Imágenes de páginas

curious to observe the workings in the minds of different descriptions of the audience. A great number of the tenunts had been pressed into the service of our opponents ; some of their tradesmen; many dockyard people and taxing people. In the minds of many of these, there was a real inclination on our side ; and, in the minds of many more, curiosity was too powerful, for the moment, at least, for the sense of obedience. So that the Parsons and some few others finding the task of interruption devolving upon themselves, and having hardly any but their own voices, became shy; and silence was produced. His Lordship began by inquiring into the conduct of the little Sheriff in preferring the other requisition to that which his Lordship had signed, and stated, as a probable reason for the preference, that some of the persons, who had signed the former requisition, had received out of the public money more than enough to pay all the poor-rates of Hampshire for ten years! His Lordship, after a variety of most excellent remarks, was proceeding to read his amendment, when the Sheriff interrupted him by saying, that, as those subjects were not proposed in the requisition, they could not, and should not, be put to the Meeting. If the little man's ears have recovered the salute, which he received upon this, he is happy, at any rate, in his hearing faculties, though, to me, deafness would have been far preferable to the receiving of sounds more than sufficient to kill a man of any feeling.

The contest now was, whether Lord Cochrane should be allowed to propose his amendment. The Sheriff insisted that he should not, and a vast majority of the people insisted that he should. What the amendment was I could not precisely discover; for I was at the right-hand window, the Sheriff at the second, and Lord COCHRANE at the third. To get at his Lordship was impossible. About twenty Parsons had placed themselves at his back, and would suffer no one to approach him. I asked to be permitted to do so, and, upon observing to one of the Parsons in the rear rank of this true Church Militant, that I wanted to speak to his Lordship: "I know you do,” said he, “and I want that you shall not !

After this state of uproar had lasted for about half an hour, there was a new actor put forward. It was Mr. Lockhart of the Honourable House. His name was announced. Uncertainty produced silence. A lawyer, a Member of Parliament, a learned friend. He would surely put us into the right path! He began by a declaration of his impartiality. He stated broadly, that nothing could be regularly proposed to the Meeting, which had not been announced in the requisition; and that, therefore, the Noble Lord had discovered “gross ignorance” of the mode of proceeding upon such occasions, when he introduced subjects, which had not been announced in the requisition, out of the limits of which we were not permitted to travel in the smallest degree. Mr. Lock. HART had begun his speech by observing, that he was sure he should not incur the displeasure of the Meeting, and that the only favour he had to beg of them was not to interrupt him by their applauses, a favour which was readily granted; for, no sooner was it perceived, that his object was to prevent Lord Cochrane from moving his amendment, than he become an actor in dumb show,

LORD Cochrane had spoken, and had been heard too, till, with the noise at his back and all together, he appeared to be nearly exhausted ; and, besides, my tongue really ached to be at this Learned Friend.

Curiosity was now more powerful, in consequence, partly, of my announce ing my object to be to answer the Learned and Honourable Member. The silence was complete. I took Mr. Lockhart upon his own ground; said that I was willing to agree to the Address as far as it was strictly conformable to the requisition; and, even if I found, that it did depart from the gentleman's own rule, I would agree to it, provided, that its meaning were made clear, and that nothing amounting to downright nonsense was left in it. First, then, I begged to be furnished with the Requisition, which the Sheriff very sulkily handed down to me from lás window, and which I read in the following words : “We, the undersigned “ freeholders of the county of Southampton, request you will fix an early "day for a County Meeting, to consider of an Address to his Royal “Highness the Prince Regent, on the outrageous and treasonable attack "made upon his Royal Highness on his return from opening the Session “of Parliament.” Then I obtained a copy of their Address, which confined itself to the nobility, gentry, clergy, and freeholders, instead of going to inhabitants in general," which words, for the reasons which I stated, I proposed to introduce. Next, to get rid of a small portion of nonsense, I proposed, that the Address should be " laid before his Royal Highness," instead of being laid “at his Royal Highness's feet.Next, this Address, which Mr. Lockhart had asserted to be strictly confined to the matters propounded in the Requisition, contained “ a pledge to support the religion and constitution of the country.” For religion I had no objection to substitute tithes, if Mr. Lockhart would give his consent; but I said, from what I had read, that I, who was a true churchman, was afraid he would not! This threw the Learned Friend into utter confusion, and even made the parsons prick up their ears and dart a look at him from all quarters! The farmers pricked up their ears too, and began to smirk and to look sideways slyly at the parsons, bringing their chins down upon their cravats at the same time. The little Sheriff himself was at a loss what course to pursue. All was dead silence, while I, in a low, solemn, and sort of prophetic tone, bade the parsons take warning, that, before that day two years, they would have cause to remember my words, and would see how foolish, beyond all foolishness, their conduct had been in opposing a Reform of the Parliament, and in so rancorously pursuing its advocates. Lord Fitzharris is, in the Morning Chronicle, reported to have said, that nothing could be heard at the Meeting. His lordship could not have been there. Never was silence more complete; never was impression deeper. Mr. Lockhart was in vain invited to answer. Not a word had he io say ; and an attempt which he had made to explain, that by religion was meant the Prince, the Prince being the head of the Church, was turned into such ridicule, and excited such bursts of laughter, even amongst our opponents, that the learned expositor seemed to be absolutely sinking through the floor. He skulked back from the window and took shelter amongst the parsons, who seemed to avoid him, as the herd always shun a wounded or hunted deer.

