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As illustrated in the Prosecution and Punishment of
WILLIAM COBBETT. 159]
[160 In order that my countrymen and that the two sureties in the sum of 1,000 pounds each; world may not be deceived, duped, and cheated that the whole of this sentence has been executed upon this subject, I, WILLIAM COBBETT, upon me, that I have been imprisoned the two of Botley, in Hampshires. Paren, por... upon record years, have paid the thonsand pounds TO THE
...hii ninth Rrown June, 1809, the following article was pub- and Peter Walker, Esqrs. being my sureties; lished in a London news-paper, called the that the Attorney General was Sir Vicary Gibbs, Courier: “ The Mutiny amongst the LO- the Judge who sat at the trial Lord Ellenborongb, “ CAL MILITIA, which broke out at Ely, was the four Judges who sat al passing sentence Ellen" fortunately suppressed on Wednesday by the borough, Grose, Le Blanc, and Bailey; and that “arrival of four squadrons of the GÉRMAN the jurors were, Thomas Rhodes of Hampstead “ LEGION CAVALRY from Bury, under the Road, John Davis of Southampton Place, James « command of General Auckland. Five of the Ellis of Tottenham Court Road, John Richards “ ringleaders were tried by a Court-Martial, and of Bayswater, Thomas Marsham of Baker Street, 5 sentenced to receive 500 lashes each, part of which Robert Heathcote of High Street Marylebone, “punishment they received on Wednesday, and John Maud of York Place Marylebone, George
a part was remitted. A stoppage for their knap- Baxter of Church Ter Pancras, Thomas
sacks was the ground of the complaint that ex. Taylor of Red Lion Square, David Deave of St. “ cited this mntinous spirit, which occasioned John Street, William Palmer of Upper Street “ the men to surround their officers, and demand Islington, Henry Fayre of Pall Mall; that the “ what they deemed their arrears. The first Prime Ministers during the time were Spencer “ division of the German Legion balted yesterday Perceval, until he was shot by John Bellingham, o at Newmarket on their return to Bury.”. and after that Robert B. Jenkinson, Earl of LiThat, on the 1st July, 1809, I published, in the verpool; that the prosecution and sentence took Political Register, an article censuring, in the place in the reign of King George the Third, and strongest terms, these proceedings; that, for so that, he having become insane during my impridoing, the Attorney General prosecuted, as sedi. sooment, the 1,000 pounds was paid to his son, tious libellers, and by Ex-Officio Information, the Prince Regent, in his behalf; that, during my me, and also my printer, my publisher, and one imprisonment, I wrote and published 364 Essays of the principal retailers of the Political Register; and Letters upon political subjects; that, during that I was brought to trial on the 15th June, the same time, I was visited by persons from 197 1810, and was, by a Special Jury, that is to say, cities and towns, many of them as a sort of depuby 12 men out of 48 appointed by the Master of ties from Societies or Clubs; that, at the expirathe Crown Office, found guilty ; that, on the tion of my imprisonment, on the 9th of July, 1812, 20th of the same month, I was compelled to give a great dinner was given in London for the purbail for my appearance to receive judgment; pose of receiving me, at which dinner upwards of and that, as I came up from Botley (to which 600 persons were present, and at which Sir place I had returned to my family and my farm Francis Burdett presided; that dinners and other on the evening of the 15th), a Tipstaff went parties were held on the same occasion in many down from London in order to seize me, per other places in England; that, on my way home, sonally ; that, on the 9th of July, 1810, I, toge- I was received at Alton, the first town in Hampther with my printer, publisher, and the news. shire, with the ringing of the Church bells; that man, were brought into the Court of King's a respectable company met nie and gave me a Bench to receive judgment; that the three dinner at Winchester; that I was drawn from former were sentenced to be imprisoned for more than the distance of a mile into Botley by some months in the King's Bench prison; that I the people; that, upon my arrival in the village, was sentenced to be imprisoned for two years in I found all the people assembled to receive me; Newgate, the great receptacle for malefactors, that I concluded the day by explaining to them and the front of which is the scene of numerous the cause of my imprisonment, and by giving hangings in the course of every year; that the them clear notions respecting the flogging of the part of the prison in which I was sentenced to be Local Militia-mep at Ely, and respecting the emconfined is sometimes inhabited by felons, that ployment of German Troops; and, finally, which felons were actually in it at the time I entered is more than a compensation for my losses and all it; that one man was taken out of it to be trans- my sufferings, I am in perfect health and strength, ported in about 48 hours after I was put into the and, though I must, for the sake of six children, same yard with him; and that it is the place of feel the diminution that has been made in my confinement for men guilty of unnatural crimes, property (thinking it right in me to decline the of whom there are four in it at this time ; that, offer of a subscription), I have the consolation to besides this imprisonment, I was sentenced to see growing up three sons, upon whose hearts, I pay a thousand pounds TO THE KING, and to trust, all these facts will be engraven. give security for my good behaviour for seven
WM, COBBETT. years, myself in the sum of 3,000 pounds, and Botley, July 23, 1812.
