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and profits as between writer and pub- Swann. The debt to Swann was settled lisher. “ Authors,” he says, “ think that by an advance Burdett made of 3,000l., every book that is printed is so much which was never repaid. Other friends money coined." Cobbett could not have defrayed Cobbett's fine of 1,000l., and described more exactly his own mode of Hansard took over the “ Parliamentary keeping publishing accounts. He reck- History," the “Debates," and the “State oned income and not outgoings. In fact, Trials. the sale neither of the “State Trials," nor The man's nature must have been magof the “Parliamentary History," nor of the nificently buoyant. There is no sign that “Debates," nor of a work soon dropped, he suffered any real affliction at the colcalled " The Spirit of the Public Journals,” lapse of what had seemed to him boundcovered the expenses. The Register | less wealth. The Register fell into a staggered under a dead weight of paper temporary eclipse, but its proprietor's vir. and printer's ink; but Swann made ad- tual insolvency had nothing to do with vances, and Cobbett gaily bought farm that. The cause we believe to have been after'farm, as if he were fast growing into that Cobbett writing Registers in Newa millionaire.

gate lost temporarily his intuitive sympaIt is the story, in a humbler edition, of thy with the emotions and passions of the Scott and the Ballantypes and Constable market-place. Mr. Smith says: “ As time over again, with the intolerable load of wore on, it was seen that the silence of unsalable historical quartos, and the fields defeat was on the side of Mr. Cobbett's added to fields, which the “Waverley Nov- foes. The press ignored him.... Not els" strove so gallantly to sustain. Cob- for several years after this date was there bett half suspected his own prudence. In much desire shown on the part of a mina letter to Wright in 1805, he warns Wright isterial writer to attract the glance of this against" speaking or hinting, in the pres rampant lion.”*. That is a complimentary ence of Mrs. Cobbett, anything relative to way of saying that for the time Cobbett my pecuniary concerns, or concerns in had ceased to be a dangerous adversary. trade, of any sort or kind. She has her Cobbett himself, we believe, put this con. own ideas about such matters, which can- struction upon the silence of his contemnot be altered. She knows I have lost so poraries. He speaks in his letter of Janmuch by printing that she is fearful of ev- uary 1, 1817, to “old George Rose,” as if erything of the kind.". The good, orderly, there were a conspiracy to suppress him bonest-minded wise, who had kept so faith-by an absence of criticism. fully Cobbett's savings from his sergeant's of corruption,” he complains, salary, Cobbett's conscience told him, acted under one common command, abcould not be made a confidante of a busi- stained from even alluding to me or my ness about which Cobbett writes on another writings for more than six years.". It was occasion to Wright: "Only think of hav- all very well to write his series of articles ing another person invested with a right on “Paper against Gold,” and glory that to make us account - us whose accounts he had crushed the government. This, he the devil himself would never unravel. writes, “at the end of thirteen years I No, no; you and I were never made to hold up to the noses of the insolent foes have our accounts examined by anybody who then exulted over me, and tell them, but ourselves.” Subsequently it appeared. This is what you got by my having been that he had not looked at his balance for sentenced to Newgate ; this was the prod.

Yet nothing could be more uce of that deed by which it was hoped beautifully prudent than his advice to oth- and believed that I was pressed down

“ You should economize," he tells never to be able to stir again." The Wright, as much as possible. A horse, Castlereaghs and the Sidmouths were a cow, a house, is soon gone in even tri- aggravatingly indifferent to what Cobbett fling things, which we give in to from mere describes as “this new epoch in the prog. want of strength, and not from our love of ress of my mind.” Articles on the flog. the things themselves.” Wright was not ging of militiamen terrified them; they likely to take advice his counsellor never bore placidly a reproach, in which their tried. The collapse came as soon as Cob- enemy, coupled them with Malthus and bett was in Newgate. On the accounts, Ricardo, of being bad political economists. such as they were, being made up, it ap- Though the fascinations of the currency peared that Wright owed 6,500l. to Cob- question - a very momentous question, it bett; but not a penny of that debt was must be acknowledged, in the years which forthcoming to pay the thousands which Cobbett owed on accommodation bills to

* Vol. il., p. 140.

