Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

number of seats which he gives to each. Their names would naturally come in for other purposes, but the circumstance of Boroughmonger should be stated. When a name is mentioned, the Red Book, the Sinecure and Pension and Army List, should be looked into, to see how the party stands there, and to see how the relations of the party stand there. It should also be seen how the party is connected with the Bank of England or East India Company, or whether he has been a contractor, or the like.

If any gentleman will undertake a work of this sort, and will execute it in a manner suitable to the intention, and put it at a moderate price, I will engage to subscribe for five hundred copies, It might be in a duodecimo form, of about three or four hundred pages. It might be bound in sheepskin at a very trifling expense, and, as the edition would be numerous, it might be sold by retail at about three shillings or three shillings and three. pence. Very few words would be necessary against each name : for instance,

FOLKSTONE, LORD, moved for List of State Pensioners, such a day. WILBERFORCE, Wm., spoke and voted for renewal of Power-of-Impri

sonment Bill, such a day. ŞIDMOUTH, LD., moved the Power-of-Imprisonment Bill, such a day.

Issued Circular such a day, &c. SHEPHERD, Sir Samuel, Attorney-General, advised Sidmouth's Cir

cular ; prosecuted Watson, &c. In this sort of way, with as many particulars as room will allow of ; but, any gentleman who will undertake the work, and is qualified for it, will be able to judge for himself what are the facts to be stated. There is no need of being very particular in collecting every fact against every name. Two or three striking facts against each name, with a reference to the speech or to the account of the transaction, will be quite enough. But the price of the book is a main consideration, and it must not exceed the fourth part of a week's wages for a labouring man.

If I do not receive, in a few months, an intimation from some one that such a work is undertaken, I shall make one of my sons undertake it ; for, forget these things we will not.

In health, with both my sons in good health, and made very happy by just having heard of the health of my family in England, and of the great kindness of numerous friends towards that family, I remain, my worthy friends, yours most sincerely,

WM. COBBETT.

TO MAJOR CARTWRIGHT,

THE VENERABLE LEADER OF REFORM, On Mr. Wooler's Attack on me.-- On that Gentleman's Trials for Libel.- On the * Proposition to Elect the Lord Mayor as one of the Members for the City of London.

(Political Register, October, 1817.)

North Hampstead, Long Island, August 1, 1817. My Dear Sir,

Amongst the consolations that I daily experience, I know of very few, which can be put in competition with tbat which I have received in a let. ter from you, brought out to me by one of our most worthy and excellent friends of Westminster, whom I saw last Sunday in perfect good health. The bare sight of the writing of that hand which has been for so many years employed in the service of your country, in circulating the senti. ments of that mind, which has been one of the great causes of all the pro. digious efforts made in the cause of Reform ; the bare sight of your handwriting would have given me very great pleasure : but this pleasure was very much heightened when I saw this venerable hand employed, in this case, to express your decided approbation of the step to which I had resorted ; and, I beg you to be assured, that, if any thing were wanting to strengthen my determination still to devote my time to the great cause of freedom in England, the contents of your Letter would amply supply that deficiency.

I perceive, however, and I really do perceive it with some regret, that Mr. WOOLER,* who has recently become distinguished by his bold, manly, and just attacks upon our enemies, and who has been rendered justly conspicuous by the means taken to crush him, and of which means I shall speak by and by, bas not only expressed an opinion concerning my conduct, exactly the opposite of that which you have been pleased to express; but who, for reasons which it is not worth while, perhaps, under the present circumstances, to dwell upon or at all to develope, though they are quite obvious to me, for these reasons he has thought proper, not only to express his disapprobation of my withdrawing from the country, but so to charge and overcharge his attack with personal and base abuse, as to make it effectually defeat its own object, and to put forward its claims, its irresistible claims, to every particle of that contempt, which he would fain, for the reasons before-mentioned, have fixed upon my conduct and character.

The reasons stated by me for my voluntary exile, appeared to my own mind so satisfactory, that I never for one single instant doubted of their meeting with the approbation of every real friend to the cause of Reform. · These reasons have not been combated by Mr. WOOLER by other reasons, but by downright personal, and even vulgar, abuse and calumny; 'by im, putations which he knew to be false, and by assertions, in numerous in. stances, which he knew to be as utterly destitute of truth as any of those pretended plots and conspiracies which the baseness of the nation's enemies has led them to resort to ; and the few instances, in which he has resorted to something in the shape of argument, have only discovered to the enlightened reader, that, in this case, as in many others, the powers of describing men and things, are very different indeed from those powers, by which statements of facts and conclusions drawn from those state. ments are made to produce conviction and to lead to important conse. quences.

