« הקודםהמשך »
these six months was most cruel. An opening, called a window,' but which was without a pane of glass, let in the snow upon their food, as they ate it; cold and damp filled their bodies with pain; and the • Liberal Government seemed intent on trying by these means whether they could not break their spirits.
Nor were Henry Hetherington and James Watson the only prisoners for selling the Unstamped.' John Cleave and his wife were seized, as they were proceeding to Purkiss's, the news-agent in Compton Street, in a cab, with their papers. Heywood of Manchester, Guest of Birmingham, Hobson and Mrs. Mann of Leeds—with about 500 other offenders in town and country, were sufferers, by imprisonment, for longer or shorter periods, as vendors of the Unstamped.' It was a time of most exciting interest, as well as of suffering. The spirit displayed by the vendors is worthy of remembrance. They knew that they were watched, and so they resorted to all kinds of cunning. They carried the 'Unstamped' in their bats, in their pockets : they left them in sure places to be called for;' and when, for a few weeks, Government actually empowered officers to seize parcels, open them in the streets, and take out any unstamped publications-Henry Hetherington (while at large) made up . dummy parcels, directed them, sent off a lad with them one way, with instructions to make a noise, attract a crowd, and delay the officers, if they seized him : meanwhile, the real parcel for the country agent was sent off another way!
To the honour of English radicals, be it remembered that the sufferers were nobly upheld during this season of persecution, which extended over several years. The generous and high-minded Julian Hibbert became treasurer, and the intelligent and persevering William Lovett became secretary, of a committee for relieving the victims of the government. Money was collected in abundance, and either cash, food, or clothes distributed to the necessitous.
During Henry Hetherington's second imprisonment it was that news was brought to him and his companion of the Calthorpe Street, or Cold Bath Fields, riot,' as it was called. The circumstances of that transaction will be fresh in the memories of many of you; and I need merely say that when about 1,500 people were quietly assembled in the open air to confer for the redress of their political grievancès, two large bands of policemen with bludgeons, having given no warning, charged upon the multitude, inflicting wounds, and felling men, women, and children to the earth, without mercy. One policeman, while zealously exerting himself in this evil office, was stabbed with a sharp instrument; and on being taken to a neighbouring public house, died in ten minutes. To the honour of a British jury, be it remembered that while sitting on the body of this policeman, they returned a verdict of Justifiable Homicide. But, to the infamy of the Whig Government, be it remembered that the widow of the policeman was handsomely pensioned.
The spirited decision of the jury, with the virulent and treacherous conduct of the Government, equally raised and increased the popular excitement respecting the circumstances of this meeting; and a letter soon appeared in the Poor Man's Guardian-signed Palafox junior, but really written by Julian Hibbert-containing something more than
inuendo, in an advice to the people attending such meetings in future to take bread and cheese with them, and a good long, sharp-pointed, and strong-backed knife with which to cut it.
Henry Hetherington had not been long released from his second imprisonment before a criminal information was filed against him for this letter, which was alleged to be a libel on the new police. This charge was abandoned, however, that proceedings might be taken against him on apparently surer ground.
The information was filed in the month of May, 1833; but before the ulterior proceedings were taken, he had removed from 13, Kingsgate Street, to the well-known shop, 126, Strand, where he carried on business for seven years, under a lease for that term. He had commenced the Destructive, which was afterwards entitled (ironically) the Conservative; and was selling it unstamped, as well as the Poor Man's Guardian. After a time this paper became the London Dispatch, still being unstamped and sold at a penny, and its sale extending, at one time, to 25,000 weekly.
In June 1834, our friend was tried before Lord Lyndhurst and a special Jury for publishing the Conservative, and the Poor Man's Guardian, both alleged to be illegal publications. He so fully impressed the jury, however, with the rectitude of his course, that they acquitted him entirely for the Guardian ; but gave their verdict against him for the Conservative.
Not having grown fond of prison from his two experiences of it, he contrived to evade apprehension altogether by taking a snug little box at Pinner (in Herts, or on the verge of Middlesex, I forget which), and by going out of his house in the Strand at the back, by an outlet into the Savoy, and by entering it the same way--and in the disguise of a Quaker! I know not how it was, but our arch friend must have contrived to enact the real Simon Pure most admirably, or the keen eyes which were on the look out for him would not have missed him, one would think.
