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large, he might join the enemy and greatly add to the danger and the bloodshed. But, does any such cause of fear exist now? We are at peace, and in close alliance, with all the Kings of Europe; their subjects are all in a state of quiet submission; there is no Pretender; no man at home, who has any weight at all, proposes, or even hints at, any change in the established things of the country; there has been no attempt of any sort to effect Reform by violence; and, therefore, there is no sort of resemblance in the circumstances of the two cases.
In the reign of George II. the Habeas Corpus Act was suspended; but ther, not only was there a Pretender living in France and encouraged and supported by the King of France, but he actually landed in Scotland, was joined by large numbers and by several Noblemen, marched towards London at the head of an army, and got as far as Carlisle. Under such circumstances it was the duty of the Parliament to empower the Ministers to seize and keep safe persons suspected of a design to join the enemy. But, to attempt to justify the suspension now, because a suspension took place then, would be like proposing to cut off a man's arm on account of a pin-scratch upon his finger, because a man's arm had once been cut off on account of a mortification of his band.
The Act was suspended during the first war against the French Re. volutionists. But, at that time, we were at war with a very populous and powerful nation, who had destroyed their Church and Nobility, put their King to death, declared their country to be a Republic, and had offered their assistance to any other oppressed people to enable them to do the same in their country. This was denied to aim at England; but, at any rate, there was this pretence. Then it is certainly true, that Delegates from Societies in England had gone to, and been received by, the French Convention. This was another pretence. It is also certain, that, in many publications and speeches it was openly avowed, that it would be desirable to erect a Republic in England. Most men of liberal minds opposed most strenuously the suspension even then. Yet taking into view only the circumstance of war, and the character of the enemy : and supposing no Republican designs to have really existed ; taking the matter in this light, how very different are the two cases ! Not only are we at peace now with all the world; but a war is almost impossible. Not only are the French not Republicans, but they are become Royalists after having tried Republicanism, and we are daily and hourly told, that they are happy under their return to a Kingly Government ; and, so far from their King being our enemy, he is our friend and ally. Not only have we nothing from without to encourage any body here to think of a change in the form of Government; but the very men, who, through the press, justify this suspension of our liberties and even our personal safely, tell us, in the same breath, that we live under a Government, which is the admiration and envy of the world!
Therefore if I were to allow, which I do not, that the suspension was justifiable during the war against the French Republicans, I should for the very same reasons, amongst many others, deny that it was justifiable now. Thus then, the assertion, that the suspension is not a new thing is all sophistry; it is a base attempt to deceive the people, to blind them, to hush their well-grounded fears, and to reconcile them to a measure, which, if it remain any considerable time in force, must, as every one must see, be the cause of endless misery and degradation.
I am well aware, that there are people enough to say: “ What is the “ Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act to me? I am on the side of “ the Ministers; or, I never meddle with politics. I shall be as safe as “ if the Act had never passed. The Act will be a dead letter as far as “ relates to me." So it will, perhaps, as to direct effect; and it certainly will be so far as relates to horses, oxen, mules, asses, hogs, dogs, cats, poultry, fish, posts, and stones; but, the man, who does not perceive, that this Act will affect him indirectly, and who does not feel pain and shame at seeing it passed under the present circumstances, is, in the scale of animal life, far inferior in merit to a horse or a dog. The truth is, that every man, be he who or what he may, unless selfishness has made him a brute, does feel deep sorrow and shame upon this occasion; and, these miserable pretences of being contented under this state of things, and of not being affected by it, arise out of a desire to hide the pain and shame that they feel; to hide the feeling from their neighbours, and, if it were possible, from themselves ; just as we always hear men endeavour to console themselves for the loss of things which they see no prospect of preserving or regaining; though the very same things had been but a little while before the pride and the happiness of their lives. This pretence, however, will become every day more fashionable. To affect to despise the Personal Safety Law will be as much in fashion as it is amongst cast-off lovers to affect to despise their former sweethearts; and, in a very short time, if the Suspension Act be permitted to continue in force, we shall hear it applauded as a lucky mea sure, just as we did the stoppage of cash-payments at the Bank, which, for a little while, was regarded as the most ruinous measure that ever was adopted, and which, now, it has proved to be, that measure being the great cause of all the present miseries, and even of these last fatal measures of restraint. · When that measure was first adopted, it was only for six weeks ; then for three months ; then for a year; then to the end of the war ; then for the first year of peace; then for one more year; then for the new war ; then for a year of peace; and now for two years : and thus it has already gone on for twenty years! And, if the Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act be suffered to be renewed but once ; if it be not repealed indeed almost immediately, what hope can any man of sense entertain, that it will ever be repealed? Can the country ever be more quiet than it is now ? Can it be more prosperous and less miserable as long as the funding system to its present extent shall last? Will commerce, manufactures, and agriculture, revive under that load which has crushed them to pieces ? When, then, if not now, is this Act ever to be repealed ? It has been passed in a time of profound peace; it cannot be denied that the patience of the people has been unparalleled ; they have met in immense multitudes all over the kingdom to petition; they have been guilty of no outrages, no breaches of the peace; goaded and provoked in all sorts of ways, they have made no attacks on the persons or the property of the rich ; and, if the Act be called for now, when, I again ask, is it to cease? When is to come the time, when it will not be called for, and when there will not be found persons to justify its continuance ?
