Abbildungen der Seite

Nortir, Baines of Leeds, put into his until it has, at last, rendered it impos. paper, that a good many gentlemen left sible for the House to discover how it the room at Dewsbury, because I said can get on. Having passed this Act in something harsh of CANNING. Never the month of July, 1819, it assembled was a more barefaced lie than this. I hastily, in November of the same year, do not recollect having mentioned his and passed an Act to banish men for name at Dewsbury; but almost every-life, if the judges so choose ; for it is where I did, and I dealt justly by him; “ for such term of years as the court that is to say, I ridiculed all his stupid shall order"; and that may be for a sayings about the currency ; his “setting hundred years or more ; and, in case of the question at rest for ever” ; his swal- non-departure, the offender to be translowings of the public money; his silly talk ported for any term short of fourteen about the “mother and the daughter years. The other House, in which the at Liverpool ; and his base and savage bill originated, had sentenced the dejest with regard to poor Ogden. At linquent to transportation instead of Liverpool, especially, I laid on upon banishment; because banishment to the him with all the force that I possessed; United States, for instance, whence I and in that part of my speech I was had just then come, appeared to be no more cheered than at any other part of very great punishment. The bill was it. The “ piece of gold in the pocket, softened in the Commons, in consequence and the foul in the pot,” which were to of a very humble and crying petition be produced by the bill of 1826, were from the "respectable booksellers," who productive of peals of laughter where- appeared to be afraid that their trade ever I went. I remember bis “ignoble would be cut up, with Botany Bay beast” and his running at the whole staring their literary gentlemen in the herd in order to get at him; and the face. I, on the contrary, published, in the fellow being dead does not satisfy me twopenny Register, that this bill was a by any means : his offences against me, thing that left me quite liberty enough; personally, are more more than enough and Mr. Blake, the member for Arundel, to justify my continuing to say every actually quoted my authority in support thing against his memory that I can of the Bill. The sharp-cutters were say with truth. His “setting of the cruelly mortified at this; but thinking, question at rest for ever,” and being perhaps, that they should soon have me, cheered by the whole House; TIER- they consoled themselves in the meanNEY's refraining from praising Peel's while. Bill too much, seeing that he himself Transportation would have been a had the honour to be the real mother little too much of a good thing; and, of it ; Ricardo's saying that it would therefore, I did not say aye till the word make prices fall only four per cent.; banishment was introduced, for which and GRENVILLE saying that there was punishment I did not care a single straw. no danger, seeing that prices would fall | The whigs were most infernally enraged, only three and a half per cent.: all these if rage can be infernal in human breasts, sayings I ripped up, and made my au- when Blake got up with the Register diences as merry as if at a comedy. in his hand, and answered this very

But the bill; the bill that was to get SCARLETT by reading what I had said at the ignoble beast, by banishing those about the bill. When the bill went that should publish any thing having a back to the Lords, John, LURD ELDON, tendency to bring the House into con- who was then Chancellor, observed, in tiempt; this bill was the fittest thing in his usual kind manner, “ The bill is the whole world; and the beauty of it spoiled; but it's better than nothing." was, it came in such nice time. First, It is curious that, when I arrived at the House passed Peel's Bill, and thereby Liverpool, there came on board the did an act which they themselves now ship, as I have before related, two young repent of having done; an Act which gentlemen from the consignees, one of has produced mischief after mischief, whom having been introduced to me

** for you."

by the Captain, the worthy Captain into sureties, before he began printing, Cobb, whom I always remember with to pay three hundred pounds towards the most friendly sentiments; this gen- any fine that might be inflicted on him tleman said, “I am sorry to see you for any libel that he might thereafter “ here, Mr. Cobbert, for the

publish! In the course of twenty" are met; and you may depend upon eight clauses, this act contains penalty * it that they will prepare soinething upon penalty, and restraint upon re

