William Cobbett was an English journalist and member of parliament, who was born in Farnham, Surrey. He believed that reforming Parliament and abolishing the rotten boroughs would help to end the poverty of farm labourers, and he attacked the borough-mongers, sinecurists and "tax-eaters" relentlessly. Through the seeming contradictions in Cobbett's life, his opposition to authority stayed constant. He wrote many polemics, on subjects from political reform to religion. This is volume three out of four of his most essential writings, covering works for the weekly newspaper "Political Register" from the years 1809 to 1811.

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Essential Writings


Volume 3







Essential Writings 3, W. Cobbett

Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck

86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9



ISBN: 9783849651787



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DUKE OF YORK.—Continued.28

DUKE OF YORK.—Continued.47

DUKE OF YORK.—Continued.61

DUKE OF YORK.—Continued.91

DUKE OF YORK.—Continued.105

DUKE OF YORK.—Continued.122

DUKE OF YORK.—Continued.137

DUKE OF YORK.—Continued.159











JACOBIN GUINEAS.—Continued.232

JACOBIN GUINEAS.—Continued.238

JACOBIN GUINEAS.—Continued.241










TO THE READER.—Continued.307

















(Political Register, January, 1809.)

Note by the Editors.—The pledge spoken of below was put by Mr. Cobbett to the candidates for Hampshire at a county meeting held previously to the election, in 1808. It was as follows: “That he will never, either directly or indirectly, either by himself or by any person related to him or dependent upon him, receive a single shilling of the public money, in any shape whatever, so long as he shall live; and that he will use the utmost of his endeavours to obtain for this burdened people a redress of all their manifold grievances, and especially of that most crying grievance of having their money voted away by those amongst whom there are many who receive part of that money.”

Mr. Herbert This gentleman’s address to the electors of Hampshire, a copy of which will be found immediately below, Ref. 002 contains matter worthy of the notice, not of the people of Hampshire only, but of the whole nation. For the purpose of saving time, I have numbered the paragraphs. The First contains nothing of general interest. Not so the Second and Third, which may be looked upon, and evidently were intended, as an answer to the pledge demanded by me.

It is something, at any rate, to hear a candidate declare, that he never will accept of a pension or sinecure, and this declaration Mr. Herbert has distinctly made, in a manner the most likely to be remembered. I, therefore, conclude, that he means, under all possible circumstances, to adhere to this promise, and in that conclusion I have, I must confess, great pleasure. It is one step, at least, in the right path; and it is a step, which, with the sole exception of Lord Cochrane, no one, of late times, has, as far as I have observed, thought proper to take.

But, from place Mr. Herbert will not debar himself by any pledge. This he calls foregoing the prospects of fair ambition, and binding himself to take no share in the administration of public affairs.

The pledge, which I demanded, as the only terms upon which I would give my vote, had no such object in view. As will be seen by reference to it, all that I wished to accomplish was this, that persons, once chosen to be the guardians of the people’s money, never should, during their whole lives, pocket, either by themselves or their relations and dependents, any part of that money. I said nothing about prohibiting any one from becoming a minister, or filling any office, upon any future occasion; but, then, I clearly meant, that, supposing him to fill any office, he should do it without pay, which, in many cases, at least, a man qualified to be a member of parliament, may very well do.

But, I confess, that my wish would be, that men who are chosen members of parliament, should never become servants of the King. A man cannot serve two masters; and, it matters very little, whether he be nominally the servant of both at one and the same time; or whether he be the nominal servant of one of them, while he is paving his way for being taken into the service of the other.

But in his Third paragraph, Mr. Herbert lets us see, that he thinks it right, and even necessary for the public good, that members of parliament should, at the same time, be servants of the King; that they should, in one and the same hour, ask for money in the latter capacity, and vote it in the former. This opinion being so directly at variance with plain common sense, it is worth while to examine into the reasons upon which it is founded. He says, that, if members were to lose the right of questioning the ministers face to face, the debates would become unimportant; that the censures of the House would be little worth, and passed without a hearing; that evil counsellors, who must tremble at the awful moment when they are publicly called to account, would lull themselves in security, without the necessity and even without the means of justifying themselves to the nation; and, that the dread of meeting an able minority front to front, is, in these days, almost the only check upon the actions of ministers.

“In these days” is an important phrase; for, it is precisely because the “days” are what they are, that I wish for a change. Mr. Herbert’s doctrine is in direct opposition to the Act of Settlement, which declares persons holding places of profit under the Crown to be incapable of serving as members of parliament. This act, till base and corrupt ministers found it troublesome, remained in force, and no inconvenience was experienced from it. Nay, when the act, as far as related to this important point, was repealed, the repealers, though most profligate men, had not the impudence to do it without an appearance of preserving the principle; and, therefore, they enacted, that, if a member accepted of a place of emolument after his election, his seat should, in consequence thereof, be vacated, in order to give the people who elected him when he had no place, an opportunity of rejecting him on account of his having a place. Now, will Mr. Herbert say, that the object of this law was, and is, really what it professes to be? Will he say, that the electors do really hereby obtain the opportunity stated above? I think, he will not; for it is impossible for him to produce me a single instance of a member of parliament having been prevented from again entering the walls of the House after having accepted of a place of profit under the Crown. It is notorious, that the vacating of the seat, upon such an occasion, is a mere matter of form. The Secretaries of State, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the rest of them, are appointed without any one entertaining the smallest doubt of their being again returned. Nay, when a change of ministry takes place, during a session of parliament, is it not notorious, that “the Opposition,” as it is called, the regular body upon the opposite benches, abstain from all warfare, till the enemies arrive; and do we not always hear it said, that such an one cannot come into the engagement till such a day, because, until that day his return cannot arrive? That this is the fact no one can deny. But, whether it be so, or not, Mr. Herbert is left in a dilemma, if he approve of the law as it now stands; for, suppose the people to obtain an opportunity of rejecting the member that becomes a placeman, and suppose them to reject him, of which the letter of the law implies the probability and even the propriety; suppose the electors of all the members, composing a new ministry, to reject them upon the score of place, and supposing there to be no good-natured, modest gentlemen to give up their seats and their constituents to them; in that case, we should lose the amazing benefit, which Mr. Herbert perceives in the having of the ministers in the House; and, on the other hand, if this be impossible, or, if there be not the smallest chance of this, the law with respect to re-election is . . . . . . . . ; and, those, who affect to see a security for the people in it, are . . . . . . what I need not describe, and what I will not describe in terms other than those, which they so richly deserve. I will not wrong my thoughts by the using of words, which would be an inadequate expression of them.

