§ Mr. Philips
stated, that during the absence, and at the desire of his noble friend, the member for Lancashire, he had a Petition to present from certain merchants, manufacturers and others, inhabitants of Manchester, Salford, and the neighbourhood. The petition stated,
"That the petitioners heard with great pain and uneasiness the alarming statements which were currently circulated during the early part of the past year, as to the evil designs entertained by the labouring classes in their neighbourhood, and concealed under the disguise of an anxiety to obtain a reform in the representation of the people; that the petitioners have found themselves obliged to conclude that the impression produced by the statements to which they have now referred, greatly influenced the decision of the House in concurring with the proposals of his majesty's ministers, entirely to suspend some, and materially to abridge other, of the most valuable rights and privileges which Englishmen derive from the bravery and wisdom of their ancestors, and which afford 218 their best safeguards against the encroachments of arbitrary power and the abuses of intolerant party spirit; that although firmly convinced at the period when those measures were proposed by his majesty's ministers to the consideration of the House, that the circumstances of the times did not require, and that constitutional vigilance could not acquiesce in, the suspension of the act of Habeas Corpus and the other restrictive enactments adopted by the House, the petitioners thought it most proper to defer the expression of their sentiments upon this important subject to a period, when the heat of political feeling being somewhat allayed, they might be enabled to examine with maturer deliberation, with more scrutinizing caution, and with more rigid impartiality, the truth of the information upon which, judging from the reports of its secret committees, the House must be presumed to have acted; that the petitioners could not avoid feeling that the character, not only of the towns in which they reside, but of the very populous district that surrounds them, and perhaps even of the county of Lancaster at large, was involved in the charges of disaffection, disloyalty, and treason, which were so lavishly heaped on the most numerous and the most industrious class of its population; that the petitioners take leave to assert to the House, not only that the conduct of the labouring part of their fellow townsmen at that period did not exhibit the slightest tendency to insubordination or violence, but that they sustained an unparalleled extremity of distress with fortitude the most exemplary and heroic; that without stating themselves to concur in the propriety, or to defend the prudence, of all the political conduct of the working classes in their neighbourhood, the petitioners have no hesitation in assuring the House, as the result of their careful and assiduous inquiries, that the proceedings of that part of the population have been completely and most grossly misrepresented; that as far as regards the meeting of the 10th of March, familiarly known by the designation of the blanket meeting, nothing could exceed the quietness and order with which the populace proceeded to it, and demeaned themselves throughout its continuance; that it had been publicly announced several days; that not the slightest intimation of its imputed illegality was given; that no attempt was made to disperse it by means 219 of the civil power, but that, without warning, and, as the petitioners verily believe, without even reading the riot act, doubtful as it is whether under such circumstances that statute could legally be enforced, the dragoons, acting under the orders of the magistrates, dashed impetuously amongst the multitude, and compelled it to seek safety in flight, although magistrates at that period did not possess the discretionary power over public meetings with which the House has since invested them; that between two and three hundred persons, who were proceeding on the road to London with petitions, were, in the course of the before-mentioned day, apprehended and lodged under circumstances of great hardship, in a prison which contained, even before their arrival, nearly three times the number of prisoners it was originally calculated to receive; and that eight of the persons then arrested, who refused to give bail for their future appearance, were committed to Lancaster-castle, and after being detained in gaol amongst prisoners of the most profligate and abandoned description for nearly six months, were at length discharged without trial; that on Saturday the 29th of March public apprehension was most generally and painfully excited, by the appearance of an adverstisement issued by the magistracy and police of Manchester, bearing date the preceding day, and in which they stated, that 'Information, on which they could place the fullest reliance, had reached them of a most daring and traitorous conspiracy, the object of which was nothing less than open rebellion and insurrection;' that 'the town of Manchester was one of the first pointed out for attack, and the