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preferring the motion for a Committee was, that it would be presumption in him to attempt to dictate to the House what sort of a Reform should be adopted. What! “ the Room" become “ the House" all at once, and a body, too, so respectable and so wise (as evinced by the happy result of its twenty-five years' measures, I suppose) as to make it presumption in him to appear to dictate to them, though it is done two or three hundred times in every session; that is to say, every time any Member moves for leave to bring in any Bill. But, what was well worthy of remark, while his modesty prevented him from risking the imputation of dictating to “ the Room," it was not sufficient to prevent him from dictating to the people, whom he had formerly taught to despise “ the Room.” A million and a half of men asked for a Bill and for Universal Suffrage: and he made a motion for a Committee, and would stop at the Suffrage of Householders ; so there was he, who had hundreds and hundreds of times declared, that the people ought to instruct their representatives, presenting petitions and acting in oper defiance of the prayers of those petitions !
It is said (for the paper containing the report of the debate has not yet reached me, though papers to the 24th of May have), that he had one-third of the Members present to vote with him for a Committee. To be sure he had! This just suited his views and also the views of the Ministers. He wanted support at the end of a long speech, and they wanted the appearance of a fair discussion of the question, and a delusive procrastination put into practice. " Oh, well! Come ! one-third “ vote with Sir Francis. More will vote with him, perhaps, another " time. If fourteen years of motions give one-third, another eight “ years (only eight years !) will produce a majority !" When old canting John talked of his “ crumbs of comforts for the chickens of the Covenant,” he was answered by a fellow in the aisle of the chapel, by an observation, that it would be much better to give them the whole loaf at once. “ No,” said John, “ for chickens are very silly things, and would not know what to do with it.” So appears Sir Francis to think of the Reformers. But, I can assure him and the Boroughmongers too, that the people are not now to be deluded and noodled along by any such means. The people know as well as he does, that the voting for a Committee is not voting for a Reform; but that, in fact, it is voting against a Reform; and, when we come to look at the list of this famous one-third, we shall find it chiefly composed of Boroughmongers, or the heirs or representatives of Boroughmongers; and, that there were but two or three men, who would really vote for a Reform. Nay, I am sure I shall find men voting for the Committee, who, in their speeches, reprobated the Reformers, and declared their abhorrence of what alone we call Reform. What a despicable farce, then, was the exhibition upon this occasion! And how heartily must the people despise it!
The other prominent act, to which I have alluded above, is Sir Francis's speech, at the Westminster dinner, on the 23d of May, being the anniversary of his first election for Westminster. This dinner, of the original occasion of which I shall another time, perhaps, find it necessary to give the real history, and as to which I shall only say, at present, that a full proof was then given, that Sir Francis would possess no eminence as the associate of another ; this dinner is ordered and arranged by a Committee of persons, who are in the constant practice of consulting Sir Francis as to all their acts in that capacity. Therefore,
last year, when I made at this dinner a sort of proposition to defeat the intrigue going on between the Committee and Mr. Brougham, and which did defeat it too, I thought it necessary to say to Sir Francis before we went into the dining-room : “ I am going to do something, “and if I do not tell you what it is, it is because I wish to keep you “ clear of being a party to it, and to beg that you will do in it just what " you please, without any considerations with regard to myself.”
Upon looking over these dinner proceedings again, I perceive that I cannot do justice to them in the remnant of a letter. I will, therefore, reserve them for another number, in my next letter to you; and shall only add here, that nothing in the world would give me so much satis. faction as to find, that Sir Francis Burdett's protection of the imprisoned men, or their families, has compensated, in some degree, for his abandonment of us all. But, that protection, to satisfy me, must be real and efficient. Vague declamatory speeches, however long, and however loud, are not the things that are wanted. What ought to be done, I have pointed out in my last number : what is there proposed is barely what justice demands : it is in the power of any Member of Parliament, who has two thousand pounds and who has very moderate talents; and, if it be not done by this gentleman, I shall entertain not the smallest hope of any thing good from him.