But, the debates, Mr. Herbert says, would become frivolous and unimportant, if the King’s counsellors and servants were not in the House. The debates! All is debate. Why, there is a standing order of the House against publishing any debate; and, moreover, any member may, whenever he pleases, cause the galleries to be cleared, and the doors to be locked against all spectators and hearers. It is, to be sure, a very valuable thing that we possess; a mighty thing for our liberties, that any one member, either of those for Old Sarum, without even a seconder, may, at any time, totally deprive us of.

But, Sir, why should the debates become of no importance; of no interest at all to us, if the ministers and other placemen were kept out of the House? They might, indeed, be of little interest to those, who are now seeking for place through the means of debates; but, to the people: is it possible, that you can think, that the discussions of men, who were the real representatives of the people; who could scarcely have any views towards gain of any sort; who would be under no temptation to vote this way or that way to serve themselves, or to serve a party: is it possible, that you can think, that the discussions of such men would be less interesting to the people, than the wranglings of two parties, always opposed to each other, taking opposite positions in the House as naturally as two hostile armies, and well known to be contending for the places and emoluments which the Crown has to bestow? No, it is not possible; I assert, that it is not possible for you to believe, that the discussions of an assembly where, upon all great occasions, it is known beforehand of which side each member will speak and vote; where it is known beforehand what the result will be: I assert it to be impossible for you to believe, that the debates of such an assembly, can be so interesting as the debates of an assembly, where there is no such foreknowledge, and where there is known to exist, generally speaking, nothing to bias the judgment of the members. You must have observed, Sir, the difference which, in point of interest, is excited by the speeches of Barristers and that of the Judge. The cause of this is, not the superior ability of the Judge, for such is not always the case; not the novelty of the matter, for that has been already amply detailed: but solely the persuasion, that what is said by the Judge proceeds from an unbiassed mind. And, Sir, for this same reason, the debates of an assembly, not divided into regular parties, would, in the same degree, excite an interest greater than that which is excited by the debates of the House of Commons, as that house is now filled.

As to the advantage of “questioning the ministers face to face,” they were so questioned, when they were excluded from parliament. They were sent to the House by the King, to bear his messages; to ask for money in his name; and to give such explanations, as the representatives of the people required at their hands. There is, surely, nothing difficult in this. It is the regular and natural course of proceeding; but, can any one pretend, that it is natural; can any one pretend, that it is not a monstrous absurdity, that ministers, that the servants of the King, or, indeed, that any body else in this world, should be called to account by themselves; that they should sit in judgment, and vote, and assist in the deciding, upon the merits, or demerits, of their own conduct; and especially when it is known beforehand, when it is acknowledged to be essential to the very system, that they have, and must have, a majority in their favour, it being, according to that system, impossible for them to hold their places any longer than they have that majority?

“Tremble at the awful moment of meeting an able minority!” You surprise me, Sir. What have they, as long as they can preserve their majority, to tremble at? When did you see a ministry tremble, except for the loss of their places? And why should they? But, if there were a House of Commons, without placemen or pensioners; consisting of men not capable of being placed or pensioned; if the race could not be for power and emolument; if the members could not, in the future, discover any motive for indulgence, and lenity with respect to the past; then, indeed, wicked or foolish counsellors would have good cause to “tremble at the awful moment of meeting,” not an “able minority,” but an honest majority, in parliament, who would not waste their time in making long lawyer-like speeches, in order to show their fitness for conducting wars and negotiations; but, who, having only their own good, as connected with that of the public, in view, would busy themselves in doing that which belonged to their office, as guardians of the public treasure and the public liberty.

If the House of Commons contained no placemen; if it were unmixed with the servants of the King; if it were composed of men who never could touch the public money, can it be believed, that the public money would not be better taken care of? Besides the incompatibility of the two situations, in this respect, is it not evident, that a man, who has, for one half of the year, to fight daily battles in the House of Commons for the preservation of his place, must neglect the duties of that place? Is it not evident, that, if a man be compelled to give his mind up to debate and the preparation for debate, the duties of his office must be left to underlings, or be wholly neglected? Nay, is it not evident, that, if the possession of the place is to depend upon debates in the House of Commons, he will fashion his measures and especially his appointments and other favours to that mould which is likely to ensure him the greatest number of friends in that House; which fashioning would be useless for his purpose, were the members and the relations of the members incapable of receiving emoluments from the public purse?

The King, too, would, if this were the case, be left free in his choice of servants. He would not be compelled to take into his council a whole pack together. He would not be compelled to consider who could make the best, or, rather, the longest, speeches, and who would carry with them the greatest number of votes. He would be free to select whomsoever he thought most able and most trust-worthy; while the Commons, on their side, could have no reason for undue bias or partiality, in this respect, at the same time, that, if the King had counsellors, whom they disapproved of, they would, at all times, have the power of censuring them, of impeaching them, or of causing their removal by following the old constitutional course of refusing money; which is now, all the world knows, a power that is never exercised, nor is it ever thought of being exercised.

Is there an evil we complain of, or feel, which cannot be traced to this source? Let Mr. Herbert review all the circumstances, which led to, and which have followed, the Cintra Convention; and, I am persuaded, that, whether in the appointments, the progress of the thing itself, or the proceedings consequent upon it, he will clearly discover the prime cause to be that very system of things, of which he professes himself to be an advocate. If the war-minister, or all the ministers together, had had no debatings and dividings to look to; if they had had nobody but their master to obey; no families or particular individuals to conciliate or gratify; they would have acted upon the evidence of their senses; and being men of common discernment at least, they could not have greatly erred. But hampered, perplexed, divided in their feelings, as they constantly are, with duty on one side, and powerful importunity, not to say menace, on the other, is it any wonder that they so frequently yield to the latter, and that, of that yielding, we have so frequently to suffer and to blush for the consequences?

Such are the reasons which induced me to propose the pledge, at Winchester; and, with me, at least, these reasons will continue to operate, until I hear something more forcible opposed to them, than what I have yet met with in any writing, ancient or modern.