moment fixed upon for the diabolical enterprise was the night of the 30th of March;' that as the petitioners could not think it possible that the magistrates or police would wantonly or thoughtlessly trifle with public alarm, by making so horrible a charge on dubious or insufficient grounds, they confidently expected to see such daring and desperate offenders, as those implicated in this 'diabolical enterprise' must necessarily be so supposed to be, brought to early trial and condign punishment, particularly as on the 23d of April, when the examination of the supposed delinquents must, as the petitioners conceive, have brought the evidence against them under his magisterial cognizance, the rev. W. R. Hay, sti- 220 pendiary chairman of the Salford quarter sessions, did, in his address to the grand jury, allude to the subject in the following terms, 'As judicial inquiries would be instituted against the offending par- ties, it would not be just to enter much upon the subject, but he might 'be permitted to say, should such inquiries take place, purposes of the blackest enormity must be disclosed to the public, and that those who professed 'to doubt their existence would finally be constrained to admit the existence of the whole of them;' that the suspension of the act of Habeas Corpus being, as appears by the terms of the Bill itself, applicable only to persons 'suspected of entertaining designs hostile to his majesty's governmerit,' the petitioners conceive that it was never intended by the House to supersede the necessity of public judicial inquiries into charges of treason, distinct and specified in their character, and of unparalleled atrocity in their complexion; that the petitioners are therefore persuaded that the House will learn with astonishment, that all the persons arrested as participators in this alleged conspiracy have been discharged without trial; and they would farther represent to the House, that if the slightest suspicion of the guilt of the parties still remains, it is most dangerous to the welfare and tranquillity of the country at large, to restore to liberty, and consequently to the capability of doing mischief, men who have connected themselves with a design of such dreadful wickedness! whilst, on the other hand, if there is no foundation for the diabolical conspiracy imputed to them, every principle of justice and humanity imperiously demands that they should be publicly and legally delivered from the charges to which they have been so foully and falsely subjected; that the attention of the petitioners having been aroused by the discharge of these alleged conspirators without trial, some of them have entered upon an extensive and rigid investigation of the grounds upon which traitorous and rebellious proceedings were imputed to the parties taken into custody, and the result of that investigation is a most positive and irrefragable conviction that no such conspiracy existed, that no violent designs were in contemplation, and that no measure dangerous to public tranquillity was ever proposed or discussed at any of the meetings which took place, except by hired spies and informers; that whilst 221 the petitioners are convinced that no effort was left untried by these wicked and detestable emissaries, to ensnare and delude the labouring classes into acts of riot and insubordination, they cannot but think it will he satisfactory to the House, to reflect that the illegal schemes and exhortations of these miscreants, though addressed to men suffering the most distressing privations, have been so eminently and uniformly unsuccessful; that the conviction of the petitioners as to the activity of the spies, in endeavouring to engage persons known to be petitioners for parliamentary reform, in their own villainous machinations, does not rest on general and indefinable impressions; but the petitioners believe that their habitual violence, their endeavours to seduce individuals to the commission of specific crimes, which would deservedly subject them to capital punishments, their officiousness in appointing meetings in different parts of the country, their activity in procuring a large attendance at such meetings, their assumed names, their apprehension and immediate discharge, and their connexion with the magistracy or police, can be clearly and indisputably demonstrated; the petitioners would further state to the House, that during the early part of the last year nocturnal domiciliary visits by subordinate agents of the police, without the exhibition of warrant or authority for such proceedings, during which the greatest abuse and in humanity was displayed, were of disgracefully frequent occurrence; the petitioners therefore, conceiving that the House could neither foresee nor intend to sanction such proceedings as they have enumerated and that the employment of spies in the manner and to the extent to which it has prevailed in the neighbourhood of the petitioners is pregnant with the most dangerous consequences to his majesty's peaceable and well-disposed subjects, and anxious also to vindicate to the country at large the loyalty and good character of their extensive and populous district, do humbly, but most earnestly intreat that the House will be pleased to institute a strict inquiry into the truth of the matters stated in this petition, and also into the general proceedings, not only of the labouring classes but of the magistracy and police of Manchester and its neighbourhood, during the early part of the past year; and the petitioners do hereby pledge themselves to use the 222 utmost diligence and alacrity in furnishing the House with such evidence as they confidently believe will most fully and completely establish the conclusions they themselves have formed on the subject."
