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

Page V - VIII



IN dedicating to you the ensuing pages, I take a liberty, to which I am only encouraged from knowing the anxiety you feel, that the prevailing disposition to attribute to the labouring classes, designs which they have never entertained, and to misrepresent their actual conduct, should be exposed, and its mischievous tendency counteracted.

Within the walls of the House of Commons, no one has exerted himself more laudably, or with greater effect, for this purpose, than you; and if I succeed in giving to your powerful arguments any additional confirmation, my hopes will be satisfied - my intentions fulfilled.

You, Sir, upon a recent occasion well observed, that "the people of England were not now to be governed in the same manner as a century ago ;" and in the true spirit of this declaration, you have endeavoured to expose and to put down that strange anomalous system of local government to which circumstances have here long subjected us, and of the existence of which, the events of the 16th of August were a mere manifestation.

The restrictive Bills, which are now passing through the British Parliament, I believe owe their existence to a determination to maintain and uphold that system in this neighbourhood, the previous operation of which has created every pretence that can be urged in their favour, and which, if I am not deceived, will, in its future proceedings, far transcend all that the most strenuous opposers of those military measures had considered within the probable range of their mischiefs.

No friend to the maintenance of well-regulated freedom can regard, without great jealousy and suspicion, the investing of any Magistrates with such discretionary powers, as are conferred by the "Seditious Meetings Bill," and the "Search for Arms Bill ;" and no one who knows the natural tendency of uncontrolled power to degenerate into gross abuse, or who understands the constitution and the character of a great part of the magistracy of this district, can look forward to tlh execution of those acts without considerable apprehension and alarm.

It is satisfactory however to reflect, that though the Magistrates may receive ministerial thanks and parliamentary sanction, there is another bar at which they must plead - another tribunal before which they will be summoned, whose decisions, influence cannot guide, nor power overawe. Public opinion has stamped an indelible character on the transactions of the 16th of August, and will rigidly scrutinize the future conduct of those with whom originated the proceedings of that day.

The dreadful mass of misery which the dispersion of the meeting by military violence has caused, cannot be conceived of, by those whose knowledge of the subject is wholly gathered from Newspaper details. If I were to relate but a small part of what I have personally witnessed,the public would feel, that, though there may have been errors or misrepresentation in individual cases, there is no ground for imputing to those who have written or spoken upon the affair, a general disposition to exaggerate.

Your private virtues and your political independence are well known to, and correctly appreciated by, the most enlightened portion of your fellow countrymen. And I am persuaded that those whose good opinion you would most value, fully concur with you in thinking, that on that melancholy occasion, to which the following pages owe their origin, the outrage offered to common humanity, and to constitutional law, was equally undeniable and alarming.

That you may long continue to maintain that high station amongst the friends of public liberty, which an honest estimation of your talents and your exertions has assigned to you, is my anxious wish. Entreating your pardon for this intrusion,

I have the honor to be, Sir,
With great respect,
Your most obedient Servant,

Manchester, 18th Dec. 1819


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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