(Political Register, April, 1809.)

I have long delayed the execution of justice, in a set and formal manner, upon this race of politicians.

I have often called them traders, regular traders, and the like; and have occasionally shown how dearly the people of England have paid for the “loyalty” of the said traders. I have said, many times, that they found Anti-Jacobinism a thriving trade; and that, therefore, they were unwilling to give it up. I have pointed out the many efforts, which, from time to time, they have made, to make the people believe, that there was still a jacobin conspiracy going on. Many, and, indeed, the greater part of the nation, have long been convinced, that there was no such thing as jacobinism existing in the country, and that the cry of jacobinism, set up against every man who complained of abuses or corruptions, was a mere lure, a mere contrivance, to deceive honest and uninformed men. But, it was not till Mr. Wardle came out with his exposures, that the whole nation saw clearly to the bottom of this villanous deception, It was not until his charges, which, in the hope of being able to cry him down, were answered with a charge of jacobin conspiracy, that the whole mass of the people began to see the detestable fraud, which had so long been practised upon them, and of which many men of great understanding had become the dupe.

Now they are completely undeceived. Now they see, that a Jacobin means a man, who endeavours to root out corruptions and to prevent public robbery; and that, as the word imports, an Anti-Jacobin means exactly the contrary. Still, however, it will be useful to expose the traffic of Anti-Jacobinism. Hitherto we have considered it as something of a sectarian, or political, nature; but, we are now to abstract our minds from all such associations of ideas, and to consider Anti-Jacobinism merely as a trade; a trade in the plain and common acceptation of the word; a mere money-making concern; a calling upon which men outer with no other views than those of Lloyd’s and the ’Change, and to which apprentices may be bound in the regular course of law, there being gradations in it from the master tradesman downward, through the foreman and journeyman, to the sweeper and sprinkler of the pavement before the shop.

In this case, as in all others, the best way is to proceed with the stating of facts; for, a few facts answer a better purpose, they produce a deeper and juster impression, than can be produced by any general description, from however able a pen it may proceed.

I have, at different times, noticed, and shall hereafter notice, several persons, who have followed, and still do follow, this once flourishing trade. But, if I were called upon to name the tradesman, who has obtained the greatest celebrity in his way, and who most deserves that celebrity; the man who is, in this trade, what Mr. Packwood is in that of razor-streps, truth would compel me to say it was MR. JOHN BOWLES. There are others, who have had great vogue, and have not been without their profits, such as Mr. Green, Mr. Redhead Yorke, and the co-partnership of the Rev. Messrs. Nares and Beloe (the latter of whom was, sometime since, in the British Museum, whereby hangs a tale yet to be told); there are several clergymen, each of whom has traded very thrivingly upon his own bottom, and there are some others who have carried on the trade, with many journeymen under them; there are Mr. Gentz and that pink of knighthood, Sir Francis D’Ivernois, amongst the foreign traders; but, at the head of the whole most assuredly stands Mr. John Bowles.

This gentleman was, as the phrase is, bred to the bar, but, to use the pun of Admiral Paine, the bar being. I suppose, bad bread to him, he changed his calling in or about the year 1792. He appears to have begun, about that time, his manufactory of Anti-Jacobinism, with a pamphlet against Tom Paine, which being quite to the taste of that minister, who lent, without law, 40,000l. of the public money, without interest, to two of his then majority in parliament, he made our hero a Commissioner of Bankrupts, worth, I believe, about 3 or 400l. a year.

As yet, however, the term Anti-Jacobin was not in use. The trade had begun; but there was not a suitable name for it. The traders called themselves friends to their King and Country, and the like; but, John Bull loves short appellations; he is everlastingly prone to abbreviate; it was, therefore, necessary to find out an appropriate term whereby to designate the persons engaged in this new and thriving trade; and, to the honour of the Church, be it known, the term Anti-Jacobin was, at last, discovered by a clergyman.

About the year 1796, the trade seemed to be somewhat at a stand, and therefore, the government, as in the case of other useful trades, such as that of printing bank notes &c., took it, in some sort, under its immediate protection; or rather, it showed an example to be imitated by others. I here allude to the establishment of the “Weekly Anti-Jacobin” newspaper. This was an era in the history of the trade. Messrs. Canning and Frere (John Hookham) and George Ellis were the principal Directors in this establishment. They were, too, the fabricators of the choice articles that went from this shop; but, in setting the thing on foot, they were unable to proceed without the experience of Mr. John Bowles, who, from what source the reader may easily judge, found the means of setting all the machines in motion. But, whether the three persons, before mentioned, thought that John’s weighty matter would be apt to be too heavy for the wire-drawn work in which they excelled, or whether they were afraid that he would, as senior tradesman, and projector of the establishment, aspire to be the head of the firm, they soon jostled him out of the concern, for which, it is said, John never cordially forgave them. Messrs. Canning & Co. being engaged in other branches of business at the same time, were, however, compelled to have assistance; and, not liking to take an additional partner into the House, they got a respectable journeyman to superintend the business for them, a Mr. William Gifford, who had written some good poetry and better prose; who was a very sensible, acute, and, I verily believe, a very honest man; who never ought to have been exposed to the necessity of becoming the journeyman of Canning and Co.; and who always appeared to me to be cursedly ashamed of the calling.

At the end of 26 Numbers the manufacture stopped, all of a sudden, to the great surprise of every body; but, the fact is, that the raw material was wanting. Messrs. Canning and Co. had expended their stock of epigrams and antitheses, and, in the latter Numbers, were reduced to downright punning. Their pride would not suffer them to resort to the stores of their journeyman; and so the thing went out, like the snuff of a candle.

Short, however, as was its duration, it produced a very powerful example. Mr. Wm. Gifford had first a patent place given to him; to that was added a double commissionership of the Lottery; to that another place in the Household, making, in total amount, about a thousand pounds a year for life. Pretty well, I think, for 26 weeks superintendence on the printing and publishing of the droppings of the brains of Mr. Canning, Mr. George Ellis, and Mr. John Hookham Frere, neither of whom ever knew him previous to that time!