Published by R. BAGSHAW, Brydges-Street, Covent-Garden.
LONDON: Printed by J. M'Creery, Black Horse-Court, Fleet-street.
VOL. XXII, No. 6.] LONDON, SATURDAY, AUGUST 8, 1812.
“ I implore your Royal Highness to reflect on the manifold miseries that may arise from this
cause, and to be pleased to bear in mind, that, to yield hereafter upon force or menace, will be “ disgrace; whereas to yield now would indicate a sentiment of justice.” -Letter to the Regent, Vol. XXI. Pol. Reg. p.789. 161]
[162 Highness verbally; but, how wretchedly TO THE PRINCE REGENT,
have the nation and you been deceived ! ON THE DISPUTE WITH AMERICA. The state of affairs between the two coun
tries now stands thus: There exists a DisLETTER VII.
pute on the subject of our Orders in Coun, Sir,
cil, on that of the Impressment of Ameri. if I have now to refer to the proofs of can Seamen, and on the possession of the the correctness of those opinions which I Floridas. There are some other matters of addressed to your Royal Highness many inferior importance, but they would almit months past, upon the subject of the Dis. of easy arrangement. With regard to the pute with America, I beg you to be assur-Orders in Council, your Royal Highness ed, that I do it not in the way of triumph, was advised to issue, on the 21st of April but in the hope, that even yet my advice, last,* a Declaration, stating that you would most respectfully offered to your Royal not repeal the Orders in Council, until Highness, may have some weight with France, Officially and Unconditionally, by you, and may, in some small degree, tend some public promulgation, repealed her to avert that last of national evils, a war Berlin and Milan Decrees. France, so far with America, a war against the children from doing this, has, in the most public of Englishmen, a war against the seat of and solemn manner, declared, that she will political and religious freedom.
never do what your Declaration required, In 'my former Letters I took great pains though, at the same time, she has repeated to endeavour to induce your Royal Higliness (and she has done no more)what she had to distrust the statements in our public said to the American Government in 1810, prints as to the power of the English party and what was then communicated to our in the American States. I assured you, Government by the American Minister in what the venal press in England was en London. Nevertheless, you were afteraged in promulgating a series of deceptions wards advised to repeal the Orders in with regard to the opinions of the people of Council, though the conditions of the DeAmerica. I took the liberty to point out claration before issued were not at all satisto your Royal Highness the mischiefs which fied, but were, in fact, set at open defimust result from listening to the advice of ance. those whose language might correspond This repeal, which took place on the 23d with that of this press; and, in short, 1 of June last,t was, however, too late in its showed, that, if the endeavours of that adoption to prevent war. The American pernicious, partial, and corrupt press had Government, who had been making their their intended effect, war with America preparations for many months, and which must be the consequence. By this press preparatious had been the subject of mock(the vilest instrument of the vilest corrup: ery with the venal press in England, detion that ever existed in the whole world) clared war on the 18ih of June last. The the people of England were induced to ap- intelligence of this having been received in prove of the measures which have now pro- England, your Royal Highness was advised duced a war with America; or, at least, to issue, on the 31st of July, an Order in they were induced to wink at them. They Council for an embargo on all Ainerican were made to believe, that our measures of vessels in our ports, and also for capturing hostility against America were useful to us, and detaining all American vessels at sea. and at the American Government had not the power to resent them by war. The
* See Register, Vol. XXI. p.735. same, I doubt not, was told to your Royal + Register, Vol. XXI. p.815.
