The Massacre of Peterloo, Manchester, 16th August 1819

The Peterloo Massacre - Manchester 16th August 1819


'NOTES & OBSERVATIONS, Critical & Explanatory, on the Papers Relative to
the Internal State of the Country, Recently Presented to Parliament
to which is appended,
a REPLY to Mr. Francis Philips's
'Exposure of the Calumnies circulated by the Enemies of Social Order ...
PAGE LIST (below) with LINKS

&c. &c.

Pages 136 to 138

IN the preceding notes, I have given to the correspondents of his Majesty's Ministers, perhaps, even greater advantages than those to which they could fairly lay claim. I have assumed and taken for granted (with very minute exceptions) the respectability and veracity of the whole series of alphabetical deponents. And with all this in their favour, I will venture to assert, that never did, and never can, Ministers submit to the House of Commons, a case, of .which the portentous announcement so strongly contrasts with the flimsy reality. The difference between paper depositions and viva voce testimony, is well known by all who are conversant with Courts of Justice; but when, in addition to this fact, these paper depositions are anonymous, they become, with respect to any purpose of liberal and enlightened legislation, as "baseless as the fabric of a vision."

The pretence for suppressing the names of the various deponents (if any real names they have) will of course, as upon former occasions, be, a desire to avoid exposing them to popular vengeance; but it may equally turn out, and it is much more probable, that in many instances, at least, the names of the parties are suppressed, lest their character should be known. What would be thought in a Court of Justice, if any individual were called upon to defend himself from the assault of unknown accusers, without any opportunity to impeach, to cross-examine, or to meet by opposing evidence, the charges they might think proper to bring forward? But if it should tum out, that this evidence has been purchased - that the. means by which the accusers "live, and move, and have their being," is the getting up of testimony against the people, who are judged with partiality, and convicted without opportunity for defence; are these documents, in the eyes of any rational and moderate man, entitled to a moment's attention or belief? And is it not a forfeiture of trust, and a dereliction of duty, if, upon grounds so narrow, so suspicious, and so untenable, the Grand Inquest of the Nation enacts BILLS OF PAIN AND PENALTIES AGAINST THE PEOPLE?

I have avoided encumbering the immediate notes I have made upon the various documents which have reference principally to this part of the country, by any lengthened observations upon the literary acquirements and taste of their authors, of which, however, we have many a marvellous specimen in the preceding text. Indeed, most of the communications from the Magistrates in this district (including Mr. Horton, of Halifax) are such, that we might have adopted the supposition of a public writer, that, the clerks being all out of the way, their worships had been obliged to write for themselves, were it not, that the specimens of the correspondence of one of them (Mr. Lloyd) with which we are favoured, go far towards verifying the old adage of "Like master, like man." The letter of Col. Fletcher, dated August 10th; that of the Rev. W. R. Hay, (a member of two learned professions, a minister both of the gospel and of the law,) dated August 16th; that of Mr. Norris, dated August 17th; to which, though not exactly belonging to the same class, may be added, the epistle of Messrs. Moore and Andrew, dated Sept. 16th, as well as several others; all make in proof of my assertion, that these persons are as much deficient in the simple attainment of English composition, as in a strict and vigilant regard to the constitutional rights of the great body of their fellow-subjects. lf that fabric of well-regulated freedom, which has created and sustained our national greatness, is to be levelled with the dust, let it be not by the slow and wearisome decay of time, but by a power commensurate with its own. If, at the moment of his weakness and exhaustion, the British Lion is to be assaulted and abused, the blows which strike most heavily on his worn-out frame - which inflict the keenest pangs upon his noble nature, will be those which are struck by the meanest and most ignoble of the animals that assail him.


Transcribed PAGES from 'Notes & Observations ...'




(inc. footnotes)

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'NOTES & OBSERVATIONS, Critical & Explanatory, on the Papers Relative to the Internal State of the Country, Recently Presented to Parliament; to which is appended, a REPLY to Mr. Francis Philips's 'Exposure of the Calumnies circulated by the Enemies of Social Order ...'
by a 'Member of the Manchester Committee for Relieving the Sufferers of the 16th August 1819 (Ascribed to John Edward Taylor)
Pub. Dec1919

Transcribed by Sheila Goodyear 2019

LINK to full .pdf document of 'Notes & Observations ...' on the Internet Archive website to read or download.
LINK to .pdf file of 'Exposure of the Calumnies...' on the Internet Archive website to read or download

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