To the Committee Appointed to Receive
and Apply Subscriptions for Raising an
Additional Armed Force in the County of
Gentlemen, - As it is not my intention to contribute to the above
object, I think it due to persons so highly respectable as yourselves, to myself,
and to the county at large, to state the reasons which influenced me in
declining to subscribe to a general fund, or to raise and separate force. At the
present moment, in this neighbourhood, everything is quiet and undisturbed; and
had the existing force of the County been augmented only by private
Subscriptions and individual efforts, I should have viewed the proceedings in silence,
giving no opinion as to its expediency or disadvantage. But, called upon, as I
have incidentally been, to assist in forwarding the object of the late County
Meeting, I cannot on an occasion so public, avoid, in a manner as public,
declaring my reasons for the line of conduct I mean, after due deliberation to
adopt. Those Gentlemen of the Committee, with whom I have the honour and
happiness of being aquatinted, will, I trust, do me the justice to admit, that I am
not a person unwilling, when satisfied that the occasion is a proper one, to
assist in any way in my power, in maintaining the public peace, and in supporting
the credit and security of the County, which must always mainly rest on the
faithful execution of laws, and the preservation and prosperity of our happy
To form an impartial judgment of the question now before me, I have
examined recent events and occurrences with all the accuracy of my power, and I
must beg leave to revert to certain local events connected with these
The Grand Jury of the County, at the late Assizes, seeing Tracts
circulated, of a nature to undermine our Religious Faith, and injure our form of
Government, naturally expressed their indignant feelings on the occasion; it
appears, however, from the result of a late trial, that these attacks on our
religion are not likely to be countenanced by a British Jury, any more than by a
British people. And I am also of opinion, that our happy form of Government
is as little in danger from the wild and frequently pernicious doctrines
maintained and disseminated on the subject of our constitution.
The nation is too enlightened to be misled by such dangerous theories.
Whether the voice of the People be sufficiently heard in the Commons House of
Parliament, all persons may be allowed, without criminality, not only to
doubt but to dispute, and may endeavour to correct what they consider a defect in
our system, by lawful means; but that that object, in itself legitimate when
pursued Constitutionally ought ever to be obtained by force. I deny as
peremptorily as I would peremptorily and steadily resist it.
The Parliament it seems, is to be called together at an earlier period
than usual; and, as we are told, to devise, means for putting down
disaffection. Ministers, therefore, I conclude, mean to propose laws still stronger
than those that exist, for that purpose; and this is to be attempted before any
enquiry shall take place into the late distressing transactions at Manchester.
Why the laws are to be so strengthened, or the armed force of the country to
be generally increased, I am at a loss at present to discover; for, whether the
late transactions at Manchester were legal or not, there seemed little
difficulty in enforcing a summary process, and protecting, if endangered, the
persons and property of the inhabitants. Before, then, recourse be had to
extraordinary legislation, and extraordinary arming, it may be advisable to enquire,
whether the conduct of the Magistracy has not been calculated rather to produce
than restrain unlawful combinations on the part of the people?
Some of the Magistry I have had the pleasure of knowing, and more
honourable and upright persons cannot exist. I would at all times rely on their
integrity; and few things would grieve me more, then that they should suffer in
their reputation, or in any other way, from the unfortunate events that have
recently occurred at Manchester. But to strifle or delay inquiry would only
injure them, while a full and fair investigation would doubtless be what they
would most desire.
For myself, I have little doubt but that the meeting at Manchester, of
the 16th of August, would have terminated as peaceably as those in other
parts of the Country where meetings of the same description have been held, had
it not been for the injudicious interference. What the immediate and ultimate
object of the persons calling such meetings may be, I pretend not to determine;
but that, at all events, is a subject of separate consideration. The whole
affair, then, should be submitted, without reserve, to the investigation of
impartial Committees in Parliament, which will alone give satisfaction to the
Country - will alone save Parliament from the reproaches of those that think that
it re-echoes but imperfectly the Public voice.
It is, I am aware, maintained by some, that it would be best to await
the decision of the tribunals of justice: but under the discouragements that
have recently occurred, one would find difficulty in recommending perseverance
in such a course, particularly after the result of the inquest at Oldham - an
inquest held after the purpose of inquiring into a charge of willful murder,
and which should have been brought to a termination as speddily as a due
examination of witnesses would allow.
It is said in justification of the extraordinary and alarming
adjournment of the Inquest to a week after the meeting of Parliament, and the
consequent postponement of the verdict, that it was done at the desire of the Jury.
This, however, it is also said, they disclaim; but even had they expressed such
a wish, the cause of it should have been made known, in a manner the most
distinct and formal; and if, from indisposition of any of the Jury, on the
testimony of medical men, then as little delay as possible should have been allowed
to interrupt the progress of the inquest. If offences have been committed, let
the offenders be punished: and, at all events, let us give satisfaction to an
anxious and inquiring nation.
Before, then, we stir a step towards rigorous legislation, or menacing
armament, it behooves us to inquire, whether our Constitutional Laws may not
have suffered something from those who have the guardianship of them in their
own hands? And whether, if that be the case, such violation of its sacred
bulwarks may not, in reality, create, if it has not already ereated; a
disposition to retaliate, where no intentions of resistance before existed? If, however,
contrary to my expectations, there should indeed, appear a determination,
openly and distinctly acted upon, to overturn the Constitution of the country, I
shall be ready to exert every means in my power to meet and resist such spirit
of hostility, against what I conceive in common doubtless, with the great
body of the nation, to be the most perfect form of government with which any
country was ever blessed.
During the late war I raised a Corps of Infantry, and subscribed, in
various instances, to other Corps, for the protection of my country against a
foreign enemy. May God grant that I may never see the hour when I may be
compelled to do so against a domestic one! If, however, that unhappy moment should
ever arrive, I shall not, I trust, be found wanting, in calling into action,
all the resources within my sphere of influence.
I have the honour to be, with sincere respect,
Gentlemen, your obedient and faithful servant,
Eaton-hall, Oct. 14 GROSVENOR.