OLDHAM INQUEST—REPORTERS EXCLUDED—PETER FINNERTY—CONDY, ROSS, AND
OTHERS—AUTHOR CORRESPONDS WITH THE PRESS.
I SHALL not pretend to enter into anything like a
general history of those times, but shall content myself with stating
events which more or less affected my own concerns. The inquest on
John Lees, at Oldham, commonly called the Oldham inquest, was the next
transaction of importance, as connected with our unfortunate meeting.
I was without work, and so I put a pencil and some paper into my pocket
and went to Oldham, with a view to copy such parts of the evidence as, in
my opinion, might be useful in the ensuing trial in which I should have to
take a share. The inquest was held in the large room of the Angel
Inn. The reporters for several London journals had been put out of
the room for persisting in furnishing daily reports contrary to the
coroner's order, and a rather strict supervision was held over the other
reporters, both for the London and provincial press, lest they should
trespass in like manner; a few reporters only were therefore admitted, and
I took my seat beside them, and noted down very expertly, for a first
effort, a good deal of the evidence which was given on that day. At
one time there was a general clearing out amongst the reporters—several
had got in, and were taking notes as usual; the coroner therefore ordered
them out, and Mr. Barnes, editor of the Times, Mr. Ross, and Mr.
Condy were expelled, as was also Mr. Finnerty, of the Morning Chronicle.
The coroner asked who I was, and on my explaining to him my motive for
attending and taking notes, he said no more, and I remained one of the
privileged few. A short time before this, whilst perambulating the
streets of Manchester in search of work, I was going down Bridgewater
Place, when a gentleman threw up a window of the Bridgewater Inn, then the
head inn of the town, and called me by name. It was Mr. Pearson, our
attorney, and he, finding I was at liberty for a short time, asked me in
and introduced me to Mr. Finnerty, who was stopping there; and thus I
became personally known to that rather remarkable man. I had
previously learned somewhat of his history from several passages in "Cobbett's
Register." He had suffered under the government of Castlereagh in
Ireland, had been convicted of a libel in England, and had gone through a
long imprisonment for it in Lincoln Castle.
When I came out of the room at the inquest Mr. Finnerty,
profiting by his accidental knowledge of me, asked me into a room, and
with much ease and perfect self-possession—in neither of which was he
seldom deficient—he inquired what I had been doing at the inquest, and on
my producing my notes he slapped me on the shoulder, and continued, "Ah!
Bamford, my dear fellow, you must let me have the loan of those notes.
You will, I know—won't you, now?" I said I could not spare them; they
would be of service to me on my trial. "Ah! and is it the thrial
you're dreaming about? Niv'r disthress yourself on that account,
man: you'll all be well taken care of. Why, isn't there Harmer here,
and Pearson, our friend, and Hunt, himself a host? Ah! my dear
friend, you needn't be bothering your head about the thrial yit. You
could let me have the notes, you know, and get them back in print—they'll
do you honner, boy! and, hear ye now, I'll pay you for your throuble."
I refused to part with my notes, to the evident chagrin and disappointment
of my new friend, who eyed me with his peculiar owl-like squint and
paraded to and fro in fretful mood. I, however, kept my writings,
and went home; and in a day or two I received a note requesting me to call
on him at the Bridgewater Arms. I did so, and the result was that I
agreed to attend the inquest on his account, and to furnish him with notes
and verbal communications for the Morning Chronicle. I
accordingly attended at Oldham during several days, and afterwards at the
Star Inn, Manchester, until the proceedings were quashed on the alleged
ground of an improper interference with the jury. And thus commenced
my first correspondence with the public press.
Mr. Hunt, it would seem, had been taken with a horror of
Lancashire juries and Lancashire gaols. Nothing would satisfy him
save a removal of the trial to another county, and in accordance with his
pressing solicitations myself and the other co-defendants joined him in an
application for a removal; and, after a hearing before the judges, the
application was acceded to, and the cause ordered for trial at the next
Spring Assizes at York.
Seeing, as I suppose, that I was pretty active with my pen,
and had, besides, rather more than a mere countryman's share of ready
information, Mr. Finnerty intimated that if I were in London he could
procure an engagement for me at the Morning Chronicle office.
Mr. Pearson approved of the idea, and was almost sure that something for
my advancement in society would offer if I were only at the metropolis.
Sir Charles Wolseley entirely coincided, but, whether I went to London or
not, he should be glad at any rate to have me as his guest during a week
or fortnight at Wolseley Bridge. These flattering prospects
determined me, and a day or two after Mr. Finnerty had left Manchester I
arrived by the coach at Wolseley Arms Inn, Wolseley Bridge. During
the supper, which the coach passengers took together, a London reporter
before mentioned and a tradesman from Manchester, who shortly afterwards
became bankrupt, made, as I thought, some too-free allusions to the parts
which Sir Charles Wolseley and Mr. Finnerty had been acting in the
Manchester affair, and to their political conduct generally. I
remained silent some time, until I perceived a look directed towards me.
I then said it was a pity the two gentlemen they had been making free with
were not present, but if they would stop whilst a message was sent to the
hall I had no doubt they would soon come over and give the talkers
whatever explanation they chose to ask to their face. My sentiment
was approved of by several at the table, and especially by one gentlemanly
looking man, who I thought would have been with the other party.
"John," I said to the waiter. "Yes, sir." "Can you step to the
hall, and—"Coach, gemmen! Coach, coach!" said the driver at the door; and
in a trice the two respectable backbiters had left the room, when I and
several other of the passengers enjoyed a laugh at their expense.
The next morning I went over to the hall, and found Finnerty
quite comfortably domiciled. Lady Wolseley was in the straw
upstairs, so that Sir Charles had much of his own way below. Friend
Finnerty, now that he had the run of a splendid suite of apartments,
attendance of servants, and all hospitalities, was also somewhat changed
in his manner. His place was in the parlour with Sir Charles; mine
in the housekeeper's room, with the occasional company of that amiable,
respectable, and well-informed lady. I dined with her in the
servants' hall, and took my other meals in her apartment, in company with
her, the lady's maid (a joking, smiling, and modest young girl), and a
Monsieur something, the French cook. I lived pretty agreeably
amongst my kind-hearted new acquaintance, yet at times I could not prevent
gloomy sensations from pressing on my mind. Finnerty had become
quite condescending, for which I could not prevail on myself to feel
thankful. Sir Charles was always kind and affable, without
pretension, but still I could not but feel that in his house I was only a
very humble guest. I had read how "an Ayrshire ploughman" had once
been deemed good company for a Scottish duchess, but I found that the
barriers of English rank were not to be moved by "a Lancashire weaver,"
though he could say, "I also am a poet," and, quite as much as the
Scottish bard, a patriot also. I lodged at the inn, and often on
mornings would I stroll out solitarily to look at the deer on the
moorlands. Those majestic and beautiful animals would toss their
proud antlers, gaze a moment in surprise, as if they also knew I was a
"Stretching forward free and far,
Seek the wild heaths."
Sometimes I rambled through the town of Rugeley; but I knew
not any one there, nor did any one know me, and my visits consequently
yielded but little social intercourse. Often would I saunter through
the secluded and quiet village of Colton, but I knew not then that such a
man as Walter Savage Landor existed, and if I had I am not certain that I
should have ventured to knock at his door. The little village of
College, or Col-edge, with its church, the banks of the Trent, and the
grounds about Wolseley Hall, were often the objects of a contemplation
which was continually wandering to other scenes. Several times I
went with Monsieur to shoot rabbits, but I killed none, and was more
likely to be shot myself; twice I walked across my comrade's fire, and the
pellets came peppering about my legs. I was thinking of other
things, wearied, but not ungrateful, out of place, and "out of gearing,"
as the mechanists would say. At length the glad morning came when an
end was to be put to this. I was to go with Finnerty to London, with
a gig and horse, which Charles Pearson had left at Stafford, I think, on
his way down to Lancashire. Sir Charles made me a present of two
pounds; Finnerty took the whip, and bidding good morn to our worthy host,
we drove slowly from Wolseley Hall.
We passed through Rugeley, Mavesyn Ridware (Malvoisin, one of
the heroes of "Ivanhoe"), and along a rural country of farmsteads,
clustered cottages, and other sights of profitable industry. I soon
thought Finnerty was but an indifferent driver, he could not get the mare
to go; he kept lashing, stamping on the bottom of the gig, hissing, and
calling "go'long," but the tit did not quit the ground. She would
trot a little down a slope or on a short level; but there was no speed nor
any continuation. I often got out to ease her on the ascents, for I
did not like to have my weight lashed out of her, but still there was
little amendment; she could not get to a pace much more keep one; in fact
she spoke by her manner, as plainly as a dumb beast could speak, "I
cannot do it, gentlemen,—I would freely, if I could, but I have not the
work in me. I am done, I am old!" I soon framed this address
for her in my mind, and repeated it to my fellow traveller, who said it
was not so; she had been starved by some rascally ostler, and a warm mash
or two would bring her round. He, however, withheld his whip rather
more, until her pace became a creep, when again he would give her a cut or
two, stamp, hiss, and lash again, and make up the lost lashes by as many
imprecations against the "scoundrelly ostlers." I was right,
however; had she been fit for work it is not likely that Charles Pearson
would have left her.
I began to be amused by the manner of my fellow traveller,
and I thought better of him for laying the blame anywhere save on the dumb
beast. I soon found that he wished me to be a useful companion on
the road that is, a kind of half cad, and half comrade; and, as I really
thought he had much goodness at heart, I felt disposed to humour him in
all his bearable caprices.
At Litchfield, Finnerty spent an hour in looking at the
cathedral, whilst I looked after the mare at the inn. At Birmingham,
which we reached tardily, we dined, gave the mare a good feed; and after
resting two hours my friend, unexpectedly by me, gave the word to proceed,
and, with reluctance on my part, for I thought the beast had done enough
for that day, we went on to some road-side inn, about nine miles further,
where we got down and the jaded thing was released and put into a warm
stable. On looking over the luggage, it was discovered that a new
silk umbrella, which Finnerty had bought at Manchester, was missing.
He went into a passion, and stormed with all the wordiness and
gesticulation for which his countrymen are remarkable; whilst I, sometimes
provoked, sometimes amused, sat coolly and smoked a pipe until supper was
ready. He laid all the blame on me; he expected I would have seen
that the luggage was safe; he had trusted all to me, and was thus
disappointed, like a fool as he was, for troubling himself about other
people's welfare. He was sure it had been left at Birmingham, and it
was my neglect in not putting it in the gig; and then again he repeated
what it had cost him—two pounds, I think.
When I could get a word in, I reminded him of its being in
his hand at a certain part of the road we had just come, on which he
acknowledged that it was so; but he said he put it in on my side, and I,
no doubt, had suffered it to slip down by the apron. I was of the
same opinion, that it had slipped out of the gig, but I defended myself
from all blame as to its loss, proffering, however, to go back in the
morning, and see if I could find it. This rather pacified him, and
we got supper, but his philosophy had been too sorely tested, and when we
parted for the night he was in very bad humour. I got up early next
morning, and went back on the road about four miles, looking at every rut
by the way, but nothing could I see of the umbrella; as I returned I
inquired at several places, but nothing could I hear of it. He was
at breakfast when I got to the inn, and on making known the bad result of
my search the "fat was in the fire" again, and we yoked up, and went
forward mutually dissatisfied.
At Stratford-on-Avon he had come to a little, for I also had
been knitting my brows. He went to see Shakespeare's monument, and I
the house in which the poet resided, a dilapidated place, the walls
covered with the names of persons who had visited, and I added mine.
At an ascent betwixt Stratford and Shipton, I must drive and
Finnerty would walk, for the once. He got out encumbered with his
top and box coats, and began to ascend a narrow track which I saw would
lead him from the road, and not to it again; as he had not, however, of
late, paid much respect to my opinions, I thought I might as well not
obtrude them just at that moment, and so I kept moving forward, leaning on
the gig-side, and keeping an eye towards my blusterous friend. He
mounted to some height, when, looking up, he perceived his dilemma, and
then, with a twist and a jerk, expressive of impatience, he descended the
way he had gone up. I laughed until tears came into my eyes, and had
with difficulty composed myself, when he having hallooed as loud as he
could, and I having stopped, he came up puffing and perspiring, and so we
At Shipton we learned that a coach would pass through the
town that night for Oxford, and Finnerty took a sudden, and to me a happy,
resolution to proceed by it, leaving me to bring the horse and gig the day
following to the Mitre Inn, at Oxford. He intimated that he had a
particular engagement to be there next morning; and thus, for the present,
I lost the society of my troublesome, querulous, but sometimes amusing
It was a fine morning when, leaving Shipton, I urged the old
tit gently on the road to the great seat of learning. Every nook,
dell, and hill was new to me; and the men, the women, the children, and
the houses were objects for continual observation. The mare had it
pretty much her own way; her load was lighter, and she went trotting when
she listed, and walked when she had a right to do—namely, uphill, and it
was only when I detected her absolutely crawling that I touched her with
the whip. At Chapel House, a large posting establishment, we both
breakfasted, and then went on, through Eustone, Kiddington, and to
Woodstock, the scene of the tale of Fair Rosamond, which had deeply
interested me when a boy. At a respectable looking public house,
where I stopped, I endeavoured to learn whether there was any tradition as
to the probable site of the famous bower of the unfortunate beauty, but
the people knew nothing respecting it, I heard enough about Blenheim and
its duke, but I should not feel justified in repeating what they said, and
the less so because the persons with whom I conversed were strangers to
me, and neighbours to the nobleman, and therefore the more likely to
remember his failings, and forget his commendable parts.
On entering Oxford I was struck by the noble and venerable
appearance of many of its buildings, which I concluded in my own mind must
be its churches and colleges. The streets were occupied by a
numerous and very respectable looking population, and I was not long in
descrying, by the peculiarity of their dress, some of those fortunate and
ingenious youths who, "born with silver spoons in their mouths," are, as
we are taught to believe, "designed by a wise providence," and are
certainly permitted by a wise people (?) to spoon up the riches and
superfluities, which else would, by their very grossness, render said
people lull of intellect, and sluggish in action; and yet I didn't think
the young fellows looked like "spoonies."
Having been directed to the Mitre Inn, I drove thither, and
resigned the horse and gig to the ostler, with a charge to look well to
the former. I then inquired at the bar for Mr. Finnerty, and was
shown into a very smart room upstairs, where a plain-featured lady beyond
the bloom of life, with a bonnet on, dressed in a florid style, and with a
deep pattenshoe on one foot, was caressing a fine child that could run
about. I paused and held back, the lady was surprised. I
apologised and said I understood Mr. Finnerty was there. She said he
was, and asked me to take a seat, he was in another room, and she would go
for him, and she went out, taking the child with her. In a minute I
heard my friend's voice as if something was wrong. He came in, shook
my hand, and asked me to take refreshment. I took some tea and meat,
and gave him an account of my pleasant journey. Whilst we were
talking, the same lady with another child entered the room, and almost
immediately went out again. He gave me to understand that the
children were his, and that Mrs. Finnerty, himself, and the children,
would return to London together. He asked how I should go, and I
told him that I should walk it. He asked when I should start, and I
said I had no connections in Oxford, nor any business to transact, and I
saw no reason why I should not set out that night, and had best be making
my way. Of course, he said, if I preferred going, there could be no
reason why I should not; he then gave me his address in London, and said I
must be sure and call upon him, and he would immediately on his arrival
have some conversation with Mr. Perry about me, and he doubted not that
Mr. Perry would put something in my way. I then got up, and taking
me by the hand he bade me good-bye, and said I must be sure to see him in
London. I said I would, and repeating his salutation, I came
downstairs, and went into the street.
The shades of evening were closing over the city when I thus
adventured to begin my journey. I had no luggage, save a small
bundle and an umbrella, which I threw over my shoulder, and a stout ashen
plant in my hand. I knew not which way to set forth, but went along
the street towards the left, until I saw some respectable looking people,
of whom I inquired the way to London; and they gave me such directions as
enabled me soon to quit the town and strike into the open country. I
continued to walk and it soon became dark, and when night had completely
set in, I could scarcely trace the road before me. I walked,
however, briskly, and went a long way without meeting any person, or
hearing anything, save now and then the tinkle of a sheep bell. At
length, when I must have left Oxford four or five miles behind, I began to
hear noises at a distance on my right, and soon after I saw gleams like
those of lights in the windows of a town. In a short time there were
lights before me, and I found they proceeded from a public house, into
which I went and asked for some ale, which was brought to me, and was of
most excellent quality. On looking around, I liked the appearance of
the house also; the rooms were neatly furnished and clean, the company was
apparently respectable, and the people of the house obliging. I
inquired how far it was to the next village, and how the road lay, and
they all gave such an account as made me begin to think I had best remain
where I was; the people of the house were of the same opinion, and so I
took up my quarters there for the night.
Whilst we were chattering and enjoying ourselves comfortably
with our pipes, some young fellows came into the next room, and called for
ale. They were in high glee, and from their conversation, which we
could not but hear, we learned that there had been a kind of battle-royal
in the village betwixt some of the lads of the place and a party of
collegians, and that the latter, after fighting bravely, which they
allowed them the merit of generally doing, had been soundly thrashed, and
compelled to retreat. I concluded that it must have been the noise
of this row which had saluted my ears on the road. Some inquiries on
my part, elicited an opinion from the company as to the general conduct of
the young gentlemen at college, and it certainly, like all other human
emanations, had its dark side, as well as its bright one, only rather more
of the former, than should be expected, considering they were to become
examples to and directors of others.
