr. Gifford with a copy of the said Memorial, and that that copy was in the hands of Lord Sidmouth at the moment when the Meeting was about to assemble, though (from an oversight, no doubt) neither the Police Magistrates nor any other person whatever gave your petitioner the smallest intimation of the dangerous tendency or even of the existence of such Memorial, or of any improper views being entertained by any of the parties calling the Meeting, though it now appears, that the written placards entitled “ Britons to Arms" are imputed to those same parties, though it is notorious that that paper appeared in all the public prints so far back as the month of October, and though, when your Petitioner waited on Lord Sidmouth with the petition of the Prince Regent, that noble Lord bimself informed your petitioner, that the Government were fully apprized beforehand of the propositions intended to be brought forward at the Meeting. So that your petitioner humbly begs leave to express his confidence that your Honourable House will clearly perceive, that if any insurrection had taken place on the day of the first Spa-fields Meeting, it would have been entirely owing to the neglect, if not connivance, of those persons who possessed a previous knowledge of the principles and views of the parties with whom that Meeting originated.
With regard to the second assertion, namely, that, “ care was taken to adjourn the Meeting to the 2nd of December,” your petitioner begs leave to state, that it will appear upon the face of the proceedings of that day, that there was nothing like previous concert or care in this matter; for, that a resolution first proposed to adjourn the Meeting to the day of the Meeting of Parliament, and then to meet in Palace-yard, of course not So much in the vicinity of the Bank and the Tower; and that when this resolution was awarded so as to provide for a meeting on the 2nd of December on the same spot, it was merely grounded on the uncertainty as to the time when the Parliament might meet. Your Petitioner further begs leave to state here, as being, in a most interested man. ner, connected with this adjournment of the Meeting, that, when your Petitioner waited on Lord Sidmouth with the petition to the Prince Regent, he informed his Lordship that the Meeting was to re-assemble on the 2nd of December, when your Petitioner had engaged to carry his Lordship's answer and deliver it to the adjourned meeting, and, that his Lordship, so far from advising your Petitioner not to go to the said Meeting, so far from saying any thing to discourage the said Meeting, distinctly told your Petitioner, that your Petitioner's presence and conduct appeared to his Lordship to have prevented great possible mischief. Whence your Petitioner humbly conceives, that he is warranted in concluding that there did, at the time here referred to, exist in his Lordship no desire to prevent the said Meeting from taking place.
Your Petitioner, in adverting humbly to the THIRD assertion of your Secret Committee, begs to be permitted to state, that the persons who went from Spa-fields to engage in riot on the 2nd of December, formed no part of the Meeting called for that day; that these persons came into the fields full two hours before the time of meeting; that they left the fields full an hour before that time; that they did not consist, at the time of leaving the fields, of more than forty or fifty individuals; that they were joined by sailors and others, persons going from witnessing the execution of four men in the Old Bailey ; that your Petitioner, who had come up from Essex in the morning, met the rioters in Cheapside; that he proceeded directly to the Meeting, which he found to be very numerous ; that there a Resolution was immediately proposed by your Petitioner strongly condemning all rioting and violence, which Resolution passed with the most unanimous acclamations; that a Petition, which has since been signed by upwards of twenty-four thousand names, and received by the House of Commons, was then passed ; and that the Meeting, though immense as to numbers, finally separated, without the commission of any single act of riot, outrage, or violence. And here your Petitioner humbly begs leave to beseech the attention of your honourable House to the very important fact of a third Meeting having taken place on the 10th instant, on the same spot, more numerously attended than either of the former; and that, after having agreed to a Petition, which has since been received by your honourable House, the said Meeting separated in the most peacable and orderly manner; which your Petitioner trusts is quite sufficient to convince your honourable House that, if, as your Secret Committee reported, designs of riot do still continue to be prosecuted with sanguine hope of success, these designs can have no connection whatever with the Meetings for retrenchment, relief, and reform, held in Spa-fields.
That, as to the pike-heads, your Petitioner begs leave to state to your right hon. House, that while he was at the last Spa-fields Meeting, an anonymous letter was put into the hands of your Petitioner's servant, who afterwards gave it to your Petitioner; that this letter stated that one Bentley, a smith, of Hart-street, Covent-garden, had been employed by a man, in the dress of a gamekeeper, to make some spikes to put round VOL. V.
a fish-pond; that the gamekeeper came and took a parcel away and paid for them; that he came soon afterwards and said the things answered very well, and ordered more to be made ; that, in a little while after this, the said Bentley was sent for to the Bow-street Office, and, after a private examination, was desired to make a pike, or spike, of the same sort, and to carry it to the office, which he did. That your Petitioner perceives that the information which it contains may possibly be of the utmost importance in giving a clue to the strict investigation, which he humbly presumes to hope will be instituted by your honourable House into this very interesting matter.
That as to the Fifth assertion, that Delegates have assembled in London from Hampden Clubs in the country, your Petitioner has first to observe, that these persons never called themselves Delegates, and were not called Delegates by anybody connected with them ; that they were called, and were, “Deputies from Petitioning Bodies" for Parliamentary Reform; that your Petitioner was one of them, having been deputed by the petitioners at Bristol and Bath; that these Deputies met three times, and always in an open room, to which newspaper reporters were admitted ; that an account of all their proceedings was published ; that they separated at the end of three days, not upon a motion of adjournment, but of absolute dissolution, which motion was made by your Petitioner, who is ready to prove that your Committee has been imposed upon as to the fact that these Delegates, or Deputies, are expected to meet again in March.
