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a sentence of DEATH, as was the case a little while ago in Cambridgeshire and in one or two other counties, and as is, indeed, generally the case when any serious riot occurs.
But, the Courier, the Times, the Sun, the Post, and some others of corruption's sons have discovered an uncommon degree of uneasiness at tbis tranquillizing work. They have been disappointed. They wanted riots, bloodshed, and hangings and quarterings. These were things which they wanted to see going on; and then, they supposed, that the subject of Reform would be lost sight of now, as it was amidst the noise of the riots in London, in 1780, when the late Duke of Richmond actually had brought in a Bill for Annual Parliaments.
Thus disappointed by the good sense, the information, the moderation, and real public spirit of the people, the sons of corruption have become almost frantic. There is another latent reason, which I will men. tion by-and-by ; but it is impossible not to see the faet, for it stares us in the face in all their pages. They began more than two months ago. Even then the Courier said, that the public, ought to watch that peacable doctrine that was preached up with so much malignity! Did you ever before hear of peaceable malignity! The writer, who is a wicked old hack, said, that all this calling upon the “rabble to be peaceable, was a proof of some deep design against the Constitution." The design was indeed somewhat deep, for it aimed at a Radical Reform of all grievances, and a digging and rooting up of all corruptions.
After some time, however, these corrupt men, whose papers are read by the fools and knaves of the nation, could no longer refrain from a direct attack on the Register, which they asserted, would, if not put a stop to, SOMEHOW OR OTHER, overthrow the Constitution, and, as they always mean corruption, when they make use of the word Constitution, their opinion was, I would fain hope, perfectly correct; and I verily do believe, that my little book and corruption cannot live in the same country for any great length of time ; and, as I am very sure, that the liberty of the press must be wholly and openly annihilated, before the Register can be put a stop to, I am not at all afraid to predict, that, in a very short time, corruption will be overthrown to the great benefit of King and Parliament and people.
But, now, let us hear what these men really say upon the subject. The proprietor of the COURIER, on the 2nd instant, has these words :
“We have received from several parts of the country complaints of the mis“ chief done in many places, attempting in all, by these cheap twopenny-trash pub& lications. They are addressed to all the bad passions, they inculcate the worst “ feelings,—hatred of Government, want of respect for public authorities, dis“ obedience and disaffection. But Parliamentary Reform is their pretext, and the “ pretext of the meetings which they provoke. But no one can be deceived as to " their real object-the destruction of the Constitution. What the OFFICERS “ OF THE CROWN ARE DOING, OR INTEND TO DO, OR WHETHER " THEY DO NOT INTEND TO DO ANYTHING, we know not. But we are
quite sure that if something be not done, and quickly too, the evil, we will not “ say will become incurable, but at least, it will be very, very dificult of cure in. “ deed! Strange and sorrowful contemplation it is to see the Constitution, to “ wbich we have owed our safe conduct through the great struggle, which has « been the source of our security and our greatness, treated with scorn, con“tumely, and ingratitude."
In his paper of the next day he complains, that public meetings, “di-. " vert the time and attention of the civil and military authorities from " their private concerns and public duties, and compel them to exercise
“that care and wealth in restraining the turbulent and guarding the pub“lic peace, which ought to be directed to relieving the distressed and “ rewarding the industrious.” And then he suggests the propriety of dispersing, or preventing such meetings by force of arms. “It is," says he, “therefore a question that the peaceable inhabitants of all parts " are deeply interested in asking, whether the Constitution does or does “ not invest the civil magistrate with authority to check meetings, which, “ be their avowed object what it may, prove themselves by the language " and sentiments of the speakers, as well as their actual effect on the “ multitude, to tend to nothing but disorder and vice, as an immediate “ consequence, and ultimately to sedition and rebellion ?"
Now, my friends of Bristol, bear in mind, that the man who has the impudence to publish this ; the man who thus insults us, was, not many years ago, a journeyman tailor. His name is STUART, or STEWART, and, from the shop-board corruption has given him a hoist into a chariot. There is a man, who writes for Stuart, whose name is STREET ; and, as the times are now growing serious, this man and his employer too must soon be dragged out before the public. No man ought to be suffered, in these times, to throw his poison from behind a curtain. Let the nation know who are the hatchers of plots and the proposers of Gagging Bills, Let those who live by corruption, come forth and own her openly for their patroness. Let them write what they will ; but, let them be known to the people as I am and as I always have been.