They were represented as courageous fighters, generous
remunerators, and profuse spenders; all of which most of the company
allowed were good English gentlemanly qualities; but then, in their
intercourse with those not of their class, they were represented as being
arrogant, wilful, and capricious; and too prone to lay on hard when they
got the upper hand.
It was not to be wondered at, said an elderly person who sat
on the other side of the room; it was not the young gentlemen's fault, but
the fault of their "pa's" and "ma's" at home, and of the institutions of
the country. If Will was schooled to be an officer in the army,
would he not begin by trying to domineer over and command all who would
submit to him? If Dick was to have his father's broad acres, how
could he better prepare for the enjoyment of them, as things went, than by
learning to drink, gamble, and box; by picking up stable slang; and
becoming a connoisseur in "dogs, horseflesh, and women"—as they had it—and
by an early imitation of that reckless self-willedness which he had seen
practised by his class at home? If James is for the Church, should
he not learn to be combative when a boy; inasmuch as he would have to
contend against "the world, the flesh," and—another antagonist—and in
favour of tithes, preferments, and fat livings? and if Jack was preparing
for the navy, what so natural as that he should practise with a bamboo,
instead of a rope's-end, on the heads and shoulders of the King's
subjects? Great folks, he said, sent their sons to college, and they
came there tainted with the vices of their order, and the follies of their
parents: they were here planted thick together like young trees; the rank
and worthless dragged the others up; the vicious overshadowed the
virtuous, and when they had become noxious or morally withered, they went
back into the world, as their fathers had done, to prepare a new race to
succeed them. All allowed that the elderly gentleman's remarks were
about the fact; I begged leave to drink his health, the company followed
my example, and the conversation then becoming general, and chiefly on
rural affairs, I went to bed.
I rose early; the morning again was as fine as could be
desired, and I felt happy at travelling beside broad pastures, with the
free wind blowing around me. I first traversed a level plain, and
then went up a rather steep eminence, after which followed a road through
woods a long way; all were new and interesting scenes to me. I
walked some twelve or fourteen miles, and then made a hearty breakfast of
bread, cheese, and ale, at a neat-looking, road-side public house.
From thence I went on, through High Wycombe and Beaconsfield, where again
I stopped a short time. I could not but admire the cleanness and
airiness of the town. Towards evening I arrived at Uxbridge, and
rested, after which I went towards London, and had gone some miles in the
dark and rain, when a stage coach overtook me, and I mounted, and was set
down at the "Bolt-in-Tun," Fleet Street, where, perhaps, it is unnecessary
to say that I received very civil treatment, and stopped for the night.
MR. HUNT—SIR RICHARD PHILLIPS—AUTHOR'S PETITIONS TO PARLIAMENT—EARL
GROSVENOR, AND HIS HOUSE AT GROSVENOR PLACE.
THE morning after my arrival I went to the warehouse
of a friendly tradesman in Cheapside to look after some clothes, and other
requisites, which I had directed to be sent after me, and I found all
safe. I next went and took private lodgings, and then sought out Mr.
Hunt, whom I found at the house of one Giles, a bread-baker, in Wyche
Street, Strand. He introduced me to Sir Richard Phillips, and I had,
during my stay, many opportunities of conversing with that worthy
gentleman and scholar. He was friendly towards Hunt, but did not
like his overbearing manner. Once, I recollect, when Hunt came, he
ordered the footman to say he was not at home, and on observing probably a
degree of surprise in my look, he said Mr. Hunt was neither happy himself,
nor would he let his friends be so. They must not only serve him,
but they must do it at his own time, in his own manner, and to the extent
he wished, or he would quarrel with them. His earnestness and
vehemence he carried with him everywhere, and exhibited on the most
trifling occasions; in consequence, he became annoying and oppressive, and
his best friends were sometimes compelled to defend themselves by not
being at home. I knew there was too much truth in Sir Richard's
representations to blame him greatly for his conclusions, though I must
own I did not like my friend Hunt, with all his faults, to be thus dealt
with; but Sir Richard said there was no other mode, and he must either
shut his door occasionally, or quarrel with him at once, and have done
I gave Sir Richard my account of the Manchester affair, and
at his suggestion, and under his care, petitions to the Houses of Lords
and Commons were drawn up on my behalf, praying an investigation into the
whole of the transaction, and offering to prove the allegations of the
petitions at the bar of each House. Both petitions were duly
presented, and with the usual result: namely, both were "laid upon the
But, connected with my petition to the Lords, an incident
occurred, which, as it affords a glimpse of the great in London, I will
Earl Grosvenor was the nobleman selected to present my
petition to the House of Lords, and Sir Richard went with me to his
mansion, in Grosvenor Place I think it was. His lordship was not at
home, and we were directed to call on a certain day. It happened
that Sir Richard was then engaged, and I went to his lordship myself.
The great burly porter, who wore a rich livery trimmed with gold lace,
would scarcely admit me within the door, when he found I had not a letter
of introduction. I explained to him my business with his lordship,
but it was of no use, he could not send my message up. A fine table,
with pens and paper, was near the window of the hall, and in my simplicity
I made a move towards it, saying I could soon write a note to his
lordship, but he said he could not allow me to write there; it was
contrary to orders, and would cost him his place if the other servants saw
me. I accordingly bundled out, and went to a tavern and wrote a
note, which I took back; the porter then took the note, and told me to
come again in about twenty minutes or half an hour. It was raining,
and I had nowhere to go under cover, save the tavern, so I went there
again—not much liking, however, this mode of noble housekeeping—and waited
with impatience the time for the interview. I again went, and now
the folding doors were thrown open long before I arrived at the steps; the
late surly porter received me with a respectful inclination and a smile,
saying my note had been sent up, and his lordship would see me. He
then rang a bell, and a servant appeared, to whom the porter announced my
name. The servant asked me to follow him, and he led me into a very
grand room, where he left me, saying his lordship would be with me in a
few minutes. I had never seen anything like the richness of this
place before, everything seemed almost too sumptuous, and too delicate for
a human habitation, and to me it seemed a little museum of curious and
costly things, arranged but to look at, and not to use. There were
mirrors, and pictures, and cushions, and carpets glowing like silk; and
delicate hangings; and curtains, as fine as gossamer in summer; then the
tables shone like glass, and the chairs, with their high cushions trussed
up, quite tempted one to sit. Well, I stood looking about me some
time, and no one appeared, and at last I thought, "I'll sit down at any
rate; if his lordship should come in, he cannot be so greatly offended at
one taking a seat in his house." So I sat down, and was quite
surprised; I almost sank to my elbows in the soft downy cushion, and
immediately jumped up again, thinking those seats could never really be
meant for human bones to rest upon, and I would not for the world have
been taken by his lordship sitting there, with the cushion up to my elbows
like a puff of soap suds. I began to make the thing right again, and
was so busied, when I heard a slight creaking noise; immediately I resumed
my posture of attention, and a tall, gentlemanly-looking person, forty or
forty-five years of age, dressed in a blue coat with yellow buttons,
undoubtedly of gold, entered and accosted me in a very courteous and
affable manner, and immediately entered upon the business of my petition.
I addressed him as "my lord," which indeed he was, and told him somewhat
about the subject of my petition, which I now showed him, and requested he
would be so kind as to present for me to the House of Lords. He
looked at it a few minutes, and said he would present it. He then
questioned me about the state of the country, and particularly of my own
neighbourhood, to each of which I gave him brief and true answers,
according to the best of my ability. He then questioned me about our
new rector at Middleton, the Rev. John Haughton, and as I was bound in
truth, though not at the time over partial to him, I gave his lordship a
fair and honourable account of the worthy clergyman, whereat he seemed
much pleased. Soon after I made my final bow, and was myself bowed
out by the porter, and so I took my leave of that grand mansion and its
immensely rich owner.
I frequently called to see Sir Richard Phillips, who always
advised me to cultivate literature and poetry, as two friends who would be
ready to console me at all times, and under all circumstances. He
wished me to write something, in the metrical way, about the Manchester
affair, but I never did; it never presented itself, as it were, to me in
the form of poetry; it was too overpowering, too brimful of affliction, to
be measured in verse. I made several attempts that way, but it would
not do, and I never sought to describe it in any other form until this
present publication. I felt grateful to Sir Richard; he gave me much
useful caution and advice as to other matters in London. He acted
the part of a real friend, and was the only professed scholar and literary
character to whose acquaintance I can refer with entire satisfaction.
I called several times at the office of the Morning
Chronicle to inquire if Mr. Finnerty was in town, and at last learned
that he was so. I accordingly made my way to a suburb, somewhere
west of the town, and following my directions, I knocked at the door of
one of a lot of recently constructed edifices at the angle of a square.
The same lady with the patten came to the door, and invited me to walk in,
and showed me into a small, neatly furnished room on my right.
Finnerty soon made his appearance, and, after mutual compliments, he asked
when I arrived in town, what I had been doing, and such like, all of which
I answered. He seemed, I thought, very mysterious and embarrassed in
his manner, did not ask me to sit down or take anything, but at last said,
"Would you like a walk round the square, Bamford?" I, thinking he
wished for more private conversation, said I would, and we went out.
We paced once round this place, chatting about indifferent matters, I
expecting him to introduce my business with the Morning Chronicle,
and at last, on my mentioning it, he did say he had not been able to see
Mr. Perry yet. We had then arrived at the angle from whence we set
out, and were opposite his own door, when, giving me his hand, he said,
"Good morning, Bamford; I shall be seeing you in town some of these days,"
and with that he went into the house and shut the door. I was mute
with astonishment; my first impulse was to send the panel in with my foot,
but then I thought neither the door nor its owner had done me harm, and at
last, consoling myself with the reflection that it was no place for a
worthy, honest man, and that I was better out of it than within it, I went
I should not have been much troubled at the sudden
termination of this friendship, which I had for some time suspected to be
all on my side, had I not, on returning into the city, weary,
disappointed, and hungry, found that I must change my last shilling for my
dinner. I had paid several sums on the road for ostlers, baiting,
and so forth, before Finnerty left me at Shipton, and I had also paid all
the expenses of the journey from Shipton to Oxford, which Finnerty had
undertaken to pay, and said he would reimburse on my arrival at the latter
place. I had quite forgotten to mention these matters at Oxford, but
now, forced by necessity, I probably should have clone so in a delicate
way, had Finnerty, as I expected he would, asked me to take breakfast with
him. But, as I said, they had quite slipped my memory, and friend
Finnerty's, too, as it seemed, and now I had the uncomfortable prospect
before me of starvation, or a beggarly dependence on the hospitality of
friends, neither of which conditions had I anticipated on leaving home.
Next morning I went to the house of Mr. Pearson, in
Aldersgate Street, and stated to him my willingness to try my hand at
writing in his office, at terms previously mentioned by him, namely, a
guinea a week. He immediately set me to work at copying, and thus by
a word I was metamorphosed from a rude Lancashire rustic into "a limb of
the law." I worked hard until two o'clock, and then went out, not to
dine, for I had not wherewith to purchase a dinner. At four I
returned and wrote again until six, and then shut up, and went to my
humble lodgings at London Wall. I did thus for three or four days,
getting my breakfast and supper at my lodgings, and going without dinner.
I began to feel unwell; I was cold, shivery, and nervous; I had never been
quite well since the night I came drenched into London, and now, feverish
as I was, the employment became intolerably irksome. At length I
went to bed, and was so ill next morning I could not rise; I was in a
fever, and the agitation of my mind added to the indisposition of my body.
The next day I went to Mr. Pearson, and told him that I had
been ill, and hoped he would excuse me, but I could not bear to sit at the
desk. He readily accepted my apology, and gave me a pound note for
what I had done; he also invited me to come to his house that evening and
take tea. I went and met him, his lady, a mild and beautiful young
being, and a gentleman who was about to come out "as a phenomenon" at the
bar. The day after I again went to Mr. Pearson's by appointment,
when he took me to Peel's coffee-house, and set me to take memoranda from
the newspapers, of passages from the addresses made by judges to grand
juries on several State prosecutions. I gave him my notes, and
believe I did the work to his satisfaction.
In a day or two after this I was informed that the London
committee for the relief of the sufferers at the Manchester meeting had
determined on presenting each of the persons who had been apprehended and
held to bail with a sum of money—ten pounds, I believe—as some
compensation for their loss of time and the inconvenience they had
experienced. I accordingly went to the counting-house and
manufactory of Mr. Alexander Galloway, the treasurer, whose place was then
near Holborn, and presented myself for what belonged to me. He was
at his desk writing, and I found him a cool, cautious, methodical man of
business. He was very affable and mild, and I must say reasonable
and convincing in his manner. On my stating who I was and the nature
of my visit, he said he was sorry he could not pay me then, as, never
having to his knowledge seen me before, he could not be certain that I was
the person I represented myself to be, and he wished me to bring some
gentleman, or produce a note from some one whom he knew, that I was the
same Samuel Bamford who had been arrested and committed to Lancaster
Castle. I mentioned Mr. Hunt, Mr, Harmer, Mr. Wooller, and Mr.
Pearson, who I said would instantly verify, could I get to see them, but
the afternoon was far worn, and I might not be able to meet with them that
night; I, however, had a letter or two of Mr. Hunt's, and one of Major
Cartwright's, which I offered to produce. Those, he said, would not
do; they would not show that I was the person to whom they were addressed.
I must confess I was now a little piqued and disappointed, for I was in
want of some money for immediate necessaries. He saw, I thought,
that I was hurt, for he begged I would not deem him needlessly cautious,
as I must perceive, on reflection, how necessary it was, in a great place
like London, to be quite certain as to the persons with whom they
contracted business. He showed me, and he entirely conciliated me by
the earnestness with which he did it, that he could not possibly have any
wish to withhold the money from the person for whom it was ordered, and
all he sought to ascertain was that I really was the person. I saw
and appreciated his motive and his method of exactitude, and left him with
the intention of obtaining a note from Mr. Harmer, whose office in Hatton
Garden was the nearest place where I could expect to meet the requisite
identification. Mr. Harmer was not within, nor would he be that
night, and I gave the matter up until next day, submitting to the rather
familiar inconvenience of going to bed dinnerless and supperless. On
the forenoon of the following day I procured the necessary verification,
and Mr. Galloway paid me the money, which proved a great present relief,
as it enabled me to procure necessaries, and to pay off my lodging and
other small accounts. I afterwards called on Mr. Galloway
frequently, in a friendly manner, and at one of these visits I saw Robert
Owen, who was then exciting attention by his plans for the amelioration of
the condition of mankind; at another visit Major Cochrane was there, an
officer who was with the 15th Hussars on the field at the great meeting at
Manchester. Mr. Galloway's counting-house appeared to be frequently
resorted to by literary and scientific men of all parties and of all
My petitions to Parliament had been duly presented, and had
appeared, thanks to my friend Sir Richard, in several of the London
journals. They excited some attention, and the committee of the
relief fund deemed it proper that similar petitions should be presented by
others of the sufferers. I accordingly, having now no further
prospects or business in London, returned to Lancashire, and besides being
of some use to Messrs. Hall and Service, who were sent down to select
proper objects for relief, I promoted the getting up of petitions praying
for inquiry, and when that had been done to a sufficient extent, I found
the time at hand when it was necessary that I should begin to look about
for evidence to produce at the approaching trial at York.
On application to my attorney, Mr. Pearson, I received a set
of instructions for the collection of evidence.
Acting under these instructions, I wrote down with my own
hand the examinations of about twenty-two witnesses, chiefly resident at
Middleton, which examinations were copied literally by Mr. Pearson's
clerk, and formed the basis of the defence relative to our proceedings.
I next subpœned my witnesses, and they
were requested to meet at the Dog and Partridge public house, at
Middleton, at six o'clock in the morning of Monday, the 13th of March, in
order that we might all go in a body on foot to York. On the evening
preceding we took supper together, and we were joined by a number of
witnesses from Manchester, who preferred to walk with us rather than go by
coach. On mustering, I think we amounted to about three score, of
whom probably a dozen were women, who, in high glee, chose to take the
road with their relatives and friends. I should state that Mr.
Pearson had placed in my hands a sum of money to pay the expenses, in
which I was limited by my own discretion alone; all my plans had been laid
before him at Manchester, and he entirely approved of them. We set
forward, therefore, with light hearts; and amid this crowd of faces
beaming with hope and the excitement of novelty, I could discover two only
which wore a cast of thought and sadness. My wife and child were, as
they always wished to be, with me; they were going with us as far as
Rochdale, whence they were to return; my faithful dog, Mora, also went
gambolling on before us. I tried to be cheerful, with a view to
promote the same feeling amongst all around me, and I could have
succeeded, had I only been concerned; but when I caught my wife turning
her head aside to conceal her emotion, and, looking down, met the tearful
eye and inquiring look of my child, who held my hand, I could not but
experience a pang that brought darkness and uncertainty to my heart, and
which I endeavoured to conceal by smiles and consoling words.
At Rochdale we breakfasted at the Angel Inn, in Blackwater
Street, and were there joined by witnesses from Bury and other places, who
augmented our numbers to about four score. After an affectionate
parting, full of hope on my side and of sadness on theirs, I left my wife
and child to retrace their steps sorrowfully towards home, whilst I went
forward, though somewhat thoughtful, amongst my joking, light-hearted
companions. The ascent of Blackstone Edge, "the back-bone of the
English Alps," as it has been termed, tried the marching qualities of the
women, and by the time we arrived at the top, two of them were fatigued,
and went on with a mail coach, which overtook us there. Their
journey by this conveyance was a most unpleasant one; some "gentlemen"
from Manchester were also passengers and they used coarse and abusive
language towards the females. The coachman and guard were appealed
to for protection, but they only laughed, and, to please the "gemmen,"
contributed their share of insult. The women "gave it them,"
however, told them what they were, and when the coach arrived at Halifax,
they got down, and refused to go any further with the unmanly beings.
