Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Such a state of things cannot existing establishments, and in a be suffered to continue without division of the landed, and exhazarding the most imminent and tinction of the funded property of dreadful evils; and although the the country. committee do not presume to an- This hope and prospect of spoticipate the decision of parliament liation have been actively and inas to the particular measures to dustriously propagated by several be adopted in the present emer- societies, openly, existing in the gency, they feel it to be their duty metropolis, distinguished by the to express their decided opinion · name of Spenceans; a title which that further provisions are neces- they have assumed in consequence sary for the preservation of the of having revived the principles, public peace, and for the protec- with some variation, of a visionary tion of interests in which the hap- writer of the name of Spence, piness of every class of the com- which first appeared in a publicamunity is deeply and equally in- tion of his near twenty years ago. volved.

It appears that at some of these

societies, held during the last House of Commons.

month, the question was discussed, The Committee of Secrecy, to whether the meetings for parlia

whom the several Papers, which mentary reform are calculated to were presented (sealed up) to mislead or enlighten the public. the House, by Lord Viscount In the course of the debates upon Castlereagh, on the 4th day of which question, it was strongly February, by command of his urged “that parliamentary reRoyal Highness the Prince Re- form was only a half measure, gent, were referred, and who that they must look to the land, were directed to examine the for nothing short of that would matters thereof, and report the ever avail them : that we had no same, as they should appear to constitution, there being no book them, to the House ;-have una- in which it could be found, nor nimously agreed to the follow- any man that could tell what it ing Report :

was.” In another discussion upon It appears to your Committee, the question, " whether the pracfrom the most attentive consider- tical establishment of Spence's ation of the several documents re- plan be an effectual remedy for the ferred to them, that attempts have present distresses," one of the been made, in various parts of the doctrines maintained was, that country, as well as in the metro- “the landholder was a monster polis, to take advantage of the dis- to be hunted down; but that they tress in which the labouring and should not suffer themselves to be manufacturing classes of the com- amused ; that there was a greater munity are at present involved, to evil, namely, the fundholder; that induce them to look for immediate these were the rapacious wretches, relief, not only in a reform of that took fifteen-pence out of every parliament on the plan of uni- quartern loaf.” versal suffrage and annual election, It further appears, that in these but in a total overthrow of all meetings the most blasphemous

expressions

expressions and doctrines areopen- by the individual exertion of the ly and repeatedly advanced : that members of the committee, to disas the meetings are professed to cover and foment the prevalent be of a convivial nature, the po- distresses and discontents in the litical debates and readinys are metropolis and its vicinity. Reusually followed by songs, in turns were made of those who many of which the most inflam- they thought were to be relied upmatory topics are introduced, on for daring and hazardous ensome of a seditious and treason- terprises. able nature, and others under the The design was by a sudden form of profane and indecent pa- rising in the dead of the night, to rodies of the liturgy and of the surprise and overpower the soldiers holy scriptures. .

in their different barracks, which These societies appear to have were to be set on fire ; at the extended themselves; and there same time (plans having been arare traces of the existence of a ranged, and some steps taken committee called conservative, with a view to the accomplishment directing the operations of the of that object) to possess themwhole. The doctrines above.inen- selves of the artillery, to seize or tioned have been systematically destroy the bridges, and to take and industriously disseminated possession of the Tower and the amongst niechanics and manufac- Bank. In furtherance of this deturers, discharged soldiers and sign, a machine was projected for sailors, and labourers of all de- clearing the streets of cavalry. A scriptions; they have been incul. drawing of this machine, fully aucated at frequent appointed meet- thenticated, and also a manuscript, ings, and at various places, by speak- sketch or plan of various import- . ers, who have made the distresses ant parts of the Tower, found with of the times topics of excitement the drawing of the machine, have and inflammation; and they have been laid before your committee. been circulated, with incredible This design was however reactivity and perseverance,in cheap linquished a short time before its and often gratuitous publications intended execution. It was thought It has been proved, to the entire more prudent previously to ascersatisfaction of your committee, tain what force the conspirators that some members of these socie- could actually call together, and ties, acting by delegated or as- this it was agreed could best be sumed authority, as an executive done by convening a public meetcommittee of the whole, conceived ing for the ostensible purpose of the project, and endeavoured to obtaining a redress of grievances prepare the means of raising an in a legal way. The map of Loninsurrection, so formidable from don was inspected, and Spa-Fields numbers, as by dint of physical were selected as the most eligible strength to overpower all resist- spot, from their vicinity to the ance.

