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butchers, &c., which notions Corruption's press was constantly fostering. But, I knew my countrymen well. I knew that if, in kind language, they could be made to see their error, they would no longer persist in it; and I relied upon my own talents to produce that conviction in their minds.
I was not deceived in this reliance, and the nation will bear witness, tbat, from the time that I began to write upon this subject, a total change took place in this respect; and, that I did more in the space of a month, 10 prevent depredations of this sort, than all the new penal laws, all the magistrates, and all the troops had been able to do in seven years; and to prove this there were tifty magistrates ready and williog to come to the bar of the Parliament. Why, then, did William Gifford and SOUTHEY ; why did these two sinecure reviewers so bitterly lament, in their Quarterly Review, that the people swore by, lived by, and were ready to die by," my Register ? Could they ; could these sinecureholders wish for the peace of the country? Yes, they really did wish for the peace of the country; but, they had a wislı which stood liigher than this : that of keeping their sinecures, which was wholly incompatible with the doctrines that I preached.
And as to the hirelings of the press in general, they, too, wished for the peace of the country, if it could be kept, and if their system could, at the same time, go on. But, in exhorting the people to keep their hands from committing violence on their innocent neighbours ; in proving to them, that their sufferings did not arise from these imaginary petty causes, I was compelled, and was perfectly disposed to prove, that those suffer. ings did arise from the great load of taxes joined to the deadly effects of a paper-money, varied in its value by the will of the managers of that inoney; and, when I came to speak of the cause of the existence of these overwhelming evils, I was obliged to ascribe them to a want of a Reform in Parliameni, and to exhort the people peaceably and legally to petition for such Reform.
This it was that stung Corruption to the quick. She did not wish for bakers' and butchers' mobs; for they might end in mischief to her upon some occasion or other. She wished still less for attacks upon machinery and upon corn-stacks; but, very far indeed did she prefer these to peaceable and legal and numerously composed meetings and petitions for Re. form, for these were most formidable attacks upon herself. Many persons said to nie, in the months of November, December, and January, "What “ impudence it is, Mr. Cobbeti, in these men to say, that your publica“tions are inflammatory and calculated to set the poor upon the rich,
when they so obviously have a different tendency, that we, in our 'county, take great pains to put them into the hands of our working “people." I remember particularly, that this was told me by gentlemen from Norfolk, from Cambridgeshire, and from Nottinghamshire ; and at Leeds I received a vote of public thanks for this effect of my writings. But, as I used always to observe to those who made these observations to me, my writings really were inflammatory;" for they inflamed the people against the corruption, bribery, fraud, and perjury, which had been the great cause of all their miseries; and I inspired them with an anxious desire to remove this cause for ever; and this it was that Corruption meant when she called my publications inflammatory and seditious, and called upon the rich to rally round the throne and religion, by which she means the profits of those who lived upon the labour of the peo
ple, and who were the greatest enemies of religion as well as of the throne.
“ And how in God's name,” honest people used to exclaim, “can “ they have the impudence to accuse you of teaching blasphemy, and “ of wishing to destroy the Church, when you, on the contrary, “ exhort the people not to make religion a subject of dispute or “ discussion, and when you are the only layman in the kingdom, “ who, having any degree of popularity, have even ventured to “ risk it by saying that the tithes do not make a part of the suffer. " ings, of which the people complain?" The hirelings must, indeed, have been the most impudent of mankind to make this charge ; but, any thing was resorted to. Blasphemy was a good word for their use. It served them, as a man once told me of the bank-notes. “ Depreciated or not depreciated,” said he, pulling a handful out of his pocket and thrusting them forward towards my face, “they serve us." And, true or false, the charge of blasphemy served Corruption. Besides, to wean the people from all religious bickerings was to hit her no common blow. She has long most essentially benefitted from these bickerings and divisions : divide and subjugate is one of her great maxims : nothing suits her turn better than to have contending sects continually appealing to her as the arbiter of their pretensions, and to keep all in awe by the fear each has of her giving privileges to any other which she denies to it.
My writings tended to sweep away for ever this source of influence ; they tended to withdraw the attention of the people from these petty disputes; they tended to make them one firm and united body in the cause of Reform. From all quarters and corners I called them to listen to me. I raised the standard of plain common sense, of sound reasoning, intelligible language, and the whole people gathered around it.