This conduct we only learned on our arrival at Halifax, and I mention it
to show the strong and unworthy feeling which our opponents, even of the
class commonly deemed respectable, were wont to indulge in those days.
Mr. Hunt, with Johnson and Chapman, followed us in a
post-chaise, and they were detained a considerable time at Rochdale, in
consequence of the landlord at the "Roebuck " Inn, one Marriott, refusing
to supply them with fresh horses, on learning who they were. He was
even uncivil to the travellers, but soon found that he was not likely to
get anything by that mode of behaviour, and horses having been procured
from another house, the journey was proceeded with.
At Bradford many of the tender-footed men were lame, and I
gave them money to go on with as best they could. Most of the women
also had by this time enough of walking for that day, and they availed
themselves of such modes of conveyance as were readily attainable; some,
however, held out, and walked with us every step of the road to Leeds,
where we were hospitably received by the body of reformers, and lodged for
the night. The next morning we made a strong muster, being joined by
numbers from Stockport, Hyde, Ashton, Stalybridge, Saddleworth, and other
places, and now I believe we mustered about one hundred persons; some of
the women, and an equal proportion of the men, were too lame to walk, and
were sent forward by carriage; the main body, however, on foot, passed
through Tadcaster, and arrived at York in a compact body at night-fall, on
Tuesday, the 14th of March. We were lodged and boarded at a large
inn, the "Elephant," I think, on this side the river Ouse.
THE MORNING OF OUR TRIAL—PREPARATIONS IN THE COURT—ITS INTERIOR
APPEARANCE—WITNESSES—HUNT'S HAT—THE JURY—COUNSEL FOR THE
PROSECUTION—ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE DEFENDANTS.
OUR long expected trial, which had excited a strong
interest in the public mind, commenced on the morning of Thursday, the
16th day of March, 1820, before Mr. Justice Bayley and a special jury.
At an early hour the court was beset by persons waiting for admission.
At a little before seven o'clock the reporters for the London and
provincial press were admitted, and soon after several individuals,
principally solicitors, and others connected with provincial newspapers,
were admitted into the gallery. A number of ladies also took
possession of a box at the corner of the court, on the right hand of the
Bench. At eight o'clock a more general admission of the public took
place, and the front seats in the two galleries were instantly occupied.
A vast number of persons immediately followed, till not one inch of either
gallery was left unoccupied. The box which the day before was
reserved for the attorneys was, on this occasion, appropriated for the
reception of magistrates, except the front seats, which had become
occupied by some London reporters. In the rush and confusion,
however, many had invaded the place who had no claim to seats there.
These were forthwith informed by the officers of the court that they must
retire. The mandate was reluctantly obeyed by some, but others
obstinately retained their seats, until they were finally removed by order
of the magistrates, when they arrived.
The number of witnesses put down for the prosecution exceeded
eighty; for the defence, one hundred and twenty.
At a quarter before nine, Hunt, Moorhouse, Saxton, Jones,
Wilde, and Healey, went into the court; soon afterwards I and Swift went
up and applied for entrance at the common door of the court. We were
informed by the keeper that no more could be admitted, the place being
quite full. We smiled at this, and said we must be admitted, and
desired him to open the door; he stoutly refused, and we enjoyed the joke
some time, and at last told him who we were, and that we should be wanted,
and must take part in the trial. The man then admitted us, but
almost as a favour, and we made our way up an avenue towards the witness
box. Hunt saw us coming, and beckoned us to step over the backs of
the seats, which we did, and I was presently by his side.
I may here remark, that at Manchester, both before and after
the meeting, at Lancaster also, and at London, Hunt had uniformly worn a
white hat, and it had in consequence become the Radical badge; Johnson had
also done the same, but here, before a judge and a jury of their country,
they deemed it proper to display the common black hat. I, however,
who never thought it wrong to be the same always and in all places, who
saw not anything to be really ashamed of in the colour of my hat, and who
would not, just then, have discarded it to please judge, jury, or king,
threw it down innocently enough amongst the lawyers' bags and papers, and
other hats of a different colour, some of which were the sombre ones of my
co-defendants. There were some looking and smiling at the
presumptuous appearance of a Radical hat on that table. Others of
our party, like myself, stuck to their white colours, declaring they would
not change them under any circumstances. I only mention this
incident to show a trait of what the world deems prudence, and its
judicious exercise, by some of our leaders.
At nine o'clock Justice Bayley took his seat on the Bench,
and immediately the cause of the King against Henry Hunt, Joseph Johnson,
John Knight, James Moorhouse, Joseph Healey, John Thacker Saxton, Robert
Jones, Samuel Bamford, George Swift, and Robert Wilde was called on.
The names of the persons summoned to act as special jurors were then read.
At this time the court was most excessively crowded; all the
bottom seats and avenues, as well as every inch of standing ground, a
passage for the witnesses excepted, were closely occupied. In each
of the galleries the people were packed like bees in a hive, and there was
ground for apprehension that the fronts might be forced out. It was
some time before order could be obtained, so eager were persons of all
ranks to witness the commencement of this trial. The jury box had
been partly filled by strangers and had to be cleared, and several common
jurymen who happened to be in it made a remonstrance to the judge on the
hardship of being turned, not only out of that box, but also out of the
one which had always been assigned to the waiting juryman. This
circumstance was occasioned by the arrangements which the High Sheriff,
Henry Vansittart, Esq., and his subordinate officers had made for the
accommodation of the public. The box usually assigned to the
magistrates of the county was this day opened for the reception of the
Manchester and Cheshire magistrates; the one usually reserved for
attorneys was given up to reporters for the public Press, and the
attorneys, being deprived of their usual place in court, went into the
jury box, and filled it so entirely as to occasion the remonstrance just
mentioned, Justice Bayley said he did not understand the arrangements of
the court; the place was now full: if, however, there was any situation to
which the waiting juryman had a right he would order it to be cleared and
kept for their accommodation; the box was accordingly cleared.
The jury having been sworn, Mr. Littledale opened the
proceedings, and the indictment was read, the substance of which, having
been already given, I shall not now repeat. We, of course, all
pleaded "Not Guilty," except John Knight, who, since being bailed out of
Lancaster Castle, had again been committed on a subsequent charge for
attending a meeting near Burnley.
Mr. Scarlett, Mr. Serjeant Hullock, Mr. Serjeant Cross, and
Mr. Littledale, conducted the prosecution: Mr. Holt was retained for
Saxton, and Mr. Barrow for Moorhouse and Jones. Hunt, Johnson,
Wilde, Swift, Healey and myself conducted our several defences and for
that purpose we took our places at the barristers' table. Some
conversation ensued respecting this arrangement, and Mr. Hunt expressed
his willingness to agree to any other, but the judge decided that every
individual conducting his own defence should sit there; the others must
take seats behind their counsel.
Mr. Hunt said he had not been previously aware of the
arrangements for the court, and he had therefore invited his co-defendants
to the situations they occupied; room, however, would easily be found for
them behind the bar, as he intended to move that all the witnesses on both
sides (and he knew many were in court) should be ordered out of it.
Justice Bayley accordingly ordered all the witnesses to
withdraw from the court. Mr. Barrow added, "And out of hearing
The order was immediately complied with; and amongst those
who retired were the Rev. W. R. Hay, the Rev. C. W. Ethelstone, Mr. Hulton,
Mr. Sylvester, Mr. R. Wright, and several other of the Manchester
magistrates, together with a number of gentlemen and tradesmen who had
been subpœned as witnesses. The
defendants who had retained counsel also took their places behind them on
the seats usually allotted to attorneys, and the very inconvenient
pressure in the court was considerably mitigated.
Immediately under the judge at the straight edge of the
table, which was a half-round, sat the counsel for the prosecution already
named with their attorneys. On the judge's left, and occupying the
curved edge of the table, were George Swift, Mr. Harmer, of London (who
kindly suggested various matters to us), next myself, then Mr. Hunt, Mr.
Pearson, Mr. Wilde, Mr. Barrow, Mr. Holt, Mr. Healey and Mr. Johnson—the
two latter sitting near the witness box and almost directly in front of
the judge. The further side of the table was occupied by attorneys
and others; a number of elegantly dressed females were upon the right and
left of the judge and occupying seats below and standing on the floor; the
large box behind us, at first assigned to magistrates, and which had been
almost filled by those of Lancashire and Cheshire, who vacated it on the
order being given for witnesses to retire, was now filled with a crowd of
ladies and gentlemen, chiefly, as we understood, residents in the county;
many ladies had obtained seats in the body of the hall, and one was
observed taking the likeness of the venerable judge as he sat in his
Mr. Scarlett, after the opening by Mr. Littledale, proceeded
to address the jury; but as it would be entirely beyond the scope of this
work to give the proceedings of the trial, which have, no doubt, long
since been placed amongst the public records, I shall only touch on such
passages as concern myself and throw light on my conduct both previous to
and during this important investigation. I shall intersperse such
observations with brief remarks upon and descriptions of some things which
occurred both in public court and were privately known to ourselves, and
shall be content to be judged, so far as my name may be concerned, by the
facts which I truthfully narrate. Mr. Scarlett's description of us
should not, however, be omitted. It was as follows:—
Of Mr. Hunt it was unnecessary that he should say anything, because his
name had been so much of late connected with these transactions as to
leave no doubt on the mind of any man as to his character and avocations.
The others were obscure; they were very little known, and he should
therefore state who they were, premising that they were charged with
assembling and inciting others to assemble to disturb the public peace.
John Knight had formerly been in business; his occupation had been
latterly that of an itinerant orator. Joseph Johnson was a
brushmaker residing near Manchester, and he believed he also was in the
habit of attending public meetings. Of John Thacker Saxton, all the
description which he had was that he was some way or other connected with
the office of a newspaper, called the Manchester Observer.
Joseph Healey was represented as an apothecary. James Moorhouse was
a coach-master residing at Stockport, George Swift was a shoemaker at
Manchester. Of Robert Wilde he knew nothing, save that he lived near
Ashton-under-Lyne. Samuel Bamford and Robert Jones were individuals
in humble circumstances. The jury, he said, would find by
unquestionable evidence that these persons were connected in some secret
design. He would be able to show the course which the parties took
when he called his evidence, and therefore it was not necessary for him at
that moment to state the specific acts of each; it would be sufficient to
give a general view of their proceedings.
The learned counsel then indicated the line of accusation he
should take against Mr. Hunt especially. He commenced with the
Spitalfields' meeting at London in the June previous, setting forth the
resolutions and describing them as illegal. Mr. Hunt was next traced
to Bullock Smithy;  thence to Manchester,
connecting him with the proposed meeting on the 9th of August. Then
he described the drillings at White Moss and the beating of Murray and his
companions. He showed Mr. Hunt to have been stopping at the house of
Johnson, at Smedley, where he said he received the visits of Knight and
others of the defendants. Next he represented the people as marching
from all parts on the morning of the 16th of August. They were, he
said, provided with banners and inscriptions, and they marched upon
Manchester with all the regularity of an army. From Rochdale, from
Middleton, from Oldham, from Lees, from Stockport, and many other places,
parties might be seen marching towards Manchester. "At Middleton Mr.
Bamford was seen placing in marching order a body of two thousand men;
they were without uniforms, but he displayed sufficient talent to put them
through their evolutions. He addressed them and gave to each of them
a laurel leaf, that they might distinguish one another. The town of
Manchester was, in fact, surrounded by an immense farce, who seemed as if
they were going to invade it. Every road which approached the town
was covered with parties marching in military manner, and amongst those
who were marching to the town some of the individuals who were seen
training at White Moss were recognised. At eleven o'clock Mr. Hunt
and his party were preparing to enter the town from the residence of
Johnson. Mr. Hunt was attended by a triumphant band; the Middleton
and Rochdale force had united, they became his guards, and thus surrounded
be entered the town of Manchester."
Next he commented on our banners, and some of his strictures
may show the difference betwixt the interpretation of the laws in those
days and the present. I will give a short extract of that part of
On some of the flags they would find the words, "Equal
Representation or Death." What could be the object of a sentiment
such as this? He would ask the jury to lay their hands on their
hearts and say, What good object could those have in view who exhibited a
flag bearing such a motto? They were not met there to discuss
whether the present state of the House of Commons was the best that could
be imagined. Good and wise men differed on that point, but, whatever
difference of opinion might be entertained on the subject, of this he was
sure, that there was no man who considered the question rightly that would
not stand by the law and the constitution of the country as they were now
administered; and if threatened with violence, that would not resist to
the uttermost an attempt to make a forcible alteration of the system.
Another banner bore the inscription, "No Corn Laws." He
came not before them to discuss whether the law on the subject of corn was
good or otherwise; he had his opinions on the question, but it would not
be decorous or proper to state them there. He knew that wise men
might sometimes frame a mischievous law, but it was not to be removed by
riot and violence. Would it not be a most dangerous thing to say to
a mob of sixty thousand persons, for the purpose of getting rid of such a
measure—particularly when the minds of the people were irritated and
inflamed—would it not, he asked, be an appeal of a most inflammatory
nature, to say to them, "We will have no Corn Laws; we will force the
legislature to do as we please."
Next came the inscription, "Annual Parliaments." There
were no doubt respectable and honourable men in the kingdom, who thought
annual parliaments would be very useful; but would any of those
individuals say that such a proposition was to be carried by violence, as
the sine quâ non of their
existence? Let the people meet to petition for reform—let them
submit to Parliament what they think expedient for the public good—and no
man can complain. But was it the business of a public meeting to
dictate to Parliament, and to declare that it would effect a certain
object, or would have nothing? The next inscription was "Universal
Suffrage and Election by Ballot." These two points were the pretexts
for calling this assembly; he felt considerable surprise that Mr. Hunt did
not perceive that those three terms, taken together, meant nothing but the
subversion of the Constitution, but as long as these questions were sub
judice, what right had any man to say, "we will, in spite of all
opposition, have these three things." To do so was illegal; and it
was most unfit that, on the subject of public grievances, the mob should
be suffered to dictate to the legislature. Let them meet and
petition; let the weavers and shoemakers and other artisans in this
kingdom who are destined to earn their bread by the labour of their hands
inform the legislature of the best course to be pursued with respect to
public affairs, if they have more wisdom than those by whom such affairs
were conducted. The law enabled them to do this; but let not demagogues
state to them that these three points were the only things which could be
of service to them. Another inscription was, "Let us die like men,
and not be sold like slaves." Who, he should like to know, had been
selling the people of Oldham, of Rochdale, of Middleton, and of the other
places, the inhabitants of which went to Manchester on that day? He
never heard of any such sale; but some persons, who did not, perhaps,
choose to speak those words, thought fit to place them on a banner.
Such were some of the constructions which the learned counsel
attached to some of our banners and their inscriptions; constructions
which, if followed in these days, would place some of the Chartist
exhibitors in a rather perilous position.
Witnesses were now called, who traced Mr. Hunt through
Bullock Smithy, Stockport, Heaton Norris, and from Manchester, to
Johnson's at Smedley. On the examination of a witness named John
Chadwick, who swore that he saw Murray at the White Moss, on the morning
of the fifteenth, Mr. Hunt objected to his evidence, because he had said
he did not know any one who was there by name.
Mr. Scarlett said he wished to show that some of the White
Moss drillers had attended Mr. Hunt.
Mr. Hunt said it mattered not, unless some of those persons were among the
Mr. Scarlett hoped Mr. Hunt would not be allowed to disturb
the proceedings of the court.
Mr. Justice Bayley: Mr. Hunt has a right to take the
objection, and I am doubting whether this is evidence.
The witness was here sent out of court.
Mr. Scarlett said he was about to show that some of these
persons who were training, and who assaulted Murray, had attended the
meeting of the 16th, and had also cheered opposite Murray's house; he
would show that Mr. Hunt and his party had done the same. This, he
conceived, was perfectly regular.
Mr. Justice Bayley: When you have shown that any of the
persons of the White Moss party were at the meeting on the 16th, then it
will be evidence, but I think you had better prove that first.
The witness was again called in and examined, and said the
first person he saw at the meeting on the 16th was a man whom he had seen
at the White Moss, with a letter brought from Manchester. A person
arrived at White Moss after witness had seen Murray; the parties then
formed into a square like four walls, and the man who was to read the
letter was in the centre. The letter was not read, as they said
there was no name to it, and they would have nothing to do with it; the
man then joined them. The man who was to have read the letter was
the man who led up the Middleton and Rochdale parties on Monday.
This man was drilling the men, and giving the word of command.
Such was the first link of the evidence which, by inference,
connected me with the White Moss affair. Why that link was not
broken will hereafter appear. For the present Mr. Pearson advised me
to sit still, and not cross-examine the witness; he would be sure, he
said, to swear I was the man he saw at the Moss; he would swear right
a-head, no doubt. It was for the witness to point me out, and not
for me to offer myself to his notice. I accordingly kept my seat.
This was the only evidence tendered on the first day of the trial which
applied to me.
On the morning of the second clay the court was crowded soon
after seven o'clock. The rush when the doors were open was
excessive, and a number of ladies again encountered the pressure of the
crowd; they were soon, however, accommodated with such places as could be
spared near the Bench, and in the magistrates' large box on the left.
The defendants were assisted by Mr. Harmer and Mr. Pearson as on the
previous clay. Mr. Justice Bayley took his seat at half-past nine.
Many persons of rank in the county were present during the day.
