A CHANGE IN MY SITUATION—PROCEEDINGS IN THE COURT OF KING'S BENCH.
I NOW went to the warehouse in Cheapside, where my
luggage had been directed to be left, and found it had arrived. I
took it to a tavern, and put on a change of linen and articles of
outer apparel, and then I went and engaged lodgings, to which I removed my
things. I was now decent in appearance, and more comfortable in
mind. I visited my friend Mr. Gibb, and did not forget the poor
fellow in the prison. In the afternoon I again called upon Hunt, who
received me very cordially, and I took some more of the "roasted" with
him. The day following Healey and Johnson arrived in London, and on
the 27th of April we all made our appearance in the Court of King's Bench,
when Mr. Hunt moved for a rule to show cause why the verdict returned at
York should not be set aside, and a verdict of not guilty entered on the
record, or why a new trial should not be granted.
The Lord Chief Justice Abbott asked if the application was
for Mr. Hunt and the other defendants.
Mr. Hunt said it was so made.
The Lord Chief Justice: Now state on what ground it is that
you make this motion.
Mr. Hunt: The first ground, my lord, is a misapprehension of
the learned judge who tried the case, in rejecting evidence which ought to
have been received. It was evidence as to the acts of aggression, of
cutting, maiming, and killing by the yeomanry cavalry, and other military,
upon the persons of those who attended at the Manchester meeting.
The next point is the learned judge's admittance of evidence as to certain
resolutions of a meeting held in Smithfield, and the admission of evidence
as to certain trainings and drillings at a place called White Moss.
The third point is the misdirection of the judge, in consequence of such
rejections and admissions; and the, fourth ground is, that the jury gave a
verdict contrary to the evidence.
The Lord Chief Justice: Have you any other ground?
Mr. Hunt: Yes, I have a fifth and last ground, which is, that
the jury gave a verdict contrary to the direction of the learned judge.
The judges not having before them the notes of the trial, the
determination as to the points urged by Mr. Hunt was postponed until
Monday, the 1st of May, when we were ordered again to be in attendance.
We were accordingly in court at the time appointed, with our solicitor,
Mr. Pearson, but the judges did not pronounce their determination, and we
were directed to appear on the 8th of the same month. The court was
each day crowded to excess.
On the 8th of May the judges delivered their opinion,
unanimously refusing the rule applied for by us. The
Attorney-General then urged that judgment should be immediately
pronounced; but Mr. Hunt requested that time should be allowed us to
prepare. I was as fully prepared on the first day as I was on the
last, but coincided, through courtesy, in Mr. Hunt's various expedients to
put off the evil day to the uttermost. The request now made by him
was granted by the court, and we were ordered to come up again on
Saturday, the 13th of May, for judgment.
On that day Hunt, Healey, and myself, appeared before the
judges, and Johnson came shortly after. Mr. Hunt stated that certain
affidavits which he had sent for from Manchester had not arrived, and he
craved the indulgence of the court until he was enabled to procure them,
which he expected every hour. This was accordingly granted, and we
retired once more. Soon after two o'clock we again went into court,
and Hunt tendered an affidavit, setting forth that the person who had been
despatched to Manchester for the affidavits had not arrived, nor had any
letter been received from him. Mr. Hunt next stated that since the
above affidavit was sworn a letter had been received by Mr. Pearson,
wherein it was alleged that the writer had been unable to procure the
affidavits by the time appointed, but there was no doubt they would arrive
in the course of Sunday.
The Lord Chief Justice then ordered the case to stand over
until Monday morning.
This being the day appointed for pronouncing judgment, the
court and the hall were crowded at an early hour by spectators, and hardly
on any former occasion did public curiosity appear to be more excited.
Several persons of distinction were present in court during the greater
part of the day. Among others, we observed Lord Binning, Lord Apsley,
and Mr. Tierney.
About half-past eleven o'clock, the Attorney-General having
prayed the judgment, we all came into court. We were accompanied by
Mr. Pearson, the solicitor, Mr. Wooler, and other friends. The whole
of the proceedings occupied the attention of the court from the hour above
mentioned until past six o'clock in the evening.
Several affidavits were put in by Hunt, Johnson, and Healey.
I did not tender any affidavit; indeed I had not been a willing party to
these fruitless procrastinations.
The Chief Justice asked the Attorney-General whether he meant
to put in affidavits on the part of the crown?
The Attorney-General: Not at present; it will depend, my
lord, on the contents of the affidavits now put in.
The first affidavit read was that of Mr. Hunt, which entered
into a history of the transactions that took place at Manchester on the
16th of August.
The joint affidavit of William Brundret, Dwarris Hart, Joseph
Holland, Richard Sheridan, Samuel M'Cabe, George Burney, William Hunt,
William Gregory, John Riley, Henry Barrett, William Mackelroy, and
Alexander Anderson, all of them persons who had signed the requisition for
calling the meeting, was next put in and read. These persons
described themselves as housekeepers at Manchester and its neighbourhood,
and weavers, &c., by trade. They described the dreadful state of
depression and poverty to which they had been subjected as the motive for
calling the meeting, in order thereby to obtain, by legal means, a redress
of their grievances. They stated that with the utmost industry,
working fourteen hours a day, they could not earn more than eight
shillings per week.
The affidavit of Ann Jones, a married woman, occupying a
house which commanded a view of all that took place at the meeting, was
next put in. She deposed that the meeting was quiet and perfectly
harmonious until the yeomanry cavalry broke in upon the unresisting crowd,
who were cut down and trampled upon with merciless fury. Her house
afterwards became the refuge of the wounded and dying, to whom she
administered such relief as her means would afford. She likened her
house to an hospital after a military slaughter.
The affidavit of Nicholas Whitworth stated that after the
sanguinary transactions of the 16th of August he had made it his business
to inquire into the extent of the mischief, and he had seen and spoken
with near four hundred persons who had been wounded by the military.
Some of these persons were injured from sabre cuts, and others by gun-shot
Part of the affidavit, which merely spoke to the deponent's
information and belief as to other circumstances connected with the
transactions of that day, were rejected as not admissible.
The affidavit of Robert Willis Hall stated, that the deponent
had seen and spoken with three hundred persons, men, women, and children,
who had been injured by gun-shot and sabre wounds, received from the
military on the 16th of August.
The affidavit of Joseph Rayner stated, that the deponent had
seen and conversed with three hundred and eight persons injured from the
Mr. Hunt said that before the other defendants and himself
proceeded to offer any observations in mitigation of punishment, he must
entreat their lordships to confine their attention solely to the fourth
count of the indictment, upon which the conviction was founded. In
order to this, it was necessary that their lordships should distinguish
the evidence which supported that count from that which was adduced to
sustain the others, of which the defendants were acquitted, but which
embraced much more heinous charges. This caution was the more
necessary, not only because it would be the height of injustice that, by
blending all the evidence together, they should be punished for offences
of which they had been acquitted, but because one of their lordships (Mr.
Justice Best) had misconceived many parts of the evidence, and had made
comments upon them with that warmth which was natural to him, and which
could not but have a prejudicial effect upon the minds of the other judges
in meting out the punishment they were called upon to award. He
therefore prayed that the learned judge who tried the case would read such
parts of the evidence as applied to the fourth count only, so that the
court might see upon what foundation their sentence was to proceed.
He, however, would leave this matter entirely to the discretion of their
The court assured us that in awarding the punishment they
should confine their attention solely to that part of the evidence which
was applicable to the count on which the jury found their verdict.
Mr. Hunt then prayed, as a matter of indulgence, that the
other defendants might have the priority of him in addressing the court in
mitigation of punishment.
The court said they saw no reason for departing from the
ordinary course of their proceedings. Mr. Hunt's name stood first on
the record, and therefore he would begin.
Mr. Hunt then addressed the court in a long speech, during
which he was several times stopped by the judges for irrelevant matter,
and once by Justice Bayley, who, as at York, requested that he would
forbear to use complimentary language. Mr. Johnson followed in a
speech more condensed and to the point, whilst, when Healey's turn came,
he produced a speech ready written by his friend at Lees. It was all
to no use, however—the doctor could not make out the polysyllabic words
without spelling, and I, who stood behind him, had to look over his
shoulder and read for him, whilst my cheeks burned, and my ears tingled
with mortification, amid the suppressed titters of the gentlemen of the
long robe and the spectators. When he was fast, and I was not
attentive, he would look over his shoulder supplicatingly, and say in an
undertone, "Prompt, Bamford! prompt," and then I set him going again.
At last this was beyond endurance, and I said, "Throw that confounded
paper down, man, and speak off hand." He accordingly wrapped the
paper up, and went on very fluently, arguing that the inscription,
"Universal Suffrage or Death," which was on the black banner from Lees,
was only meant as the expression of an opinion, and was not a demand, with
death as the alternative. "Suppose," he said, "that one of your
lordships had a bad leg." The gentlemen of the long robe looked
aghast, wondering what would come next; for it was well known that Justice
Best, who was on the bench, had two of the worst legs in England.
"Suppose," said our imperturbable friend, "that one of your
lordships had a bad leg, and I, amongst other medical and surgical
gentlemen, was called in. Well, we hold a consultation, and we
pronounce it to be a bad case—a case of gangrene, my lords; and my
opinion as to the mode of treatment is asked, my lords. I say,
amputation or death! my lords, amputation or death!" And so he went
on to argue that bribery and corruption having produced a political
gangrene in the State, there must be amputation of the corrupting
influence, or political death would ensue.
Hunt sat on a low seat behind Healey, and when this scene was
passing I, half-diverted, half-ashamed, looked down at him, and saw him
nearly suffocated with his efforts to refrain from laughing outright.
I spoke somewhat as follows :—
My lords,—I understand that the evidence upon which I was
convicted relates to the motto, "Unity and Strength." I must,
however, confess myself at a loss to understand how guilt can be implied
thereon. If we examine that part of the evidence for the crown which
applied more immediately to my case, we shall find that the unity and
strength which I inculcated, and which was also expressed upon the banner
from Middleton, was of a quite contrary description to that imputed to me
by the verdict. Morris, in repeating, or attempting to do so, my
address to the people upon the Barrowfields, says that I made use of the
following expressions:—"Friends and neighbours, I have a few words to
relate; you will march off this ground quietly, not to insult any one, but
rather take an insult." Heaton declares that "the people did not
seem sullen and sulky. They had no angry look, but were more, as it
were, in joy." Now, my lords, herein you will perceive a full
comment upon this short text. Here is the "Unity and Strength" of
which our banner spoke. But if we go further on to read the evidence
of Dyson, who was one of my witnesses, we shall see the utility of this
motto still further exemplified. Dyson says that I made use of the
following words in my speech to the people, previous to their departure
from Middleton: "Friends and neighbours, those of you who wish to join in
the procession will endeavour to conduct yourselves orderly and peaceably,
so that you may go as comfortably as possible. If any person insult
you or give you offence, take no notice of them. I make no doubt but
there will be persons who will make it their business to go about in order
to disturb the peace of the meeting. If you meet with any such,
endeavour to keep them as quiet as possible, and if they strike you, don't
strike again, for it would serve as a pretext for dispersing the meeting."
Before proceeding further, I solemnly and firmly assure your lordships
that I never again will advise my countrymen to exercise that degree of
patience which I here did, until every drop of blood shed on that day has
been amply and deeply atoned for. Never again will I recommend
forbearance until the perpetrators of all the horrid murders which I then
witnessed, and from which I miraculously escaped, have been brought to
condign punishment. My lords, I speak this not from a spirit of
vindictiveness, or from a wish for indiscriminate vengeance, but from a
high sense of the wrongs and injuries inflicted on my country, and from an
indignant feeling that justice has been denied. Dyson proceeds—"If
the peace officers come to arrest me, or any other person, offer them no
resistance, but suffer them to do their duty. When you get to the
meeting, endeavour to keep yourselves as select as possible, with your
banners in your centre, so that if any of you should straggle away, you
will know where to find each other by your banners: and when the meeting
is over, keep close to your banners, and leave the town as soon as
possible, for if you should stay drinking or loitering in the streets,
your enemies might take advantage of it, and if they could raise a
disturbance, you would be taken to the New Bailey." Now, my lords,
this is the kind of "Unity and Strength" which I recommended to the
people, accompanied by a degree of patience, which, as I before said, I
will never again recommend until justice be obtained. This is surely
not a criminal Unity—this is surely not a Strength calculated to overawe
the authorities, and to fill "his Majesty's liege subjects with terror and
alarm." This is only that "Unity and Strength" which is the
foundation of liberty and the security of property. How often since
my arrival in London, for the purpose of waiting upon this honourable
court, have I heard boastings about the liberties of Englishmen—but if
such a thing does really exist, how can it be secured without a moral
"Strength" on the part of the people for its maintenance; and where shall
we find strength without "Unity?" This unity and strength,
therefore, is nothing more or less than the foundation of all the glory
and happiness which we enjoy; and shall it be said, then, that in this
enlightened age an Englishman shall be persecuted and punished for
inculcating those maxims upon which the glory of his country depends.