This is the state of affairs between the clusive of the wars in India. He has been two countries; and the main question now not only the greatest warrior, but the greatappears to be, whether, when the Ameri- est conqueror of any European prince that can Government hears of our repeal of the ever lived. Napoleon is nothing to him as Orders in Council, they will revoke their a conqueror; and yet the Americans have declaration of war. This is a question of dared to declare war against him. But, great interest at this moment; and, I even now, now that she has actually deshall, therefore, proceed to lay before your clared war, and that, too, by an Act of Royal Highness my sentiments with respect Congress, by a law passed by real repreto it.
sentatives of the people; by men elected by The same sort of infatuation that has the free voice of the nation; by an un. prevailed here, with regard to American bribed, unbought, unsold, unenslaved asaffairs, for many months past, appears still sembly, not by a set of corrupt knaves to prevail. Indeed, Sir, I can call it no whom the President can at any time twist other than insolence ; an insolent contempt about by means of the people's money; of the Americans, thought by those who even now, when she has declared war in hate them, and who would, if they could, this solemn manner, the hireling news. kill them to the last man, in revenge for papers in London would fain make us betheir having established a free government, lieve, that the whole thing is a mere makewhere there are neither sinecures, jobs, or belief, that it is a mere feint, and “ will selling of seats. This insolence has induced " end in smoke.” At the least, they tell people to talk of America as a country inca- us, that when the news of the repeal of our pable of resenting any thing that we might Orders in Council reaches America, there do to her; as being a wretched state, un must be a revocation of the declaration of supported by any thing like vigour in go- war. They seem to forget, that the declavernment; as a sort of horde of half-sa- ration of war in America is an Act of Con. vages, with whom we might do what we gress, and that to do away the effect of that pleased ; and, to the very last minute, the Act, another Act must pass. They seen great mass of the people here; ninety-nine to forget, that it is the people who have deout of every hundred, firmly believed, that clared war; and that the people must be
America would never go to war with us. consulted before that declaration can be anThey left provocations quite out of the nulled, or revoked. But, Sir, the fact is, question. They appeared to have got into that these writers talk miserable nonsense. their heads a conclusion, that, let us do We are at war with America; and, before what we would to America, she would not we can have peace with her again, we must go to war with us.
have a treaty of peace. This way of thinking has pervaded the But, the main question for rational men whole of the writings upon the subject of to discuss is : “Will the repeal of our Orthe Dispute with America. At every stage " ders in Council be sufficient to induce in the progress towards war, the corrupt " America to make peace with us, without press has asserted, that America knew better including the redress of her other grievthan to go to war with us. When she “ ances ?" This is the question that we went so far as to pass Acts for raising an have to discuss ; it is a question in which army and equipping a fleet, and that, too, hundreds of thousands are immediately inwith the avowed intention of making war terested ; and it is a question which I think against us; still the hirelings told the peo- may be answered in the negative; that is to ple, that she dared not go to war, and that say, Sir, I give it as my opinion, that the she only meant to bully. I could fill a large repeal of our Orders in Council will not volume with assertions from the Times be sufficient to restore us to a state of peace news-paper alone, that we should not yield with America, and, I now proceed respecta tillle, and that America would not dare to fully to submit to your Royal Highness the go to war. · But, the fact is too notorious to reasons, upon which this opinion is founded. dwell upon. There is no man, and espe In my last Letter (at p. 787, Vol. XXI.) cially your Royal Highness, who can have I had the honour to state to your Royal failed to observe the constant repetition of Highness, that there was another great these assertions.