William Morris, the first witness examined by Serjeant Cross,
said: I am a weaver, residing five miles from Manchester. In the
month of August last I saw many groups of people near Middleton; Samuel
Bamford used to be amongst them. Early on the morning of the 16th of
August, I saw many hundreds of people put into regular form at Middleton,
with two flags, and twenty-five men were in each section. I know not
who formed them into sections, but there certainly was a large number
collected—two or three thousand at least. They marched off four
abreast, after being first drawn into the form of a square, in the inside
of which was placed a chair, on which Bamford stood and said:—"Friends and
neighbours, I have a few words to relate; you will march off this place
quietly, and not insult any one, but rather take an insult. I do not
think there will be any disturbance, or anything to do; if there is, it
will be after we come back—there is no fear, the day is our own." He
got off the chair and distributed laurel amongst the men who were to
command the sections. They put it, some in their breasts, and some
in their hats. Before they went away a large number of people came
arranged in form from Rochdale, with a band of music before them, and
bearing two flags. Both bodies joined and went off together, each
with a cap of liberty. The men had nothing in their hands but bits
of switches, or small sticks. Before that day I saw the Middleton
people forming and arranging, both in fields and highroads. Bamford
was with them at different times. John Whitworth, who had been a
private in the Sixth Regiment of Foot, was drilling the men, but not on
the 16th of August. John Heywood, who had been a private in the
Sixth Dragoons, had also done the same.
In his cross-examination by me the witness said: I heard you
recommend them to be peaceable, and understood you wished them to continue
so during the whole day. Many thousands went with the Middleton and
Rochdale people who were not formed with them, as well as a good deal of
women and children.
Such was the evidence of this witness: it was, I dare say, as
near the truth as he could recollect, and was, on the whole, strongly in
my favour. I knew some points in his character which would have
enabled me to put him through a severe cross-examination, but I forebore,
not wishing to injure the testimony he had given on my behalf. Hunt,
however, who could not miss an opportunity for display, took him up, and
handled him most unmercifully; on which Serjeant Hullock remarked aside to
one of his brother counsel, what a fool Hunt must be to destroy the man's
credibility, he being to all intents and purposes our witness. The
life of this man had been one of adventure and intrigue. He had been
long in the army, and deserted from it whilst a sergeant on a foreign
station, taking with him his arms and accoutrements. Soon after this
trial he was apprehended for passing forged Bank of England notes, and was
convicted, but, strong interest having been used to save his life, he was
transported, and died abroad.
John Heaton being examined by Mr. Littledale, said:—I live at
Middleton, and am a plumber and glazier. On the morning of the 16th
of August I saw many people assembled, and Samuel Bamford among them, and
in front. They had music and two flags. The inscriptions
were—"Liberty, Strength, and Unity," and something with a cap on a pole.
Bamford had a bunch of laurel in his hand, and many others had a little of
it in their hats.
In my cross-examination, he said: I saw nothing but small
sticks. I don't know your wife, but there were many women and
children, three, four, and five abreast, who appeared to partake of the
conviviality of the procession. The people did not appear sulky;
they had no angry looks, but were more, as it were, in joy. I have
some little property, and had then, but I felt no occasion to go home and
shut my doors when I saw this procession.
On the third day James Platt swore to having seen me on the
hustings on St. Peter's Field, and this finished the evidence against me;
but the criminatory proceedings were not closed until the afternoon of the
fourth day. The court continued to be crowded each day from an early
hour. The ladies seemed still as curious as at first, and their
eagerness to witness the proceedings induced many of them to seek an
entrance into the court, through privileged avenues, so early as seven
o'clock. At eight the public gates were generally thrown open, and
the galleries and area became speedily filled, in the usual hurried
manner, by a mixed throng, which rushed into every seat and corner of the
court that was not defended by constables, for the use of magistrates,
attorneys, and jurors.
On the evening of the second day, Mr. Harmer left us to
attend the trial, if I mistake not, of Sir Francis Burdett, at Leicester.
A Mr. Bryant, who I understood to be a kind of chamber counsel at London,
remained with Hunt and Pearson, and assisted the former in making his
points and objections, but from him I derived no benefit. The time
was now approaching when I should be called on for my defence, yet I had
never had one minute's private conversation with our attorney; he had
never, according to my recollection, been at my inn, nor asked me to his,
nor had he ever spoken to one of my witnesses, or given me any
instructions, except those already noticed, for the collection of
evidence; I was, in fact, entirely left to my own resources. Every
night after the court had risen, he, Hunt and Bryant, retired and spent
the evening together, and remained unapproachable by, and invisible to,
the other defendants. Indeed, excepting those who had counsel, Hunt,
so far as I was enabled to judge, was the only one of the party who had
the benefit of careful legal advice. During my cross-examination of
the witnesses against me, Mr. Pearson would occasionally suggest a
question, or advise the suppression of one; but in other respects I was
left to seek counsel from my own judgment. I regret having to say
this, but truth requires it. Every night Hunt retired with his
friends, discussing the occurrences of the day and preparing for the next;
consequently, he came into court ready at all points, and, like a loaded
gun, he only required a sudden impulse to make a grand discharge.
Under these circumstances it was no wonder that he performed so well, that
he appeared to be so greatly talented, whilst his co-defendants had not
credit for the little talent which some of them really possessed.
This was just the position which Hunt wished himself and us to occupy.
He would be all in all, and he could not endure that the humblest of us
should come betwixt the public and himself, that the smallest shadow
should intercept one ray of his luminous presence. This intense
selfishness was constantly displayed in all his actions. I saw it
and was astonished; I could not account for it except by condemning him,
and that was not to be thought of; though the facts came oozing out like
water-drops, I could not harbour an unkind thought of our leader; "it was
his way it was the way of great folks it was perhaps necessary that he
should do so and so"; anything, in fact, rather than allow the unwelcome
truth to whisper that in his weak points Hunt was the weakest of men.
I had recently some misgivings as to the integrity of his character, but
they had speedily vanished; I could not endure an unworthy opinion of any
of my comrades, still less of him who occupied the most prominent station
before the public. This may be called simplicity; it was the
simplicity of an uncorrupted mind. I deemed all reformers as good as
myself, and I knew that I could answer for the sincerity and disinterestedness
of my own intentions. It was not until years had elapsed that
observation and reflection enabled me to penetrate the mist which had so
long enveloped me. Then it was that I became aware of the real
nature of past transactions and of the character of some who had been my
political friends and fellow-workers in the cause of reform.
But during this important trial circumstances arose which
compelled us at times to forget all anxiety and seriousness. Healey,
as before intimated, was one of the five defendants who had a seat at the
barristers' table. On the second clay, Mr. Scarlett had a
smelling-bottle which he frequently used, and then laid on the table
before him. Our friend the doctor was seated nearly opposite to the
learned gentleman, and I observed him once or twice cast very desirous
looks towards the phial whilst the barrister was using it. Mr.
Scarlett, however, did not, or affected not to, notice our surgical
friend, and at last the patience of the latter being tried beyond control,
he leaned across the table and very respectfully solicited the loan of the
bottle, which was readily granted. "Oh yes, doctor! by all means,"
said Mr. Scarlett, politely handing it to him, who immediately applied it
to his nose and evinced its pungency by very zestful sneezing, which
obliged him to apply his handkerchief to his eyes. Of course there
was some tittering around the table and Mr. Scarlett was declared to have
"taken the doctor fairly by the nose." Hunt laughed till his eyes
were brim full, whilst Healey sat quite unconscious and serious.
Soon after the bottle was returned with compliments and the trial claimed
our attention. On the third day Mr. Scarlett did not bring the
smelling-bottle, and the doctor seemed disappointed. On the fourth
day the doctor lugged a long, square smelling-bottle out of his pocket and
laid it down before him. Mr. Scarlett took no notice. The
doctor smelled and laid it down. Mr. Scarlett took no notice.
The, doctor smelled again. Mr. Scarlett did not see him. At
length, determined not to be outdone in generosity, the doctor thrust it
towards Mr. Scarlett with a bow and a request that he would use it.
Mr. Scarlett coloured, but he good-humouredly took the phial and, having
smelled, he politely returned it with thanks, which the doctor as politely
acknowledged. The same ceremony was repeated once, if not oftener
afterwards, and the doctor, then perfectly satisfied, gave up the farce.
On the morning of Sunday, the 19th of March, I retired to my
little back room at a cottage opposite the inn, for I boarded at the
latter place and lodged with a worthy couple across the street. I
now read and compared my notes and spent several hours in framing the
heads of my speech for the day following. On the morning of Monday,
Mr. Chapman was sent by a committee of our friends, who were carrying into
effect arrangements for the subsistence of the witnesses; the latter had
been boarded at our hotel at the rate, if I mistake not, of five shillings
per head per day, and it was found necessary to reduce the expenditure,
else there would not be funds to carry us through the trial. The
witnesses were thenceforth to provide for themselves and would have an
allowance of three shillings per clay for that purpose; all the money was
to go into a common fund for disbursements. I accordingly handed to
him what money I had remaining, and that cause of anxiety was removed from
It became apparent towards the noon of Monday, the fourth day
of the trial, that the prosecutors were about to close their case, and
that the defence must be commenced on the afternoon of that day.
Whilst we were talking of the matter, Hunt said, "Bamford, you will be
called on to address the court the first of all the defendants." I
said I thought that scarcely probable, as we should most likely be called
in the order in which our names stood in the indictment. Hunt said
he knew that was contemplated by the opposing counsel, and particularly by
Mr. Scarlett, who wanted to bring him out in the evening when he was
exhausted, the court wearied, and the public satiated and listless.
But, with an oath, he said he was not to be taken aback that way, he was
too old a bird to be caught by such a manoeuvre. He then opened to
me his plans and said that Messrs. Barrow and Holt, the counsel for
Moorhouse, Jones, and Saxton, would first address the court, then I should
be called on, next Healey, then Swift, and lastly Johnson. I asked
him if he thought the opposing parties would acquiesce in that
arrangement, and he said if Mr. Scarlett objected, as he durst say he
would, he himself would make a special application to the judge on the
subject, or to adjourn the trial until the following day. "Now,
Bamford, by—" he said, "I'll tell you what you must do if called this
afternoon." "Well, Well, what should I do?" I inquired. "You
must talk against time," he said. "Talk against time?" I asked,
"what's that?" "You must keep possession of the court an hour and a
half at least," he said; "you must talk to put on time in order to prevent
them from calling on me under any circumstances to-night. I know
well that is what Scarlett is aiming at, and we must play our game so as
to put it beyond his power." "But I am not prepared with matter for
an hour and a half's speech," I said; "I should break down if I attempted
it." "Don't mind that," he replied, "don't mind anything, only keep
on." "I should make myself look like a fool, and they would be
laughing at me and stopping me," I replied. "Pshaw! and suppose they
did, you could listen and, when they had done, begin again." "But I
should not know what to say." "Say! say anything, the d—est nonsense
in the world, never mind what you say, only keep on until they cannot call
me to-day." Something like a glimmer of the naked truth flashed
across my reluctant mind and I replied: "No, Mr. Hunt, I will not do as
you desire, I will not exhibit myself before this court as a fool; I will
speak as long as I can speak, to the purpose and with common sense.
I would speak until dark if that would serve you, and I was prepared for
the task; but I am not, and I won't make myself ridiculous." "Very well,"
said Hunt, and looked another way, quite cool and distant.
I then showed the manuscript of my address to Mr. Pearson,
and he advised the striking out of a passage wherein I alluded to the
circumstance of my having slept at the house of my wife's uncle on the
night previous to Murray being at White Moss, and to the fact of the
servant girl having removed my shoes whilst cleaning the house after I
went to bed, and my not being able to find them on the following morning
and her having to find them for me. He said that passage should be
erased; it had not been proved that I was at White Moss, and the attempt
to explain away what had not been proved would rather strengthen the
opinion, if such existed, that there was really some truth in the
supposition of my having been on the Moss. I reminded him of what
Chadwick had sworn, and of what Morris and Heaton had sworn, as to my
leading up the people, but he said that was not sufficient to call on me
for a replication; I had not been pointed out, not personally identified
by Chadwick, and I had best not take any notice of that part of the
evidence. I must confess I did not see this distinction clearly, but
I yielded to his advice and the passage was struck out; the servant girl
alluded to also was not examined as to that point by me.
I think it was about three o'clock in the afternoon when
Michael Fitzpatrick, a reporter for the New Times, and the last
witness for the prosecution, made his exit from the witness-box. Mr.
Barrow and Mr. Holt then addressed the court on behalf of their several
clients, and Mr. Hunt made application to the judge that I should next be
heard, and the other defendants after me, in order that, as an indulgence,
his address might be deferred until the following morning. Mr.
Scarlett, I think, observed that such a course would be irregular, but did
not strongly object to it, and the favour was granted. I accordingly
addressed the court in the following terms:—
"My lord, and gentlemen of the jury,—Before I enter into a
detail of the evidence which I intend to produce in my defence, I think it
necessary to notice some expressions made use of by the learned counsel
for the prosecution in the speech which he addressed to the court on the
opening of these proceedings. I allude to that part of his
address where he said that 'Bamford was seen training a body of ten
thousand men on the morning of the 16th.' If the brief which the
learned gentleman had before him instructed him to make such an assertion,
so much the better, and I sincerely wish, for his own honour, that it may
be so. [Mr. Scarlett intimated across the table that such were his
instructions.] But your lordship and the jury cannot have failed to
observe that the testimony of Morris contains no such proof, and he alone
has appeared against me with respect to the transactions that took place
at Middleton, previous to our movement towards Manchester. Indeed,
Morris states that he knew not who formed the people into section,
division, and square; that they were so formed, but by whom he does not
undertake to say. The learned gentleman also, in commenting upon
some of the banners and their inscriptions, described one as bearing the
words 'Annual Parliaments' and 'Universal Suffrage,' and insinuated that
such were put forth as a demand, whence he inferred a design to subvert
the constitution and government. Now, the mottoes on the banner so
erroneously described, were nothing more than an avowal of what we
considered, and do still consider, as our political right. There was
no such thing as a demand about it; why should we demand that which we
were going to Manchester to petition for?
"With respect to drilling, I have, in common with my
neighbours, heard much, seen some, and could have seen more; for it was,
to use a common, though very memorable, phrase, 'as notorious as the sun
at noonday.' If it will not be trespassing too much on the time of
the court, I will endeavour to give a brief account of its origin and
intention. In the course of the last six years Manchester has
witnessed many public meetings, to all of which, with the exception of the
last, great numbers of people from the surrounding towns and villages
proceeded in groups; and on these occasions they were uniformly styled by
the Liberal and venal press of the place, mobs-riotous, tumultuous, and
disorderly mobs; they were ridiculed as illiterate, dirty, and mean,
having chapped hands and greasy nightcaps. They were scandalised as
being drunken and disorderly, as being libellous and seditious, dividers
of property, and destroyers of social order; and was it not then very
natural that these poor, insulted, and vilified people should wish to
rescue themselves from the unmerited imputations which were wantonly cast
on their character? It certainly was natural that they should wish
to give the lie to their enemies, and thereby show to the nation and to
the world that they were not what they had been represented to be.
They determined to give one example of peace and good order, such as
should defy the most bitter of their enemies to criminate, and for this
purpose, and this alone, was the drilling, so styled, instituted.
Only one witness for the prosecution has sworn to having heard amongst the
drillers the word 'fire'; all the others swear only to their facing, and
to their marching in file and in line, which evolutions were certainly
most suited to familiarise them with that uniformity of motion which would
be necessary for the preservation of due order and decorum in their
progress to the place of meeting. But as to these facts I do not
tender to your lordship and the jury my own assertion only. I refer
you to the papers laid before the House of Commons, relative to the
internal state of the country. The particular document to which I
refer in those papers is dated the 5th of August, only four clays previous
to the first proposed meeting at Manchester, which should have been on the
9th; so that if we suppose the drilling parties to have been in existence
a week or a fortnight before the day on which the letter referred to is
dated, the ground of my argument is strengthened. That military
gentleman who did us the honour to stand so long before us on Saturday
evening, and whose services, I trow, consisted in marching with Colonel
Fletcher from Bolton to Manchester, and from Manchester to Bolton, talks
of 'midnight drillings,' and of parties coming to the meeting in
'beautiful order.' The former representation is not, I presume,
legal evidence, and, of course, will not appear on your lordship's notes.
The latter confirms what I have said respecting the wish of the people to
preserve the strictest decorum.
"Your lordship and the jury will find by the evidence which I
shall produce that by nine o'clock on the morning of the ever memorable
16th of August, numbers of persons assembled at Middleton; that they were
formed into a hollow square; and that whilst so formed I addressed them,
earnestly cautioning them to be on their guard against enemies, and
representing the advantage which might be taken of their numbers to create
a riot by persons who might be employed for that sole purpose; that I
advised them not to insult any person, but rather suffer an insult on that
day, as their opponents would be glad of a pretext to accuse them of riot
and disorder; that I entreated them to bear towards every one a spirit of
good-will, in token of which I distributed amongst them branches of
laurel, emblems of purity and peace, as described by Morris and Heaton;
and having heard that if I went to the meeting the police of Manchester
would, on its own responsibility, arrest me, I cautioned the people
against offering any resistance, if such an attempt should be made, as I
preferred an appeal to the laws of my country rather than to force; that I
insisted no sticks should be taken, and that in consequence several were
left by the way; that we went in the greatest hilarity and good-humour,
preceded by a band of music, which played loyal and national airs; and
that our fathers, our mothers, our wives, our children, and our
sweethearts were with us. And this was the dreadful military array
which the learned counsel described as I one vast army, bearing from all
parts to the invasion of Manchester'—poor, forlorn, defenceless
Manchester. These were 'the soldiers ready to fight for Mr. Hunt';
with bare heads and with arms locked—a fighting posture, forsooth—who
terrified that immortal author of green books, Mr. Francis Phillips; and
of such persons, oh, dreadful to relate! was formed that 'cordon,'
impenetrable to everything, save the newly ground sabres of the Manchester
At this time the judge arose hastily and motioned me to cease
speaking; the blood had gushed from his nose on the cushion before him,
and he retired, with the High Sheriff, and one or two gentlemen that were
near him. In a short time his lordship returned, and I merely added
some conversations on the conduct of a magistrate who had detained papers
of mine, which, being a manuscript of one of Hoyle's games at draughts,
the zealous functionary suspected it might possibly be the plan of a plot
in cypher. I also said I should leave my share of the general
defence to Mr. Hunt, whose superior knowledge and eloquence would, no
doubt, obtain for us full justice, which was all we wanted.