If such must be the case, the era is every way worthy of the deed.
Another instance of this unity and strength may be adduced in the
situation of Middleton, which is a considerable manufacturing town, and
situated in a populous district, and yet to secure its peace and
tranquillity there are only two constables annually sworn in, and not a
soldier quartered upon us; yet we have had no breaches of the peace,
either on the part of the people or the authorities. It was, indeed,
at one time, deemed expedient by some individuals to raise a posse of
special constables. This measure, however, I most strenuously
opposed, and happy am I to inform your lordships that the good sense of
the people prevailed, and the affair was dropped. Now, here again is
that "Unity and Strength" exhibited, to which our motto so aptly alluded.
Surely if any persons had a right to such a motto, it was the inhabitants
of that place, whose conduct had beautifully illustrated it. I
concluded my speech, of which the foregoing is only an extract, by
assuring their lordships that I appealed not to their humanity, not to
their commiseration, but to their justice. Humble as was my
situation in society, I would not condescend to beg the boon of mercy from
any man or set of men, however exalted their situation. I would
disdain to receive that from their pity to which justice entitled me.
The Attorney-General spoke at considerable length in
aggravation of punishment, and contended that the conduct pursued by the
defendants in this last stage of the proceedings was an aggravation of
their guilt. The only topic fairly addressed to the court in
mitigation of punishment was the hardships which the defendants had
suffered after they had been apprehended, but those sufferings were the
natural consequences of their own crimes, which he still thought
approached as near as possible to the offence of high treason. There
could be no doubt of the illegality of the defendants' conduct in every
part, and for the sake of the public welfare he called upon the court to
pronounce such a sentence on the defendants as would, through their
example, teach others to abstain from pursuing conduct equally criminal
and dangerous to the peace of society, and the security of government.
The Solicitor-General declined offering anything on the same
side, but left his learned friend, Mr. Scarlett, who was present at the
trial, to say what occurred to him on the subject.
Mr. Scarlett rose principally to correct a mistake under
which Mr. Hunt seemed to labour, namely, that he (Mr. Scarlett) was
selected to conduct the prosecution. There could not be a greater
misapprehension. It was purely matter of accident, from the
circumstance of his situation at the bar, and the absence of his senior,
that he was employed in the case. As to any resentment he might be
supposed to entertain towards Mr. Hunt, nothing could be more erroneous.
He never entertained any towards that individual, of whom he knew nothing
but what he happened to read of him in the public papers, and to suppose
that he was selected to conduct the prosecution on account of this
resentment, was really absurd. If such a selection could have taken
place on such an account, he could only have treated it as a personal
insult towards him on the part of the Attorney-General. Adverting to
the case under consideration, he entertained no doubt of the illegality of
the defendants' conduct, who, he said, endeavoured to divert the attention
of the court and the public by introducing matters which had nothing
whatever to do with the offence for which they were called upon to answer.
He insisted, that whatever might have been the conduct of the magistracy
and yeomanry of Manchester, it was wholly irrelevant to the question of
the defendants' guilt or innocence of the crime imputed by the indictment.
Mr. Serjeant Cross followed on the same side.
The court having deliberated upon their judgment for nearly
half an hour,
Mr. Justice Bayley proceeded to pass sentence, and in doing
so he entered into a long commentary upon the case. The case had
been fully submitted to the jury, and the court, having no reason to be
dissatisfied with their verdict, were pronouncing such a judgment as would
satisfy the justice of the case between the public and the defendants.
Taking all the circumstances of the case into consideration, and giving
the defendants the benefit of such mitigatory suggestions as had been
urged, the sentence was—That Henry Hunt be imprisoned in his Majesty's
gaol at Ilchester, in and for the county of Somerset, for the term of two
years and six months, and at the end of that time to enter into security
for his good behaviour for five years, himself in £1,000, and two sureties
in £500 each; and that the other defendants, Healey, Johnson, and Bamford,
be severally imprisoned in His Majesty's gaol of Lincoln for one year, and
that they do severally enter into securities for their good behaviour for
five years, themselves in £200, and two sureties in £100 each.
Mr. Hunt : I hope, my lord, the confinement is not to be
Mr. Justice Bayley: We make no order on the subject. I
make no doubt that the persons to whose custody the defendants will be
committed will show them every indulgence consistent with their safety.
Their duty will be performed under the inspection of the magistracy, and
we take it for granted that everything will be done to avoid aggravating
the inconvenience of imprisonment.
We were then taken into custody, and when we reached the hall
we were greeted with the acclamations of the assembled multitude.
HEALEY'S OUTFIT FOR LONDON—GENEROUS AID OF THE RELIEF COMMITTEE—ARTHUR THISTLEWOOD AND HIS COMPANIONS—HUNT'S ENVY AND DETRACTION—HIS BASE
SLANDER—EXECUTION OF THISTLEWOOD AND HIS PARTY—TRAIT OF DISINTERESTED
IT is now requisite that my narrative should return, as it were, and trace
some events and occurrences parallel in time to those already recounted,
from my entrance into London until the last scene in the High Court at
Westminster. The narrative will then merge into one channel, and
will so continue.
It is perhaps almost unnecessary to say that I made no more
attempts for the present in the publishing line. My friend Sir
Richard Phillips, whom I frequently called upon, advised me to drop the
idea, as a volume of poetry, unless of an astonishing kind, would be quite
I received a letter from my wife, informing me that a number
of friends came from Oldham, expecting to see me the Sunday after I set
off for London; that they were quite grieved when they learned I had gone
away unprovided for, they having very promptly and liberally got up a
subscription, whereby they put a handsome sum into Healey's pocket to come
In a day or two I saw Healey, and he told me how he had
managed matters. He had heard about my poor departure, but he
determined to try another plan. He got a number of small circulars
printed, informing his friends that "Joseph Healey would be under the
necessity of taking his departure for London on such a day, to receive
judgment in the court of King's Bench; and as he was entirely without
funds to carry him up, he would thankfully receive whatever sums the
friends of reform contributed for that purpose," or words to such effect.
The consequence was that a number of the Oldham and Lees Radicals took the
matter in hand, and went round collecting, and the following morning he
had fifteen pounds given him at Oldham, besides which he collected money
at Hollinwood, Failsworth, and Newton, where he made calls, and was
surrounded by friends who contributed handsomely. From his account
it appeared probable that at the time he arrived at New-cross, he would
have twenty pounds in his pocket.
Such was the difference betwixt his departure for London and
mine. But then the means were different. Had I begged it must
have been from the generosity of strangers, and not from those who were
indebted to me.
Mr. Johnson was in respectable lodgings, in the Strand, I
think. Healey lodged with Mr. Chapman, of Manchester, who had come
up, at a cousin of the latter, in some street on the other side of
Smithfield, whilst I got a cheap and cleanly but humble domicile at the
"One Bell" tavern in Fleet Street.
When Healey had been a few days in London he wrote to his
friends in Lancashire, giving an account of the heavy expenses he had
necessarily incurred, and stating that he had only tenpence left. I
had not quite expended the pound my friend Gibb had presented to me.
One morning I recollect, when the pound was done, and I was
daring to entertain the question whether or not I should take my friend at
his word, and ask for another, I stumbled upon Healey in the street, who
pulled some money out of his pocket, and wanted to know if I had got mine.
I did not understand the question, and told him so, on which he informed
me that the relief fund committee had awarded to each of us defendants ten
pounds; that he had drawn his the day before and I should get mine on
applying to Mr. Galloway. I accordingly lost no time in seeking the
counting-house of that gentleman; Healey went with me, and I received the
money. Thus, by the very kind and considerate attention of the
committee, all further anxiety as to the ways and means of existence for
the present was done away with.
We now indulged ourselves with a trip by water to
Richmond—that is, Healey, I, and Chapman—but there was either nothing
very extraordinary in the landscape, or I was in no humour for
appreciating it: I thought nothing of it. A walk through the Tower
was more attractive, and I paused long beside the helmets and cuirasses
and weapons from the field of Waterloo, all hacked and crushed, and still
rusted in gore. At the Waterloo Museum in Pall Mall I doffed my hat
before that of Napoleon, and I reverently touched the sword of Ney and the
truncheon of Murat. At the British Museum I wondered and admired,
but nothing interested my feelings as did the mementos of the brave and
unfortunate of our own days.
The detection of Arthur Thistlewood and his companions took
place, if I mistake not, during our trial at York; it caused a great
sensation at the time, and the conviction of the same misguided men
occurred soon after our arrival in London. It was the subject of
general conversation, and particularly the intrepid bearing of the
prisoners during their trial. Mrs. Thistlewood had an asylum with
the family of our friend West, the wire-worker in the Strand, and I
frequently saw the unfortunate woman there. She was rather low in
stature; with handsome regular features, of the Grecian cast; very pale,
and with hair, eyes, and eyebrows as black as night. Still she was
not what may be called interesting: she had a coldness of manner which was
almost repulsive. She seemed as if she had no natural sensibilities,
or as if affliction had benumbed them. She wore her hair very long,
and when she went to visit her husband, which she did with devoted
attention, she was strictly examined, and, among other precautions, her
long hair was unbound and combed out. Hunt frequently indulged in
imprecations against Thistlewood and his party. He aspersed their
courage, the fame of which seemed to have hurt him. But the worst
thing I ever knew him do was his slandering of Mrs. Thistlewood, whom he
represented as carrying on a criminal intimacy with West during her
husband's incarceration. A baser, more unfounded, or more improbable
slander was never uttered. Its atrocity was its antidote. In
fact, he would have said anything of any one against whom he entertained a
pique. My blind adherence to Hunt could not but be much shaken by
such oft-repeated instances of an ignoble mind.
On the morning of the execution of the conspirators I
remained in my room, earnestly praying God to sustain them in their last
hour; for though they professed not to believe in a future existence, I
did, and could therefore sincerely say, "Father, forgive them! they knew
not what they did." At noon, when all was over, I came downstairs.
The execution was the subject of conversation in every place, and I soon
heard, as perforce I must, the particulars of the disgusting transaction.
When I met Healey he told me that he and Johnson had been to see it, and
had paid a rather heavy price for places at a window nearly opposite the
scaffold. I said he was welcome to the gratification such a scene
could afford; for my part, I would not have gone on any account; and such
places were the very last at which persons of our description should be
seen. He put it off by saying he merely went from curiosity, to see
how such things were done. The executioner, he said, bungled in
severing one of the heads: he could not hit the joint of the vertebræ,
and when at last the knife touched it, the head went off in an instant.
The day before we received sentence I called on my friend
Gibb, and he not being at home, I enclosed in a letter of thanks a bank
note for the one I had received from him. A day or two after my
arrival at Lincoln Castle a letter came to hand from my kind friend,
enclosing the same note, and making me welcome to it. Such traits of
generosity ought not to be forgotten.
We were conducted from the court to a small and darkish room
at Bellamy's coffee-house, where Hunt expressed himself in strong terms
respecting the sentence on himself. We endeavoured to console him,
as did also Mr. Pearson, but he continued giving fitful vent to his
feelings until our conductors again invited us to take their arms.
They ushered us into a couple of stand coaches, and we were driven to the
King's Bench prison, where Hunt engaged two rooms at the tavern which is
within the prison. Johnson, Healey, and myself got lodgings in the wards
of the building; and thus, reader, was I domiciled in the fifth place of
If the verdict of the jury at York may be termed infamous,
how shall the sentence upon me of twelve months' imprisonment be
described? As infamous also, no doubt. The former circumstance
can be attributed to political fanaticism only; it was contrary to the
evidence and the oath which the jury had taken. The latter
circumstance may, I think, be fairly imputed to that quite uncalled-for
passage in my address to the court, where I said I would never again
recommend so great a degree of forbearance as I had done, until the blood
shed at Manchester had been atoned for. That sentence I should have
acted quite wisely and patriotically enough in withholding: it was a
declaration which my situation did not require, and which my fellow
Radicals had no right to expect. I should have been advised against
any extravagance of the sort; but as at York, I had no counsel save my own
discretion, and here it failed me. But then, where was the justice
of imprisoning me, not for a crime committed, but for a speech delivered?
