« AnteriorContinuar »
If Mr. Watson is here, he is safe ; and if he should see himself held forth as a traitor in the London news-papers, he may easily console himself with the re.' flection, that, in this respect, he only shares with General Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Dr. Franklin, and hundreds of others, now living, or lately living, in these States."
I remain your sincere friend
A HISTORY OF THE LAST HUNDRED DAYS
OF ENGLISH FREEDOM, &c.
Doctor Watson's Trial and Acquittal.- Acquittal of the other State Prisoners.
The Unravelling of the Plots. – The whole Scheme blown into the air. - The Mask pulled off.-The Boroughmongers left without the smallest Disguise. The real Men of Blood discovered.- Conclusion of the History of the Last Hundred Days of English Freedom.
(Political Register, October, 1817.)
North Hampstead, Long Island, August 15, 1817. MY WORTHY AND BELOVED FRIENDS,
Often I have said that the Boroughmongers would find, if once they attempted to dip their hands in the people's blood, that “ blood for blood” would become the motto of the people. Let the former re. member this. Let them stop while yet there is time; or, let them not expect a tear of pity for them or for their children, in that day when even-banded justice shall give them back measure for measure, lacking not one single drop of what shall be their due. Our unhappy country is, it seems, according to the accounts of the bloody Boroughmonger newspapers, all in a state of commotion. What, then the people do not remain quiet (for quiet they were before), after receiving loads of unmerited stripes! They most humbly pray to be restored the enjoyment of their rights. The answers they received were the gag, and the threatened dungeon and halter! They met, particularly in the brave county of Lancaster, to remonstrate against these intended acts of in, justice and cruelty.' While they were met, and peaceably met, for the legal purpose of petitioning, they were surrounded with soldiers, and, with the bayonet at their breast, like malefactors were dragged to a prison ! And they do not like this; strange, perverse, stiff-necked race! They do not like treatment like this, while they pay one-half of their earnings in taxes, and while they are liable to be called out to shed their blood in defence of those who thus treat them! Wicked people! To imagine that the treatment of ordinary dogs is not far too good for them! Perverse people! To growl and snap when they are beaten
without cause and without mercy; and beaten, too, by those who have pot a tenth part of their own understanding !
Upon the subject of these commotions, however, I shall hereafter have occasion to remark. At present, the PLOTS; the famous Plots are the subject of my attention. In this very letter, it was my intention to have shown how false all the pretences were with regard to the plots and conspiracies mentioned in the reports of the two Houses of Parlia. ment. The trial of Doctor Watson, and the bringing forward of that precious gentleman Mr. Castles, have prevented me from going here into any reasonings or speculations upon the subject. Mr. Castles, under the guidance of his judicious friend, the Attorney-General, SHEPHERD, has saved me a wonderful deal of trouble. He has proved; he has made matter of record; he has made materials for history, those facts, which, without his assistance and that of his worthy friend the AttorneyGeneral, SHEPHERD, I should have been obliged to leave to the discretion and decision of my readers.
Mr. WRTHERELL's defence of Dr. WATSON was very able, and, per. haps, it was better calculated to produce an acquittal than a speech of better politics would have been ; I, however can never give my unqualified approbation of any speech which contains unqualified approbation of the present Government and present Ministry in England, as Mr. Wetherell's speech did ; and, there is want of taste as well as of judg. ment and sincerity in praising the Ministry to the skies, as the most pure and excellent of men, while, in the next breath, the speech tells the Jury, that Castles stands before them, a most naked villain, a barefaced perjured wretch, and that he is fed, clad, and paid by that same Government and Ministry; and that the very clothing upon his back is a mere foretaste of the blood-money which he is to receive for bringing the devoted victims at the bar to the gallows. I disagree with Mr. WeTheRELL, too, in the abusive epithets and terms which he applies to Mr. Castles ; and I rather agree with the Attorney and Solicitor General, that we ought to look upon him pot with an eye of so much severity, He is, after all, a far less villain than a man who sells a seat in Parliament; a far less villain than a man who bribes a Parliament to sell its country and itself too; and a far less villain than any of those who come mit numerous murders under the guise of law and justice, and who pretend to be actuated by motives of loyalty and love of the country and constitution. There have been villains of this sort in former times. There were the JEFFRIESES and the LAWS in the time of the STUARTS. These bloody monsters cut off men's ears, burnt their cheeks, split their noses, shut them up in dungeons for years, under pretence of their having been guilty of seditious libels. And they did it too like other villains of the same stamp, under the pretence that what they did was necessary to the tranquillity of the country and the safety of the throne ! . Those cruel villains, after having produced civil wars, and the destruction of both the Kings who listened to them, had ample justice visited upon their own guilty heads, and which justice was inflicted, too, by the hands of those brave and resolute Englishmen, whose descendants we are. The base and cruel villains used a great deal of cant; pretended to a great deal of impartiality; when wrapped up in their ermine, and all the while they were trying to get the victim safe into their claws, they purred like pussy! But, the moment the victim came safely within the reach of their discretion, his bones began to crack
under their teeth, his blood to issue from the corners of their mouths ; like pussy, they growled and swore and revelled in the enjoyment of their savage fury ! In their approaches, soft goes their pat upon the floor, meekly, and, as it were, half-asleep, they peep through their fur at their prey; like pussy, sitting before the hole, they sometimes purr and sometimes seem to sleep. But the moment the Jury has let the poor mouse go into their claws, they are all activity, all boldness; up goes the corner of the robe, like the cat's tail, and the wretched victim has no more chance of mercy than if he were in the hands of the persecutor of Job.