I am always your faithful friend,
P.S. I have now just received English papers to the 29th of May. But, I am told, that papers of the 9th or 10th of June have been received at Philadelphia, and that they give an account of the acquittal of Mr. Wooler, the author of “ the Black Dwarf.” If the circumstances are correctly stated to me, this is a most glorious triumph indeed, in more respects than one. It shows, that, where a jury is ventured upon, all is not yet lost. It shows, that the public feeling is not yet wholly benumbed. Those jurymen, whose honoured names I am anxious to see, deserve more at our hands than ten thousand makers of flaming and vague and pointless and fruitless harangues. The event is, too, of vast importance, as Mr. Wooler is, it appears, another of the “ lower orders.” I am told that he is a printer, and has been a coinmon sailor, as I was a common soldier. His defence, I am told, was a most noble one and also a most able one. His being angry with me for what his anxiety led him to view as a “ desertion” I excuse; and, I hope, that he is before now convinced, that I took the patriotic as well as the prudent course. Be this as it may, I hold his exertions and his talents in honour; and, I trust, that he is destined to see insolent pride and powerful cruelty crouching at his feet. He has youth, and, if he take care of his health, this he will certainly live to see.
A HISTORY OF THE LAST HUNDRED DAYS
OF ENGLISH FREEDOM, &c.
On the Green-Bag Plots and Report.- On the Conduct of certain Individuals relative to these. On the renewal of the Absolute-Power-of-Imprisonment Act.
On the Question, whether this Act will ever cease.
(Political Register, October, 1817.)
North Hampstead, Long Island, August 7th, 1817. My WORTHY AND Beloved Friends,
I now approach towards the conclusion of the history of those mea. sures, which I trust, will, hereafter, become a subject of solemn investigation at a time when men shall dare to speak and to write the truth.
We have before seen what extraordinary pains were taken to prepare the way for those measures. First, there were the everlasting paragraphs in the Courier and such-like newspapers, including the writings in that sanguinary publication, the Quarterly Review, conducted by the renegado, SOUTHEY, and the hireling, William Gifford. These paragraphs and articles, written by, or dictated by those who wished to adopt the measures, called upon the Government for the adoption of them; and chided the Ministers for their tardiness in not having adopted vigorous measures sooner; just in the same way that the creatures of the bloody tyrant RICHARD THE THIRD chided him for his tardiness in usurping the Crown. These vile writers; these execrable tools of the Boroughmongers; these murderers of their country's freedom; these bravos in the cause of Despotism, who must answer for their deeds whenever the day of justice shall arrive, stuck at no falsehood in point of fact, at no sophistry in point of argument, at no consideration whatever with regard to the means which they recommended to be employed. They recommended the going much farther than was necessary even for their own purposes. The audacious wretches were for direct slaughter, knowing very well that in order to prepare the way for a mile, the guide must push on a mile and a half. We have got nothing but perpetual imprisonment at pleasure, and these sanguinary monsters recommended death at pleasure.
Next came the SPEECH of the Ministers, put into the mouth of his Royal Highness the Prince Regent, close upon the heels of which came the speeches, not of the Ministers and of their political adherents, but of those, or at least, many of those who are called the OPPOSITION, and who did every thing that lay in their power to give the colour of justice and of reasonableness to those measures which they well knew were about to be proposed. Last of all came those memorable COM.
MITTEES of the two Houses, rather than forget one man of whom we ought to wish to forget our own names, and to be deprived of the faculty of distinguishing which is our right hand and which is our left. Of the manner of choosing these Committees, I gave, at the time, a very distinct account; and, indeed, I clearly showed to the whole nation, that the Committees were chosen entirely by the Ministers themselves. And yet; the hirelings of the Press have had the barefaced impudence to prétend, that there was great impartiality observed in the forming of those Committees; because, forsooth, some of the “gentlemen opposite" were put upon those Committees. Opposite, indeed ! Aye, opposed to the Ministers and their supporters as far as regards a contest for power and profit; but, going cordially with them, and even surpassing them, if possible, in hostility to the just claim of the people to be represented truly and fairly in the Parliament. Amongst these “gentlemen opposite" were Lords GRENVILLE, BUCKINGHAM and FitzwILLIAM, in the one House ; and in the other, Lord Miltown, Mr. PONSONBY, Sir Arthur l'igot, and some others. Look at these Lords and gentlemen. Look at their sinecures and those of their relations and dependents. Look at the seats which those in the lower House fill. Look at the means by which they are returned to that House. Look at all these, and then, if you can, express a suitable degree of indignation against the literary rufians who have pretended that the Ministers chose, upon this Committee, persons opposite to their own way of thinking.