Yet so it was I am sincerely of opinion. I believe, and not without
reason, that Judge Bayley did all he could to prevent that sentence being
passed on me; but there were four judges on the bench, and the majority
govern, and three being probably against me, he would be necessitated to
deliver the sentence in which the three concurred.
The same evening, Sir Charles Wolseley entered the prison, he
having been sentenced to eighteen months' imprisonment in Abingdon jail,
with heavy recognizances at the expiration of his confinement, for
attending a reform meeting at Stockport. I met Sir Charles on the
flags, and with him a gentleman whom he introduced to me as Colonel of the
Guards. Both the colonel and Sir Charles complimented me on my
address to the judges.
It was a curious place which I had got into this time.
It seemed to be an epitome of the great world we had left, only there was
not any spinning or weaving going on here, nor rushing of horses, nor
rattling of chariots, but all the degrees of luxury and want, of careless
pleasure and thoughtful woe, were presented; all the extremes and
contrarieties of our English condition might here be observed.
No sooner had we stepped inside the gate than we were
accosted by several men, who offered to let us apartments entire, or
lodgings, or shares of apartments, but we declined making any immediate
engagements, preferring to look round and get some information from those
who knew the place.
A crowd was collected near the gate, some waiting the arrival
of prisoners like ourselves; some taking leave of friends, or creditors,
or attorneys, or members of their families, returning into the great city;
and others, whose acquaintance was perhaps now but slight with the world,
would be standing there smoking, and sharing, mayhap, by sympathy, in the
painful or pleasurable emotions of their fellows. A number of young
and athletic men were stripped and playing at racket against the high
walls of the prison, whilst numerous lookers-on sat smoking and drinking,
blaming or applauding the players, and betting on the games. Some
were hanging out dingy, half-washed linen to dry near their windows; the
cobbler's hammer was at work; the barber had stuck out his pole and
displayed his pomatum, tooth-powders, and perukes, as if people there had
nothing to care about save cosmetics and curls. The broken-down,
starved dandy stalked gaunt as a winter's wolf; the ruined gamester; the
over-speculative stock-jobber; the player in his last act; the honourable
tradesman ruined; the spendthrift with nothing to spend; the fox-hunter,
hunted at last to his earth—all were here. The warrior found bars
of vulgar iron too strong for his polished steel; the miser, in his living
rags, hutched beside the priest in his lawn; the banker was here bankrupt;
the statesman without estate. The senator in vain called "order,
order," each man was thinking, acting, reading, resting, singing, praying,
eating, drinking, weeping, or smiling for himself and his own concerns,
just as in the wide world outside. But here all of human reason and
passion of pleasure and pain, of hope and despair, was pent up like the
rolling, tossing, boiling wave of a volcano that comes not up to the brim.
The day after our committal to this prison a son of Mr.
Cobbett came to visit Johnson, but, if I recollect aright, he was not
introduced to any of the other political prisoners. His father,
since his return to England, had been at variance with Hunt, and he had
suffered his personal feeling so far to estrange him from the common cause
as to neutralise his powerful pen on the subject of the Manchester
meeting, and the extraordinary proceedings at York. In fact, Cobbett
was jealous of Hunt's popularity, just as Hunt was jealous of
Thistlewood's fame; the same unworthy and unseemly spirit had now
possession of both our great leaders, and the result was that they hated
each other with a most sincere hatred. Not so the worthy Major
Cartwright; he was always the same. The day after our sentence I
found him in the coffee room, promising Healey to write to some of the
magistrates of Lincolnshire on our behalf, should our condition when there
require it. He questioned me as to the mode in which I purposed
spending any time in prison, and on my expressing a desire to learn
something of the Spanish language, he promised to send me some books on
the subject; and he kept his promise, but I never made any advance in the
study. My wishes were greater than my endeavours.
We were visited by Dolby, the publisher, by Wooller, of the
Black Dwarf, by Mr. Pearson, our, or rather Hunt's, attorney, and
by one or two others, but, somehow or other, most of our London friends
seemed to have forgotten that we were yet in the land of the living.
They never came to ask for us any more than if the prison had been our
tomb. Alas! how many unfortunates in that place have made the same
reflection! How many, on coming forth, have found that not a friend
was left to welcome them back to the world.
The day after my arrival, I announced my situation to my wife
in a letter containing the following lines:
"I never will forget thee, love!
Tho' in a prison far I be;
I never will forget thee love!
And thou wilt still remember me.
I never will forget thee, love!
When wakes on me the morning light;
And thou shalt ever present be,
When cometh down the cloud of night.
I never will forget thee, love,
When summer sheds the sultry ray;
And thou shalt be my comforter,
Amid the winter's cheerless day.
Oh! they may bind, but cannot break,
This heart, so fondly full of thee;
That liveth only for thy sake,
And the high cause of liberty."
On the morning of Wednesday, the 17th of May, Mr. Hunt was
sent off in custody to the jail of Ilchester, pursuant to his sentence,
and on the following morning, myself, Healey, and Johnson, were called
into the lodge preparatory to our removal to Lincoln. Here was a
number of turnkeys and other officers, and the first movement was the
unclasping of some handcuffs for the purpose of fastening us before we set
out. Healey and Johnson demurred strongly, and showed a disposition
to resist, seeming to consider it a great affront and degradation. I
said the degradation was with those who offered the insult, and not with
those who were compelled to receive it. We were then hand-chained
and ushered to the door of the prison, where we expected a coach would
have been in waiting; but there was not any, and we were informed we
should have to walk to the booking-office. Here was another demur,
my fellow prisoners expressing a strong repugnance to walking the streets
of London handcuffed. The person who seemed to have the
superintendence of this transaction, said we should have had a coach, but
there was not any on the stands at that early hour. So we set off,
and I endeavoured to soothe the spirit of repining by observing that an
iron manacle, worn in a just and righteous cause, was more honourable than
golden links worn by a tyrant or his minion,
But few people were in the streets, and without encountering
much observation we arrived at the "Saracen's Head," on Snow Hill, where
we entered a four-horse stage coach and were soon, to my great
satisfaction, dashing along a broad highway, past meadows, cornfields and
trees, in all the verdure of spring.
I do not recollect having ever noticed two worse-looking
fellows than the twain now our conductors. One was a middle-aged man
with a villainous physiognomy, and features as immovable as if chiselled
in stone. I looked, and looked, and looked again, but he appeared
always the same trained and inscrutable being. He seemed to have
just learned how to do a turn churlishly in open day, but would be more at
home in lending a hand in a lonely place at midnight. I never, to
the best of my recollection, so thoroughly disliked a man for his looks
and manners. His comrade was younger and somewhat more urbane and
better-looking, but there was a restlessness and a lurking distrust in his
every glance and action which indicated an acquaintance with, if not the
habitual practice of, wily and unrelenting scoundrelism. I never,
before or since, set my heart so against two strangers—God forgive me if
I was wrong in my estimate of their characters—and I thought I shouldn't
at all wonder if something occurred that would lead me to defy them before
we got to Lincoln. These fellows sat outside the coach, we were
inside; they seldom opened their lips to us nor, I believe, to any one
else. I could perceive that they were armed with pistols. Our
fellow traveller inside was a gentlemanly looking personage. He rode
a considerable distance before any conversation ensued. When he
understood who we were and what was the cause of our being chained, he
became quite chatty and agreeable, but nothing occurred which claimed a
place in my recollection. When we stopped for refreshment, our
conductors, like two mutes, were always with us; the hand-chains were
removed, and replaced before we set out again. And thus we travelled
through a rather wet day and all night, and at dawn on the following
morning the coach stopped at Newark, and we had to take a fresh
We were now only sixteen miles from the place of our
destination, and I proposed that we should wash ourselves and adjust our
dress before we made our appearance at the jail. This favour was,
after some hesitation, granted, and we were not long in finishing our
toilette. The elder fellow then approached me with the clasps ready
for my wrists, but I said I would not have them on any more. He
looked surprised, and moved as if he would compel me; but I bade him keep
back, for no force he could command should induce me to submit.
Healey and Johnson expressed a similar determination, and the
two fellows asked the reason for so sudden a resolve?
I said it was not a sudden resolve on my part, for I never
intended to enter Lincoln with the chains on. I cared but little how
I appeared in London or the country through which we had passed, and where
I was, as I should probably remain, a perfect stranger; but I knew the
consequence of a first appearance in a seemingly degraded state before
persons with whom we must remain twelve months. There was no
necessity for the handcuffs, I said; he might put them in his pocket.
I would give him the word of an honest man that I would go with him
peaceably without the shackles, but I would not go at all with them.
Healey and Johnson gave a similar pledge and expressed a
similar determination; and the fellows, seeing the point was not to be
carried by force, gave it up; and a post-chaise being waiting at the door,
we stepped into it with one of our conductors, the other riding on the
seat, and in this form we passed through a fine level country and
approached the ancient city of Lincoln, the cathedral and castle looming
in the distance, long before we could distinctly see their outlines.
At length we were upon a pavement, and soon entered a street
which we passed along, and then began to ascend the hill on which the
upper town stands. Our nags dragged hardly and slowly for some time,
until, having got on a level, we went forward more rapidly, and in a
minute we stopped before a huge gate which, after the application of a
heavy knocker, was soon opened, and we drove into a fine broad yard and
alighted at a strong nailed door, which we passed, and were conducted into
the governor's apartments, where the warrant for our detention was read,
and we were received formally into his custody.
OUR GOVERNOR—OUR APARTMENTS—INTERVIEW WITH THE MAGISTRATES—SKETCH OF THE
PRISON—A SINGULAR MUSEUM.
OUR new governor came from his chamber in his
morning gown to receive us. I thought there seemed to be a little
aim at effect in this. His voice was clear, his utterance rapid, but
distinct, and accompanied by considerable action. His complexion was
brown, his features rather attenuated, his eyes quick, clear, and
deep-seated, his forehead capacious, his hair rather thin and a little
grey, his age forty-five or fifty, his stature about the middle size, and
his motions very lively. Such was John Merryweather, the governor of
his Majesty's castle of Lincoln, as the impression of his appearance on
the morning of Friday, the 19th of May, remains on my recollection.
After our disagreeable conductors had retired, our governor
showed us the apartments we were to occupy. We mounted two heights
of stone steps, and our rooms were the first two on the right hand.
Our day-room was a very good apartment, with fireplace, table, chairs, and
every requisite; lofty overhead, a smooth floor of hardened mortar or
composition, and a sash window, with a strong grating of iron before it.
Our bedroom was the next to it, and of the same dimensions. In it
were two good clean beds, a table, some chairs, and, I think, a cupboard
or two, for clothes or other articles. The rooms were remarkably
clean, airy, and agreeable, and we expressed more than satisfaction,
thankfulness, for the indulgent feeling which had assigned us such
comfortable quarters. Mr. Merryweather gave us some general
directions as to the manner in which we were required to comport ourselves
towards the other prisoners, and then retired; but was quickly followed by
the turnkey, a stout, active man, named Tuxford, who after some further
explanatory chat, went down and sent to us the woman who made the beds,
and attended on the debtors by going errands for them into the town.
With her assistance, we soon had materials for a good breakfast and
dinner; a fire was burning in the place on our arrival, and whatever
cooking utensils or eating vessels we required were quickly procured.
And thus, friend reader, thou seest me located in the famous castle of
Lincoln, the sixth place of my confinement for alleged, or suspected,
We had scarcely set our breakfast things aside, when, after a
knock at the door, the governor again entered, accompanied by about
half-a-dozen gentlemen, one or two of whom seemed to be clergymen.
They were, he informed us, magistrates of the county, who had business to
transact in the adjoining court, and had taken the opportunity to visit us
on our arrival. They asked if we were satisfied with our
accommodations, and we assured them we were perfectly so, and quite
grateful for their attention to our comfort.