Reader, stop here, a moment, and ask yourself if it be any wonder that the taxes are heavy. Ask yourself if it be any wonder that the landowners are little more than stewards and collectors for the government. Ask yourself if it be any wonder that family hospitality has ceased, and pauperism has reared its head where plenty, or, at least, comfortable independence, formerly presided.

Are we told by the traders, that these places must have been given to somebody, and that, therefore, it makes no difference to us, in point of expense? First, I deny the premises; for, such places should be abolished as fast, at least, as they become vacant. But, if we admit the premises the conclusion does not follow; for, if such places must be given to somebody, are there not enough disabled officers of the navy or army; are there not enough superannuated servants of the public; are there not enough and enough persons, who have done something for the country, and who are either pensioned, or starving; are there not enough of these to give such places to?

But, it is useless for us to swell and foam with indignation. Thus it has been, thus it is, thus it will be, and thus it must be, while seats in Parliament are to be obtained in the manner negotiated for by Mr. Reding and Lord Clancarty.

Now we come back to the great regular trader, Mr. John Bowles, who, though he had been jostled out of the firm of Canning & Co., though he was not allowed to take any, or but very little, share in what they sent forth against every man, be his rank what it would, who disapproved of any of the measures of Pitt, he continued to push on a very valuable concern of his own; and, as the booksellers well remember, to their cost, he absolutely inundated the town with his pamphlets. He used to publish pamphlets upon “The Political and Moral State of Society at the end of such and such a year,” in all which pamphlets, though containing some very good stuff, as a sort of passport to the rest, he failed not to introduce an abundance of sterling Anti-Jacobinism. In 1804, at the time of one of the Middlesex Elections, he made a grand effort to restore the trade to the flourishing state in which it was in 1797 and 1798; and, failing in that attempt did not discourage him from another in 1806, at another Middlesex Election, when he and his new associate, Redhead, did actually bring forward that very Mr. Mellish, who was, the other day, so justly treated by the freeholders of the county, met at Hackney.

“Well,” says the reader, “but, really, this must have been a very honest and zealous man. Say that his loyalty was purchased; still he had but 3 or 400l. a year, and for that he was obliged to perform the drudgery of a Commissioner of Bankrupts. His loyalty must have been unfeigned and have proceeded from principle; for this paltry sum could hardly keep soul and body together.”

Now, reader, we come to the point; now we come to the secrets of the trade, as carried on by this active and enterprising Anti-Jacobin, whose real great occupation was totally unknown to that public, upon whom he so frequently intruded his moral reflections.

In the year 1795, there was a Commission (a commission is a very convenient thing) appointed for the purpose of superintending the management of Dutch Property; that is to say, the cargoes of Dutch ships detained or brought in. These Commissioners were, by an Act of Parliament, authorized to take such ships and cargoes under their care, to manage, sell, and dispose of the same, according to instructions which they were to receive, from time to time, from the King in council. These Commissioners were five in number, and of the five, John Bowles was one. Let us have all their names, in the language of the Commission: “To our trusty and well-beloved James Craufurd, John Brickwood, Allen Chatfield, JOHN BOWLES, and Alexander Baxter.”

It will seem odd to the public, that this Commission, which began to exist fourteen years ago, should have still an existence; but, when that public comes to see the pretty profits which it was, and still is, bringing in, and how much it was the interest of the Commissioners to protract its duration, it will not be at all surprised at that duration. The document which lets us into an authentic account of this Commission, is the Fourth Report of a Committee of the House of Commons, appointed to control the several branches of the Public Expenditure, which Report, as far as it relates to this matter, will be found inserted in number 16, vol. XV. of the Register.

It will be seen, from this Report, that no bargain was made, as to the compensation, which these gentry were to receive. They had the handling of property to the gross amount of nearly THREE MILLIONS sterling. They were seated at a rich feast, and having nobody to carve for them, they were, it appears, not such fools as to forbear from helping themselves, which, I dare say, was exactly what Pitt intended. They had too much modesty to remind the government, that no terms of compensation had been settled; they never, in the course of fourteen years, made any application upon the subject; but, they set to work very early to feathering their nest, by taking into their own pockets a commission of five per cent upon the gross proceeds of their sales, just as if they had been merchants, who had got into business through talents and labour and capital of their own, instead of being put into business by a stroke of Pitt’s pen. This would have been pretty well of itself; but, as the Report will show, they used the money besides; that, instead of paying the cash into the Bank of England, and letting it remain there, according to the terms of the Act of Parliament, they kept large balances in their hands, which they employed in various ways, each taking a share of it to his private banker’s, and that they, in some cases, discounted private bills with it. In short, their total of profits, according to what they acknowledge to, would be 133,198l., that is 26,639l. to each Anti-Jacobin.

There is a trade for you! A trade that requires no stock, other than that of impudence, and no tools but an inkhorn and a goose-quill.

The Report will show what are the opinions of the Committee of the House of Commons upon the exorbitancy of these charges, and upon the general conduct of the Anti-Jacobins, by whom they have been made. The Committee prove, that even according to the principles upon which the charge is made, it ought not to be half what the Anti-Jacobins have made it.

The reader will perceive by looking at the Report, which I do beseech him to read, that the charges upon the sales; that is to say, the porterage, cartage, warehouse room, &c. amounted to 631,239l. sterling, and this, he will see, is nearly one third of the amount of the net proceeds! Very pretty traders these! And, mind, they charge the country a commission of five per cent upon these charges too as well as upon the net proceeds!

It has been proved before the Committee, that these charges of commission would be unusual and unjust, even if we were to admit the Anti-Jacobins to take the footing of merchants; but, reader, is that for one moment to be admitted? What capital did they possess? What advances were they ever required to make, as all commission merchants are? What labour had they ever had to perform, in order to get into business?

Again: They charge for the expenses of their establishment 17,000l. exclusive of all the charges upon the sales. What do they mean by this? What did it consist of, but of a house of 200l. a year rent, perhaps; coals and candles; a woman to sweep out the place, and a couple of clerks: for, observe, they themselves were five in number? How were these things to cost 1,200l. a year for 14 years, especially as almost all their business was ended in 1799?