§ Mr. Philips
then observed, that it must be obvious that he could not pledge himself to the accuracy of the facts referred to in the petition, and on which it was founded, but he was informed that they had been most diligently and cautiously investigated by some of the persons who had signed it, and particularly by one gentleman, known to him to be a man- of intelligence and active benevolence. His own opinion was, that the facts would be proved, on investigation, to be such as they had been reported to him. Before he proceeded to a detail, which he feared would be tiresome to the House, he wished to say that he did not at all mean to reflect on the intentions of the magistrates or municipal officers of Manchester. If they had been instrumental in deluding ministers, and through them the House and the country in general, it was because they had been first deluded themselves; for he had no doubt that they sincerely believed in the representations which they had made. He conceived them to have been deluded by their own spies and informers, and those of the government. The utmost that he had ever said on this subject was, that if the poor people were liable to delusion from their own prejudices on the one hand, magistrates who were treasurers, or zealous supporters of Orange lodges and societies, could not be considered as exempted from the delusion of their own prejudices, on the other hand. He deprecated strongly the encouragement given to such associations, the tendency of which could only be to inflame religious and political animosities, to call into exercise the worst passions of our nature, and to make one class of his majesty's subjects hate and persecute another.—The hon. member here stated, that there had been several meetings, more or less numerous in Manchester and the neighbourhood, before that of the 10th of March (familiarly called the "Blanketeer Meeting"), for preparing resolutions and petitions on the subject of a reform of the representation. These meetings had been very peaceably conducted. To show that the poor people really meant what they professed, namely, to petition for a reform of parliament, with which they had been 223 taught to associate the relief of their own severe sufferings, he stated, that they had in the first instance applied to some persons in Manchester, in a station superior to their own, and begged them to unite in a requisition to the boroughreeve and constables, for calling a meeting for that object. This being declined, and their own requisitions to the town officers being rejected, they called meetings themselves by public advertisement. They did so in the instance of the Blanket Meeting of the 10th of March, which was called by public advertisement, no intimation having been given of its imputed illegality. Their petitions to parliament not having met the reception which they expected, it was proposed to petition the Prince Regent, and to carry up their petitions themselves and to present them in such numbers as the law allows. This foolish proposal was objected to strongly by the generality of those, who, from their superior intelligence and activity, were regarded as their leaders. He did not understand, that, though considered as leaders, they were formally delegated as such. Out of a number consisting of about seventeen, not more than three or four supported the Blanketeer expedition. Of the others, one objected to it in language likely to be misinterpreted with violence by spies and informers, but which appeared to convey very just reasoning. This man said, that "if the people determined on that expedition, of which he attempted to demonstrate the folly, they must make up their minds to one of two things. They must either cut their way sword in hand, for they would certainly be opposed, or if they did not do that, they must submit to be dragged to the New Bailey Prison, where they would as certainly be taken." Another said, that "if none but the most virtuous description of people should set out from Manchester, they would be joined on the road by persons of a different description, who would take advantage of the opportunity of doing mischief, which mischief would be imputed to them, and in its effect injure the cause which they wished to serve." The meeting, however, was resolved on, and took place on the 10th March. The behaviour of the people attending it was peaceable, as stated in the petition. The dragoons (the petitioners state, as they believe, without even having the riot act read), dashed in among the people, seized a number in Manchester, and others towards Stockport, on their road to London, and‡224 conveyed them to the New Bayley prison already occupied, according to the representation of the petitioners, by nearly three times as many people as it was built originally to receive. Their sufferings, it is natural to suppose, must have been severe from confinement under such circumstances. Eight of these men who refused to give bail for their appearance, were afterwards sent to Lancaster, and had since been liberated without trial.