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proceedings. Their object appears to have always been openly avowed, before strangers, in crowds, and upon the highways; and against this incontestable evidence of facts, we are desired to set such testimony as that of three persons, who, without swearing to any fact at all, except generally, to night drills, take upon them to say, upon their oaths, that the intent of that drilling, is to qualify "them for hostile purposes, against the government of the country,
and against the peace of our Lord the King, his crown, and dig‘nity, and to the disturbance of them these informants,' (p. 15.) words evidently prepared for them by some attorney, or justice's clerk, who mistook the work he was set upon, and added to a deposition, the but end of an indictment.
But we should be glad to know, in general, why the names of all these twenty-eight personages are suppressed? What risk can they run by being known? The Magistrates and Constables all appear in their proper characters, and seem to apprehend vo evil, though they are far more the objects of attack than their more obscure neighbours. Several, even of the spies, are named at full length; and one man, who had actually been maltreated for spying, and threatened with death if he interfered again, is yet not afraid of coming forward with his testimony, and signing his name to it. Can any good reason be imagined for keeping back all the others? Have we not a right to conjecture, either that they would be found persons not of the best character and credit, or that their stories would be contradicted by responsible witnesses ? Above all, it is most unaccountable that such meetings as those on the highway and at Tandle Hills, should not be described by any of the hundreds, and even thousands, who were present as spectators, and some two or three of whom might have been expected to give the account of what they saw and heard. It may safely be asserted, that they who prepared a case resting on scraps of depositions vouched by no names, may lay their account with an inference being drawn, extremely unfavourable to their good faith. They may expect to be told that they have good reasons for suppressing so much; and they seem to do a foolish and inconsistent thing in giving such evidence at all, unless they choose to tell more about it; for while they admit the necessity of proof, they, in truth, do little or nothing to furnish it.
All inquiry, in short, all methods of informing the legislature of the country, must needs be futile, except one-the examination of witnesses : and, unless the subject is such as to admit of this species of investigation, it is infinitely better to allow measures to be adopted on the responsibility of the executive government alone, than to deceive the nation with the mockery of evidence. The kind of tribunal before which the examination shall take place, is comparatively of little moment; whether before the houses of parliament, openly, or, where the subject requires secrecy, before a select committee, to whom the discretion may be 'intrusted, of withholding facts in some cases, and concealing names in others, as has been done in the most delicate of all inquiries, those concerning the affairs of the Bank. But that those who are to judge, should see those whose testimony is to guide their decision, seems a proposition too self-evident to require, or even to admit of demonstration. Even if the ministers were suffered to pack the committee, something like the truth must be elicited from examining witnesses; whereas, if the committee be as fairly named as possible, nothing but deception can result from their labours, if they are only to read such documents as the ministers select to suit their own views, and are not to have the power of putting a single question, or seeing a deponent, or even knowing his name. The fairest committee must thus be wholly in the hands of the persons who pack the green bag, as much as if those persons had packed the committee also. * * *
[The reviewer proceeds to examine in detail, the loose stories, depositions, and general reports, of alarmists, as published and used by the ministry, to justify farther encroachments upon the rights of the miserable commonalty. We select his account of another of the cases, from the evidence laid before Parliament-as follows:]
Another Magistrate, who appears by exaggerating the numbers to be a great alarmist, states that the Halifax meeting dispersed without any further disturbance than three or four of the alehouses being full of people drinking after eight o'clock, the hour at which his Worship had ordered them to be closed, so that he was obliged to have them cleared by the constables by force.' (p. 40.).
- the people (adds he) showing the worst possible spirit; -of which the cause is pretty manifest. According to this sagacious gentleman, more than 50,000 were assembled, and all, except a few thousands, from a distance :—but he did not see and count as the Mayor of Leeds did, who thereby reduced his estimate to twofifths of the Rumours. This place (he concludes) seems to have been well selected, being destitute of defence.'_(p. 41.) Then it will naturally be asked, what operations did the Enemy undertake? The place had been happily selected; there were no means of resistance but a few constables; and these were engaged in the very obnoxious and irritating work of clearing the alehouses, by force of this Magistrate's Curfew Law. Never could the Radical army be expected to muster in greater force than 50,000 on one point, and in more advantageous circumstances. Why then did they gain no victory? Of course they must at least have made some attempt, and been defeated by a special providence, where · human means were none.' No such thing—They all dispersed quietly ; and the only reason given for their not overpowering the constables, is a heavy rain which fell most fortunately, and drove home those who came from the country, -that is, between forty and fifty thousand Radical troops! Truly, if that force yields to such resistance, our powder and shot may well be saved for more stubborn antagonists. Now, it is not a little remarkable, that the Magistrate who gave this alarming account, and whose terrors were. communicated so rapidly to others, without any pause being allowed for reason to operate, was far from being a person of the highest consideration; he had been liberated from the County Jail, under the Insolvent Act, and had been sued, successfully, for the penalties, in consequence of having acted without having the qualifications required by law,-circumstances, no doubt, unknown to those who acted upon his written information, but which must have come out before any Committee that examined him, and certainly would have somewhat shaken his credit. * *
We have now minutely gone through the whole evidence laid before parliament; and we venture to draw from it one inference, without the least fear of contradiction that distress is at the bottom of the whole discontent; that no deep-laid design exists, to destroy the constitution, or war against the law, or invade the property of the country; but that, as always happens in a popular government, demagogues have availed themselves of the bad times to further their views, whether of political speculation, or of personal vanity; and that these proceedings may have here and there overstepped the bounds which are prescribed by law. The history of these events reminds one forcibly of the insurrections which broke out in Henry VIIIth's reign, upon occasion of the first attempt to introduce an income tax into this country. The masters were forced, by the difficulties it imposed on them, to throw men out of employment; and the poor workmen, in many places, rose up and took arms, not being quite so short sighted as some of demagogues, who conceive such a tax to fall wholly on the rich, and hold that the poor are no way concerned in opposing it. The government took precautions to quell the riots, and enforce the tribute; and the principal scene of operation being in the eastern counties, the Dukes of Suffolk and Norfolk were sent thither with a force, to quell the insurgents; with whom, when they began to reason, and asked who was their leader or captain, an aged man, called John Green, stood forth and said, “If it please you, Sirs, four captain's name is Poverty, and his brother Necessity;' and
opined plainly the causes of their ferment, to lie in the impost, and its grinding effects on their employers, who could thus pay
no wages. And after a while,' adds the Chronicler (Hall,) this *tribute surceased through the land, and quiet was restored for 'Fell it was seen that the commons could none pay.'