The Rev. Dr. Caley Illingworth, chairman of the bench of
magistrates, expressed a desire for himself and the others to afford us
every indulgence compatible with our situation, and their duty to the
executive, provided our conduct was such as justified them in pursuing
that course towards us. The only restraint they wished us at present
to observe was the avoidance of the company of the debtors, the holding of
conversations with them on religious or political subjects, and the
circulation of publications containing opinions of which they (the
magistrates) could not approve. They also required that we should
not receive the visits of any persons without the knowledge of the
We promised obedience to their injunctions, and after many
assurances of good feeling on their part, and suitable acknowledgments on
ours, the gentlemen withdrew, leaving us still more pleased than before
with the situation we had fallen into.
The worthy guardians of the peace and morals of the county
were evidently apprehensive lest our presumed opinions should contaminate
those of the other prisoners; but when they saw, after many weeks' trial,
that we acted with good faith, avoiding the debtors, and not seeking
opportunities to speak on unpleasant topics, the injunction was no longer
held in force; and, when in time, the governor saw us take part in the
sports of the place, he expressed his satisfaction; and afterwards there
was little distinction betwixt us and the debtors.
The outer turnkey was a merry, loquacious, little fellow,
about seventy years of age. He proved to be very obliging, fond of
money, and somewhat singular in his way. He kept a kind of curiosity
shop, consisting of instruments of murder, or murderous assault, such as
hedge-stakes, splintered with breaking skulls, poles broken and bloody,
hatchets, bars, and bludgeons. Then he had an arrangement of the
skulls of murderers, male and female, and highwaymen; and, next, halters,
each ticketed with the name of the man or woman who had suffered in it.
This impressive exhibition he displayed with apparent satisfaction,
especially when the visitor slipped a piece of silver into his hand.
All around the prison building I have thus sketched arose
high stone walls, some parts of them appearing to be of a great age.
They comprised, as I was informed, an area of about eight acres, one part
of which was a large green in front of the jail, on which the prisoners
for debt took exercise; in the centre of this green was a shrubbery, and
the green was bordered on three sides by a long slip of garden ground, embracing
the foot of the wall, appropriated to the use of the governor, and
cultivated by the more orderly of the felons. On the wall opposite
the governor's apartments was a round tower, on which executions took
place; and an ancient keep, called Lucy's tower, in the rear of the
jail—part of the original fortification—was now kept locked, and was
tenanted only by owls, and an immense number of shell-snails, which
completely formed its floor. In a hollow at the foot of this tower
were seen the green heaps above the graves of felons who had died within
the prison, and of criminals who had been executed; and on a more level
plot behind the Town Hall (which building fronted the gates at the
extremity of the yard) was the place of interment for debtors, some with
stones and inscriptions, and others with only the green mantle of their
mother earth lapping over them.
"And these had once been lov'd full well,
Though some might hate or fear them;
But now they slept in narrow cell,
Nor wife, nor child lay near them."
High above the gates and prison walls, at a short distance
outside, rose the towers of the venerable and magnificent cathedral.
The Lady tower contained a peal of bells which were only rung twice a
year: on Lady and Michaelmas days. They were the sweetest-toned
bells I have ever heard. One of the towers was cracked, and men were
employed in boring through it to brace it with iron. This was the
tower of the great bell Old Tom, which boomed forth the hours to us, as
they too slowly joined the eternity of the past.
As I was walking in the yard the day after my arrival,
several gentlemen in clerical garb entered the gates, apparently on a
visit of curiosity to the place. As they approached my line of walk,
I noticed the Rev. Jabez Bunting, Wesleyan preacher, a native of
Manchester, amongst them. Recognitions were given and received, and
I mentioned to him the circumstance of having often sat under his ministry
at Middleton, when he was but a young man and I a boy. I called to
mind also the names of some of his old friends at that place, who were
relatives of mine; and I thought I somewhat interested him, when stating a
fact of which he seemed not to be apprised, namely, that my grandfather,
Daniel Bamford, was the first who opened a door to the preachers of his
sect at Middleton; and that John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield,
John Nelson, Samuel Taylor, and others of the old band, were frequent
expounders under that humble roof. The gentlemen soon departed, and
I mention the circumstance only because it gave rise, after they were
gone, to a series of very pleasant recollections of my young days, which
served during half an hour to dispel gloomy thoughts, and lead me back to
"that sweet morning time" when
"With hymns we went praising
By rindles and bowers;
Or, sheltered, sat gazing
At rainbows, in showers."
One thing, however, struck me as a falling off from the good
old apostolic customs of the preachers in my younger days. The
reverend gentleman went away with his company without vouchsafing a
blessing or a word of advice to me, not that I cared much about it, but I
thought old John Gaulter, or little Jonathan Barker, would not have done
We had not been long here before we had reason to expect that
we had either some very insidious foe, or some very indiscreet friend in
the neighbourhood. One morning, Tuxford came and requested to be
allowed to examine the paper we used in our letters. There seemed to
be something mysterious in his manner, but we readily showed him all we
had, and allowed him to take away a sheet of each sort. Soon after
he returned with the governor, who explained the reason for the
proceeding, when to our astonishment it appeared that Lord Sidmouth had
received an annonymous threatening letter, bearing the Lincoln post-mark.
The letter was sent to the governor, with a request that he would examine
into the matter so far as he was able, and with the view of ascertaining
whether the letter was written on the sort of paper we used.
We, of course, as in truth we must, entirely disclaimed all
knowledge of the document or its writer, and strongly condemned the
feeling which could lead to the writing of anonymous letters under any
circumstances. The governor expressed himself as perfectly satisfied
with the examination, so far as we were concerned. He then similarly
examined the debtors, but no clue was obtained towards connecting any one
in the castle with the infamous document, and the only result was, that
henceforth we stood better in the governor's opinion, as well as that of
the visiting magistrates.
Our governor was a genius in his way; he was not an educated
man, but had the reputation of being an adept in astronomy. He had a
handsome mounted telescope, and frequently spent whole nights in
star-gazing—a very proper employment, I thought, for the governor of a
prison. One or two desperate attempts at escape had been promptly
foiled by his vigilance and that of his sub-officer.
The story of Elizabeth Barton, his housekeeper—for he was a
bachelor—was rather a romantic one. She was now about fifty years of
age, a clean and industrious woman, and withal, was very tender-hearted to
the prisoners. She was now rather infirm, but had been an uncommonly
handsome woman, and in the prime of her charms she was the wife of a man
of desperate habits, who initiated her into the business of passing forged
banknotes. She was taken in a transaction of that sort at Lincoln,
and committed for trial, at that time almost equivalent to death; whilst
her husband was equally unfortunate at York. Both were convicted,
and the husband was executed, but the situation of the youthful widow, now
resigned to her fate, excited a commiseration so lively, that strong means
were used to have her life spared, and it was so, on condition of a long
confinement. This she spent in a manner which obtained for her the
good opinion of her superiors and the good wishes of her fellow prisoners;
and she had ever since been the manager of the governor's household.
When we went our doctor became her medical adviser. He
gave her physic, and a lotion, or something of that sort, for her legs.
But there must have been a mistake this time, for she soon dispensed with
his attendance, complaining that his medicine made her very ill and his
lotion burned the stockings off her feet.
Every morning the servant from a public house near attended
at the gate, and served the debtors with ale. Each debtor was
allowed to purchase a quart per day, but many went without, and others
took it in their stead and kept it for sale at the price of a shilling a
bottle, thereby gaining fourpence. Pipes and tobacco, and indeed
ale, might be had to any reasonable extent, provided the money was
forthcoming. Spirituous liquors were prohibited: I did hear that
such articles might be obtained secretly, but I never saw anything of the
kind during my twelvemonths' stay in the place.
After I was sentenced a number of my friends at Middleton
bestirred themselves, and besides making a present collection, they put
down their names for a regular monthly contribution so long as I remained
in prison, and thenceforward I received from them one pound per month.
Without this aid I should have been sadly put to my wits as to the means
of living, for I never would have asked them for a farthing or made known
my situation. However, I accepted it as tendered, in goodwill, and
the most friendly relations continued betwixt us. Healey complained
that he had not the means for supporting himself and paying for his room
and bed, and on making a representation to that effect to the governor, a
room above was assigned him with a bed, free of any charge, together with
the county allowance to prisoners, consisting of three loaves a week, one
pound of butcher's meat, and a quantity of coals.
Soon afterwards it was understood that Mrs. Johnson was in a
critical state of health, and was about to come to Lincoln to visit her
husband. On that occasion I wished to give up my share of the
apartments Johnson and I held, in order that he and his wife might be more
comfortable during her stay. I accordingly mentioned the
circumstance to Mr. Merryweather, and intimated that I should for the
present be willing to take a part of Healey's room. Mr. Merryweather
assented in a moment, as he always did to whatever was reasonable, and I
had a bed put up for me in the room above; which room was the identical
one previously occupied by my late friend Finnerty, when he was confined
here on a charge of libel. It was a very pleasant room, with a
fire-grate, cupboards for victuals, and places to put coals, potatoes, or
other matters in. We both had iron bedsteads, and very comfortably I
slept, considering circumstances, and very grateful I was for the
accommodation I experienced.
I was in the habit of receiving a considerable number of
letters, newspapers, and pamphlets—perhaps four or five where Healey
received one. Letters of a general nature I read to him, those of a
private nature I of course did not. Letters containing money for
myself I sometimes read to him, and sometimes did not, as I judged most
proper; those with money for both of us were open to both, and when I
divided the money I always took his receipt for it, giving him mine when
he had to pay. The circumstance of so many letters coming to me I
soon found excited envy and jealousy in his breast. He suspected
that I did not disclose to him all the letters that contained money on our
joint account. This was, perhaps, his most weak point, and it was
not long ere I discovered that an influence was at work with him which at
length entirely put a stop to all confidence and friendly feeling betwixt
us, and rendered me during the remainder of my imprisonment a stranger to
the society of my two fellow prisoners. This, to be sure, was no
great loss, and as such I treated it; but my equanimity was assailed by
the means taken to annoy me, and to lower me in the estimation of my
I was soon, as may be supposed, in active correspondence with
some of the most distinguished reformers. Hunt and Sir Charles
Wolseley each wrote to me about once a fortnight, the latter also
furnished me with a daily newspaper; his letters breathed, as in fact they
always did, an exuberance of spirits.
Mr. Swan, Member for Grampound, who was in the King's Bench
for bribery at the election, wrote to me, inquiring about the treatment we
experienced on leaving the prison. The Honourable Robert Bligh,
brother to the Earl of Darnley, did the same. The reader will thus
perceive that, though condemned and in prison, we were not entirely
disregarded by some who had influence in high places.
One day, as I was lounging in the yard, the Rev. Mr. Nelson,
one of the prebendaries of the cathedral and a county magistrate,
accompanied by a gentleman whom I did not know, came up to me. Mr.
Nelson introduced the gentleman as Sir Montague Cholmley, a Member of
Parliament for the county and a magistrate. Mr. Nelson said he
wished to ask me a question in the presence of Sir Montague, and he hoped
I would answer him in all sincerity and truth. I promised him I
would, if it appeared to me a proper question, and I did not suppose that
he would require an answer to one that was not so. He said he
certainly would not. The question was, whether or not I was
satisfied with my treatment at that place? My instantaneous reply
was, "Perfectly so." Was there nothing, then, in the conduct of the
governor or the regulations I was subject to, of which I had to complain?
My reply was, "Nothing whatever." Then I never had complained,
either verbally or in writing?" Never! such a thing never entered my
mind; on the contrary, I was most grateful for the indulgence I received."