I shall here introduce an article, upon this subject, from the Times newspaper of the 18th instant, which paper, the reader will please to observe, was that in which John Bowles used to puff off his loyalty, and the proprietor of which has very laudably thus endeavoured to undeceive his numerous readers:—

“These Commissioners, it appears, entered upon their office without making any express agreement what they were to be paid; and they continued so to act for twelve years, without ever giving the slightest intimation to Government as to what they were taking in the way of remuneration, whilst they were during this time, on their own authority, withdrawing five per cent from all the gross proceeds of public money that went through their hands. This they have declared to be the usual mercantile commission; whereas it appears on examination that half that sum, viz. two and a half per cent, is the usual mercantile commission, which even they themselves paid to others.—And farther, it appears, that by the usual mercantile practices, an interest account is kept between merchants selling on commission and their employers; the former paying to the latter the interest of the average balance retained in their hands: whereas these Dutch commissioners retained an immense balance, some part of which they are discovered to have converted to personal gain, even by negotiating private bills of exchange with it; they admit that they never meant to place the whole of the interest actually received, to the national account; and still less that which might have been received from the more active employment of the money. But their intentions will be plain enough from these circumstances: that of the public money employed at interest they made no minute; no proof of such employment appears in their cash-book; and when required by the committee, to give an account of their fees and other emoluments, they directly stated that they had ‘no salary, fees, or emoluments,’ but that commission, which they denominated the usual one.—And, lastly, it has been seen, that pending these transactions, the country was so distressed, that Mr. Pitt, the Finance Minister, not knowing how to raise money for the public service, did actually apply to these very commissioners for assistance, which they, with an augmenting balance of 190,000l. in their hands, declined to afford him, concealing their possession of such a sum; and refusing the country’s money to supply the wants of the country. In what language are we to address such men?

“That pity they to England show’d,

That pity show to them.”

“Oh, John Bowles! John Bowles! little did we think when we were unwittingly inserting thy paragraphs against Jacobins and Levellers, how much thy loyalty was warmed by considerations like these: and even when thou saidst that thou wast no admirer of Lord St. Vincent, it hardly occurred to us that he who had driven away the miscreants that gnawed the vitals of the State in one department, might reasonably create terrors in those who were sucking the blood of another.

Oh, John Bowles! John Bowles!”

Now, reader, leaving this pious man to write his moral and political State of Society at the beginning of the year 1809; leaving him to his labours in the Society for the Suppression of Vice, of which he is one of the most zealous members; leaving him to put down bull-baits, village fairs, and twopenny hops, of which he is a mortal enemy, as the people of Peckham, Camberwell, and Dulwich can testify; leaving him to his actings as a Surrey and a Kentish and a Middlesex justice of the peace; leaving his godliness to dictate false assertions about the naked woman at Nottingham, and about the late Duke of Bedford’s breaking the Sabbath; leaving him to these occupations, let us proceed to notice one little point in the Report and documents, which, otherwise, may escape public attention. In a paper, laid before the committee, it is said, that the Commissioners trust, that the Committee “will not forget, that two of their number, have been under the necessity of relinquishing their professions, in order to attend to their duty as commissioners.” Now, I take it for granted, that John is one of these two; and, then, let the reader bear in mind, that John had actually become a Commissioner of Bankrupts, before he was a Dutch Commissioner! Would he have done this, if he had had much practice at the bar? I will bet him my right hand against his net proceeds, that he never had the pleading of a cause in his life, though he must have been thirty-five years old, at least, before he became a Dutch Commissioner. Besides, he has, during the time, if not the whole time, that he has been a Dutch Commissioner, been also a Commissioner of Bankrupts, and, if I am not much in mistake, he is actually a Commissioner of Bankrupts at this moment! Well, John, if we do not give full credit to thy professions now, the devil is in us.—The Committee do, indeed, say, that they cannot admit of this plea of compensation for loss of profession; but, why did they not ask, whether the said gentry held no other places under the government? I am persuaded they all do at this moment.

But, what a scandalous thing it is, that, when any creature, who calls itself a lawyer, is taken into government employ, he is not only to receive the pay of the post, but is to receive compensation for the loss, the imaginary loss, of his profession. Just as if he was pressed into the service; just as if he was taken and forced to come to the aid of the country. Thus it is, that the bar is enslaved; thus it is that no minister is afraid of legal talents; thus it is that the bar is the tool of the government. Men are bred to the law, not for the purpose of being lawyers, but for the purpose of qualifying for a post and a pension under the government. No wonder, that we see, amongst lawyers, what we have recently seen. In short, this is another of the many ways, in which we have been reduced to our present degraded state; from which state we must raise ourselves, or we deserve to perish as a people, and the means of doing which is only to be found in legal, and constitutional, and loyal applications for a reform in that assembly, where the laws originate; all other remedies having been tried, over and over again, and having been found unavailing.

John Bowles was amongst the loudest of those, who clamoured against Sir Francis Burdett for his phrase about the “accursed Red Book,” the leaves of which he wished to tear out. But, John took care not to tell the public, that his own name was in that book, in two places, at least. No; it suited John better to say, that Sir Francis wanted to tear out the name of “our good and pious old king;” and, thereupon, to call him a bloody-minded Jacobin. But, now let the reader say, who has done the most injury to the throne; who has brought most discredit upon the government, Sir Francis Burdett or the abusers of Sir Francis Burdett. The Jacobin Baronet, or the Anti-Jacobin friends and associates of the Duke of York and John Bowles?

John has had a longer race than most men like him; his hour is certainly come. During the late busy season, John had quite slipped out of my mind; and this morning, just as I was thinking about beginning an exposure of the affair of the correct Colonel’s improvements, at Chelsea, in dropped, from the mail-coach, the Case of John and his five per cent partners, every one of whom is not only a stanch Anti-Jacobin, but belongs also, I am told, to the Society for the Suppression of Vice; Anti-Jacobins, Anti-bull baiters, Anti-boxers, Anti-revellers, and Anti-dancers; Anti-every thing that is calculated to draw the people together, and to afford them a chance of communicating their ideas; Anti-every thing which does not tend to abject subjection.

Thus, reader, have you the grand Anti-Jacobin before you. He comes out at a fortunate time, and serves as an excellent elucidation of the doctrine of those, who set up the cry of Jacobinism against Mr. Wardle; thanks to whom, thanks to whom be for ever given, for having opened the eyes of this blinded nation to the character and conduct of these the very worst of its foes.


(Political Register, February, 1809.)