Such were the villains of Judges, who lived in the time of the StuARTS, when that famous Judge Holt, of whom they talk so much now, was a barrister, and who had the baseness, after he had received his fee, to desert his client Mr. Prynne. These men were infinitely worse than Mr. Castles; for they pretended to be guided in their conduct by a desire to promote the interests of loyalty, morality and religion, whereas, honest Mr. Castles has no pretence of this sort. He is a villain ; but he is a villain without a mask. Like a Boroughmonger, he cares nothing about shedding blood; but then he does not, like a Boroughmonger, pretend to want to prevent blood from being shed. His trade is blood, human blood, and that was known by the Boroughmongers long and long ago, to be sure. But, then, he is not base enough to deny his trade. He comes manfully forward and says that he wants blood, in order that he may have money; because without blood, he cannot have money. There is, therefore, something in Mr. Castles's mode of proceeding that makes him less detestable in my eyes, and far less detestable than many others, whom, though we know them to be villains, we dare not call them so. If a housebreaker be taken up and examined at Bow-street, he is, upon that bare examination, the next day, called a villain in all the newspapers.
But these newspapergentlemen are very cautious how they give this appellation to any one who has power at his command or pounds in his pocket. This conduct has always been regarded by me as being extremely base ; and so far from imitating the conduct of Mr. Wetherell in this particular, I shall treat Mr. Castles with the greatest degree of politeness, and shall call him the Honourable Mr. Castles, or the “honourable gentleman,” which appears to me to be really his due. Occasionally he may be called the loyal Mr. Castles; for, when the devil comes to cast up his account, neither the DUKE OF MONtrose nor Lord Somebody MURRAY, who told the story about the bullets, will have a greater stock of loyalty to plead. These men differ in some respects from the Honourable Mr. Castles, but nobody will pretend that they ever went farther than he in the unravelling of plots. They, indeed, have not, as far as the world knows, at any rate, the fiftieth part of the merit of this “honourable gentleman,” for he not only discovered plots, but assisted in hatching of them ; which nobody has pretended to prove with regard to any persons connected with the Ministry or the Boroughmongers; that is to say, persons other than Mr. Castles himself, who, it must now be manifest to the whole world, was the agent in the hands of the agents of the Boroughmongers, to produce a pretended insurrection.
For the reasons just stated, we will treat Mr. Castles with the same politeness in point of appellation, as we do others whom we detest, but of whom we dare not speak in the manner that justice would authorize.
There are many appellations, either of which he would very well merit; but, as being the most in vogue, we will give him the appellation of “ honourable gentleman." Whether we shall ever see him upon that list of sinecures, pensions, and grants, where we already find the names of Dundas, BURKE, Sreele, Joseph Hunt, CANNING, WM. GIFFORD, SOUTHEY, all the Roses, and many others which I need not now name; whether we shall ever find Mr. Castles's name upon this list, will depen), probably, more upon events than upon the wishes or intentions of Mr. Castles's friends. It is not quite impossible that Mr Castles may, for a short time, at any rate, have a seat in an assembly much more respectable, in all outward appearances, at least, than the assemblies at MOTHER Tongue's, or those of thieves and housebreakers in Smock alley and Petticoat-lane. I do not say, that at bottom, Mr. Castles will have changed his society for the better ; but, at any rate, if one must keep late hours and bad company, one would rather be with robbers that are not lousy than with robbers that are lousy, though one may be very well convinced at the same time, that the former deserve hanging much more than the latter.
Having thus premised, let us now, my friends, proceed to take a view of the London Plots as they now stand unravelled. And, if such a scene of infamy; if a scene of so mrich baseness, ever was witnessed before, I beg to know from Beckett or Gifford or Southey, when and where it was that the world witnessed such a scene.