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preceded and followed Waterloo - never What ! [he exclaims) are you to come crawl. released their hold upon Cobbett's fancy, ing, like sneaking curs, to lick up alms to the he resumed, with his restoration to lib- amount of forty or fifty thousand pounds round erty, less recondite enquiries. Personally with the rest of us, to the amount of 175,000l.

the brim of a soup-kettle, while you are taxed, he may, as he boasted, have preserved his in order to give relief to French and

Dutch equanimity during his two years of gaol; emigrants, and to the poor clergy of the Church but at their close his pen ran riot. The

of England ? I trust that my countrymen have name of Cobbett became a name of terror yet English blood enough left in their veins to and loathing to whole orders of men. He make them reject such alms with scorn and had already attacked tithes. He now indignation. never mentioned a clergyman without an insulting epithet. He taunted the profes. But he prays them not to let their scorn sion continually with not supplying more and indignation exceed the bounds of law. spiritual arguments than the attorney.gen. This warning he inculcates in the name of eral's specific of the pillory against Paine's the vengeance he wishes them to enjoy

Age of Reason.” The landholders feared upon the “birelings" who oppress them. the man whom Lord Sidmouth and Mr. These are not “the landlord, the farmer, Perceval feared. The farmers instinc- the tradesman, the merchant," classes tively recoiled from the avowed champion equally burdened with themselves. They of the rights of their laborers. Farm are the men who “live upon the taxes,” laborers could not, except here and there, for whose benefit the State takes rol. out read the Register, and, could they have of every 181. of wages. He entreats the read, would not have understood it. But workmen to bide their time, though they a new class began to study it. The weav- be mocked at as “lower orders," "swiners and mill hands and small tradesmen ish multitude,” “mob,” “rabble,” “ populooked to the Register as their educator. lation.” He tells them that, if they let In November 1816 Cobbett published a themselves be goaded into physical' vio: number at twopence. Lord Cochrane, his lence, they will be favoring " the cause of constant political confederate, had sug- corruption, which is never so much de. gested the experiment. “General Ludd” lighted as at the sight of troops acting

Captain Swing” were both in the against the people.” field. Mills, frames, and ricks were alike The circulation of the cheap edition of being burned. Cobbett might, Cochrane the Register — “two penny trash,” as thought, turn a warning to work-people Cobbett was content it should be styled against futile crime to the purpose of lash- lcaped to forty-four thousand. In his ing the country to a sense of the necessity “ Last Hundred Days of English Free. of representative reform. No. 18 of the dom” he declares that “of the number Register, addressed to " The Journeymen which was published after the issuing of and Laborers of England, Wales, Scot. Lord Sidmouth's circular of March, 1817, land, and Ireland,” is certainly a model of against seditious pamphlets, twenty thoupolitical and argumentative invective. The sand copies were sold in London on one sarcasm hisses, but the surface remains day. He gave a general license to any smooth and cool. The subsequent letter one who wished to republish No. 18, and addressed to the Luddites is an admirably “ within two months,” he states,“ more than plain demonstration of what was not so two hundred thousand copies of this num. self-evident in those days as in these. Its ber were printed and sold.”. Had the object was to demonstrate the benefit of Newspaper Stamp Act applied to such a machinery to the whole community. The reissue, the circulation broadcast of this argument grows as regularly tier by tier as twopenny trash" would have been imthe story of “ The House that Jack built.” | possible. But it did not come within the In Cobbett's reasonings links are never class of periodicals. Cobbett became a left to be understood. He prided himself power in the State. He had engaged in on an invincible love of making things in a single-handed combat with the governtelligible, and he gives his readers all the ment, and he beat it. At first the word premisses, from which they may see for went forth from the Home Office to write themselves that the conclusion follows. him down.” But “anti-Cobbett” tracts Political economy and logic are barbed were all of no avail. It was Cobbett's with mockery and gibes at the remedies boast that Lord Sidmouth's suspension sinecurists and borough-mongers propose of the Habeas Corpus Act was, “though for the relief of the prevalent destitution. he did not actually name it, aimed directly Charity subscriptions have been set on at the Political Register. Cobbett had foot, and eleemosynary soup is being given. Ia habit of appropriating attacks. But

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here he was probably justified. Yet, if classes have ever had conferred upon the government feared the Register as a them. Cobbett poured the burning lava propagator of open sedition, it was a of his ridicule upon the scheme of phi. blunder. There is truth in the interesting lanthropy. Rose had patronized friendly extract Mr. Edward Smith cites from societies once; but the members met to Samuel Bamford's “ Passages in the Life hear the Register read. By his new plan of a Radical,” in which Bamford declares the pennies of the few poor who were not that, with the growth of the authority of paupers might be got together to lend to Cobbett's writings,“ riots soon became the government " while their persons were scarce." “Instead of riots and destruc- kept asunder.” If the salaries of Rose tion of property, Hampden clubs were now himself and one of his sons, not counting established in many of our large towos the payments to another son, an ambassaand the villages and districts around them. dor, were capitalized, the amount would Cobbett's books were printed in a cheap make a round 300,000l. of principal. This form; the laborers read them, and thence at compound interest, “if it had remained forward became deliberate and systematic among the people, might have formed a in their proceedings.” Cobbett gave long, very nice savings-bank.” To recommend smothered wrath a vent. Men assembled savings-banks to a nation in which “it is to read the new gospel instead of break. notorious that hundreds of thousands of ing frames. A government, however, like families do not know, when they rise, that led by Sidmouth and Castlereagh and where they are to find a meal during the Eldon, might easily be more panic-struck day,” is, next only to the old company for at the ground-swell of such an agitation making deal boards out of sawdust,“ the as the twopenny Register was exciting most ridiculous project that ever entered than even at the burning of ricks and mills. into the mind of man.” Agrarian and anti-machinery riots might be The moral of all Cobbett wrote at this dealt with by yeomanry and Hanoverians; the very zenith of his career was that the a demand by weavers for Parliamentary country was being stifled by placemen in reform had all the terrors of the unknown. Parliament, and that radical representative Whether the weavers themselves gener. reform alone could save it. “ Petition, ally understood Cobbett's arguments may peaceable petition,” was his constant cry. be a different question ; but they were He desired to hear that a million of names starving, and Cobbett told them their pov- at least had been signed to such petitions. erty came of pensions and paper money. “ That would be two-thirds of the able The wrath and consternation of their rul- male population of Great Britain, excluders were proof to them that there was ing those who live on taxes.” Petitioning reason in what he said. His prayers to could hardly be called rioting, and the conhis new disciples to curse their oppres- tinual injunction he laid upon his friends sors, but not throw stones, indicated, in was to be “peaceable.” If his reasoning the judgment of Southey and of Downing were false, the remedy was obvious. There Street, some deep plot to which more were “twenty thousand parsons, four or material weapons' would not be wanting. five thousand lawyers, the two Universi

Cobbett was to be suppressed, and it ties, the two Houses of Parliament, many may be fairly suspected that, had he been thousands of magistrates, many hundreds imprisoned under the powers given by the of writers for pay.”. Surely it must be Habeas Corpus Suspension Act, the advice easy for these myriads, 6 with all their of Southey would have been followed. learning and all their weight, to counteract Southey's recommendation, in a memoran- the effect of one poor twopenny pamphlet.” dum he addressed at this time to Lord Ministers had on their side “the greater Liverpool, was that Cobbett, Hone, and part of the London press,” mercenaries the editors of the Examiner should be who “ threw their poison from behind a subjected to such good discipline, or even curtain." Yet with all their power the transportation, as would "prevent them whole legion of friends of authority could from carrying on their journals.". While not stand up in fair fight against the man the act was still in incubation, Cobbett did who was not ashamed to sign what he bis worst. The country was in a miserable wrote. “It was a combat of argument, condition, and he probed every sore. If and they have taken shelter under the alleviations were proposed, he jeered at shield of physical force.” Lord Sidmouth, them; they were not the one thing needed; Cobbett knew, would have preferred to they were not reform of Parliament. The lock him up once more in Newgate as a Rt. Hon. George Rose established sav- libeller ; " but the pamphlets - meaning ings-banks, the greatest boon the working- the Register – "had, Lord Sidmouth

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avowed in Parliament, “been submitted to allow to belong to my own." Mr, Edward the law officers, and they were found to be Smith accepts Cobbett's account of the written with so much dexterity that he was matter, and esteems the fight to America sorry to say bitherto the law officers could "one of the cleverest and most spirited find in them nothing to prosecute.' Con- acts of his life.” Mr. Smith declares “the sequently a new statute must be passed. decision of character, the singleness of Whereas one William Cobbett, an old purpose, and confidence in his own re

to offender in the same way, has been, by the sources displayed on this occasion

We means of a certain weekly trash publication, have been “almost unexampled.” endeavoring to throw down the Corinthian think there is more plausibility in the conpillar of corruption, and at the same time to temporary view, which was held even by preserve the peace and restore the happiness Cobbett's brother reformers or “Reform. of the United Kingdom; and whereas these ists,” to adopt their own hideous name for efforts tend directly to do great and lasting themselves. The flight to America was a injury to all those who directly or indirectly flight, and not a flank movement. It is a live and fatten upon the profits of bribery, cruel ordeal for a crusader of politics to corruption, perjury, and public robbery; know that the attorney-general is leaning and whereas no one has been found to answer the writings of the said William, notwithstand- over him as he writes, and meditating ing corruption pervades nineteen-twentieths

whether to give him more rope, or to tap of all the reviews, magazines, and newspapers him on the shoulder and bid him walk to in the kingdom; and whereas it is expedient the nearest gaol. Cobbett, brave enough to prevent the said William Cobbett from before an open enemy, was not well fitted proceeding in the said dangerous courses : Be to bear this supreme test of moral courage it therefore enacted that the said William shall or insensibility. He had not endured with write and publish no more, and that he shall equanimity the suspense of the interval neither talk, nor think, nor dream, without the between the conviction and the sentence express permission of the proprietors of the of 1810. Doubtless he caressed the belief Courier and Times, or of their supporters and that the Hones, and the Woolers, and the abettors. *

Hunts might risk being silenced without In other words, according to Cobbett's excessive harm to the country. Perhaps egotistical but not unfair inference, Lord their risk was not in truth equally great Liverpool's government suspended the with his. A certain Mr. White, of the InHabeas Corpus Act to catch a criminal dependent Whig, had reproached Cobbett who was so perverse as to refuse to com- for abandoning his post in the army of mit a crime. But Cobbett would not be reform. Cobbett retorted : “ Brave man, caught. His farewell of April 5, 1817, to Mr. White, to remain at his post ! It is his countrymen is a masterly apology for the mastiff and not the mouse that secrewhat even some of his admirers, like taries of state wish to muzzle.” Never. Wooler, " the Black Dwarf,” denounced theless, Cobbett's own apologies for bis as a desertion. He urged that, if he emigration leave the impression that, after stayed in England, he would have, as all, it was a weakness to be condoned Brougham said, to write with "a halter rather than a magnanimous act to be paneabout his neck." He could not write ex. gyrized. cept as his love for England and English Reasonable doubt may be entertained rights inspired him. Yet write he must. whether the government would in fact "Any sort of trial” he would have stayed bave gone to the extremity of imprisoning to face. “ Against the absolute power of Cobbett without trial. They did not use imprisonment, without even a hearing, for the power against his fellow - agitators, time unlimited, without the use of pen, ink, though that, Cobbett would perhaps have and paper, against such a power it would argued, only confirmed his boast that the have been worse than madness to attempt Suspension Act had him and only him for to strive.” So he departed for a land its object. In any case, his menaces dewhere he might write for Englishmen, and spatched by every mail from Long Island, write freely. He pledged himself that he where he had settled himself, no longer “would never become a subject or a citi- disturbed very greatly either friend or foe zen in any other State, and would always in England. Somehow or other the darts be a foreigner in every country but En. which sped so lustily from New York gland.” Very superfluously he added: seemed to fall short of the hearts of his

Any foible that may belong to the En- old disciples in cottages and workshops. glish character I shall always willingly Within a few months of his departure Ed

gland was once more enjoying a fair meas* Political Register, March, 1817. ure of material prosperity. To Cobbett's

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foreboding eyes the prospect remained exonerated from the charge of having made black and gloomy; but farm laborers and Radicalism a little ridiculous. Usually he mechanics were content to feel that they kept sentiment well in hand; but his inwere no longer starving, and petty farmers stinct was somewhat dulled by American that they were not becoming bankrupt. associations. He had been converted from The interval of Cobbett's expatriation was a specially scornful opponent into an ennot propitious for agitation which had its thusiastic worshipper of the political and chief seat at present in the stomach. The economical doctrines of the author of the mere mechanical fact of absence was more “Rights of Man.” Thinking Paine's influential still in relaxing Cobbett's hold bones insufficiently honored by burial “in upon the English people. He was em. a little hole under the grass and weeds of phatically a journalist, who wrote on the an obscure farm” in Long Island, he dug events of a day for reading in the day. them up and managed with some difficu'ty English hearts could thrill but dully to the to pass them through the Liverpool custwo-months-old echoes of indignation at tom-house. It was, as Mr. Smith sees, a incidents they had half forgotten. Cob- peculiarly silly freak. 6. Mr. Cobbett bett felt this, though he did not confess it. ought to have known his countrymen well He waited only for a fitting juncture to enough to remember that relics of this return. At length he believed that an- sort are thrown away upon them.” We other crisis of commercial depression and cannot even agree with Mr. Smith that the discontent with the material conditions of mistake was only in outstripping public existence was at hand, and, like a stormy sentiment. “That the bones will be petrel, he reappeared.

wanted some day may be safely predicted, Parliament was contemplating the re. knowing what we do of the whirligig of sumption of cash payments by the Bank time.” With all respect to time and its of England. Cobbett hated paper money. whirligig, and the many capitals Mr. Smith But men had for years been keeping their expends upon them, we should not recomaccounts in depreciated paper. He argued mend Paine's poor bones as a profitable that a sudden return to cash payments investment to curiosity-hunters. They would jar the whole of the commercial made a very cumbersome part of Cobbett's relations of the country. This collapse he political luggage. At once the cry of athelooked forward to as his opportunity for ist was raised against him by the clergy. urging on Parliamentary reform, just as Nevertheless, the incident, though it conat different times he would express a hope firmed Cobbett's foes in their aversion, that the price of a quartern loaf was soon scarcely affected, as Mr. Smith seems to about to be half a crown. His gloomy think, his influence with his faithful Radi. anticipations or hopes of such an auxiliary cals. His return, even with Paine's as a series of commercial crises in his cofin among his baggage, was the signal reform crusade were disappointed; but for an outburst of enthusiasm which terrihe found what might seem a more direct fied authority. The Lancashire magisoccasion already made for him. The Pe trates imprisoned for ten weeks a bellman, terloo massacre was in August 1819. The John Hayes, for proclaiming at Bolton that meeting of which it was the catastrophe Cobbett was come back. The boroughitself marked the resurrection of the re- reeves of Manchester brought cannon into form agitation. What had been a move the town when his approaching arrival was ment of the small Radical party was announced. He was clearly still the literconverted by the savagery of the yeomanry ary chief of English Radicalism. If his into an awakening of all the elements of power had waned, the cause was not in the Liberalism in the land. A natural pre-evil scent of Paine's poor bones, but in the sumption would be that, in this high tide waning of Radicalism itself. Reform had of popular feeling, Cobbett, if he had been other champions now than Cobbett, and powerful before his flight to New York, Hone, and Wooler, and the Hunts. Rad. was likely to become supreme. On the icalism and Cobbett lost their sharpest contrary, reform, in growing into a na- weapon when representative reform was tional movement, had glided beyond Radi- adopted as the cornerstone of the reason. cal control.116

able and temperate creed of the historical Mr. Edward Smith dimly discerns this Whig party. This supplanting by the phenomenon; but he does not perceive its Whigs was a crime which Cobbett never real cause. He attributes to a particular forgave. From the opening of this the folly in which his hero happened to in- last chapter but one of his political career, dulge a result which must have happened and thence to the end, his attacks upon in any case. Cobbett certainly cannot be the fortresses of corruption and misgov

LIVING AGE. VOL. XXVI. 1330

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