Thus baffled, the government resorted to a severer step. They sent Davis, the sheriff's oficer, to make a seizure for £220, demanded by the Commissioners of Stamps; and when he had done this, a body of policemen entered the premises and swept them of all that was left, under a pretext which was falsc-namely, that Hetherington was not registered as a printer. Such were the tyrannies practised by that party which sturdy Cobbett called the Vile Gang,' and which O'Connell once termed the base, bloody, and brutal Whigs.'
Undaunted, our heroic friend resumed his work-rising out of the midst of ruin. His friend Julian Hibbert, whose conscientiousness was so remarkable, from the moment that he learned Hetherington was in danger of another imprisonment in consequence of the publication of the Palafox' letter, set him down in his Will for 450 guineas; nor did he cancel the gift when the proceedings were abandoned With his little remaining wealth, from this source, Henry Hetherington purchased another printing machine for no printer would undertake his work and continued to publislı the Unstamped, until the government consented to reduce the newspaper stamp to one penny, when lie immediately stamped the London
Dispatch, into which the Poor Man's Guardian had been merged, the new paper being called the Twopenny Dispatch. Of this periodical (as well as of the Poor Man's Guardian after the death of Julian Hibbert) Mr. James Bronterre O'Brien was the talented editor--and so remained, till our deceased friend's circumstances compelled him to transfer the paper, by sale, to another proprietor, and to leave his house and shop in the Strand.
Before this took place, he had incurred some embarrassments by the publication of part of an Encyclopædia, at the suggestion of his friend, Dr. Birkbeck. The undertaking proved a failure. The Odd-Fellow, another penny periodical, was more successful ; but not to such a degree as to enable him to retrieve his condition. Above all, the comparatively narrow circumstances of our friend in after years are to be attributed to his tenderness. He could not have the heart to sue his debtors at law, though others sued him. He did not love money for its own sake: he began to regard the world as a scramble; and he did not think it worth his while to exert himself for the sake of getting a larger share of its wealth by means which he hesitated to regard as justifiable.
One publication issued by him, I have not yet mentioned. It was written in consequence of his conversations with ihe chaplain of Clerkenwell gaol; and is entitled · Cheap Salvation'-a title quite as characteristic of our friend's tendency to grave humour as the contents of the pamphlet are worthy of his clear and straightforward mind. I could wish that this little book were extensively circulated and read; for it contains a much finer abstract of the real excellences of Christianity than is to be found in many folio volumes of Oxford and Cambridge doctors in divinity.
Our friend was destined to yet another imprisonment. In 1841, he was tried on a charge of publishing a blasphemous' work—Haslam's Letters to the Clergy of all Denominations. The trial took place before Lord Denman, who confessed himself greatly impressed in favour of our friend; but the Whig Attorney-General, Campbell, urged the prosecution with all his noted keenness; and the consequence was a conviction, and imprisonment for four months, in the Queen's Bench prison.
I omitted also to mention, that Henry Hetherington represented London and Stockport, in the great Convention of 1839, of which the beloved exile Frost was a member. His latter years were devoted to Socialism and Chartism. At one time an active partaker of the business of the National Hall, Holborn, he became more lately, an equally active committee-man of the Institution in which we are now assembled. Here, we have all witnessed his rare enthusiasm and fervour, and bis clear judgment, so often mingled with the bumour that always rendered him a welcome speaker. The quality I marked in him, the very first time I saw bim-which was at the second Sturge Conference, at Christmas, 1842—he always displayed when I shared in our common friendship for him, in this institution : the faculty of reconciling misunderstandings and preventing ill-feeling arising from differences. This was a valuable quality of the heart and judgment; and if shared by all
the world would be much nearer to the Universal Brotherhood we long for.
Another grand quality of his nature was strength of attachment to his friends. This was not casily broken with him. You noted, as I read some passages from the Poor Man's Guardian, with what earnestness he defended the celebrated Henry Hunt, at a time when many Reformers were denouncing him for his declaration that the • Reform Bill' would prove a delusion and a snare, and that nothing but Universal Suffrage ought to satisfy the People. With the same fidelity to old attachments, you and I beheld him, not very many months ago, espouse the interest of Daniel Whittle Harvey, as a candidate for Marylebone: though he was destined to feel deep chagrin and bitter disappointment at the fickleness with which Mr. Harvey withdrew, after his friends had taken so much trouble to secure his return.
If any conviction grew upon his mind with years, it was that of the truth of the doctrines of Robert Owen-of the fact that Man is the creature of circumstances, and that a better character can only be moulded for him by better institutions. With this ever-increasing conviction, his attachment to Mr. Owen himself strengthened, until it might be said to amount to veneration.
