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famous Birmingham proceedings, which resulted in the appointment, on his suggestion, of a “Legislatorial Attorney" for the town, who was to present a letter to the Speaker of the Commons, as its representative. This measure of " sending a petition in the form of a living man, instead of one on parchment,'' as he called it, precipitated the long-expected crisis. He was indicted for conspiracy and sedition, in Warwickshire. So soon as he heard of it, he set off by post to meet the charge, traveling one hundred miles in a single day, though then bowed down with the weight of fourscore years.
Putting in bail, he returned to London, and resumed his work. Soon after, he presided at a reform meeting, drew up a petition, couched in the most energetic terms, signed it, sent it to the Commons, and then set about exposing the attempts of the Crown officers to pack the jury which was to try him. The trial took place in August, 1820. He called no witness
addressed the jury mainly in defense of his principles ; was convicted; was not called up for sentence till the next May ; when the judge, after eulogizing his general character, condemned him to pay a fine of £100, and stand committed till it was paid. He immediately pulled out a canvass bag, counted down the money in gold, slily remarking to the sheriff, that they were all “ good sovereigns."
When the heroic struggles of Greece, South America, and Mexico, resounded through Europe, they had no more attentive listener than Major Cartwright. Seizing his never-idle pen, he wrote
Hints to the Greeks"-a letter to the President of the Greek Congress-and another to the Greek Deputies. About the same time, he opened his doors to two of the liberal leaders in the Spanish Revolution, who had sought refuge in England. His sun was now declining. He had attended his last reform meeting in 1823; he wrote his last political pamphlet in 1824. In July of this year, he received a letter from Mr. Jefferson, who said, “Your age of eightyfour and mine of eighty-one years, insure us a speedy meeting ;
we may then commune at leisure on the good and evil which, in the course of our long lives, we have both witnessed.” He had taken a deep interest in the Mexican struggles for liberty, and frequently conferred with General Michelena, its envoy then in London, upon its affairs. On the 21st of September, 1824, the General sent to inform him that the scheme of Iturbide bad failed, and that the liberty of Mexico might be considered as established. Two days afterward, “ the father of Parliamentary reform" died, retaining his faculties and hig fervent love of freedom to the last. He cheerfully resigned himself into the hands of his Maker, exclaiming, “ God's will be done !"
Among the remarkable men who, like Cartwright, helped to prepare the public mind for the Reform Bill, and like him illustrated the truth, that power and place are not necessarily synonymous terms, is William COBBETT, whom the “ Cornlaw Rhymer” calls England's
His name is familiar on both sides of the Atlantic, and is much mixed up with good and evil report. He was no negation or neutral, but a man of mark, that left his impress on the age. He was not only one of the most voluminous, but one of the boldest and most powerful writers of the present century. Ever in the thickest of the strife,
peasant arm” dealt goodly blows in the contests of the People with the Crown, during the last thirty years of his turbulent life.
Cobbett was born in 1762. His father was a poor yeoman, who brought his son up to hard work and Tory principles. He never went to school, but was literally self-taught, learning even the alphabet without a teacher. He says :
I learned grammar when I was a private soldier on the pay of sixpence per day.” Having committed Lowth's Grammar to heart, he used to make it a rule to recite it through from memory every time he stood sentry. He enlisted in the army when he was twenty
one, and served eight years in the British American colonies. He was discharged, returned to England, married, made a short tour in France, whence he embarked for the United States, arriving in New York in 1792. He was a violent Tory—joined the anti-French party-commenced publishing --attacked with ferocity Priestley, Franklin, Rush, Jefferson, Dallas, Monroe, Gallatin, Fox, Sheridan, Bonaparte, Talleyrand, and a score of other great men—was arrested, and compelled to give bail in a heavy sum for his good behavior--was sued for a libel by Dr. Rush, who recovered five thousand dollars damages-fled from Philadelphia to New York, where the execution overtook him--was thrown into prison--the judgment was paid by his admirers—he left the country, and arrived in England in 1801. While in America, he wrote under the name of “ Peter Porcupine," and on his return to England published his writings in twelve volumes. They had a large circulation among the Anti-Jacobins, who received him with open arms. He had previously sent an account of his trans-Atlantic "persecutions” to the “Loyal Society" of London, “to be used as a panacea for the reformists, and the whole gang of liberty-men in England.”
