« PreviousContinue »
by the Captain, the worthy Captain into sureties, before he began printing, Cobb, whom I always remeniber with to pay three hundred pounds towards the most friendly sentiments; this gen- any fine that night be inflicted on him tleman said, “I am sorry to see you for any libel that he might thereafter * here, Mr. Cobbert, for the
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
for you.” 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 “ back, and that will encumber their heard of before, are the “twenty-one s 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, the Whigs 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 immy pamphlet, each sheet being not less pudent historical lies ever put upon than twenty.one 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 therépreséntens du peuple have newspaper whatsoever, without entering protected themselves against the con
tempt of the people by a law to banish i except cited as the cause of hea try 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 pa. existence of the Act is known all over radings in parks ; no dinperings and the world ; and the repeal, if it were to toastings at taverns, or at lords' houses ; take place, would never be heard of. no votes of thanks and stupid corres
But why NOW , why at this time, pondence in the uewspapers, 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 and 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 rememwliy is poor SCARLETT run at for having ber a fellow who, in the year 1809, 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, bang, 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 pullel 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 BURDETT, 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 sbown my account of Strange has been the workings of this it in the Register, and was asked whePeel'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 conyears 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 Burdert and Sir James Gkaread, in an article entitled“ Degraded ham 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 Horron'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 systen 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 shoull 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 ainount 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 : matter; 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 eulated at the doors of the soup shops, fund-holders than there were 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 somewhere; 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 regene, The 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 SEAT IN PARLIAMENT.
Major Cartwright and Sir Francis
Burdert were forming 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 uri be 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 1917, 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 és and quiet means. I know that I have pressed my wish that the Hampden done, and am doing, something in this Clubs were dissolved. way; but I also know that I could do he, " if you take our Hampden Clubs more in one month, though the last away, we are nothing." My answer was,
“ What !” said
" If they remain, they will be something, I know, that the King's Speech, deli. " for they will point out to the Govern- vered on the Thursday afternoon, was "ment precisely who are the men to be read by me, in the “ NOTTINGHAM RE" made a terrific example of.” Before view of the Friday morning, I am disthree months had passed over our heads, posed to exclaim, How can a Member the elect of these clubs were all safe in of Parliament want the “BIRMINGHAM dungeons! And the worst of it is, that Union” as a vehicle of facts and argumen, thus combined, meet with little ments to the people ! or no support from the people at large; No : it is in that House that the thing because, even those who inwardly ap- is to be done, if it be to be done peaceprove of their object and efforts, do not ably; because that which is there said, do it openly, such approval being a tacit is said to all the people, and said to all confession, that they themselves have at once. If the matter be calculated to neglected their duty, in not having rouse men to action, all are roused at openly joined the combination. Besides, one and the same time. Public opinion every petition, every remonstrance, is thus formed and settled ; and it never coming from a combination, is received has yet been known, that public opinion and dealt with as such ; the combina- did not, in the end, prevail. Now, there tion is regarded as not speaking the fore, as I am of opinion, that I should voice of the people; it is looked upon be able to do a great deal in this way, I as a conceited and disaffected party; and wish, as I long have wished, to be is exposed to every shaft that calumny placed in the House of Commons. If is able to level against any one or more all the people read my Register, this of its members.
would not be so necessary: if all the No: the great change, the regenera- people had read (I mean tax-eaters extion or renovation, is not to be effected cluded) what I have published within peaceably by such means. If, indeed, the last ten years, there would be little the object were to effect it by physical for me to do : the public opinion would force, combinations might succeed; be settled and determined. However, but this object is most emphatically dis- all this falls far short, with regard even avowed by the parties; and here, at the to my own readers, of what speeches in very outset, they discover far too much Parliament would effect; for there are of timidity to encourage bold spirits to thousands of facts which, though of the join them, while this very timidity in greatest interest, and of undoubted truth, their language will make timid men I, as a writer, dare not state. I wear a suspect their sincerity, and stand aloof gag with respect to those matters precisefrom them accordingly. According to ly that ought to be laid before the peotheir own declarations, they will con- ple in all their naked deformity: in profine themselves to petitioning; and portion as the matter ought to be pubmost men will be satisfied, that we licly known is the peril of making it have had enough of that already. The known: and thus it is that a gagged good that a combination could do by press is, beyond all measure, worse than publications from the press, is very ques- no press at all; for, while it enjoys tionable. The circulation of them must boundless liberty to gloss over the deeds be partial ; their motion would be slow; of corruption by falsehoods endless, it and their effect but feeble, however dares not, though it confine itself to ably written, and in a style however strict truth, expose those deeds in a forcible.
plain and efficient manner. No: the scene wherein to effect a What, above all things, the people peaceable regeneration is the House of want to know is, INTO WHOSE Commons itself, whence every word, HANDS THE TAXES REALLY GO; coming from an able man and convey- who it is that has GOT THE PROPERing interesting knowledge, flies to the TY, OUT OF WHICH RELIEF FOR utmost bounds of the kingdom almost THE POOR FORMERLY CAME ; with the rapidity of thought ; and, when who is it that take the money raised on