Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/112
on the scene of the military, soon induced the rioters to disperse. In January, 1817, John Cashman, one of the Spafields rioters, was tried for burglariously entering the shop of Mr. Beckworth, a gunsmith, and hanged opposite the scene of his depredations.
Regent Opens Parliament.The Regent opened Parliament on the 28th of January, 1817. In his address, he said that "the distress consequent upon the termination of a war of such universal extent and duration, had been felt with greater or less severity throughout all the nations of Europe, and had been considerably aggravated by the unfavourable state of the season." Alluding to the proceedings of the popular agitators, he added: "In considering our internal situation, you will, I doubt not, feel a just indignation at the attempts which have been made to take advantage of the distresses of the country, for the purpose of exciting a spirit of sedition and violence. … I am determined to omit no precautions for preserving the public peace, and for counteracting the designs of the disaffected." Whether this statement was the cause or not, the Regent had a narrow escape on his return from the House; for, while passing at the back of the gardens of Carlton House, the glass of his window was broken, either by a stone or (as was supposed) by two balls from an air-gun, which appeared to have been aimed at His Royal Highness.
On the 6th of February, Lord Cockrane presented to the House of Commons the petition of the Spafields meeting, signed by 24,000 persons. It prayed for annual parliaments, universal suffrage, and reduction in the public expenditure. He presented at the same time a petition from Manchester, signed by 30,000 persons, praying for reform in Parliament and economy in the public expenditure. Sir Francis Burdett also presented a Leeds petition for the same objects, containing 7,000 signatures. These were of course only legitimate modes of expressing the wants of the people; but, unhappily, quite independent of the action of the popular leaders, the country in some parts was so disturbed, so closely on the brink of insurrection, that ministers found themselves obliged twice during the course of the year to resort to the almost unprecedented measure