With regret, it must be stated that there is too strong reason to conclude that our friend's decease was hastened by a want of proper care. He had been unwell for a fortnight—though not seriously so.
His strict temperance—for he had been almost an absolute teetotaler, for many years—warranted him, no doubt, in believing that he was not very likely to fall a victim to the prevailing epidemic. When he was seized with it, in the form of cramp and diarrhæa, he refused—from what we must call a prejudice-to call in medical relief. Last Tuesday, our friend Holyoake prevailed with him to have a physician called, after having himself placed a bottle of hot water at his feet, and stayed the cramp in his legs. It was 100 late, however, for medicines to relieve his casealthough several medical friends were successively brought to his bedside. His natural humour was exhibited even in his last hours. Why did
you not call for help sooner ? said one medical friend to him. Why, you know,' he replied with a smile, ' I never had a good opinion of you physic-folks ; and besides, I have had Doctor Holyoake attending me; and he placed a bottle of hot water at my feet, and it took away my cramps ;
and-bless you !-did me ever so much good! Thus undisturbed in mind, and equable as when in health, he remained. At ten, that night, Mr. Holyoake presented to him his Will, which had been drawn up some time, and asked if he felt inclined to sign it. He raised himself in bed, put on his spectacles, looked it over; and said, calmly, “Yes, this is all right: give me a pen'-and forthwith
put signature to it, in the presence of witnesses. The greater part of Wednesday he was apparently unconscious; and at four on Thursday morning last he expired.
In proceeding to inter him in the Kensal Green Cemetery to-day, his wishes have been attended to, as it regards the absence of display; and in this institution, pursuant to the same request, there is no outward hanging of black, or other mere signs of mourning for him.
I have already said that I for one do not agree with every item of confession of belief in his · Last Will and Testament'—which I shall now
read to you; for I am not able to speak with such positiveness relative to the non-existence of a Deity, or of a Future State, as our departed friend. I am fully aware of the want of direct evidence; but there are some considerations-wishes and longings, perhaps, they may be called which render me unable or unwilling to give up these doctrines. Yet, I repeat I honour Henry Hetherington for his courageous honesty in making these confessions, both in life and death. I have only, now, to add my humble testimony to his many excellences, from our friendship of the last four years; and to entreat you to follow his example wherein he was worthy of your imitation—in his earnestness ; his readiness to labour at all times and seasons for the common good of man and for the advancement of public liberty; in his perseverance; in his spirit of self-sacrifice; in the fidelity of his friendships; and in his spirit of kindliness and good-humour. Let each man among us display the courage, perseverance, and unsuhduable energy of Henry Hetherington, and England, Europe, the World, will soon be free and happy, and the Universal Brotherhood be speedily realised.
[The length of this report excludes an account we had prepared of the Illness, Funeral, and Procession. We shall complete the narrative next week. Last week we were unable to supply a sufficient number of the Reasoner, containing the address at the grave; but by Saturday the John Street Directors will, it is expected, have out, in a separate form, a pamphlet containing the Oration by Mr. Holyoake, a tribute to Hetherington's memory, by W. J. Linton, and other interesting matter. To be published in furtherance of objects to be stated.--Ed.]
TAXES ON KNOWLEDGE.
We notice that a society is in process of organisation having for its object the removal of all taxes on knowledge-an object next in importance to that of the removal of taxes on food. The taxes referred to are, of course, the direct taxes—such as the duty on foreign books, the duty on paper, the advertisement duty, the stamp duty, and, in the case of newspapers, the caution money. All these act as restrictions on the spread of intelligence and information in the country, and would be abolished at once by a government which looked only to the true welfare of the people. There is little hope, however, that anything of the kind will be done without agitation. It seems to have become a principle with our "governing families” to move only in obedience to pressure from without. For twenty years or more no great step has been taken forward except on compulsion. Abolition of slavery, repeal of corn laws, emancipation of Catholics, reform of the House of Commons, reduction of the stamp duty, all have been passed out of doors. Parliament has become a mere court of registration : government has almost given up its legislative function. This is a new feature in the history of our “ glorious constitution." But since the powers that be will have it so-since they will adopt the "watch and wait” policy they must be dealt with on their own conditions. If they ask for agitation, let them have it. It is a curious fact
We shall give this remarkable document next week.