The alarms of these corrupt men are by no means groundless; for the wounds that corruption is now receiving will never be cured. It is too late even now, for those great doctors “ THE LAW-OFFICERS," if they were so disposed, to come to her aid. She may reel along a little while ; but she is much about in the state of a wolf, to which the hunter has given the mortal blow, and which is dragging his dying carcass into a thicket. This base writer, who has, within these six weeks, been guilty of every crime that a man can commit with a pen, finding himself exposed, and, indeed, finding his paper falling off in sale, is eager to set the lawofficers to work in order to put a stop to the cause of his disgrace and decline. He does not know, he says, “ what the law officers intend to do, or whether they do or do not, intend to do anything." And as he seems so full of curiosity upon this head, I will tell him what the law. officers do intend to do. They fully intend to file a criminal information ex-officio against the parties concerned in this little book; but they do not intend to do this, until they see something criminal in it, and we will take special care, that they shall never see that. This prostituted writer seems to think that it is of no consequence, whether we violate the law or not. He seems to think, that there is no more law for any one who espouses the cause of Reform than there is for a mad dog. He seems to look upon the Attorney and Solicitor-General as a brace of bloodhounds, whom he, the impudent varlet, can let loose upon any one, whether there has been a breach of the law or not! I know nothing of the character and disposition of these gentlemen. Hitherto their course has certainly formed a striking contrast with that of their predecessor. But I will bespeak neither their good-will nor their ill-will. I do not know them, and, therefore, I cannot love them; and they may be well assured, that I do not fear them. Every paper that goes from under my hand has a tendency to promote the peace, and to restore the happiness and honour of my country; and, though I by no means desire the trouble
of grappling with "Law-officers," as the Courier calls them; I fear them not, more than I do the Courier himself; though I will not be so rude and so unjust as to appear to suppose, that there can exist any feeling in common between those gentlemen and a reptile like him.
But, this man seems to despair of legal proceedings; for, he has repeatedly said, that he knows not what can be done, but that something must be done to put'a stop to this publication. Now I can tell him of one sort of thing. When Cockburn and Ross entered the defenceless city of Washington, and set fire to the Congress House, some of their people went to the printing-office of a Mr. Gale, who had written on the side of his country, and tore down his establishment and scattered his types about the street. This is one way of silencing a press ! But, that was in an invaded country, and where there was no law but law-martial ; and, we shall not, I hope, see this in England ; and, if we were to see it, it would not pay the interest of the Debt. What, then, would the Courier recommend ? Nothing short of an Act of Parliament, I dare say! Now, let us suppose him sitting down to frame an act to suit his
I am not supposing, that any minister, nor the underling of any minister, would have the folly or impudence to think of such a thing; but, what may not a man like this be supposed capable of? The following, then, would, I suppose, be the Bill that this son of Corruption would recommend : A Bill for the better security of Corruption, and for perpetuating the
Miseries and Disgrace of the United Kingdom. WHEREAS One William Cobbett (an old offender in the same way) has
for some years last past, and especially within the last three months, been, by the means of a certain weekly trash publication, endeavouring to undermine, and throw down the Corinthian Pillar of Corruption, and, at the same time, to preserve the peace and restore the happiness of the United Kingdom; And, Whereas these efforts tend directly to do great and lasting injury to all those, who, directly or indirectly, live and fatten upon the profits of Bribery, Corruption, Perjury, and Public Robbery, and threaten more particularly to produce the total ruin and final starvation of the proprietors of the Courier, the Times and others their fellow-labourers in the fruitful vineyard of literary imposture and fraud, including, of course, Jackson of Romsey and Chappell of Pall-Mall; AND, WHEREAS, sad experience has proved, that though there are about twenty thousand Clergymen of the Church of England, the greater part of whom abhor the said William, and though there are as many Tax-gatherers as receive upwards of three millions a year for the collection and management of taxes, and that though there are many hundreds of persons in offices of various sorts, exclusive of about twenty thousand officers of the army and navy, many of whom have now a great deal of leisure, and that though there are some thousands of Sinecurists, Pensioners, and Grantees, and that though there are vast swarms of Lawyers of all ages and sizes, yet, that no one has been found to answer the writings of the said William, notwithstanding Corruption prevades nineteen twentieths of all the Reviews, Magazines and Newspapers in the Kingdom; And, Whereas it is expedient to prevent the said William Cobbett from proceeding in the said
dangerous courses, BE IT, THEREFORE, ENACTED, that the VOL. V.
said William shall write and publish no more, and that he shall neither talk nor think, nor dream without the express permission of the said
proprietors of the Courier and Times or of their supporters and abettors. Though not in this form, perhaps, yet to this amount, would the wishes of those people go. But, my worthy friends of Bristol, be in no fear ; for you may be well assured, that, if any such thing were to be attenupted, such an uproar would be raised as never was before heard in this country ; because, in such an attempt, every one would see the inevitable and speedy establishment of downright despotism and martiallaw, which, as the French saying is, “would leave people of property nothing but their eyes to cry with," and, would, therefore, put us all upon a level.