He started a paper in London in 1801, called " The Porcupinc," which supported Pitt and the Tories, and attacked Fox and the Whigs, much after the style of his Philadelphia writings. He suspended the publication of “The Porcupine," and commenced his celebrated “ Weekly Political Register" in 1802, which he continued till his death, a period of thirtythree years. This journal has given him an enduring name among the political writers of his times. For two or three years, it advocated High Toryism. Wyndham was enamored of it, and stated in the House of Commons, that its editor deserved a statue of gold. Wyndham promised to introduce Cobbett to Pitt. The latter declined to see him. The editor
. was deeply mortified at this rebuff of the aristocratic minister. Immediately thereafter, and probably therefore, Cobbett changed his politics, and from a high Church and King man, turned to be a radical reformer and champion of the people. The first public demonstration of the somerset was a violent philippic against the Irish Tory administration. He was prosecuted for libels, both at London and Dublin, on the Lord Lieutenant, Chancellor, Chief Justice, and Under Secretary for Ireland, and was fined a thousand pounds. This prosecution only stimulated his new-born zeal for liberalism,
He sharpened his weapons, and plunged them into the bowels of his old friends as vigorously as he had before done into those of their enemies, sparing neither Church nor State, Ministry nor King. The Register soon became the terror of evil-doers. Its denunciations of profligate statesmen and rotten institutions were so bold and hearty, and its columns breathed such an air of defiant independence, that it was sought for with avidity by the radicals of the middling and lower orders, and the income as well as the fame of its editor became largely increased.
But Cobbett never could sail long in smooth water. Like the petrel, he loved the storm. In 1810, he was prosecuted for a libel on the Government, contained in an article reflecting in indignant terms on the brutal flogging of a company of the local militia, under the surveillance of a regiment of German mercenaries. He defended himself, was convicted, and sentenced to pay a fine of one thousand pounds, be imprisoned two years, and give sureties for his good behavior for seven years in five thousand pounds. He never forgot or forgave this injury. Two other prosecutions of editors grew out of the same transaction. They were defended by Brougham in two splendid speeches, which introduced the rising barrister to a first place among the forensic orators of the kingdom. The circulation of the Register had increased steadily from year to year; and soon after this trial, Cobbett continuing to edit it while in prison, it reached an unprecedented sale, some weeks numbering one hundred thousand copies. Its vigorous assaults on the Government conspired with the other reform move
ments of the times to cause the repeal of the habeas corpus,
and the passage of the infamous “six acts,” by which the ministry hoped to crush the agitators. To avoid the blow aimed at him, Cobbett fled to America early in 1817, where he remained nearly three years. He regularly remitted “copy” across the Atlantic for the Register, which continued a pungent thorn in the side of Castlereagh and his friends, though the hand which wielded it was three thousand miles away.
Returning to England in 1820, he established a daily paper, which failed tried to introduce the cultivation of Indian corn into the country, which failed-stood a candidate for Parliament for Coventry, and failed-defended himself against two prosecutions for libel, and failed, paying fines to the amount of nearly two thousand pounds—plunged into the Queen Caroline controversy with his brother liberals, and did not failadvocated Catholic emancipation, and saw it succeed—made an attempt to enter Parliament for Preston, and was defeated —took an active part in all the agitations for Parliamentary reform-defended himself in a speech of six hours against a prosecution for sedition, growing out of an article in the Register in favor of the Reform Bill, the jury being discharged because they could not agree
and finally was reprimanded by the Speaker, for giving three cheers in the gallery of the Commons, when the bill passed the House. In 1832, he reached the acme of his ambition, by being returned to the first reformed Parliament for the borough of Oldham. But it is a rare tree that will bear transplanting in the sere and yellow leaf of advanced
age. Cobbett was threescore years and ten when he took his seat in the House of Commons. Though he made a few vigorous speeches, he did not fulfill the expectations of his friends, nor exhibit the power and originality in debate which the public anticipated from the editor of the Political Register. He closed his stormy life in 1835. Cobbett has been called “ a bold, bad man. "
Bold he was; but, he was not as bad as the times in which he lived, nor the