In confirmation of this speech, I adduced evidence which
showed that I inculcated peace and good order to the Middleton party
before we left Barrowfields; that there was not to be any opposition to
the police, should they come to arrest me or any other person; that the
people were to keep themselves select, and return with their banners, and
not to stop in the town drinking, nor loitering in the streets; that no
sticks were allowed in the procession except to aged persons, and that
several were resigned on the ground, or left by the way; that the wives of
several of the party accompanied their husbands, and that there were many
young females and children with the procession; that we seemed quite
cheerful on the road; that there were no symptoms of alarm in Middleton or
on the road; and that the drillings were public and in open day. In
short, all that I advanced in my speech was fully confirmed by my
After me, Swift, Healey, and Johnson got up in succession.
Healey had for a day or two appeared to be labouring under a cold with
hoarseness. He sat opposite the judge, with a handkerchief thrown
over his head, the corners drooping on his shoulders, exactly as the flaps
of his lordship's wig drooped on his. He frequently looked up
towards the glass dome above him, as if a stream of air came from thence
and he was affected by it; but he did not attempt to move to another seat,
which he probably would have done, had he experienced illness from that
cause. Whether this was the case or not, it is a fact that he had a
speech to read which had been written by a friend at Lees, and he could
not read it. He then had a cold, became hoarse, and the clerk of the
court read the speech for him. This official was a well-fed,
red-faced, snub-nosed personage, with spectacles on his nose, and a wig of
legal cut on his head. He held the document at a considerable
altitude, as if he were looking over his spectacles instead of through
them, and he read the speech in a monotonous, half-speaking, half-singing
tone, much as a school-boy, some twenty years ago would have droned out
his lesson. The doctor stood at his elbow, his looks evincing
surprise and disappointment, that his document should have fallen into
such incapable hands; next he became impatient, as was manifest by his
varying attitudes and sharp gesticulations, by which he meant to supply
the want of modulation and emphasis in the reader. An artist was in
court sketching at the time, and if he took this pair of originals, his
portfolio may some day turn out one singular illustration of nature.
Hunt had thus obtained what he so ardently desired, a night
for consultation, reflection, and repose, and a crowded morning audience
for his grand exhibition. I shall not dwell upon his defence, except
to notice one passage relative to Richard Carlile. In the
commencement of his address he said, "I am not only charged in the opening
speech of the learned counsel with having attempted to overthrow the
constituted authorities of my country, but also to extinguish in the flame
of infidelity the altar of our holy religion. It has been
industriously promulgated that I was connected with Mr. Carlile; it has
been promulgated that I am a man of his principles. Where is the
proof? Without it why should the imputation have been cast? I
shall not advert to the conduct of that man, because the law has imposed
its punishment upon him, and he is now enduring the reward of his
temerity. It would, therefore, be improper, and imprudent and unjust
for me in open court to touch upon such a subject, but why was the topic
introduced? I will tell you, gentlemen—to connect our cause with
that of irreligion, and to identify the cause of the reformers with that
of Mr. Carlile. I profess to be a reformer, but not a leveller; I
profess to be a lover of liberty, but not of licentiousness; sweet, lovely
liberty, gentlemen, is pure and amiable as sacred truth; licentiousness is
a disgraceful as darkness and falsehood." And then in a subsequent
passage, he said, "You have heard the miserable attempt to fix upon me an
irreligious connection with Carlile. I have known the man, and if I
do not say what I think of him, it is because he is now suffering, the
sentence of the law, and therefore is not a fit subject for anybody's
animadversion. Of him I shall say nothing now, but I shall say that
none of the principles, professions, or doctrines he is said to have
espoused were ever, at any moment of my life, imbibed by or believed in by
me. In the face of God and my country I most solemnly declare that I
never read one line of the theological works of Carlile until Dr.
Stoddart's libel upon me first put them into my hands in the following
manner. Mr. Scarlett was then employed, as he is now, against me in
the court of King's Bench. Carlile's trial was going on, mine was
the very next, and I was bound to watch it, or else expose myself to the
consequences of being absent when called on—a verdict for the defendant.
Such was my unfortunate case, or else I should not have been in London,
much less in court, when Carlile's trial was pending. I here further
declare, in the face of heaven, that among the reformers, rich or poor, I
never recollect to have seen one line of the theological works of Thomas
Paine. Why, then, identify the reformers with such doctrines?
Good God! was it not enough to charge us with crimes against our
fellow-men, but that also we must be designated as infidels against our
religion and our God."
Whilst Hunt uttered those last sentences the tears trickled
down his face. "Good God!" I also mentally exclaimed, "Is it
possible? are not my ears deceiving me?" Carlile, the reader will
recollect, was one of those who went with Hunt in the carriage from
Johnson's to the meeting on the morning of the 16th. He was so
fortunate as to escape from the field, and had since been tried, found
guilty, and sentenced to imprisonment for a theological work, if I mistake
not; and was at the moment Hunt thus denounced and renounced him in
prison. No human power, nor dread of human power, should have been
able to compel Hunt to make use of such language at that time, and under
those circumstances. Whatever Carlile was, good or bad, religious or
the contrary, the law had for the present done its work with him, and that
is seldom part done; and, above all other moments, that was not the one to
aim a clumsy and treacherous blow at a late comrade, now bound and
fettered. "Can this," thought I, "be also one of the fashionable
levities of great folks? If it be, it is requisite that I should be
more guarded and more self-governed in future." And so I was; I
continued to respect Hunt for his good points, but I was no longer
entirely blinded to his faults. I never could forget this scene.
It was about the second or third day of the trial that, in
cross-examination, I put what was considered a leading question. One
of the counsel immediately called it back, and said that was not the
proper way to put it. I apologised on account of my ignorance of the
forms of examinations, when Serjeant Hullock, nodding his head, said, "a
pretty apt scholar, however, I think."
One morning I observed that Mr. Scarlett was reading some
verses of mine (the Lancashire Hymn) in a Manchester newspaper. In
the evening, when I was passing along the corridor from the court, I
accidently joined Mr. Scarlett and Mr. Maule, the solicitor for the
Government. They both recognised me respectfully, and I returned the
salute. Mr. Scarlett said he had seen some verses of mine which were
certainly open to comment by the prosecution, but he should not make any
use of them to my prejudice. He also said he understood I had
published a small poetical work, called "The Weaver Boy." I said I
had. He then said, if it should so happen that I should have to come
to London in consequence of the trial, he could wish me to bring him a
copy. I said I would do so with pleasure, and if I did not come up,
I would forward one to him. Mr. Maule said, "And let me have a copy
also." I said I would take care he had one, and so with mutual
civilities we parted.
After the defence was closed, and when Mr. Scarlett was
making his speech in reply, I certainly felt more surprised than flattered
by the distinction which he thought proper to make in my favour.
"Bamford," he said, "and when he mentioned the name of that defendant, he
could not but express his regret at the situation in which he saw him now
placed; he (Mr. Scarlett) admired his talents and the respectful manner in
which he had conducted his defence, and probably others as well as himself
(Mr. Scarlett) were sorry that he was not found in better company."
One day I had done something which pleased Hunt mightily, and
when the court broke up and we were in the yard, Hunt said, "Come,
Bamford, take my arm, you are my right-hand man." I took his arm,
and we walked down the street with a great crowd at our heels, shouting
"Hunt for ever! Hunt for ever!" and huzzaing. Looking back, I saw
the judge's carriage with his lordship in, and the horses restive in
consequence of the noise, and I put out my hand and desired the crowd to
be silent. Hunt heard what I said, and, giving me a sudden jerk,
began cursing in his usual wont when in a passion, and asked who ordered
me to stop the people from shouting? I pointed to the carriage then
in the midst of us, the horses still prancing; but that did not pacify my
shout-loving friend, and he continued his maledictions until I turned to
go to my lodgings. A similar cause of displeasure was given by
Moorhouse on another night when the mail-coach was passing, and was in
danger of being upset. Moorhouse received his reprimand at Hunt's
apartments, and was then invited to walk out of the room. He wept
with mortification! I laughed, as I have often done since, when
thinking of the circumstance.
A female witness from Middleton, a married woman, gave very
important evidence in a most impressive manner, and was to return home the
following morning. Before going she wished to see Mr. Hunt, in order
to have the honour of saying she had shaken hands with the great man.
I offered to introduce her, and we went to Hunt's apartments, but he was
not there, and we were referred to a tavern, the "Black Swan," I think, in
Coney Street. We found there that Hunt, Bryant, and several others
were upstairs, and I sent in my name, and after standing in the bar a
short time the waiter said, "Mr Hunt could not be seen, he was engaged."
I thought there must be some mistake, and requested the man to give my
compliments to Mr. Hunt, and say I should be glad to see him for a minute.
The man did so, and came down again with the same result, I was ashamed
and offended at receiving such a slight; but, determined that he should
not have any ground to plead a misunderstanding, I desired the waiter to
go up once more, and say a lady who was going into Lancashire wished to
bid him good-bye. The servant very obligingly went up again and
returned as before, "Mr. Hunt could not be seen." The next morning I
took my seat at a distance from him in the court, and it was not until
repeated overtures on his part, and many fervent expressions of regret,
that I resumed conversation with him. But I could scarcely have
justified myself if I had suffered any personal offence to alienate me
from him during the trial. I considered the cause too great, too
holy, to suffer injury in the least by any circumstance affecting one so
humble as myself. I was, in fact, too simple-minded, too sincere,
and too generous for the situation in which I was placed; and it was not
until multiplied acts of deception and ingratitude had been practised upon
me, that I learned (if I have yet done so) to value mankind according to
their real worth. I narrate the above as a specimen of the
intercourse and confidence which existed among us at York. The same
really contemptible feeling of classism, the curse of England and
Englishmen, and of Englishwomen also, existed in too great a degree
amongst the witnesses. There were "the broad cloth" and "the narrow
cloth" ones, the rich and the poor; and the former seldom sought
opportunities for intercommunication with the latter, but rather shunned
them. This "pride that licks the dust"—for it is nothing else—has
begot a counteraction as wrong as itself. It has filled the working
classes with a fierce contempt and hatred of every one wearing a decent
coat. This latter is being as mad as the other is being mean.
The proper course for those who feel and contemn class distinction, is,
first of all, to respect themselves; next, to invite a respectful equality
by unoffending manners; and thirdly, to assert their right position in
society by withholding the smallest deference to mere assumption.
This would be quite sufficient, without rudeness or noise, to restore the
natural balance of society.
When the judge came to read over the evidence, the following
passage occurred: "The next evidence, (for the prosecution) was that which
related to Bamford, and it only showed that he recommended peace and
order; still he was identified with the placards if they thought them
illegal. If a meeting for considering a reform in Parliament be
illegal, he is an offender, but it was his (the judge's) duty to tell them
that it was not. There was no illegality in carrying sticks unless
they were for an unlawful purpose—nor banners, unless their tenor was such
as to excite suspicion of the objects of those who carried them, or
concurred in bringing them with an evil intention. As to numbers,
they alone did not make a meeting illegal, unless attended with such
circumstances as did actually excite terror, or were reasonably calculated
to excite terror; such circumstances were forbidden by the law. They
had truly heard that where there was no law there was no transgression; if
the meeting was innocently intended, then the law was not violated.
We next come," observed his lordship, "to Healey's admonitory remark to
me, to take care, and not in anything I say to prejudice your minds
against him. If I do, gentlemen, discard any expression of mine
having such a tendency altogether from your minds. I mean to do my
duty with integrity, to the best of my poor judgment. If I err, and
err with intention, then, gentlemen, there is that power to which I am
awfully responsible. Between the crown on one hand, and my country
on the other, I shall do, I hope, equal justice. The defendants, I
trust, shall suffer no undue prejudice at my hands—my conscience will
uphold me in what I have to say to you; and He who will sit in judgment on
all our poor acts will have to determine what motive dictated them.
I have now closed my observations upon the evidence for the prosecution,
and before I sum up that for the defence, I wish to state that I have made
a summary of it, which will bring its leading points with less fatigue to
your minds. If, however, I omit anything material to any of the
defendants, or, as I go on, shall miss one fact in their favour, then it
will only be necessary to remind me of the omission, and I will read in
detail the part to which my attention is called."
Mr. Hunt: Probably you will allow us, my lord, to avail
ourselves of your kind permission, as you go on, without deeming our
Justice Bayley: Yes, Mr. Hunt, I not only allow you, but I desire you
promptly, as I go on, to call my attention as you please.
The learned judge resumed his charge, and said that, "with
respect to Bamford, all that had been proved in his speech was a
recommendation to peace and order. There were no sticks in his
group, save a few common walking-sticks, carried by old men. There
were women and children in the throng, and it was for the jury to consider
whether Bamford and these people, carrying their wives and daughters with
them to such a crowd, meant to create on that day riot, tumult, and
disorder? With such an intention nothing was less likely than that
they would carry to the scene those who were the dearest objects of their
affection. According to the evidence for Bamford, the people in his
party, so far from being tumultuous, were peaceable and joyful, and the
drilling, as it was called, so far from being illegal and nocturnal, was
open and innocent; the only object of it being merely to enable the people
to attend the meeting as conveniently for each other and the public as it
was possible." The learned judge then enumerated the names of the
witnesses who swore that the Middleton party, on the 16th of August, went
to the meeting in the utmost peace, and conducted themselves whilst there
with equal tranquillity. "There was no act of violence," said his
lordship, "according to these witnesses, committed by them, no violation
of peace, which would bring them under the reprehension of the law; and so
far in favour of Bamford." And again, whilst commenting on the
various flags, his lordship said, "with respect to Bamford, who went with
the Middleton flags, nothing could be more decent than his conduct
throughout the day. If the account given by the witnesses he adduced
be a correct description, he everywhere recommended peace and order."
At a quarter past twelve the learned judge closed his charge,
and the jury retired. Shortly before five they returned into court,
and the foreman read their verdict as follows:—
"Moorhouse, Jones, Wilde, Swift, and Saxton, not guilty.
Henry Hunt, Joseph Johnson, John Knight, Joseph Healey, and (to the
astonishment of the judge, the bar, and the audience) Samuel Bamford,
guilty of assembling with unlawful banners, an unlawful assembly, for the
purpose of moving and inciting the liege subjects of our sovereign lord
the king to contempt and hatred of the government and constitution of the
realm, as by law established, and attending at the same."
Mr. Justice Bayley: Do you mean that they themselves intended
to incite ?
The Foreman: Yes.
Mr. Justice Bayley: Let the verdict be so recorded. You
find, gentlemen, on such counts as the words of your verdict are
applicable to. Do you find that they created terror, or incited it
in the liege subjects of the king?
The Foreman: We mean, my lord, to find on the first count,
omitting a few words.
The learned judge then requested they would retire and look
over the counts of the indictment again, and say to which count they meant
to apply their verdict.
The jury withdrew, and in a few minutes returned with a
verdict of guilty generally on the fourth count, and not guilty on the
Mr. Justice Bayley: I take it for granted the defendants are
still under recognizance?
Mr. Hunt: We are, my lord.
Mr. Justice Bayley: Then let them now additionally, in court,
enter into their own recognizances to keep the peace and be of good
behaviour for six months, Mr. Hunt in the sum of two thousand pounds, Mr.
Johnson in one thousand, and Bamford and Healey in five hundred each.
The parties immediately gave their several recognizances.
His lordship addressing the jury, said they had his best
thanks for the patient attention they had bestowed on this arduous trial.
He was very much obliged to them. Then, facing the body of the
court, his lordship added, "I very much approve of the conduct of the
court at the time the verdict was given in"—alluding, as was understood,
to the universal silence which prevailed at the time.
The reader will perhaps not think that I speak too strongly
when I say that the infamy of the verdict against myself has seldom been
During the whole of the ten days' investigation I did not
observe that any one of the jury took a single note of the evidence, or
that they indicated by the action of a single muscle of countenance, that
any impression was made on their minds. They sat motionless, and
like men who were asleep with their eyes open; and it was clear, from the
bungling form in which they presented their first verdict, that they had
agreed upon it from a vague recollection of some point in evidence, and a
clumsy misapplication of the counts in the indictment.
In a short time after we had left the court I was somewhat
surprised by the information that Hunt, Pearson, and Bryant were about to
leave York that night. I therefore hastened to Mr. Pearson and
represented to him that I had not any money whatever to pay my lodging and
tavern bills, every farthing I had having been given up to Mr. Chapman.
Mr. Pearson advanced me two pounds, and I went and discharged what I owed.