Very likely, (said 1,) but straint; but, that which does seem to * they have got Peel's Bill upon their surpass every thing of the kind ever 6.back, and that will encumber their heard of before, are the “twenty-one “ movements, and make them more inches in length and seventeen inches “gentle, I imagine.” If that gentleman in breadth.” be alive, he has, I dare say, frequently Now this Act (the liberal Minister called to mind what I said to him in the being installed, being surrounded by cabin that day. The truth is, I had read the Whigs, and having the no very fat of the Manchester affair of the 16th of knees of one of them stuck in his back) August; I had read SIDMOUTO's letter Mr. Hume thought ought to be repealof thanks to the Yeomanry Cavalry; ed, in order to give something of éclat but I had also read Peel's Bill, and I was to this new reign of liberality. Not so, sure that that would take the buckram thought the Whigs, who all frowned out of the gentleman. I knew well that upon the nation, which was treated to I had nothing to do but to hold them to some nice Scotch sarcasm

by Mr. that bill, if possible ; for I knew that BROUGham and LAWYER SCARLETT, that bill would bring the nation to its who had opposed the bill while passing, senses, and my foes upon their knees. and objected to its repeal !

Before I got to London, the two bills, At last, however, the Banishment Bill, one for putting down cheap publications, which is certainly the least hostile to liand the other for banishing libellers, berty of the two, theWhigs seem to think were advancing apace, and were finally a great evil, after having suffered it to passed on the 30th December, 1819. rest quietly for ten long years, and once, The Whigs rather divided upon the sub-during that time, having refused to supject, some for the bills and others port a motion for its repeal. I have against them; offering a very faint op- mentioned it a thousand times over. I position, and manifestly in no sort of have told the Spaniards of it, in a letter anxiety lest the bills should not pass to them ; I have told the French of it, To show their sincerity upon the sub- in a letter to them; the whole world ject, an excellent occasion offered itself knows the history of it; it has done just after the poor talking CANNING got great good by beating out of the heads to be Prime Minister. Mr. Hume, see- of foreigners the juggling stuff about ing that liberality was the order of the English liberty, and about “les répreday, and seeing SCARLETT, Attorney- sentens du peuple," as VOLTAIRE stupidly General, moved for the repeal of the calls them, in his silly and bombastical bill respecting the cheap publications, Henriade. That was a sad bribed felwhich he always used to call “Cobbett's low, by-the-by, and a vile courtier and Act." This bill compelled me to put base stock-jobber into the bargain. two sheets and a quarter of paper into His Henriade is a tissue of the most imany pamphlet, each sheet being not less pudent historical lies ever put upon than inches in length, and paper. He either knew nothing of the seventeen inches in breadth, and to sell history of the time of Henry the Fourth, it for a sum not less than sixpence ex- or he was a bribed liar, the last being clusive of any duty imposed by the Act. the most probable of the two. I have What a "noble assembly of free men” ! explained to France, to Spain, to Italy, Then, it enacts that no one was to print to Germany, (the United States knew it or publish any such pamphlet, or any well,) that the represéntens du pevple have newspaper whatsoever, without entering protected themselves against the con


tempt of the people by a law to banish | except cited as the cause of heavy exthe people, if the people say anything pense. The bang, bang, from their having even a tendency to bring them pistols, and the raitle of the feet of into contempt. It is too late to repeal their horses, that charming music, really the Act, if character be the object. The appears to be gone for ever. No paexistence of the Act is known all over radings in parks ; no dinnerings and the world ; and the repeal, if it were to toastings at taverns, or at lords' bouses ; take place, would never be heard of. no votes of thanks and stupid corres