Let no one, therefore, deceive himself with the expectation of a return from this path at some future time. The petitions for a repeal must be sent up now or never. It will be a striking fact in history, that, on the
very night that this Bill made its last appearance in the House of Commons, there lay upon the floor of that House, nearly six hundred petitions signed by one million and sixty thousand men, praying for Par. liamentary Reform. They had been carried down in hackney-coaches. and had been carried in by Sir Francis Burdett and Lord Cochrane; and when the two Masters in Chancery came in to announce that the Lords had finished the Bill, they were unable to approach the table, the whole space of several yards, from the bar to the table, being filled with this immense heap of petitions ! There had been petitions, with several hundred thousand names, presented before, and praying for the same thing; and Sir Francis Burdett, when the Bill came down from the Lords, emphatically observed, “ That Bill is the answer to these petitions ;” an observation which history will not forget in recording the occurrences of these disgraceful times. I believe, that, in the whole, more than one million and a half of men have signed petitions for Parliamentary Reform, upon the principles of Annual Parliaments and Universal Suffrage; and, this has been done in the most fair and open manner. In the eleven millions, or thereabouts, of the natives of England and Scotland, there cannot be more than about two millions of active, sturdy men. However, suppose the families to be two millions and a half, and that there be one active man to each family, a majority of the active men of the nation have petitioned upon this occasion, notwithstanding all the efforts that have been made to prevent petitioning. But, the truth is, that a considerable part of the petitions are not yet come in ; and, if no measures of prevention, no menaces, no undue influence, had been made use of, there would, I am convinced, have been nine-tenths of the names of all the men in the country to these petitions.
This, therefore, is THE PRAYER OF THE PEOPLE. Let our adversaries say or do what they will, this is the PEOPLE'S PRAYER ; and, though corruption may call it an attempt to overthrow the Constitution, this prayer, I am fully convinced, will be finally heard. I, for my part, as far as I have power, will always contend for this as our right. We have by reference to law and by an appeal to reason, proved it to be our right; and we have received no answer.
It was my intention to enter here into a description of the other Bills that are now passing ; but, I have not room in this Number, and it is absolutely necessary to publish the reports, because we are now entering upon a new sort of rule, and the time will come when we shall have to refer to the sources from whence it has sprung. Keep this Number, I beg of you; for we shall often have to speak of it. In entering upon this new state of things we ought first to trace the causes of it, and then to get at a clear notion of what it is. This we shall do in the course of the next Number; and then we shall have to make all the legal exertions in our power to get rid of this deep disgrace on ourselves and our country.
I am, your friend,
GOOD AND TRUE MEN OF HAMPSHIRE.
Meeting at Winchester.-Outrageous Parsons. — Dreadful Row-Lockhart the
Brave Challenge of Lockhart the Brare to Mr. Colbett. - The Sinecure Crew's Flight.--Mr. Cobbett chaired.- No Address agreed to by the Meeting.-Cashman's Death.- Arrests in Lancashire.
(Political Register, March, 1817.)
London, 13th March, 1817. MY WORTHY COUNTRYMEN,
The necessity of going into Hampshire will compel me to confine my. self this week within very narrow limits; but in my next I shall resume the discussion relative to the famous Bills, which have totally changed the situation of every man in this country, and shall endeavour to put the whole of that matter in so clear a light, that no human creature, who reads what I write, shall want any more information relative to it. In such a case, the main thing is, to give the great mass of the people a clear and true idea of what the things are which have been done ; for, when that is once fixed in their minds, never, no, never, will it be got out again. There it will live as long as life shall animate the frame.