The next morning the generous-hearted Moorhouse yoked up his coach and
dragged a full load of witnesses and defendants to Huddersfield, where we
stopped for the night. The following morning (Wednesday) Moorhouse
found that, in consequence of the heavy load, he should want a pair of
leaders to help him over the hills, and he applied at several places, but
in vain; no horse-keeper in Huddersfield would furnish us a pair for love
or money; and the Radicals of the place, indignant at the paltry
annoyance, harnessed themselves to the vehicle, and drew it over the steep
hills as far as Blackmoor Bottom. At Oldham our faithful and kind
friends—alas, that so few of them remain!—met us, and conducted us to a
good substantial dinner at the White Horse Inn. Here I was met by my
dear wife and child, and our present joy was only saddened by the
reflection that ere long there must be another parting. We were soon
again in tender conversation by the hedgerows and green fields; and I
arrived at Middleton "poor in gear," but rich in the satisfaction of
having performed my duty well; in having, though condemned, largely
contributed towards the vindication of the conduct of the reformers on the
16th of August; in having created a feeling of respect in my enemies, and
a favourable impression in the upright judge who tried us; in having
disclosed to a great assemblage of wealth and aristocracy, as well as to
the nation at large, that somewhat of moral and intellectual
respectability had been attained by the artisans of Lancashire, whom on
this occasion I represented. From that time they advanced a step in
the grade of society; they were contemplated with a mingled feeling of
curiosity and deference, and they were no longer considered as "the
swinish multitude," "the base unwashed helots," nor denounced as the
"dividers of property, and destroyers of social order."
If I did this, or any part of it, for my working fellow
countrymen, I was entitled to their gratitude. We shall see ere long
how that just claim was discharged; how they remembered one who, whilst
pleading his own cause, had never forgotten theirs.
HOW THE AUTHOR WAS ASSISTED WHEN HE WANTED IT—THE EMPTINESS OF POPULAR
APPLAUSE—AUTHOR'S DEPARTURE FROM MIDDLETON—HIS CHILD—FAREWELL TO HIS WIFE.
THE terms of our recognizances were that we should
appear in the Court of King's Bench on the first day of the ensuing Easter
term, and not depart therefrom without the permission of the court.
On the approach of that time, I therefore became anxious about the means
whereby I should get to London. I should have been miserable if from
any circumstance I had incurred a risk of not being in court when called,
and had thereby forfeited the bail which my friends had given with me.
My Radical acquaintances, however, never asked me when or how I was going,
and I felt too much what was due to myself and my situation to throw out
the least hint about the matter. One or two of the most sordid and
ungrateful of my acquaintance, and God knows I had too many such, even
told me that I needed not expect any assistance from them, even if I went
to prison. I smiled in contempt, and replied that it would be time
to deny me their assistance when I asked for it. Others there were
who no doubt would have acted with an honourable considerateness had I
made known to them my total want of funds for the journey, but I deemed it
their place to ask me, and not mine to ask them. I could not but
feel that I was about to be victimised on their account; I knew what was
my duty, and was prepared to do it, but I would not condescend to remind
them of theirs.
One day I was at Manchester, and in conversation about these
matters I asked Mr. Evans, the editor of The Observer, if there
were any funds in the town which would be available in assisting the
convicted parties to London? He said he had some money in hand
belonging to the relief fund, and asked me how much I should want? I
said I should think three pounds would be sufficient. He said I
should have it, and if I would call on him a day or two before I set off
he would pay it me. I called on him the week following, and he gave
me three pounds. I purchased a pair of strong shoes, a pair or two
of hose, and some other necessary articles, and then I went home and
prepared in other respects for the journey.
It would be of no use to dwell on the hours of care,
thoughtfulness, and anxiety on my part, nor of the regrets and tears which
I tried to soothe and to suppress on behalf of my wife and child.
Every one with a heart susceptible of our common human emotions will
understand and appreciate their feelings and mine. Suffice it to say
that when the last moment had been spent on my hearth, I started to my
feet, threw my stick and bundle over my shoulder, locked the door, gave my
wife the key, and with her on my arm, and my little girl by the hand, I
took my way down Middleton and towards Manchester. I could not but
reflect that when I went that way on the 16th of August there were ten
thousand with me ready to shout, sing, or do whatever I requested; now, as
if they were afraid I should want something from them, not a soul came
forth to say "God be with you." One or two whom I saw on the road
did, as they passed, ask if I was "going off," to which I replied by a
nod. The words stuck in my throat, I was ashamed both for myself and
them; ashamed of my past folly and of their present faithlessness.
At the bottom of the town we parted from our dear child, telling her to go
to a certain neighbour's (as had been previously arranged), and be a good
girl, and her mother would bring her something from Manchester. She
looked at us alternately, in tears, and then said, "And when will you
come, father?" I stooped, kissed her, and said I would come soon,
and, dashing the drops from my eyes, I gave my arm to her mother, and we
ascended the hill in silence.
We stopped at Harpurhey, and whilst there a Middleton man, a
weaver, came into the place, and said he understood I was going to London;
I told him I was, and he urged me to accept a shilling, as he understood I
had come away with but little, if any, money. I thanked him, but
refused to accept of it, alleging that I was better able to struggle with
my difficulties than he was to spare a shilling from the wants of his
large family. He then said that as he was coming through Middleton
John Ogden, a shopkeeper, and a neighbour whom I well knew, told him I was
before him, and he would probably overtake me; that I had gone away
without asking for, or receiving a farthing, and that if he overtook me he
was to give me the shilling (which he put into his hand) and request me to
accept it from him. I said that altered the case; John Ogden was
able to spare a shilling; I would therefore accept it, and he must give my
thanks to the donor for his good and kind consideration. My
neighbour then took a glass of ale and smoked a whiff or two of his pipe,
and hurried to the warehouse at Manchester; and, reader, that shilling was
the only Middleton coin which I had in my pocket when I started for London
to receive judgment.
So much for the shouting, huzzaing, and the empty applause of
multitudes. A young aspirant to public notoriety may be excused if
he feel a little tickled with the shouts of adulation, but whenever I see
a grey-headed orator courting such acclamations, I set him down as being
either a very shallow or a very designing person. I have no patience
with such hollow trumpery—with the fools who offer it, or the questionable
ones who accept it.
We stopped at the house of a relative that night, and the
next morning I left Manchester in company with my wife and my friend and
late co-defendant, Thacker Saxton. At Stockport Saxton remained with
some Radical friends whom he found there. My wife still lingered
with me, after having often stopped and gone on again. At last we
arrived at Stockport Moor; the afternoon was advanced, and the sun was
"I saw the tear from her young eyes
as my friend Spencer Hall has so beautifully expressed it; and here was a
final pause and parting—that is, I left her standing with her looks bent
towards me, and there she remained till distance closed the view.
I now walked on at a quick pace, and had not gone many miles
before I overtook a young man and his wife, who I soon learned were going
to Macclesfield that night. I said I was going to that place, and
somewhat further; and when I told them of my destination, and that I
intended to walk the journey, they were quite glad of my company, and we
agreed to travel together. I soon learned they were going from
Preston to Loughborough, where they intended to settle amongst the woman's
relations. They were a very good-looking couple—he a stout, florid
young fellow, and she a tall, handsome-featured woman; she was also a good
walker, which he was not, being already foot-sore.
On our arrival at Macclesfield my companions rested at a
public house, whilst I went in search of some honest Radicals, to whom
Saxton had given me letters of introduction. They were chiefly
working men; some of them were in pretty good circumstances, being master
weavers. I soon found them, and they took myself and fellow
travellers to a decent inn, where we got refreshment, and spent a very
agreeable evening. In the morning, when our bill was called for,
there was no charge against me, the kind friends who were with us the
night before having settled everything which stood to my account.
We set off from Macclesfield about six o'clock on a lovely
morning, and soon were in a finely variegated and wooded country, as any
one will allow who has travelled betwixt Macclesfield and Leek.
After walking some four or five miles we began to talk about breakfast,
and my male companion said he would have cheese and bread and ale, whilst
I anticipated a good breakfast of tea, with a couple of eggs, if they were
to be had. Soon after the man stopped, and his wife said as we went
forward, she was glad I preferred tea for breakfast. I asked her
why, and she said her husband was a very hard-working man, and a good
husband on the whole, but he was a little too greedy, and expected her to
fare as he did on the road, instead of letting her have a few indulgences,
such as tea and coffee. It was not from want of money, she said, for
he had enough with him, nor was it want of kindness to her—it was
over-carefulness alone which made him so. But now, as I was for
having tea, he would hardly for shame deny her having some also. I
promised, if it was necessary, to put a word in for her, and she thanked
me. Having travelled a little further we came to a neat little
tap-house, on the descent of a valley, where the cool shadow of trees made
the air grateful and refreshing, and a tiny wimpling rill ran like melted
pearls over dark gravel, beneath young-leafed hazels, and by green-swardecl
margins. Here we agreed to stop and take what the house afforded.
The smart-handed landlady soon placed a nice repast of tea,
bread-and-butter, and a couple of eggs before me, whilst a jug of ale,
with bread and cheese, were presented to my fellow-travellers. The
woman said she could not eat, and I asked her to come and join me at tea,
adding, very likely the cost would be little more for tea than for the
breakfast they had before them. On hearing this opinion, her husband
told her to get some tea, and then with great pleasure the woman came to
my table and made a hearty breakfast.
We rested awhile at this pleasant little hostel; the man and
I (I might as well call him John at once) each smoked our pipe, with the
window thrown up, and the cool breeze wafting around us. It was delicious
to breakfast as we had done, and then to repose after a fine,
health-creating morning's walk. John, however, I soon found, had not many
conversational matters at his command. He was a plain, honest bricksetter;
knew something of the value of work in his line, could make out an
estimate of the expense of buildings and such things, and those were the
most of what he understood. Not so his wife, she was a sensible,
well-informed woman for her station, and it was evident that on most
subjects (except the purse-keeping) she was his superior, and exercised
much influence over him. She had been, as she afterwards informed
me, a servant at an inn at Loughborough, where the young bricksetter, then
on tramp, fell in love with and married her. They went down to
Preston to settle amongst his friends; he was very wild and reckless, and
one day he fell from some scaffolding and was shockingly maimed, so that
he could never be so stout again as he had been. Latterly he had
been more steady, and had saved a trifle of money, and as they had no
children she had prevailed on him to return with her and live amongst her
relations, and that was the cause of their journey.
At Leek we rested again during an hour, took some
refreshment, and then resumed our journey towards Ashborne. In
passing through the streets of Leek we noticed a number of weavers at
their looms, and obtained permission to go into the weaving places and see
them. The rooms where they worked were on the upper floors of the
houses; they were in general very clean; the work was all in the silk
small-ware line, and many of the weavers were young girls—some of them
good-looking, most of them very neatly attired, and many with costly
combs, earrings, and other ornaments of value, showing that they earned a
sufficiency of wages, and had imbibed a taste for the refinements of
dress. The sight of these young females, sitting at their elegant
employment, producing rich borderings and trimmings, in good, well-aired,
and well-finished apartments—some of them approached by stairs with
carpets and oil cloths on them—the girls also being dressed in a style
which two hundred years before would have been deemed rich for a squire's
daughter, was to me very gratifying; whilst to my travelling companions it
was equally surprising, and they expressed their feelings by sundry
exclamations of astonishment.
The afternoon was very hot, and we walked slowly—that is, I
and the woman did—for poor John was sadly hobbled with his sore feet and
we had to keep sitting down and waiting on the road for him to come up.
At length we gave him an hour's respite by stopping at a public house
about four miles from Ashborne. It was almost dark when we entered
that very clean and pleasant little town. At the first inn we went
into we found accommodation, and, after partaking a good warm supper, with
some hearty draughts of old ale and pipes for a dessert, we sought that
repose which had now become necessary.
The next morning we were up again early and continued my plan
of travelling—namely, to walk a good stretch before breakfast. We
sat down after walking about six miles; our meal was as good as we could
wish—coffee and eggs for the woman and myself, and ale, cheese, and bread
for friend John. We were now in a right farming country where large
stacks, barns, and cattle-sheds were quite common on the roadsides.
The roads were broad and in good condition, and there were very often wide
slips of good land on each side, apparently much trodden by cattle.
Occasionally we came to a neat, homely-looking cottage, with perhaps a
large garden and a potato-ground attached, and with rose shrubs and
honeybines clustering around the door. These were specimens of our
real English homes; there was no mistaking them; in no other country do
such exist, and he or she who leaves this land expecting to meet with like
homes in foreign ones, will be miserably disappointed. In England
alone is the term "home," with all its domestic comforts and associations,
properly understood. May it long continue the home of the brave, and
eventually become the home of the really free!
We stopped but a short time at Derby; I visited, however, the
grave of Jeremiah Brandreth, in St. Cuthbert's churchyard, and paid to the
remains of that deluded victim a tribute of heartfelt emotion. I
then joined my comrades and we hastened on, as well as John's feet would
allow him, towards Shardlow. There he got into a cart, and the
female and I walked on, promising to wait at Kegworth till the cart
arrived. Some rain had fallen a few days before; the Trent had been
flooded, and of all the verdant pastures I had ever beheld, none have
surpassed the rich, vivid green of the meadows between Shardlow and
Kegworth. It was refreshing to look upon them, and as the sweet air
came across them, cooling one's dewy brows, one almost felt tempted to
stop and seek an abiding-place in that delicious valley.
During our walk we had a very agreeable chat; I entered into
some particulars of my early life and into matters always interesting to
females, namely, the histories of some tender attachments which I had
formed, but which had lapsed, either through my own indifference, or, as I
was pleased to suppose, the faithlessness of the objects I loved.
This seemed to touch a tender chord in my companion, she was all
attention, and when I paused, she put questions which compelled me to
resume my narrative. I spoke of the noble and exalted pleasures of
true affection, and pictured the sickening pangs of love betrayed, and the
unhappiness which must eventually haunt the betrayer, whether man or
woman. I repeated some verses of poetry, which heightened the
picture, and at last, on looking aside, I found that her cheeks were
glistening with tears. She now became more communicative, and
informed me that she had somewhat to accuse herself of with respect to a
young man, the first indeed whose addresses she had encouraged: that she
now often thought she behaved coldly towards him without any just cause,
and that, in consequence, the lad enlisted and joined his regiment before
his friends knew what had become of him; that she soon afterwards was
married, and he was killed in battle. Weeping freely, she added that
at times she accused herself of having been the cause of his death.
I consoled her as well as I could by the reflection that her conduct
appeared to have risen more from youthful carelessness than want of
feeling. She said he was an only child, and his mother was still
living, and she thought if she could get settled down beside the old woman
it would afford her some consolation to assist her and be a child to her
in her old age. I approved of this with all my heart; and now, being
at Kegworth, we stepped into a public house and awaited the arrival of the
cart, which soon came up, and after a cup or two of ale betwixt John and
myself, and a whiff of tobacco, we set forward, and a short journey
through a pleasant neighbourhood brought us to Loughborough.
Nothing would satisfy my fellow travellers but my
accompanying them to the house of the old folks, as they called them.
I was not much averse to going with them, especially as I knew that I must
stop somewhere in the town all night. I accordingly accompanied them
along several streets and turnings, until we were in a humble but
decent-looking thoroughfare, when, knocking at the door, the woman in a
whisper told me her parents lived there. A tall, venerable looking
dame opened the door, and in a moment our female traveller was locked in
her arms. A cheerful, clear-complexioned old man at the same time
got up from his chair and shook John heartily by the hand, and on John
mentioning me as a fellow traveller, he gave me a like frank reception.
He then embraced his daughter, and when the first emotions of tenderness
were over, we sat down to a very comfortable but homely refection, and the
family party became quite cheerful and communicative. Meantime the
news had got abroad amongst the neighbours, several came in, and in a
short time we were joined by a fine-looking girl, a younger daughter of
the old folks, who had been at work in one of the manufactories. In
short, we had a joyful family and neighbourly meeting; liquor was sent
for, a young fellow tuned up his fiddle, and the old couple led off a
dance, which was followed by others; liquor was brought in abundance, and
the hours flew uncounted.
John and I and the old man were seated in a corner smoking
and conversing, when I observed the younger sister come in somewhat
fluttered. She took the old mother and her sister aside, and by the
expression of their countenances and the motion of her hands, I perceived
that something troublesome and mysterious had occurred. In fact, she
was explaining to them, as I afterwards learned, that in going to the
public house for more liquor she had to pass a stagecoach which was
stopped, and that on looking up she saw a young soldier getting off the
coach, with his knapsack slung on one shoulder and a foraging-cap pulled
over his face, but she saw enough to convince her that he was Robert—the
same who once courted her sister and who they had heard was killed in
battle. This news, as may be imagined, was soon known in the house,
and caused a great sensation, particularly amongst the women. We had
just learned the cause of their whisperings, when the door opened and a
young fellow, pale, slender, and well formed, wearing regimentals and an
undress cap, and with a knapsack properly adjusted, stepped respectfully
into the room and, seeing the old woman, he put out his hand and took hers
and spoke to her affectionately, calling her mother. She gazed a
moment on his face, as if incredulous of what she beheld. The
company had drawn in a half circle at a distance around them; John, myself
and the old man kept our seats, the younger sister stood beside her
mother, and the married one was on a low seat behind her.
"I scarcely know what to say to you, Robert," said the old
woman. "I am glad to see you have escaped death, for your mother's
sake, but I almost wish you had not called here to-night."
"And why not, mother? my other mother," he said, trying to
force a smile. "Why not call at a house where I left friends, and mayhap a
little of something more than friendship?"
"Nothing beyond friendship now, Robert," said the mother,
endeavouring to appear cool.
"Why, where is Margaret?" he said; "I hope nothing has
"Margaret is your friend," said the. old woman, "but she is
nothing more now. Yonder sits her husband," pointing to John.
John advanced towards the young man and took his hand, and,
looking towards Margaret, said he believed she had been his wife about two
The soldier trembled, and staggered to a seat.
