Friday, 22 June 2012

22nd June 1812: General Maitland writes to the Home Secretary with his view about Humphrey Yarwood

22nd June 1812

My Lord

The more I consider and the more I see, of all these untoward Events, the more I am convinced, there is no solid bottom in all this, and that what I stated, in my letter of 19th instant is nearly the accurate State of the Case—

A few days ago, a Man of the Name, of Yarwood, was taken hold of as connected, with those Practices, with a View, to his examination, and committment.

It was stated, that he was a Man, a very considerable Weight, and that he had been, very active, as Secretary, to some of their Associations. I suggested, how extremely important, it might be, to get at the information, such a Man, might be able to give, and proposed, that this line, should be tried, instead of at once committing him. Upon sending him, with this View, he appeared, to be willing to disclose every thing he knew, and I yesterday saw him, and conversed with him, at Stockport, on my Way here.

From his conversation, he struck me, certainly to be inclined, to speak out, and tell every thing he knew, for though the information he gave, certainly did not tend further to incriminate himself, than the having taken the Oath, still he seemed, to have, not the smallest objection, to give such information, with regard to the Individuals concerned, as must completely ruin him, among his Associates, and in fact, endanger his Life from them.

The Sum of every thing he stated, cannot be better described, than in saying, that it is nearly a counterpart, of the Declaration, made by Whitaker, now under Sentence of Transportation at Chester, which of course is in Your Lordship's Office, and which is extremely worth attending to, as it seems to me, as well as Yarwood's, to be a very natural account, of the Progress of the Thing, and stated, in Language, which could hardly be expected, from a Man of his Description.

Might it not be well, to consider, whether, if Whitaker, would give any further information of Importance, his Punishment, might not be carried into Force, provided he left the Country.

Yarwood, is a very shrewd, and intelligent Man, he is now writing out his own Account, of every thing he knows, in his own language, denies positively, any Money having been given, from any Quarter, except a Subscription among themselves, to a very inconsiderable Amount, which indeed, from every account I have, I believe to be correctly the fact, and I have no doubt, the whole of the accounts, we have had upon this Head, are either, totally groundless, or extremely exaggerated. When it is made out, it will be sent to Your Lordship.

I do not totally rely, upon this information, though I certainly think it was given in a Way, to warrant a considerable degree of Belief.

Where the Alarm is so great, and Fear so predominant principle, the Mind is naturally given to suppose, from the nature of the Oath, and the circumstances of the collecting of Arms, that there must be some principle of Action, and ultimate Object, of which we are as yet ignorant, but for my own part, I own, the strong bent of my feeling is, that the present State, has originated, and that it now exists, without either, any definite Object, or distinct End.

Your Lordship, must be well aware, how very easy it is, when Men get into these Clubs, and are associated for one purpose, to be directed by the Leaders to others, of a quite different Nature, and you are equally aware, how very difficult it is, when one drawn in, for Men to disentangle themselves, from these Measures, they may have rashly, and many of them undesignedly enter’d into.

It is not at all uncommon too, for the Leaders themselves, to be drawn by imperceptible Degrees, into Measures, the consequences of which, they had not weighed, and the Effect of which, they had not anticipated.

The definition I would be inclined to give, of the whole of this business, would be, that it originated in those constant efforts, made by these Associations, for many Years past, to keep up, the Price of the Manufacturers Wages, that finding their efforts, for this, unavailing, both from the circumstances, of the Trade, and the High Price of Provisions, they in a moment of Invitation, for which it is, but just to say, they had considerable Grounds, from the real State of Distress, in which they were placed, they began to think, of effecting that by Force, which they had ever been trying to do, by other means, and that in this State, the Oath was introduced. —

Every thing that has happened since, seems to me the Natural progress of this unfortunate line of Acting, and I believe the whole, to be certainly a most mischievous, but indefined, and indistinct attempt, to be in a State of preparation, to do that by Force, which they had not succeeded, in carrying into effect, as they usually did by other means.

The whole History of Manchester, for many Years past, strongly confirms me in this Opinion, as there is no Instance, of a considerable Stagnation of Trade, accompanied, by a high Price of Provisions, where something of the same kind has not ensued.

I am thoroughly satisfied, in my own Mind, that could we only get at some of the Heads, the thing would be squashed.

There is a Man of the name of Bulkeley, a Weaver, but a Calvinist Preacher, whose Seizure, would I think go a great length, to put is in possession, of every thing, that is to be known, and do more towards crushing it, than the Seizure of any other Individual.

We are now after him, and though he has absconded, I think he will be found out.—

I am thoroughly aware, there would be great difficulty, under present Circumstances, to pass any strong Act, before Parliament breaks up, indeed it will be difficult, to draw one upon the Subject, but if Power could be given any where, to seize Twenty Men, in the whole of the Disaffected Country, I am confident, the whole Scene would close.

As to Martial Law, or Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, the great Remedies in every Bodies Mouth, I do not think, that if easy to be passed, the Situation demands it, and I would much rather leave it, as it is, than see those Measures resorted to, but if any Legislative Measure, would be adopted, vesting in any Quarter, the Power of seizing, a very few of the Heads, it certainly ought to be done.—

I wrote Your Lordship, the circumstance of the number of Arms, we have found in one search in the Country. It was a Measure carried on, under Warrant made out, with the View, to afford the well inclined a Picture, to give up their Arms, which they wished, but which they were afraid to do, without such a Pretence, which will give Your Lordship, pretty good Idea, to what Extent Fear is prevalent.

But it was carried into effect by the Constables, in truth, in a manner, to be a complete Seizure, as many were taken, from their possession by compulsion. This Your Lordship is aware, is not to be defended in Law, I am however not sorry it has taken place, as I doubt extremely, whether any of the Parties, will try, and prosecute, and should they not, it will be in my Mind, a very complete Proof indeed; of their want of Pecuniary means, and of their conviction of their own weakness.

I shall write to Mr. Becket, relative, to some Points, to which I wish an Answer.

I have [etc]

[To] Right Honble
Lord Viscount
&c &c &c

This letter can be found at HO 40/1/1.

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