Bank and the Tower AdvertiseThe first step towards the ac- ments were accordingly prepared, complishment of this object was, and written placards circulated, of

the

the most dangerous and inflam- of placards and hand-bills : enmatory nature; of one of which deavours were used to raise subthe following is a copy :

scriptions ; the expense hitherto “Britons to Arms!

incurred in forwarding the object “The whole country waits the of the conspiracy, and in supportsignal from London to fly to arms! ing such inferior members of it as haste, break open gunsmiths and had relinquished their trades and other likely places to find arms! occupations in order to devote run all constables who touch a their whole time to the further. man of us ; no rise of bread; no ance of the cause, having been Regent; no Castlereagh, off with hitherto principally defrayed by their heads; no placemen, tythes, one individual of the committee. or enclosures ; no taxes ; no Plans for the seduction of the bishops, only useless lumber! soldiers were now adopted and stand true, or be slaves for ever.” pursued with unremitting activity;

N. B.-Five thousand of these appeals were inade to excite their bills are up in the town, and sympathy, and induce them not to printed ones, with further parti- act against the insurgents; atculars, will appear in due time." tempts were made to inflame their ssible. Immediately previous to ostensible business of the day le day appointed for meeting, commenced in the other part of *ms were provided for the use of the field, the most inflammatory ime of the persons most actively speeches were delivered, tending ngaged. This provision was directly to excite insurrection, eemed sufficient for the begin- and concluded by an appeal to the ing of the insurrection, as they multitude assembled, whether they elt confident that if it should be were prepared to redress their own uccessful for two hours, as many grievance. A tricolor cockade rms might be procured as would was then exhibited, and the trive necessary, from the depots and color flag was displayed, and a gunsmiths shops, which had been nuinber of persons followed it out 'econnoitred with that view. of the field.

At this time, if not before, the hopes by promises of rank and reintended insurrection assumed the ward, and to alarm their jealousy symbols of the French revolution; by the absurd fiction of the actual a committee of public safety, con- landing of a considerable foreigi sisting of 24, was agreed upon, army, for the purpose of controlincluding the names of several ling them. persons, extremely unlikely to The barracks were again reconlend theinselves to such a cause. noitred with a view to attack. A tricolor flag and cockades were The marufacture of tricolor-ribactually prepared; the flag was bon was encouraged, with a view openly carried and displayed at of rendering it familiar to the eyes the first mecting which took place of the public. in Spa-Fields, on the 15th of No- Visits were repeated to those vember. No acts of violence were quarters of the town, where the however encouraged on that day, distress was considered as the most though some few instances of prevalent; and warehouses along plunder occurred after the assem- the river, as well as shops in cther bly dispersed, but care was taken places, which were known to conto adjourn the meeting to the 2d tain arms, combustibles, and

was hoped that the preparations down, with the view of seizing for insurrection would be fully those articles on the proper occamatured. Not a moment was lost sion. Plans were also formed in advertising the next meetingfor seducing the sailors on the and great assiduity was employed river, by offers of advancement in circulating the intelligence to high rank under the new through all the great manufactur- government, and for seizing and ing towns in the country, by means equipping such ships as were ac