Oh, no! The Ministers are not so very foolish as to be urged, thus, into the very gulf of despotism. They know well, that silencing the press would not enable them to pay the interest of the Debt; and, they ought to know, that to silence the press could not possibly produce any other effect, than that desperation, which would, and which must, end in general commotion and desolation. Just the same may be said of this vile incendiary's endeavours to urge the Mayors and other Magistrates to “check meetings," that is to say, to prevent them, by the use of military or other force. If these magistrates were to act thus illegally; if they were thus to set the Constitution at open defiance ; if they were to say to the people, “though you are starving, you shall not meet to "petition; the Bill of Rights was not intended for you; you have no pre." “ tensions to the birthright of Englishmen." If the Magistrates were to act thus, what would be the consequence ? Could they flatter themselves, that such measures would be productive of peace? I think they are not so infatuated. The Mayor of LEICESTER, in refusing to call a Meeting in that town, tells the people, that Meetings “have been beld in other “ places, professing similar objects, and have, ended in riot, sedition, “and bloodshed,” I should be glad to know where these meetings have been held ? Not in this kingdom, I will take my oath if it be necessary, as far as any intelligence has reached London. The pretended plot in London has been proved to be wholly false ; it has been now proved, in the most satisfactory manner, that the Meeting had no connection with the riot; that the riot arose out of a mob who assembled to see four men banged; that the rioters consisted chiefly of, and bad for their leaders, a parcel of starving sailors; that the Meeting carried its business through without a single breach of the peace, and that it ended not in “ riot, sedition and bloodshed," but in the most orderly and quiet dispersion, at the recommendation of Mr. Hunt, who took the lead during the proceedings.
But so far from this assertion of the Mayor of Leicester being true, it is the contrary of the truth; for, as I observed before, where there have been “riot, sedition and bloodshell," there have been no meetings for Reform, Where is it, that these riots have taken place within the last nine months ? Why, in the Isle of Ely, in Wales, a pretended one at Birmingham, in Suffolk, at Dundee. And, at none of those places have there been any Meetings for Reform. Now, what will the Mayor of Leicester answer to this? Does it show his cause to be good who can make such assertions? And, do the enemies of Reform think, that the friends of that measure are to be silenced by such means? While I think of it, let me ask, where are the two members for Leicester ? I hope the
meeting at that place will not forget to instruct them what to do at the ensuing proposition of the measure to Parliament.
A letter from a gentleman in Glasgow, dated 30th Dec. has the following passage, which may serve as an additional answer to the Mayor of Leicester : “Since I wrote you, there have been Meetings at Airdrie, at " Kilbarchan, at Dumbarton, at Carmunnock, at Eaglesham, from all "which petitions will be forwarded on the meeting of Parliament. The "working people are actually bordering on starvation. A subscription “has been set going here for their relief, but from their giving a man “ only one shilling a week, and if a family, two or three shillings, it “has a tendency rather to irritate than to soothe ; and, nothing but the “ hope, that Parliament will listen to our Petitions is keeping the
Country quiet.” The same accounts come from all parts of the country; and, there never was so general an expectation, that relief and redress will be obtained by the lawful means of petition. Can the Mayor of Leicester contradict this ? He certainly cannot; and, upon what then, does he ground his assertion ?
No, my friends of Bristol, the Courier and Times, and their foolish and wicked supporters, may call for Gagging Bills, but no Gagging Bills will be passed. To suspend the Habeas Corpus Act must, in time of peace, be regarded as the establishment of a permanent military despotism; and, if the Government were base and tyrannical enough to wish for this, which I cannot believe; it never could be so foolish ; for, what would be the effects ? The instant annihilation of all pecuniary confidence; an end to all credit; an end to all contracts; a blowing-up of the funds; a desertion and abandonment of the country by every one who could possibly remove his property or industry to America. These would be some, and amongst the least terrible, of the effects of those measures which the Courier and Times propose, which they are labouring to pave the way for, but which will not, be you well assured, be adopted. It is possible, that there may be a man or two, possessed of some influence, who would drive things to desperation ; but, while I can hardly extend my belief thus far, I am quite sure, that such influence, if put forth, would be resisted instantly, seeing, that a military despotism, if it could exist in England, openly avowed, for a year, would cut up all funded property, and, indeed, all other property, as completely as they could be cut up by universal anarchy and confusion ; and, that, after all, confusion and bloodshed must overspread the land.
Let us be confident, therefore, that the Parliament, seeing the state, into which the country has been brought, seeing the miseries into which it has been plunged, and seeing that a cordial union of us all is absolutely necessary to our salvation, will, at last, yield to our prayers, and give that Reform which the nation has so long sought, and without which, as dearbought experience bids us conclude, we never can again see happy and honourable days.
The corrupt press itself acknowledges, that the taxes have fallen off in such a degree as that they will now hardly yield enough to pay the charges on account of the Debt, which requires 44 millions of pounds a year. But, one of my ploughmen shall bet the Courier a hundred pounds, that the whole of the taxes, collected in 1817, do not amount to 35 millions of pounds, unless the value of paper-money be again changed. Now, as the Debt takes 44 millions a year, and the Army, Civil List, &c. have been estimated to take about 26 millions more, how are these to be