—The hon. member declared, that although no man was more aware than himself of the extreme folly of this blanketeer expedition, and of its liability to become the occasion of confusion and mischief, he really believed that the poor people themselves, generally, had no other object in it than what they professed. They had, as he had before observed, been taught to look for relief from their severe sufferings, through a reform in the representation, and it was for that reason that they were zealous in the pursuit of it. It might be fortunate that they did contemplate such means of relief; for perhaps the prospect might make them more patient under the extraordinary privations of that period. Some of the poor people, when examined by the magistrates as to their object in going to London, stated, that they intended to offer their petition to the Prince Regent, to throw themselves down at his feet, to state their real situation, and to implore relief.—After stating his opinion of this meeting, which he always considered as harmless with respect to the intention of the people in general who favoured this foolish project, he alluded to the other plot of the 28th of March, namely, the reported plot for burning Manchester, &c. The history of this plot could not be understood, without introducing to the acquaintance of the House three spies, who used all the means in their power to collect the people in public and private meetings, to reconcile their minds to schemes of mischief, and to excite them to the commission of the most abominable crimes. These spies were Lomax, Robert Waddington of Bolton, and a man who called himself Dewhurst. The reason why he designated them as spies was, that they were most active in calling meetings, in urging the people to attend them, in running about the country, or sending others, to propose schemes, of violence and mischief, such as burning factories, attacking barracks and prisons, and setting Manchester on fire, &c.; and 225 that while the persons, who rejected these villainous proposals with horror, were sent to prison and kept there, these wretches were either not taken up at all, or, if taken up, were liberated the next day. The first person whose proceedings he would state to the House was Lomax. A person of the name of Acres, and his brother-in-law, on their return from Stockport, where they had gone to see some of the blanketeers on their road, went into a public-house (the Ark), and there found this man, Lomax, haranguing some people in a very violent manner, and proposing to send delegates to different towns in the neighbourhood, in order to call secret meetings. Acres repeatedly checked his violence. On going away with his brother, Lomax proposed to accompany them, and on arriving near his own house, he invited them in saying he wished to have some conversation with them. After talking with them for a few minutes, he took a pen, and wrote these words, to which the hon. member wished to call the attention of the House, as they might probably be found in one of the green bags. "England expects every man to do his duty. Arise, Britons, and free your brethren from prison. God save the king." Upon showing what he had written to Acres, he recommended him to throw it into the fire. This he refused, and said he would take it to Ogden to print. He went with it to Ogden's house, and desired his son (Ogden himself having been sent to prison) to print it, but he refused to have any tiling to do with it. On the next day (11th of March) Acres was told by Lomax that there was to be a meeting of delegates that day at one o'clock at the Elephant, and was requested to go along with him to it, with which request he complied. They found about thirty or forty people assembled. After some conversation had passed, Lomax said he would go into the room where the secret committee was met, and inform them of the good attendance. Acres asked if he might go with him, but Lomax said he could not be admitted. Beginning to be suspicious of him, Acres was determined to watch him, and having observed what room he went into, he followed him into it, and found, as he says, "the committee secret enough, for it consisted of Lomax alone." Lomax appeared confused, stammered out some excuse, returned into the room where the rest of the people were assembled, and 226 then collected about 17 shillings for the purpose, as he said, of sending delegates to different towns to consult what should be done. He distributed this money among people with whom Acres was totally unacquainted.