But why NOW , why at this time, pondence in the newspapers, between at the end of ten long years ? Is it troops and their commanders ; no because there is now a lack of the base boastings about the gallant exploits in paper-money? Has this bill produced sallies on old women and boys. All is distress anul a want of rents ? I thank gone ; and the rusty sword, and furredGod Almighty that the want is come ; up pistol, and the helmet-cap, and the I am equally grateful for the pinching uniform jacket, are all thrown aside ; of thousands of vermin who chuckled or the latter, perhaps, after being woru with delight when this bill made a run out under the convenient covering of a upon the whole herd in order to get at smock frock, has, at last, become the the ignoble beast. But why now; and garment of a shoy-hoy. I can remem why is poor SCARLETT run at for having ber a fellow who, in the year 1807, acted upon a law passed by the House used to come galloping into the village itself, and kept in force for ten years ; at night, three-quarters drunk, after a law; too, that the Whigs would not having been at one of their reviews, as vote for the repeal of, when a motion they called it, and used to fire off his was made for the purpose four years pistols, bany, bang, frightening the ago? What has SCARLETT done but women and children of the neighbouract upon the law which the Whigs hood. I saw, and I was glad to see, themselves have thus sanctioned; some the very same fellow, in 1821, with the of them by their votes when it was toes of both his feet peeping out of his passed, and others of them by refusing shoes, with a beard a fortnight old, and to vote for its repeal? There stand no less with half a smock-frock upon his back. than two or three motions for propositions The like of this fellow, if not yet pulle! relative to the late trials; and what has down, rejoiced at the Banishment Bill of inspired all this zeal for the freedom of 1819 ; rejoiced at the twenty-one inches the press ; all this uncommon zeal ? of paper by seventeen ; rejoiced at the Nay, Sir Francis Burbett, who was ruin and destruction of every one that sitting at the back of CanninG when had the spirit to speak the truth relative Mr. Hume's motion was made, now to the acts of the Government. This professes himself ready to be trans- Act may now be repealed, though there ported (if the reporters speak truth) is very little chance of it; but its existrather than not set this very Act at ence will never be forgotten by any one defiance. What can have occasioned who shall hear talk of the liberty of the all this? Is it liberty ; is it a love of press in England. the freedom of the press ; is it a desire It has been made the subject of a that the deeds of the House should be publication in Spain, intended to show spoken of as they deserve to be spoken how false were the pretences of English of; is it a tenderness for literary talent; liberty. Several publications in France iz it any or all of these; or is it A have spoken of it. An Englishman in WANT OF RENTS ?

Switzerland was shown my account of Strange has been the workings of this it in the Register, and was asked whe· Peel's Bill; and stranger still will they ther it were really true, that the English be. They will leave no vestige of the House of Commons had found it necesfine spirit that was floating about in the sary to protect itself against the conyear3 1817, 18, and 19. The Yeoman- tempt of the people, by a law to banish ry Cavalry we never hear mentioned, the people. In twenty different Ameri

can papers I have read an account of Buckinghamshire, or distributed to the this law; and in one, published at Pitts- stone-crackers along the roads, does Sir burgh, no longer ago than last fall, I Francis BURDETT and Sir James Gkaread, in an article entitled “ Degraded van think that the system could last? England," first, a very accurate descrip- Oh, no! the acts are necessary to the tion of this bill; and next, a description, system, and as necessary as the taxes equally accurate, of Wilmor Horton's are; as long as paper-money will cirproject for mortgaging the poor-rates, culate, and as long as this mass of taxes in order to get rid of the people by is collected, these acts are absolutely sending them out of the country; and necessary. the writer concludes with this apos My friends, readers of the Register, trophe : “ Is this the boasted land of consider well these things ; be you preliberty? Is this the country of Sidney pared for whatever may happen ; and and Hampden and Locke. We thanks be not amused by those who now and God that we are separated from it; and then give way to a little loose talk about we feel renewed gratitude to the wise freedom, but who, when the pinch and brave men whose timely resistance comes, when the question of repealing saved our happy country from being taxes or not repealing taxes; when that subject to acts like these !"

question comes, always uphold the sysWhy, to be sure, the whole world tem, Be you not amused by any one must rejoice that they are safe from such who is not for a repeal of taxes : that is acts. However, the Act in question will the great point and the only point worth remain, with all the rest of it, as long as attending to. Care nothing at all about paper-money of any sort or kind will reduction of expences : that is another circulate in England. Such acts are matter: it is what you have to pay and the natural and necessary fruit of the not what is done with the money, unsystem, which, say Sie JAMES GRAHAM less, indeed, those who talk of reducing and BURDETT what they will, is not to expences will show you what families be carried on without such acts ; and and what persons pocket the money. the good of it is, that neither of them That explanation would be useful, inreally wish the system to cease. This deed; but mere loose talk about exis the good of the thing, that they will penditure is of no use, and is unworthy not see that this act is a part of the sys- of your attention. We could have a pot tem. Why, do they imagine that if the of beer for a penny, better than that 21 inch by 17 inch Act were to cease, I which is bought at a public house for should not publish a penny pamphlet sixpence. Here is one thing more worwhich would circulate from one end of thy of your attention than ten years of the kingdom to the other ? and what jabbering about army estimates. need I do but state the annount of the The progress at present is fearful : it collection of the taxes, compared with may be stopped all at once ; at a mothe amount given in relief to the poor? ment; with very little or no warning ; The millions know nothing about this be, therefore, I pray you, prepared : miatter; they know nothing about Lord get gold, and keep it. I have heard, GREY's petition. There are about two and, I believe, truly, that there has been, • hundred facts to state to them ; all no- during the last year, a very serious fall