Note by the Editors.—The affair of the Duke of York occupied all public men, and the attention of the whole public, during a large part of the year 1809, and it takes a large part of the Political Register for that year. In looking through all the speeches, examinations, and comments, as they are given in that work, we, at first, intended merely to give the latter; but, on reading these, we found it impossible to disjoin them from the facts with which they are interspersed, and, therefore, we have thought it necessary to give the whole as it now stands in the work from which we extract it. It seems, indeed, more just towards all the parties, that the whole case should stand with the comments on it, than that the comments should go forth without the case. The reader cannot fail to perceive the then-growing animosity against the popular part of the press, which this affair ripened; and he will be prepared to find, that Mr. Cobbett was prosecuted by the Attorney-General, Gibbs, before the end of the year, for an alleged seditious libel.

“’Tis all a libel, Paxton, Sir, will say.”


Much as I wish to communicate to the public some information, some really authentic information, which I possess, respecting the disposition of the people of Spain, their behaviour towards our army, the manner in which the retreat was conducted, the superior bodily strength and the superior bravery of our troops; anxious as I am to communicate this information to the public, I must defer it for the present, the parliamentary discussion relative to our illustrious Commander-in-Chief imperiously demanding a preference to every thing else.

On last Friday, the 27th ult., Mr. Wardle, a member of the House of Commons, who came into the honourable house for the first time, I believe, in consequence of the dissolution in 1807, when his Majesty was last “most graciously pleased to appeal to the sense of his people,” and for which gracious act the public will do me the justice to say, that I, at the time, expressed my profound gratitude, though I could not then possibly foresee a thousandth part of the good which has resulted from the dissolution. Mr. Wardle, having before given due notice of his intention, did, on the day above-mentioned, after a speech of considerable length, make a motion “for the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the conduct of the Commander-in-Chief, with regard to Promotions and Exchanges in the Army, &c. &c.” This is truly high matter; and, as it is also matter of great “delicacy,” as will be seen in the sequel, it will demand, from reader as well as writer, more than an ordinary degree of attention, to say nothing about the reverence, which, upon such an occasion, will naturally take and keep possession of our minds. The honourable persons, who spoke on the side of the Duke, and who, from what appears in the report, seem to have known his wish upon the subject, declared, that that wish was decidedly for publicity; that every part of the inquiry, from the beginning to the end, should be made as public as possible. In this respect, the public do, I am certain, perfectly coincide in wishes with the royal chief; and, therefore, though, in general, it is not desirable that reports of debates should be inserted in this work, I shall insert here the whole of this most interesting debate, or, rather conversation, of the honourable house. Upon comparing the reports in the different newspapers, I find the best, that is to say, the fullest, to be in the Morning Chronicle, as is, indeed, usually the case. I find very little difference as to the substance, the accuracy with which the debates are, in general, taken and published, being really wonderful, and a circumstance eminently creditable to the talents of the gentlemen, by whom those debates are given to the public. But, upon this important occasion, I will, as I proceed with the insertion of the debate from the Morning Chronicle, subjoin, in notes, parts of the report as given in the Courier, wherever it appears that there has been any material omission in the report of the Morning Chronicle; and thus we shall have the best possible chance of letting nothing of consequence escape us.

Mr. Wardle’s speech, I find divided into distinct paragraphs. These I shall distinguish by numerical figures, which will facilitate the work of reference, a work which, in all human probability, we shall frequently have to perform, it being quite evident to me, that this is a matter, which is not only, at present, extremely interesting in itself, to the country in general, to all the payers of taxes, as well as to every man in the army; but, also a matter, the inquiries into which must, at a day more or less remote, produce important national consequences.

It may be thought, perhaps, by some, that it would be better for me to wait; to reserve my observations upon this debate, until it be seen whether Mr. Wardle be able to substantiate his charges; especially as that may, perhaps, be known before this sheet can possibly reach the press. I am of a different opinion; because, whatever the result may be, there is much in the report, which appears to me loudly to call for that observation, with which it is my intention to close this article; and because, from certain expressions therein contained, I think it may be reasonably supposed, that, if the observation is to go forth through the press, there is no time to be lost.

Having said this by way of preface, I shall proceed to insert the debate, just as I find it in the above-named newspapers, without the omission of a “hear,” or a “laugh.”

Mr. Wardle rose, pursuant to his notice, and spoke to the following effect:—

I.—Fully aware, Sir, of the great importance of the subject I am about to submit to the consideration of the House, I most sincerely lament that my abilities are unequal to do it complete justice. But yet I trust that an ardent zeal for the welfare of my country, supported by facts strong and incontrovertible, will enable me to surmount every difficulty, and eventually to rescue the state from the baneful influence of a power which has long been exercised for the worst of purposes, and which, in fact, tends to endanger our ultimate security. To stand forward the public accuser of a man so high in rank and so strong in influence as the Commander-in-Chief, may very naturally be deemed no less a bold than an arduous undertaking. But, however bold, however arduous it may be, being determined that no consideration of that nature shall ever induce any hesitation or wavering in the performance of my duty, either upon this or upon any other occasion, my mind is fully made up for perseverance. In the resolution I have formed, it is but reasonable for me to calculate upon the concurrence and cooperation of this House and the country. For, at a crisis of peculiar peril, when the great, if not the only means of our safety may depend upon the judicious organization and able direction of our military force, every man in the community must feel a lively interest in the object which my motion has in view. I trust, therefore, that H. R. H. the Duke of York will this night find, that however exalted his rank, however powerful his influence, the voice of the people, through their representatives, will prevail over corruption, and justice will be done to the calls of a long-suffering and meritorious body, to the best, to the vital interests of the people. In the course which I am pursuing, I feel conscious of no motive but that of a desire to serve my country, and I am confident, that none other can be fairly ascribed to me. The conviction of my mind is and for some time has been, that unless the system of corruption that has so long prevailed in the military department be done away, this country may fall an easy prey to the enemy. Consistently, therefore, with any rational feeling of solicitude for my country, which involves my own connections and my family, it is impossible that I should sit silent, and allow the practices which have come to my knowledge, to be any longer concealed, from those who are so much interested in their character and tendency. It is upon these grounds, Sir, that I am urged to offer myself to your attention.