"Did I suppose," asked Mr. Nelson, "that I was as well treated there as I
should have been if confined at Lancaster?" "Yes," I said, "and a
great deal better, I was of opinion. In my own county I should
probably have been put in the worst dungeon the magistrates could have
Was I aware of any grounds of complaint on the part of either
of my fellow prisoners, I was next asked. I was not aware of any
such cause, I answered. Sir Montague then informed me that a letter
had been sent from Lincoln to a gentleman in London, whose name I have
forgotten, containing allegations of great cruelty on the part of the
governor towards us, and of most uncalled-for treatment generally, and he
was come down purposely, he said, to ascertain the truth or falsehood of
the charge. I said that, so far as I and my two fellow prisoners
were concerned, the charge was most false, and I was certain they would
bear me out in my statement. But, I added, "your worships can see
them, and let them speak for themselves." They assented, and I led
up to the room occupied by Healey and myself, and, opening the door,
walked in, inviting the gentlemen to follow. I could not see the
doctor at first, and thought he must have gone out, but a kind of
splashing noise directed my looks to the door, and there he was behind it,
as it stood open. "Here is Doctor Healey, gentlemen," I said, as
they advanced into the room. I never saw a look of greater
mortification and embarrassment than the doctor exhibited at that moment,
as the gentlemen bowed to him and smiled at each other. The doctor
was busy washing his shirt, and was actually up to his elbows in suds,
which he vainly tried to conceal, first by holding his hands behind him,
and when he saw that posture did not avail, by wiping the suds off, and
rolling down his sleeves. After a moment or two spent in civil
inquiries as to his health, and so forth, the same questions were put to
him which had been to me, and nearly the same replies were elicited,
whereupon the gentlemen expressed themselves quite satisfied, and left the
We had a regular scene after they were gone. I dearly
liked a harmless joke, and had many opportunities for seeing my comrade
exhibit himself in his various moods. "Well," said I, "I never knew
such a thing in my life." "Such a thing as what," asked the doctor,
who, rather sulkily, was preparing to go back to his suds. "Why,
such a thing as that a learned doctor should be caught up to his elbows in
suds and washing his shirt," and I laughed until my sides almost cracked.
The doctor looked fiercely, and giving me a hearty malediction, said I had
no right to bring them up; I brought them purposely, and he knew it; I had
done it to lower his respectability. I laughed louder than ever,
pretending great sorrow that so celebrated a character should have been
caught in the suds—laying emphasis on the latter words. The sense of
humiliation I suppose now recurred with double force, and in his passion
he caught up the mug and offered to throw the suds upon me, but I stepped
out of the door that moment, and the doctor's foot slipping, in the wet,
he came down on the floor, and, smashing the earthen vessel, all the suds
were soon floating around the room. I then thought it time to
retreat, and stepping downstairs I escaped into the yard, doubled up with
laughter. The doctor ever afterwards took care not to be surprised
washing his shirt.
I may here mention a trait in the natural instinct of the
feathered tribe. The governor had a splendid peacock, with a hen,
and a young one which had the run of the grounds. One fine clear
day, the cock and hen were beside the shrubbery, and as it happened I and
some other persons were at the time near the place. The hen suddenly
turned her head, side upwards, and uttered a kind of cry, in which the
cock joined, and the chick was instantly close to her wing. I looked
up, but could not see anything, and the two birds keeping their heads
aside, turning them as if following a moving object with their eyes, I was
convinced there must be a bird of prey within the ken of their vision.
I again looked in the direction they seemed to be doing, and at length
descried a small black spot at an immense height over head. It
seemed to move in a circle; and in some time I could perceive that it was
gradually descending. It came lower and lower, the fowls still
keeping a steady eye on it, and the young one being under wing, and at
last it came so near that we made it out to be a fine glede hawk. He
took a few circles around the castle, as if he intended to make a stoop,
but, probably seeing too many of the wrong sort, he at length gave a
wheel, and swept out of sight.
The worthy Major Cartwright, faithful to his promise, did not
forget to use his influence with some gentlemen of the county in our
favour. Happily, we had no need of that, though he was not to be
thanked the less, for the magistrates evinced every disposition to be kind
towards us, and the governor and his subordinates, though naturally a
little fond of power, never gave us reason to suppose that they wished to
increase the small portion of restraint we necessarily experienced.
The governor, I must say, like the magistrates who directed him, never
hesitated about doing us a good turn. I had hitherto paid him a sum
per month for the use of a bed and bedding which he found me, but
immediately on my application to be allowed to find my own bed, which a
worthy old lady offered to provide for me, the application was granted,
and the county allowance was also given me on a subsequent application.
My best and firmest friend was the above venerable lady, the
wife of a blind and aged minister of the church, who was living at Lincoln
on a small allowance. This good old woman was like a mother to me,
reproving me when blamable, advising me in difficulty—for she was a
sensible strong-minded woman—consoling me amid vexation and ingratitude,
and defending and encouraging me in the right. I sometimes thought
that if spirits of the departed were really permitted to return to the
earth, it was not improbable that the spirit of my departed mother might
be the animating principle of the good being whose benign influence
watched over me. I shall ever love a good woman for the sake of Mrs.
Stainton; she was to me what my own mother would have been had she lived.
It was scarcely to be expected that two men so entirely
dissimilar in person and mind as Healey and myself should long remain
together, perforce, without having cavillings, differences, and ultimately
dislikes. It is all very well to have a ramble through a countryside
with a man, or to be in company once or twice a week, but to have to
endure the company daily of one we cannot thoroughly esteem, is rather too
much for human patience; at all events, it was often too much for mine.
Nothing sooner tried me than an exhibition of duplicity and false
pretension, and of these, God knows, I had enough. I was surfeited
to disgust. But I forbear.
The room which Healey and I occupied opened into a lobby
where there was a back window looking down into the condemned ward, and
over a great extent of country even to Belvoir Castle, the flagstaff of
which we could see with a glass on a clear day. This lobby, in
consequence, of the view, was also visited by strangers, particularly on
Sundays, and it was my wish and endeavour to keep it in a state of
neatness and order. This very proper desire was, however, often
thwarted by Healey, who would put his offal and the scrapings of his
dishes on the window-sill, and his potatoes with their peelings on the
floor, near the door, and in sight of every one who came up. One
Sunday, on his doing this, I remonstrated with him in terms which led to
warm words on both sides, in which I upbraided him with his mean jealousy
on account of the letters received, and of being perfidious under the
guise of friendship, and I concluded by likening him to the viper which
stung the bosom of its benefactor. This enraged him beyond
endurance, and he came at me with a two-handed blow with the poker.
I caught the weapon in my hand, and in trying to wrest it from him, he
having a very tenacious grasp, I lifted him off his feet, and laid him,
with but little violence, on the floor, and tore the thing out of his
hands by main force. I then held the heel of my shoe over him, and
said if he was not so utterly contemptible, I would stamp the breath out
of his body. I then flung the poker under the grate and went out of
the room, and on returning I found him on his feet, pretending to spit
blood from his lungs, which he said I had injured by crushing him.
The fact was that his lip was a little swollen and cracked, having
probably come in contact with his own knuckle, or mine, during the
scuffle, and that was whence the pretended blood from the lungs came.
I will not repeat the terms of reproach which I flung away upon him.
He went downstairs and brought up the turnkey, and accused me of having
knocked him down, beaten him with the poker, dragged him on the floor, and
stamped on his breast, and concluded by spitting out streaks of blood as
before. I then gave a true version of the affair, showing the
turnkey the state in which the lobby and window were, and requested him to
examine Healey's lip and see if that was not bleeding inside. He did
so, and found it bruised, and blood oozing from it. He then told the
doctor he did not believe a word he said; that he had found him in
falsehoods before, and that if he were not more circumspect in his conduct
he would report his behaviour to the governor, and have him removed to the
other side of the prison. Healey thus took nothing by his motion,
whilst I took only the resolution to get out of his company as soon as
But it was not at Lincoln alone that I was doomed to be
annoyed. The grossest slanders were propagated at Middleton and
other parts of Lancashire, and in some cases they were but too coldly
combated by those who called themselves my friends, but who alas! knew
little of the -generous friendship," which
"No cold medium knows;
Burns with one love, with one resentment glows."
One hoary-headed slanderer, who hated me because I had prevented him from
imposing on the relief fund and obtaining money to which he had no right,
circulated a report that I was actually a Government spy, that I had sold
the Middleton blue banner to the authorities at Manchester for twelve
pounds, and that if the banner were sought for, it would be traced to the
police-office at the said town. The fellow actually went about the
town swearing most confidently that such was the case. A committee
was appointed to investigate the charge, and a deputation waited upon my
wife, who opened a chest, and pulling out the banner, displayed it; and
yet the scoundrel afterwards went up and down persisting in what he had
It may be readily supposed that the fine yard the prisoners
had access to would induce them to take much out-of-door exercise.
This was the case, and I in particular of our party, frequently joined in
the running, leaping, and football matches which took place. I
generally entered with ardour into the game, and being a good footman, was
not considered a mean auxiliary to any party. Often, however, when
the game was over, and I was quite warm with the exercise, would I fling
myself clown on the grass, and perhaps take a nap until some fresh sport
called me again into action. By such unthinking conduct I took many
colds, and neglecting to diet myself, or take medicine, the colds struck
to my weak part, the lungs, and in time I began to have my old tightness
at the breast and my night cough, as at Lancaster, only much worse,
attended by profuse perspirations and other weakening symptoms.
It was about the beginning of August that my dear wife,
hearing of the state of my health, expressed her wish, in a letter, to
come over and see me, and I gladly assented, provided the necessary means
could be obtained. I had, at Hunt's request, written a piece called
"the Song of the Slaughter," which first appeared, I think, in his
memoirs, and was afterwards published at the Observer Office,
Manchester; and with three pounds, accruing from the sale of it, and one
pound which my wife borrowed, she was speedily in a condition to join me,
and announced her intention of doing so.
About this time the, Rev. Mr. Nelson, and other magistrates,
came to the castle on business, and before they went I took an opportunity
of stating to them my wife's intention of coming over, and requesting the
use of a room to ourselves during her stay. They asked if there was
one anywhere unoccupied, and I said that fortunately there was one, the
very next to that I was now in. They directly went into the
turnkey's lodge, taking me with them, and sending for Tuxford, they
ordered him to get the room I had mentioned coloured and cleaned, and to
put up a bedstead, and give me the key of the place, that being my
apartment during my wife's visit. Then, turning to me, Mr. Nelson
said "We [meaning himself and the other magistrates] do not approve of all
that the Manchester magistrates have done, any more than of some of your
proceedings, but we consider you to be here as prisoners under peculiar
circumstances, and we should be sorry to be the means of depriving you of
any little indulgence compatible with your safe custody, especially, so
long as you comport yourselves as you have hitherto done. There is
one thing, however," Mr. Nelson added, after a pause, "which we must
enjoin upon you, and that is, that you do not make any public statement as
to this matter; that you do not mention it to the newspapers, or make a
noise about it. It is an indulgence, and at variance with the rules
we ourselves laid down for the governance of the prison, but, as I said,
under the peculiar circumstances of yourself and your fellow prisoners, we
will do all we can to make you comfortable so long as, by your conduct,
you enable us to be kind towards you."
I expressed my unfeigned gratitude to the worthy magistrates,
and promised to obey their injunction. The place was immediately
whitewashed and cleaned, and the day following, to my very great comfort,
I removed to that welcome domicile, with thankfulness of heart to those
who had been so kind, and with extreme satisfaction at being thus left
alone, and to my own thoughts.
It was on the 18th of September that my wife was to arrive.
Our meeting was both mournful and tender. The sight of my features,
so much altered for the worse, and of my pale and wasted hands, renewed
her tears, and it was not till after a fit of downright crying on her
part, during which I let her feelings have uninterrupted vent, that she
became more calm, and we unburdened our minds of whatever lay heaviest and
most painful there. And of such matters, what with the falsehood or
apathy of friends, and the open or insidious detraction of enemies, God
knows, we had enough.
THE PATRIOTS OF OLDHAM—A COMFORTER IN PRISON—A MELANCHOLY SPECTACLE.
AMONGST the best and truest supporters of persecuted
Radicals, and the Radical cause, were a small but firm band of patriots at
Oldham. Their like never, to my recollection, existed previously in
Lancashire, nor has it ever since. To them I owe an especial
acknowledgment, and if a grateful remembrance of the men and their good
deeds, and a public recognition of their good words, through a medium so
humble as this, be any equivalent for their kindness, they have it.
Some of the best have long since been called to the reward of "the good
and faithful servant." Some still remain, but scattered and bowed by
the storms of life. A few winter's gales, and we shall all be gone
to, I hope, "where the wicked cease from troubling, and where the weary
are at rest."
