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“You may rely therefore upon my firm determination to employ for this purpose the powers intrusted to me by the law; and I have no doubt that on your return to your several counties, you will use your utmost endeavours, in co-operation with the magistracy, to defeat the machinations of those whose projects, if successful, could only aggravate the evils it is proposed to remedy; and who, under the pretence of reform, have really no other object but the subver

sion of our happy constitution.” Then the Lord Chancellor, by the Prince Regent's command, said : “My Lords and Gentlemen; “It is the will and pleasure of his Royal Highness the Prince Regent, acting in the name and on the behalf of his Majesty, that this parliament be prorogued to Tuesday the 24th of August next, to be then here holden, and this parliament is accordingl prorogued to Tuesday the #. of August next.”

CHAPTER Dismissal of



Reform Meetings at Manchester and Leeds.-Female Reformers.-Meeting at Glasgow.—Second Meeting at Leeds.--Circular Letter of Lord Sidmouth.-Meeting for choosing a Representative at Birmingham.— Resolutions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Magistrates.—Proclamation against Sedition.—Mr. Hunt at Manchester.—Réform Meeting there.-Its Dispersal by the Military.—Thanks of the Prince Regent. —Proceedings against Mr. Hunt and others.—Other Reform Meetings-Riots at Paisley-Subscriptions for Manchester Sufferers.Conduct of the Grand Jury.—Address of the Corporation of London.

—Prince o; Answer.—Other Addresses.—Meeting at York.—

arl Fitzwilliam.—Loyal Addresses.—Associations for

raising Yeomanry.—Inquest on John Lees.

T H E principal domestic

events of the present year.

are intimately connected with the movements of a set of men, who have received the name of Radical Reformers; of which we shall lay a detailed account before our readers. Early in the year, application was made to the borough-reeve and constables of Manchester, to summon a public meeting in that town for the purpose of petitioning parliament for the repeal of the corn bill; and on their refusal, an anonymous advertisement fixed the meeting for January 18th. Mr. Hunt was invited to preside, and was met by a great multitude, and conducted into the town in a kind of triumph. Several flags were displayed before him, bearing the mottoes—“ Hunt and Liberty;” “Rights of Man;” “ Universal Suffrage;” “No Corn Laws.” In his harangue at the meeting, the orator treated with contempt the

idea of petitioning that House of

Commons which, when last assembled, had “kicked their prayers and petitions out of doors;” and he asked his audience, whether they would “ come forward, as men and Englishmen, and claim their rights?” A remonstrance to the Prince Regent was then adopted, in lieu of a petition to parliament; and after listening to the speeches of some Manchester reformers, the meeting peaceably dispersed. In the month of June many meetings were held by the distressed manufacturers, especially at Glasgow, at Leeds, and at Ashton-under-line. These assemblages were extremely numerous, that on Hunslet-moor, near Leeds, being estimated (but probably with great, exaggeration) at 35,000. Not theslightest breach of the peace occurred on any of these occasions, for the leaders were strenuous in their exhortations to the people to preserve an inoffensive demeanor ;


and it was well known, that active measures had been taken by the magistrates to resist any tendency to riot. The harangues of the leaders, however, were sufficiently inflammatory; from statements of the distresses of the manufacturing poor, these speakers proceeded to an explanation of their causes, which were stated to be, excessive taxation, places, pensions, and generally the usurpations of the rich upon the poor. The remedies suggested were, annual parliaments and universal suffrage, the present representation being declared a mere mockery. At Ashton-under-line an approaching meeting at Stockport was announced; and it was resolved, that means should be taken for establishing a regular communication from one extremity of the kingdom to the other. A spirit of hostility to the clergy was manifested in some instances, and religion itself was treated, by one of the speakers at Leeds, with a tone of irony and contempt which offended many of the auditors. The persons who summoned the Stockport meeting, on the refusal of the magistrate, declared one object of it to be, to decide whether or not the people possess the power of destroying the Bank. An entirely novel and truly portentous circumstance was, the formation of a Female Reform Society at Blackburn, near Manchester, from which circular letters were issued, inviting the wives and daughters of workmen in different branches of manufacture, to form sister societies, for the purpose of co-operating with the men, and of instillin

into the minds of their children,

“a deep-rooted hatred of our tyrannical rulers.” A deputation from this society attended the Blackburn reform meeting, and, mounting the scaffold, presented a cap of liberty and an address to the assembly. The example of these females was successfully recommended to imitation by the

