« AnteriorContinuar »
No. 3, Vol. 3.) LONDON, FRIDAY, MAY 12, 1820. (PRICE 6D.
ADDRESS TO THE READERS OF THE REPUB
I have this day received information from London, that my leading article of No. I of the present volume, has excited much dissatisfaction amongst my general readers, in consequence of my observations on Thistlewood just at the moment of his execution. I beg leave to state, that when I wrote that article, I had no further information of the progress of the trials, than that Thistlewood and Ings were found guilty according to the verdict of the Jury. I of course expected, that each prisoner would stand his trial singly, and that each trial would occupy two days, and had consequently calculated the executions could not have taken place until the middle or end of May, allowing the usual time between the passing of sentence and the execution: therefore, in point of the time being improper, I feel entitled to an
excuse. Whenever it is my lot to commit an error, or from the misrepresentation of another to state an untruth, on my conviction of that error or untruth, I feel sorry for it, but no disgrace to retract what I have misrepresented, although I am fully aware, that they are but few, who trouble themselves to weigh the various circumstances of a man's conduct to get at his real motives. In the question before us, I feel that I have not stated an untruth, nor am I sensible of having committed an error, therefore, I feel no disposition to retract what I have stated on this head, but rather to elucidate it, to add what has been suppressed, and to make my motive as clear as possible: I must then wait the result of time and circumstances for my justification, heedless of the clamour of individuals, I stated in the number of last week, that the article had been mutilated, so as to carry a different tenor to what I had intended it. My Vol. III. No. 3.
Priofed and published by J. Carlile, 55, Fleet Street
whole object was to make the conduct and fate of Thistlewood useful as an example to those that were left behind, that by viewing those measures which had brought him to a violent death without having rendered the country the slightest benefit, they might take a lesson from his error, and instead of being intimidated by his falé, they should make it a beacon to guide them in future. I might further add, that I viewed Thistlewood as a dead man when I wrote it.
If the reader will refer to the eighth page of the present volume, and after the sentence- I had nerer for a moment suspected Edwards to be any thing further than an idle, dissolute character :” read as follows, and I think he will see the object of the whole piece. “I recollect his (Eduards) telling me in a very innocent manner, that the celebrated John Bowles came into the shop of the house in which le lodged, opposite mine, and called him down to fetch a number of the Republican, observing, that he was known to the said John Boucles, the noted liberticide.” I have no copy of reference, therefore I quote from recollection. I further observed-“ That I had never before enteriaineil the idea that the system of espionage had been carried to so great an extent in this country as had been generally represented, but from the result of those trials, it appears that it has been so." Again, It has ever been the imagination of Thistleuood, that with a handful of men, he could raise a storm in this country, but any rational man that surveys the extent of the police and the standing army, with the volunteer corps of yeomanry and armed associations, must feel convinced, that such a project would be impracticable and futile : such a circumstance in this country can only arise from accident, and not from design." 'If the reader will place those few sentences between the one I have quoted, and the last sentence of the paragraph, he will find that it gives it
very different reading: In fact, I meant that this last suppressed sentence should be the pivot of the whole piece. I know that Thistlewood and two or three more of those who have associated with him, have been guilty of the most ridiculous conversation, and even of writing on paper, their plans, designs, and projects : “ that such an individual shoulá possess this palace, another that mansion, and a third some high office of siute, whilst the supreme authority or the command in chief should be held by Thistlewood himself";} and although such persons were generally laughed at, from
the contemptibility of their characters, and their known want of courage, as pot-valiants only, still we see, that even such men have well answered the purposes of the ministers, ant have given them an additional hold. Let me not be misunders stood as including the four men who have died with Thistlewood. Of Brunt and Tidd I know nothing, I never heard the mention of their names until the Cato-street affair.came on the carpet. I speak of some of Thistlewood's former acquaintance whom I have no wish to mention by name, as experience must e'er this, have convinced them of the folly of such wild and absurd notions, or in the language of the fable
of selling the skin before they have killed the beast.” As no one man can be found to defend the conduct of Thistlewood from the year 1816 to the time of his trial in 1820, is it not , of the greatest importance that we should publish the error: of such a man and the cause of his death, without having rendered the country the slightest benefit, that those who have in future to array themselves against the corruptions of the government might take a lesson and learn to avoid, at least a diegraceful death? Although Lourel of France will, no doubl, die on the scaffold, still his death will be joyful to himself, and viewed as a noble exit by posterity.