However, I wish clearly to be understood, that I do not believe that the result would have been very different if the Committees had been chosen by real ballot, as common jurymen are chosen ; for; if there were such an immense majority to vote for the measures without seeing any evidence at all, why should not there have been a similar majority in a Committee to recommend those measures ? Nay, notwithstanding there were many men to vote and speak against the measures when proposed in the Houses, I am sincerely of opinion, that there were not, in the two Houses, more than six or seven men, who, at the bottom of their hearts, did not rejoice at the adoption of those measures. But, if only one of these six or seven had, by any accident, found his way into one of the Committees, the Reports would not have been unanimous ; the surprising and happy harmony of the thing would have been disturbed a little. Thus, then, were the people of England and Scotland and Wales wholly deprived of every thing bearing the semblance of liberty. The whole of their persons were placed at the absolute disposal of the Ministers, to all intents and purposes short of instant death ; thus did the noble Lords and honourable Gentlemen place us all as much at the mercy of the Ministers, as the sheep and the dogs of those noble Lords and honourable Gentlemen are at their own disposal, short of the infliction of instant death; and this they did, too, without one particle of evidence laid before them to establish any proof against the people, or to afford any presumption of even a probable necessity for measures of force of any degree. Let these facts, oh, Englishmen! be inscribed so deeply upon your hearts, that nothing but the hand of death can efface them; and let it be the first of your duties to inscribe them upon the hearts of your children.
Wonderful was the dispatch to act upon these precious Reports before the boiling indignation of the people would give them time to reflect, for a moment, on the mode of opposing them and of showing their in.
justice. Swift, however, as was the hand that was smiting the liberties of the country, it was not swift enough completely to prevent an exposure of the Reports. Amongst other things that the Parliament was destined to do was that of passing these laws upon Reports, of the absolute false. hood of parts of which, and of the most material parts of which, ample proof was tendered in both Houses, quite early enough to produce a revision of the Reports before any of the Bills were passed.
It would be useless to enter into a minute examination of the whole of these Reports ; suffice it to say, that they turned upon two principal points, namely, that the Reformers in a body, and particularly that their Clubs and Societies were closely connected, not only in their operations, but in their views, with the Societies of Spenceans; and, secondly, that the insurrection, as it was called, of the 2nd of December, was an insurrection begun and carried on by the Reformers as well as by the Spenceans. These were the two points upon which the Reports principally turned, because, against the Reformers, taken separately, it would have been impossible, one would have thought, for the tormentor of JOB or for even a Crown-Lawyer to call for coercive laws. It was, there. fore, necessary, so to connect the Reformers with the Spenceans as to give a colour to the conclusion, that they both had, at bottom, the same objects in view ; that is to say, an universal confiscation of real property, and a subsequent distribution of it amongst the people at large. Now, it was offered to be proved, at the bar of both Houses by Mr. Cleary, and at the bar of both Houses by Mr. Hunt, that, as far as they went to give colour to the above conclusion, the Reports in both Houses were wholly destitute of truth. The petitions of these gentlemen, which were published in my Register of the first of March last, will remain as everlasting proofs against those Reports, as far as related to these two principal points; and, I anxiously hope that those two gentlemen will yet be called upon to give proof of their having delivered in those petitions. Since my departure from England, the Grand Jury of the city of Norwich, together with the Mayor of that Corporation, have given on their oaths, and under their hands, a DIRECT CONTRADICTION to a particular, a distinct, and an important fact stated in those Reports; and, yet, hear it, and remember it, Englishmen, to your last breath, it was upon these two Reports, contradicted as they were, by petitions upon their tables, and invalidated as they were by the tender of evidence to prove their falsehood, that the two Houses proceeded to place the very persons of us all at the absolute will of the Ministers of the day. The other measures which they adopted upon these Reports were of themselves sufficiently terrible; but this is the great deed which you ought to keep in mind, and to remember that this deed was committed in consequence of Reports such as I have above described.
Now, my friends, put it to your own hearts : could either of you have sat silent while the petitions of Mr. CLEARY and Mr Hunt were before the House of Commons ? Sir Francis BURDETT may say, that he did not want the people of Westminster to elect him. He may say that he was forced to go to the House of Commons; but if it had happened that either of you had been forced to go there in his place, the question I put to you is this : could you have sat there silent, unless you had been struck dumb all at once, while Mr. Hunt's petition was lying upon the table, and while no effort was made to charge it home against the Report, upon which the liberties of the people were in a few bours to