If any addition were wanting to the proofs which we have giveff of the groundlessness of our late alarm, we assuredly have it in the important fact, wholly overlooked by the supporters of the new bills; that the meetings, so much the object of dread, had in fact ceased all over the country before a single bill was brought in. No fact is more certain, than the tendency of all popular spirit to evaporate of itsell, if unchecked by persecution; and the difficulty of repeating public meetings, frequently within a short period of time, where there is nothing done but debate, is well known to all who have ever engaged in such proceedings. Accordingly, the effects of the Manchester outrage, and of the subsequent course pursued by the courts in the country, by degrees subsided; and even to discuss those interesting and fruitful topics, no new meetings were assembled. The leaders of the multitude tried in vain to renew their exploits; the spirit of the capital was found to have evaporated in a great procession; that of Manchester was under the control of a salutary caution, and the indisposition to witness another 16th of August, was manifest. The demagogues, both in town and country, began to quarrel among themselves, and to show some sense of justice, in copiously reviling one another, both by parole and in writing ; vain attempts were made to assemble even the rabble of London; and two Spafields meetings, lately the terror of all men, were held with hardly any auditors, to the laughter, and pity, and contempt of all the town; till at length the whole having dwindled to nothing, the last account, that lived in the recollection of the public, was the accusation brought against one rebel chief, of embezzling four pounds, thirteen and two pence, and the arrest of another for about the same sum, being the tavern bill of a civic entertainment to commemorate the triumph of the popular cause! Strange, that the Alarmists should have been so little comforted by contemplating these proceedings—these manifest symptoms of inpate debility in the cause of the disaffected these demonstrative proofs that the machinations of such miserable creatures, never could hurt the state—and, that whatever ferment might have at one moment subsisted, had all yielded to the operation of the ordinary laws of the land. But it was now said, that the danger lay not in London. Here was a material change of doctrine; for the whole malignity of its character in 1812 and 1817, had been made to depend upon the influence of the London chiefs, and the universal ramifications into the country, of a conspiracy, the root of which was planted in the capital. But, then, all ferment in the country had also ceased; no outrages were committed; not a meeting of any sort had been held, or even announced, for weeks before the bills were brought into parliament, and for two months before the new measures were in force. How could this be reconciled to the accounts so lavishly circulated, and so greedily devoured, of the imminent dangers of our situation ? Surely, every man must have been aware that the prospect of restraints upon public meetings would necessarily have forced on the crisis, had any such risk really existed; for those who really wished to meet, and those whose plan was to avail themselves of meetings, to work their mischievous purposes, must equally have endeavoured to hold meetings while they were yet lawful: Yet not a meeting was called, while the new bills were in progress. Of all this, there is but one explanation. The season of tumult, the time for being afraid of such assemblies, had passed by; and there never was any ground for the alarm which they had excited; nor the shadow of a ground for maintaining that the ancient constitutional law of the country, if steadily, as well as equally administered, would not prove more than a match for all the machinations of discontent.
We have now seen two months more pass away in equal tranquillity; on which we shall only observe, that a more vile piece of empiricism never was practised than theirs, who now pretend to ascribe this quiet to their nostrums of last session. The operation of the act restraining meetings, never could have checked the evil all at once, had its nature and magnitude been such as those men described; for that measure left so many means of holding meetings of the most dangerous description, that it would have been found wholly ineflectual, had real danger existed. For example, all meetings in buildings, however numerously attended; all processions, if without emblems; all district meetings; all meetings of whole towns and counties, provided discussion was not the object, including a meeting and procession to bury Paine's bones, though attended by 100,000 persons—all these were left as legal as before the new law was passed. But, another most demonstrative proof that this law had no connexion whatever with the peace we have enjoyed since it passed, is the equally profound tranquillity enjoyed for an equal period of time before it was in operation at all. This clear point ought ever to be kept in view, in order to detect and confound the political quacks who would palm their pernicious drugs upon us, as having effected cures which had been completed by the regular practitioners, long before their vile medicaments were compounded.
And now we have had a proof, if possible more striking, of the truths which have been inculcated in these pages. Having shown at large, from reason and probability ; from analizing the evidence; from known facts; and from subsequent events, that the danger was imaginary; we have at length, to crown the whole, obtained an ample admission that the authors of the alarm themselves, believe it to have been so. They have chosen to dissolve the parliament at the earliest day, instead of waiting for six VOL. I.