Few comparatively of you were at the Meeting, but you must all hear the story of Lockhart the Brave. However, this story must come in at its proper place of the proceedings of the tumultuous eleventh of March. You will bear in mind, that the Meeting was called by Mr. Fleming (late Willis) who is the high SHERIFF, in consequence of a requisition signed by the Marquis of Winchester, who is Groom of the Stole, the Marquis of Buckingham, whose father was a Teller of the Exchequer, Old George Rose, who is every thing, Lord Palmerston, who is Secretary at War, Mr. Sturges Bourne, who is a Lord of the Treasury, Mr. Garnier, who is Apothecary-general, Earl Malmsbury, who has a heavy pension, Lord Fitzharris, who is Governor of the Isle of Wight for life, and several other persons. There was a requisition sent to the Sheriff before the one here mentioned was sent to him ; but, this other was carried to him by my son John a few days before he was Sheriff. My son wished to leave it with him. No. That was not approved of. It might be brought to him again the next Monday ; but, when carried to him again, another had been brought to him along with his patent of Sheriff! Ours was therefore set aside, though it had been tendered first; and when my son suggested, that both might be inserled in the call, as was done last year by poor talking BosANQUET, the impartiality of Mr. Fleming induced him to refuse to do it, though he very condescendingly offered to have our names put under the requisition of the Groom of the Stole, the Apothecarygeneral, and Old George Rose, an honour, of which we had too much modesty to accept.
Upon this occasion every nerve appears to have been strained by the whole of the nobility, gentry and clergy in the country, and upon my arrival in Winchester (from London) at ten o'clock in the morning, news assailed me from all quarters, that there was a plan resolved on for effectually preventing Lord COCHRANE and all those who might take part with him from being heard ; and when the Meeting was opened, we soon discovered, that this plan was, if possible, to be carried into execution. There was good sense in it on the part of our adversaries; for they were sure to be beaten, if we were heard, and they could only be beaten if we were not, and as to shame, you will soon see, that that formed no obstacle in their way.
When the High Sheriff had read the requisition and opened the Meeting, I offered myself to the Meeting with a paper in my hand. It was a copy of our requisition, and my object was merely to state, on that subject, what I have above stated to you. But, the Sheriff did not, and could not, know what it was. It might be an address; and, as I had the first word, it was 'his duty to let me proceed. He insisted that I should not; and that another address should be moved first by Sir CHARLES OGLE, a gentleman fixed upon, probably, for his inoffensive and amiable character. I insisted on my right, and now began a scene of uproar such as I never before witnessed. I besought the little dull Sheriff to let me only say ten words to explain the affair of the two requisitions. No. He was in hopes that I should not get a hearing. There we stood for half an hour. Noise on both sides so that not a word could be heard.
The people were assembled in the court-yard of the Castle, on one of the sides of which is the Grand Jury Chamber, having four windows, from which the speakers were to speak. The chamber was at once filled full, to the amount of, perhaps, a hundred persons, consisting chiefly of clergymen, custom-house people, barrack-people, and the like, who, with sticks and umbrellas, and heels of shoes, and with shoutings, groanings, bissiogs, spittings, and other means of annoyance, endeavoured to stun and overwhelm us. However, all would not do. Our friends without returned the charge with interest, and nothing could be heard. At last came forward Sir Charles Ogle with the Address, ready engrossed upor parchment. I suppose he did read it, for, being at the next window, I saw his lips move; but, I am sure, that he himself did not hear the sound of his own voice, and I must do him the justice to say, that he appeared beartily ashamed of the part that he had been selected to act. Mr. Ashton Smith came forward to second that which nobody had heard read. He put his hand a little way out of the window, but, as if struck by the arrow that flieth by day, he drew it in under a shout of disapprobation enough to kill a gentleman dead upon the spot, when he reflected that it came from the lips of his own neighbours.
As yet the Meeting knew nothing of what had been done. But, LORD COCHRANE, who had obtained a look only at a copy of the Address, now began to move another Address as an amendment to it; and here it was that the mortification and rage of our opponents, particularly of those within, began to discover itself in symptoms bordering very closely on those of hydrophobia, or dog-madness. It was now most