II.—The first point in the case which I have to state, relates to the Half-pay Fund, which is an establishment under the direction of the Commander-in-Chief. This fund arises out of the sale of commissions vacant by death; by the promotion of officers not allowed to sell; or by dismissions from the service. The power of the Commander-in-Chief over this fund was constituted, and intended, for the reward of merit, either by the appointment of meritorious officers to the commissions which so became vacant, or by selling them and applying the produce of such sales to the redemption of half-pay commissions, or to the Compassionate Fund. Here the power of the Commander-in-Chief over such produce ceases. If the commissions I have described are otherwise disposed of, the authority vested in the Commander-in-Chief is abused, and the objects of the Half-pay Fund are abandoned. Now, if I can show that those commissions are appropriated to very different purposes, it will of course appear that such abuse and abandonment do take place—that merit is not rewarded—that the Half-pay List is not reduced—that the Compassionate Fund is not assisted. For the purpose of showing this, it is absolutely necessary to call the attention of the House to another establishment of the Commander-in-Chief’s, which is quite of a different complexion to that I have just mentioned. This establishment, which consisted of a splendid house in Gloucester-place, a variety of carriages, and a long retinue of servants, commenced in the year 1803, and at the head of it was placed a lady of the name of Clarke. As this lady forms a principal party in several of the facts which I have to cite, I am under the necessity, however reluctantly, to mention her name, as well as that of others, in order to make out a fair parliamentary basis for my motion, and to satisfy the House that I have not brought it forward upon light grounds. In producing this satisfaction, I have no doubt of succeeding, and I assure the House, that I shall endeavour to avoid trespassing upon their time by the statement of more cases than appear to me necessary to the particular points which my motion embraces.

III.—The first case to which I have to call your attention is that of Captain Tonyn, whom I understand to be an officer of merit, and in alluding to him upon this occasion, I beg it to be understood that I mean no reflection whatever upon his character. This officer, who held his captaincy in the 48th regiment of foot, was promoted to a majority in the 31st regiment according to the Gazette, on the 2nd August 1804. For such promotion, to which no doubt Captain Tonyn’s professional merit entitled him to aspire, he was indebted to the influence of Mrs. Clarke; without which he might have long looked for promotion in vain. To Mrs. Clarke, Captain Tonyn was introduced by Captain Huxley Sandon, of the Royal Wagon Train; and the terms of agreement were, that Mrs. Clarke should be paid 500l. upon Captain Tonyn’s majority being gazetted. In order to secure this payment it was arranged, that the amount should be lodged in the hands of a third person, as agent to the parties, and this agent was a Mr. J. Donovan, a surgeon, of Charles-street, St. James’s-square. As I shall have frequent occasion to introduce this gentleman’s name to-night, and may be obliged to resort to him hereafter, it seems right that I should present the House with some information about him. It appears that Mr. Donovan was appointed a lieutenant in the 4th Royal Garrison Battalion in the year 1802, and that he was afterwards promoted to the 11th Battalion. What the cause of this appointment and promotion was I have endeavoured to ascertain, but without success. I have however found, that the services of Mr. Donovan could not have been of a military nature. In fact since the day of his appointment in 1802, he has never joined his regiment. But there seems to be some reason for granting him a perpetual leave of absence, so he has been on constant duty in London. This gentleman was a member of the medical department of our army in the American war. If he deserved protection, surely our medical staff is large enough to provide for him. What then could have taken him into the army? But to return to his pursuits in London.—The 500l. lodged with this gentleman was paid to Mrs. Clarke, by Captain Huxley Sandon, as soon as Major Tonyn was gazetted. Here it becomes necessary to observe to the House, that the regulated difference between a Company and a Majority is 1100l. which should have been appropriated as I before mentioned. But how does the affair stand? Mrs. Clarke gains 500l. and 1100l. are lost to the Half-pay Fund. This sum, however, of 500l. was paid by Mrs. Clarke to a Mr. Birket, a silversmith, in part payment for a service of plate for the establishment in Gloucester-place; the balance for which plate was afterwards paid by H. R. H. the Commander in Chief. The positions which I hold to be clearly deducible from this case are these—First, That Mrs. Clarke possessed the power of military promotion. Secondly, That she received pecuniary consideration for such promotion. And thirdly, That the Commander-in-Chief was a partaker in the benefit arising from such pecuniary consideration. To establish the truth of this case, I have the following witnesses;—Major Tonyn, Mrs. Clarke, Mr. Donovan, Captain Huxley Sandon, and Mr. Birket’s Executors.

IV.—The second case I have to adduce relates to the subject of exchanges. Upon the 25th of July 1805, an exchange was concluded between Lieut.-Colonel Brooke, of the 56th regiment of Infantry, and Lieut.-Colonel Knight, of the 5th Dragoon Guards, through the influence of Mrs. Clarke. The agent for negotiating this transaction was a Mr. Thynne, a medical gentleman. The circumstances of the application to the Duke of York were shortly these; Mrs. Clarke wanted some money to defray the expenses of an excursion in the country; she therefore urged the Commander-in-Chief to expedite the exchange, as she was to receive 200l. for it. This urgent request was made upon a Thursday, and its influence was such that the exchange was actually gazetted upon the Saturday following. Mrs. Clarke in consequence received 200l. from the agent. This case then serves to show—first, that, in addition to promotions, exchanges also were at the disposal of Mrs. Clarke; and secondly, that the purse of the Commander-in-Chief was saved by the supply which his mistress derived from such sources. The witnesses to this case are, Lieut.-Colonel Brooke, Lieut.-Colonel Knight, Mrs. Clarke, and Mr. Thynne.

V.—As a contrast to the preceding exchange, I shall take leave to state a case of peculiar hardship which occurred within the last year: two meritorious officers, Major Macdonald and Major Sinclair, both of the first regiment of infantry, and both indisposed, were anxious to make an exchange—the one desiring, for the recovery of his health, to remain in England; while the other, from a similar motive, desired to go to the West Indies. These gentlemen sought their object by every honourable means. The most urgent requests, and the most respectable recommendations were made in their favour, but in vain. No mistress was resorted to: no bribe of 200l. was offered; Major Macdonald was forced to go to the West Indies, and fell immediately a victim to the climate; Major Sinclair was forced to remain in England, and survived but a few months. Thus was the country deprived of two highly deserving officers.