— Here, the hon. member remarked, the House would probably find the origin and explanation of the secret committee, of which they had heard so much. A villain of a spy talks of and pretends to consult a secret committee, of which there is no existence. On the same day this wretch (Lomax) requested Irwin and George Barton (Acres's brothers-in-law) to attend a meeting that night at 11 o'clock, which was to be held under the Aqueduct, to arrange a plan for setting the factories on fire. They expressed their horror of the scheme, and threatened to inform against him, if he ever mentioned such a thing again. Lomax replied, "We are sure to be taken up, I am at least, and we may as well have our revenge beforehand." The two Bartons mentioned this the same day to Acres, who was confirmed by it in his suspicion that Lomax was a spy. On the evening of the same day this wretch went to Oldham, and on his way gave a person at Hollinwood 2s. 6d. to show him the house of one John Hague there. On his arrival, Hague was not at home, and Lomax was anxious that he should be sent for, and expressed great disappointment on finding that his family did not know where he was. He said, "he must see him, for that something very particular was to happen that night." Being asked what it was, he replied, "Manchester will soon beset on fire, and the factories will blaze within two hours as a signal." The people supposed that he was mad. On going away he met Hague in the street, with some other persons, and told him in their presence, that he must summon his committee immediately on business of importance. Hague asked, "what business?" he replied, "You must come armed,—we are going to set fire to the factories at Manchester,— release our friends from the New Bayley prison, and seize the Barracks." Hague exclaimed, "That fellow is a rascal; come away from him men, or he will bring you into a scrape." Finding that he could not seduce them into mischief he went away. This wretch Lomax, was not contented with attempting himself to lead people into the commission of crimes, but he sent emissaries 227 round the country to do the same thing. On the same day (11th of March), a person called on Healey and Bamford, at Middleton, and said he was sent by Lomax to make an important disclosure to them. They sent for some other persons to be present, and upon promising secrecy, he told them "it was intended to set lire to the factories, and release the blanketeers from prison that night, that they must muster the Middleton people, and come armed to St. George's-fields, where they would be joined by a division of the Manchester people." Upon expressing their horror at the scheme, and refusing to concur in it, the young man seemed greatly alarmed, lest they should inform against him; but they let him go, supposing him to be merely the tool of Lomax. Though rejected wherever he went, this villain, Lomax, seemed still to persist in his proposals of mischief. About the 24th of March, he went to two men, named Charles Wollen and Joseph Tapley, and requested them to walk with him as far as Mr. Eccleston's factory. When they got there, he produced a rocket, tinder, flint, and steel, and wanted them to set fire to the factory; but they refused to be concerned in any such diabolical business, and left him. He afterwards went again to them, and urged them to go with him to Mr. Potter's factory, and he himself would set it on fire. He produced a crow-bar, which he said was for the purpose of forcing the window shutters; but they refused to have any thing to do either with him or his villainous project.—The hon. member remarked, that it seemed to be the plan of these spies to reconcile people's minds to mischief by repeating the proposal of it. One object they did accomplish, namely, that of making some people believe that there was a scheme in agitation to burn Manchester, because so many persons had heard of it. This circumstance had been stated to the hon. member himself, as a proof of the existence of the reported conspiracy. The facts which he had detailed would explain both the origin and progress of the rumour. Mr. P. stated, that Lomax did not, himself, attend the meeting of the 28th of March, when the persons charged with being partakers in this incendiary plot were arrested and taken to prison; but though absent from the meeting himself, he sent other people there. He was, however, arrested that day, and liberated the next; while the 228 people who had rejected his infamous proposals were confined for a considerable time in prison. — The hon. member, after dismissing Lomax, stated, that another of the spies, who called himself Dewhurst, having been seen in sir John Byng's gig, was challenged with the fact, which he admitted, stating, that he had come with sir John Byng as his servant, from London, where he had been desired by the reformers to act as their delegate. This man took every opportunity of becoming acquainted with those whom he heard were advocates for parliamentary reform. He introduced himself to one Sellars, a cutler, by offering a knife handle to have a blade put to it on two successive days; and by pretending to be a friend to one Benbow, then in confinement, to whose