This it was that alarmed Corruption, and she soon began to discover her uneasiness, and her press to throw out hints, that “ something must be done” to counteract the poison that was weekly going forth to the people in “Two-Penny Trash publications.” Day after day she grew more uneasy. She cut all sorts of capers. Like Nick Frog, in Swift's works, she canted, she cried, she swore, she seemed, at last, as if she was ready to cut her own throat. Her hirelings still kept bellowing for something to be done. Stewart of The Courier, Walter of The Times, William Gifford and Southey, of The Quarterly Review, and hundreds of others; but, ihese four men in particular, whose names and whose conduct we shall, I hope, never be so base as to forget ; for that would be a crime such as ought not to be forgiven in us, and our country ought to perish, if these men were not called legally to answer for their deeds. These men in particular, Corruption's forlorn-hope, came, at last, about a month before the Parliament met, to call for new laws to protect the Constitution against the “ Two-penny Trash.” New laws to protect a Constitution against trash! When they were called upon to answer this trash, they declined, as BURKE declined to answer Paine, whom he called on Mr. ATTORNEY-GENERAL Scott, to answer! The pepsioned back was stung to madness by PAINE, and, in the House of Commons, where Paine was not to answer him, he actually called upon the Attorney. General to silence his opponent. Gifford and Walter and Southey and Stewart followed in the same path; but, in this case, the Attorney-General had no power. Hardened as the system had become ; great as was the severity added to the libel-laws since the time of Paine and Burke ; great as the encroachments had been on the liberty of the press; still, as Lord Sidmouth afterwards confessed, the law-officers could find nothing in the Two-penny Trash to prosecute with a chance of success. The case being, therefore, more desperate than in the time of Paine, more desperate was to be the remedy; and, accordingly, my opponents recommended, not prosecutions by the Attorney-General, but new laws, which they called for upon the ground, that we had laws to prevent the sale of putrid meat, and other poisonous things, and that we ought to have laws to prevent the reading of poisonous publications; and, of course, they themselves, or other sinecure placemen, or tax-eaters, were to be the sole judges of what was, and what was not poisonous! These prostituted, these shameless men, were the harbingers of the Acts, which were afterwards passed ; and, as I said before, they must never be forgotten, while we, or our sons, are alive.
The subsequent measures were, therefore, resolved on, without doubt, weeks before the Parliament met; and, as we shall presently see, it was quite clear, that the attack upon the Prince's carriage in the Park, only added an incident to the grand drama, all the parts of which were before prepared and carefully distributed, Indeed, Lord Castlereagh said expressly, that the measures about to be proposed, would have been proposed, if that attack had not been made ; and, it would have been in vain to hold out the contrary, seeing that those measures were but too plainly pointed out in the Regent's speech, which, be it remembered, had been delivered before the attack was made. Yet was this attack a great incident; and, though it was clear, that the Acts would have been passed without its assistance, it is nevertheless true, that it formed the grand feature in all the future harangues against the “ Demagogues," as we were called, and the almost sole topic in the declarations of the taxeaters, and in the diatribes against the Reformers from the pulpit. Nay. in the very Thanksgiving itself, which was put up in the Churches, this attack was deduced as the nutural consequence of our principles, though those principles were of a nature to render them proof against the Attor. ney-General with all his sharp-sightedness and all his power.
So great having been the use made of this attack, it is necessary to inquire a little here into the circumstances of it, in order, if we can, to come at something like a guess at its real origin. There were in London, at that time, about seventy persons from different parts of the country with petitions for Reform. They had brought up, some of them only one, and others twenty or thirty petitions each. It was expected, that Sir Francis BURDETT, whose name had been affixed to a circular, invitinq deputies to come to London from petitioning bodies in the country. would attend and carry down these petitions to the House. In this the Deputies were disappointed. He was not in London; and, came to the House that day in a post-chaise directly from the country, without any Deputy or any Reformer having an opportunity to see him, before he entered the House, of which I shall have to say more by-and-by.
Here, then, were these Deputies, with positive orders to deliver their petitions to Sir Francis Burdett; here were these sincere and honest men, as anxious for the success of the cause as if their lives had depended on it, running about the town half mad, not knowing where to go, or what to do. Seeing that there was no sign, at eleven o'clock in the day, of the arrival of Sir FRANCIS, Mr. HUNT, about that time, set to work to collect together all the bearers of petitions from the country, which, with some few exceptions, he succeeded in doing. The place of assembling was Charing-cross, and from this spot they moved in procession, the Bristol petition, signed by more, I believe, than twenty-seven thousand men, being opened and carried at their head, while a bundle of oak sticks, emblematical of union and strength, was borne on an oak staff be. fore the bearers of the Bristol petition.
In this order the procession moved down Whitehall and Parliamentstreet, to the house of Lord Cochrane, which was in New Palace Yard, directly opposite the grand entrance of Westminster Hall. His Lordship here received all the petitions; and, the Deputies, together with, perhaps, 20,000 people, having waited till it was time for Lord Cochrane to go to the House, they forced hirn into a chair, and thus they carried him to the Hall-door, with the Bristol Petition in his arms, in a roll of parchment about the size of a tolerable barrel, and with the bundle of oak-twigs in its belly, all which his Lordship manfully presented to the House, who received the petition, and permitted it to lie upon their table, where it still lies, in the legal construction of the thing, ungranted its prayer, undiscussed its contents, and unanswered its allegations.