In order that we may see the whole ihing in its true light; in order that we may be sure that the insurrection in London was hatched by the Bo. roughmongers and their tools ; in order that we may be sure of this, we must not suffer Mr. Castles's evidence to stand alone. That “honourable gentleman," indeed, almost positively swears to the fact. Dowling posi. tively swears, that he was employed before the Meeting took place, to go and take down the words. But, we must go back now, and trace the minds of the Boroughmongers through their press, and through some other Simploms, until we come to the interesting sequel; the interesting uri. ravelling of the Plot, which has been so kindly given to the world by the “ Honourable" Mr. Castles and Mr. Dowling, and through the assistance and instrumentality of that judiciou: gentleman, Mr. SHEPHERD, the Attorney-Gene.al, who found out that my son owed eighty Thousand pounds t, the Stamp-Office. Mr. WeTheRELL's object was to triumph over the Attorney-General as a liwyer, which he fairly did; but Mr. WETHERELL took especial care to keep his peace with the Ministry; and, indeed, be seems upon this occasion, to have availed himself of the opportunity of convincing the Ministry and the Boroughmongers, that he was a man that was worth something, which. I dare say, they will perceive, and will, I have no doubt, very soon discover the sure way of having the full benefit of bis talents. He is a member of Parliament already, in right of his own purse ; he has voleul for the renewal of the Absolute-power-of-im. prisunment Bill; and if things go on in the present way, he may, very probably, be Attorney-General himself, if not something bigher.
From such a person we could not expect such an exposure of the plotters as truth and public good demanded. It was his affair to trace back the thing no farther than was required in order to fight his rival the Attorney-General. He, therefore, told the jury, that the change of the charge from misdemeanor to high treason, took place in consequcnce of Mr. Castles's coming forward. But, as we shall presently see, it
took place in consequence of the recently-formed resolution to pass the Gagging Bills; and which resolution was not formed at the time when the charge of misdenieanor was brought forward.
Ile must go into the matter from the beginning, and trace the plot regularly all througn from the apprehensions of the Boroughmongers ; from their alarm at the progress of the principles of Reform; and we shall find the whole hang together as completely as the links of any chain that ever was forged. In the former part of this history, we have seen, that, so early as the month of October, the Boroughmongers had taken the alarm, and had begun to sound that alarm by the means of their corrupt and hired press. When the Twopenny Register made its appearance, they clearly perceived, that the days of deception were passed, or, at least, that they speedily would be passed for ever, unless a belief could be created amongst the foolish, the timid, and the selfish, that the Reformers aimed at a French Rerolution, the horrors of which, a million-fold magnified, were still lurking in the minds of the nation. But, to create such a belief as this was no easy matter, seeing that the very publication, of which the Boroughinongers most complained, inculcated a peaceable and orderly conduct; and, what is more, really produced such conduct on the part of the people all over the kingdom. Moreover, and which was a thing truly wonderful, this publication, at the same time that it urged the people on to demand Resorín, actually put an end to a course of unlawful violences, which were before taking place in numerous parts of the country.
These facts, so striking in themselves, and so honourable to the minds of the people, and to the cause of Reform, reduced the Boroughmongers almost to despairThey saw no hope of riots. The bakers, butchers, and other dealers in the necessaries of life, were no longer annosed by senseless attacks. The Boroughmongers could complain of no violences. They, therefore, from that very moment, began tu think of hatching plots, in order to serve as a pretence for resisting the petitions for Reform, not by argument, but by force of arms. It was in the month of October, that the Courier and the Times, both in the pay of the Borouglimongers, began to pave the way for these plois. The former of these papers had these words : “ There is ONE POINT, to which “ we wish particularly to call the public utiention. Much praise is
given to the Meetings for their peaceable conduct. Why peaceable ? “ Because they know that tumult would defeat their real as well as " their prelended object. Peuce! They woult keep ptuce for a time, " till the crisis is ripe for explosion Like the sportsman, they would • advance with silent step, and crouching, fawning curs, till they are "" srcure of killing their game.''
The impudence and baseness of this must be manifest to every man. I quoted the paragraph and noticed it in my Register of the 9th of last November. Froin this moment forward attempts were constantly making by the Boroughmongers to excite false alarms; but the people had by this time discovered, that they had been ruined by the false alarms of Pitt and Dundas and of the Fitzwilliams and the Bentincks and the Spencers. This new attempt to excise false alarms was like an attempt to pluck a pigeon a second time, before his feathers were come again. The undertaking appeared to be wholly hopeless. At last a most desperate expedient was resorted io. Written handbills were said to have been put under the doors of public-houses, calling upon the people to take up arms