I admire the conduct of Thistlewood on his receiving sentence of death and on the scallold, but still he had never performed an action that could elevate his mind and make it happy in its last moments. Look back to the death of Bellingham, although his motive for destroying Perceval was a private one, still he had accomplished his heart's desire, and he died content and cheerful, and I will venture to add, with a far greater share of public sympally than is now felt towards Thistlewood. About the moment of Bellingham's affair, I travelled through the western counties, and although they are by far the most ioyal part of England, still I found " The memory of the Liverpool Sharpshooter" a prevalent toast. I have no hesitation in saying, that posterity will honour the name of Louvel as the Brutus of France : their motives were similar, and I think it no rash prediction to say, that France will reap the greater benefit. Who now brands the name of Bellingham with reproach? Although his motive was private, the effect became public, because Perceval was viewed by a majority of the people as a public enemy. Thistlewood was deficient in that cool courage, and ealm intrepidity, which has excited so niuch admiration
tards Brutus, Louvel, and Bellingham: his disposition was equal to the task performed by those individuals, but he wanted that sort of virtue which enabled them to finish what they had proposed. Thistlewood had ever considered his projects as easily done as talked of, and consequently his mind overlooked the first object he wished to perform, and by his silly proclamations for the future, he appeared to have contemplated what was to be done with the prize before he had fought the battle. The projects which filled his mind were such as to make them sure to be defeated if communicated to a second person, and a plan for destroying his majesty's ministers, is previously communicated to some hundred persons, and one of the very ministers said on oath, in evidence, that he was apprized of. it a month before it was appointed to take place. I by no means regret the loss of Thistlewood. I regret the loss of those men who have fallen with him. I never had any reason to feel the slightest animosity towards Thistlewood. I might have been the confident of all his schemes and wishes if I had chosen. I had never an angry word with him. I shook hands with him on the evening before I received the sentence of the Court of King's Bench, and my last words to him on parting were," that I had resolved to adhere to principle and not to men” in advocating the great cause of civil and religious liberty. He came to me to request that I would print a document which had been drawn up by one of the Reform Committee of London, and addressed to the Reformers of the country. I promised him that I would print it if it met my approbation on examining it, but it so happened, that I never read it until the middle of January, in consequence of my sudden removal from London. It was a well-written document, and was afterwards published, with the suppression of à few temporary sentences that had grown out of date, in the fourth number of the last volume. My object in speaking of Thistlewood has been to make his fate useful as á lesson by which we might avoid falling into the same error. I endeavour to write so as to be understood, and if by any injury my articles may receive in London I should seem ambiguous, I must entreat a charitable allowance for my situation. The name of Thistlewood should never have appeared in this publication, had le not been placed in his late too conspicuous and fatal situation. As the view I take of death is nothing more than tlie cessation of life---the non-existence of being. I feel no intimidation from the barbarous and sayage mode of
killing the body on convictions for High Treason; it is a relic of those systems which have served to brutalize mankind, and to make them delight in the blood of their fellow-men. I wish to live as long as I can live free from pain, but whenever death is at hand and inevitable, I feel assured that I can hold it in contempt, at least, meet it without fear or trembling. I'll warrant it that the manner in which those men died on the first of May, in the Old Bailey, annoyed the ministers much more than their threatened assassination. A tyrant of the most despotic nature, must tremble before men who have no fear of death, when he reflects, that the well-aimed blow of the hand of one man is sufficient to deprive him of life and put an end to his tyranny. If the recovery of our rights and liberties depended on the death of one, or one hundred individuals, I should say, that their death would become a public benefit, and those who produced it would perform a public service; but in this country the contrary is the case. The killing of a few of our enemies singly, would produce just the same effect as their hanging a few of the Reformers will produce, namely, to make those who remain more cautious and more desperate. The less blood there is shed on either side the better, and if none at all much the best ; but again, if nothing but a sacrifice of lives will do for our enemies, I for one am inclined to make a great sacrifice, when that sacrifice can be made effectually and becomes indispensible, The proper time I should consider to be, when the number who are likely to fall by resistance, will become less than those who will fall without it, by want and starvation. They are but few who are base and servile enough to say that at no time can resistance be justified against a government, however tyrannical. The contrary maxim has been generally taught from the bench, bar, pulpit, and senate in England, therefore let tho Reformers be vigilant, and make a calm calculation of circumstances.
What could induce the person who corrects the Republican from the press in London to strike out those sentences I have noticed as suppressed, I am at a loss to conceive. The person who writes an article generally has the whole in view before he begins, and that sentence which he may intend as the tenor of the piece, may form the last, or be near the last. Another person who subsequently reads it for the purpose of correcting the typographical errora, if he can take the liberty, might cut out a sentence, which he might consider objectionable, and thereby leave the paragraph or whole piece spiritless and un