Margaret got up and gave her hand to the young soldier,
saying she welcomed him home with all the regard of a sister. She
was now married, as he had heard, and was about to settle in Loughborough,
and if he had never returned, his old mother should not have wanted the
tender offices of a child whilst she lived.
"Thank you, Margaret," he said; "that is some consolation;
you wouldn't neglect my old mother, I know." He put his hand over
his eyes and burst into tears.
"I would not, Robert," she said, "and if in former times I
did not value you as perhaps you deserved, I was willing to make the only
atonement I could by cheering the drooping years of your supposed
"That is very good!" "very fair on both sides!" "very
handsome!" said a number of voices. Neither of the interested
parties spoke, they were both deeply affected.
The old woman and youngest daughter then conducted Margaret
into another room. The old man shook hands with the soldier and
endeavoured to cheer him. Meantime, information had been conveyed to
Robert's mother, and she now entered the room, shaking and leaning on a
stick. The meeting was most tender; it was such as could only take
place betwixt a parent and child equally affectionate. The dancing
had at first been given up; a warm, substantial supper was in a short time
spread on the board; Robert and his mother took some of the refreshment
and then went home. Margaret did not make her appearance.
Shortly after supper I was conducted to lodgings at an inn, and spent most
of the night in confused dreams of the strange scenes which, like those of
a romance, had passed before me.
The following morning I breakfasted at the old folks,
according to promise. I asked not any question, nor did I hear
anything further. Margaret's eyes appeared as if she had been
weeping. John was attentive to her, and she seemed as if she valued
his attentions, but could not entirely cast the weight from her heart.
I left the family, to pursue my way, and John accompanied me as far as
Quorn, where we parted, and I never saw him afterwards.
I merely walked through Mountsorrel, and leaving Rothley on
my right, where many Knights Templars lie interred, I pushed on to
Leicester, where, having spent the remainder of the day in looking at
various antiquities, particularly the chamber in which Richard III. slept
on the night previous to the battle of Bosworth, and the bridge over which
his dead body was thrown on its return, I took up my abode for the night
at a respectable looking little pot-house. Here I met with excellent
accommodation, and enjoyed the lively conversation of some
stocking-weavers, who, when they learned from whence I came and the share
I had borne in Lancashire politics, would almost have carried me in their
The following morning I pursued my journey, and passing
through a fine country, consisting of sheep pastures and arable land, I
dined at Market Harborough, and in the afternoon went on to Northampton.
I scarcely knew where to apply for lodgings; there were so
many snug-looking public houses that I was spoiled with choice. At
length I entered one of the said neat-looking places and asked a decent
elderly woman if I could have lodgings there. She frankly said at
once that I could not, they were full of soldiers; and, in fact, I had
seen a large number on parade as I came through the town. I asked if
she could direct me to a place, and she pointed to a respectable looking
house a little higher in the street. I went there, but received the
same reply; they were "full of soldiers," and I learned that the latter
were but just come into the town and were on their march to Liverpool, for
Ireland. I now was directed to a public house where coachmen and
guards stopped, and where many travellers were in the habit of resting.
It was getting late and almost dark, and I determined not to be shuffled
out of this next place by any pretence. I entered a rather handsome
bar parlour, where a numerous company was sitting, apparently farmers, who
were taking their pipes and glass, after the fair or market. I asked
the landlady, a smart but unassuming woman, if I could have a bed for the
night. From the moment I entered she had been eyeing me over, and
seeing, as I suppose, my shoes all dust, and myself a brown, and not a
very polished-looking customer, she said she was very sorry, but there was
not a bed to spare in the house, so many soldiers had brought billets that
they were quite full. I drew my hand across my brows, looked at my
feet, rather feelingly, and requesting she would serve me with a pint of
ale, I sat down. The ale was brought, and I gave it a hearty pull,
and then asked for a pipe and tobacco, which were placed before me.
My next order was for something to eat, intimating that a chop or a steak,
with a hot potato, would be preferred. Meantime, I drank up my ale
and called for another pint, and sat smoking and chatting with the farmers
quite in a comfortable way. When they heard I came from Lancashire
they made many inquiries as to late events and present prospects, and I
told them all they required so far as my information went, and as candidly
and fairly as my judgment enabled me, and we became very agreeable
company. When my supper was brought in I despatched it with a hearty
relish, and then, having ordered some brandy and water, I called the
landlady to receive my shot, observing that it was time I should look out
for lodgings—for I wished to try what fair means would do first.
"Oh!" she said, "make yourself comfortable, young man; you seem to be very
good company, and we'll make you a bed somehow or other, you shall see."
"Another glass, sir, did you say?" asked the maid, who stood at her
mistress's elbow. I nodded assent, and thus got installed for the
night, and had a most excellent lodging.
I have been the more circumstantial in narrating this
transaction, inasmuch as it contains a useful intimation to foot
travellers. I have never since, save on two occasions, tried the
experiment of getting lodgings at a public house in the way I put the
question on this night, and on those occasions I took the plan more from
curiosity than any other motive. A foot traveller, if he is really
desirous to obtain lodgings, should never stand asking about them.
He should walk into a good room—never into the common tap-room—put his
dusty feet under a table, ring the bell pretty smartly, and order
something to eat and drink, and not speak in the humblest of tones.
He will be served quickly and respectfully—that is, if those two things
happen to be understood at the house. After his repast he should
take his pipe or cigar if he be a smoker, and whether he be or not, he
should drink, chat, and make himself quite at ease until bed-time, when
all he has to do will be to call the chambermaid and ask her to light him
to bed. That will be done as a matter of course, and he will
probably have saved himself a tramp round the town in search of lodgings,
and probably, after all, the making of his own bed under a manger or in a
STOKE GOLDINGTON—AN IMPORTANT FUNCTIONARY—A BETRAYED ONE—A COUNTRY
ALEHOUSE—AN ALARM—A SUDDEN DEPARTURE—A MAGISTRATE AND HIS CLERK—AN
AT six o'clock the following morning, the weather
still delightful, I left Northampton. With feelings of veneration I
stopped to admire the fine old cross, as it is called, erected on the spot
where the body of Eleanor, Queen of Edward I., rested on its way to
London. Near this place, as I was informed by a finger-post, the
road to Needwood Forest diverged, and I longed for an opportunity to range
through these interesting haunts of our English yeomen of old, but my
imaginative wanderings were soon checked by the information which a
countryman gave me, that the forest lands were nearly all enclosed.
At a little quiet, retired public house on the Northampton
side of Stoke Goldington I stopped for breakfast. I chose to halt
here for two reasons: the first, because I wished to pay my respects to a
worthy old couple, if they were still living, and the second, because I
had walked about eleven miles, and was hungry. When, in my
nineteenth year, I was absconding from a ship at London, weary, exhausted,
and anxious lest I should be pressed, I called at nightfall at this public
house, then kept by a decent elderly man and his wife with several
children. I was in my sailor's dress, with but little money in my
pocket, and I told the good folks my situation. They could not find
me a bed in the house, but they took pity on me, and shook me down some
good clean straw in an out-building, where, with the ducks for my
companions in one corner, and the fowls in the other, I spent a night of
sleep that might have blessed a king. The kind people also gave me a
breakfast of milk and bread in the morning, and when very gratefully and
willingly I offered payment, they refused to receive anything. I
could not therefore pass their door without calling to thank them, but I
found them not there; they were both, I believe, dead, and the people now
at the house knew nothing about the circumstance which had made me a
debtor to their predecessors.
Whilst I sat enjoying my repast, a portly country-looking
personage, with an air of some authority, came into the kitchen where
several others were. He was followed by a neatly and plainly attired
young woman, who sat down at a respectful distance, and seemed to shun
observation. I soon learned from the tenor of his conversation with
the landlord that he was a kind of deputy-constable in some of the
neighbouring townships, and that the young woman was going with him before
a magistrate, on a charge which would send her to prison, for having
become a mother without producing a legitimate father for her offspring.
This was enough to interest me in behalf of the girl, even had not the
coarse jokes of the constable and one or two others excited my disgust and
strong aversion. I once or twice put in a word of a civil and rather
exculpatory tendency, for which I almost got laughed at by the men, but
was repaid by the modest and grateful looks of the poor girl. The
son of the squire's coachman had, as I understood, been courting the
damsel two or three years, but when she was in a way for bringing a charge
upon him, he had nearly ceased visiting her, and had entirely given over
talking about marriage. These circumstances, which to the young
woman must be matters of deep affliction and shame, were to the country
boors subjects for scornful and bitter joking, all of which she bore very
meekly and, what made me think better of her, with a good sense and
self-respectful manner which prevented her from making the least reply.
She sat with her head not entirely downcast, but with an air of shame,
indignation, and repentance, whilst blushes, paleness, and tears, were
alternately visible on her cheeks. I ardently wished for an
opportunity for getting her out of the hands of these ruffians, and
particularly of the one who had charge of her, and as I had learned the
constable and she were going my way, I determined to avail myself of any
chance for that purpose. I therefore fell to cultivating a good
opinion with the functionary; I gave him some tobacco, and my glass to
drink from, and in a short time he was telling about the numerous perils
he had gone through in his apprehension of thieves, poachers, and
trespassers; on the sound judgment his office required, and the courage
and activity he had on sundry occasions displayed, whilst I wondered how
so rare a constable could have remained so long in a humble country
situation. At length he must go, and as he said he should be glad of
my company as far as we went, we all three left the public. house.
We had not got far ere a young fellow, apparently a farm
labourer, climbed over a stile from the fields and joined us. He was
going to a doctor, he said, having had his face, some weeks before,
injured by a young colt kicking him. His head and features were
bandaged so that none of them were visible save his eyes and part of his
nose. He walked with us, saying very little, but occasionally
sighing, as it were from pain. I observed the young woman glancing
rather doubtfully towards him once or twice, but neither she nor the
constable seemed to know him. After walking some distance the
constable said he had to turn off across the fields to a village. He
said I might as well go that way, as the foot-road led into the highway
again, and was as short, and there was an excellent tap at the alehouse,
where we could have a glass after his business was done. I agreed,
for I wanted to see something more of this affair, and so I stepped with
him, his prisoner, and the young man into the meadow path—for the doctor
also lived in the same village. We soon arrived at the little
hamlet, and the constable inquired of a servant in livery if "his worship
was at home?" He said he was, and would be downstairs in half an
hour, and if he called then he would see him. We stepped into a
public house, where we ordered some ale, and having found it very good, we
began to smoke, having agreed, very philosophically, that it was the
wisest course to "take things easy in this world." We had sat thus,
blowing clouds for some time, and going on our second jug, when the young
fellow came suddenly into the room, and, gazing wildly, said a person was
killed just above, and the doctor had sent him for a constable, as they
could not remove the body until one arrived. Our active officer
then, potent with ale and authority, laid down his pipe, pulled out his
staff, took a huge draught, and charging me with the custody of the young
woman until he returned, he hurried out of the house. As soon as he
had disappeared, "here," I said to the girl, "take that shilling, and run
for thy life." The young fellow at the same time pulled his bandages
from his face; a scream burst from the girl, he laid hold of her arm, I
turned to light my pipe, and the next instant they had disappeared.
I then hastened up the lane in search of my active coadjutor,
and met him coming down swearing and brandishing his truncheon.
"Where are they?" I said, for I thought I would be first to speak.
"Where are who?" he asked. "Why the young Jezebel and that fellow
with the broken face?" "Where are they?" he repeated, glaring on me
with his two eyes as if they would have started from his head.
"Where are they indeed?" "You should know where one is at least." I
then told him in a somewhat deprecatory tone that I only turned to the
fire to light my pipe, and when I looked again both the prisoner and the
young fellow were gone. "But you are not gone at any rate," he
replied, "nor shall you go until you have been before the justice to
answer for this. Come along," he said, "come this way," and laying
hold of my arm he reconducted me to the public house. "Heigh ho!" I
said, "there's nothing like taking things easy in this world." "D—
you and your easiness," he retorted, quite in a rage. "John," he
said to the ostler, "go and see if his worship is astir yet." John
went and soon returned with the tidings that his worship was ready.
My conductor and I then went into the house of the worthy magistrate, and
were met at the yard door by a set of very cross pointers and cock-dogs,
who made a general assault as if they would have worried us, and myself in
particular, for they seemed to have barked at my companion before.
We were conducted into a neat carpeted room, where his worship and his
clerk sat at a table covered with a green cloth, and with a number of
papers and writing materials before them. "Well, Andrew!" said the
clerk, a thin, sallow, suspicious-eyed person, "where is the girl you were
to bring?" "Lord bless his honour's worship," said Andrew, "I left
her in the custody of this here man and he's let her run away."
"How's that?" asked his worship, lifting his eyes from a Game Act which he
had been perusing. "How did you come to leave her in this man's
charge? I thought you had been an older officer and had known better
than that," said his worship. "May it please your honour's worship,"
said the constable, "I and the girl and this said prisoner, that now is,
were awaiting your honour's pleasure in the public house, when in comes a
scurvy knave as was awaiting o' the doctor, and said there was a person
killed, and I must go and take charge of the corpse; so I 'livered my
prisoner into this man's charge, and away I went arter the corpse, and
when I had run up and down o' the village, I couldn't hear o' no corpse,
and the people all, sir, a-laughing at me."
The clerk gave a dark and bitter frown, the magistrate burst
out a-laughing heartily. I laughed too; in fact, I had been doing so
in my mind during the last half hour. When the clerk saw the
magistrate laugh he was suddenly taken with a like cheerful sensation, and
we all three laughed at Andrew, the constable.
"Well," said the magistrate, composing himself, "but what has
this to do with the loss of your prisoner?"
"Please your honour," said the constable, "before I went
a-seeking the corpse I left the girl in charge of this man, who I believe
is no better than he should be, and when I came back he tells me the girl
had run away whilst he was a-lighting of his pipe."
"How was it?" asked the magistrate, addressing me. I
gave him the same account I had given the constable, on which he first,
and then the clerk, burst into a hearty fit of laughter, to the apparently
sore puzzlement of the constable, who seemed to think it a subject of too
grave a nature for such light entertainment.
"What do you wish his worship to do in this case, Andrew?"
asked the clerk.
"I wish his honour would send this here man to jail instead
of the girl," was the reply.
"Can we do that?" asked the magistrate, half serious, half
"We can hold him in sureties if Andrew undertakes to prefer a
bill against him at the assizes," was the reply in the same strain.
"Let it be done then," said his worship. "Andrew, you will be
bound in a bond of fifty pounds to prosecute this charge at the next
"Please your honour's worship, I'd rather be excused," said
Andrew, looking alarmed. "Who's to pay expenses?"
"I rather think the prisoner won't pay, at any rate," said
his worship; "those who prosecute will have the first chance of that."
"Then I couldn't do it," said the constable; "I'd rather not
have any hand in the affair."
"Is the man to be discharged then?" asked the magistrate.
"Yes, if your honour pleases," said the constable; "I don't
like them ere bonds."
The magistrate then asked me what I was and where I came
from, and I told him I was a weaver and came from Lancashire.
He asked me where I was going to and for what purpose, and I
told him I was on my way to London in expectation of getting a place.
Had I relatives in London, and what sort of a place did I
expect to obtain? I said I had not any relatives in London, but I
had some good friends, and I had little doubt of getting a situation under
"Under Government," said he, with surprise; the clerk also
elevated his eyebrows.
"Yes, sir," said I, half laughing; "I'm going up in
expectation of a Government place."
"The man is non compos," said the magistrate in an
"Very likely, sir," replied the clerk.
"You are discharged, then," said the magistrate. "We
can't do anything with you unless there be an undertaking to prosecute."
I bowed respectfully to his worship, gave the clerk a
questionable smile, and quitting the room, I made the best of my way to
the public house, where I had left my bundle and stick.
Another person had come in whilst we were away, and the
landlady had told him about the girl running off and my being taken
prisoner. This person was an attorney's clerk, and he took up my
cause earnestly, and advised me to prosecute the constable for a false
imprisonment. He was giving me that advice when the constable
returned. I pretended to entertain the project, and when the
official became aware of the subject on which we were deliberating, he
became very uneasy, and seemed almost willing to make any compromise
rather than be under the clutches of the other "limb of the law." At
length, after I had sufficiently tormented him, I agreed to a settlement,
the terms of which were that he should pay for a quantity of ale, I and
the attorney's clerk, whom I found to be a queer, ironical fellow,
agreeing to pay for as much to come in after his was drank.
We had sat here rather a considerable time, and had got into
high good humour with each other and the liquor, when the sounds of voices
and a fiddle were heard approaching the house, and in a minute after in
walked the girl we had prisoner in the morning, arm in arm with a young
fellow, who, by his speech and dress, we recognised as the one with the
patched face; in short, they were the two runaways, followed by some half
a dozen young men, two young women, and an elderly person fiddling.
They had been at church and had got wed, the banns having been published
there some months before. They were now all ready for dancing,
singing, and mirth; I scarcely ever saw a set of happier-looking
countenances; the lad was in raptures; the bride seemed to have more
self-command than any in the place. She thanked me most gratefully
for the kindly feelings I had evinced; her husband joined her, and I found
it of no use offering to break up from the wedding party. The
constable was quite reconciled, as the charge, he said, would be taken off
the township, and the ratepayers would deem it no bad day's work of his.
The attorney offered his friendly services in reconciling the squire's
coachman to the match, and the landlady brought in a posset of spiced ale
for the wedding feast. The fiddler rosined his bow afresh, and
played up a jig that set all the lads a-capering. In short, we ate
and drank and danced the afternoon away. Evening followed, night
came, and then the noon of night; and the last scenes I committed to
memory were the fiddler falling from his chair and smashing his viol, and
the attorney painting the constable's face delicately with a
blacking-brush whilst the latter person was fast asleep.