VI.—The fourth case I have to adduce refers to Major John Shaw, of Colonel Champagne’s Ceylon regiment. Major Shaw was appointed Deputy Barrack Master of the Cape of Good Hope upon the 3rd of April, 1806, through the influence of Mrs. Clarke. It was known that this officer by no means enjoyed the favour of the Duke of York; that in fact his royal highness entertained some prejudices against him. But these obstacles Mrs. Clarke easily contrived to overcome: for it was agreed to pay her 1,000l. for the major’s appointment. The appointment was therefore made, and the major himself paid Mrs. Clarke 300l. Soon after, 200l. more were sent to Mrs. Clarke, by Major Shaw’s uncle, through Coutts’s bank, and the payment was made by one of Mr. Coutts’s clerks. The remaining 500l., however, was not paid; and when it was found not to be forthcoming, Mrs. Clarke was enraged, and threatened revenge. She actually complained to the Commander-in-Chief of Major Shaw’s breach of contract, and the consequence was that the major was soon after put on half-pay. I am in possession of several letters which passed upon this subject, from Major Shaw and Mrs. Shaw, threatening both the Commander-in-Chief and Mrs. Clark with public exposure &c. if their complaints were not redressed, but in vain. In consequence of this business, I have been induced to examine the half-pay list, in order to see whether any similar reduction to that of Major Shaw had taken place in the Barrack Department; but I have found no such thing. Such officers being, in fact, kept on full-pay, even on the home staff. This case of Major Shaw was indeed the only instance I could find of such an officer being reduced to half-pay. The case of this officer then demonstrates, first, that Mrs. Clarke’s influence extended to appointments on the staff of the army, as well as to promotions and exchanges in the army itself; secondly, That the Commander-in-Chief punished an individual by reducing him from full to half pay, for non-performance of a nefarious contract with his mistress; thirdly, That the Commander-in-Chief was a direct party to all this shameful transaction. The witnesses to this case are, Mrs. Clarke, Mr. Shaw, uncle to Major Shaw, Mr. Coutts’s clerk, and Mrs. Shaw.

VII.—I now come to the very novel case of Colonel French and his levy. This officer was, through the influence of Mrs. Clarke, appointed by the Commander-in-Chief to conduct a levy in the years 1804-5. The colonel was introduced to Mrs. Clarke by Captain Huxley Sandon, and the condition upon which he obtained his appointment was, that Mrs. C. should have one guinea out of the bounty of each man raised, together with the sale or patronage of a certain number of the commissions. The agreement being concluded, it was communicated to, and approved of, by the Commander-in-Chief. Colonel French was accordingly sent by Mrs. Clarke to the Horse Guards, and after many interviews, the levy was set on foot. As the levy proceeded, Mrs. Clarke received several sums of money from Colonel French, Captain Huxley Sandon, and a Mr. Corri. She also received 500l. from a Mr. Cockayne, who is a well-known solicitor in Lyon’s-inn, and a friend of Captain Huxley Sandon’s.

VIII.—But, to return for a moment to Mr. Donovan, the garrison-battalion lieutenant.—This gentleman, who was such a prominent agent in those transactions, was acquainted with an old officer, a Captain Tuck, whom he very strongly recommended to seek promotion; and to encourage him by a display of the facility with which it might be attained, he sent him a written scale of Mrs. Clarke’s prices, for different commissions, which, in stating, I beg leave to contrast with the regulated prices of the Army:

Mrs. Clarke’s Prices. Regulated Prices. A Majority £900 £2600 A Company 700 1500 A Lieutenancy 400 550 An Ensigncy 200 400

From this scale it appears, that the funds I have before alluded to lost, in an enormous ratio to the gain of Mrs. Clarke, or any other individual acting upon the same system.

IX.—Here I am to take leave of Mrs. Clarke. Here the scene closes upon her military negotiations; and in what follows, the Commander-in-Chief alone is interested. It appears that his royal highness required a loan of 5000l. from Col. French, and Mr. Grant, of Barnard’s inn, promised to comply with the request in procuring the money, provided the Commander-in-Chief would use his influence and obtain payment to Col. French of a balance due to him by government on account of the levy. This was promised, but the Commander-in-Chief failing to fulfil his part of the condition, the loan he required was not advanced, and 3000l. still remain due from government to Col. French. The case of this levy shows, first, that Mrs. Clarke, in addition to promotions in the army, to exchanges, and appointments on the staff, possessed the power of augmenting the military force of the country; secondly, that in this case, as in all others, she was allowed to receive pecuniary consideration for the exercise of her influence; thirdly, that the Commander-in-Chief endeavoured to derive a pecuniary accommodation for himself independently of Mrs. Clarke’s advantages. The witnesses in this case are, Col. French, Capt. Huxley Sandon, Mrs. Clarke, Mr. Corri, Mr. Grant, Capt. Tuck, and Mr. J. Donovan.

X.—The last case with which I shall at present trouble the House is that of Capt. Maling. This gent. was appointed to an ensigncy in the 87th reg. on the 28th of Nov. 1805; to a lieutenancy in the same reg. on the 26th of Nov. 1806; and to a captaincy in the Royal African Corps, under the command of the Duke of York’s own secretary, Col. Gordon, on the 15th of Sept. 1808. I have every reason to believe Capt. Maling to be a very unexceptionable character, although I cannot help pronouncing the mode of his promotion as extremely exceptionable. But this promotion was effected through the influence of the favourite agent, Mr. Greenwood, in whose office Mr. Maling was a clerk, remaining at his desk while advanced in the army by such an extraordinary course,—by a course which interfered with the interests, which superseded the rights of many meritorious officers who had long served in the army,—who had fought and bled for their country. This Mr. Maling has also, I understand, had, while so promoted, some appointment of paymaster in Ireland. I would appeal to the candour of the House, to the common sense of any man or body of men, whether it be right, whether it be tolerable, that such an accumulation of favours should be conferred upon any individual without any claim of professional merit, but merely through the operation of undue influence, while so many hundreds of truly deserving men are slighted and overlooked? I would ask, whether it be possible that our army can prosper,—that its spirit can succeed, or its character be advanced, while such injustice is tolerated? But I will not dwell upon those points,—it is quite unnecessary.