orators at other meetings. These political assemblies proved so attractive to the manufacturing classes, under the irritation produced by low wages and a deficiency of employment, that the spirit rapidly diffused itself through the counties of York, Lancaster, Chester, Nottingham, and Leicester; and gaining at length the important town of Birmingham, where a great mass of distress and consequent discontent was existing, ready to be operated upon, the leaders of the faction were emboldened to propose a measure of a more decisive character than any yet attempted. At a public meeting holden on July 12, on an open space adjo to this town, at which not ess than 15,000 persons were supposed to be present, the managers, after reading a letter from Sir Charles Wolseley, bart. of Staffordshire, excusing his necessary absence on this occasion, proposed that the same Sir Charles should be sent up to parliament as “legislatorial attorney and representative of Birmingham.” The movers stated, that the issuing of a writ being compulsory, they had not awaited the form of the mandate, but anticipated the right. The privilege constitutionally belonged to them, and they were fulfilling the duty of good subjects in proceeding to advise the sovereign sovereign by their representatives. The baronet was then elected, according to regular form, by an immense show of hands, and amid the thundering acclamations of the concurring multitude. A remonstrance was read, which the new elected member was to present to parliament, and a deputation was appointed to carr to him the instructions of his constituents. Sir Charles Wolseley in return pledged himself to claim his seat in the House of Commons. The people of Leeds animated by the example, or actuated by the same councils, resolved, at a meeting holden a few days subsequently, that as soon as an elegible person could be found to accept their representation an election should take place. About the same time, Mr. Hunt and his associates announced a meeting in Smithfield, which passed off without the least disturbance. The attention of government was now thoroughly awakened to the character of these proceedings, and it was determined that a check should in the first instance be given to the unbounded license of speech in which the popular orators believed themselves authorized to indulge. Sir Charles Wolseley was arrested at his own residence, carried to {{nutsford, and compelled to give bail for his appearance to answer for seditious words spoken by him at a public meeting at Stockport; on a similar charge, one Harrison, was seized on the hustings during the meeting at Smithfield, and conveyed back into Cheshire. True bills for sedition were found against others


of the same stamp. Circular letters were also forwarded on July 7th, by the secretary for the home department to the lordlieutenants of the disturbed counties, as they began to be entitled, recommending prompt and effectual means for the preservation of the public tranquillity; especially vigilance and activity on the part of magistrates, and, as a measure of precaution, directions to be given to the yeomanry of the county to hold themselves in readiness. An atrocious attempt on the life of Birch, the police officer, by whom both Sir Charles Wolseley and Harrison had been taken into custody, was met by a proclamation with a high reward for the discovery of the offender, dated July 26th, and on the 30th of the same month a proclamation was issued against seditious meetings (s. Public Papers). Undeterred by these symptoms of activity on the part of government, the Manchester reformists ventured to placard a notice of a meeting to be holden for the purpose of choosing a parliamentary representative for that town; but being informed that the magistrates would not permit an assemblage of the people for a purpose clearly illegal, they reinquished this design, but soon after advertised a meeting for an object, the legality of which was fully acknowledged, that of petitioning for a reform of parlia


The adjournment of the preceding meeting, the considerable interval of preparation which had been allowed; a vague feeling perhaps, that such assemblages would would not much longer be permitted,—all conspired to render the concourse great beyond all former example. A little before noon on the 16th of August, the first body of reformers began to arrive on the scene of action, which was a piece of ground called St. Peter's field, adjoining a church of that name in the town of Manchester. These persons bore two banners, surmounted with caps of liberty, and bearing the inscriptions— “No Corn Laws,” “Annual Parliaments,” “Universal Suffrage,” “Vote by Ballot.” Some of these flags, after being paraded round the field, were planted in the cart on which the speakers stood; but others remained in different parts of the crowd. Numerous large bodies of reformers continued to arrive from the towns in the neighbourhood of Manchester till about one o'clock, all preceded by flags, and many of them in regular marching order, five deep. Two clubs of female reformers advanced, one of them numbering more than 150 members, and bearing a white silk banner. One body of reformers timed their steps to the sound of a bugle with much of a disciplined air: another had assumed to itself the motto of the illustrious Wallace, “God armeth the Patriot.” A band of special constables assumed a position on the field without resistance. The congregated multitude now amounted to a number roundly computed at 80,000, and the arrival of the hero of the day was impatiently expected. At length Mr. Hunt made his appearance, and after a

rapturous greeting, was invited to. preside; he signified his assent, and mounting a scaffolding, began to harangue his admirers. He had not proceeded far, when the appearance of the yeomanry cavalry advancing towards the area in a brisk trot, excited a panic in the outskirts of the meeting. They entered the inclosure, and after pausing a moment to recover their disordered ranks, and breathe their horses, they drew their swords, and brandished them fiercely in the air. The multitude, by the direction of their leaders, gave three cheers, to show that they were undaunted by this intrusion, and the orator had just resumed his speech to assure the people that this was only a trick to disturb the meeting, and to exhort them to stand firm, when the cavalry dashed into the crowd, making for the cart on which the speakers were placed. The multitude offered no resistance, they fell back on all sides. The commanding officer then approaching Mr. Hunt, and brandishing his sword, told him that he was his prisoner. Mr. Hunt, after enjoining the people to tranquillity, said, that he would readily surrender to any civil officer on showing his warrant, and Mr. Nadin, the principal police officer, received him in charge. Another person, named Johnson, was likewise apprehended, and a few of the mob ; some others against whom there were warrants, escaped in the crowd. A cry now arose among the military of, “Have at their flags,” and they dashed down not only those in the cart, but the others

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