But, Mr. Lockhart's mortification was not even yet at its height; for if the word religion meant the Prince, constitution, which we were also to pledge ourselves to support, could not mean the same thing, and besides, the learned expositor had said, that by Constitution were meant king, lords, and commons. Here, then, the Address had travelled out of the Requisition, or the learned expositor had been wrong in his exposition ; and I had to leave it to the Meeting to decide, who had discovered the "grossest ignorance," the learned Member or the noble Lord. This, however, being so loose a phrase as to admit of so many interruptions, I proposed to amend the Address by inserting, after the word constitution,

as established by Magna Charta, the Bill of Rights, and the Act of Habeas Corpus, for which our forefathers fought and bled,” with which amendment I was willing for the Address to pass unanimously.

There was something so moderate, so reasonable, so manifestly just and proper in this, that our opponents could not for very shame object to it. Mr. LOCKHART was called upon by the whole Meeting to come forward. He had the merit, though a lawyer, of discovering some degree of reluctance to oppose a thing so manifestly right. But after taking time to rally his spirits, he put his head forth, and said: “Gentlemen, if you " adopt Mr. Cobbett's amendments, you will declare against loyalty, and for every thing that is seditious and wicked.Upon which, I said,

Now, Gentlemen, I am happy to say, that however we may bave been "misled by our passions this day to express our differences in so violent " a manner, upon one point I am sure we shall be perfectly unanimous, "and that is, that Mr. Lockhart has been guilty of the foulest misrepresi sentations that ever was made by mortal man.” Whereupon one big parson, under the window exclaimed, “Not half foul enough!" but with that single exception, such a roar of indignation as was then uttered against the learned Friend as I never before heard in my life ; and most assuredly he merited it, as you will clearly see by looking at the words by which I had proposed to amend the Address, and which words I had wrote down upon paper in the presence of witnesses, which words I repeatedly read from the paper, and from which paper I have copied the words now. This shout of indignation produced the challenge from Lockhart the Brave, of which I shall speak by and by.

Mr. Hunt seconded the amendments, and was heard very well for about half an hour. Great impatience was now manifested by our opponents to put an end to the Meeting. "Pray, Mr. Sheriff, dissolve; pray, Mr. Sheriff

, adjourn ;"resounded from the quarters of the parsons, and custom-house, and dock-yard people; but, all at once, from the fourth window, out bolted Mr. Henry Marsh, who, in a speech of half an hour's duration, and, as I was told (for he was too far off for me to hear) replete with wit and humour of the best sort, turned the conduct of our opponents and the matter of their illiterate and slovenly Address into such ridicule, that scarcely a man could refrain from laughing in the most immoderate manner. The Sheriff strained his throat in vain to call Mr. Marsh to order ; the latter put it to the vote, whether he should be heard or not; the Meeting decided that he should, and on he went amidst an uproar of laughter as loud as the shoutings and groanings which saluted the ears of the Sheriff and his back, Mr. Lockhart, when. ever they attempted to interfere. The parsons and tax-eaters cried out, Treason ! take him up. He turns the attack on the Prince into ridicule. “ Hear him! hear him! Go on! go on! O, Lord !” And then such laughter as never, I verily believe, was heard before in the world Some of the farmers and tradesmen and labouring people I could see putting their hands to their sides and laughing till they were ready to tumble down. The women and girls, of whom the number was not small, were con. vulsed with laughter, till at last it was more like screaming than laughing.

It was nearly five o'clock, the Meeting having began precisely at twelve. The Sheriff now saw, that his power was of no avail, and that,

unless something was speedily done for the poor Address, it could not have even the semblance of being agreed to. He, therefore, poked out his head to put the Address. We called for the amendments to be put, as all the world knows they ought to have been. He and Mr. Lockhart refused! They would not put the amendments. Not a word was heard, except by us who stood near the little gentleman. The uproar was renewed. But, having carried our point; having got a hearing, and given a most famous lashing to our opponents, we waved our hats to our friends and produced a division. The Sheriff decided that the Addresş was carried three or four to one ; and I am most sincerely persuaded, that the majority was on our side.