point with America : namely, the ImpressAt last, however, America has dared loment of American seamen, which must be go lo war, even against that great warrior adjusted before harmony could be restored George the Third, nearly three-fifths of between the two countries; and, as you syhose reign has been occupied inwars, ex must have perceived, this subject of com
pfaint stands at the head of Mr. Madison's " no proof might be wanting of their constatement of the grounds of war; it stands ciliatory dispositions, and no pretext left at the head of his manifesto against our “ for continuance of the practice, the BriGoverament. His own words will best" tish Government was formally assured of speak his meaning : “ Without going “ the readiness of the United States to enter " beyond the renewal, in 1803, of the war " into arrangements, such as could not be “ in which Great Britain is engaged, and rejected, if the recovery of the British sub“ omitting unrepaired wrongs of inferior "jects were the real and the sole object. s magnitude, the conduct of her Govern “ The communication passed without ef" ment presents a series of acts hostile to
os fect.” " the United States as an independent and The grievance here complained of is cer“ neutral nation.—British cruizers have tainly very great, and cannot be expected “ been in the continued practice of violat. to be borne by any nation capable of resist. “ ing the American flag on the great high- ance. If England were at peace and Ame“ way of nations, and of seizing and car- rica at war, and if the latter were to assume “ rying off persons sailing under it, not in the right of stopping our merchant vessels " the exercise of a belligerent right, found at sea, and taking out of them by force any " ed on the law of nations against an ene men whom her officers might choose to “ my, but of a municipal prerogative over consider as Americans, what should we “ British subjects. British jurisdiction is say to the assumption ? And, would not " thus extended to neutral vessels in a si- your Royal Highness be ashamed to exer“ tuation where no laws can operate but cise the royal authority without the power " the law of nations and the laws of the instantly to punish such an affront.co the “ country to which the vessels belong; and dignity of the Crown and the honour of the “ a self-redress is assumed, which, if Bri-Country? But, degrading as this impress“ tish subjects were wrongfully detained ment is to the national character of the " and alone concerned, is that substitution Americans, it cuts them still deeper by the * of force for a resort to the responsible real sufferings that it inflicts; by the ruin
Sovereign, which falls within the defini- which it occasions to thousands of families; “tion of war. Could the seizure of Bri- and by the deaths which it produces in the
tish subjects, in such cases, be regarded as course of every year. I have before stated “ within the exercise of a belligerent right, that the number of impressed American “ the acknowledged laws of war, which seamen is very great, or, at least, has so “ forbid an article of captured property to been stated in America, amounting to many “ be adjudged without a regular irivestiga- thousands, constantly in a state of the most “tion before a competent tribunal, would terrible bondage to them; and, as some are " imperiously demand the fairest trial, daily dropping off, while others are im6 where the sacred rights of persons were pressed, the extent to which the evil has " at issue. In place of such trial, these been felt in America must have been very
rights are subjected to the will of every great indeed, during so long a war.
petty commander.-The practice, hence, Our corrupt news papers, with the Times “ is so far from affecting British subjects at their head, are endeavouring to misrepre" alone, that under the pretext of searching sent the nature of the complaint of America, “ for these, thousands of American citizens, and thereby to provide the Ministers be" under the safeguard of public laws, and forehand with a justification for war rather “ of their national Aag, have been torn than afford her redress. Upon the part of “ from their country, and from every thing the President's manifesto above quoted, the “ dear to them,-have been dragged on Times makes these observations :- She " board ships of war of a foreign nation, first complains of our impressing British " and exposed, under the severities of their " scamen, when found on board American " discipline, to be exiled to the most dis-" vessels: but this is a right which we "tant and deadly climes, to risk their lives"- now exercise under peculiar modifica" in the battles of their oppressors, and to
astions and restrictions, We do not at" be the melancholy instruments of taking"tempt to search ships of war, however
away those of their own brethren." inferior their force to ours: and as to “ Against this - crying enormity, which searching merchantmen, we do not even 46 Great Britain would be so prompt to “ do this, vaguely or indiscriminately; but " avenge if committed against herself, the upon posilive and accurate information.