My reasons for my conduct having remained wholly unanswered, I shall, in this place, merely subjoin some few authorities for the step which I thought proper to take. You remember, Sir, that BASTWICK, BURTON,

• Mr. WOOLER had been a printer, but he stepped forth as a writer about this time, and acquired some celebrity as a weekly writer of a paper called “ The Black Dwarf." On Mr. COBbert's leaving England, his comment on the circumstance was entitled, “ Trial and Desertion of Corporal Cobbett." He wrote on till Mr. COBBETT's return from America, but soon afterwards gave up his paper.-ED.

and PRYNNE went to Holland, in the times of the Bloody Stuarts, and there caused their writings to be printed and sent into England. You remember that General LUDLOW fled to the Continent; and that it was from Switzerland he wrote those famous letters in defence of his countrymen, who, amongst other things, had fought and bled for Annual Parliaments. Mr. WOOLER will hardly pretend, that these famous Patriots were “ cowards,though he fixes that term upon me with as little ceremony as if he were talking of a man who had skulked behind a wall in the midst of a battle, and had sent on his soldiers to meet the bayonets of the enemy. This gentleman talks about the precious blood of SIDNEY. He forgets, while he is thus talking, that that gallant and truly learned man fled to the Continent to avoid the fangs of the despots at home, and what is more, that it was in voluntary exile that he wrote those celebrated papers, which brought him to the block, and which have, more than any other circumstance, endeared his name to posterity. Why, then, let this gentleman boldly call the gallant SIDNEY a “coward,or let him retract his charge of cowardice against me, or let him pass for an envious or a silly calumniator. Perhaps, however, the gentleman's wonderfully furious patriotism, will not suffer him to receive as a justification the example of these men of former times. To accommodate him, then, let us come down to a very late period. Mr. Paine has never been called a coward that I know of, nor have I ever heard the old Congress of America charged with cowardice. Yet, he as well as they fled from town to town at even the distant approach of their enemy. This was, indeed, an enemy with bayonets in his hand, of which circumstance I leave Mr. WOOLER TO profit ; but then comes the staggering fact of Mr. Paine, who was an Englishman you will observe, having fled from England to France, not from the warrants of a Secretary of State ; not from the natural effects of an absolute Power-of-Imprisonment-Law; not from the newly-conjured up code of Lord Sidmouth"; but upon the hare intimation of an information ex-officio being filed against him by the Attorney-General!

Thus, then, it follows of course, that all these persons were cowards ; that even SIDNEY was a “coward;” that VOLTAIRE was a coward, when he chose a residence in the mountains of Switzerland rather than a residence in the Bastille. It follows also that the brave LALEMANDS and the brave General VANDAMME, who are now in this country, are cowards. and that every man is a coward who has fled hither from England, Scotland, or Ireland. Nay, Sir, even Mr. Hunt is a coward (though I would advise Mr. Wooler not to tell him so), because Mr. Hunt did not go to the intended fourth Spa-fields Meeting, agreeably to the resolutions of the third Meeting. And, think yourself very happy, Sir, if you escape the charge of cowardice ; for, besides your being an old man,old enough to be my father, I am very sure, that you will not attempt to call Meetings, and to act at those Meetings as you hitherto have done.

If it be cowardice to do what I have done, and what so many eminent and immortal patriots have done before me, every thing must be cow. . ardice, which embraces the most distant consideration of personal safety, though connected with the most reasonable expectations of future utility to the cause of our country. In the estimation of Mr. WOOLER it mast be cowardice to take shelter from a thunder-storm ; 'tis cowardice to avoid being buried by a falling house ; it must be cowardice to lower sail in a hurricane; it must be cowardice to resort to a surgeon in the

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

case of a broken leg; in short, this is such superlative nonsense in Mr. Wooler, that it takes away and fixes in his own bosom, whatever there could be intended as a sting in his calling me a ** silly old man."

But, in all the examples that we have mentioned, there is wanting this material circumstance which presents itself in my case, that while, by remaining, I could render my country no service at all, by my flight I retained whatever power I had of rendering her service; and, that I did not want the disposition to render that service, my countrymen will, before this time, have been fully convinced; seeing that I have written more ; not as much, but more, since my arrival in this country, than I ever wrote before in my life, during a period of the same length. This intention, too, in the very publication* upon which Mr. Wooler has bestowed his reprobation, was distinctly stated. He, indeed, ridicules the idea of my seriously entertaining such intention ; and the public will have seen by this time, that his predictions were upon a perfect level with the rest of his attack; the public have now the proof before them, the practical proof, of the falsehood of this prediction; and I am not at all afraid, that the Reformers in England will not now be able to form a very correct judgment, not of the motives of this gentleman, for those I shall not meddle with at present, but of his conduct towards me upon this occasion.