LORD COCHRANE, though standing within one window of the Sheriff, had got at no knowledge as to the subject of the division. His Lordship concluded, of course, that my amendments had been put, and, as the people in the room said, Cobbett is beaten,” his Lordship then began to move his amendment, which was to set aside the Address altogether. But, behold, while he was speaking with this object in view, the SHERIFF packed off, followed by the Parsons and Tax-eaters, who ran down the street amidst hisses, groans, and every mark of popular contempt and indignation! And Lord Cochrane was actually speaking, when the Under-Sheriff came, and told us, that, if we did not disperse, he was ordered to take us into custody! And yet, the Morning Chronicle makes Lord Fitzharris say, in his place in Parliament, that an unanimous vote of thanks was given to the Sheriff! No: nor would any one have been heard for a moment upon such a subject. There was no vote directing who should present the Address. It was no address at all. It was never heard read from first to last. Indeed Lord Fitzharris is made to say, that nothing was heard. How, then, could the address be the Address of the Meeting ? · The thanks to the Sheriff and the order for presenting the Address, was, I suppose, voted at the inn after dinner; but, at the Meeting neither was ever so much as heard talk of.

The proceedings closed as I have stated. The Winchester correspondent of the Courier, who tells all sorts of falsehoods, concludes thus :

"N.B. I forgot to tell you, that when Mr. Cobbett left the Castle, a few men proposed that they should borrow a chair to carry him on “their shoulders to the inn in the city; he actually waited till they "procured one, and suffered himself to be carried in an old arm-chair

to the Black Swan, amidst the hisses and groans of the Freeholders.". Yes, he had forgot to mention this in his letter! He would have forgotten it in the postscript too; but he was afraid, that somebody else might remember it. Whether it was a few men or many men, whether it was in a borrowed chair or a bought chair ; whether the chair were old or new ; still the reader will perceive, that noihing of this sort was done for our opponents. The truth is, that I was not at all apprized of the matter ; that an immense crowd surrounded me to shake hands with me, and the kind and honest hearts of the owners of those hands it would comfort me to think that I had with me, if I were thrown down to the bottom of a dungeon. I could not get along for the crowd. All at once a chair was brought, into which I very cheerfully got, and, when I alighted from it I said : My kind and honest countrymen, I am proud " of the honour you have done me for my own sake; but, I am much

more proud of it as I deem it a strong mark of your unshaken attach


“ ment to those undoubted and unalienable rights to which I have endea“ voured to convince you that you are entitled, and which, whatever “ becomes of me, I trust nothing will ever induce you to abandon. Be " assured, that while my mind retains its faculties, and limbs enjoy that " liberty which innocence ought to ensure to every man, I never will

cease ty maintain our cause to the utmost of my power.”

While this was going on, while all was joy and exultation in our breasts, very different were the feelings of Lockhart the Bruve. He had come to me in the Grand Jury Chamber soon after I had charged him so justly with “ foul misrepresentation.” He said, he had not been accustomed to receive language like that. I told him to come to me after the Meeting was over. As we were going out of the Chamber, he came again. The thing would admit of no delay. I told him to come to the inn. He did so, with two men as witnesses. I then told him, that I would have no communication with him, except it was in writing. They wanted to sit down in the room, where Mr. Goldsmith, Mr. Hunt, and other. gentlemen were with me ; but this I told them that I would not suffer; and bade them go out of the room. They did so; and then a correspondence took place, which I insert here word for word and letter for letter, and, if the Learned Friend should feel sore at seeing his agitation exposed in his illiterate notes, let him thank his own folly and imprudence for the exposure. SIR

as you requested me to put in writing the object of my requesting a meeting with you, I beg to inform you it was with a view to your retracting the word foul which you applied to me, by stating I had been guilty of a foul misrepresentation"

I did not hear whether you said “of your language or intentions-I am Sir your obedient Servant

JJ Lockhart


Winchester, 11th March, 1817. I did not say that it was “a foul misrepresentation,” which you had made, but “the foulest misrepresentation that ever was made by mortal man," an opinion which I still entertain, and always shall, until you shall fully express your sorrow for the effects of that mortification, which, I hope, led your tongue beyond the cool dictates of your mind.

I am, Sir,
Your most humble,
And most obedient Servant,


I have received your answer which leaves no alternative except that of my insisting on that satisfaction which you owe me as a Gentleman, and wbich I wish you would empower some friend to arrange this evening.

I am Sir your obedient Servant

JJ Lockhart

March 11, 1817– I shall remain in Winchester this evening for this purpose until 8 o clock and a friend will deliver this Letter to you, to accept your arrangement

To Wm. Cobbett, Esq.-

Winchester, 11th March, 1817. If I could stay here another day, I would amuse myself with some fun with you, but having business of more importance on hand, I must beg of you to renew your pleasant correspondence, upon our arrival in town. In the meanwhile I remain,

Your most obedient,
And most humble Servant,


« AnteriorContinuar »