The circumstances are very important, because, as they are notoriously true, so they amount to a very strong presumptive proof, that the attack on the Prince did not originate with the Reformers, who were proceeding down Whitehall towards the house of Lord Cochrane at the very time that that attack was made. If they had meditated any such an attack; if they had wished it even ; would they have been absent from the scene? And, besides, if this had been the case, would not the fact have come to light, with all the rewards that were offered, and with all the activity of the police magistrates and their innumerable host of spies ?
With whom, then, did this attack originate? That is the grand ques. tion. Now observe, there were crowds, whole brigades, of magistrates, police-officers, spies, constables, in the Park, besides soldiers, horse and foot, the former surrounding the coach eight or ten deep, and no part of the coach, which was not bullet-proof, except the glasses of the two doors, and they half an inch thick. Under such circumstances, how was the glass to be hit by stones thrown at it, without some of these brigades of attendants seeing the person who fiung the stones ; and without their taking him instantly into custody? One man, of the name of Scoil, was taken up, but it was not alleged even that he had flung any stone. As to the idea of the bullets, that was soon laughed off the stage, when it was found, that, if they did enter, they entered on one side, and went out again through the passages by which they had entered, for, that they were not to be found in the coach; and, what was very surprising, Lord William MURRAY, who came to inform the Parliament of the attack by bullets, had not thought it worth while, before he came, to examine the coach to see whether any bullets were there! No report of fire-arms had been heard by any one; no one had seen any body, but the soldiers, with fire-arms in his hands ; a stone indeed had been fairly found in the coach ; and, still it was alleged, that the attack had been made by bullets; and, though this was almost instantly laughed at, still the idea of bullets was so precious, that, two days afterwards, it was attempted to be revived by a statement in the papers, that a Mr. Such-a-one had just picked up a bullet in the Park, and sent it to Lord SiDMOUTH's Office! Drawings were given in the papers, said to be copied from an original made by the Prince himself, of the square of glass, of the perforations made by the bullets, and, it was gravely shown, from Professor Somebody's experiments, that bullets might make holes through a thing wit!vout going through it themselves.
In short, there were no bullets, as all the world was soon satisfied; and, the uncommon pains taken to make out the fact, by no means tended to do away some suspicions, which, amongst well-informed men, arose in their minds, the moment they heard of the attack, but which suspicions did, I dare say, never enter the mind of the Prince himself. Who, then, could it be that instigated this attack? It wat clearly not the Reformers, unless we could suppose, that they had the power to depute the assailants; and, what is more, unless we can suppose, that they secretly wished to defeat their own cause ; for, what could have happened better for the Ministers, and the Borough-gentry ? Indeed, it was so very opportune; so very fortunate for them, that I heard a fundholder say, that it had saved the nation! What an idea! An attack on the sovereign, ale leged to have proceeded from a desire of part, at least, of his people, to take away his life, calculated to save the nation! Yet, such was the general sentiment, and such the general talk, amongst all ihis tribe, who, thereupon, set to work to draw up and to issue declarations, ascribing this “treasonable and damnable" act to the Reformers, and pledging their lives and fortunes to stand by his Royal Highness and the Consti. tution. Then followed the Thanksgivings in the Church, and the thundering; no, not the thundering, but the roaring from the pulpit, against instigators, agitators, and evil-minded and designing men.
Leaving you to guess, now, my honest friends, who it was that really instigated this attack, and to bear in mind, that, in spite of all the facilities for so doing, not one flinger of a stone has ever been discovered, though great rewards were tendered for such discovery, and a great parade made about these rewards ; leaving you, as I safely may, to form your own opinions upon this subject, I shall now go back to the Parliament, and see what they were doing there.
From the Speech of the Prince it was easy to foresee, that the advice of Walter, Wm. Gifford, Southey and Stewart, was intended to be adopted to the very letter; and, that, as there were laws to prevent the selling of putrid meat, lest the bodies of his Majesty's loving subjects should suffer thereby, so we were to have laws to prevent Two-penny Trash publications from poisoning their minds. His Royal Highness, in the close of his Speech, had this ominous passage:
" In considering our internal situation you will, I doubt not, feel a just "indignation at the attempts which have been made to take advantage " of the distresses of the country, for the purpose of exciting a spirit of “ sedition and violence. I am too well convinced of the loyalty and good " sense of the great body of his Majesty's subjects, to believe them “ capable of being perverted by the arts which are employed to seduce "them ; but I am determined to omit no precautions for preserving the “ public peace, and for counteracting the designs of the disaffected ; and “I rely with the utmost confidence on your cordial support and co" operation, in upholding a system of luw and government, from which "we have derived inestimable advantages, which has enabled us to con“clude, with unexampled glory, a contest whereon depended the best "interests of mankind, and which has been hitherto felt by ourselves, as “it is acknowledged by other nations, to be the most perfect that has “ever fallen to the lot of any people.”