Page images
PDF
EPUB

property at the gambling table, and reduced himself to indigence. Ilis name was scarcely known in London until the proclamation of 1817, which appeared from the Secretary of State's office, offering a reward of, I believe, 10001. for his apprehension on a charge of high treason. This was the first time I ever saw his name or heard it mentioned. Thistlewood was apprehended in an attempt to get off to America, and put on his trial, but acquitted. This affair at once raised him into an importance which otherwise he could never have attained, and having no possible means of retrieving his circumstances, and finding himself deserled by his own relations and those of his wife, he again sallies forth into the most desperate and at the same time the most random and futile projects. In the summer of 1817, in consequence of his acquittal on this charge of high treason, he aspired to the company of the most celebrated political characters, who as a matier of course could do no less than congratulate him on his escape, but he no sooner began to unfold his bosom to them, than he was shunned and discarded by all successively, and from that moment down to the pretended Cato-street plot, he will have been found to have changed his company almost every month. His mind was never without a plot or project of some sort, which he never hesitated to unfold to the greatest stranger if he would only listen to him; every one who saw and heard the wild notions he had conceived, immediately shunned him, and thus Thistlewood has ransacked all London to find some one willing to be hung with him; until at last, he discovered that the possession of 101. was suficient to make a man an aristocrat, and as a matter of course an object for his vengeance. But the chief reason why the people who possessed 101. were not inclined to have anything to do with Thistlewood was this, that he would be sure to say, that the 101. which they possessed would be sufficient to cover the expence of his project, and that there could be no fear of their

[ocr errors]

loss if they trusted him with it. The refusal of this request has been sufficient ground for the insertion of their name on Mr. Thistlewood's Black Book, and of course the first who were to feel the effects of his new government. If ever the plea of insanity should be allowed to excuse the act of any individual, that plea might be fairly and justly put in for Thistlewood. Could anything but insanity induce a man, with such projects in his mind as Thistlewood has been proved to kold, to go almost to every alehouse to announce it, and to every prison in the metropolis to tell the prisoners of his intention, and that they must prepare themselves for a release ; yet this I am assured on good authority has been the conduct of Thistlewood in the Cato-street project; and under the promise and assurance of a speedy release has endeavoured to raise money from the prisoners. If this circumstance had been shewn to the jury, must they not have seen the ministers have been playing with Thistlewood, and that they have reserved him for some time with the hope of drawing in some character of more importance with him; but finding that hopeless, they brought the Cato-street affair to maturity, just to answer their purposes for striking terror into the minds of the people on the eve of a general election. I deeply lament that any other individual should fall a victim with Thistlewood; but whoever has known Thistlewood for the last three years, must have been assured, that he was a candidate for the gallows. The ministers have many a tiine sallied forth their military with the hopes that Thistlewood would commence some of his projects, but they never attempted to stop his career, whilst they had any further hope of making him useful. They knew that he was a man totally void of courage, and consequently that they bad nothing to fear from him. They have therefore participated in all his follies, in just the same manner as our Police officers are in the habit of tutoring young thieves, and bring

[ocr errors]

ing them to maturity to keep up a trade for themselves. This tlewood has been often told, that amongst the parties of his friends (as he was in the habit of calling theni) whom he was accustomed to meet in some of the most obscure ale-houses, that he hal continually agents from the Bow-street office with him; in fact, he has boasted that he has been in a state of surveillance, and was continually watched by the Police. This has been his pride and pleasure. His character might be summed up in a few words, and that is, that having lost a fortune in the character of a desperate gambler he became a sanguinary and desperate revolutionist,

I now proceed to notice the character of Edwards, and this I feel capable of doing, because I employed him as a modeller for several figures in the course of the last year. On my entering the house at 55, Fleet Street, I became the neighbour of Edwards, who previously held the little shop which was formerly possessed by Mr. Hone, and bears the No. 55 k as being part of 56. Edwards was no sooner aware that I had taken 55, than he strenuously applied himself to become a tenant or a lodger of mine, before I had the least idea of letting any part of the house. I had a strong dislike to his appearance, and particularly the party whom he stated himself to be connected with, which were the Spenceans, and consequently gave him no hopes that I would receive him as a lodger. The Attorney-General and Vice Society soon enabled me to support the house, without any lodgers, and I put off Mr. Edwards under that assurance, that I should not let any part of it. He was in the habit of coming into the shop to purchase my pamphlets, and I soon conceived the notion of having a figure of Paine modelled, he expressed himself quite anxious for the job, and observed, thai from his admiration of the principles of Paine, he would be satisfied with a small price for it. On my wishing to fix him to a price, he proposed 37, would just cover the expence he should be at, without including his time or abilities: this was agreeil on immediately, and he was to proceed forthwith ; this happened in the latter part of February or beginning of March. A few days after Mr. Edwards expressed a wish to have the money before hand, and observed, that it was usual with modellers. I hesitated, refused, and offered him 11. which he accepted, A head or bust was soon ready and I gave him three guineaz further for the copyright of it, but I could get him no further with the figure, although I had gone to the expence of the pedestal and other requisites for it until the fall of the year: during the whole of which time he appeared to be in a state of abject poverly, was obliged to give up his shop, and never to be found at home.

I urged him by continual messages to proceed with the figure, and in the month of September I got liim to finish it much 1o. my satisfaction, and that of every other person who looked at it and revered the principles of Paine. Ed. wards was paid for his figure before it was finished and set up, and altogether considerably in addition to the first agreement. From this time he stuck very close to me on one pretence and the other, followed me twice to Blackheath for the purpose of modelling my likeness on his own account, which he completed in the king's Bench Prison, without any apparent object of making any thing of it. He pleaded great poverty, and twice solicited the loan of money from me after the figure of Paine was finished and paid for; I as often refuge! him, because his whole conduct had coavinced me that he was both dishonest and ill-disposed. I had never the smallest idethat he was a spy, and as I knew him to be in the habit : { running after Thistlewood and his party, I often asked hinna what project they had in view, as a matter of joke. It was Edwards who informed me that the person who visited me it! the King's Bench Prison, in company with Davidson, was a

spy, and that it was he who conveyed all the information to Lord Sidmouth and the Lord Mayor. Edwards was the fourth person who entered the room while they were there, and it struck me forcibly that there was a strange coolness and distance between the three who had frequently met together before. I had never for a moment suspected Edwards to be any thing further than an idle, dissolute character. If the ministers wish to keep the country quiet, they will endeavour to alleviate the distresses of the people, but if they wish to raise a storm, they will follow their present course; but then the design is on the part of the ministers, the accident on the part of the people.

I have some recollection of being accosted by Adams the spy. In the month of September last, I was in company with Mr. Watling, of the Strand, close by Mr. Sherwin's printingoffice, where I had been on business, when a tall shoemaker, with pieces of leather and other artieles in his hand, accosted 18 and said, nothing would afford him so much pleasure as our going to drink a glass with him, and hoped that his workmanlike appearance would not disparage him. I answered him that his appearance was by no means a disgrace to him, but that I never drank malt or spiritous liquors. If we would only sit in his company a few minutes he would be satisfied. We entered the Shakespeare Tavern, at the corner of Smith Street, Northampton Square, when Adams introduced himself as having lately left the Ilorse Guards, and wished to find out a society of good fellows, that he was a Yorkshireman, and had learnt from his friends in that county the distress of the country and the disposition of the people. He knew Mr. Watling and inyself, but neither of us had ever seen hiin before. I should never have recollected the man or the circumstance had these trials not brought him to lighi, as we sat with him a few minutes only, and heard what he had lo for himself. I saw him no more,

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »