Page images

me that

extract in “ The Courier:" besides, in the next sentence you acknowledge the receipt of a letter upon the subject, and in another sentence, another and another letter ; but I verily think you had my Letter before you all the time you were writing that article. It was purchased in London by two of your agents on the 1st of March, and it would appear strange to me if it were not in Ilchester Gaol by the 4th, or, at least, I should have thought it so had it been my case as it was yours.

The last half a dozen sentences I have quoted from your “ Address” are a sufficient proof to

you bad the Letter before you at the time of writing them. However, I have waited long enough for you to see it if


like. Your next sentence is sufficient to shew that


could not confine yourself to truth upon the matter. You say you have just received a letter “ from one of the parties, who has, it appears, been also attacked in the same paper.' Now, I have this moment re-examined the paper, and I find there is nothing in the shape of attack made upon a sing e individual but yourself and Mr. Harrison, and the latter may thank your officious kindness for contrasting bim with better men ; it is also evident that Harrison did not write you this letter, for I believe “ The Republican” would not find admittance juto Chester Castle. Then, who is the person attacked, Mr. Hunt? Come, you must tell me this, or I sball conclude the thing to be a fiction to help you out of a bad case. If it be otherwise, if the extract of the letter you have given be any thing more than your invention, I challenge you to say who wrote it, or I challenge the person, be it who it may, to make the same statement to me, Now let us see where the “ atrocious string of falsehoods” applies. If you wish to clear yourself from the imputation of the fiction, give up your author's name, or call upon him to do it for himself. I make the challenge, and I will engage to find good authority for every sentence I have written in my first Letter to you.

Your next sentence describes Mary Fildes as baving come in for her share," and that you find she had written to me to contradict all that I had stated. This is a slip, Mr. Hunt; you were in too much baste; you have not cunning enough to carry on a scheme well. Here you have let the cat out of the bag too soon by a fortnight. When you wrote this article your instructions had not reached your Great Chronicler in Manchester to get Mary Fildes to put her name to this said letter. This Number of your

“ Memoir” was printed and in Manchester by the time Mary Fildes was prevailed upon to put her name to the letter. Your “ Address" is dated March 11th; the letter with Mary Fildes's name attached is not dated until the 18th of that mouth, and printed in “ The Manchester Observer” of the 23rd. Mary Walker, whose name is associated with your Bolton Clogs, has shewn a disposition to shake a lance with Mary Fildes upon the matter, and she writes to me that the latter was publicly asked in the Union Rooms, by one Thomson, if she would put her name to this letter, and that she assented instantly. Another female, who was in company at the time with Mary Fildes, I understand, has let out the truth of the matter. Besides, in the first place, I never spoke but highly (too high, I am since informed) of Mary Fildes; but I spoke what I witnessed, and I now say, that what I saw of her conduct on the field of Peterloo, and in marching to it, was admirable: what your Great Chronicler has made her say of me is an invention, and a gross falsehood. I will not quarrel with Mary Fildes, although I am very sorry that she should bave lent her name for such a purpose.

Who were the other four women that were on the bustings? No doubt they will recollect my helping them down through the aperture. The only words I said to Mary Fildes were, “ I hope you are not alarmed at the approach of the military,” and she, smiling, answered, “ No." Now, if I bad displayed that tremor and alarm which the Great Chronicler has imputed to me, it is not likely that I should have addressed such words to another-even to a woman. AIL the time the Yeomanry were approaching to, and forming before Buxton's House, we stood cheering them, and even until we saw serious work going on. After they had begun to cut their way through the multitude—after screams poured forth from all sides, and a general cry of murder was heard amidst the greatest confusion, if any man could view such a scene without agitation or emotion, he must have been deficient of common sensibility. You, yourself, Sir, displayed as much emotion as any man there, and you would have been a monster if you had not. Throughout the whole scene of carnage, I declare solemnly, that I felt nothing so much as a deep grief to think that so many brave fellows were assembled without the means of resisi. auce; and I can never think upon the subject without feeling that grief to this day. I felt indignation when you charged the multitude with “ running away," because, I

know it made no part of their disposition, if they had been prepared to resist. It was in obedience to your orders tbat they came there, with a good conscience and without arms; and coming there was the only proof of courage that offered; there was no opportunity to display courage after the fixed multitude began to feel the sabres, and found themselves at the point of the bayonet and the cannon's mouth, every way without the least means of resistance. If I bad displayed the aların falsely imputed to me, I should not have brought myself off the ground as well as I did. I attribute my safety entirely to a cool and collected judg. ment amidst such a scene of horror and confusion.

I should remind you of one thing: you say Mary Fildes is to contradict all that I have stated; whilst the result is, that she has contradicted no one thing. She has made me (or, at least, the Great Chronicler has done it for her) call you a coward, and then denjes that you are one. The ihing never entered my head to charge you with cowardice: it is altogether a paltry turning of other points, both by you and your Chronicler. It is impossible that any man can charge you with cowardice, or a want of nerve. I do think your conduct towards me since I have been in Prison, and before you got there too, was cowardly in the extreme, or, perhaps, I should say, mean, paltry, and illiberal: but as to your being a coward, in the sense of the word, as a want of spirit to brave danger, I never did, I never could impute it to you. I always entertained a very different idea of you, and have always found you acting with uncommon resolution. It was when you charged cowardice upon me and the persons who attended the Manchester Meeting, by binting that we ran away, I thought it my duty to retort upon

you had allowed the men who attended that Meeting to have followed their own inclinations, there would bave been no occasion for running away. Oliver Cromwell was no coward, but he was a very great bypocrite, and such, I believe, was the character of Buonaparte.

The person from whom I received the information about the disposition of the Reformers to come armed to that Meeting, as a safeguard against the threatened attack, was a young man I found at Smedley Cottage, on the Sunday evening, the 15th of August. He walked with me from Smedley Cottage to the Star Inn door, and, in the course of that walk, he told me that you had said, if any one came armed with any thing but a good conscience, you would pot attend their Meeting. I told the young man, I knew

you, that if

well that was your disposition; that you would go a great way towards bringing bodies of men together at Public Meetings, but that you never would be the first to encourage them to take up arms. I know not the name of this young man, but I know the name of another that was with him: it is most likely that he will see this statement.

Respecting my insinuations against Mr. Harrison, I must confess I did make them, and I was sorry that you bad driven me to do it by placing his conduct in contrast with mine. I do not mean to retract a word I said, and I have no wish to explain what I meant, unless I am challenged to do it; and if any challenge be made of the kind, my informant has written upasked to me to say that he is prepared to defend his former information, and to shew that he is not that good man you have represented him to be, and that I have not stated an “ ipfamous falsehood.” I knew the man I was addressing too well to put forward a tịttle of any thing that I could not substantiate, or bring forward good evidence of the truth of the assertion. I never sought after any information about Mr. Harrison, it was sent unasked and unexpected to me. However, I wish to drop the matter if I am not pressed to disclosure. Officious friends are often more dangerous than enemies, and such has been your friendship towards Mr. Harrison. But who was the Clergyman, Mr. Hunt, that said the two Atheists were cowards? A Clergyman call two Atheists cowards!! A Clergyman is a licensed liar, particularly towards those whom he knows to be bis enemies. Who is your Clergyman? Give us his name, or I shall conclude that the tale is another fiction of your own. If he were a Manchester Clergy man, how did he know me, who was known to no one belonging to Manchester? And pray who is my fellow Atheist? It is not manly to put blanks or dashes where a name should stand. I have not the least objection to be called an Atheist, although I do not assume, or like the word, or its definition. I had rather be called an Atheist than a Christian. I believe in all the Gods that are in existence, therefore, I leave you to say how far I am an Atheist. The word Deist was not strong enough for you. I cannot swallow the bringing forward a Clergy man at all. It is all a trick, an invention, and a paltry one too. I verily believe that John Knight, the moral John Knigbt, was the only Christian upon the hustings, excepting a gentleman whom I will not call a Clergyman; and if you allude to the same

[ocr errors][merged small]

further says,

person as I do for a Clergyman, just speak out and I sball understand the matter.

We never heard a word about your religion until you got to Ilchester Gaol, or until you gave evidence at York, of being intimate with the Parson of the Parish where you

bad lived: but I will state some strange contradictions on ibis head. Bridle says, but I do not believe him, “ that since you have been in Ilchester Gaol, the prisoners have all thrown aside their Bibles for Tom Paine's Works." He

“ that you never attend to hear the Word of God, and that you were the only prisoner that did not attend.” However, if you have not listened to the word of God, we know that you have composed a national prayer to the great Jehovab, and that you have frequently given us a scrap from the Bible, only you made a sad mistake in representing your solitary confiuement to be like the solitary confinement of Jonah in the whale's belly; and that the time was the same forty days and nights. If Jonah bad been forty days and nights in the whale's belly, I rather think he would have been voided in some other way, and not through the mouth, however well he might have been supplied with small fish and fellow prisoners. The Jew men were clever at fasting forty days and nights, but Jonah suffered confinement but three days and nights. Jehovah did not impose such heavy sentences as Abbott, Best, and Bailey. Your Knights of the Order of St. Henry of Ilchester, and the pious pilgrimages to the imprisoned saint, must not be forgotten! In two or three instances you have endeavoured to draw a comparison between yourself and the Jew Reformer, Jesus Christ, one of the instances is now before us. Several little things connected with your religion in the course of publishing your Memoirs would have been worth noting down for reference; but I never trouble myself to note any thing. Daniel in the lion's den, has been seized on as another prototype of St. Henry in licbester Gaol, tbere was nothing wanting to complete the parallel but another Habakkuk to have been removed from Lancashire, by the bair of the head, with a mess of pottage for the modern Daniel's dinner. To tinish your pious career, it is only necessary that the lord of the manor of Glastonbury should order bis body to be deposited, at death, under the Glastonbury Thorn, engage a few clerical friends to compose a few legends as to the miracles performed in Ilchester Gaol, corvert the Gaol into an Abbey, and the pilgrimages of old will soon be eclipsed by the rushing of the pious to the

« PreviousContinue »