The next morning I was at Newport Pagnel at an early hour.
The place had a most romantic appearance as I approached it. There
must have been heavy rains
upwards, for the Ouse had overflowed its banks, and numerous cattle were
grazing on small green islets surrounded by the flood. The weather
continued all that a foot traveller could wish, and I walked on leisurely,
enjoying the cooling breeze, the odour of flowers, and the music of birds
some six or eight miles until I arrived at the celebrated village of
Woburn, where I stepped into the first public house I came to on the
left-hand side—I think it was the sign of the "Bedford Arms." The
place seemed very fine, and the people I saw moving about looked, I
thought, in a strange supercilious way at me; none of them stopped to ask
what I wanted. At length I desired a woman to bring me a glass of
ale, intending it as a preliminary to breakfast. She did not pause a
moment to receive my order, but looking, down, swept past me. "Bless
us," I thought, "what sort of a public house have I got into now?"
No one attended to me, and soon after I asked again for a glass of ale;
this servant also went away without speaking, but in a short time a female
of a superior appearance came and said they did not entertain foot
travellers. I expressed my surprise at that, and assured her I was
both able and willing to pay for whatever I called for. She said she
did not doubt it, but it was an invariable rule of the house not to serve
persons travelling on foot, and the rule could not be departed from.
Could I not have a draught of ale? I asked. No, foot travellers
could not have anything there. I accordingly rose, and replacing my
bundle on my shoulder, I begged her to inform her employer that the rule
of the house might bring trouble and humiliation sometime, inasmuch as, if
other engagements did not press me, I would go before the nearest
magistrate, or the Duke of Bedford himself, and prefer a complaint against
the occupier for refusing to entertain a traveller without sufficient
cause. She smiled at my law (as well she might, having scanned my
appearance, and thence formed an opinion of my purse), and said there were
other places in the village where I might have whatever refreshment I
wanted; and then, probably thinking she had wasted time enough on me, she
turned and walked off, and I came out of that inhospitable and
pride-infected place. At another inn I met with a reception the very
reverse of the first; the people, both landlord and servants, were very
obliging and attentive. I made a good breakfast, rested, chatted,
and received an invitation to call there again if I came that way.
I wonder whether the people of the Duke's Arms are yet in
business? and if they are, whether, like scores of their arrogant
brotherhood, they have not been so far humbled by those great levellers,
the railways, that if a wayfaring man now enters their house he can have a
cup of ale for money? I walked to Redburn to dinner, which consisted
of a plain but delicious repast at a very humble pothouse. Here I
remarked a horseshoe nailed inside the weather board of the door, and on
my pretending ignorance of its purpose, and asking what it was for, an old
wrinkled dame, seemingly the mother of the household, told me with perfect
seriousness that it was to keep all witches and bewitched persons and
things out of the place, and that so long as it remained there nothing
under the influence of witchcraft could enter.
At St. Albans I walked amid the ruins of the old Abbey,
having previously passed a fragment of a wall in the meadows below,
undoubtedly a part of the remains of the British city of Verulam. I
lingered rather long with these scenes, and it was getting dark when I
passed the Obelisk at Barnet, where the famous battle was fought in the
Wars of the Roses. Every step I advanced to-day, the people, their
houses, and their manners, became more Londonish; and it will not then
appear surprising that at the first public house I went into I was made
welcome to comfortable quarters, and so remained there during the night.
The next morning I walked into London, and took my breakfast at a
A CRUISE AMONGST THE BOOKSELLERS-VISIT TO MR. HUNT—LONDON POLITICIANS AND
JURY REFORM—A PAINFUL DISCOVERY.
MY next business now was to examine the state of my
purse, which was speedily done, and found scarcely able to make a jink,
however shaken. My next consideration was how to set about
replenishing it. I had, in contemplation of some such dilemma as the
present, brought with me from Lancashire some manuscript poems, which I
felt pretty confident of being able to sell for a decent sum, should I be
in want of money during my stay in London. I was already in want of
it, or about to be, and I was thus driven to my last resource the first
day of my arrival. I wished to raise some money immediately, in
order that I might be enabled to redeem some things which I had directed
to be sent by the carrier, and be thereby enabled to appear before my
friends in a respectable garb.
I therefore inquired my way to Ave Maria Lane, and went into
a great publishing establishment there; but, without waiting to see my
productions, they told me they could not do anything with poetry. At
another place, in Paternoster Row, I could not see the great man because I
had not a letter of introduction. I went down Ludgate, and into the
shop of William Hone, but he was out of town. At a shop in the
Strand the brown paper enclosure of my effusions was first opened, a
glance given at the contents, myself scanned over, and the writings
returned, with an assurance that' "It wouldn't take." At a grand
place in Oxford Street the shopmen stood laughing at me, as I verily
believed, under pretence of being diverted by my Lancashire rhymes; and at
a similar establishment in one of the wide streets beyond Charing Cross I
received the comfortable advice to return home and remain at my loom.
Alas! I thought, I wish I could return home.
I had now enough of the poet's trade, at least for one day,
"The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,"
and, wearied and disappointed, I turned my footsteps towards the lodgings
of my friend Hunt, at Mr. Giles's, in Wych Street. To be sure the
booksellers were not entirely blamable; my appearance was, no doubt,
somewhat against me. My clothes and shoes were covered with dust, my
linen soiled, and my features brown and weathered like leather; which
circumstances, in consideration with my stature, and gaunt appearance,
made me an object not of the most agreeable or poetical cast. Still,
I thought these booksellers must be very owls at mid-day not to conceive
the possibility of finding good ore under a rude exterior like mine.
And then I bethought me—and comforted myself therewith, inasmuch as others
had trodden the same weary road before me—of Otway, and Savage, and
Chatterton, and of the great son of learning, as ungainly as
myself—Samuel, the lexicographer—and, I might have added, of Crabbe, and
others of later date, but their names had not then caught my ear.
And thus, musing as I went, and chewing bitters until they almost became
sweets, I once more found myself in the shop of Mr. Giles, the bread
baker, in Wych Street.
I asked for the good old man, and a plump, short-statured
lady in mourning advanced from an inner room. I saw in a moment that
she was Mrs. Giles, and, smitten with a saddening thought, I ventured to
ask for her husband. She informed me civilly, but not in that
friendly tone I had been accustomed to there, that Mr. Giles was dead,
that she was keeping the business on, and that Mr. Hunt had removed to an
address which she gave me, in Charlotte Street, Oxford Street.
The afternoon was far advanced, when, after traversing a part
of the town I had never seen before, I knocked at the door of a very
respectable looking house, and asked for Mr. Hunt, and on sending up my
name was instantly admitted. I had not long been in the house before
a very respectable repast of bread, butter, and a beverage made from
roasted corn was set before me, and I partook of it with a relish, though
I was never very fond of "corn coffee"; but as we all know, "hunger is the
best sauce." Many questions of course were asked on both sides, and
matters were discussed; and after conversing about an hour, as night was
setting in, I took up my bundle and stick, received a hearty shake of the
hand, with an invitation to "come to-morrow"—"come any time." And
so, bidding my friend and his family good evening, I left the house and
turned into the street, to go I knew not whither.
"This is not the way," thought I, "in which I treat my
friends from a distance when they call upon me in Lancashire. I
should not have let Mr. Hunt leave my dwelling, humble as it is, without
knowing whither he was going, and how he was to be entertained." But
then came the old excuse, "It is the way of great folks," "one of the
peculiarities of London," and so forth; and cogitating on this and various
other matters, I retraced my steps, as well as I could find my way, to
Mrs. Giles's, in Wych Street.
I thought the widow seemed more friendly after I had
expressed disappointment at my visit to Mr. Hunt. I asked her if
there was a decent tavern in her neighbourhood which she could recommend
as a comfortable place for lodging. She expressed entire ignorance
of any of them, but said one of the journeymen could possibly inform me;
and she called one, who recommended a house in Newcastle Street, close by,
as a suitable and likely place for stopping at. She sent him to
inquire if they could lodge a person from the country, and in a short time
he returned, saying I could have a very good bed there if I chose. I
accordingly went with the man, who showed me the house, and I entered the
public room, and, taking my seat at a table opposite the boxes, I ordered
a pint of beer, as they call it, and bread and cheese for my supper.
I had finished my repast, and sat smoking, when three or four
persons entered the room, and commenced a conversation which became
animated. They were, as I soon learned, some of the London
politicians of the working class, and the subject was the English jury
system. It was, if I mistake not, the approaching trial of
Thistlewood and his companions which led to this discussion. One
party would have it that the English jury was one of the most complete
inventions which human wisdom could have accomplished, and they landed it
as fervently, and with about as much sense, as a certain class of
politicians are in the habit of lauding our "glorious constitution," a
thing which exists in imagination only. Another party thought that
the system was faulty, and instanced the packing of juries, and a third
party thought the verdict should go according to the majority. I sat
listening attentively, but did not interfere, until at last one of the
speakers asked my opinion of the subject in dispute.
I frankly confessed that I differed from the whole of them,
and thought the English jury one of the most bungling pieces of judicial
machinery which could have been put together, and I noticed several
instances of its clumsy and imperfect operation within my own knowledge,
not, however, mentioning the late trial at York. I asked how it
could be otherwise, seeing the manner in which jurymen were selected.
In the country I came from I said they were generally men who had just the
brute instinct of beavers, to scrape a little substance together and to
keep it, but who for all other purposes were far behind their neighbours;
and infinitely so in qualifications necessary for deciding betwixt right
and wrong, guilt and innocence. A time would come, as I ventured to
suppose, when that piece of old trumpery would be done away with
altogether; meanwhile I would, had I the power, endeavour to render it
more useful by ordering, in a legal way, that all jurymen should be
elected by ballot in each township, that their appointment should be
annulled at the will of those who appointed them, that property should not
qualify, that five, seven, or nine should be the number, and a majority
should carry a verdict, that all juries, whether grand juries, coroner's
juries, or loot juries, should be taken from this body, and that they
should be paid from county or other rates, independent of the crown.
This plan was generally approved of, and I should have been honoured with
a speech or two in compliment, but happily the girl came with the chamber
candle, and so bidding my London patriots good night, I retired from their
After ascending several heights of stairs, I demurred, and
asked the girl how much further upwards we must go? She begged
pardon, and said the bed intended for me was on the second floor, and had
been occupied by a lodger during a fortnight; he had gone away and they
did not expect him that week, but he had suddenly returned and claimed his
old bed. Against this I could not adduce any argument, especially as
it was too late to go out that night, and so, following my guide, I
climbed to the uppermost floor of the house. I looked at the
apartment, which did not please me very well; it was of no use, however,
beginning then to be very nice, and so I threw down my bundle and stick,
whilst the girl, with the candle in her hand, reminded me that it was
customary for strangers to pay before going to bed. "Oh! very well,"
I said; "how how much is it?"—not thinking the charge would be more than
sixpence at most. "Eighteenpence, if you please, sir," said the girl.
I put my hand hastily into my pocket, and pulling out all the money I had,
I counted it, and found it to be just a penny short of the demand, namely,
one shilling and fivepence. "Well, lass," I said, "this is all the
money I have in the world, and it is a penny too little," and I looked, as
much as to say, "Will it do?" "Never mind, sir," she replied; "you
will be calling some clay in going past, and you can give the penny to
master or mistress." I said I would do so, and the girl then bidding
me good night, left the room.
I had never slept on so mean a bed as was presented on my
turning down the clothes. I had slept for weeks on old sails in the
half-deck of a ship, or in the cable tier, and slept comfortably, but I
had never lain on anything that looked and smelled so filthy as the
narrow, hard couch now before me. I, however, threw myself upon it
and wooed forgetfulness, in order to escape from disgust, but there was
such a racket on the other side of the partition as for a long time
forbade all repose, and convinced me that I had got into a not very
respectable house. When at last all was still and I was beginning to
sleep, the peaceful charm was broken by the entrance of a drunken soldier,
who rolled into another bed, and kept me awake by narrating various
sprees, as he called them, in which he had been engaged during the day.
At length he also became oblivious, and his very welcome snore informed me
that I was at liberty to sleep if I could. The "sweet restorer" soon
came, and when I awoke in the morning my noisy companion was gone,
probably to attend an early parade."
I was not long in dressing, as may be supposed. I
merely coaxed the holes in my stockings a little lower, and turned my
neck-kerchief the cleaner side out, and my embellishments were finished.
There was no water or towel in the room, and I would not make free with
soldier Jack's blacking, as I had nothing to satisfy his demand should he
return and make one. I therefore slipped on my shoes and clothes,
dusty and soiled as they were the night before, and grasping my trusty
cudgel and my bundle, I sallied from the room, wishful to get a breath of
sweet air, if there were any such in London. As I passed along a
kind of landing, a door opened just before me, and out stepped, as quietly
as an old hen off her perch in a morning, as demure a looking piece of
purity as the world ever exhibited. As she turned to go clown the
stairs I caught a glance of her face. She was almost forty years of
age, with rather agreeable features, modest and humble looks, as if she
had been at prayers, and was dressed in second mourning of the most devout
cut. "A mother in Israel," indeed, would that frail dame have passed
for. As I followed her towards the door I really felt in a degree
ashamed at being seen corning out with her. I involuntarily turned
towards the lady as she went away, and at that moment she gave me a look
which spoke as plainly as a look could speak what was her unfortunate
I sauntered down into the Strand, and turned towards Charing
Cross, not that I had any business in that direction, but I thought a man
without money might as well go one way as another in London. I was
half inclined to believe also that the people I met seemed as if they knew
I was penniless. After wandering an hour or so, looking in at the
shop windows, and gazing at whatever was new, I retraced my steps on the
other side of the street, with the view of calling at the office of The
Black Dwarf, and a faint hope of receiving an invitation to breakfast.
Mr. S. was very glad to see me, and was very civil, but he did not seem to
have any thought about breakfasting, and so, after a short conversation
standing, I went once more into the street. At Mr. West's, the
wire-worker, I was not more fortunate, and my friend, Sir Richard
Phillips, at whose shop I had called the day before, would not be at home
for several days. I consequently had no abiding place save the
street, and I "maundered about," as we say in Lancashire, devising new
expedients, and conjuring up hope almost against despair. I had
become quite wolfish, and the sight of good substantial meats and delicate
viands in the windows of the eating-houses, all of that which in my road I
stopped before and contemplated, tended to increase the pangs of hunger,
which were no ways allayed by the savoury fumes arising from the cooking
cellars. At last I wandered round Fleet Market, and, coming to the
prison, I found a poor debtor begging at the gate.
"Please to bestow a trifle on a poor prisoner," he said.
"God help thee, lad," I replied, "I am more poor than thyself."
"How is that? " he asked.
"Why," I said, "thou has a room to retire to, and a bed to
repose upon, but I have neither home, nor lodging, nor food, nor a
farthing of money towards procuring them!"
"Why, then, God help thee!" he said, "thou art indeed
worse off than myself, except as to liberty."
"And that I may not have long," I said.
He asked me what I meant, and I told him that I was come up
from the country to receive judgment for attending the Manchester meeting.
"If that be the case," he said, "come back in an hour, and if
I get as much as threepence or sixpence, thou shall have it."
I thanked him sincerely and gratefully, and promised I would
come back if no better fortune befel me, and so pleased that I had found
one friend in the course of the morning, though a poor one, I bade him
good-bye, and went on towards Bridge Street.
At sight of the bridge I recollected a gentleman on the other
side of the river who had behaved very kindly to me the last time I was in
London, and I thought I might as well call upon him, for at all events I
could not be more disappointed than I had been. I therefore passed
over the bridge, and soon found the shop of my friend in the main
thoroughfare, called Surrey Road, I think. Several young men were
busy in the shop, and I asked one of them if Mr. Gibb was within?
"Oh, yes," he said. "Is that you, Mr. Bamford?
Walk forward; he's in the sitting-room at breakfast; he'll be glad to see
you; step in."
I thought that was like a lucky beginning, at any rate, and,
without a second invitation, I entered the room.
A glance of one moment brought the gentleman to his feet.
He took my hand and made me sit down, and rang the bell, and ordered
another cup, and more butter and toast, and eggs and ham. "You have
not breakfasted, I suppose?" he said.
I replied that I had not—it was just what I had been wanting
to do during the last hour and a half.
"Bamford," he said, as we went on with our repast, "what's
the matter with you? You don't seem as you did the last time you
were in London."
"How am I changed?" I inquired.
"Why, the last time you were up," he said, "you were all life
and cheerfulness when I saw you, and now you seem quite thoughtful.
Are you afraid of being sent to prison?"
"No," I said, "I was not."
"What's the reason you are so serious?" he asked. I
said "I could not help being so."
"What's the cause?" he said. "Tell me the reason of
this great change?"
"Well, then, to tell you God's truth," I said, "I have not a
farthing in the world, and I could not have had a breakfast if I had not
"Oh! if that's all, man," he said, "make yourself easy again.
Come! take some more, and make a good breakfast," and I took him at his
word, I did make a good breakfast.
When we had finished he took me to his dressing-room, where
were water and towels to wash. He also ordered the servant to clean
my shoes, and found me a clean neck-kerchief and a pair of stockings.
When I returned to the sitting-room I was quite smart, comparatively.
"Now, Bamford," he said, "this is my breakfast hour; at one
we dine, at five take tea, and supper at eight; and so long as you are in
London my table is yours if you will attend at meals. Take this one
pound note (putting one into my hand), and if there is not a change in
your circumstances for the better when that is done come for another."
I thanked him most sincerely. I never was more affected by an act of
kindness in my life. He was in truth, "a friend in need, a friend
19. The name of the place has been changed to Hazel