United States have in vain exhausted re " And practically, we apprehend, that the * monstrances and expostulations : and that criminal concealment on the part of Ame
66 rica, is a much greater nuisance to us, I was released from our service by the Lords " than a wanton search on our part is to of the Adıniralty, in consequence of an ap16 her. Let her, however, propose “ such plication from the American Consul, while.
arrangenents” on this head, as are cal. I was in prison for writing about the flog“ culated to effect the recovery of British ging of the Local Militia in the town of " subjects, and she will find Great Britain Ely, and about the employment of German 66 far from averse to listen to her."
troops upon that occasion. This, Sir, is a tissue of falsehoods and And yet, Sir, in the face of all these misrepresentatious. The President does facts, has the hired writer the audacity, the not complain that we impress Brilish sea- the cool impudence, to assert, that we never men: he complains, that, under pretence of search American vessels for seamen, taking British seamen, we take American upon positive and accurale information." seamen. This is what he complains of, With this instance of falsehood; of wilful, which is precisely the contrary of what is shameless falsehood, before them, one here stated. As to our not taking men out would imagine, that the public would of Arnerican ships of war, our Government never after be in danger of being deceived knows well, that America has no ships of by the same writer; but, alas: Sir, the war worth speaking of, and that she has cunning slave who sells his pen for this thousands of merchant ships. It is said purpose knows well, that the public, or, at here, that we do not search American mer- least, that that part of the public whom he chantmen" vaguely and indiscriminately; wishes to deceive will never, till it be too “ but, upon positive and accurale informa-late, be able to detect him; he knows that 66 tion." One would suppose it impossi- his falsehood goes
where the exposure selble for any man, capable of writing a pa- dom comes, and, if it come at all, he knows ragraph, to sit down coolly and state so that its arrival will be too late to prevent perfect a falsehood as this. But herein we the effect, to produce which is his object. have an instance of the length to which the . He next calls upon America to propose hirelings of the English press will go in her arrangement, upon this subject; though supporting any thing which they are called in the very manifesto, upon which he is on to support. It is a fact, and this writer commenting, the President declares that knew it to be a fact, that any commander of an offer had been made to our Government any ship in our navy, when he meets an to enter into an arrangement, but that the American merchantman at sea, does, or “ communication passed without effect." may, go or send on board of her, and that it is going very far on the part
of America he does, or may, take out of her any per- to offer to enter into any arrangement upon sons, who, IN HIS OPINION, are Bri- the subject; for, why should not she say: tish subjects. That this is a fact no one as we certainly should say:
"6 Take care of can deny; where, then, is the 66 positive your own seamen; keep them from us in 66 and accurate information?" It is also a any way that you please; but, you shall, fact, that the Americans have frequently on the seas, take nobody out of our vesasserted, that our officers have thus taken sels." Nevertheless, she has offered to out of their ships at sea many thousands of enter into arrangements, “such," she says, American Citizens, under the pretence of " as could not be rejected, if the “recovery their being British subjects. It is also a " of British Seamen was the sole object; fact, which is proved by the books at our and yet this writer accuses her of the crimiown Adiniralty, that the American Gonal concealment of our seamen ! We have vernment, through its Consul in London, rejected this offer of an arrangement for has oblained the release from our fieet of a the prevention of British seamen from great number of American Citizens thus taking shelter in American ships ; and, impressed, seized, and carried off upon the yet this writer accuses America of a desire high seas. It is also a fact, proved by the to injure us by making her ships an asylum same authority, that many of the Ameri- for British deserters! cans thus taken have lost their limbs in the Our Government say, that, if we do not compulsory service of England, a service exercise our power of searching American which they abhorred. It is a fact that I ships, and taking out our own seamen, our take upon me to vouch for, that, amongst sea service will be ruined by the desertions the American Citizens, thus captured and to those American ships. For instance, a carried off, and forced into our service of British ship of war is lying at Plymouth, Jate years, were two grand nephervs of Ge- and there are three or four American veseral Washinglon, and that oue of the two sels in the same port. Numbers of the