There was something very ungenerous, not to call it malignant and base, in a pretended friend of that cause, of which he acknowledged me to have been a great supporter, to fall foul thus, before he could possibly know, at any rate, that it was not my intention to write from America ; and, the great haste to rush on to this conclusion, which was false, as the event has proved, clearly shows a spirit of injustice and malignity; of deliberate malice, and of malice, too, wholly unprovoked by any act of mine or of any body belonging to me, either towards himself or towards the public. If he had really thought that I should not write from America, was it a public-spirited act in him to anticipate such a result? If he was sincere in what he said concerning the great and beneficial influence of my writings, was it a patriot-like act to endeavour to lessen that influence as much as possible by this uncalled-for prediction, which has, at last, been proved to be as false as it was ungenerous ?

However, all the other parts of this virulent, malignant, base and foolish attack, sink wholly out of sight, when compared to the paragraph at the conclusion of it, in which he reminds the Americans of my former writings against their Government, and against what he calls their "infant Liberty,and bids them to be "jealousof me. Consider, Sir, all the circumstances, under which this was penned ; and then say, whether, even in the conduct of the tools of the Boroughmongers, you ever heard of any thing quite so base as this.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Little did this man imagine, that I had published a Register in America beginning with the month of January 1816, and that, in the very fist number of which, instead of crawling to the Americans, and recanting any thing that I had said before, I plainly told them, that I did not ask them to " forget and forgive,” but, that I wished them to remember, that, if my writings had done them any harm in Europe (and that I did not know that they had not done them harm) it was fairly to be ascribed to the

* Mr. Cobbett's Leave-Taking Address,

1

unjust and tyrannical treatment which I had experienced in America. This was published at New York last year, long before I had any thought of coming to America. But here I am now. This Register that I am now writing will be published at New York before it will reach England, and here I repeut my former words, with this addition, that, being now accidentally here upon the spot, I will, yet, have justice done me for that tyrannical treatment; or, in case of refusal of justice, I will make known to every corner of the world what that treatment was. I am no flatterer of any body. My opinions, as to the conduct of the English Government and as to the mode of electing Members of Parliament, have undergone a great change since I was in America before; a change arising from experience ; a change perfectly natural in itself, and perfectly consistent with honourable intentions and views, and with such intentions and views having always been uppermost in my mind. But, so far from acknowledging, that I was an enemy to real freedom, when I was in America before, I maintain that I was always its friend ; and, I maintain further, that, in my person that freedom was most grossly violated in America. However, better times are now come. No such despotic acts can be committed now.

Here is a just and mild and cheap Government, and a free and happy people. A very glorious sight it is to behold. I feel gratitude towards the Government and the people for having preserved their country free, and for affording me a place of refuge. But if Mr. WOOLER imagines that I am come here to be a slave of the Americans, or to care any thing about their jealousies or prejudices, he is the most mistaken man alive. I know that I have the esteem of all reflecting and honourable men ; but never will I do any act ; never will I utter one word to make my court even to them. I have a real and sincere regard for the people. Their kindness towards me, upon all occasions, shown in every village and every house that I go to, is alone well calculated to inspire me with sentiments of regard and affection; and I show these best by endeavouring, as far as in my power lies, to do justice to their excellent institutions by describing to the world their happy effects. But, if there be any persons who require me to go further; if there be any body who will not be content, unless I turn my back upon my own country, either by abjuring the King (as the loyal English merchants do), or by any other act, no matter what, to such persons I answer, I still love England best : and I will never do or say anything that can be by any means construed to imply that this preference is ever to be rooted from my heart. I say now, as i said in my Leave-taking Address, a palace here, with the whole of this beautiful and happy Island for my domain, would be less dear to me than a thatched cottage on the borders of Waltham Chase or of Botley Common.

Mr. Wooler will do me the justice to suppose, I hope, that I shall take the will for the deed, though, perhaps, he may be somewhat disappointed at perceiving that any attempt of his to excite jealousy of me, and ill-will against me, in America, is likely to be full as fruitless, and is certainly a great deal more ridiculous, than his expectation of producing a similar effect in England, though I am very sure, that he will there meet with disappointment in his expressions in this regard, and that, even before now, his malignant attempt has received the scorn that it merits ; and, more than it merits it cannot, I think, possibly receive.

Nevertheless, Sir, as you have often said, and as you once told the Attorney-General, who is now the Lord Chancellor, we must, in fighting the enemy, not reject the use of the arms of eyen despicable and detestable

« AnteriorContinuar »