cessible. convinced,

Your Committee have further The direction which they took 'eceived undoubted information was towards that part of the town hat a large quantity of pike heads previously designed ; gunsmiths had been ordered of one indivi- shops were broken open, addresses lual, and 250 actually made by and offers were made to the solnim, and delivered and paid for. diers at the Tower to induce them It was also undoubtedly intended to open the gates ; but from the to liberate the prisoners in the failure of the numbers expected principal gaols in or about the to join the insurgents, no attempt metropolis, in the hope of their was made to force the gates. An concurrence and assistance in the attack was however made upon intended insurrection. Addresses the city magistrates assembled in were introduced into some of the Royal Exchange, a shot fired, those prisons, and recommended and a tricolor flag and cockade to be communicated to others, in openly displayed and seized on the which the persons confined were offender. invited, in the name of the tri. In reviewing the whole of the colored committee, to rally round transactions of the 2d of Decemthe tricolored standard, which ber, your committee are firmly would be erected on Monday, De- persuaded, that, however improcember the 2d, and to wear tri- bable the success of such a plan colored cockades themselves. It may appear, it yet was deliberately was promised that the prisoners preineditated by desperate men, should be liberated by force, and who calculated without reasonable arms were stated to be provided ground upon defection in their for them, and they were directed opposers, and upon active support to be ready to assist in over- from those multitudes, whose dispowering the turnkeys. A waggon tress they had witnessed, and was hired for the business of the whom they had vainly instigated day, in which the flags and banner to revolt. That consequently it or standard, which had been pre was not merely the sudden ebulviously prepared, together with lition of the moment, or the unsome ammunition, were secretly authorized attempt of any un

conveyed to the place of meeting connected individual. | From this waggon, before the Your Committee are further

convinced, that notwithstanding don, and are expected to assemble the failure on the 2d of Decem- again early in March. Whatever ber, the same designs still con may be the real object of these tinue to be prosecuted with san- clubs in general, your Committee guine hopes of success.

have no hesitation in stating, from Your Committee having thus information on which they place stated the general result of the full reliance, that in far the greater evidence which has been laid be- number of them, and particularly fore them, respecting the state in those which are established in of the metropolis, have now the no the great manufacturing districts less painful duty of calling the of Lancashire, Leicestershire, Notattention of the House to what tinghamshire, and Derbyshire, and has been passing during the same which are composed of the lower period in different parts of the order of artizans, nothing short country, a subject of equally mo- of a revolution is the object exmentous consideration. The first pected and avowed. thing which has here forced itself Your Committee find, from upon their observation, is the equally undoubted information, widely diffused ramification of a that the doctrines of the Spencean system of clubs, associated pro- clubs have been widely diffused fessedly for the purpose of parlia- through the country, either by the mentary reform, upon the most extension of similar societies, or extended principle of universal more frequently by the intervensuffrage and annual parliaments. tion of missionaries or delegates, These clubs in general designate whose business it is to propagate themselves by the same name of those doctrines throughout every Hampden clubs. On the pro- society to which they have access: fessed object of their institution, it is the universal practice of these they appear to be in communica- societies, to require from the tion and connexion with the club members a small weekly subscripof that name in London.

tion, which provides a fund for It appears to be part of the the expenses of these missionaries, system of these clubs, to promote and also for the purchase of sedian extension of clubs of the same tious tracts, which are read and name and nature, so widely as, if commented on at their meetings. possible, to include every village Some of these tracts, now before in the kingdom. The leading your committee, inculcate in the members are active in the circu- most artful manner, the necessity lation of publications likely to of overturning what they call promote their object. Petitions, “the privileged class," as disready prepared, have been sent tinguished from the people, who down from the metropolis to all are described as consisting of lasocieties in the country disposed bourers, artizans, tradesmen, and to receive them. The communi- every profession useful to society. cation between these clubs takes A new order is declared to be the place by the mission of delegates; will of the people ; rebellion is delegates from these clubs in the justified by the assertion that a country, have assembled in Lon-nation cannot be a rebel ; and all

religion

« AnteriorContinuar »