toriously true; all of them to be stated ing off in the number of persons having without a possibility of ascribing libel to money in the funds, as it is called. the writer; yet, if these facts were cir- There are, I am told, ten thousand less culated at the doors of the soup shops, fund-holders than there were

a year or amongst the men who are drawing ago. This has doubtless arisen from wagons, if only the list of the families two

First, prudent people upon the pension list, and the sums have been selling out and getting gold; they receive, were circulated in this and, second, farmers and tradesmen have manner, were flung into the pounds been selling out, in order to be able to where the labourers are shut up in pay rent and taxes in the present state


of the decline of their business. The month of this very session, than I have thing will naturally take this course; done in thirty years, and that I can out and as the distress becomes more pres of the House do, in all the remainder of sing, the danger will, to every one, ap- my life. I know all about this thing, pear more great ; so that this selling from the point of the tap-root up to the out, from the same two motives, will top-most twig; and if I were in the and must go on with accelerated pace. House, the people should all possess the The tax-eaters, in the mean while, are same knowledge in less than a month, becoming richer from the same cause in spite of all that could be done to that makes other people poorer. They prevent it. There would need only that will not lay their money out on land or knowledge in them to produce the dein trade, because the former yields no sired effect; to produce every thing rent, and the latter no profit. They that good men wish to see. will, therefore, purchase the funds Almost every man now sees, and is which others have to sell ; and thus the ready to declare, that there is a great number of fundholders will become com- wrong someuchere ; but the confusion of paratively small. Every fundholder, opinions as to the where, is nearly as that sells out is a partizan withdrawn great as ever. No man hits the right from the government. The tie becomes nail upon the head; no man puts the weaker, as the funds get into fewer match to the right taper; and therefore, hands; and at last, if this thing could there is no unity of mind in the mass of go on for any number of years, the the people ; and without that unity of government would derive little or no mind, there can be no unity of action ; support from the holders of the funds. no united appeal for redress and regeneThe insurance offices must be monstrous ration. The Political Union founded losers at this time, if their assets con- by Mr. Attwood, is very laudable in sist of real property; and if it consists itself; but it will produce, I am conof funded property, the security there vinced, no effect whatever. It is enis no better than the other. Their busi- cumbered with regulations that prove ness must fall off, too, as well as every its timidity ; it exposes men to the disother ; thus the whole fabric will be pleasure of the powerful; and if it were shaken. Confide you in nothing of the likely, which it is not, to become really sort. Thousands have said that they owe formidable to that at the destruction of their safety to me : many thousands which it aims, it would be crushed, more will say it if they follow this ad- while all but its mere members would vice of

look on in silence. Your faithful friend,

Oh, no! From combinations of this and most obedient servant, sort, or of any sort, no great good can W. COBBETT. come, however worthy and able the

leaders may be. In 1816, when the late


Burdett were forming “ HAMPDEN It has been proposed to me that I Clubs” all over the country, it was should express, if I chose, my wish to against my opinion, strongly and urbe furnished with the means of obtaining gently expressed to them both. And I a seat in the House of Commons. I do remember that in a conversation, early entertain that wish ; not for the sake of in 1817, with Mr. GEORGE EDMONDS, any gain or benefit of a private nature; of Birmingham, a very zealous and a but for the sake of assisting in obtaining very clever man, and who, by-the-by, what I deem justice for the people at is one of the signers of the “ Address large, and of effecting this by lawful founding the “ POLITICAL Union, I exand quiet means. I know that I have pressed my wish that the Hampden done, and am doing, something in this Clubs were dissolved. “ What !” said way; but I also know that I could do he,

take our Hampden Clubs more in one month, though the Jast away, we are nothing." My answer was,

if you

« ZurückWeiter »