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in the body of the people. His system closely resembled that engrafted upon the United States Constitution twelve years later. This shows him a man of rare sagacity for the times, far in advance of his cotemporaries, and not a whit behind the most radical American patriots. The next year he presented an address to the King, urging peace with his Colonies, and a union with them on the basis of independent States. He organized, the same year, England's first association for promoting Parliamentary reform, called the “Society for Political Inquiry.” Soon after, Cartwright stood twice for Parliament, but was unsuccessful, partly on account of his radical principles, and partly because he would not stoop to any form of bribery, not even “ treating,” declaring that “he would not spend a single shilling to influence the electors."
He continued to agitate for reform, by pamphlets, speeches, and correspondence, till, in 1781, he organized the celebrated "Society for Constitutional Information," which enrolled many of the first names in the kingdom, and to which Tooke belonged when tried for treason in 1794. Cartwright wrote the first address of the Society. It received the high encomiums of Sir William Jones, who said it ought to be engraven upon gold. The ship of Parliamentary Reform now glided smoothly, Cartwright being the chief pilot, when the French revolution burst upon the world. He hailed it as the dawn of a political millennium, and, filled with joy, he addressed a congratulatory and advisory letter to the French National Assembly. But, the skies of France, so bright at the rising of the revolutionary sun, soon became darkened, and the clouds poured down blood and fire upon the land, covering the friends of liberty in England with sorrow and dismay. The Reign of Terror in France was followed by a Reign of Terror in England. In the former, the victims were royalists. In the latter, radicals. In the former, Robespierre and the guillotine executed vengeance. In the latter, George III and the Court of King's Bench. Large numbers erased their names
from the proscribed roll of the Society. Cartwright, Tooke, and a resolute band, resolved to stand by their principles and pledges, and brave the royal anger, come life, come death. The particulars of the treason trials which followed, I have already given
Some of Cartwright's friends besought him to stand aloof from Tooke and his brother traitors." He was too brave and true a man to desert his associates in the ordeal hour. He addressed a letter to the Secretary of State, asking permission to visit Tooke in the Tower, avowing that it had been the greatest pleasure of his life to coöperate with him for Parliamentary reform; and if his friend was a felon, and worthy of death, so was he. He has left interesting memoranda of the trials at the Old Bailey. He says, “ Gibbs spoke like an angel” in Hardy's case, and that Erskine became so exhausted, toward the close of the trial, that, in arguing incidental points to the court, an intermediate person had to repeat what he said to the judges. He conveyed intelligence of the result of Hardy's case to his family in the country, in terms as terse as Caesar's celebrated military dispatch : “ Hardy is acquitted. -J. C." He was a witness in Tooke's case.
On the crossexamination of the Attorney General, though cautioned by the court not to criminate himself, he scorned all concealment, avowing that the objects of the Constitutional Society were to obtain equal representation, universal suffrage, and annual Parliaments, and replying to the caution of the judges, that "he came there not to state what was prudent, but what was
When questioned about some expressions of his, as to “strangling the vipers aristocracy and monarchy," he said he had no recollection of using the terms, but, if he had, and they were applied to aristocracies and monarchies hostile to liberty, he thought them well deserved. He says Tooke grappled with the prosecuting counsel with the strength and courage of a lion.
When a paper was produced, and Tooke was asked to admit his handwriting, the Chief Justice caution
ed him not to do so hastily. Turning to his Lordship, he said, I protest, before God, that I have never done an action, never written a sentence, in public or private, never entertained a thought on any political subject, which, taken fairly, with all the circumstances of time, occasion, and place, I have the smallest hesitation to admit." How the stouthearted integrity of such men, in such a trying hour, puts to eternal shame the servile tricks and fawning arts of the common scum of office-hunting politicians.
