Monday, 18 February 2013

18th February 1813: General Maitland sends a last letter from the West Riding to Lord Sidmouth

York 18th Febry 1813.

My dear Lord.

I return’d here last night, finding the unfortunate business that carried me to Scotland was likely to hang on for a considerable time, though without any reasonable chance of alternate recovery—

It gives me the greatest satisfaction to be able to report to Your Lordship, that every expectation we had form’d of the restoration of tranquillity has prov’d perfectly well-grounded; & that the whole temper of the country is completely alter’d. In some instances the persons to whom I had still given military aid, have themselves applied to have it removed, as no longer necessary, & in the instance of Mr. Radcliffe himself, he writes me, that he hopes it may be dispers’d with at an early period.

The Military reports are more & more favorable each week, and in the last it is stated that several of the persons connected with the late trials have left the country, in one of them made by the ablest officers we had employ’d, he states “I have much satisfaction in observing that a material alteration is taking place in the sentiments & disposition of the people, from the anxious conversations which have been held in Public Houses, & repeated to me by persons whose information I can rely on, I find many of those who were known to be most active in the late disturbances have been heard to say they are sensible of the folly of their conduct, & are sorry they ever had any thing to do with such a bad concern.”

The General spirit of alarm has totally eas’d, & in short I have no hesitation in stating, that the evil spirit which at one time existed is entirely eradicated.

To suppose that as long as the high price of provisions continues it will not be the source of momentary & occasional dissatisfaction, would be going a great deal too far, but I am perfectly confident in my own mind, that when such symptoms occur they will appear totally disconnected with all that spirit of combination & general understanding which has heretofore existed — in truth I do not think it is going a bit too far, & I congratulate your Lordship in being able to state it to say, that the spirit of Luddism is completely extinguish’d.

Neither does the small matter of those who have avail’d themselves of the Royal Proclamation (not more than Fifty) alter my opinion on this head, in this Riding it is clear the system of swearing in was never so general as in Lancashire & in Cheshire, & I much fear that most of them who had taken the Oath were implicated not only in the stealing of Arms, but in other atrocities—

Under all the circumstances it seems to me highly expedient that the heavy pressure of the Military should in some degree be ameliorated. Upon this head something has been done already, as three Regts have been gradually mov’d out of these Districts during the last Two months, but I own I think that we can afford a diminution of at least two more, which will leave the West Riding with three Regs of Infantry & a complete Regt of Cavalry – a force I think completely adequate to any thing we can look to at present, & I propose taking measures of this effect immediately.

In doing this however I trust your Lordship will believe that it shall not be done in any way so as to create the most trifling alarm or dissatisfaction on the contrary I'm convinc’d there is no one person who is conversant with the subject must not agree with me that the force I have above specified is fully adequate under the present circumstances to maintain the tranquillity & security of the hitherto disturbed part of this district.

I shall have the Honor of writing to your Lordship again to morrow, & I am My dear Lord

Your’s ever
T Maitland

[To] Lord Viscount Sidmouth.
&c &c &c &c

This letter can be found at HO 42/132.

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