wife he desired Sellars to give a shilling for him. Perhaps these knife handles, which Sellers was to put blades to, might account for the rumours of instruments of destruction being in the possession of the disaffected reformers. This man (Dewhurst) availed himself of an opportunity, of becoming acquainted, on the 17th of March, with one Nathaniel Hulton. Finding that Hulton was a tailor wanting work, Dewhurst told him that he was a tailor also, and would give him work if he would go with him that day to a meeting to be held at Middleton. Hulton went with him. In their way they called at Sellars who accompanied them with another man. The meeting, which consisted of ten or twelve persons, was called for the purpose of raising money to support the families of the men who had been imprisoned, and for feeing counsel for them. No regular business was transacted, and no chairman appointed, but two or three people together seem to have talked to one another. Dewhurst, Mr. P. said, was overheard recommending at this meeting some measures of violence. As the meeting consisted of so small a number, it was resolved to have another on the 23d, at Chadderton, in the neighbourhood of Middleton Hulton went there with Dewhurst, who treated both him and another person, in order to induce them to accompany him The meeting being so small, and no money being subscribed, Dewhurst ap-pointed another meeting for the 28th March. "This," he said, "was being too kind to the country people; the ought to have come after dusk, as they themselves had gone to Middleton. 229 Hulton declares that he has often heard Dewhurst, when talking with other people, assert, that "now" (meaning, no doubt, after the imprisonment of the blanketteers)"nothing but physical force would do." Possibly these expressions may be found reported in some of the green bags, for they have been often alluded to. On returning from this meeting, Hulton heard Dewhurst say to another person, that he knew where there were thousands of guineas in Manchester, and he could take them all, and he would soon be out of the country, if they could not pull through." He added, "that there was an old lady who lived alone, and had a great deal of silver plate; he wished he had it; he would then melt it down, and set things a going" Upon Hulton's remonstrating with him, he pretended it was all a joke. Thus (said Mr. P.), when these wretches find that their infamous schemes, instead of meeting support, only excite horror, they practise on the simplicity of the poor people whom they wish to ensnare, by representing themselves as having been all the time in jest. One of the objects of Dewhurst and Robert Waddington, was to give an air of secresy and mystery to meetings whose purpose was open and avowed. They agreed to give to different people pieces of paper cut in a triangular form, and corresponding with each other, on the production of which the bearers were to be admitted into their meetings. Dewhurst having learned from Sellars that he had determined himself not to attend any more meetings, and to dissuade his friends from attending them, in consequence of hearing that spies were proposing schemes of mischief, sent Hulton to Middleton to invite the people to attend the meeting which he had appointed on the 28th of March. He gave him a shilling for his expenses, saying, "I am a ruined man, I have but one shilling in the world, but I will give it thee." He added, that it was very hard, after he had spent so much money, that the people would not come forwards, and attend meetings. Hulton went to Middleton, and saw Waddington there, who said the people did not much like coming, but they would come once more.—Here the hon. member remarked, the House will observe, that when the people were beginning to tire of public meetings, the spies used all the means in their power to prevail on them to attend them. Waddington pursued 230 the same course. He went to Tylexesley, Chowbent, &c. to urge the people there to come to the meeting, and told Hulton, on the 28th of March (to use his own words), that "they were such d—d soft fools, they durst not come forwards. He wished they would but join the Bolton people, and they would soon level Bolton, for he knew where the soldiers at Bolton, put their arms at night, and could take them all himself." The meeting of the 28th was appointed at the Royal Oak, but Dewhurst thinking most probably, that the people might be more easily arrested at the George and Dnigon, at Ardwick, proposed that those already assembled should go there, and he would remain to take the rest. Robert Redeings came there at the desire of the Failsworth people, to protest against any violent resolves, or proceedings. This he told to Dewhurst, who attempted to persuade him to pursue a different course. Dewhurst said, that "Nathaniel Hulton had been to view the barracks, and the New Bayley prison, and had laid down a plan by which they could be taken without difficulty or loss." These plans he offered to show to Redeings, who refused to look at them, saying, that the Failsworth people would have nothing to do with any such scheme. The very same