The treason trials of 1794 being over, Cartwright resumed his work, and for some eight years seems to have been the only active man of character and standing in the enterprise—the others having cowered before the persecuting spirit of the times. In 1802, a ludicrous occurrence showed the suspicious state of the Governmental mind. The Major had a brother, Dr. George Cartwright, who was celebrated as a mechanician, being the inventor of the power-loom, and other valuable machines. He had taken out patents for them--these had been extensively infringed —and he had commenced suits against the violators. The Major was assisting him in procuring evidence; and for that purpose he had dispatched an agent to Yorkshire, with a letter of instructions, which had a good deal to say about levers, cranks, rollers, and screws. The messenger was arrested as a joint conspirator with the Major for the overthrow of his Majesty's Government, by means of some infernal machine” - the phrases in the letter being interpreted to cover a dark design to put the screws" on the King. Ascertaining that his agent was in limbo, Cartwright wrote to the Attorney General, offering to explain the matter. The Crown officer was not to be caught so. Indict and hang the conspirator he would, in spite of power-looms and militia majors. At length the facts became known, and the astute Attorney was glad to back out of the ridiculous scrape by an apologetic letter to the parties.
It would require a volume to record all that our patriot did for Parliamentary reform from 1804, when it had a limited ro
vival, till 1824, when he died. Though he was sixty-four years old at the commencement of this period, and eighty-four at its close, he did more during these twenty years to procure for Englishmen their electoral rights, than any other ten persons in the kingdom. He published scores of pamphlets, written in a style, bold, lucid, and going to the roots of the controversy ; convened hundreds of meetings in all parts of the country, to which he addressed able speeches ; sent thousands of petitions to Parliament; formed numerous societies
and conducted a never flagging correspondence with the leading friends of liberty and reform. In 1810, he sold his farm and removed to London, that “he might be near his work.” Brave old heart of oak, of threescore years and ten ! The next year, thirty-eight persons were seized at Manchester while attending a reform meeting, and sent fifty miles to prison, on a charge of sedition. Cartwright went down to aid in preparing their defense and attend the examination. Having procured their release, he took a circuitous route home, getting up meetings and petitions on the tour. He was arrested, taken before a magistrate, his papers and person searched, when, finding nothing worthy of death or bonds upon him, he was discharged. Vainly endeavoring to obtain a copy of the warrant on which he was arrested, he subsequently presented the case by petition to the House of Peers. Lord Byron, the poet, in supporting the petition, said of him : “He is a man, my lords, whose long life has been spent in one unceasing struggle for the liberty of the subject, against that undue influence of the Crown which has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished ; and, whatever difference of opinion may exist as to his political tenets, few will be found to question the integrity of his intentions. Even now, oppressed with years, and not exempt from the infirmities attendant on age, but unimpaired in talent, and unshaken in spirit, frangas, non flectes, he has received many a wound in the combat against corruption, and the new grievance, the fresh in
sult, of which he now complains, may inflict another scar, but no dishonor."
In 1814, he addressed a series of letters to Clarkson on the slave trade—he having taken an active part in the contest for its abolition
in which he argued that it should be punished as piracy, a doctrine which he was the first to broach. He also wrote against bribery at elections, and in favor of voting by ballot, being the first English advocate of that measure. А year or two after this, a mercenary widow of one of his old Scotch correspondents wrote to him that the Government had offered her a large sum if she would give up his letters_adding, significantly, that the circumstances of her family were such, that she thought she should comply with the offer. He extinguished her hopes of extorting money from him by informing her, that "it gave him great satisfaction to find that any of his letters were esteemed so valuable, and begged her to make the best bargain she could of their contents. In 1816, the great number and imposing character of the demonstrations in favor of Parliamentary reform alarmed the Government. Canning, in the House of Commons, denounced Cartwright as "that old heart in London, from which the veins of sedition in the country are supplied.” The kingdom was in a flame—the habeas corpus act was suspended and the "Six Acts,' aimed at the Irish Catholic associations, and the English reform meetings, were adopted. Cobbett, the editor of the Register, fled to America. Others left their ears on the pillory at home, or carried them at the request of the Government to Botany Bay. Cartwright, who never flinched from friend or foe, stood his ground, and contrived new modes to keep up the agitation, evading the recent law against tumultuous petitioning,” by getting up petitions of twenties, and in various ways avoiding the prohibitions of the “Six Acts."
So far, he had kept out of the fanys of the law, excepting in the affair of searching his person. But, the Attorney General had his eye upon him. In 1819, he participated in the