It may easily be conceived that the society of my wife was a
great solacement. I had now always one true friend to converse with,
and though the replenishment of my "basket and my store" was somewhat more
frequently required, we did not regret on that account; since, if there
were plenty we partook it, and if not, with Milton, we could sit down to
our "herbs and other country messes," and be thankful for them. Our
greatest cause of anxiety now was the absence of our child; but as she had
been left with her uncle and aunt, in whom we had unlimited confidence, we
were the more easily reconciled to her having stayed at home. My
wife certainly saved something by going to market herself. She could
go out and return without a single question at the gate, without any rude
hand examining her basket; and then, when at night I was locked up, it was
in company with the one most fitted to administer to my wounded mind; one
who with me could retrace the hours and days from childhood, and leading
me to bright recollections, could wile me from present ill to past
happiness, until the present also at times became tinged with brightness.
In the beginning of October my wife returned into Lancashire.
Our parting was fraught with saddening anticipations. I still kept
up appearances as well as I could, and partook of active exercise, but my
health was no better, and the means I took to restore it were just the
opposite of what my case required.
In January, 1821,  my wife returned to
Lincoln, in accordance with my earnest wish.
I was witness about this time to a very affecting incident
which took place at the prison. A young, good-looking countryman had
narrowly escaped being hung for an atrocious case of housebreaking.
He was sentenced to transportation for life, and had sent for his mother
to come and take leave of him before he went off. She was a little
neat-looking woman, pale, and rather browned, and attired in a plain but
very cleanly habit. She stood before the barred gate leading to the
dungeons, and when she heard the clank of chains coming along the dim
passage, she startled, clasped her hand convulsively, and listened.
Her son soon made his appearance, dragging his chain. He extended
his arms towards her, and she rushed into the gloomy passage, and to his
bosom—uttered his name—and fainted. They rubbed her temples, and
tried to give her water, but in vain. Her teeth were fast set, her
colour deathly pale, and she continued thus long—he standing weeping over
her and uttering words of endearment. "Mother! Mother!—Dear
Mother!—Oh! that I should have brought you to this!" Many eyes
unwont to melt were also in tears, but no one, save the son, spoke.
At length they motioned him to return, but he broke away, and kneeling,
caught his mother in his arms, and pouring tears fast on her face, he
reverently kissed her wan forehead and her cheeks, and resigning her to
the attendants, he said, "Now let me go!—I've killed my poor mother!—I've
broken her heart!" and they led him away. Then they carried her out
for air, and when, after some time, her senses returned, she cast a look
around and peered down the passage. "He is gone," said one of the
by-standers, on which she sighed, and departed slowly out at the castle
I was indebted this spring to Mr. Berry, one of my late
sureties, residing at Failsworth, and some other friends, for a suit of
new clothes, which I had begun to be in need of. They sent me a sum
of money, with a request that I would fit myself out decently to come
home, and I obeyed their directions, by which I lost some friends.
Mrs. Johnson, the wife of my fellow prisoner, never recovered
from her indisposition. She kept declining in health, and returned
home to die. I mention this painful circumstance because I am
desirous to render that testimony to the conduct of the magistrates and
governor, which it so truly merited.
I believe it was the wish of Mrs. Johnson that her husband
should, if possible, come to see her before she died; and an application
was made to Lord Sidmouth by him for that purpose, but without effect.
The visiting magistrates, and the Rev. Mr. Nelson in particular, then took
up the affair, and memorialised his lordship, but with no better result
than before. The magistrates of the county next got up an urgent but
respectful memorial, which was presented to his lordship by the county
members, but without effect; Lord Sidmonth assigning as a reason for his
refusal, that if he conceded the point in this case he did not know on
what grounds he could refuse it in others which might occur, and that the
practice would lead to endless confusion and evasions of the law.
Mr. Johnson did not therefore see his wife, though it was not the fault of
the magistrates that he did not; and when they could not do anything more,
they gave him the entire range of the grounds within the walls—every
indulgence, in fact, excepting walking out of the castle gates. Most
of his time, when out of doors, was thereafter spent in the gardens, apart
from the other prisoners. I was frequently asked why I did not claim
the same privilege, and I replied by reminding the interrogators that my
case was different. I had the society of one whose companionship was
a greater blessing than the range of any length or breadth of land could
bestow. His privilege was not necessary to my happiness. I was
content with what I had, and, moreover, whilst a claim of that sort would
not benefit me, it might injure him, by causing his confinement to our
common bounds. I therefore never interfered; and I should have acted
a very selfish part if I had.
The expiration of my imprisonment was now fast approaching,
and I and my wife often amused ourselves by conjectures as to how we
should get home. It was soon decided, however, that we must walk it,
and she, laughing, boasted what a light step she would lead me when we
were on the road. Some perplexities as to the means for travelling,
whether on foot or otherwise, were happily dissipated by the same
beneficent friends who had smoothed our path at London. Healey,
entirely unknown to me, had written to Mr. Galloway on the subject with
respect to himself, and the result, to my great surprise, was a letter
from that gentleman, directed to me at Lincoln, which set all our
apprehensions at rest on that score.
Two of my friends in Lancashire—namely, the aforementioned
Mr. Berry, of Failsworth, and Mr. Mark Smith, of Heywood—became my
sureties for five years, in one hundred pounds each, and it now only
remained for me to give my recognizances in two hundred pounds, previous
to my liberation.
It was a very fine morning, I recollect; there was a large
meeting of magistrates in the county hall, and many of the debtors were in
court, for it was held for their relief also. My wife took my arm
and we entered the court and were shown to a seat opposite the chairman,
Dr. Caley Illingworth. The Rev. Mr. Nelson was also there, and
several other magistrates whom I knew from their frequent visits to the
"Joseph Johnson," was soon afterwards called, but he did not
answer. "Joseph Healey," was next called, but neither did he appear.
I was then called, and, standing up, was invited to go across the table
near the chairman. I did so, and entered into my own recognizances
in the usual terms, after which I returned and sat by my wife.
Healey and Johnson shortly afterwards came into the court, and when some
business had been disposed of, they were each directed to pass over the
table as I had done, and then they severally went through the same form
and took seats below the chairman.
Dr. Illingworth then called our names, and we stood up whilst
he congratulated us on the near termination of our imprisonment, thanked
us for our good behaviour, which had enabled the magistrates and the
governor to afford us some indulgencies which we otherwise could not have
had, and hoped that in future the reflections which must have presented
themselves in prison would, during the remainder of our lives, produce a
line of conduct which would render unnecessary any further visitations of
the law—or words to that effect.
I looked at my two fellow prisoners, expecting that something
would be said by them, and especially by Johnson, who had experienced so
largely the best endeavours of the magistrates on his behalf; but neither
of them spoke, they both sat down.
I, remaining on my feet, then thanked the magistrates and the
governor for their kind behaviour towards me and towards my wife during my
imprisonment. I could not, I said, suffer that opportunity to escape
without expressing to them how unfeignedly grateful we were for all they
had done on our behalf. Their kindness was such as I did not expect
when I came to that place, and was certainly such as I should not have
experienced in my own county. It had made a deep impression on both
our hearts, and for myself I must say that if any course could wean a man
from error by creating a grateful feeling in his mind, it was a course
such as I had experienced at that prison. It would have an effect
more powerful with me than the harshest measures that could have been
adopted. I again thanked them most sincerely and gratefully. I
should remember their kindness, I said, to the last day of my existence.
I then sat down, thinking that now, at any rate, my two
fellow prisoners could not avoid following so proper an example.
They, however, kept their seats, and spoke not one word. Then, in a
few minutes, Johnson got up and walked over the table, out of the court,
and the moment after Healey followed him.
I need not intimate what impression this scene created on the
minds of all present, nor repeat the observations it gave rise to. I
will only say that I the next day left the castle with the good opinion
and good wishes of all who had known me, whether rich landowners, or
reverend magistrates, or poor prisoners. The governor spoke well of
me and ordered that I should be admitted to the castle on any day, so long
as I stopped in Lincoln. But my most welcome applauder was my own
conscience, which told me that, whilst I had in a becoming manner
submitted to the authorities of the country, I had also deserved their
esteem, had disarmed, perhaps, some animosities, had done some good to the
cause of reform, and had, by my conduct, made one more appeal for those of
the class in life to which I belonged.
When I came to settle with the "Old Daddy"—the turnkey at the
gate—which prisoners generally did by making him a present before leaving,
he begged I would give him my wooden shoes, for so he called my Lancashire
clogs, which I wore in the winter. I gave them to him, and he
expressed great delight, saying he would place them in his collection of
curiosities, for it seemed that clogs had been but very rarely, if ever,
seen previously in Lincoln.
OBJECTS AT LINCOLN—TOM OTTER—BARTON FERRY—GREAT MARKHAM—A SCRUPULOUS
WE stopped a day or two in Lincoln, at our friend
Stainton's, and having sent our luggage to the carriers, we examined many
of the venerable ruins of the place, particularly the fine Roman arch
called "The Stone Bow," one of the most perfect specimens of Roman
architecture in England. The splendid and venerable cathedral also
attracted our particular notice, and we could not but lament the ruthless
and insensate havoc made amongst the images and statues by the soldiers of
the stern Cromwell.
It was on the afternoon of Wednesday, a fine day, that we
bade adieu to Lincoln, and passing over the race-ground, we stopped at the
"Eel-pie House," where we partook of their celebrated dish, "collared
eel," and had our parting glass with some friends who accompanied us.
Proceeding thence, we passed Saxmundham on our right, and at Dringey Nook
we came in sight of the gibbet of Tom Otter, who, in the dark shady lane
in which he then hung, murdered his sweetheart by beating out her brains
with a hedge stake. We stopped at a very decent inn, at a short
distance from the gibbet, and from thence continued our journey through a
level country, full of woods and plantations, till the broad waters of the
Trent suddenly appeared before us. A shout and a signal brought the
ferryman over, and after some persuasion, with fear and trembling, my wife
at length went on board and we were ferried over and landed in the county
of Nottingham. A short and very agreeable walk through a rural
country, with pretty English cottages embowered in gardens and
fruit-trees, brought us to the village of Great Markham, where we entered
a snug little public house and took up our quarters.
We sat chatting over our tea until it was nearly bedtime, and
when I requested that we should be shown to our room, the landlady gave an
inquiring and dubious glance at us, and retired, evidently to take a
second thought upon the subject. The servant woman next came into
the room, pretending to fetch something, but once or twice I observed her
taking side looks at us; and as I perceived there were misgivings of some
sort, I ordered a glass of liquor and a pipe, resolved to amuse myself by
watching the shifts and manœuvres of
these simple country folks.
The mistress brought the glass, and the girl brought the
pipe, and each gave a scrutinising glance, which we seemed not to notice.
We were both ready to burst into laughter, only my wife was a little
apprehensive lest we should be turned out of doors. I thee'd and
thou'd her in their presence, as a man might do his wife, and talked to
her in my ordinary careless way; and at last the landlady came and,
begging we would not be offended, asked if the young woman was my wife?
I now laughed outright, and my wife could not refrain, though she covered
her face. I assured the good woman that my companion had been my
wife many years. Nay, she had no ill opinion of her, she said, only
she looked so young. But, young as she appears, she reckons to be my
age within about three weeks, I said; and she was mother to a fine girl,
now in the ninth year of her age. Oh! she was sorry to have mistaken
us, she said, we should have a comfortable bed ready in a few minutes.
And so saying, she left the room, satisfied, no doubt, with the
explanation which had set at rest her troublesome qualms of conscience.
We had most excellent lodgings; and in the morning we rose early and
commenced our journey, by lanes and shady footpaths, sweet with the breath
of flowers and echoing the music of birds.
Elksley. What associations in a name! The ley—the
pasture land—the lair of the elk. Where was now the elk? Where
the wide wold, with its "gre wolf" and the elk stalking, the dimly-seen
monarch of a misty land? All had disappeared—the elk, the wolf, were
no more—and the dun moor and black moss had become laden with pastures and
fields of grain, and garlanded with orchard blossoms and dotted with
cottages as white as lilies on a garden bed.
Here we breakfasted with the landlady, a tidy little body,
and a delicate-looking young girl, who had come from Nottingham to stop
here for her health. We found this a most agreeable resting-place;
everything was fastidiously clean; the tea, the sugar, the bread, were of
the best quality, whilst the butter—if I may be allowed a new compound—was
most butter-fully rich. We, of course, much enjoyed our breakfast,
"We together far had come,
Among the dews that morning." 
And I believe our hearty eating made the poor lass from Nottingham quite
hungry. She said she had not taken such a breakfast for a long time.