night, this villain Dewhurst gave these pretended plans of Hulton's to another person (who luckily for himself threw them afterwards into the fire), saying, that "they came from lord Cochrane, sir Francis Burdett, and major Cartwright." Soon after Redeings had gone to the George and Dragon, and Dewhurst had ordered them all into one room, Waddington began to talk with him, and to urge the plan of burning factories, of which Redeings expressed a just abhorrence. Waddington then said, "It is now time I should tell you my information; I have a letter from London this morning, and all the people in that neighbourhood are up. There are 80,000 at Chalk-farm, 100,000 at another place which he mentioned, and 60,000 or 70,000 at a third," Redeings said, he did not believe a word of it, on which Waddington declared, "there were many letters in town to the same effect." He affected to rummage his pockets, and to look for the letter, which he said "he had left at home." Redeings said, "it did not matter, he would not believe it, whatever letters he had, for he was sure they were all forgeries." Soon after this, 231 Dewhurst being accused of being a traitor, left the room, saying he would go and light his pipe. One person exclaimed, "I know he does not smoke." Upon his disappearance, the police officers came into the room, and seized them all. Waddington was seized along with the rest, and liberated the next day. Some persons having seen him in prison, or in his way to it, stated the fact, and were threatened with actions for defamation in consequence. Attempts were also made to induce them to retract what they had said, but there were too many witnesses to the fact, and Robert Waddington, of Bolton, is now publicly known as a convicted spy and informer. Here Mr. P. read the hand-bill published by the magistracy and police of Manchester, dated the 28th of March, in which they state, that "information, in which they can place the fullest reliance, had reached them, of a most daring and traitorous conspiracy, the object of which was nothing less than open rebellion and insurrection." "The town of Manchester was one of the first places pointed out for attack, and the moment fixed upon for the diabolical enterprise was the night of Sunday next, the 30th instant." Eleven men, including Waddington, were arrested at the meeting of the 28th. Sunday the 30th, Manchester and the towns supposed to be pointed out for attack were perfectly tranquil. Wakefield, the hon. member believed, was one of them. Notice of this dreadful conspiracy had been sent there, and one of the magistrates being consulted as to the proceedings to be adopted, stated his conviction, that all preparation to resist attack was unnecessary, for he was sure no attack was meditated. He however recommended the propriety, in deference to the information received, of being prepared without making any demonstrations of preparation. No such demonstrations were made, and no disorder ensued, because none had ever been meditated. The same, Mr. Philips said, would, he had no doubt, have been the case in Manchester on the 30th, if not a man had been seized on the 28th. The seizure of eleven men, the spy included, was not a cause sufficient to account for the entire tranquillity of Manchester and the other towns, if the alleged conspiracy bad ever really existed. If such a widespread conspiracy had been prepared, there would surely have been some tendency to disturbance either in Manches- 232 ter or somewhere else; but after all, the rumours of treason and rebellion, not even a breach of the peace occurred.—Mr. Philips stated, that on the 23d of April, the rev. Mr. Hay, stipendiary chairman of the Salford quarter-sessions, alluding to this subject in his charge to the grand jury, made use of the following words:—"As judicial inquiries would be instituted against the offending parties, it would not be just to enter much upon the subject; but he might be permitted to say, should such inquiries take place, purposes of the blackest enormity must be disclosed to the public, and that those who professed to doubt their existence, would finally be constrained to admit the existence of the whole of them."—The magistrates, in their hand-bill dated the 28th of March, declare the existence of a daring and traitorous conspiracy. The chairman of the quarter session, on the 23d April, after time had passed for due examination, re-asserts the fact, and uses terms implying almost a disbelief of the possibility of any man's honestly doubting it. Yet no conspiracy has been proved, nor has any conspirator been tried, though every one of the persons arrested have been liberated. If there be any suspicion of their guilt, how great must be the danger of returning to society, men implicated in such enormous crimes. If they are not guilty, let them be, as the petitioners require to be, publicly and legally acquitted.—Here the hon. member, after apologizing for so long detaining the House, concluded by moving, that the petition be brought up. He then stated his intention of moving, on some early day, to refer it to a committee.
§ The petition was ordered to be printed.