That Petitioner is ready to prove at the bar of your right hon. House all the facts and allegations contained in this Petition, and that he humbly prays so to be permitted there to prove them accordingly. And your Petitioner will ever pray.
PEOPLE OF HAMPSHIRE.
On the Reports made to Parliament.-On the Habeas Corpus suspension. On the
Sedition Bills and Treason Bills,- On the State to which we are Reduced.
(Political Register, March, 1815.)
London, March 5, 1817. My Good NEIGHBOURS,
Yesterday the Act passed the Royal Assent! It is now a law; and to this law we must now submit! For many, many years, I have been warning my country against the measures, which have finally brought us
to this pass; and, those among you, who have been in the the habit of attending the Meetings at Winchester, will remember how the greater part of the farmers and of all those who seemed to be in rather higher life than the rest used to scoff at me, when I foretold to you all what would be the end of the things which I used to complain of. Those persons must now begin to feel some degree of alarm and shame; but this feeling comes too late.
I have no scruple to say, that this is the most important event that has taken place in the world for hundreds of years; because it changes, in the most important part, the state of this nation, which is, and long has been, of greater consequence than any other nation. The event itself being so awfully important, you, and every Englishman, ought to know what has produced it. When our children's children shall read of this event, they will be all anxiety to know what was the cause of it ; what was the cause of putting, for several months at the least, the personal safety of every man, however innocent he may be, within the absolute power of a Secretary of State, or of Six Privy Councillors.
This measure was proposed to the two Houses, in consequence of a Report to each House, made by a Secret Committee of each House, and these Reports were made upon certain evidence, produced to those Secret Committees. The progress of the proceedings, in the House of Com, mons, for instance, was as follows :
1. The Prince, in his Speech, speaks of designing and evil-minded men,
who are endeavouring to seduce the people into unlawful acts; and he expresses his confidence, that Parliament will cordially co-operate
with him in suppressing this evil. 2. The Ministers bring, by the Prince's order, a Bag, containing a parcel
of papers, which, they say, prove that there is a design to make a revolution and destroy the Government; and upon this they moved for a Secret Committee to inquire into the contents of the Bag, and to make a Report to the whole House upon the subject, and to
say what ought to be done in consequence of those contents. 3. The Committee was appointed in this way :-It was to consist of
twenty-one members. Each Member of the House put twenty-one names upon a bit of paper, and then put that paper into a glass, or box. Then the whole of the papers are taken out, and the twentyone men, whose names are upon the greatest number of bits of paper, are the Committee ! So you see, that on whichever side the majority of the House is, that side must have the choosing of the Committee. This is called choosing by ballot; but, what people in general think about ballot is, that the names of all the Members in the House are put into a glass, or box, and then the first twentyone, taken out promiscuously, like a jury, are the Committee. You see, that this is no such thing; and, indeed, it was so well known who would be the members of the Committee, that Mr. Brougham actually read the twenty-one names to the House before
the papers were put into the box. 4. This was the Committee, to whom the papers were referred. They
assembled, looked at the contents of the Bag, which contents had
been collected by the Ministers. 5. They made a Report; that is to say, they drew up an account, founded on these papers, and laid it before the House. And, in both
Houses of Parliament, the Report concludes with stating, that the laws, as they now stand, are not sufficient to preserve the peace of
the country. 6. The Ministers come and propose new laws; one to make it death to
attempt to seduce either soldiers or sailors from their duty; another to make it treason to do certain acts relative to the endangering the person of the Prince Regent; another to prevent public meetings unless under new regulations, and for checking the circulation of certain pamphlets, &c.; and another, which is the all-in-all, for suspending the Habeas Corpus Act, and, thereby, putting every man's person in the power of the Ministers, to enable them to shut it up at their absolute pleasure, without any limit whatever, except that the Act, as it now stands, is to last only till July next; but, this Act may be renewed before July next, and, that it will be renewed, who can doubt ? For, can the country possibly be more quiet then than it is now ?
After this brief history of the proceedings, which have more immediately led to this shocking state of things, it will only be necessary to insert the Reports themselves, in order to enable you to form a correct judgment as to the grounds of the laws that have been passed. These Reports are immortal documents. — They should be read by you all, and preserved as you would preserve your eye-sight. Read them over and over again ; put them by, and then take them out again. How you, my good neighbours, and all the people of England, will be surprised to find, that, upon these Reports of Committees formed as above described, and without any evidence of any sort submitted to their own inspection, the two Houses have, by vast majorities, proceeded to take away even our personal safety, and to make it possible for any man, however innocent, to be taken out of his bed and carried away to a prison, without any hearing even before the Secretary of State who shall sign the warrant for his imprisonment.
In order to rouse the nation to make all the legal efforts in their power to obtain a repeal of this terible law of suspension, the first thing is to make them clearly understand the grounds on which it has been passed ; to make them see the alleged grounds, and to enable them to form an opinion as to the real grounds. When that is done, they will have the matter full in their minds; and they will see what it is that has produced the evil.
It is said that the Habeas Corpus Act has been suspended before, so that this is no new thing. This, therefore, is a point of great moment. The Act has been suspended before ; but, under what circumstances ? It was suspended in the reign of George I. when there was a Pretender to the throne living in France, and supported by the King of France, and when there were many powerful men in England who were plotting with that Pretender to bring him over, and to put down the Family then upon the throne. Were these circumstances like those of the present day? A French army was then in readiness to come over to assist that Pretender, and it was very well known, that many men, and men of weight too, were ready to join that French army. It was, therefore, necessary to give great powers to the Government in order that they might, upon any sudden emergency, lay hold of any man suspected of a design to aid in such an enterprise; because, if suffered to remain at