From hence we travelled a long way, nine miles, I think,
chiefly through woods and plantations belonging to the Duke of Newcastle.
We seldom saw a house, and the solitude was unbroken for long distances,
except by the whirring of the pheasant or partridge across the road, or
the bounding of the hare. At Shireoaks we passed a large mansion and
some substantial homesteads, and entering Worksop, with its ruined abbey
on the right, we again rested and partook some excellent ale. At
South Aston we entered Yorkshire, and near Aston crossed the Rother river;
and successively passing Handsworth, Darnal, and Attercliffe (Qy. why not
Ottercliffe, or Addercliffe?), we entered Sheffield when near nightfall,
and having been directed to The Axe public house, or "Hammer and Axe," I
forget which, we soon found the place, on our left as we entered the town,
and there took our quarters for the night.
We intended to stop a day here, to look about us, and survey
the curiosities of this great city of Vulcan, and well should we have been
repaid for the delay, no doubt, but as important events not only
frequently arise from small causes, but are baffled by them, our dreams of
all the shining jewels of this wondrous cave, shrouded in smoke and
sulphur, and glaring red fire, were quickly annihilated by a very
significant object. As I sat up in bed, I was almost startled by a
sudden exclamation of my wife, who discovered one of those noisome flat
insects so common in the beds of towns and crowded places, crawling up my
shirt. This determined her. "She would not stop in that
place," she said, "for the world—she could not eat in it—and we must set
off directly;" and suiting the action to the word, she was dressed in
quick time, and fidgeting to be gone—to get out "into the green lanes,"
and to "breathe the sweet country air." I rather thought, however,
that the wish to see her child affected her; perhaps she had been dreaming
of her; at all events, I am sure the anticipated pleasure of embracing my
dear little girl once more had considerable influence in my acquiescence
to quit the town thus suddenly.
Well, we soon paid the shot, and were on our way out of the
town. We got, however, on the wrong route, and, before we were aware
of that, we found ourselves climbing the foot of the great hills which
divide Yorkshire from Derbyshire. For several miles we continued to
ascend, and everywhere we came to a small flat, and hoped we had
surmounted all, when a few paces discovered to us another eminence.
I wondered how my little women stood it, but she this morning showed me
her light foot indeed, and with all cheerfulness we breasted the hill,
anon looking back, to see how far we had travelled towards home. At
length we entered on a broad wild moor, where for miles and miles towards
Yorkshire all was a scene of dun heath and shelterless plain; whilst
downwards, over Derbyshire and Cheshire, the eye commanded what seemed an
almost illimitable expanse of mountain land.
"But where the vision began to fail
There seemed to be hills of a cloudy pale."
In the valley we had left—now as we could discover of a
beautifully undulating surface, and gaily green in the sun—lay the town of
Sheffield, shrouded in its furnace clouds. On our right and left
were the wild and boundless districts I have mentioned, and before us was
the wrinkled front of Mam Tor, frowning like an eld, in witch-land.
We walked to the height of Hathersage Grange, and there
stopped to survey the vast, solitary, yet pleasing scenes. My wife
was seated on a grassy knoll, whilst I stood beside her with my stick and
bundle over my shoulder, my back towards the sun, whose beams were
somewhat mitigated by light clouds, and my looks directed over the wold
towards the Yorkshire border.
"Well, I am convinced now," I said, breaking a long silence,
"that Burke was not so far wide of the truth after all."
"What did Burke say?" she asked; "for my part, I never heard
him say much of either truth or falsehood."
She thought I was alluding to one of the simplest of my
Radical comrades, whom we had nicknamed "Burke."
"Pho! its Edmund Burke, the great orator and political
apostate, that I mean."
"And what did he say?" she asked.
"Say? He called the people 'the swinish multitude'; and
I am convinced he was right, for I have discovered. I am one of
"What do you mean?" she again asked, now more interested.
"I can see the wind," I said, "and that's a sure sign I'm one
of the swinish herd."
"See the wind! And what's it like?" asked she, looking
up and laughing.
"It's the most beautiful thing I ever saw," I said, "and if
thou'll come here, thou shall see it also."
I will suppose that the curiosity natural to the sex was
excited, for she instantly was at my side.
"Now look over the top of the brown heath with a steady eye,
and see if thou canst discern a remarkably bright substance, brighter than
glass or pearly water, deeply clear and lucid, swimming, not like a
stream, but like a quick spirit, up and down, and forward, as if hurrying
to be gone."
"Nonsense!" she said, "there is not anything."
"Look again, steady, for a moment," I said; "I still behold
"There is," she said, "there is; I see it! Oh! what a
I gave her a kiss, and said I loved her better than ever.
She was the first woman who, I believed, had ever seen the vital element,
the life-fraught wind.
"Is that the wind?" she asked.
"That is the wind of heaven," I said, "now sweeping over the
earth, and visible. It is the great element of vitality, water
quickened by fire, the spirit of life!"
I know not whether I was quite right in my philosophy, but we
bowed our hearts, and adored the Creator; and in that we were both right,
We stood gazing in wonder and admiration; for still, like a
spirit-stream, it kept hurrying past—or as a messenger in haste; and so we
left it glittering and sweeping away. This was on the morning of the
19th day of May, 1821.
And, reader, I dare be bound with thee that, if having a good
pair of eyes, thou wilt at the same season of the year, and on a day like
ours—with a mild sun and a quick breeze out of Yorkshire—if thou, at such
season, and on such day, climb to the top of Hathersage Grange and stand
with thy back to the sun—Mam Tor visible on thy left hand—then also shalt
thou see the beautiful apparition—the spirit of life—which we saw.
It will repay thy trouble well, I assure thee. Neither I nor mine
can ever forget it whilst memory is ours.
At Hathersage we heard the sound of a shuttle, and my wife
remarked that we were getting near home. Fortunately we stepped into
a little public house, never exceeded in neatness and comfort, except by
the one at Elksley. Our breakfast was all that could be desired, and
we did justice to it, having walked our ten or eleven miles, and over such
At this place, in the churchyard, are shown two small stones,
marking, as people say, the grave of Little John, the faithful companion
of the bold Robin Hood. A picturesque low cottage, situated in a
garden, and overgrown with ivy and other creepers, is still shown as the
one in which the broken-down outlaw took refuge after the dispersion of
his band; and where he also died. Both objects are worthy the
attention of the travelling antiquary. Such a place would be a
likely shelter to a proscribed man; whilst the moors and the forest
glades, then but little known, and seldom penetrated, would yield plenty
of game to a good bow, and no one be the wiser of the trespass.
At Hope, where we called at the house of the village
blacksmith, to ask for a draught of water, it being a warm day, we were,
with old English hospitality, presented with a jug of good brown ale, and
also pressed to sit down and partake the family dinner of hot potato pie;
but, with all gratitude, we declined the latter and went forward, not
stopping at Castleton, for we had now fairly set our hearts on getting
In climbing up the Winnits (Wind Yates) we sat down to rest,
and to view the rocky scenery around and above us. A spring of clear
water was trickling near, and with that health-giving beverage we quenched
our thirst. A fine hawk was circling over head, and a couple of
ravens disturbed the death like silence with their croak. The place
was mysterious, and had an air of savage grandeur. The imagination
might easily expand in such a vast and darksome gorge. Were it
indeed the portal—the palace gates of the wind? of the wild, and
beautiful, and powerful existence which we had seen that morning?
And if so, whither did it lead? We mounted to the top, and found
ourselves again entering on a wide dun moor. Mam Tor, with her bold,
storm-channelled front, on our right; the sun in his mid-height above us,
and a long and weary waste, with swampy bottoms, and grey grass waving in
the wind, before us.
Not wearily, but cheerfully and lightsomely, along this
desert track we went, and having gone a far way, we began to descend, and
eventually rested again at a public house in the pleasant little town of
Here I was certainly taken to be a fellow who was running
away with some old woman's daughter. The landlady could not, at
first, believe that my wife was my wife; and when I told her, as I did the
good woman at Great Markham, that she had been a mother nine years, she
called John, her husband, to partake in her amazement, and "wonderfully
strange," to our great amusement, they both deemed the case to be.
We stopped not at Whaley Bridge, for the sun was getting low,
but hastened to Disley, and after a brief rest there we again started,
though neither I nor my fellow traveller were so alert as in the morning.
In fact our feet began to be worse for our two days' travel, and when we
got upon the paved causeway, betwixt Bullock Smithy and Stockport, it was
like treading on red-hot stones. Thus, long after nightfall, we went
limping arm-in-arm into Stockport. We found the dwelling of our
friend Moorhouse at the lower end of the town, and knocking at the door,
were received with every hospitality.
My friend and his wife bustled about, and did all they could
to make us comfortable. We got a supper of good refreshing tea, and
then essayed to go to rest, but my poor little companion had to mount the
stairs on her knees—she would not be carried up—and when her stockings
were removed, her feet were found covered with blood-red blisters. I
got some hot water and soap—washed her feet well—wiped them carefully,
till quite dry—wrapped them in her flannel petticoat, and put her to bed.
I then washed my own feet, for they were not much better than hers, and
committing ourselves to Divine care, we were soon oblivious of all
weariness and anxiety, and on awaking the next morning, our feet were as
sound, for anything we felt, as they were when we set out from Lincoln.
Our walk to Manchester the next morning was a mere pleasure
trip. We scarcely stopped there, but, hastening onwards, we entered
Middleton in the afternoon, and were met in the street by our dear child,
who came running, wild with delight, to our arms. We soon made
ourselves comfortable in our own humble dwelling; the fire was lighted,
the hearth was clean swept, friends came to welcome us, and we were once
more at home.
"Be it ever so humble
There's no place like home."
OF THE AUTHOR AND HIS BOOK.
AND now, friend reader, thou hast seen me, at last,
through all the places of my imprisonment and back to my home. Have
I not led thee a somewhat strange and painful, yet not altogether
unpleasing, pilgrimage? whilst the consciousness that thou wast all this
time treading the ground of reality, of this earthly world, must have
rendered thy sojourn more strange. Even so it is; reality is always
romantic, though the romantic is not always real.
Having written of myself and others, it may not appear
unseemly if I give a short history of the origin and progress of the
present work, and conclude with some general, but I trust not unimportant,
observations on the present condition of the country, the fallacious views
of parties, and the means to be adopted for our safe transition to an
approaching state of society.
I make no excuse about the "partiality of friends" having
induced me to take the step of publication. I have not any friends
who, in that respect, either could influence me, or would attempt it.
They would know it was not necessary to do so; they would have the
confidence in me to feel assured that I should produce a book which,
whilst it interested the reader, would form a tablet of facts, a group of
characters which otherwise would have passed into oblivion; and that it
would, so far, be useful to the future historian of the days recorded.
In the performance of this task, however, I have sought counsel only of
myself. A long train of fruitless exertions, of disappointed hopes,
of harassments of body and mind, of young days and years wasted and flung
away for nothing, except to find selfishness, ingratitude, and detraction,
where I should have met every generous and manly virtue, could not have
weighed on any heart as they did on mine, without producing a will of its
own, a purpose beyond the ordinary motives of human nature: therefore
impervious to them, and, in some respects, also above them.
I had friends, however, and I am proud to acknowledge them,
who, when my purpose became known, lent me every assistance in furtherance
of my object; but their friendship was not of that cast which—though some
of them were public men—sought its reward in the public emblazonment of
their names; therefore on that point I am silent. They expected
something better from me, and they have had it—the sincere though
unpretending gratitude of my heart. Still I may say they are not
great men, in the ordinary sense of the word; nor rich men, in the golden
hue of richness; nor poor men, from a penurious craving spirit; nor high
men on the stilts of gaudy pride; nor low men, degenerate through
ignorance and vice. Some of them are poets, and of imperishable name
too; others are encouragers and admirers of literature, of the genuine
uneducated, as well as the educated stamp. Some are men "well to do
in the world"; some are humble, but trustworthy servants; and others in
more distinguished situations: but all are of that class which is
"Hear the muses in a ring,
Aye, round about Jove's altar sing."
Such are they who enabled me to bring my memoir before the
public. Without their aid I might have written—as indeed I
should—for posterity: to the pecuniary benefit, mayhap, of some thankless
"next of kin," or to the emolument of that very respectable set of
tradesmen who are said to "drink wine out of authors' skulls."
But there were others, besides friends, whom I had to
encounter, to smile upon, when I was full of sadness, to look up unto when
my hopes were drooping; for in a case like mine, where a purpose of novel
execution had to be prosecuted like a piece of market business, we must
try all, likely and unlikely, and spare none, shun none, on account of
their looks, or creeds, or of our own suppositions. How many bitter
disappointments then fell to the lot of him who travelled the great world,
with nothing to exchange for its bread save the unperishing food of the
mind—the etherial for the substantial, the spirit for the body! But
why do I expatiate?
One of that class, about the education of which so much is
now being said—a self-taught writer—produces a book which is certainly not
to be despised on account of its morals, its politics, or its religion.
He waits on some of the richest of those who profess to be friends to the
working classes, and to them he respectfully presents his humble
production, when, what is the reception he and his book experience?
One "never buys books, he has not time to look at them." Another has
"hundreds of volumes, chestsful he has never read." One says, "the
book won't suit him"; another "never reads such things"; and another
superciliously walks away, he "is not in that line, that morning."
But I will not give way to the language which waits for
utterance when I recur to these things. I will turn rather to the
consolatory view, and recollect how indifference at the office of one rich
man was more than atoned for by a courteous reception at that of
another—how rudeness at one place was followed by encouraging attention at
the next—how to the bustle and importance of the warehouse succeeded calm
and respectful discussion—how ignorant superciliousness was rebuked by
thanks for my attention—how, in short, many received me with civility,
many with kindness, many heard me with patience, many wished me success,
and gave me earnest of their wish, many recommended me to friends, many
referred me to others, several led me to their hospitable boards, and some
who declined my work laid me under an obligation by the manner in which
they did so.
The booksellers were certainly the most amusing class I had
dealings with. One wrote to me for the work whilst publishing in
parts, and sold it well for me. Another, whose windows were crowded
with old tomes and his counters with the numbers of "Master Humphrey's
Clock," "Jack Sheppard," "Nicholas Nickleby," and such like serials (a
house of long standing in the trade), looked at the volume—looked at the
title—turned the book over, and gave it back, declining to sell it on any
account; another objected to a word in the title—it "wouldn't do for his
customers"; one wrote to me from London, offering to become my agent, at
forty-five per cent. of course; and another London house "begged leave to
decline the publishing of it at all."
Amidst such variety of quickly succeeding incidents, some
pleasing, others discouraging, some of them ups in the world, others
decided downs, but with more of the latter than the former, how could a
man struggling to rise comport himself? It would be difficult; but
old John Bunyan has a verse which answer the question.
"There's no discouragement,
Shall make him once repent,
His first avowed intent,
To be a pilgrim.
Whoso beset him around
With dismal stories;
Do but themselves confound,
His strength the more is.
Nor lions can him fright,
He'll with the giants (tyrants) fight,
And he shall have his right,
To be a pilgrim."
To the effect which this and other small works of mine have
produced I think I may refer with some degree of certainty and
satisfaction. The publication of my small poem—or rather
versification of Berenger's "La Lyonnaise"—with its accompanying notes and
postscript, was quickly followed by that most important assemblage of the
trading and working classes, the operative Anti-corn-law banquet at
Manchester; a decided step, and one, too, "in the right direction."
That was the first time the two classes had come together to shake hands,
and look manfully in each other's faces. A few more such meetings,
and the occupation of the incendiary demagogue, the real "divider and
destroyer," had ceased. Its moral influence was greater than that of
a hundred bazaars or conferences.
Since the publication of the present work, the question of
the education of the working classes has seemed to have received a fresh
impulse, and the agitation on that subject still forms an engrossing topic
of discussion. A minister of the Established Church at Manchester
has thought the matter of sufficient importance to claim the advocacy of
his pen, and he has given it in a most excellent spirit.
A gentleman of Salford, heretofore of Conservative
principles, also put forth a tract on the necessity of uniting the middle
and working classes; and just latterly, Mr. Sturge, of Birmingham, who, if
I mistake not, has had one of my books in hand, has come forth an advocate
for "complete suffrage." The ruthless tone of Chartism has been
softened, and I know that some of the leaders have had my books. The
more rational and honest have become loosened from the violent and
unprincipled; and as, ultimately, the latter must wither of their own
madness, so the former may be expected to adhere to realities only,
dropping the extremes of things, until all the practical good has been
obtained, wisely applied, and permanently adopted. If I may not
claim to have been the pioneer in some of these and other salutary
movements, I may certainly, at any rate, take my place in the advanced
guard; and it is some reward to find one's self so honourably stationed.
Still, much remains to be done, and I am ready to do my
share, in my own way, and for—THE NATION! That
is the only party I will serve; though, if all things were finely
balanced, even my country has only a step-mother's claim to my services.
I have given more to her than I have received, and far more than many of
her most favoured sons had either the heart, or the brains, to contribute.
But enough of this, I am willing still to lend a hand to the old lady,
unkind though she has been. Let us, then, inquire how she is
Behold the crown without influence, and the sport of faction;
the factions themselves strong enough to enact evil, but too weak to
effect much good. The aristocracy blindly clutching their rents,
whilst their very acres are in jeopardy, as if they could not perceive,
and would not be made to comprehend, until too late, that cheap bread for
the people means also, all they seem to care about, cheap pride, cheap
pomp, cheap distinction for themselves.
Next are the priesthood, scrambling for worldly gain, and
squabbling as to which sect or party shall have most hand in moulding the
young brains of the rising generation; as if they had something else in
view besides making them into good men and women; as if there were a
precept, known only to themselves, and superior to that, "Do unto others
as ye would they should do unto you."
Then there are the land-tillers, blind and blundering serfs
to the landowners, though the latter knock them about like the clods of
their own fields, and for the same purpose too, to make them yield rent.
Next come the manufacturers, working at the wrong end, and
trying to make a pitiable impression on the heads and hearts of a class
that never, since the days of Cromwell, was pervious to anything at
variance with its own will, save a battle-axe or a bullet. There
they are, striving for cheap bread, as if it were present salvation, and
forgetting what all history is constantly proclaiming, that nothing human
is fixed: that crowns, sceptres, dominions, institutions, establishments,
and monopolies are ever changing, ever departing from their old seats,
springing up anew in other places, and leaving deserts where they formerly
flourished. Tyre, Sidon, Carthage, Greece, Rome!—all the departed
nations of the world warn us of this; and still we remain as if we were
unconscious that our time must come, is coming,—nay, is almost at the
What, then, "shall we do to be saved?" We must look our
difficulties in the face like men. The times which have been never
will return; we cannot recall that which has departed, and is still going;
we cannot, any more than we can still the ocean, prevent our manufactures
from being set up in other nations. We have read them too profound a
lesson for that. We have exhibited the spectacle of a small
community combating the world, and buying or beating it all round.
We have shown the secret of our strength, of all our warlike strength—and
they will act upon it. We have shown them how our manufactures
produced commerce, which produced wealth, which created credit, which
supplied taxes and loans illimitable, and enabled us to wield, with
tremendous effect, all the resources of our vast navy and our numerous
armies; beating those we encountered, and subsidising the remainder until
we either had time to beat them ourselves or could get others to beat
And will not the nations lay hold of this wonderful power,
and try to render it available to their own interests? Most
certainly they will. The novelty of the thing itself would be a
great temptation; and though no one nation may manufacture to the extent
that we have done, they may manufacture for themselves, and they will do
so. America, with its cotton fields and its teeming population, will
spin its own yarn and weave its own cloth, whether we will or no; and the
nations of the Continent will do, are doing, the same. They have
nothing else to do in peace, nor can anything be more natural than that
they should do so. We cannot, must not, always be spinners and
weavers for the world; and if we could, I do not see that it is desirable
we should. Let these truths be impressed on our minds, and let us,
like a community of sensible men, calculate all our disadvantages, and
prepare for the worst.
Whether or not we shall be prepared depends on the exertions
of the wise and good of all classes. If preparations are made we may
be a suffering family, but we shall be an united one, and half our evils
will be obviated. Those we must endure will be borne in a noble
spirit; whilst those we surmount, and they may be many, will be subjects
for our common triumph.
Let all the sufferers, then, of whatever class or
description, all who love their country, all who would promote the
happiness of posterity and of mankind, unite to procure by peaceful means
a suffrage co-extensive with direct taxation, an annual accountability of
members to their constituents, cheap food for the hungry, cheap clothing
for the naked, cheap labour for the industrious (we must cut a
straightforward swathe—we cannot turn aside to leave nooks and corners for
classes), cheap rents for the cottager, cheap rents for the farmer, cheap
education for every one, cheap law in our courts, cheap justice on the
bench, and real justice too, cheap religion, and freedom with it, a cheap,
money-despising, vanity-shunning priesthood, a cheap, noble-minded,
open-handed aristocracy, elder brothers and fathers of the people, and
lastly, or firstly if you will, a cheap government, and a cheap but firm
I would not, like the O'Connorites, insist on having the
whole of these things, or nothing; I would take any part, and think well
of it, and get the others as soon as I could.
A bond of union like this, entered into and prosecuted
without noise, without agitation or frothy declamation (with which the
ears of the people are dinned nowadays, and which is but the pumping out
of so much energy to the winds), would put down all demagoguism, all
trading agitation, all jealousies, all dissensions, all recriminations.
It would bring together good men and true of all grades, and would create
a brotherhood which, whilst it directed the masses, would also prepare
them for whatever vicissitude was at hand. Like the veterans of an
army, it would show its comrades how to bear as well as to dare.
But the whole extent of the evil must be steadily scanned:
there must not be any half-measures, any exemptions for this or that
interest, for this or that portion of the community. During fifty
years the English nation has been engaged in a gluttonous scramble for
wealth, and now the time is coming when there must be a disgorging from
the highest to the lowest. We shall be never the worse for it, after
all, but better, more long-lived, both as individuals and as a nation,
provided we get the crisis over pretty smoothly, and that depends upon
ourselves. Our weaver lads must put up, as their grandfathers did,
with jannocks and barley bread, and barm dumplings, and brown ale; our
farmers' "ladies," as the daughters of farmers are commonly called, must
don their clogs, and milk their own cows, and make their butter, and darn
their own stockings. "The Mrs." may ride behind Robin instead of
taking out her gig; whilst the manufacturer's lady must not deem it
beneath her to sit basting a good Yorkshire pudding, without a
fire-screen, instead of perching on a screw stool thrumming a piano.
We must all take our share in the humiliation, and be thankful it is no
worse. We must work like a willing crew, or the ship will be lost.
Yes, the change must be prepared for in our towns, our
villages, our homes, our manufactories, and our seaports, as well as at
the seat of government. The evil does not all lie there. Our
present condition is the consequence of our folly as a nation, and of the
natural course of events. Our grandfathers and fathers were all mad
for war with the French, and the most wise and popular government that
could have been established would have gone mad too, with a mad people
under it. The wars which plunged us into irredeemable debt were the
acts of the nation, and the nation must submit to its own infliction.
The very same cause which removed the silk manufacture from
Spitalfields into Lancashire, namely, cheapness, is now taking our
manufactures into other countries. So that even the repeal of the
Bread Tax, desirable as it is, would not save our trade, unaccompanied by
such other measures as would cut down all other taxes to the very core,
and place our expenditure on a most rigid scale of economy. We must
all be prepared to make sacrifices. We must determine to deserve
redemption; the nation must act as one man, or at least the influential
portion of it must, and the sooner it is set about the better.
If we honestly lay our shoulders to the wheel, and lift all
together with a long pull and a strong pull, and a sober and noiseless
one, we shall get over the slough upon firmer land, and into better ways.
If not, and we stick fast and begin to sink, how inglorious it will be to
be reminded by the gods that we are perishing because we did not perform
our whole duty.
Reader, consider these things seriously—and FARE
July 27, 1842.
20. She stayed with him till his release, in May.
21. Spencer T. Hall, the poet of Sherwood (Bamford).
22. It must be borne in mind that this was written in
1842, a time when, as Mr. Spencer Walpole observes, the social condition
of the nation touched the lowest point in a long and continuous decline.
It was just before the Free Trade epoch. Bamford's remarks convey a
graphic and painful impression. He considered the state of things
desperate. He lived to witness a great change.
UNWIN BROTHERS, THE GRESHAM PRESS, CHILWORTH AND LONDON.